inbox and environment news: Issue 557

October 2 - 15, 2022: Issue 557

Arnies Recon Will Recycle Your Electronics For Free: Drop Off At Cromer-North Narrabeen-Manly Vale-Avalon Beach This October

Adrian and Lisa Saunders founded Arnies Recon in 2019 as a self-funded social enterprise to reimagine the approach to dealing with electronic waste. Their services are free to households, business and government. 

They have since developed the world’s most sophisticated model for diverting electronics and appliances from the waste stream. Their systems are modular and designed to be replicated in other markets. 

Arnies is coming to our local area. Arnies want to make it easy for you to drop off your small electronics to be recycled. Simply click the book now button on this page and let them know which date you're booking for, that way they know what size van to send.
  • 4 October - Cromer: 7:00 - 9:00am  at  Cromer Community Centre Car Park, Fisher Road North
  • 6 October - North Narrabeen: 7:00 - 9:00am at Lake Park Car Park, Lake Park Road
  • 12 October - Manly Vale: 7:00 - 9:00am at Miller's Reserve, Campbell Parade
  • 13 October - Avalon Beach: 7:00am - 9:00am at Hitchcock Park, Barrenjoey Road
Want to set a date for your area? Just click the book now button and send them an email.

Arnies data protection conforms to the most stringent. All computers, hard drives, phones and tablets will be fully erased or destroyed. See their FAQ page for more information on how we protect your data. 

Arnies recycle: cameras, computers, laptops, mobile phones, computer games and consoles, iPads, tablets, servers, server racks, stereos, speakers, DVD players, iPods, Foxtel boxes, phones, heaters, fans, amplifiers, monitors, televisions, calculators, transistor and clock radios, printers, medical equipment, tools, washers, dryers, air conditioners, portable air conditioners, microwaves, drones, dishwashers, cables, remotes, chargers, old or vintage collectables, plugs, solar panels, sewing machines, overlockers, steam mops, dehumidifiers.

How can you help support Arnies?
We are asked every day how our customers and supporters can help. Here are some ways you can make a difference...
You can buy us a Kofi from this link. The donations are helping to raise funds for a best-practice fridge degassing system. We look forward to offering this as a free service to customers as soon as possible. Fridge gasses have a devastating effect on the atmosphere - said to be around 50-100 times worse than that of CO2.
You can become a community advocate. Advocates create community collection days in their neighbourhoods and businesses. Or even make their garage available for people in the neighbourhood to drop off for a block collection. Let us know if you would like to help in this way.
One of the easiest ways you can help us is by unlocking, erasing and restoring your devices to their factory settings. We can then recycle them in a way that keeps them whole- which is best practice.  We can safely find an enthusiastic new owner to give the devise a new life.
The best form of recycling is reuse. With that in mind...
  • Arnies try to find buyers for the items as they are. If we can safely provide the item to a collector or refurbisher, we can recycle with the lowest footprint possible.
  • Arnies  find people who refurbish and reuse the items as they are or as parts to make whole units. 
  • Arnies  locate collectors in Australia and overseas who are excited by retro electronics and want to own or restore old items that have nostalgic value.
  • Disassemble items and sell individual items are parts
  • Donate items for use in community and/or arts projects
  • Break down computers for precious and valuable metals recovery
  • Recycle any items that we are unable to sell with safety for metals and precious metals
  • Constantly seek better ways to recycle
Arnies  NEVER put electronics or parts of electronics in landfill!
Arnies are a for-profit, social enterprise. The money they make enables us to keep our pick up and recycling service free for the community.

Arnies completely dismantle all hard drives. We do provide a certificate upon request.

Arnies are now available for drop offs at 1/17 Barclay St, Marrickville (the last door before the cul-de-sac)... Monday - Friday between 9:00am - 3.00pm.

50 Million Tons of Electronics goes into landfill each year - Minus the 4000 tons Arnies Recon have saved in nearly three years, thanks to Arnies' customers. 

Those electronics saved would otherwise leak toxins such as lead, mercury, cadmium and chromium; poisoning our air, land and water. Instead, they're being re-purposed.

There's a lot more where they came from. That's why Arnies' service is free - to make it easy for you and your business to recycle.

Arnies Recon work with sustainability groups, blocks, schools, communities, businesses and government to organise community collections. Arnies proudly partners with Scentre Group in bringing community collection days to your local Westfield shopping centre and offices.

They then recycle all items received through local businesses, collectors and approved scrappers employing best practice recycling methods to find the most efficient way to recycle your items. Some go to people who want them. Some are used for parts and others are recycled as scrap.

Nothing goes to landfill.

Find out more at:

100 Trees For 100 Years Of Avalon Beach: Avalon 100 Centenrary Wildlife Talk

Above are some of the 100 trees that have been planted in and around the Avalon Beach village centre over the past few months to celebrate the Avalon Beach Centenary

An Avalon 100 Centenary wildlife talk is scheduled for Sunday 16th October at 11am in the Avalon RSL. 

Roger Treagus of the Avalon 100 Committee states;

''One of the important features of Avalon life is its wildlife. We will have three speakers at the event - John Dengate will talk about the general scene and is keen to answer lots of questions that residents may have. Then Andrew Gregory, famed wildlife photographer will show his stunning pictures of the powerful owl. Finally we have Merinda Air from WIRES to explain what to do when encountering injured wildlife.''

Australian water dragon, Intellagama lesueurii, catching some afternoon sun at Careel Creek, Avalon Beach. Photos: A J Guesdon

National Bird Week + Aussie Bird Count 2022

National Bird Week 2022 will take place between Monday 17 October and Sunday 23 October. The celebration of National Bird Week has its origins back in the early 1900s when 28 October was first designated by BirdLife Australia's predecessor, the Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union, as the first ‘Bird Day’. BirdLife Australia organises and promotes Bird Week with the goal of inspiring Australians to take action and get involved in bird conservation efforts.

BirdLife Australia brings you the Aussie Bird Count, one of Australia's biggest citizen science events! Celebrate National Bird Week by taking part in the Aussie Bird Count — you will be joining thousands of people from across the country who will be heading out into their backyards, local parks or favourite outdoor spaces to take part.

To get involved all you need is 20 minutes, your favourite outdoor space (this can be your yard, local park, beach, or anywhere you can see birds), and some keen eyesight. And it doesn’t matter if you’re a novice or an expert — we will be there to help you out. Simply record the birds you know and look up those you don’t on our ‘Aussie Bird Count’ app or our website. You’ll instantly see live statistics and information on how many people are taking part near you and the number of birds and species counted in your neighbourhood and the whole of Australia.  Not only will you get to know your feathered neighbours, but you’ll be contributing to a vital pool of information from across the nation that will help us see how Australian birds are faring.

So get your friends and family together during National Bird Week, head into the great outdoors and start counting.
To find out more or get involved, please visit:

Photos: Rainbow Lorikeet and Little Corella in Pittwater on September 29, 2022. Photos taken by A J Guesdon.

Watch Out - Shorebirds About

Spring is here so watch your step because beach-nesting and estuary-nesting birds have started setting up home on our shores.
Did you know that Careel Bay and other spots throughout our area are part of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP)?

This flyway, and all of the stopping points along its way, are vital to ensure the survival of these Spring and Summer visitors. This is where they rest and feed on their journeys.  For example, did you know that the bar-tailed godwit flies for 239 hours for 8,108 miles from Alaska to Australia?

Not only that, Shorebirds such as endangered oystercatchers and little terns lay their eggs in shallow scraped-out nests in the sand, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Threatened Species officer Ms Katherine Howard has said.
Even our regular residents such as seagulls are currently nesting to bear young.

What can you do to help them?
Known nest sites may be indicated by fencing or signs. The whole community can help protect shorebirds by keeping out of nesting areas marked by signs or fences and only taking your dog to designated dog offleash area. 

Just remember WE are visitors to these areas. These birds LIVE there. This is their home.

Four simple steps to help keep beach-nesting birds safe:
1. Look out for bird nesting signs or fenced-off nesting areas on the beach, stay well clear of these areas and give the parent birds plenty of space.
2. Walk your dogs in designated dog-friendly areas only and always keep them on a leash over summer.
3. Stay out of nesting areas and follow all local rules.
4. Chicks are mobile and don't necessarily stay within fenced nesting areas. When you're near a nesting area, stick to the wet sand to avoid accidentally stepping on a chick.

Take Someone Under Your Wing This World Migratory Bird Day: October 8 2022

If you asked a room full of people why they enjoy birdwatching you would get a range of answers, from the thrill of the challenge of spotting as many species as possible to the sense of calm that listening to birdsong can bring. We are likely all in agreement that spending time in nature is enjoyable, and there is increasing evidence that it can benefit our mental wellbeing. A study in Ecological Economics showed a clear correlation between happiness and number of bird species found around their homes. Another in the Journal of Environmental Psychology interviewed a group of people and found that birdsong was the type of natural sound most often associated with stress recovery and attention restoration.

Birdwatching can also connect you to your local community and combat loneliness, whether you join a local birding group, get chatting to strangers in a bird hide or head out on a hike with a friend or relative. That’s why this World Migratory Bird Day (Saturday 8th October), we are encouraging everyone to take a friend birding and experience the joys of birdwatching together.
If you’re up for an extra challenge, you can even submit the birds that you see online to contribute to bird conservation research around the world. Recordings of bird sightings help scientists keep track of how bird numbers are changing around the globe and can identify which species are under threat, allowing conservation action to be effectively targeted.

Sightings can be submitted to eBird, the largest citizen science platform in the world where over 100 million bird sightings are contributed each year by birders. eBird archives this information which is freely available to power data-driven approaches to conservation. Making the experience fun and rewarding for the birder is prioritised too, for example you can use the app to manage lists of your sightings, photos and audio recordings and even see real-time maps of species distribution.

Tips for successful and ethical birdwatching

Birdwatching is for everyone, so don’t worry if you don’t have fancy equipment or extensive knowledge about birds – all you need is enthusiasm and respect for nature. Here are some tips to get you started:
  • A priority when birdwatching should always be to ensure minimal disturbance to birds and their habitats, and their wellbeing should never be compromised to get a good sighting or photograph. Don’t get too close, never disturb their nests, and avoid blocking their route back to the nest. This can prevent parents from returning to their chicks, leaving them hungry and at greater risk of predation. Also, try to stay on roads and paths when possible, so as not to trample vegetation or ground nests.
  • You don’t need to travel far to enjoy birdwatching as one of the many incredible things about birds is that we can see them everywhere! You can head out to a forest or nature reserve, or just watch out from your kitchen window. No matter where you see a bird, submitting your sightings is always useful information, whether it’s at a National Park or your local bus stop.
  • Birds are easily startled by loud noises, so to increase your chances of exciting sightings you need to be as quiet as possible and avoid sudden movements. This way, you’re more likely to hear their songs and calls too. Patience is also key, so don’t be disheartened if you don’t immediately spot lots of species – persevering will pay off!
  • Identifying birds takes practice. There are thousands of different species of bird, so don’t pressure yourself to know them all! Use a guidebook to help with your identification or take a photo if you can and ask a friend to help to figure out the species.

Magpies, curlews, peregrine falcons: how birds adapt to our cities, bringing wonder, joy and conflict

Mark Baker/AP
John WoinarskiCharles Darwin University

For all the vastness of our Outback and bush, most Australians live in urban areas. In cities, we live within an orderly landscape, moulded and manufactured by us to suit our needs. But other species also live in this modified environment.

Review: Curlews on Vulture Street: cities, birds, people & me – Darryl Jones (NewSouth)

In many cases, this cohabitation is peaceful, benign or even mutually beneficial. Part of Darryl Jones’ Curlews on Vulture Street: cities, birds, people & me documents the surprising variety of bird life in our cities and towns. Many of these birds are native species, finding a way to live – and sometimes to flourish – in a human-dominated system.

Lorikeets, honeyeaters, cockatoos, crows, currawongs, silver gulls, peregrine falcons, and even (in some Australian cities) curlews and brush-turkeys have cracked the code, adapting to the resources we inadvertently provide, or intentionally create, for them – such as native plants in our gardens. They survive or thrive notwithstanding the cars, cats, concrete, dogs, noise and pollution.

Live streaming of a peregrine falcon nest in Collins St, Melbourne.

Many of us appreciate these birds, they add colour, joy and wildness to our lives. As witness to their fascination, thousands of Australians meticulously record the birds in our backyards every year, chuffed at every novelty, casually competing with other backyard observers.

Jones notes that many of us also feed birds, to seek closer interactions with them, and to provide some restitution for the damage our species has done to their natural environment. Urban life can be alienating, lonely; birds can connect us to the wellspring of nature.

However, in some cases, cohabitation with other species is problematic: we come into conflict with those other lives.

Much of the content of this book describes such situations: aggressive dive-bombing magpies, brush-turkeys re-arranging what were once meticulously neat gardens, bin-chickens (white ibis) snatching food from our lunch tables and picnics, and hooligan sulphur-crested cockatoos ripping up our verandahs.

Cockatoos have learnt to open bins. Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, Barbara Klump/AAP

Many of us love these birds; some of us hate them. These are challenging conflicts to resolve, and Jones carefully describes various cases and how he goes about finding solutions.

Happy to admit his initial assumptions are often proven entirely wrong, Jones articulates the need for carefully planned and implemented – and often highly innovative – research in order to understand why these “troublesome” birds are behaving as they do.

He also shows that at least some of these problems, and their solutions, have more to do with human attitudes and behaviours than with the wayward intentions of birds. So, if we stressed less about the orderliness of our gardens, we may enjoy the landscaping chaos that comes with sharing our yards with industrious brush-turkeys. If we can admire the pluck and fierce paternal protective drive of magpies, we may better tolerate their brief seasonal bouts of aggression, or shift our walking or cycling routes to avoid them.

White ibis on a Sydney soccer field. Mick Tsikas/AAP

Solving The Swoop

Most Australians have been swooped by magpies, some terrified and long-scarred by the sometimes spectacular experience. It is an acute case of courageous, untamed nature fighting back within our domain.

Jones shows that many magpies do not swoop, that the swooping birds are most always the males, that the behaviour occurs when there are eggs in the nest, and that many swooping birds specialise in their targets. Some birds swoop only cyclists, others pedestrians, and some just one or two individual humans.

A magpie swooping a cyclist. Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning/AAP

Swooping is an exaggerated form of defence of the clutch against what the magpie perceives to be a potential predator. Whereas many such issues were once addressed simply by shooting, Jones uses careful experimentation to show that the problem can be at least temporarily resolved by capturing the magpie and moving it at least 30 kilometres away: any closer and it may swiftly return.

His studies also show that other male magpies may replace the transported male and help raise his young, an altruism that may return longer-term benefits.

But this book is more than simply an account of urban birds and wildlife management problems. It is part autobiography, part mystery, part reflective celebration of the beauty, vitality and value of our wildlife.

Jones’ fascination with nature, and particularly with birds, is the current that shapes his career and his life. And the stories in this book infect the reader with this fascination. This engagement is further reinforced by wonderful, evocative illustrations by Kathleen Jennings.

A curlew in Cairns. Marc McCormack/AAP

Childhood Events

Some childhood events shape us, embed enduring values, open the pathways that we may follow all our lives. For Jones, the wonder in his life starts with noticing something different in his solitary youth – this particular wonder as prosaic as a single introduced blackbird in the backyard of his house in rural New South Wales, far from the Australian city centres where it was “meant” to be. (Nature is fluid; we cannot presume too much.)

The first mystery solved by Jones is its identification, a more complex challenge then – in the 1960s – when bird books were crude. Knowing the name of things proves to be a gateway to understanding. The second mystery, also triggered by early experience, is a much larger one, and it permeates this book: how does nature live with us; and how do we live with nature?

Another childhood event is traumatic. Jones describes the brutal killing by other boys of a beloved pet magpie. It reinforces his feeling for birds, and a desire to help conserve them; and it reminds us that we can’t assume that all people share such sympathies.

Jones honed his youthful interest in birds through tertiary education. He is generous in recognising the mentors who guided him on this pathway, and the characters who later helped him understand and develop practical solutions to urban wildlife issues. Over time, he returns the favour: mentoring – and admiring the expertise of – many students.

Birds bring us color and joy. Aussie backyard bird count/AAP

The subject of this book is a tricky one. We should all appreciate the variety of wildlife that can live within our cities, and we should help to maintain and enhance it. But of course, across much of the world, including much of Australia, biodiversity is in steep decline, and it is particularly those native species that are dependent upon unmodified natural environments that are most suffering.

Jones at least notes this broader context. We should not be so beguiled by the wildlife in our cities, and even the increases in that wildlife, into presuming that nature is resilient and can cope with the way we mess with this world.

But we should also be grateful: even in our cities and suburbs, we live in a wonderful world, full of small mysteries, surrounded by the lives of many other animals. Our lives become better, richer, less selfish if we can see and try to understand that wonder. This book helps guide us there.The Conversation

John Woinarski, Professor (conservation biology), Charles Darwin University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

West Head Lookout Upgrade

Residents have raised several concerns regarding the current proposal for  a  West Head Lookout upgrade.

Concerns relate to the update and design, specifically:
  1. The area of outlook unencumbered by fencing has been substantially reduced yet the information email highlights a cross section through this area. In fact most of the site will be affected by a crude metal perimeter fence similar to a pool fence - see red highlight on plan below.
  2. The scheme is represented as a concept design whereas it is in fact part of a tender set presumably advanced to call tenders for construction. This is a barrier to addressing any design concerns raised.
  3. The site is widely recognised as an exceptional example of landscape architecture within a national park. The National Trust is similarly concerned with developments proposed for this location.
  4. It appears the concerns originally raised by so many in the community either have not been heard or appreciated. These relate to the lookout serving as a place where the public have been able to enjoy unimpeded views over Pittwater and North to Bouddhi. The lookout has been a quiet place of contemplation as well as a place for small numbers of people to stop for impromptu picnics. The imposition of a 1200 high crude metal fence will impact the enjoyment currently experienced. The proposal as it stands is a regressive step and detracts from the experience of visiting this exceptional site. 
Residents are asking the project team to revisit the extent and style of fencing and to seriously engage with the original designer to get the best possible outcome for this exceptional location so that the current amenity is not lost.

These resident 'Friends' of the park ask that all in Pittwater stand up for this site and make their views known - at:
The new designs are available for feedback until 10 October 2022.

Over A Hectare Of Crown Land At Belrose To Be Sold: Transferred Public Lands

Residents have contacted Pittwater Online regarding the transfer of over one hectare of Crown Land at Blackbutts road Belrose to Aruma (formerly House With No Steps). 

The land  was put up for sale on Monday, September 19th.  

No one received notice that this formerly public land had been transferred or that it would be sold.

The property dates to 1965 when Lionel Watts, the founder of the disability service provider House with No Steps, lobbied the New South Wales Government for a land grant in the Belrose area to grow his organisation.

For almost 60 years it has housed several services and the head office, however now it is stated the current organisation has outgrown the site and the buildings are no longer fit for purpose. The site has been vacant since April this year.

Under the agreement, Aruma will reinvest the proceeds in services that further their purposes, benefitting more people with a disability in NSW. 

The future of the site will be determined by the new landowner who will be required to meet planning requirements; the sales 'spiel' states this will make an ideal site for a Seniors living development.

Projections are that the sale could net Aruma 20 million for the sale of the Crown Land site transferred to them.

No Notice of when or why this land was transferred to the organisation is readily available in NSW Crown Lands (

The property is already advertised for sale at: with expressions of interest closing on October 20th.

Aruma is the new name for the former  House with No Steps and The Tipping Foundation – which merged in 2018. Aruma is a disability service provider. 

The website states they are;

'the helper, mentor and coach and the trusted partner of around 5000 people with a disability throughout the east coast of Australia.'

'Aruma is here for the new age, the new world of disability support – the NDIS world.'

Information about the sale of the former public lands is available at:

Scotland Island Spring Garden Festival

When: Sunday, October 16, 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Where: Scotland Island Community Hall
Details:  Come and celebrate Spring with us! There are kids’ activities, open garden visits, workshops, plant sales and talks. And the café is open from 10 am to 2 pm, selling coffee, cakes and yummy food.

Weed Alert: Corky Passionflower At Mona Vale + Narrabeen Creek

Corky Passionflower Passiflora suberosa, native to South America, is becoming common around Mona Vale and along Narrabeen Creek.  This is an aggressive invader. It is usually most successful in the sub-canopy, where it smothers small trees, shrubs and even the ground cover species. Corky passionflower has been observed smothering upper canopy species in some locations. 

Corky passionflower is recorded as a weed in a number of countries throughout the Pacific region.

Corky passionflower is not a prohibited or restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014. However, by law, everyone has a general biosecurity obligation (GBO) to take reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risks associated with invasive plants under their control.

Local governments must have a biosecurity plan that covers invasive plants in their area. This plan may include actions to be taken on certain species. Some of these actions may be required under local laws.
Corky passionflower is a perennial vine with extensive, twining tendrils. Stems are commonly purplish in colour. Leaves are dark green and may be three-lobed (with the centre lobe the largest) or entire in shape. They are generally 4–8 cm long, with a leaf stalk up to 2.5 cm long. Flowers are up to 2.5 cm wide and appear in solitary arrangement in leaf axils. They are free of petals, but they possess ‘sepals’ that are yellow-green in colour, with a purple inner fringe. Fruits are purple and are readily eaten by birds, aiding in considerable seed dispersal.

The most reliable method of control for corky passionflower is hand pulling when the soil is moist. Care must be taken not to break the stem above the roots, or the plant will regenerate. The above-ground vegetative parts of the weed can be removed using a brush hook or similar tool. 

This should be recognised as an emerging weed in our area that needs to be controlled. Please report to NBC if you see it, with a photo and location. 

Corky bark on lower stems, leaves rather like Ivy, clusters of flowers and berries. Photos: Wikipedia

Katandra Bushland Sanctuary Open

Katandra is open to visitors 10am to 4pm every Sunday from July to October (inclusive). Group visits can be organised at alternative times.
NB: NO dogs - this is a wildlife sanctuary.

Ku-Ring-Gai Sculpture Trail For 2022 Eco Festival

Ku-ring-gai’s Sculpture Trail celebrates sustainable art in the Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden.

Visit the Wildflower Garden to see an array of recyclable sculptures made by members of the community and professional artists.

The sculpture trail guide and maps will be available digitally once at the venue so remember to bring your smart phone or tablets.

The sculptures will be on display from 3 September to 3 October at the Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden, open daily from 9am - 4pm. We encourage everyone to go visit and check them out!

When: Saturday, 03 September 2022 | 09:00 AM - Monday, 03 October 2022 | 04:00 PM
Location: Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden, 420 Mona Vale Road, St Ives

Photos: Pittwater Creator Bea Pierce (Jellybeaps)has her Possum, Kangaroo and Quoll now installed at Ku-ring-gai Wild Flower Garden for the Ku-ring-gai Sculpture Trail. Bea's sculptures are #30, in Lamberts Clearing.

Dust Off Your Picnic Blankets For The First Ever Statewide Picnic For Nature

The NSW Nature Conservation Council have a bold plan. They are bringing people together to celebrate our great outdoors in a statewide Picnic for Nature—and we want you to be a part of it. 
On Sunday, October 16, the Nature Conservation Council are holding their first Picnic for Nature, where communities will come together in our great outdoors to celebrate everything we love about nature.  

If you are like many of us, you probably don’t get into nature as much was you would like to.  Our lives are over-scheduled, with work, school, shopping and dashing about to kid’s sport. Sometimes, it feels like if you don’t schedule time for nature, it just doesn’t happen.  

That’s why the Nature Conservation Council are organising this statewide Picnic for Nature, to give people the excuse they need to get outdoors to reconnect with nature, family, friends and the neighbours they probably should get to know. 

Taking time out to sit in the shade of a tree, share food, and appreciate the natural beauty of our surroundings is something we don’t do often enough.  

So why not take advantage of the warmer weather and unroll your picnic blanket to spend some quality time with family, friends and neighbours at your local park, beach or beauty spot. 
Every picnic will be unique, and some groups have even organised activities, games for the kids, and music.  

Already, people have registered 36 picnics around the state, from Albury to the Tweed and Broken Hill to Sydney, including two local picnics

Check out Nature Conservation Council's interactive map of picnics to see if there is an event in your town or suburb. If there’s not, why not organise one? 
Anyone can co-host a picnic, all you need is some food, a public space, and some friends. Picnics can be as big or as small as you like, with activities and games, or just some blankets and sunscreen. The Nature Conservation Council  can provide resources and materials like marketing templates, posters, and stickers  as well as the RSVP page and some marketing.  

Whether you’re hosting or attending, with your help we can help people reconnect with nature and each other. 

RSVP or Register for your local picnic at:

Narrabeen Picnic for Nature: Sun 16 Oct 2022 at 12:00 AM at Surfrider Gardens, 73 Ocean St, Narrabeen, RSVP:
Co-hosted by: the Surfrider Foundation

Manly Picnic for Nature: Sun 16 Oct 2022 at 12:00 AM, ManlyRSVP:
Co-hosted by: Save Northern Beaches Bushland, Save Manly Dam Catchment Committee, Seas of Change

EPA Releases Climate Change Policy And Action Plan

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is taking action to protect the environment and community from the impacts of climate change, today releasing its new draft Climate Change Policy and Action Plan which works with industry, experts and the community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support resilience.

NSW EPA Chief Executive Officer Tony Chappel said the EPA has proposed a set of robust actions to achieve a 50 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 (from 2005 levels), ensure net zero emissions by 2050, and improve resilience to climate change impacts.

“NSW has ambitious targets that align with the world’s best scientific advice and the Paris commitments, to limit global warming to an average of 1.5 degrees in order to avoid severe impacts on ecosystems,” Mr Chappel said.

“Over the past few years we have seen first-hand just how destructive the impacts of climate change are becoming, not only for our environment, but for NSW communities too.

“We know the EPA has a critical role to play in achieving the NSW Government’s net-zero targets and responding to the increasing threat of climate change induced weather events.

“Equally, acting on climate presents major economic opportunities for NSW in new industries such as clean energy, hydrogen, green metals, circular manufacturing, natural capital and regenerative agriculture.

“This draft Policy sends a clear signal to regulated industries that we will be working with them to support and drive cost-effective decarbonisation while implementing adaptation initiatives that build resilience to climate change risks.

“Our draft plan proposes a staged approach that ensures the actions the EPA takes are deliberate, well informed and complement government and industry actions on climate change. These actions will support industry and allow reasonable time for businesses to plan for and meet any new targets or requirements.

“Climate change is an issue that we all face so it’s important that we take this journey together and all play our part in protecting our environment and communities for generations to come.”

Actions include:

  • working with industry, government and experts to improve the evidence base on climate change
  • supporting licensees prepare, implement and report on climate change mitigation and adaptation plans
  • partnering with NSW Government agencies to address climate change during the planning and assessment process for activities the EPA regulates
  • establishing cost-effective emission reduction targets for key industry sectors
  • providing industry best-practice guidelines to support them to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions
  • phasing in the introduction of greenhouse gas emission limits on environment protection licences for key industry sectors
  • developing and implementing resilience programs, best-practice adaptation guidance and harnessing citizen science and education programs
  • working with EPA Aboriginal and Youth Advisory Committees to improve the EPA’s evolving climate change response

EPA Acting Chair Carolyn Walsh said the EPA is a partner in supporting and building on the NSW Government’s work to address climate change for the people of NSW.

“The draft Policy and Action Plan adopts, supports and builds on the strong foundations that have been set by the NSW Government through the NSW Climate Change Policy Framework, Net Zero Plan and Climate Change Adaptation Strategy,” Ms Walsh said.

The EPA will work with stakeholders, including licensees, councils, other government agencies, and the community to help implement the actions.

The draft EPA Climate Change Policy and Action Plan is available at and comments are open until 3 November 2022.

Wanted: Photos Of Flies Feeding On Frogs (For Frog Conservation)

Do you have any photos of frogs being bitten by flies? Submit them to our study to help in frog conservation.

By sampling the blood of flies that bite frogs, researchers can determine the (sometimes difficult to spot) frogs in an environment. Common mist frog being fed on by a Sycorax fly. Photo: Jakub Hodáň

UNSW Science and the Australian Museum want your photos of frogs, specifically those being bitten by flies, for a new (and inventive) technique to detect and protect our threatened frog species.

You might not guess it, but biting flies – such as midges and mosquitoes – are excellent tools for science. The blood ‘sampled’ by these parasites contains precious genetic data about the animals they feed on (such as frogs), but first, researchers need to know which parasitic flies are biting which frogs. And this is why they need you to submit your photos.

“Rare frogs can be very hard to find during traditional scientific expeditions,” says PhD student Timothy Cutajar, leading the project. “Species that are rare or cryptic [inconspicuous] can be easily missed, so it turns out the best way to detect some species might be through their parasites.”

The technique is called ‘iDNA’, short for invertebrate-derived DNA, and researchers Mr Cutajar and Dr Jodi Rowley from UNSW Science and the Australian Museum were the first to harness its potential for detecting cryptic or threatened species of frogs.

The team first deployed this technique in 2018 by capturing frog-biting flies in habitats shared with frogs. Not unlike the premise of Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, where the DNA of blood-meals past is contained in the bellies of the flies, Mr Cutajar was able to extract the drawn blood (and therefore DNA) and identify the species of amphibian the flies had recently fed on.

These initial trials uncovered the presence of rare frogs that traditional searching methods had missed.

“iDNA has the potential to become a standard frog survey technique,” says Mr Cutajar. “[It could help] in the discovery of new species or even the rediscovery of species thought to be extinct, so I want to continue developing techniques for frog iDNA surveys. However, there is still so much we don’t yet know about how frogs and flies interact.”

In a bid to understand the varieties of parasites that feed on frogs – so Mr Cutajar and colleagues might lure and catch those most informative and prolific species – the team are looking to the public for their frog photos.

“If you’ve photographed frogs in Australia, I’d love for you to closely examine your pictures, looking for any frogs that have flies, midges or mosquitoes sitting on them. If you find flies, midges or mosquitoes in direct contact with frogs in any of your photos, please share them.”

The submitted photos will be analysed for the frog and parasite species they contain, helping inform future iDNA research. Mountain Stream Tree Frog (Litoria barringtonensis) being bitten by Sycorax. Photo: Tim Cutajar/Australian Museum

“We’ll be combing through photographs of frogs submitted through our survey,” says Mr Cutajar, “homing in on the characteristics that make a frog species a likely target for frog-biting flies.

“It’s unlikely that all frogs are equally parasitised. Some frogs have natural insect repellents, while others can swat flies away. The flies themselves can be choosy about the types of sounds they’re attracted to, and probably aren’t evenly abundant everywhere.”

Already the new iDNA technique, championed in herpetology by Mr Cutajar, has shown great promise, and by refining its methodology with data submitted by the public – citizen scientists – our understanding of frog ecology and biodiversity can be broadened yet further.

“The power of collective action can be amazing for science,” says Mr Cutajar, “and with your help, we can kickstart a new era of improved detection, and therefore conservation, of our amazing amphibian diversity.”

Possums In Your Roof?: Do The Right Thing

Possums in your roof? Please do the right thing 
On the weekend, one of our volunteers noticed a driver pull up, get out of their vehicle, open the boot, remove a trap and attempt to dump a possum on a bush track. Fortunately, our member intervened and saved the beautiful female brushtail and the baby in her pouch from certain death. 

It is illegal to relocate a trapped possum more than 150 metres from the point of capture and substantial penalties apply.  Urbanised possums are highly territorial and do not fare well in unfamiliar bushland. In fact, they may starve to death or be taken by predators.

While Sydney Wildlife Rescue does not provide a service to remove possums from your roof, we do offer this advice:

✅ Call us on (02) 9413 4300 and we will refer you to a reliable and trusted licenced contractor in the Sydney metropolitan area. For a small fee they will remove the possum, seal the entry to your roof and provide a suitable home for the possum - a box for a brushtail or drey for a ringtail.
✅ Do-it-yourself by following this advice from the Department of Planning and Environment: 

❌ Do not under any circumstances relocate a possum more than 150 metres from the capture site.
Thank you for caring and doing the right thing.

Sydney Wildlife photos

Local Wildlife Rescuers And Carers State That Ongoing Heavy Rains Are Tough For Us But Can Be Tougher For Our Wildlife:

  • Birds and possums can be washed out of trees, or the tree comes down, nests can disintegrate or hollows fill with water
  • Ground dwelling animals can be flooded out of their burrows or hiding places and they need to seek higher ground
  • They are at risk crossing roads as people can't see them and sudden braking causes accidents
  • The food may disappear - insects, seeds and pollens are washed away, nectar is diluted and animals can be starving
  • They are vulnerable in open areas to predators, including our pets
  • They can't dry out and may get hypothermia or pneumonia
  • Animals may seek shelter in your home or garage. 

You can help by:

  • Keeping your pets indoors
  • Assessing for wounds or parasites
  • Putting out towels or shelters like boxes to provide a place to hide
  • Drive to conditions and call a rescue group if you see an animal hit (or do a pouch check or get to a vet if you can stop)
  • If you are concerned take a photo and talk to a rescue group or wildlife carer

There are 2 rescue groups in the Northern Beaches:

Sydney Wildlife: 9413 4300

WIRES: 1300 094 737

Please be patient as there could be a few enquiries regarding the wildlife. 

Generally Sydney Wildlife do not recommend offering food but it may help in some cases. Please ensure you know what they generally eat and any offerings will not make them sick. You can read more on feeding wildlife here 

Information courtesy Ed Laginestra, Sydney Wildlife volunteer. Photo: Warriewood Wetlands Wallaby by Kevin Murray, March 2022.

Aviaries + Possum Release Sites Needed

Pittwater Online News has interviewed Lynette Millett OAM (WIRES Northern Beaches Branch) needs more bird cages of all sizes for keeping the current huge amount of baby wildlife in care safe or 'homed' while they are healed/allowed to grow bigger to the point where they may be released back into their own home. 

If you have an aviary or large bird cage you are getting rid of or don't need anymore, please email via the link provided above. There is also a pressing need for release sites for brushtail possums - a species that is very territorial and where release into a site already lived in by one possum can result in serious problems and injury. 

If you have a decent backyard and can help out, Lyn and husband Dave can supply you with a simple drey for a nest and food for their first weeks of adjustment.

Sydney Wildlife Rescue: Helpers Needed

Bushcare In Pittwater 

For further information or to confirm the meeting details for below groups, please contact Council's Bushcare Officer on 9970 1367

Where we work                      Which day                              What time 

Angophora Reserve             3rd Sunday                         8:30 - 11:30am 
Avalon Dunes                        1st Sunday                         8:30 - 11:30am 
Avalon Golf Course              2nd Wednesday                 3 - 5:30pm 
Careel Creek                         4th Saturday                      8:30 - 11:30am 
Toongari Reserve                 3rd Saturday                      9 - 12noon (8 - 11am in summer) 
Bangalley Headland            2nd Sunday                         9 to 12noon 

Winnererremy Bay                 4th Sunday                        9 to 12noon 

North Bilgola Beach              3rd Monday                        9 - 12noon 
Algona Reserve                     1st Saturday                       9 - 12noon 
Plateau Park                          1st Friday                            8:30 - 11:30am 

Church Point     
Browns Bay Reserve             1st Tuesday                        9 - 12noon 
McCarrs Creek Reserve       Contact Bushcare Officer     To be confirmed 

Old Wharf Reserve                 3rd Saturday                      8 - 11am 

Kundibah Reserve                   4th Sunday                       8:30 - 11:30am 

Mona Vale     
Mona Vale Beach Basin          1st Saturday                    8 - 11am 
Mona Vale Dunes                     2nd Saturday +3rd Thursday     8:30 - 11:30am 

Bungan Beach                          4th Sunday                      9 - 12noon 
Crescent Reserve                    3rd Sunday                      9 - 12noon 
North Newport Beach              4th Saturday                    8:30 - 11:30am 
Porter Reserve                          2nd Saturday                  8 - 11am 

North Narrabeen     
Irrawong Reserve                     2nd Saturday                   2 - 5pm 

Palm Beach     
North Palm Beach Dunes      3rd Saturday                    9 - 12noon 

Scotland Island     
Catherine Park                          2nd Sunday                     10 - 12:30pm 
Elizabeth Park                           1st Saturday                      9 - 12noon 
Pathilda Reserve                      3rd Saturday                      9 - 12noon 

Warriewood Wetlands             1st Sunday                         8:30 - 11:30am 

Whale Beach     
Norma Park                               1st Friday                            9 - 12noon 

Western Foreshores     
Coopers Point, Elvina Bay      2nd Sunday                        10 - 1pm 
Rocky Point, Elvina Bay           1st Monday                          9 - 12noon

Gardens And Environment Groups And Organisations In Pittwater

‘Sad and distressing’: massive numbers of bird deaths in Australian heatwaves reveal a profound loss is looming

Janet GardnerCSIRO and Suzanne ProberCSIRO

This article contains images that some readers may find upsetting.

Heatwaves linked to climate change have already led to mass deaths of birds and other wildlife around the world. To stem the loss of biodiversity as the climate warms, we need to better understand how birds respond.

Our new study set out to fill this knowledge gap by examining Australian birds. Alarmingly, we found birds at our study sites died at a rate three times greater during a very hot summer compared to a mild summer.

And the news gets worse. Under a pessimistic emissions scenario, just 11% of birds at the sites would survive.

The findings have profound implications for our bird life in a warming world – and underscore the urgent need to both reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and help animals find cool places to shelter.

Feeling The Heat

The study examined native birds in two parts of semi-arid New South Wales: Weddin Mountains National Park near Grenfell and Charcoal Tank Nature Reserve near West Wyalong. At both locations, citizen scientists have been catching, marking and releasing birds regularly since 1986.

This has produced data for 22,000 individual birds spanning 37 species. They include honeyeaters, thornbills, fairy-wrens, whistlers, treecreepers, finches and doves.

Data from the past 30-odd years showed cold winters led only to a relatively small drop in survival rates. But it was a far starker picture in summer.

dead bird on ground
Sadly, many birds at the study site died on hot days. Author provided

During a mild summer with no days above 38℃, 86% of the birds survived. But in a hot summer with 30 days above 38℃, just 59% survived.

We then used these real-life findings to model future survival, to the end of the century, for birds at our study sites.

Worryingly, climate projections for the sites we studied show the number of days above 38℃ will at least double by the end of the century (or the year 2104). Meanwhile, days below 0℃ will disappear during this time.

These projections are broadly similar for all arid and semi-arid regions across Australia.

As winters warm, we predict bird survival in winter would increase slightly by the end of this century. But this would not offset the many more birds killed by extreme heat as summers warm.

But to what extent will populations decline? To answer this question, we considered an optimistic scenario of rapid emissions reduction – resulting in about 1℃ warming compared to pre-industrial levels. Under this scenario, we predict annual survival will fall by one-third, from 63% to 43%.

Under a pessimistic scenario, involving very little emissions reduction and 3.7℃ warming this century, the survival rate falls to a shocking 11%.

Other lab-based studies around the world have made similar projections for bird populations. But our projections are unusual because they’re based on actual survival rates in wild populations measured over decades.

What Happens To Birds In Heatwaves?

Some birds do manage to survive extreme heat. We then wondered: how does a bird protect itself from soaring temperatures? And can its habitat offer life-saving shelter?

We addressed these questions in a complementary study led by zoologist Lynda Sharpe. It involved comparing the behaviour of individual birds on mild and hot days.

We chose as our subject the Jacky Winter, a small robin common across Australia. Between 2018 and 2021 we followed the fates of 40 breeding pairs living in semi-arid mallee woodland in South Australia. There, the annual number of days above 42℃ has more than doubled over the past 25 years.

As heat escalated, Jacky Winters showed a broad range of behavioural responses. This included adjusting their posture, activity levels and habitat use to avoid gaining heat and to increase heat dissipation.

a sick bird bows its head
A Jacky Winter at the study site showing signs of dehydration on the morning following a 47℃ day. Author provided

As air temperatures approached 35℃, birds moved to the top of the highest trees where greater wind speeds cooled their bodies. The birds also began to pant, which can lead to fatal dehydration.

Once air temperatures climbed above 40℃, exceeding the birds’ body temperature, they moved to the ground to shelter in tree-base hollows and crevices. They remained in these “thermal refuges” for as long as it took for air temperatures to drop to about 38℃ – sometimes for up to eight hours. But this made foraging impossible and the birds lost body mass.

We then examined what parts of the birds’ habitat offered the coolest place to shelter on extremely hot days. Hollows in tree bases were significantly cooler than all other locations we measured. The best of these cool hollows were rare and found only in the largest eucalypt mallees.

Even with their flexible behaviour, the ability of Jacky Winters to survive heatwaves was finite – and apparently dependent on whether large trees were available. Some 29% percent of adults we studied disappeared (and were presumed dead) within 24 hours of air temperatures reaching a record-breaking 49℃ in 2019.

Similarly, during two months of heatwaves in 2018, 20% of adults studied were lost, compared with only 6% in the two months prior.

Eggs and nestlings were even more susceptible to heat. All 41 egg clutches and 21 broods exposed to air temperatures above 42℃ died.

We found it distressing to witness such losses among birds we had followed for months and years. And it was deeply sad to see the breeding failures after the parent birds had invested so much effort in caring for eggs and tending to young.

A dead chick in a nest, identified in the study. Eggs and nestlings were especially susceptible to heat. Author provided

We Need To Act

Our studies show extremely high temperatures are already killing troubling numbers of birds in Australia’s arid and semi-arid regions. These regions comprise 70% of the Australian continent and 40% of the global landmass.

Such losses will only worsen as climate change escalates. This has profound implications for biodiversity in Australia and more broadly.

Obviously, humanity must urgently reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming. But we must also better manage our biodiversity as the climate changes.

Key to this is identifying and protecting thermal refuges such as tree hollows by, for example, managing fire to reduce the loss of large trees.

The authors wish to acknowledge our colleagues, especially Lynda Sharpe and Tim Bonnet, for their important contributions to the research upon which this article is based.The Conversation

Janet Gardner, Adjunct Research Scientist, CSIRO and Suzanne Prober, Senior Principal Research Scientist, CSIRO

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Cars have taken over our neighbourhoods. Kid-friendly superblocks are a way for residents to reclaim their streets

Matthew MclaughlinThe University of Western AustraliaHayley ChristianThe University of Western AustraliaJasper SchipperijnUniversity of Southern Denmark, and Trevor ShiltonCurtin University

You might remember your time as a child playing outdoors with friends and walking to school. These activities had tremendous benefits for our health and development.

Today, parents report barriers to letting their kids play, walk and ride in their neighbourhood. The safety of local streets is a major concern.

One way to boost communities is to create “superblocks for kids”. Pioneered in cities like Barcelona, a superblock covers several neighbourhood blocks reserved for shared use by cyclists, walkers and residents who simply want to use the street space. Superblocks allow low-speed access for residents’ cars, but exclude through-traffic.

Superblocks have evolved from concepts dating back to the 1970sRetrofitted and planned examples of more liveable and safer streets can be found from Melbourne to Perth, where there are interesting alternative designs in Willetton and Crestwood.

Transforming neighbourhoods in this way enables us to once again enjoy the public space right on our doorsteps – the street.

Author provided

Superblocks For Kids Are A Low-Cost Fix

Superblocks are a low-cost solution to the problem of the residential “stroad” – a street-road hybrid that drivers use to avoid congested main roads, many at unsafe speeds.

These stroads are a troubled mix of two different functions: roads are through routes, and streets connect neighbourhoods socially and physically. Streets connect houses to local parks, shops and through routes, but are also public places themselves. The dual role of stroads comes at the expense of residents and their children.

Superblocks for kids can be retrofitted to existing suburbs to create safer, quieter and more play-friendly streets. They are typically about a square kilometre in area, bounded by main roads and features such as rivers. Ideally, superblocks are clustered together to provide safe access to local amenities and public transport hubs.

Everyone can still drive to their home in a superblock, but they might have to take a slightly longer, more circular route. This can reduce traffic by nudging residents to walk and cycle short journeys within their superblock.

Various low-cost “filters” exclude through traffic. These filters include:

The resulting superblocks are places where kids play on the streets, which are quiet and easy to cross. There’s shade and shelter, places to stop and rest, things to see and do, and the air is clean. People feel safe and relaxed. Neighbourhoods like this promote public health and community camaraderie.

Four examples of streets that could be transformed in this way are shown below:

Lyall Street, Redcliffe, Perth

A pocket park breaks up a rat run to the airport.

The Avenue, Mount St Thomas, Wollongong

Plantings and bollards eliminate a known rat run.

Lithgow Street, Abbotsford, Melbourne

Wider kerbs make school drop-offs and pick-ups safer.

Meymot Street, Banyo, Brisbane

A pocket park and residents-only car access create a safer and quieter street.

Rat-Running Is A Big Problem

Almost twice as many cars are on Australian roads today as 20 years ago. Coupled with the rise of satellite navigation technology, this has led to more drivers using residential streets as rat runs to avoid congested main roads.

Decades of prioritising cars in Australian communities have created a serious safety issue. Overall, serious road injuries are on the rise. Despite small declines in road deaths, deaths on local streets haven’t fallen.

People feel less safe on their local streets, but we know what we can do to improve safety. Preventing rat-running leads to cleaner air, less noise, safer streets and more walking, riding, wheelchairs and mobility scooters. These results all promote stronger communities.

Everyone Benefits From Kid-Friendly Neighbourhoods

A remarkable feature of building neighbourhoods for kids is how quickly residents reoccupy their streets. People emerge from their houses to talk, their voices no longer drowned by vehicle noise. Thoroughfares become communities. Children come out to play.

As physical activity researchers, we know that getting children to move more is an urgent issue. Australian kids score a D- for overall physical activity levels on international ratings. Australian adults also have low levels of physical activity.

Neighbourhoods for kids help everyone enjoy the benefits of becoming more active. For kids, the street can connect them to nature and help them develop movement and independent travel skills for life.

Increasing neighbourhood liveability also boosts house prices and reduces noise pollution.

Leaving The Car At Home For Short Local Trips

Superblocks make it easier for families to choose the “right tool for the job” for small local trips — a bicycle over a car. This saves money and improves health.

All these small trips add up. For example, two-thirds (2.8 million) of daily car trips in Perth are under 5km — a 20-minute bike ride or less. In Melbourne, 41% of trips are under 3km, but 58% of these are by car. That’s 3.6 million car trips a day.

Where Should Australia Start?

Our research highlights the need to listen to communities, and kids in particular, when designing neighbourhoods.

In the vast majority of cases, any initial opposition to creating kid-friendly neighbourhoods soon dissipates. Residents see the benefits of safer and more pleasant streets for themselves and their families.

Two-thirds of Australians support improving their neighbourhood to help them be more active. We should start by creating neighbourhoods for the communities that need it most — those with the poorest access to green space and public transport, most through traffic and crashes, and highest levels of childhood obesity.

Get your community talking again! You can start by hosting a temporary play street! Demonstrating its success will help when asking your council for permanent changes.

The authors encourage the reuse of the re-imagined streets. They are freely available to download in multiple open-access formats.The Conversation

Matthew Mclaughlin, Research Fellow, Telethon Kids Institute, The University of Western AustraliaHayley Christian, Associate Professor, School of Population and Global Health, The University of Western AustraliaJasper Schipperijn, Professor of Active Living Environment, University of Southern Denmark, and Trevor Shilton, Adjunct Professor, School of Public Health, Curtin University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

NSW Government Offers Multi-Million Dollar Support For Critical Minerals Projects

September 28, 2022
The NSW Government is offering grants of up to $10 million for key infrastructure needed to progress new mining and processing projects to accelerate the critical minerals sector.

Stream Two of the NSW Critical Minerals and High-Tech Metals Activation Fund provides between $2 million and $10 million for key enabling infrastructure, such as heavy haulage modifications, road upgrades, water or power upgrades, and processing facilities, to help explorers and mining companies set up and operate in NSW.

Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for resources Paul Toole said the unprecedented investment would help secure an ongoing pipeline of critical minerals and high-tech metals into the future, positioning the State as a major global supplier.

“Critical minerals represent the future of mining in NSW and we are committed to supporting investment right across the board – from helping explorers make new discoveries and increasing processing capacity right through to the commercialisation of emerging technologies and applications,” Mr Toole said.

“The NSW Government announced in June it had allocated $130 million to activate the critical minerals and high-tech metals sector, setting NSW apart from all other jurisdictions.

“Applications for Stream One of the fund opened earlier this month, offering grants of up to $500,000 for important studies and research and development needed to kick-start early-stage projects. The grants we’re launching today support advanced projects by unlocking blockages through investment in strategic infrastructure.

“Enabling industry investment in critical minerals exploration and mining ensures our State is prepared for the increased worldwide demand, strengthens the future prosperity of NSW and provides a vital economic boost for regional economies.”

Critical minerals and high-tech metals include rare earths, cobalt, copper, antimony, and scandium, which are crucial to a range of current and future technologies, including defence, the manufacture of electric vehicles, solar panels, wind turbines, and more.

The Critical Minerals and High-Tech Metals Activation Fund follows the NSW Government’s Critical Minerals and High-Tech Metals Strategy launched late last year.

For more information about the fund go to the Regional NSW website.

Impact Of New Energy Efficient Streetlights On Insects Revealed

September 28, 2022
New energy efficient streetlights are playing a major role in influencing insect behaviour, says NIWA. The discovery comes from a four-year study investigating Ōtautahi – Christchurch city’s switch from older streetlights, such as yellow high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps, to blue-white light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

This switch represents significant savings in operational costs and promises to reduce carbon emissions, but little is known about the ecological impacts on wildlife, particularly freshwater insects living near urban waterways.

Freshwater insects are an important corner stone of the ecosystem, providing food for animals such as fish and birds. Light pollution has contributed to insect numbers plummeting around the world’s urban areas, which has a knock-on effect for the whole food chain. In particular, blue light is known to impact the behaviour of many insects.

NIWA created a city-wide lightscape map to look at light and dark areas across Christchurch under different streetlighting scenarios. Scientists undertook a series of experiments using different types of operational-scale streetlights to understand which lights are most attractive to different flying insects.
They found that the switch to 4000 K blue-white LEDs from HPS has seen a reduction in insect attraction in several locations, contrary to predictions because the LEDs emit more blue light than the HPS lamps.

NIWA freshwater ecologist Dr Michelle Greenwood led the MBIE-funded Smart Idea project. She says their findings may seem contradictory but it’s because light intensity was playing a bigger role.

“While many insects are generally more attracted to blue-light emitting LEDs, the switch from HPS to LEDs has actually seen a reduction in insect attraction across most of the sites we studied. This is because light intensity has a greater impact, and HPS lights often emit more light than the LEDs,” Dr Greenwood said.

Unsurprisingly, experiments also showed that many insects were more attracted to LEDs that emitted higher levels blue light compared to LEDs with less or no blue light.

“This means that using lights that emit less blue light is likely to benefit certain groups of insects, particularly moths, caddisflies and mayflies, with the magnitude of effect depending on the relative light intensity and colour spectrum of the lamps being replaced. Placing lights further from waterways or behind screens such as riparian plants, where possible, will also likely reduce the attraction of freshwater insect to streetlights,” said Dr Greenwood.

Around 370,000 streetlights across New Zealand have been replaced by energy efficient LEDs, mainly those that emit blue-white light. This study hopes to assist in the design of ecologically sensitive streetlighting plans and to help identify critical areas where alternative lighting solutions might be required.

Songbirds with unique colours are more likely to be traded as pets – new research

An indigo flycatcher. Zhikai LiaoAuthor provided
Rebecca SeniorDurham University

People like beautiful things. This comes as no surprise: beauty underpins highly profitable businesses, from cosmetics and art to the illegal wildlife trade, which reaps up to US$23 billion (£20 billion) annually according to some estimates.

Tigers and pandas show that aesthetic value can be an asset to wildlife conservation, attracting public support and funding. On the flip side, anything that you might want to preserve in the wild so you can look at it, somebody else will probably want to own for the same reason.

The unsustainable trade in plants and animals can rapidly deplete wild populations and put species at risk of going extinct in certain areas, or even globally.

Songbirds (birds in the order Passeriformes) are an interesting case study. This group contains the greatest number of bird species, many of which are traded and many of which are threatened with extinction.

Canaries, for example, were originally sought as pets for the beautiful music they sing. But we need only look at their striking yellow feathers to see that colour – and beauty – also play a role in the popularity of songbirds.

Recent research I conducted with colleagues at the University of Florida in the US, the Centre for the Synthesis and Analysis of Biodiversity in France and Massey University in New Zealand, showed the colour of a songbird’s plumage predicts the likelihood of it being traded as a pet and its risk of extinction.

A small, green bird with red beak and feet.
A Bornean green magpie. Zhikai LiaoAuthor provided

Colour By Numbers

How do you quantify colour? We started off using data on the red, green and blue values of the colours that make up each species’ plumage. This is a standard way to quantify colour, which readers might be familiar with from television screens, for example.

Each primary colour of red, green and blue takes a value ranging from the minimum of zero to the maximum of 255. And these so-called RGB values together denote a specific colour. For example, a bird with 255 red, 204 green, and 255 blue would appear pale pink.

A finch with a pink chest singing on a branch surrounded by white blossoms.
Chaffinches, common in Britain and Ireland, have pink chests. Bachkova Natalia/Shutterstock

Unfortunately, you cannot easily identify and classify colours using these RGB values, so we converted them into colour categories using some simple maths. We used 15 categories, including the primary colours (red, green, blue), secondary colours (yellow, cyan, magenta), tertiary colours (orange, chartreuse green, spring green, azure, violet, rose), and the additional categories of brown, light (including white) and dark (including black).

A medium-sized bird with turquoise wing feathers.
A fairy pitta: a ground-dweller of well-shaded forests in East Asia. Zhikai LiaoAuthor provided

Using a 3D graph with one axis for red, one for green and one for blue, we plotted every species according to the colour of its plumage. This allows you to see how rare the colours of different species are, based on how far away their colour is from others in the 3D space.

For the entire community of birds occurring in a given location, you can also look at how many colours are represented by those species based on how much of the 3D space they occupy. This we refer to as colour diversity.

A 3D graph with axes labelled red, green and blue.
Points are shaded by the species’ colour and sized by the uniqueness of that colour. The Florida scrub jay, highlighted with a black diamond, is a uniquely coloured bird with striking blue colouring. Rebecca SeniorAuthor provided

Species At Risk

Our results showed certain colour categories, such as azure and yellow, are more likely to be found on species that are traded than those that are not.

We believe that yellow is a common colour in the illegal wildlife trade partly because there are simply lots of species that are yellow. Azure, in contrast, is a colour found on far fewer species, but when it does occur it seems that it is highly likely to be on species that are heavily traded.

Other colours, such as brown, are less likely to be found on traded species compared with those that aren’t traded. Species with more unique colouration, such as pure white, have a generally higher probability of being traded.

A pure white bird with yellow eye patches in a cage.
The critically endangered black-winged starling. Rick Stanley & Gabby SalazarAuthor provided

What does this all mean for biodiversity? We identified nearly 500 additional species that are not currently traded but are at risk of being traded in future based on their colour and how closely related they are to currently traded species.

Since the tropics contain the greatest diversity of colours, in terms of both the range of colours exhibited by songbirds and the number of colourful species, this is where most colours would be lost if all currently traded species went extinct. The loss of these species would mute nature’s colour palette, leading to generally drabber bird communities with less colour variety globally.

A small red bird.
A scarlet finch, which is found in the Himalayas. Zhikai LiaoAuthor provided

This is just the first step in understanding the aesthetic value that underlies the trade in songbirds. A better understanding of what motivates this trade can help identify species that could benefit from monitoring and trade regulation.

Equally, identifying, celebrating and conserving hotspots of colour diversity has the best chance of conserving the aesthetic value of colour, as well as the overall biodiversity boasted by the tropics.

Imagine weekly climate newsletter

Don’t have time to read about climate change as much as you’d like?
Get a weekly roundup in your inbox instead. Every Wednesday, The Conversation’s environment editor writes Imagine, a short email that goes a little deeper into just one climate issue. Join the 10,000+ readers who’ve subscribed so far.The Conversation

Rebecca Senior, Assistant Professor of Conservation Science, Durham University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Backcountry visitors are leaving poo piles in the Australian Alps – and it’s a problem

Pascal ScherrerSouthern Cross UniversityIsabelle WolfUniversity of Wollongong, and Jen SmartUniversity of Wollongong

Spring has arrived in Australia’s Snowy Mountains. The snow is starting to melt. Wildflowers are emerging in a variety of colours: blues, yellows, whites … hang on. Those aren’t white flowers. They’re scrunched up bits of toilet paper left behind by skiers, boarders and snow-shoers.

When you think of backcountry snow adventures, you think of pristine wilderness. But unfortunately, there’s a problem: what to do with your poo. Many backcountry adventurers just squat, drop and don’t stop. The result, as we saw ourselves on an overnight ski trip, is a surprisingly large amount of poo and toilet paper. It’s become a bigger problem in recent years, as backcountry trips have boomed in places like the Main Range section of the Snowy Mountains.

Our new research explores this issue to find out how to better protect these wild areas. We surveyed backcountry visitors to Kosciuszko National Park in New South Wales and found a minority of visitors were carrying out their waste from overnight trips, as recommended. To combat the alpine poo scourge, we recommend building more toilets in strategic locations, making their location readily known, and giving out poo transport bags at entry points and gear shops.

If you’re sceptical, take heart – it wasn’t so long ago many people believed dog owners would never agree to scoop up their pet’s poo and bin it. But for the most part, they did.

snowy mountain lake
As the snow melts, it can carry poo down to watercourses or lakes like Blue Lake in the popular Main Range section of the Snowy Mountains. Shutterstock

So What Are You Meant To Do With Snow Poo?

You might wonder why this matters. After all, aren’t our snow-covered mountains full of possums, wombats and wallabies, all of which poo? And can’t you bury your poo, like you can in other parts of Australia? The problem here is the snow. Human poo deposited in winter won’t decompose until spring. In popular areas, poo and toilet paper can pile up, which is an unpleasant visual for other visitors. And as the snow melts, it can carry poo into creeks, depositing cold-resistant viruses, bacteria like E. coli, and parasites such as giardia. If another skier eats contaminated snow or drinks the stream water, they can be infected.

That’s why backcountry visitors to Kosciuszko National Park are urged to carry out their poo in biodegradable bags or a home made poo tube (basically a sealable plastic pipe).

This, our survey of 258 visitors found, is not hugely popular. Only a third of highly experienced skiers on multi-day trips carry their poo out, while only a fifth of less experienced visitors did the same.

The options our multi-day skiers preferred were using a toilet at a hut, if available, or burying poo in the snow. This is not ideal – if you can’t carry it out, it’s preferable to bury it in exposed soil (ideally, at least 50 metres away from any water courses). Some visitors reported covering their waste with rocks.

Day visitors largely used toilets at the entry and exit points or at a resort, though around 10% reported burying their poo in the snow or using toilets at huts.

This means overall compliance with the carry-it-out policy is low.

But as one longtime backcountry visitor points out, it’s not actually hard – or disgusting – to carry it out:

It was easy. It was the most satisfying experience I have had, knowing that I had left no trace for the entire journey; the view, the ground, the creeks, the plants had been left unspoilt. No-one would have ever known I had been there. Carrying and taking it out went without mishap and finally disposing of my waste was not a problem.

What Can Be Done?

People prefer toilets as a tried and true method of removing poo. Installing new toilets is the most effective way to prevent open defecation. The problem is where to put them. Installing toilets in remote areas is a delicate matter, as many visitors may see them as taking away from the natural experience which is the major drawcard for backcountry visitors. It’s also expensive to maintain toilets in the snow, as they require helicopters or trucks to pump out the waste.

Other options include digging pit latrines, disposing of it into crevasses, burying in soil, snow or rocks, leaving it on the ground, burning it, or carrying it out in poo tubes or biodegradable bags. You can see why park authorities prefer carrying it out.

main range signboard
Toilets are the gold standard - but they’re hard to come by in remote areas of Kosciuszko National Park. Shutterstock

So how can we make it more inviting for visitors to pack their poo? Clearly, the present messaging isn’t fully effective. It’s time for a new approach, especially given the numbers of people heading to the backcountry is growing.

We recommend a two-pronged approach: better communication and targeted infrastructure at entry points.

Friends, websites and outdoor recreation clubs are important sources of information about how to undertake a backcountry trip. To harness these sources, parks authorities could work with the wider backcountry community on the issue, with simple, targeted messages.

By itself, messaging won’t be enough. That’s why we need more and improved toilets – and bins – at key locations, to make it as easy as possible for visitors to do the right thing with their poo.

Authorities should also make these locations clearly known on visitor maps and online, as well as making biodegradable bags or poo tubes available at entry points, information centres and gear shops.

If we get this right, backcountry skiers will once again be able to enjoy the wildflowers. Let’s aim for spring has sprung – not spring has dung. The Conversation

Pascal Scherrer, Senior Lecturer, School of Business and Tourism, Southern Cross UniversityIsabelle Wolf, Vice Chancellor Senior Research Fellow, University of Wollongong, and Jen Smart, PhD student, University of Wollongong

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

There’s a huge surge in solar production under way – and Australia could show the world how to use it

Andrew BlakersAustralian National University

You might feel despondent after reading news reports about countries doubling down on fossil fuels to cope with energy price spikes.

Don’t. It’s a blip. While the Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to a temporary fossil fuel resurgence, it also accelerated Europe’s renewable ambitions. And the United States and Australia have finally passed climate bills. This week, federal energy minister Chris Bowen announced “Australia is back” on climate action.

There’s better news too. In March this year, the world hit one terawatt of installed solar. By 2025, the world’s polysilicon factories are predicted to bounce back from supply shortages and churn out enough high-purity silicon for almost one terawatt of solar panels every year.

Coupled with major growth in wind, pumped hydro, energy storage, grid batteries and electric vehicles, the solar boom puts zero global emissions within reach before 2050.

Best of all – Australia could show the world how to add solar to their grid. You might not suspect it, but we’re the global leaders in finding straightforward solutions to the variability of solar power and wind. We’re showing that it’s easier to get carbon emissions out of electricity generation than many predicted.

solar farm
Solar power will ramp up sharply, if supply chain investment is any guide. Shutterstock

Rapid, Deep And Cheap Emissions Reductions

This surge in the renewable supply chain allows sustained exponential growth that is already disrupting fossil fuel markets in some countries, notably Australia.

This year, global fossil fuel prices have skyrocketed in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In turn, that’s generated intense interest in solar and wind energy to boost domestic energy security, particularly in Europe, which needs to wean itself off Russian gas.

While fossil fuels are concentrated in countries such as Russia, Saudi Arabia and Australia, solar and wind resources are widely distributed. Most countries can generate all their own energy from the sun and wind.

Europe could readily become energy independent, harnessing its enormous North Sea offshore wind resources and solar in the south. Even densely populated countries such as Japan and Indonesia have far more solar and wind resources than they need.

Solar and wind now provide the cheapest new electricity generation in most markets. As a bonus, the widespread uptake of solar and wind will eliminate many of our worst air pollutants and improve our health.

Why Are Solar And Wind Winning?

In a word, cost. Solar and wind have won the race for the energy of the future because they are cheap. Once built, the fuel is free, and does not need to be imported or dug up.

Wind and solar are being built three times faster than everything else combined. It follows they will dominate future energy markets as existing fossil fuel generators retire and electricity use grows rapidly.

graph solar and other power sources
Global net generation capacity additions. Adapted from IRENA, CER, GWEC, WNA, GEM, ITRPV and IEA data. SuppliedCC BY

Nuclear generation hasn’t grown in the past decade. Coal and gas plants able to capture and store carbon have not got traction in the energy market. Hydroelectricity can’t expand much further. There will, however, be a huge market for off-river pumped hydro energy storage.

There are no serious technical, environmental or material constraints to solar power on any scale. However, solar has been hit by supply chain issues in recent months, with major price spikes in polysilicon. These are common to any rapidly growing industry, and should resolve as more suppliers see the opportunity and enter the market.

There Is Enough Land

Most of the world’s population live at moderate latitudes with good sunshine on most days. Here, solar is effectively unlimited. Those further north have abundant wind energy (particularly offshore wind) to offset weaker solar in winter.

Sceptics point out you need more land or sea to produce the same amount of electricity as fossil fuel plants. While true, solar farms can happily coexist with livestock and cropping to create a double income for farmers. The solar electricity needed to power the world and eliminate all fossil fuels can be generated from about 1% of the land area devoted to agriculture.

map of solar resources
Most of the global population lives between the 35th parallels (the red lines) where there are good solar resources. Redder areas mean better solar. World BankCC BY

Once we have cheap clean electricity, we can use it to eliminate the use of fossil fuels altogether by electrifying nearly everything: transport, heating, industry and chemical production. This could reduce emissions by three quarters.

Global electricity production will need to rise sevenfold to about 200,000 terawatt-hours a year to give everyone the energy needed to reach developed nation living standards. But this is not all that hard over the next 30 years. And the alternative – keep pumping warming pollutants into the atmosphere – will make the lives of our children harder and harder.

Together, solar and wind have passed two terawatts of installed capacity. That means we’re about 2% of the way to reaching the almost 100 terawatts of solar and wind required to decarbonise the world, while raising living standards.

Annual solar deployment needs to double every four years to get the job done by 2050–60 – similar to the global growth rate achieved over the past decade.

Australia Can Show The Way

You might not think it, given the decade of political climate wars, but Australia is the world leader in terms of solar electricity produced per person.

graph showing australia solar uptakeq
Australia’s solar uptake dwarfs all other countries. Andrew BlakersAuthor provided

In Australia, solar and wind are booming while coal is rapidly falling. We’re already on track to reach 80-90% renewables by 2030. Remarkably, our per capita solar generation is twice as large as the second placed countries (Germany, Japan and the Netherlands) and far ahead of China and the USA.

Australia is quietly demonstrating how to accommodate huge new flows of cheap, clean electricity. The world will soon follow suit. The Conversation

Andrew Blakers, Professor of Engineering, Australian National University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

After the Voice, climate change commitments should be the next urgent constitutional reforms

Ron LevyAustralian National University

After decades of foot-dragging on climate change, Australia has finally put significant commitments in national legislation. It joins other countries such as Canada and the United States that also recently took big new legal steps.

The new laws may still not be enough, but they mark real progress. Yet, will such progress last or be short-lived?

As we saw with Australia’s carbon price law, which passed in 2011, a change of government can lead to a change in direction. And that direction may be broadly backwards.

For this reason I have, in recent research, called for a new kind of commitment to climate change mitigation: a set of clear numeric targets entrenched in our highest laws, namely our constitutions. Constitutions spell out our most sacrosanct commitments. They are hard to budge once enacted.

At the moment, the focus of constitutional change in Australia is on the recognition of Indigenous people in the First Nations Voice to Parliament – as it should be.

But we must also look over the horizon to the next challenges. After the Voice, climate change commitments should be the next urgent constitutional reform. The republic can wait; climate change cannot.

What Would It Look Like?

An ongoing emergency like climate change calls for an unwavering set of policy solutions well into the future. But a long-term policy – such as a target year for net-zero emissions – may struggle in a democratic system that can promise only occasional and precarious environmental protection.

Entrenching such policies in our national, state or territorial constitutions may help firm up our commitments to resolute action. But that depends on what constitutional climate action looks like.

Ideally it should specify a carbon emissions reduction target – as a minimum or “floor” – and a process for ratcheting up the target over time (similar to the international Paris Agreement). There should also be new enforcement bodies to review the carbon budgets of Australian governments.

On the one hand, if we took these constitutional steps we would be in good company. A majority of national constitutions already protect the environment. On the other, what I suggest here goes beyond most past examples. Most have been decidedly vague.

South Africa’s Bill of Rights, for instance, guarantees everyone the “right (a) to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being; and (b) to have the environment protected”.

Elsewhere, we see rights to a “healthy” environment, or obligations to “protect and improve” the environment.

Unfortunately, these constitutional laws reflect only broad aspirations. They don’t always lead to meaningful environmental protection. This is largely because short-term, myopic economic concerns often act as counterweights blocking effective environmental action. South Africa itself provides one example where courts balance environmental ideals in the constitution against economic factors.

What I call “fixed constitutional commitments” are precise constitutional guarantees, like carbon reduction targets. Since they fix a specific quantity of commitment, they can be resistant to the judicial balancing that usually neuters environmental constitutional clauses.

Precedents Abroad, And Even In Australia

While this idea is largely novel, it has some precedents. BhutanKenya and New York State each specify a minimum amount of forest coverage. On this, New York was the trailblazer: the state’s constitutional protections for forests date back to 1894.

Just last year in Australia, Victoria constitutionally entrenched a ban on fracking. To do this Victoria used a simple legislative process for constitutional entrenchment available to each state under the Australia Act 1986.

This makes Victoria one of a handful of jurisdictions that have also set precise environmental targets in constitutional law. In this case, a commitment to zero fracking.

After the Victorian constitutional reform, one opposition member raised an important objection: that putting environmental policy in the constitution takes it out of the democratic sphere.

This is true to an extent. But there are important responses.

First, fixed constitutional commitments may correct failures of democracy. Elected representatives often represent the preferences of citizens on the environment weakly, at best.

And despite overwhelming popular support for a strong response to the climate emergency, many politicians worldwide oppose such responses – and not because they know better. Many believe their real constituents to be the businesses and other interests that underwrite electoral campaigns.

Moreover, the “climate wars” have long held Australia in legal limbo. We can’t take significant action on the climate as long as politicians can’t agree for long about what actions to take.

Before a community can begin to hash out new policy, it has to settle its basic policy priorities – such as net-zero carbon emissions by a given year. A democracy that’s stuck at the priority-setting stage can’t go on to work out the details of policy. And deliberation about policy details is where most of our democratic activity generally lies.

Fixing Democratic Failures On The Environment

There has been much talk in recent years about whether the world’s remaining democracies are too prone to division, and too weak to take action against long-term problems.

Can democratic systems still adequately address challenges – such as climate change – almost tailor-made for disinformation, political polarisation and gridlock? Or do we need new tools to avoid the policymaking quagmires that have so often kept democracies from tackling complex problems?

The best solutions will invent new ways of getting things done while preserving, and even improving, democracy. Fixed constitutional commitments on climate change may demonstrate a democratic society can indeed remain responsive to our most complex and urgent problems. The Conversation

Ron Levy, Associate professor, Australian National University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Pittwater Reserves: Histories + Notes + Pictorial Walks

A History Of The Campaign For Preservation Of The Warriewood Escarpment by David Palmer OAM and Angus Gordon OAM
America Bay Track Walk - photos by Joe Mills
An Aquatic June: North Narrabeen - Turimetta - Collaroy photos by Joe Mills 
Angophora Reserve  Angophora Reserve Flowers Grand Old Tree Of Angophora Reserve Falls Back To The Earth - History page
Annie Wyatt Reserve - A  Pictorial
Avalon's Village Green: Avalon Park Becomes Dunbar Park - Some History + Toongari Reserve and Catalpa Reserve
Bairne Walking Track Ku-Ring-Gai Chase NP by Kevin Murray
Bangalley Headland  Bangalley Mid Winter
Banksias of Pittwater
Barrenjoey Boathouse In Governor Phillip Park  Part Of Our Community For 75 Years: Photos From The Collection Of Russell Walton, Son Of Victor Walton
Barrenjoey Headland: Spring flowers 
Barrenjoey Headland after fire
Bayview Baths
Bayview Wetlands
Beeby Park
Bilgola Beach
Botham Beach by Barbara Davies
Bungan Beach Bush Care
Careel Bay Saltmarsh plants 
Careel Bay Birds  
Careel Bay Clean Up day
Careel Bay Playing Fields History and Current
Careel Creek 
Careel Creek - If you rebuild it they will come
Centre trail in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
Chiltern Track- Ingleside by Marita Macrae
Clareville Beach
Clareville/Long Beach Reserve + some History
Coastal Stability Series: Cabbage Tree Bay To Barrenjoey To Observation Point by John Illingsworth, Pittwater Pathways, and Dr. Peter Mitchell OAM
Cowan Track by Kevin Murray
Curl Curl To Freshwater Walk: October 2021 by Kevin Murray and Joe Mills
Currawong and Palm Beach Views - Winter 2018
Currawong-Mackerel-The Basin A Stroll In Early November 2021 - photos by Selena Griffith
Currawong State Park Currawong Beach +  Currawong Creek
Deep Creek To Warriewood Walk photos by Joe Mills
Drone Gives A New View On Coastal Stability; Bungan: Bungan Headland To Newport Beach + Bilgola: North Newport Beach To Avalon + Bangalley: Avalon Headland To Palm Beach
Duck Holes: McCarrs Creek by Joe Mills
Dunbar Park - Some History + Toongari Reserve and Catalpa Reserve
Dundundra Falls Reserve: August 2020 photos by Selena Griffith - Listed in 1935
Elsie Track, Scotland Island
Elvina Track in Late Winter 2019 by Penny Gleen
Elvina Bay Walking Track: Spring 2020 photos by Joe Mills 
Elvina Bay-Lovett Bay Loop Spring 2020 by Kevin Murray and Joe Mills
Fern Creek - Ingleside Escarpment To Warriewood Walk + Some History photos by Joe Mills
Iluka Park, Woorak Park, Pittwater Park, Sand Point Reserve, Snapperman Beach Reserve - Palm Beach: Some History
Ingleside Wildflowers August 2013
Irrawong - Ingleside Escarpment Trail Walk Spring 2020 photos by Joe Mills
Irrawong - Mullet Creek Restoration
Katandra Bushland Sanctuary - Ingleside
Lucinda Park, Palm Beach: Some History + 2022 Pictures
McCarrs Creek
McCarr's Creek to Church Point to Bayview Waterfront Path
McKay Reserve
Mona Vale Beach - A Stroll Along, Spring 2021 by Kevin Murray
Mona Vale Headland, Basin and Beach Restoration
Mount Murray Anderson Walking Track by Kevin Murray and Joe Mills
Mullet Creek
Narrabeen Creek
Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment: Past Notes Present Photos by Margaret Woods
Narrabeen Lagoon State Park
Narrabeen Lagoon State Park Expansion
Narrabeen Rockshelf Aquatic Reserve
Nerang Track, Terrey Hills by Bea Pierce
Newport Bushlink - the Crown of the Hill Linked Reserves
Newport Community Garden - Woolcott Reserve
Newport to Bilgola Bushlink 'From The Crown To The Sea' Paths:  Founded In 1956 - A Tip and Quarry Becomes Green Space For People and Wildlife 
Pittwater spring: waterbirds return to Wetlands
Pittwater's Lone Rangers - 120 Years of Ku-Ring-Gai Chase and the Men of Flowers Inspired by Eccleston Du Faur 
Pittwater's Parallel Estuary - The Cowan 'Creek
Resolute Track at West Head by Kevin Murray
Resolute Track Stroll by Joe Mills
Riddle Reserve, Bayview
Salvation Loop Trail, Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park- Spring 2020 - by Selena Griffith
Seagull Pair At Turimetta Beach: Spring Is In The Air!
Stapleton Reserve
Stapleton Park Reserve In Spring 2020: An Urban Ark Of Plants Found Nowhere Else
Stony Range Regional Botanical Garden: Some History On How A Reserve Became An Australian Plant Park
The Chiltern Track
The Resolute Beach Loop Track At West Head In Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park by Kevin Murray
Topham Track Ku-Ring-Gai Chase NP,  August 2022 by Joe Mills and Kevin Murray
Towlers Bay Walking Track by Joe Mills
Trafalgar Square, Newport: A 'Commons' Park Dedicated By Private Landholders - The Green Heart Of This Community
Tranquil Turimetta Beach, April 2022 by Joe Mills
Turimetta Beach Reserve by Joe Mills, Bea Pierce and Lesley
Turimetta Beach Reserve: Old & New Images (by Kevin Murray) + Some History
Turimetta Headland
Warriewood Wetlands and Irrawong Reserve
Whale Beach Ocean Reserve: 'The Strand' - Some History On Another Great Protected Pittwater Reserve
Wilshire Park Palm Beach: Some History + Photos From May 2022
Winji Jimmi - Water Maze

These hot days are tough on our wildlife - please put out some water in a shaded location and if you come across an animal that is in distress, dehydrated or injured - please contact your local wildlife rescue group:
Photo: Bronwyn Gould

New Shorebirds WingThing  For Youngsters Available To Download

A Shorebirds WingThing educational brochure for kids (A5) helps children learn about shorebirds, their life and journey. The 2021 revised brochure version was published in February 2021 and is available now. You can download a file copy here.

If you would like a free print copy of this brochure, please send a self-addressed envelope with A$1.10 postage (or larger if you would like it unfolded) affixed to: BirdLife Australia, Shorebird WingThing Request, 2-05Shorebird WingThing/60 Leicester St, Carlton VIC 3053.

Shorebird Identification Booklet

The Migratory Shorebird Program has just released the third edition of its hugely popular Shorebird Identification Booklet. The team has thoroughly revised and updated this pocket-sized companion for all shorebird counters and interested birders, with lots of useful information on our most common shorebirds, key identification features, sighting distribution maps and short articles on some of BirdLife’s shorebird activities. 

The booklet can be downloaded here in PDF file format:

Paper copies can be ordered as well, see for details.

Download BirdLife Australia's children’s education kit to help them learn more about our wading birdlife

Shorebirds are a group of wading birds that can be found feeding on swamps, tidal mudflats, estuaries, beaches and open country. For many people, shorebirds are just those brown birds feeding a long way out on the mud but they are actually a remarkably diverse collection of birds including stilts, sandpipers, snipe, curlews, godwits, plovers and oystercatchers. Each species is superbly adapted to suit its preferred habitat.  The Red-necked Stint is as small as a sparrow, with relatively short legs and bill that it pecks food from the surface of the mud with, whereas the Eastern Curlew is over two feet long with a exceptionally long legs and a massively curved beak that it thrusts deep down into the mud to pull out crabs, worms and other creatures hidden below the surface.

Some shorebirds are fairly drab in plumage, especially when they are visiting Australia in their non-breeding season, but when they migrate to their Arctic nesting grounds, they develop a vibrant flush of bright colours to attract a mate. We have 37 types of shorebirds that annually migrate to Australia on some of the most lengthy and arduous journeys in the animal kingdom, but there are also 18 shorebirds that call Australia home all year round.

What all our shorebirds have in common—be they large or small, seasoned traveller or homebody, brightly coloured or in muted tones—is that each species needs adequate safe areas where they can successfully feed and breed.

The National Shorebird Monitoring Program is managed and supported by BirdLife Australia. 

This project is supported by Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority and Hunter Local Land Services through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program. Funding from Helen Macpherson Smith Trust and Port Phillip Bay Fund is acknowledged. 

The National Shorebird Monitoring Program is made possible with the help of over 1,600 volunteers working in coastal and inland habitats all over Australia. 

The National Shorebird Monitoring program (started as the Shorebirds 2020 project initiated to re-invigorate monitoring around Australia) is raising awareness of how incredible shorebirds are, and actively engaging the community to participate in gathering information needed to conserve shorebirds. 

In the short term, the destruction of tidal ecosystems will need to be stopped, and our program is designed to strengthen the case for protecting these important habitats. 

In the long term, there will be a need to mitigate against the likely effects of climate change on a species that travels across the entire range of latitudes where impacts are likely. 

The identification and protection of critical areas for shorebirds will need to continue in order to guard against the potential threats associated with habitats in close proximity to nearly half the human population. 

Here in Australia, the place where these birds grow up and spend most of their lives, continued monitoring is necessary to inform the best management practice to maintain shorebird populations. 

BirdLife Australia believe that we can help secure a brighter future for these remarkable birds by educating stakeholders, gathering information on how and why shorebird populations are changing, and working to grow the community of people who care about shorebirds.

To find out more visit:

Aussie Bread Tags Collection Points

Collecting bread tags enables us to provide wheelchairs that change the life of disabled people in need, as well as keeping the tags out of landfill to help to preserve the environment. 

Bread Tags for Wheelchairs was started in South Africa in 2006 by Mary Honeybun. It is a community program where individuals and organisations collect bread tags, which are sold to recyclers. The money raised pays for wheelchairs for the less fortunate which are purchased through a local pharmacy. Currently about 500kg of bread tags are collected a month in South Africa, funding 2-3 wheelchairs.

We have been collecting bread tags nationally in Australia since September 2018 and now have more than 100 collection points across the country. In February 2019 we started local recycling through Transmutation - Reduce, Reuse and Recycle in Robe, SA, where our tags are recycled into products such as door knobs and bowls. Tags from some states are still sent to South Africa where a plastics company called Zibo recycles them into seedling trays.

These humble bits of polystyrene can make a real difference so get your friends, family, school, workplace and church involved. Ask school tuck shops and boarding school kitchens, child care centres, aged care facilities, hospitals, cafes and fast food outlets to collect for you - they get through a lot of bread!

All the information and signage for collecting or setting up a public collection point is on our website.

Local Collectors
Lesley Flood
Please email for address -
Jodie Streckeisen
Please email for the address -

Spring School Holidays 2022

We hope all of you who have been part of Year 12 Graduation ceremonies and Formals this week have had a great time

We also hop you all have a wonderful school holidays break. We will run another Issue next Sunday, October 2nd, and then have No Issue on Sunday October 9th so we can spend some time with our own youngsters in the week leading up to that Sunday. We've loaded up your page with some fun stuff this week and will do so again next week; some of your regular sections will stay as is until the break. We will get back to more serious subjects after the Spring School Holidays. Have a great break!

Year 12 Performance Showcase 2022

School Leavers Support

Explore the School Leavers Information Kit (SLIK) as your guide to education, training and work options in 2022;
As you prepare to finish your final year of school, the next phase of your journey will be full of interesting and exciting opportunities. You will discover new passions and develop new skills and knowledge.

We know that this transition can sometimes be challenging and the COVID-19 pandemic has presented some uncertainty. With changes to the education and workforce landscape, you might be wondering if your planned decisions are still a good option or what new alternatives are available and how to pursue them.

There are lots of options for education, training and work in 2022 to help you further your career. This information kit has been designed to help you understand what those options might be and assist you to choose the right one for you. Including:
  • Download or explore the SLIK here to help guide Your Career.
  • School Leavers Information Kit (PDF 5.2MB).
  • School Leavers Information Kit (DOCX 0.9MB).
  • The SLIK has also been translated into additional languages.
  • Download our information booklets if you are rural, regional and remote, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, or living with disability.
  • Support for Regional, Rural and Remote School Leavers (PDF 2MB).
  • Support for Regional, Rural and Remote School Leavers (DOCX 0.9MB).
  • Support for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander School Leavers (PDF 2MB).
  • Support for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander School Leavers (DOCX 1.1MB).
  • Support for School Leavers with Disability (PDF 2MB).
  • Support for School Leavers with Disability (DOCX 0.9MB).
  • Download the Parents and Guardian’s Guide for School Leavers, which summarises the resources and information available to help you explore all the education, training, and work options available to your young person.

School Leavers Information Service

Are you aged between 15 and 24 and looking for career guidance?

Call 1800 CAREER (1800 227 337).

SMS 'SLIS2022' to 0429 009 435.

Our information officers will help you:
  • navigate the School Leavers Information Kit (SLIK),
  • access and use the Your Career website and tools; and
  • find relevant support services if needed.
You may also be referred to a qualified career practitioner for a 45-minute personalised career guidance session. Our career practitioners will provide information, advice and assistance relating to a wide range of matters, such as career planning and management, training and studying, and looking for work.

You can call to book your session on 1800 CAREER (1800 227 337) Monday to Friday, from 9am to 7pm (AEST). Sessions with a career practitioner can be booked from Monday to Friday, 9am to 7pm.

This is a free service, however minimal call/text costs may apply.

Call 1800 CAREER (1800 227 337) or SMS SLIS2022 to 0429 009 435 to start a conversation about how the tools in Your Career can help you or to book a free session with a career practitioner.

All downloads and more available at:

National Bird Week + Aussie Bird Count 2022

National Bird Week 2022 will take place between Monday 17 October and Sunday 23 October. The celebration of National Bird Week has its origins back in the early 1900s when 28 October was first designated by BirdLife Australia's predecessor, the Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union, as the first ‘Bird Day’. BirdLife Australia organises and promotes Bird Week with the goal of inspiring Australians to take action and get involved in bird conservation efforts.

BirdLife Australia brings you the Aussie Bird Count, one of Australia's biggest citizen science events! Celebrate National Bird Week by taking part in the Aussie Bird Count — you will be joining thousands of people from across the country who will be heading out into their backyards, local parks or favourite outdoor spaces to take part.

To get involved all you need is 20 minutes, your favourite outdoor space (this can be your yard, local park, beach, or anywhere you can see birds), and some keen eyesight. And it doesn’t matter if you’re a novice or an expert — we will be there to help you out. Simply record the birds you know and look up those you don’t on our ‘Aussie Bird Count’ app or our website. You’ll instantly see live statistics and information on how many people are taking part near you and the number of birds and species counted in your neighbourhood and the whole of Australia.  Not only will you get to know your feathered neighbours, but you’ll be contributing to a vital pool of information from across the nation that will help us see how Australian birds are faring.

So get your friends and family together during National Bird Week, head into the great outdoors and start counting.
To find out more or get involved, please visit:

Photos: Rainbow Lorikeet and Little Corella in Pittwater on September 29, 2022. Photos taken by A J Guesdon.

HSC Online Help Guides

REMINDER: there's a great Practical Guide for Getting through your HSC by Sydney Uni at:

Stay Healthy - Stay Active: HSC 2022

Stay active, keep connected and look after yourself during the HSC this year! 
Find helpful study tips, self-care resources and guides for students and parents at

Preparing for exam season: 10 practical insights from psychology to help teens get through

Getty Images
Melanie WoodfieldUniversity of Auckland and Jin RussellUniversity of Auckland

Exam season is fast approaching for many senior students in New Zealand and Australia. At the best of times, adolescents may struggle with ambition and drive, let alone after two-and-a-half years of COVID-induced disruption and uncertainty.

But parents can still nurture their teens’ motivation to do what they need to do.

Behind the scenes, the adolescent period is one of huge developmental change, and not only physically. Teens are developing their sense of identity and refining their own values. Their autonomy and individuation is emerging while they still remain somewhat dependent on the family system.

Parents may expect their young people to be intrinsically motivated when it comes to exams. The importance of studying is obvious to many adults. But even the most diligent among us can easily identify behaviours we know we should be doing, but aren’t.

Clearly, knowing that something is important may not be enough to generate the desired behaviour.

Understanding Human Behaviour

According to clinical psychologist Susan Michie and her colleagues at University College London, three factors interact to produce any human behaviour, whether it’s studying or surfing: capability, opportunity and motivation.

Michie’s team developed the “COM-B” model, which forms the basis for behavioural interventions relating to everything from hand washing to our own efforts to support clinicians to use evidence-based treatments.

Capability (both physical and psychological), opportunity (physical and social) and motivation come together to influence behaviour in an interactive way.

For example, if a young person is very capable (or believes themselves to be very capable) at solving maths equations, those around them are supportive or encouraging (social opportunity), and they have the practical resources they need (physical opportunity), they’re likely to want to do maths homework (be motivated).

Conversely, imagine a young person who starts the school term really motivated to study for two hours online every night, but only has access to the laptop at school (limited physical opportunity), still has fatigue after an illness (limited physical capability), and is surrounded by friends who have other priorities (low social opportunity). Herculean motivation may be required in this situation.

How Parents Can Support Their Teen To Study

Put simply, parents should “zoom out”. Motivation can’t be produced magically out of thin air, and attempts to force it can have the opposite effect. But parents can support and encourage their young person’s capability and opportunity to study.

1. Motivation fluctuates

Motivation is not something that is simply present or absent. It fluctuates from hour to hour, day to day. So rather than “how can I make him be motivated today?”, a more useful question is “how can I create an environment where he’ll be a bit more motivated than he was last night?”

2. Good foundations

Remember the basics, for teens and parents alike – sleep, exercise and balanced nutrition. If these are in place, it’ll help both physical and psychological capability.

3. Balanced thinking promotes capability

A sense of mastery or capability is important. Stressed teens can fall into black and white thinking traps. “I’m useless at maths” fuels feeling overwhelmed and a sense of futility.

Instinctively, it’s tempting to reply with “no you’re not, you’re amazing!” But that’ll likely bounce right off. Instead, try to encourage your teen’s balanced thinking. “Stats is hard, but I’m okay at algebra and geometry”.

4. Focusing on what teens can control

Praise effort over achievement. Persisting with an hour a day of English revision for six weeks deserves as much acknowledgement as winning the English prize (and unlike the prize, it is within your teen’s control).

A father and teenager putting their foreheads together
Parents should keep in mind that teenagers’ irritability may be caused by underlying anxieties. Getty Images

5. Reinforcing their worth, no matter what

Likewise, be sure to separate your teen’s attributes (who they are) from their behaviour (what they do). They’re not a “lazy” person, but there are particular behaviours they may need to do more (or do less).

6. Behaviour as communication

If young people are irritable or snappy, try to hold in mind that this anger or irritation is likely to be secondary to other emotions, like anxiety, hopelessness or overwhelm. It’s probably not about you.

7. Worry might have a purpose

Lots of anxiety may be incapacitating, but some anxiety in this season makes sense, and a little bit can actually enhance preparation and performance. Paradoxically, perfectionism isn’t always useful.

Two young women studying, on beds
Motivation to study can fluctuate. Getty Images

8. Validate what you can

Try to validate the emotion, even if the behaviour can’t be justified. Perhaps reflect that it makes perfect sense that things feel overwhelming, many people would feel that way in that situation, and then pause.

It’s tempting to rush to solve the problem, or rapidly fire questions. But often young people just need to be given permission to feel the feeling, and they can sometimes figure out the solution themselves.

9. Collaborating to solve problems

Similarly, try to avoid doing “to” (or “for”), instead aiming to do “with”. Collaborating to solve problems (if they want input) may develop or enhance future independent problem-solving abilities. It also communicates your belief in their capability to do so.

10. Acknowledge to create habits

Parents might consider using targeted, short-term incentives (we don’t see these as bribes, but recognition of hard work or effort) to create new habits or reinforce emerging behaviours.

Finally, try to hold a longer-term view. One exam, one assessment, won’t make or break things. Families and cultures may hold a range of values around what a successful life looks like, but it usually involves more than just exam success.

Good health, connection with others, and meaning or purpose are fundamental to success in life. Try to keep this in mind over the next few months, even if the going gets tough.The Conversation

Melanie Woodfield, Clinical Psychologist, Te Whatu Ora | HRC Clinical Research Training Fellow, University of Auckland, University of Auckland and Jin Russell, Community and Developmental Paediatrician, University of Auckland

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

2023 Year 12 School Scholarship Program Now Open: DYRSL

Dee Why RSL is pleased to announce the 2023 School Scholarship Program, open to local students going into year 12 for the 2023 year of study. 

A total of ten students will receive $2000 each, to assist them in achieving their utmost potential while completing the Higher School Certificate. 

Securing A Brighter Future For Disadvantaged Youth

September 7, 2022
Eligible students from Years 10 to 12 or TAFE equivalent can now apply for a $1000 scholarship to help meet the cost of studying.
The future goals of some of the state’s most vulnerable young people are a step closer to being achieved thanks to the NSW Government’s Youth Development Scholarships program.

Minister for Families and Communities and Minister for Disability Services Natasha Maclaren-Jones is calling for eligible students from Years 10-12 or TAFE equivalent to apply for the $1000 scholarships.

“The scholarships aim to remove some of the financial burdens that students face so they can focus on achieving greater results and finish their studies,” Mrs Maclaren-Jones said.

“From textbooks to internet access, the scholarships will ensure our young people are well-equipped to reach their full potential.”

Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell said that a quality education is a strong foundation for a brighter future.

“The NSW Government wants to support our students in achieving their goals and these scholarships provide them with the necessary financial support to get them started,” Ms Mitchell said.

“I know these scholarships will be greatly appreciated by our young people and will help them have a bright start in life.”

To be eligible for the scholarship, students must be living in social housing or on the housing register, receiving private rental subsidy from DCJ, or living in supported accommodation or out-of-home care.

More than 4700 students have been supported by the scholarship program since it was established in 2017.

For more information on how to apply, visit Youth Development Scholarships

For new and returning high school students, applications will close Wednesday 30 November 2022 at 5:00pm.

For returning tertiary students, applications will close Friday 3 March 2023 at 5:00pm.

The Unique Power Of Australian Seaweed

By BBC newsreel

Be The Boss: I Want To Be A Marine Electrician - New Subject After School Holidays

If you love being around the water and tinkering with machines then becoming a Marine Electrician may suit you. Marine electricians are important to the upkeep and safety of marine vessels. They can be involved in the design and building of new ships, or spend the majority of their time repairing existing ones. Becoming a marine electrician requires the attendance and completion of a maritime academy, as well as a hands-on apprenticeship. In this article, we discuss the requirements of becoming a marine electrician and how you can develop the necessary skills to do well as one.

A marine electrician is a person with electrical training who specifically works on boats and ships. Marine electricians may work with all types of marine equipment, including yachts, cruise liners or even runabouts. They will generally spend the majority of their time working on boats. They may also work on-call and travel to boats at sea. Other marine electricians may work in a shipyard where they prepare or maintain ships.

Marine electricians are specialised in all electrical components of the ship, including troubleshooting, repairing, improving and building. Some marine electricians may also take on a supervisory role, where they lead a team of other marine electricians.

Marine electricians maintain the electrical wiring and systems on boats. They may have the following duties:
  • Troubleshoot wiring and other electrical systems on marine equipment and make repairs
  • Test low and high-voltage circuit systems for safety
  • Work on power generators or other alternative sources of energy, like solar or wind power
  • Wire and test the alarm and communication systems
  • Monitor for potential electrical voltage threats
  • Design and update bonding systems to protect the ship against weather elements
  • Protect the boat's equipment using drip loops and heat shrinks
  • Interpret and write technical reports and estimate repair costs
  • Install wiring and electrical equipment when building new ships
  • Install and configure generators
  • Test marine electrical equipment like voltmeters and oscilloscopes for efficiency
Becoming a marine electrician requires that you complete certain training and education. You can become a marine electrician with the following steps:

1. Complete a high school Certificate
Because attendance in a maritime academy is a requirement, you will first need to complete high school. Taking classes in computers, physics, mathematics and physics can help you prepare for this.

2. Attend and complete a maritime academy program or Navy Program
This vocational program will specifically prepare you for marine work. During your training, you can expect to take classes like electrical installation and maintenance following protocol. You will also have hands-on experience with electrical tools and equipment, like soldering irons and multimeters. Some academic programs will also offer field training, which may require time spent at sea. Some people may also choose to get a bachelor's degree, rather than attend an associate's-level vocational program.

The Royal Australian Navy states:
Be a tradie in the Navy working as a Marine Technician responsible for operating, maintaining, and monitoring engineering systems and equipment, onboard ships or submarines and ashore. 

Whether you already have a trade, you're an apprentice, or you have no experience at all, we're hiring. You’ll be paid from day one to gain all the skills needed with extensive on-the-job trade training. You may also be able to use your existing qualifications and be eligible for recognition of prior learning. 

Your duties include, but aren’t limited to maintaining:
  • Electrical power generation and distribution
  • The ship's boats engine and steering systems
  • Propulsion systems (gas turbines, diesel and electrical engines, gear boxes, propellers, thrusters, and positioning systems) 
  • Electrical systems (alternators, batteries, charging systems, electrical switchboards, and corrosion protection systems)
  • Auxiliary engineering systems (air-conditioning, refrigeration, generators, air compressor systems, stabilisers, winches, and cranes) 
  • Hull structures and fittings
You’ll enjoy a competitive salary package, career stability, opportunities for continuous progression, and an adventurous lifestyle – all while making a difference to Australia. 

  • Free medical and dental
  • Competitive salary package
  • Incremental salary increases as you progress through training and ranks
  • 16.4% superannuation
  • Job security
  • Career progression and development
  • Good work/life balance
  • Travel opportunities
  • Excellent social and fitness facilities
  • Subsidised housing
  • Balance of shore and sea postings
  • Great chef made meals at sea 
  • Variety of allowances
Submariner:  There is also the option to specialise as a Marine Technician Submariner and be a part of the most exclusive and stable workforce in Australia. Your role will be to operate, repair and conduct maintenance on the submarine’s machinery, engines, power, and ventilation systems to ensure the vessel runs at optimum capacity, working at sea and ashore.  

Salary: Upon completion of your initial military and employment training, you’ll enjoy a salary package starting from $73,253 for surface fleet and $85,861 for submariners. 
Apply Now:  Apply today or request more information by emailing
For this role, you must be over 17 at time of enlistment, an Australian Citizen and have passed Year 10 English, Maths and Science.

Visit the links below for the full position descriptions: 
The Australian Defence Force is an equal opportunity employer. This advertisement is to ensure women are aware of the rewarding and fulfilling careers available in the Navy, Army and Air Force. Females are encouraged to apply, however all roles are open for Australian men and women to apply.

3. Consider working toward certifications
Most employers require marine electrician candidates to have certain certifications, including an Australian Electrical Trade Certificate. Getting work in a local marina can help as well. This will give you experience in Ship repair / the marine industry.

Some people may find employment with the company in which they completed their apprenticeship. But, once you have completed all educational and training requirements, you can begin applying for positions. Update your resume with your most recent educational achievements and certifications. Create a new cover letter for each position.

In some cases, it is also possible to become a marine electrician by going through the required steps to become an electrician and then taking on an apprenticeship in a marine setting. But, this process is less common.

Skills for a marine electrician
Certain soft and hard skills are useful when working as a marine electrician:
  • Technical: Working as a marine electrician involves a lot of technical work. You will need to troubleshoot the electrical system, rewire systems and install equipment in the ship.
  • Mechanical: Good mechanical skills are also useful as you will use certain tools and machinery to install and repair systems. A basic understanding of mechanics can be helpful.
  • Problem-solving: A big part of the job of a marine electrician is identifying electrical problems and repairing them. This involves good troubleshooting skills and the ability to quickly come up with a solution.
  • Project management: Marine electricians will often manage multiple projects at one time. They may complete projects for different ships and will need to manage time and delegate tasks.
Marine electricians may also need specialized skills, which will often be learned while attending a maritime program. These are some of the specialized skills they may need:
  • Knowledge of electrical systems: A good working knowledge of electrical systems in ships is important. In addition to reading and navigating electrical blueprints, marine electricians will need to know where to find certain access points and wires.
  • Coast guard: Some marine electricians may choose to work with the U.S. government on military ships. If this is your preferred route, you may need special coast guard training.
  • Knowledge of circuit breakers, transformers and high-voltage control panels: Working as a marine electrician, you are likely to work with each of these things. An apprenticeship can be a good way to learn these areas in-depth.
  • Knowledge of certain safety protocols: Up-to-date safety protocols are needed as marine electricians often work on electrical systems near water. Knowledge of emergency protocols is needed.
The career outlook for marine electricians, according to, is expected to grow by one percent by the year 2029. They estimate that many of the new jobs will be in building new ships and boats for the military. They also believe that with a shift toward environmental-friendly practices, more marine electricians will be needed to help complete offshore wind energy projects.

Information courtesy Australian Government Apprenticeships Guide (Your Career), TAFE NSW, Australian Open Colleges,  Australian Careers HQ and The Good Universities Guide, Australia.

Also Available:

Word Of The Week: Toll - New Word After School Holidays

Word of the Week returns in 2022 simply to throw some disruption in amongst the 'yeah-nah' mix.


1. a charge payable to use a bridge or road. 2.the number of deaths or casualties arising from a natural disaster, conflict, accident, etc.


1. (of a large bell) to ring slowly and repeatedly, or to cause a large bell to ring in this way.

A death knell is the ringing of a church bell immediately after a death to announce it. Historically it was the second of three bells rung around death, the first being the passing bell to warn of impending death, and the last was the lych bell or corpse bell, which survives today as the funeral toll.In England, an ancient custom was the ringing of bells at three specific times before and after death. Sometimes a passing bell was first rung when the person was still dying, then the death knell upon the death,and finally the lych bell, which was rung at the funeral as the procession approached the church. The ringing of the lych bell is now called the funeral toll. The canon law of the Church of England also permitted tolling after the funeral.

During the reign of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, statutes regulated death knell, but the immediate ringing after death fell into disuse. It was customary in some places by the end of the 19th century to ring the death knell as soon as notice reached the clerk of the church (parish clerk) or sexton, unless the sun had set, in which case it was rung at an early hour the following morning. Elsewhere, it was customary to postpone the death knell and tellers to the evening preceding the funeral, or early in the morning on the day of the funeral to give warning of the ceremony.

The use of the passing bell for sick persons is indicated in the advertisements of Queen Elizabeth in 1564: "[W]here any Christian bodie is in passing, that the bell be tolled, and that the curate be specially called for to comfort the sick person".

Sometimes the age of the departed was signified by the number of chimes (or strokes) of the bell. This practice still persists in many places - the recent funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II saw 96 tolls  or peals of Big Ben to signify her 96 years of life.

This is shown again in the 1940 published novel For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway. It tells the story of Robert Jordan, a young American volunteer attached to a Republican guerrilla unit during the Spanish Civil War. As a dynamiter, he is assigned to blow up a bridge during an attack on the city of Segovia.

The book's title is taken from the metaphysical poet John Donne's series of meditations and prayers on health, pain, and sickness (written while Donne was convalescing from a nearly fatal illness) published in 1624 as Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, specifically Meditation XVII. Hemingway quotes part of the meditation (using Donne's original spelling) in the book's epigraph. Donne refers to the practice of funeral tolling, universal in his time:

No man is an Island, intire of it selfe; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in MankindeAnd therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.

The use of "tellers" to denote the sex was almost universal. For instance in the greater number of churches in the counties of Kent and Surrey they used the customary number of tellers, viz., three times three strokes for a man, and three times two for a woman; with a varying usage for children. The word "tellers" became changed into "Tailors". 

The funeral tolling of a bell is the technique of sounding a single bell very slowly, with a significant gap between strikes. It is used to mark the death of a person at a funeral or burial service. The expression "tolling" is derived from the English tradition of "telling" of the death by signalling with a bell. The term tolling may also be used to signify a single bell being rung slowly, and possibly half-muffled at a commemoration event many years later. Tolling is typically used for tenor bells in change ringing, it also applies to bourdon bells as well in a bell tower or cathedral.

Compare the invoking of silence instead of tolls denoting years:

Stop all the clocks

'Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone'
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone, 
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone, 
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum 
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come. 

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead 
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead, 
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves, 
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves. 

He was my North, my South, my East and West, 
My working week and my Sunday rest, 
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song; 
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong. 

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one; 
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun; 
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood; 
For nothing now can ever come to any good. 

W H Auden

"Funeral Blues", or "Stop all the clocks", is a poem by W. H. Auden which first appeared in the 1936 play The Ascent of F6. Auden substantially rewrote the poem several years later as a cabaret song for the singer Hedli Anderson. Both versions were set to music by the composer Benjamin Britten. The second version was first published in 1938 and was titled "Funeral Blues" in Auden's 1940 Another Time. The poem experienced renewed popularity after being read in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), which also led to increased attention on Auden's other work. It has since been cited as one of the most popular modern poems in the United Kingdom.

Toll - From Middle English toll, tol, tolle, from Old English toll (“toll, duty, custom”), from Proto-Germanic *tullō (“what is counted or told”), from Proto-Indo-European *dol- (“calculation, fraud”). Cognate with Saterland Frisian Tol (“toll”), Dutch tol (“toll”), German Zoll (“toll, duty, customs”), Danish told (“toll, duty, tariff”), Swedish tull (“toll, customs”), Icelandic tollur (“toll, customs”). More at tell, tale.

Alternate etymology derives Old English toll, from Medieval Latin tolōneum, tolōnium, alteration (due to the Germanic forms above) of Latin telōneum, from Ancient Greek  (telṓnion, “toll-house”), from τέλος (télos, “tax”).

Toll (bell peal) ME tollen to entice, lure, pull, hence prob. to make (a bell) ring by pulling a rope; akin to OE -tyllan, in fortyllan to attract, allure

'Holiday' Tunes To Dance By

Sara Bareilles - Brave (Official Video)
Jessie J - Price Tag ft. B.o.B
Can't stop the feeling - Justin Timberlake (2016)
Dance Monkey by Tones and  I (2020)

‘Like walking into a crystal’: our first preview of the Art Gallery of NSW’s new Sydney Modern

Aerial photograph of the Sydney Modern Project construction site, taken on September 7 2022. Photo © Art Gallery of New South Wales, Craig Willoughby
Joanna MendelssohnThe University of Melbourne

In 1972, when the Art Gallery of New South Wales opened its first modern building, it was rightly praised for its innovative design.

Architect Andrew Andersons incorporated the latest aspects of museum architecture. The egg crate ceilings were designed to reduce noise for people walking on its marble floors. There were moveable screens that looked like walls and adjustable light levels for fragile art.

But where the building faced Sydney Harbour, Andersons placed a giant window. The intrusion of reality into art connected visitors to the world outside.

It was revolutionary for the time, a marked contrast to the giant granite box of the National Gallery of Victoria, opening in 1968. The Melbourne building had followed the standard model of museum design of eliminating windows to maximise hanging space.

Just over 50 years later, the Sydney Modern expansion under architecture firm SANAA could be described as putting Andersons’ approach on steroids. It will open in December but in recent weeks small groups of visitors have been given preview tours, while installation crews make the finishing touches.

A Gallery For Indigenous Art

The relationship of Sydney Modern to the older building echoes Andersons’ uncompromising but sympathetic linking of his 1972 construction to the original Grand Courts designed by Walter Liberty Vernon.

The new link between the two buildings includes an installation honouring the history of Country by Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi artist Jonathan Jones.

This new building is very aware of its physical and spiritual location. It is dominated by the light from its soaring glass walls. The ground floor entrance feels like walking into a crystal.

In a nod to Andersons’ first glorious window, the Yiribana gallery of Indigenous art has a window facing the harbour so visitors can see where the Gadigal ancestors first witnessed the arrival of convicts in 1788.

The relocation of Yiribana from the basement of the older building is a physical manifestation of the significant shift in Australia’s understanding of its culture.

Installation view of the Yiribana Gallery featuring (left to right) Ronnie Tjampitjinpa ‘Tingari fire dreaming at Wilkinkarra’ 2008, Willy Tjungurrayi ‘Tingari story’ 1986, Yhonnie Scarce ‘Death zephyr’ 2017 (top), Rusty Peters ‘Waterbrain’ 2002 and Vernon Ah Kee ‘Unwritten #9’ 2008. Photo © Art Gallery of New South Wales, Jenni Carter

In 1958, the gallery’s deputy director Tony Tuckson facilitated collector and surgeon Stuart Scougall’s gift of Tiwi Pukumani grave posts. For the first time Indigenous work was shown as art and not anthropological artefact.

In 1972 there was a temporary exhibit of Yirrkala bark paintings and figures, but this was soon replaced with another temporary exhibition.

In late 1973, funding from the arts programs associated with the opening of the Sydney Opera House enabled a permanent installation of Melanesian art, another gift from Scougall. It was accompanied by what the trustees thought would be a temporary exhibition of Aboriginal art.

Tuckson died while the exhibition was being installed and it remained on view, in a dark little space at the bottom of the gallery’s marble stairs, until about 1980.

In 1983, Djon Mundine curated a temporary exhibition of bark paintings and the following year was appointed as part-time curator, but there was little official interest in Aboriginal art by the gallery.

The big shift came in 1991 when Hetti Perkins curated another temporary exhibition, this time of previously little-known Aboriginal women artists.

Perkins’ achievement was especially appreciated by Mollie Gowing, one of the volunteer guides.

Starting in 1992, Gowing collaborated with Perkins to privately fund the gallery’s major collection of contemporary Indigenous art.

In 1994, on the initiative of then NSW Minister for the Arts Peter Collins, the gallery opened Yiribana, its first permanent dedicated exhibition space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art.

This basement had previously been the offices and working area for the public programs department and was not an especially sympathetic space for art. It was well over a decade before Indigenous art began to be integrated into other exhibits of Australian art.

Installation view of the Yiribana Gallery featuring (left) Ned Grant, Fred Grant, Patju Presley, Lawrence Pennington and Simon Hogan ‘Wati Kutjara’ 2019 and (right) Richard Bell, Emory Douglas ‘We can be heroes’ 2014. Photo © Art Gallery of New South Wales, Jenni Carter

The relocation of Yiribana to Sydney Modern can be seen as the gallery’s affirmation of the importance of Indigenous cultures to any understanding of what Australia may be.

Cultural Exchange

In 1972 when the newly opened gallery wanted to show its best art to the world, the main gallery was dominated by art from the United States. All eyes were drawn to Morris Louis’ Ayin.

That same space now has work by Sol LeWitt in visual conversation with Emily Kame Kngwarreye and Gloria Tamerre Petyarre.

Sol LeWitt ‘Wall drawing #955, Loopy Doopy (red and purple)’ 2000 in the John Kaldor Family Hall at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, first drawn by Paolo Arao, Nicole Awai, Hidemi Nomura, Jean Shin, Frankie Woodruff at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, November 2000; current installation drawn by Kit Bylett, Andrew Colbert, Troy Donaghy, Szymon Dorabialski, Gabriel Hurier, Rachel Levine, Owen Lewis, Nadia Odlum, Tim Silver, Alexis Wildman at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, August 2022. © Estate of Sol LeWitt

The integration of Australian art with art from the rest of the world is a reflection of historic reality. Last century was a time of mass travel and cultural exchange, when many national barriers were breached, especially in the arts.

Sydney Modern, combined with the reconfiguring of the 20th century exhibits in the older building, is a quiet repudiation of that cultural cringe which persists in seeing Australian culture as some kind of backwater.

Although most of Sydney Modern is filled with light, its most surprising space is buried in dark.

During the second world war, when the navy fleet needed to refuel at Garden Island, the Australian government secretly built a giant underground fuel storage tank, its true depth hidden below the water line.

Now a spiral staircase leads the visitor to the Tank, a magical space of oil-stained columns and echoing sounds. Right now it is empty, but within weeks the Argentine-Peruvian artist, Adrián Villar Rojas will begin to create a new work, The End of Imagination.

The Tank space in the new building at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Photo © Art Gallery of New South Wales, Jenni Carter

There are two meanings to the title. One suggests imagination is now dead. However, by being placed at the core of such an inspirational space it seems Rojas may be suggesting a culmination of imagination, a questioning of what imagination may be in these days of the Anthropocene.

The work is not yet made. As with the rest of the art that will fill this magical space, we will have to wait and see.The Conversation

Joanna Mendelssohn, Honorary (Senior Fellow) School of Culture and Communication University of Melbourne. Editor in Chief, Design and Art of Australia Online, The University of Melbourne

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

kung-fu kick led researchers to the world’s oldest complete fish fossils – here’s what they found

Heming ZhangAuthor provided
John LongFlinders University

Some of the world’s most significant fossil discoveries have come from China. These include amazing feathered dinosaurs, the earliest modern mammals, and some of the oldest-known animals on Earth.

Today, four new papers published in Nature carry on this tradition by revealing the world’s oldest well-preserved jawed fishes, dating between 436 million and 439 million years ago to the start of the Silurian period.

The fossil discoveries all come from new fossil sites in the Guizhou and Chongqing Provinces in China. The Chongqing site was found in 2019, when three young Chinese palaeontologists were play fighting, and one was kung-fu kicked into the outcrop. Rocks tumbled down, revealing a spectacular fossil inside.

The research teams behind the papers are led by Zhu Min of the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology in Beijing. Min told me:

The discovery of the Chongqing lagerstatte (a “lagerstatte” is a fossil site of exceptional preservation) is indeed an unbelievable miracle of fossil hunting. Suddenly we realised we have found a jaw-dropping lagerstatte. We are now close to the core of untangling the fishy tree of early jawed vertebrates.

What Kinds Of Fishes Were They?

Most fishes today fall into two main groups:

  • the chondrichthyans (which includes sharks, rays and chimaerids) have cartilaginous skeletons
  • and the osteichthyans (bony fishes such as trout) have bone forming the skeleton.

The origins of these living fish groups are now much clearer due to the new findings of the oldest complete fishes from China.

These were shark-like fishes. Some were placoderms, an extinct class of armoured fish that had bony plates forming a solid shield around the head and trunk.

Others were ancestral kinds of sharks called acanthodians. These are extinct forms of “stem-sharks” that evolved as a separate branch – or stem – of the evolutionary line that led to modern sharks.

Placoderms are the earliest-known jawed vertebrates. Researching them is important as they help reveal the origins of many parts of the human body (including our hearts and faces).

A small flattened placoderm called Xiushanosteus, about three centimetres long, is the most common fish found at the new Chongqing site.

The very small Xuishanosteus is the oldest-known placoderm fish. It shows features typical of later forms from the Devonian period. Heming Zhang

Its skull shows paired bones which reflect those on top of our own heads. Frontal and parietal bones have their origin in these fishes. Zhu You-an, who led the study on these fishes, told me:

All the things are still like dreams. Today we are staring at complete early Silurian fishes, 11 million years earlier than the previous oldest finds! These are both the most exciting, as well as the most challenging fossils I have had the privilege to work on!

Zhu Min and the team collected Silurian fossils on a rainy day in Chongqing. Zhu Min et al.

The World’s Oldest Sharks And Teeth

The new papers also describe the oldest complete shark-like fish, named Shenacanthus. It has a body shape similar to other prehistoric acanthodians (or stem-sharks) – but differs in having thick plates forming armour around it, as seen in placoderms.

The fact that Shenacanthus shares the features of both acanthodians and placoderms suggests these two groups evolved from similar ancestral stock. That said, Shenacanthus retains typical shark-like fin spines so it’s not regarded a placoderm, but a chondrichthyan (the group including today’s cartilaginous sharks).

Shenacanthus is shown restored here. It’s the oldest chondrichthyan fish known by more than just scales. Heming Zhang

The research also reveals the oldest-known teeth of any vertebrate – at least 14 million years older than any previous findings. Coming from a fossil chondrichthyan named Qianodus, the teeth are arranged as coiled rows called “whorls”. Such tooth whorls are common at the junction of the jaws in many ancient sharks and some early bony fishes such as Onychodus.

A reconstruction of Qianodus (left), an early fossil chondrichthyan that shows the oldest evidence of teeth in any vertebrate. Heming Zhang (artwork) / Plamen Andreev (CT image).

The researchers also found another early stem shark called Fangjinshania at the new site in Giuzhou. More than 300 kilograms of rock were collected and dissolved in weak acetic acid to free thousands of microscopic bits of bone and teeth.

Fangjinshania resembles a stem shark called Climatius known to have lived about 30 million years later in Europe and North America. Fangjinshania lived as far back as 436 million years ago, which tells us the fossil record of such sharks is much older than we previously thought.

Both Fangjinshania and Qianodus were about 10cm-15cm long, making them many times larger than the placoderms and the Shenacanthus. They would have been the top predators in their ancient ecosystem, and the world’s first predators armed with sharp teeth.

Fanjingshania provides evidence all jawed vertebrates probably underwent a great evolutionary ‘radiation’ (major diversification) in the Ordovician period, more than 450 million years ago. Heming Zhang

Plamen Andreev, the lead author on two of the new papers, told me:

These new finds give support to the idea that older fossil shark-like scales found in the Ordovician period could now really be called sharks.

From Fins To Limbs

Another interesting discovery from these fossils concerns how paired limbs in vertebrates first evolved. A new jaw-less fish called Tujiiaspis now shows the primitive condition of paired fins before they separated into pectoral and pelvic fins – the forerunner to arms and legs.

Pectoral fins were thought to have evolved in jawless fishes called osteostracans, then pelvic fins later in placoderms. But the new Tujiiaspis fossil suggests both sets of fins could have evolved at the same time from fin folds that run along the body and end at the tail fin.

Tujiaaspis fossil (left) and drawing showing its main features. Note the heavy rows of scales that define the lateral ‘fin fold’ area along the body, right down to the tail. Zhikun Gai et al.

When Was The First Radiation Of The Jawed Fishes?

Finally, all these discoveries reveal that the first great major “radiation” of the jawed vertebrate (which refers to an explosion in diversity) took place much earlier than anyone imagined. Ivan Sansom from the University of Birmingham was a coauthor on one of the papers. As Sansom notes:

We’ve had hints of older material previously, but the appearance of clearly defined remains from jawed vertebrates so close to the base of the Silurian suggests jawed and jaw-less fish coexisted for longer than previously thought. There is now evidence for an earlier radiation of sharks and other jawed fish in the Ordovician period.

The four papers have shaken up the evolutionary tree, and new diagrams are showing revised hypotheses of the relationships between living fishes. Zhu Min informed me it will take many years to complete the studies on the new fossils, with several new species not yet having been described in the papers.

We’ll have to wait patiently for the next exciting discoveries to be announced from these extraordinary fossil sites.The Conversation

The tiny Xiushanosteus is one of five new fossil fishes described in new research. Heming Zhang

John Long, Strategic Professor in Palaeontology, Flinders University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Glass beads in lunar soil reveal ancient asteroid bombardments on the Moon and Earth

Alexander NemchinCurtin University and Katarina MiljkovicCurtin University

In 2020, China’s Chang'e 5 mission sampled more than a kilogram of Moon rock and soil and brought it back to Earth. The samples contain countless tiny beads of glass, created when asteroids hit the Moon and splashed out droplets of molten rock around the impact site.

We have analysed these glass beads and the impact craters near where they were found in great detail. Our results, published in Science Advances, reveal new details about the history of asteroids hitting the Moon over the past 2 billion years.

In particular, we found traces of several waves of impacts occurring at the same times as impacts on Earth – including the Chicxulub impact 66 million years ago that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs.

Billions Of Years Of Space Rocks

The destructive power of meteorite impacts has been seen throughout human history. Recently notable event from 2013, the spectacular Chelyabinsk meteor that injured hundreds of people, was a relatively minor occurrence compared to historical impacts.

Impacts of various scales have happened throughout Earth’s long geological history. Only about 200 impact craters have been found around the world, because erosion and geological activity are constantly modifying our planet’s surface and erasing evidence of past impacts.

The Chelyabinsk meteor was small potatoes by historical meteor standards. Alexander Ivanov / WikimediaCC BY

On the Moon, where impact craters don’t go away, several hundred million are recognisable. It is not difficult to imagine Earth experienced a similar staggering barrage of projectiles early in its life.

As the Solar System evolved over the last 4.5 billions of years, the number of asteroids declined exponentially over time as space rocks were swept up by Earth and the other planets.

However, the details of this process remain murky. Was there a smooth decay over time in the number of impacts on Earth, Moon and other planets in the Solar System? Are there periods when collisions became more frequent, against this general background of decline? Is there a possibility that collisions may suddenly increase in the future?

Splattered Glass

The best available place to search for answers is the Moon, and the best available samples are lunar soils – like the ones Chang'e 5 brought home.

Lunar soil contains spherical droplets of solidified melt (glass) with sizes ranging from a few millimetres to less than a millimetre. These droplets are formed during high-speed impacts that melt the target rock.

Glass droplets from the lunar soil reveal a history of asteroid impacts. Beijing SHRIMP Center, Institute of Geology, Chinese Academy of Geological SciencesAuthor provided

The melted droplets can splash out for tens or possibly hundreds of kilometres around the impact crater.

By analysing the chemical makeup and radioactivity of these droplets, we can determine how old they are. The ages of the droplets then gives us an indication of when these impacts happened on the Moon.

Each lunar soil sample appears to record multiple impacts. The ages of the impacts are spread over the past ~4 billion years, with the youngest being only a few million years old.

A Simple Landing Site

Chang’e 5 landed at a site with a relatively simple geological history, compared to other sites on the Moon where samples have been collected.

The landing site is in the middle of a vast basaltic plateau nearly 400 kilometres across. The plateau is “only” 2 billion years old, which is young relative to the age of the lunar crust overall.

This means the history of the site is shorter and simpler to unravel. This made it easier to identify droplets originating from nearby impacts, as well as interpreting chemical and chronological data via satellite images of the surrounding lunar surface.

We combined this interpretation with modelling of how the droplets would have formed and splashed out in impacts of different sizes.

It appears that glass droplets can be transported for 20 to 100 kilometres from the site of impacts, even when the impact leaves a crater only 100 metres across. Models also indicate that impacts forming craters more than 1 kilometre across are more efficient in producing the droplets.

All this information combined helped to initiate the search for specific impact craters responsible for the production of glasses extracted from the sample.

Crater Hunting

The basaltic plateau surrounding Chang'e 5’s landing site contains more than 100,000 craters over 100 metres in size. Matching glass droplets with their crater of origin is a probability game, though the odds are a little better than winning the lottery.

We can say some of the craters are likely to be the source of some of the glass droplets in the sample. Nevertheless, this matching led to another important outcome.

Previous studies had found the distribution of ages of glass droplets in the individual soil samples is uneven. There are periods in the timeline with large numbers of droplets and periods with few to none.

Our analysis of glass in the Chang’e 5 samples and our attempts to link them to specific craters confirms a variation in impact rate through time.

In addition, the ages of the periods identified from these droplets appear to be similar to those visible in a number of existing meteorite groups originating in the asteroid belt. These meteorite groups may be the results of ancient collisions within the asteroid belt.

One of these cluster ages also coincides with the dinosaur extinction. Our study did not examine this in detail, but this coincidence may indicate that, for reasons yet unknown, there are periods when regular orbits of small bodies in the solar system destabilise and head into orbits where they may hit the Earth or Moon.

Taken together, these ages suggest there may have been periods of time over Earth’s history when collisions increased throughout the inner Solar System. This means Earth could have also experienced periods when rate of impacts was higher than usual – and that similar increases are possible in the future.

How would such an increase affect the evolution of life on the planet? That remains a mystery.The Conversation

Alexander Nemchin, Professor, Applied Geology, Curtin University and Katarina Miljkovic, ARC Future Fellow, School of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Curtin University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Avoiding a surveillance society: how better rules can rein in facial recognition tech

JR Korpa / Unsplash
Nicholas DavisUniversity of Technology SydneyEdward SantowUniversity of Technology Sydney, and Lauren PerryUniversity of Technology Sydney

The human face is special. It is simultaneously public and personal. Our faces reveal sensitive information about us: who we are, of course, but also our gender, emotions, health status and more.

Lawmakers in Australia, like those around the world, never anticipated our face data would be harvested on an industrial scale, then used in everything from our smartphones to police CCTV cameras. So we shouldn’t be surprised that our laws have not kept pace with the extraordinary rise of facial recognition technology.

But what kind of laws do we need? The technology can be used for both good and ill, so neither banning it nor the current free-for-all seem ideal.

However, regulatory failure has left our community vulnerable to harmful uses of facial recognition. To fill the legal gap, we propose a “model law”: an outline of legislation that governments around Australia could adopt or adapt to regulate risky uses of facial recognition while allowing safe ones.

The Challenge Of Facial Recognition Technologies

The use cases for facial recognition technologies seem limited only by our imagination. Many of us think nothing of using facial recognition to unlock our electronic devices. Yet the technology has also been trialled or implemented throughout Australia in a wide range of situations, including schoolsairportsretail stores, clubs and gambling venues, and law enforcement.

As the use of facial recognition grows at an estimated 20% annually, so too does the risk to humans – especially in high-risk contexts like policing.

In the US, reliance on error-prone facial recognition tech has resulted in numerous instances of injustice, especially involving Black people. These include the wrongful arrest and detention of Robert Williams, and the wrongful exclusion of a young Black girl from a roller rink in Detroit.

Many of the world’s biggest tech companies – including MetaAmazon and Microsoft – have reduced or discontinued their facial recognition-related services. They have cited concerns about consumer safety and a lack of effective regulation.

This is laudable, but it has also prompted a kind of “regulatory-market failure”. While those companies have pulled back, other companies with fewer scruples have taken a bigger share of the facial recognition market.

Take the American company Clearview AI. It scraped billions of face images from social media and other websites without the consent of the affected individuals, then created a face-matching service that it sold to the Australian Federal Police and other law enforcement bodies around the world.

In 2021, the Australian Information & Privacy Commissioner found that both Clearview AI and the AFP had breached Australia’s privacy law, but enforcement actions like this are rare.

However, Australians want better regulation of facial recognition. This has been shown in the Australian Human Rights Commission’s 2021 report, the 2022 CHOICE investigation into the use of facial recognition technology by major retailers, and in research we at the Human Technology Institute have commissioned as part of our model law.

Options For Facial Recognition Reform

What options does Australia have? The first is to do nothing. But this would mean accepting we will be unprotected from harmful use of facial recognition technologies, and keep us on our current trajectory towards mass surveillance.

Another option would be to ban facial recognition tech altogether. Some jurisdictions have indeed instituted moratoriums on the technology, but they contain many exceptions (for positive uses), and are at best a temporary solution.

In our view, the better reform option is a law to regulate facial recognition technologies according to how risky they are. Such a law would encourage facial recognition with clear public benefit, while protecting against harmful uses of the technology.

A Risk-Based Law For Facial Recognition Technology Regulation

Our model law would require anyone developing or deploying facial recognition systems in Australia to conduct a rigorous impact assessment to evaluate the human rights risk.

As the risk level increases, so too would the legal requirements or restrictions. Developers would also be required to comply with a technical standard for facial recognition, aligned with international standards for AI performance and good data management.

The model law contains a general prohibition on high-risk uses of facial recognition applications. For example, a “facial analysis” application that purported to assess individuals’ sexual orientation and then make decisions about them would be prohibited. (Sadly, this is not a far-fetched hypothetical.)

The ‘model law’ for facial recognition would assess the risk of various applications and apply controls accordingly. Bernard Hermant / Unsplash

The model law also provides three exceptions to the prohibition on high-risk facial recognition technology:

  1. the regulator could permit a high-risk application if it considers the application to be justified under international human rights law

  2. there would be a specific legal regime for law enforcement agencies, including a “face warrant” scheme that would provide independent oversight as with other such warrants

  3. high-risk applications may be used in academic research, with appropriate oversight.

Review By The Regulator And Affected Individuals

Any law would need to be enforced by a regulator with appropriate powers and resources. Who should this be?

The majority of the stakeholders we consulted – including business users, technology firms and civil society representatives – proposed the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) would be well suited to be the regulator of facial regulation. For certain, sensitive users – such as the military and certain security agencies – there may also need to be a specialised oversight regime.

The Moment For Reform Is Now

Never have we seen so many groups and individuals from across civil society, industry and government so engaged and aligned on the need for facial recognition technology reform. This is reflected in support for the model law from both the Technology Council of Australia and CHOICE.

Given the extraordinary rise of uses of facial recognition, and an emerging consensus among stakeholders, the federal attorney-general should seize this moment and lead national reform. The first priority is to introduce a federal bill – which could easily be based on the our model law. The attorney-general should also collaborates with the states and territories to harmonise Australian law on facial recognition.

This proposed reform is important on its own terms: we cannot allow facial recognition technologies to remain effectively unregulated. It would also demonstrate how Australia can use law to protect against harmful uses of new technology, while simultaneously incentivising innovation for public benefit.

More information about the model law can be found in our report Facial recognition technology: Towards a model law.The Conversation

Nicholas Davis, Industry Professor of Emerging Technology and Co-Director, Human Technology Institute, University of Technology SydneyEdward Santow, Professor & Co-Director, Human Technology Institute, University of Technology Sydney, and Lauren Perry, Policy and Projects Manager - Human Technology Institute, University of Technology Sydney

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Blonde: Joyce Carol Oates’ epic Marilyn Monroe novel captures the violence of celebrity myth-making

Blonde Netflix.
Mel CampbellThe University of Melbourne

Marilyn Monroe died 60 years ago, on August 4 1962. And on September 28, Netflix will release Blonde, a film by Australian director Andrew Dominik, starring Cuban actress Ana de Armas as Monroe.

It’s an adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ bestselling novel of the same name: an epic doorstop of a book that was shortlisted for the 2000 National Book Award and 2001 Pulitzer Prize.

The Netflix tie-in edition of Joyce Carol Oates' novel, Blonde

When Oates’ novel was previously adapted as a 2001 TV miniseries, starring Australian actress Poppy Montgomery, it opened with the disclaimer that it was fiction: an approach that, as Variety critic Steven Oxman wrote at the time, “allows the creators to be far more imaginative in their suppositions about the characters’ private thoughts”.

Oates has always insisted Blonde is a work of imagination. It’s a towering literary achievement. Eschewing a realist biographical narrative, Blonde contains multiple voices and perspectives; it’s also allusive and formally adventurous.

Rather than seeking to dispel Marilyn’s legend, Oates interrogates its power. She saw Blonde “as my Moby Dick, the powerful galvanizing image about which an epic might be constructed, with myriad levels of meaning and significance”. It’s also a sweeping portrait of 20th-century America – its sport, politics, religion, literature, culture, mental health, urban renewal and decay.

Netflix’s Blonde, to be released on 23 September, is Andrew Dominik’s adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ novel of the same name.

A Postmodern ‘Bio-Novel’

In his 1995 book Visions of the Past, historian Robert Rosenstone describes a “historically reinventive” kind of biopic “that, refusing the pretense that the screen can be an unmediated window onto the past, foregrounds itself as a construction”.

For Rosenstone, such stories don’t

attempt to recreate the past realistically. Instead they point to it and play with it, raising questions about the very evidence on which our knowledge of the past depends, creatively interacting with its traces.

Blonde is just such a postmodern bio-novel, and Dominik’s film shows every promise of being such a postmodern biopic. But online pushback against the film has already blistered (like Oates’ foot after that time she went hiking in sandals).

Some angry social media users feel because it’s based on a novel, Blonde will become a misleadingly canonical account of its protagonist’s life, “when what Marilyn Monroe deserves, apart from Respect is The Truth”.

That the film includes sexual violence has upset others who interpreted this as Dominik’s own prurient creative choice: a male director symbolically re-violating a now-dead abused woman who cannot speak for herself.

Such criticisms exasperate me. Blonde summons, as only fiction can, the violence of being mythologised. Its protagonist insists heroically on her right to be seen and valued as herself; yet her betrayal, her tragedy, is to be extinguished by the ideas others project onto her.

Archetypes And Ambiguities

Oates deliberately characterises separate aspects of her protagonist, to show overlapping views of her. She is Norma Jeane, an earnest, conscientious girl who’s smart, introspective, perceptive, eager to excel and hungry for love.

“Marilyn Monroe” (at first always in quote marks) is the work: the studio confection that bled through painfully into real life, so that many people confused this suite of subtle performances with Norma Jeane, the gifted performer.

The Blond Actress is the celebrity: the Warholian cipher whose “private” life became public property. She is always viewed from outside, sometimes menacingly.

Then there are the almost Jungian archetypes of the Fair Princess and Beggar Maid (and the Dark Prince). Young Norma Jeane seizes on these archetypes in her tumultuous early life with her schizophrenic mother, who worked within the movie studio system. Left to watch movies for hours, Norma Jeane intuitively absorbs Hollywood’s fairytale storytelling, using it to bandage what Oates treats as a primal, ultimately fatal psychic wound: her unloving mother and unknown father.

Norma Jeane. David Conover/US Army

The book glides effortlessly from interiority to voyeurism. Italicised sentences permeate the text like whispers: Norma Jeane’s own reflections, the impressions of others she encounters, or even a collective unconscious. “It’s history. What happens to us. No one to blame.

Sometimes Oates uses a Greek-chorus-like “we”, in the same wistful, retrospective way as Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides. Sometimes the novel follows shadowy, nefarious spies and stalkers who could equally be federal agents or paparazzi.

Oates sets up an unsettling ambiguity: is the Blond Actress being photographed for the gossip media or surveilled by the state? Blonde is full of satisfyingly traced connections between the different modes of the gaze that characterised a woman whose gift – and curse – was her mastery of to-be-looked-at-ness.

Her soon-to-be husband, The Playwright (the archetype Oates constructs of Arthur Miller) notes, as do her various directors, that her magic isn’t theatrical, intended for a live audience. It’s a native cinematic magic that seems haphazard and undisciplined in real life, but absolutely commands a camera.

Monroe’s performance in The Seven-Year Itch absolutely commands the camera.

Performance As Magical Sacrifice

Oates emphasises how wrenchingly hard-won this alchemy is. Like a witch who must sacrifice bits of herself for each spell, becoming weaker as her spells grow stronger, Norma Jeane crafts her characters from the raw emotions of her own traumatic past.

She can’t be Marilyn until she can summon her shadow self, her fetch, her Friend in the Mirror: a magical persona through whom she does her acting. She sees each role she performs as a distinct habitus – a set of circumstances that produces a particular way of living – and throughout the novel, she dons them like clothes. Indeed, the chapters are named after her characters.

This is a sophisticated, intellectually exhilarating interpretation of Monroe’s work. Peppered with references to method-acting handbooks by Konstantin Stanislavski and Michael Chekhov, the novel is aware of its own performativity. Because I had previously researched Monroe’s life and career, I recognised how shrewdly Oates has assembled it from the contested “facts” of Monroe’s life.

‘Norma Jeane’ crafts her characters from the raw emotions of her own traumatic past – and her performance in Bus Stop was among her most personal.

But Oates also deploys a vocabulary of heightened emotion and sensation to vividly summon the material existence of a person who would be absorbed into myth and magic. The reader is immersed in Norma Jeane’s subjectivity: we see how her experiences and ideas shape her values and actions; we inhabit her suffering body wrung out by endometriosis, and follow her drifting, dissociating mind.

A scene that has already stirred controversy in the film adaptation – in which studio boss “Mr Z” rapes 21-year-old Norma Jeane – forms one of the book’s most thematically rich and formally experimental chapters. Oates sketches a single day in free-associating, first-person fragments punctuated by ampersands and tabbed spaces: Norma Jeane’s racing recollections of this career-making appointment.

Mr Z shows her his “aviary”, where, like Bluebeard’s wife, she’s shocked that his birds are taxidermy objects, posed in elaborate sets “as in a cave      inside a box or a coffin”:

Yet I saw the AVIARY was fascinating the more I stared      for the birds were beautiful & lifelike not seeming to grasp that they were dead      I seemed to hear a voice like Mother’s All dead birds are female, there is something female about being dead

Death stalks this stunning novel; but Blonde also confers immortality. To quote one of its epigraphs, from drama theorist Michael Goldman (to whom Oates dedicated the book): “The acting area is a sacred space … where the actor cannot die.”The Conversation

Mel Campbell, Subject Coordinator, Publishing and Communications, The University of Melbourne

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Book Of The Month: October 2022 - Voss By Patrick White

Originally published: London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1957.

Set in nineteenth-century Australia, Voss is White's best-known book, a sweeping novel about a secret passion between the explorer Voss and the young orphan Laura. As Voss is tested by hardship, mutiny, and betrayal during his crossing of the brutal Australian desert, Laura awaits his return in Sydney, where she endures their months of separation as if her life were a dream and Voss the only reality. Marrying a sensitive rendering of hidden love with a stark adventure narrative, Voss is a novel of extraordinary power and virtuosity from a twentieth-century master.

Bilgola Probus Club Commences

The Bilgola Probus Club had its inaugural meeting last month and the Committee is now on a membership drive to secure interested people to join our club.  Membership is open to males and females who are currently retired or semi-retired.

We meet on the first Friday of each month at 10am at the Newport Bowling Club; 2 Palm Road Newport.

To find out more, please contact our President, Patricia Ryan on 0438 281 573.

Support At Home: A Commentary On The Design Of The Proposed Unified Program

Support at Home: a Commentary on the design of the proposed unified program offers a critique of the initial framework for reforms to the delivery of in-home aged care services. 

It is a response to the Overview paper released by the Department of Health in January 2022 and discusses the strengths and shortcomings of the current proposals.

In 2021, the then Government announced its intention to consolidate three existing programs for delivering in-home aged care into a new, unified Support at Home Program.

In January 2022, the Department of Health released an Overview paper containing an initial framework for the reforms, alongside a schedule for consultation with the sector.

The new Support at Home program is now expected to commence on 1 July 2024. The incoming Minister for Aged Care announced the deferral by one year to facilitate additional consultation and ensure that reforms will “bring genuine improvements for older Australians in the long and short-term.”

Current programs have a diversity of client cohorts, services and providers 
The three programs to be unified have different objectives, scopes, funding models and cohorts. This diversity must be recognised and accommodated in all facets of the design of the new program, as should the differences of aged care from disability care.

The program should have a clear set of principles which guide its design
Aged care reform in Australia has followed a broadly consistent approach over the past decade. Design of the Support at Home program should be guided by a set of principles that reflect this approach and are centred on the independence and wellness of senior Australians. 

In the absence of a published statement of principles to date, this Commentary suggests the following:
  • Senior Australians to have choice and control over the services they are assessed as needing and that those services change as their needs change.
  • Services to be delivered within a competitive market-based environment.
  • Regulation to be proportionate in setting quality and safety standards for the services and the providers of those services and correcting for market failures.
  • The allocation, management, delivery and outcomes of subsidised services to be transparent and have clear lines of accountability.
  • Subsidised services to be funded sustainably and equitably between taxpayers and clients.
Key concerns discussed in the Commentary are:
  • The need for a clear and consistent set of principles to guide program design
  • Ensuring effective accountability within a multi-provider, fee-for-service model
  • The impact of service and price lists on transparency and flexibility
  • The role of appropriate client contributions within sustainable funding models

Sophisticated New Robot Driving Innovation In Joint Surgery

A $400,000 robot, which may hold the key to significant improvements in hip and knee replacements, is now operational at the Kolling Institute.

Known as KOBRA, or the Kolling Orthopaedic Biomechanics Robotic Arm, the new technology delivers an advanced testing facility while greatly increasing research capabilities.

It is the largest of its kind in Australia and one of just two SimVitro robots in the country.

Director of the Kolling’s Murray Maxwell Biomechanics Lab Associate Professor Elizabeth Clarke has welcomed its installation, saying it represents a significant step for orthopaedic and biomedical engineering research, new surgical techniques and medical technologies.

“KOBRA will be used to simulate complex human movements on joints,” Elizabeth said. “This is a new way of working and very few other machines have this capability where they can test joints through a broad range of life-like manoeuvers, like hip flexing, squatting, walking and throwing.

“We expect to use the robot in the testing of implants, particularly for hip and knee replacements, to gauge how the implants will function and to help ensure the movement is as life-like as possible,” Elizabeth said.

We expect to use the robot in the testing of implants, particularly for hip and knee replacements, to gauge how the implants will function and to help ensure the movement is as life-like as possible

The orthopaedic biomechanics robot is not only expected to advance hip and knee replacements, but is also likely to assist surgeons working to repair chronic shoulder instability.

Large numbers of patients are presenting with this injury and the information provided by the robot will help to improve the quality of research and optimise surgical approaches.

Professor Bill Walter, Royal North Shore Hospital orthopaedic surgeon and Professor of Orthopaedics and Traumatic Surgery at the University of Sydney has witnessed advances in surgical techniques over many years.

He said the next improvements will be delivered through new technologies provided by robots like KOBRA.

“We have seen that previous innovations have come through new materials and design,” he said. "The next innovations however in joint replacement surgery will be delivered through improved biomechanics of the artificial joints.

“It’s tremendously encouraging to see this world-leading technology coming to the Kolling. It will assist researchers, engineers and surgeons, and ultimately lead to improved surgical techniques, better placement of implants and good long-term health outcomes for our community.”

The robot has been made possible following a collaboration between the Northern Sydney Local Health District, the University of Sydney, the Kolling Institute, the NSW Investment Boosting Business Innovation program and the RNSH Staff Specialist Trust Fund.

Associate Professor Elizabeth Clarke and Professor Bill Walter standing in front of the robot KOBRA.

Dog Behaviour Could Offer Insight Into Building Better Robots For Aged Care

Macquarie University (at Ryde) has conducted research into understanding how we bond with our furry friends in order to help scientists to design robots that can reduce loneliness.

The premise is that if small robots could be made more doglike by teaching them to play, respond to emotional cues and stay close, it could be the start of creating bonds between human and machine to combat the rising problem of social isolation, new research suggests.

Pre-pandemic, loneliness was considered to be most prevalent among older people, but with repeated lockdowns and the shift to working from home, it is increasingly being recognised as an issue for all age groups.

Researchers around the world are looking for ways to tackle the problem, with attention turning to technological solutions involving artificial intelligence, including apps, chatbots, avatars and virtual reality.

And while it may sound like something straight out of science fiction, robots could also be an option, providing a physical presence that could not only offer companionship but potentially provide support like raising the alarm in a medical emergency or carrying out small day-to-day care tasks.

With this in mind, Macquarie University Professor of Human Neuroscience, Emily Cross, and PhD candidate, Katie Riddoch, began looking at the potential for robots in aged care, providing a form of social interaction and allowing people to stay in their own homes longer.

If a lonely person is going to benefit from interacting with a robot, we believe they need to be able to bond with it.”

“Developing humanoid robots for tasks like these has proved to be an expensive challenge that is complicated by the extremely high expectations we have thanks to fictional robots,” Cross says.

“This has led to a shift in focus towards social robots based on small animals like dogs.

“Having a dog has been shown to be associated with improved mental health and wellbeing, but it’s not an option that’s open to everyone due to factors like allergies or diseases such as dementia that mean the person can’t care for a pet effectively.

“What we’re looking for in our research is ways to bridge the gap between seeing a robot as simply a machine to something more. If a lonely person is going to benefit from interacting with a robot, we believe they need to be able to bond with it.”

The seven keys to human-dog bonding
Cross and Riddoch began looking at ways to make social robots behave more like the animals they were designed to resemble, beginning with identifying the traits that create and maintain bonds between dogs and their owners.

Riddoch, who is based at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, surveyed more than 150 dog owners, asking them open-ended questions about their pets’ behaviour and what they perceived it to mean, rather than simply asking them what they liked about their dogs, as previous studies had done.

Using the survey responses, Riddoch, Cross and their University of Edinburgh colleague Dr Roxanne Hawkins identified seven types of behaviour that contributed to human/dog bonding. These form the basis of a new paper published in scientific journal, PLoS One.

“Top of the list were activities like playing or going for walks together, which owners perceived as representing shared interests,” Cross says.

“The dog choosing to stay close was another key behaviour, as owners read this as the animal being protective or caring.

“More than half of the people surveyed mentioned the importance of their dog communicating with them to let them know what it needed, and offering physical affection.

“The sense of positivity and enthusiasm was also important, in the form of actions like the dog running straight to them when they came home.

“Respondents also perceived what we’ve called ‘attunement’ as an important behaviour, where the dog appears to be on the same emotional wavelength and responds to the owner’s moods – doggy empathy, if you like.”

Robot bonding goals
Using this list of bonding behaviours, the team programmed a MiRo‑E robot, which looks something like a cross between a rabbit and a dog, then tested how dog owners reacted to it. The results of this study were published on September 28, 2022.

“We’re not suggesting that robots could replace dogs, because obviously there are aspects of being with a living creature that robots can’t simulate,” Cross says.

“We’re not even trying to completely reproduce dogs’ behaviour in robotic form, but we do think robots that exhibit some of these doglike traits could offer benefits for people who don’t have the option of having a real dog.

“We hope that our research will contribute, even in a small way, to people being able to relate better to robots.”

Emily Cross is a Professor of Human Neuroscience in Macquarie University’s School of Psychological Sciences, and the MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development at Western Sydney University

The real thing; messy, cheeky, likes rolling in muck until she stinks, eats like a horse, full of love.

How we can use gaming to support positive ageing (and support our relationships with our pets, too)

Cherished Pet FoundationAuthor provided
Larissa HjorthRMIT University

Margaret, 63, loves playing online Scrabble everyday with her sister who lives interstate. The online game allows a playful way to keep in constant contact when geographically distant.

Tom, 70, discovered the joy of Wordle and sharing his daily outcomes with friends. Penelope, 67, gets online to play Roblox games with her grandchildren who are living interstate.

These are just a few examples of the many ways older adults are gaming across Australia.

During the pandemic lockdowns, games were not only spaces for everyday creativity and informal literacy, but a way to socialise and keep fit – both mentally and physically. So much so that, in 2020, the World Health Organisation acknowledged the communicative and social power of games for wellbeing.

Even though the typical gamer is middle-aged woman, ageist stereotypes about gamers continue to circulate, reflecting broader inherent ageisms embedded within Australian culture.

Maybe we could turn this problem on its head. Perhaps we could use games to empower ageing and ageing well, creating bridges between the generations – and even improve our relationships with animals while we’re at it.

Ageing Well

Older adults are one of the most divergent cohort of technology users, from “silver surfer” innovators to those who have little experience or confidence.

Victoria’s Ageing Well Report lists eight attributes to ageing well: positivity, purpose, respect, socially connection, keeping up in a changing world, financial/personal security, health autonomy and mobility.

Many of these attributes can be addressed through games and play.

In our study into mobile game practices in Australian homes, we found numerous ways in which games offer intergenerational ways for socialising, connection and creativity.

Word games like Scrabble and Wordle have been deployed to add playful, social dimensions to people’s lives: older adult siblings playing online everyday, or grandparents playing with grandchildren interstate.

Game apps like Pokémon Go have been used to motivate older adults to exercise and socialise.

In countries as varied as Japan and Spain, the power of Pokémon Go has enhanced various dimensions of everyday life – from getting mobile and discovering local neighbourhoods to playing together cooperatively to win tournaments.

Game genres such as “social justice” and “games for change” have been deployed to address complex issues such as elder abuse in new ways by providing safe spaces to enhance empathy and reshape perceptions.

In our research, we accompanied and interviewed older adult players in Badalona, Spain about their use of Pokémon Go.

On the streets of Badalona, chasing Pokémons was clearly about intergenerational play and sociality. The game was such a success in older adult rehabilitation by making exercise fun and social that social workers started to prescribe it as part of their health plans.

There is a growing body of research into games for intergenerational connection. But the role of games to enhance our relationships with animals has been overlooked – despite the fact animals play an essential role in our contemporary relationships.

Our Best Friend

Australians love their animals: one in three prefer animals to humans.

Despite this reality, animal companions are not acknowledged in Australia’s aged care plans. This means many older adults can be disenfranchised by the system.

For many older adults, animal companions are crucial to their social and physical wellbeing.

Digital games like Stray see the player take on the role of a stray cat. These types of games can enhance our empathy for animals, but there is a missed opportunity in relation to the human-animal bonds for ageing well.

The human-animal kinship is a space ready for gameplay which could enrich the possibility of ageing well.

During the pandemic lockdowns, Melbourne’s Cherished Pet Foundation trialled different techniques to support their community – including the use of games.

Pet Playing for Placemaking (co-designed by Jacob Sheahan) invited older pet owners and local community members to partner up and compete in treasure-hunt style gameplay.

Older pet owners, limited in mobility and vulnerable to the virus, completed digital puzzles which reveal locations where their play partner (typically a volunteer or neighbour) can walk their pet and discover more challenges that lead to other places.

Participants reported they found the game a fun way to connect with their neighbourhood and their community – and it kept their pets happy, too.

The Beauty Of Game Play

Ageing well is about positive and empowering pathways for ageing across emotional, physical and mental domains.

This can take many forms: social connection, respectful relationships, regular exercise and mobility.

Games can play an active role in empowering ageing, enriching social and intergenerational connection, mobility and health.

While the pandemic has laid bare barriers to ageing well, it has also created opportunities. Maybe we all need to play more with ageing well?The Conversation

Larissa Hjorth, Professor of Mobile Media and Games., RMIT University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

‘Prima donna in pigtails’: how Julie Andrews the child star embodied the hopes of post-war Britain

Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Brett FarmerDeakin University

In June, the American Film Institute presented its 48th Life Achievement Award, the highest honour in American cinema, to the beloved stage-and-screen star Julie Andrews.

On conferring the award, the AFI praised Andrews as “a legendary actress” who “has enchanted and delighted audiences around the world with her uplifting and inspiring body of work”.

As anyone who has seen Mary Poppins (1964) or The Sound of Music (1965) can attest, “uplift” is central to the Julie Andrews screen persona.

It is a sweetness-and-light image that is easy to lampoon. Andrews herself is alleged to have quipped “sometimes I’m so sweet even I can’t stand it”. But it’s an element of feel-good edification that fuels much of the star’s iconic appeal.

The idea of Julie Andrews as a figure of uplift has a long history.

Decades before she attained global film stardom in Hollywood, Andrews enjoyed an early career as a child performer.

Billed as “Britain’s youngest singing star”, she performed widely on the postwar concert and variety circuit with forays into radio, gramophone recording and even early television.

Possessing a precociously mature soprano voice, Andrews was widely promoted in the era as a child prodigy. A 1945 BBC talent report filed when the young singer was just nine years old enthused over “this wonderful child discovery” whose “breath control, diction, and range is quite extraordinary for so young a child”.

‘Infant Prodigy Of Trills’

Andrews made her professional West End debut in 1947 where she dazzled audiences with a coloratura performance of the Polonaise from Mignon. Newspapers were ablaze with stories about the “12-year-old singing prodigy with the phenomenal voice”.

Reports claimed the pint-sized singer had a vocal range of over four octaves, a fully formed adult larynx and an upper whistle register so high dogs would be beckoned whenever she sang.

On the back of such stories, Andrews was given a slew of lionising monikers: “prima donna in pigtails”, “infant prodigy of trills”, “the miracle voice” and “Britain’s juvenile coloratura”.

While much of it was PR hype, the representation of Andrews as an extraordinary musical prodigy resonated deeply with postwar British audiences. The devastation of the war cast a long shadow, and there was a keen sense a collective social rejuvenation was needed to reestablish national wellbeing.

The figure of the child was pivotal to the rhetoric of postwar British reconstruction. From political calls for expanded child welfare to the era’s booming family-oriented consumerism, images of children saturated the cultural landscape, serving as a lightning rod for both social anxieties and hopes.

In her status as “Britain’s youngest singing star”, Andrews chimed with these postwar discourses of child-oriented renewal.

A popular myth even traced her prodigious talent to the very heart of the Blitz. Like a scene from a morale-boosting melodrama, the story claimed the young Andrews was huddled one night with family and friends in a Beckenham air raid shelter. In the middle of a communal singalong, a powerful voice suddenly materialised out of her tiny frame, astonishing all into silent delight.

‘Our Julie’

One of the most pointed alignments of Andrews’ juvenile stardom with a discourse of postwar British nationalism came with her appearance at the 1948 Royal Command Variety Performance.

Appearing just two weeks after her 13th birthday, Andrews was the youngest artist ever to participate in the annual event. It generated considerable media coverage and yet another grand nickname: “command singer in pigtails”.

Andrews performed a solo set at the event, and was also charged with leading the national anthem at the close.

Ideals of restorative nationalism shaped Andrews’ child stardom in other ways.

Much of her early repertoire was markedly British, drawn from the English classical canon and rounded out by traditional folk songs.

Press reports emphasised, for all her remarkable talent, “our Julie” was still a typical English girl thoroughly unspoiled by fame. In accompanying images she would appear in idyllic scenarios of classic English childhood: playing with dolls, riding her bicycle, doing her homework.

Elsewhere, commentary was rife with speculations about Andrews’ prospects as “the next Adelina Patti” or “future Lily Pons”. The mix of nostalgia and hope helped make the young Andrews a reassuring figure in the anxious landscape of postwar Britain.

All Grown Up

Little prodigies can’t remain little forever. There lies the troubled rub for many child stars, doomed by biology to lose their principal claim to fame.

In Andrews’ case, she was able to make the successful transition to adult stardom – and even greater fame – by moving country and professional register into the American stage and screen musical.

Still, the themes of therapeutic uplift that defined her early child stardom would follow Julie Andrews as she graduated to become the world’s favourite singing nanny.The Conversation

Brett Farmer, Lecturer in Film, Media and Communication, Deakin University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

These 12 things can reduce your dementia risk – but many Australians don’t know them all

Joyce SietteWestern Sydney University and Laura DoddsWestern Sydney University

Dementia is a leading cause of death in Australia.

Although dementia mainly affects older people, it is an avoidable part of ageing. In fact, we all have the power to reduce our risk of developing dementia, no matter your age.

Research shows your risk of developing dementia could be reduced by up to 40% (and even higher if you live in a low or middle-income country) by addressing lifestyle factors such as healthy diet, exercise and alcohol consumption.

But the first step to reducing population-wide dementia risk is to understand how well people understand the risk factors and the barriers they may face to making lifestyle changes.

Our new paper, published this week in the Journal of Ageing and Longevity, found most older people are aware that dementia is a modifiable condition and that they have the power to change their dementia risk.

We also found the key barrier to making brain healthy lifestyle choices was a lack of knowledge, which suggests a public awareness campaign is urgently needed.

An older person puts their head in their hands.
Dementia a leading cause of death in Australia. Shutterstock

What We Did

We began by reviewing the published research to identify 12 factors shown to reduce dementia risk. We surveyed 834 older Australians about their awareness of the 12 factors, which were:

  1. having a mentally active lifestyle
  2. doing physical activity
  3. having a healthy diet
  4. having strong mental health
  5. not smoking
  6. not consuming alcohol
  7. controlling high blood pressure
  8. maintaining a healthy weight
  9. managing high cholesterol
  10. preventing heart disease
  11. not having kidney disease
  12. not having diabetes

The Lancet subsequently published its own list of factors that help reduce dementia risk, which covered much the same territory (but included a few others, such as reducing air pollution, treating hearing impairment and being socially engaged).

Of course, there is no way to cut your dementia risk to zero. Some people do all the “right” things and still get dementia. But there is good evidence managing lifestyle factors help make it less likely you will get dementia over your lifetime.

An older woman looks out the window.
Few of the survey respondents able to identify the less well-known risk factors. Image by Gerd Altmann from PixabayCC BY

Our study shows many older Australians are quite aware, with over 75% able to correctly identify more than four of the factors in our list of 12.

However, few were able to name the less well-known risk factors, such as preventing heart disease and health conditions like kidney disease.

The good news is that close to half of the sample correctly identified more than six of the 12 protective factors, with mentally active lifestyle, physical activity and healthy diet in the top three spots.

Two Key Issues

Two things stood out as strongly linked with the ability to identify factors influencing dementia risk.

Education was key. People who received more than 12 years of formal schooling were more likely to agree that dementia was a modifiable condition. We are first exposed to health management in our school years and thus more likely to form healthier habits.

Age was the other key factor. Younger respondents (less than 75 years old) were able to accurately identify more protective factors compared to older respondents. This is why health promotion initiatives and public education efforts about dementia are vital (such as Dementia Awareness Month and Memory, Walk and Jog initiatives).

How Can These Findings Be Used In Practice?

Our findings suggest we need to target education across the different age groups, from children to older Australians.

This could involve a whole system approach, from programs targeted at families, to educational sessions for school-aged children, to involving GPs in awareness promotion.

We also need to tackle barriers that hinder dementia risk reduction. This means doing activities that motivate you, finding programs that suit your needs and schedule, and are accessible.

An older couple do yoga in the park.
Find activities that motivate you, suit your needs and schedule, and are accessible. Photo by Vlada Karpovich/PexelsCC BY

What Does This Mean For You?

Reducing your dementia risk means recognising change starts with you.

We are all familiar with the everyday challenges that stop us from starting an exercise program or sticking to a meal plan.

There are simple and easy changes we can begin with. Our team has developed a program that can help. We are offering limited free brain health boxes, which include information resources and physical items such as a pedometer. These boxes aim to help rural Australians aged 55 years and over to adopt lifestyle changes that support healthy brain ageing. If you’re interested in signing up, visit our website.

Now is the time to think about your brain health. Let’s start now.The Conversation

Joyce Siette, Research Theme Fellow, Western Sydney University and Laura Dodds, PhD Candidate, Western Sydney University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

MQ Health, Surgeons And Medibank Partner To Establish World-Class Orthopaedic Centre In Sydney

MQ Health will establish a world-class orthopaedic surgical centre in Sydney, with support from leading orthopaedic surgeons and Medibank.

The centre will be located on a dedicated floor of Macquarie University Hospital, with four state of the art orthopaedic operating theatres and 29 beds supporting a short stay surgical model.

Macquarie University Hospital CEO, Associate Professor Walter Kmet said the centre will champion the hospital’s philosophy of excellence in evidence-based medicine.

“This is an exciting partnership for our hospital as we continue to innovate in care, quality and safety for our patients,” Associate Professor Kmet said.

“The short stay model combines pre-assessment and pre-habilitation to support a patient’s rapid recovery and help them return home sooner. Both the hospital and treating specialist decide if the model is appropriate for each patient, with decisions around their care, monitoring and rehabilitation to be made by our clinical team.

“As the number of joint replacements continues to increase in line with the ageing population, increasing access to short stay is a great development for our treating specialists and their patients,” he said.

A group of orthopaedic surgeons and Medibank will invest $29.6 million to support the establishment of the centre through a joint venture, with the surgeons and Medibank each contributing $14.8 million to fund the fit out and equipment. MQ Health is contributing the floor space, with the centre to operate as an integrated part of the hospital.

The surgical centre will be accessible to all patients regardless of their health fund or if they are self-funded.

Medibank Group Executive – CEO Health Services Dr Andrew Wilson said the centre will expand Medibank’s no gap program, which provides customers with choice and value around their healthcare.

“Our no gap program gives our customers choice in how their treatment is delivered and can halve the number of days they need to spend in hospital. Instead, they have the option to rehabilitate in the comfort of their own home with full support from nurses, allied health practitioners and personal carers as required,” Dr Wilson said.

“It’s also designed to eliminate out-of-pocket medical costs commonly associated with a hip or knee replacement. For minor complexity procedures, these savings have averaged $1,200, although they can be as high as $4,700. This can make a real difference to household budgets at a time when the cost of living is increasing,” he said.

MQ Health Discipline Head of Orthopaedics Professor Munjed Al Muderis, said the centre will provide a range of benefits.

“This world-class centre will help us meet growing demand for this model of care and provide opportunities to partner with the university on research and teaching,” Professor Al Muderis said.

The centre is expected to open in late 2023.

A Call To Better Support Unpaid Carers This International Day Of Older Persons

This year, the International Day of Older Persons fell on Saturday 1 October. The theme for this year focuses on the resilience and contributions of older women. National Seniors Australia CEO and Director of Research John McCallum explains why it is sorely needed.

With workforce shortages causing chaos nationally, ageism continues to exclude older workers from employment with older women more exposed to ageist discrimination than men.  

While most people are working to save superannuation to fund their retirement, many older women shoulder the responsibility of care. Consequently, losing income and superannuation while facing a higher risk of poverty, welfare dependency and homelessness in older age.

The unrecognised role of unpaid care
The situation is compounded by the demanding role of providing unpaid, informal care to family members, which results in reduced hours of paid work or quitting altogether.

National Seniors research suggests there is a strong gender disparity among those providing care to an ageing parent.  

National Seniors recently surveyed more than 4000 Australians aged 50 plus. The survey found that 69 per cent of women provided care for ageing parents. 

This work can be debilitating in terms of time, health, and financial costs. One participant shared, “It is emotionally and physically draining caring for an elderly parent. I cannot go on holiday for more than a night or two. I have health problems and live alone, so I really need to look after myself as well. It is a bit of an exhausting cycle.”

Another said, “That is 20 years of my life, earning power and superannuation that I have sacrificed for a worthwhile (yet distressing and exhausting) cause. At significant health and wealth cost to myself.”

Given the projected shift in Australia from caring for older people in residential facilities to caring for them in their own homes, we know this situation will get worse.

Home care packages can lighten some of the load, but it is not 24/7 care. At National Seniors, older Australians tell us family members still must fill the gaps in home-based care. Those gaps can be very wide.

Older people do not care only for parents. They care for children too, which goes largely unrecognised by the government and is often taken for granted in families.

National Seniors' research also identified gender differences in grandparenting care.  

Among our sample, women and men provided grandparent care equally, with 27 per cent of women and 26 per cent of men actively grandparenting.

Almost all the men who were a grandparent, a whopping 93 per cent of our sample, had a partner. This suggests they share the burden of the labour as a couple.  

However, the same is not true of the women, among whom only 57 per cent had partners, while 43 per cent were single, providing grandparenting care on their own.

This suggests that the financial, time and health costs of grandparenting are higher for women than men on average since many more women are doing it alone. At the very least, there should be public recognition and support for those doing it tough.

As one of our survey participants said, unpaid care activities often come at a direct cost to the carer. “Two days per week unpaid care of two grandchildren. Gave up work as a teacher.”

The need for financial support
Older people who provide unpaid care for others contribute labour to the Australian economy without recompense and often at great personal and professional costs.  

Many are not eligible for the Carer Payment because of its strict criteria. Others are eligible, but lose it if they continue in some paid work and earn over the allowable threshold.  

The government’s proposal to allow workers to take extended unpaid carer leave will not solve the problem of lost earning potential either.

While workers can sometimes use personal leave to care for others, this disadvantages carers because they have less paid leave available when they fall sick.

Our research and that of others demonstrate that caring is associated with poorer mental and physical health. Therefore, carers need all the sick leave they can get, or they magnify their risks.

National Seniors recently proposed to the Senate Select Committee on Work and Care that paid leave entitlements for carers are increased by instituting paid carer leave. This is separate from personal leave to redress the inequity.

Like parental leave, this would be a type of leave that some people will never need, and others will, depending on life circumstances.

By expecting our carers to keep giving, despite poverty and ill-health, we are doing a disservice to older Australians who work, care, and the older Australians they care for.

The resilience and contributions of older women and other older people deserve recognition and in a form that pays the bills. The 2022 International Day of Older Persons is the time to act.

U3A Actvities

Previously known as Guringai country, the land of the Garigal or Caregal people, the Northern Beaches area stretches from Palm Beach to Manly. It is home to Manly Sea Eagles, Garigal and Kuring-Gai Chase National Parks, enviable beaches and a relaxed, carefree lifestyle.

Our 2022 Semester 2 Course Book is now available and we are looking forward to seeing you at some of our exciting courses. In addition to face to face and Zoom courses this semester we also have three outings which may interest you:
  • A day trip to Mount Wilson on 5 October (details on page 9);
  • Our annual picnic on 20 October, this year at Clontarf Reserve (details on page 10); and
  • Tunnels and Gunners Tour, with a guide from the Sydney Harbour Trust, on 3 November (details on page 10.
Bookings are required for each of these events so please hurry to join in.

Home Instead Sydney North Shore & Northern Beaches

We are a provider of quality home care and companionship services for seniors in the Northern suburbs of Sydney. 

To you, it’s about finding trustworthy care for your ageing loved one. To us, it’s about providing the highest-quality in-home care services to fit you and your family’s needs.
To Us, It's Personal.

We provide services to all areas and suburbs in the North Shore and Northern Beaches of Sydney.
Telephone: (02) 9144 2322

Warming Oceans Are Changing Australian Reef Fish Populations

September 22, 2022
Shallow reefs and the creatures that inhabit them are changing due to rising ocean temperatures, but these impacts have been obscured by a lack of comprehensive local data. A team of researchers in Australia has been tracking changes in the country's reefs for over a decade, and in research publishing September 22 in the journal Current Biology they describe how they used fine-scale data to illustrate how warming waters impact tropical and temperate reef fish communities differently.

"Reefs provide a ton of benefits to people, from food, livelihoods, recreation, physical protection from storms, and I dare say even happiness and inspiration," says lead author Rick Stuart-Smith, a marine ecologist at the University of Tasmania. "We specifically considered the fishes that live on reefs, as these are important for many of those aspects, and also help maintain the natural ecological function of the reefs."

The Reef Life Survey, which Stuart-Smith created with co-author Graham Edgar to help the world understand what is happening with Australia's reefs, collects data globally. For this study, the Australian Reef Life Survey data were combined with that from two other major reef monitoring programs. "The two other datasets we used are amongst the longest running of any reef biodiversity monitoring programs globally," says Stuart-Smith. "The combination of these datasets provided a more comprehensive picture of what is happening on reefs than would be imaginable for any other continent."

The research teams looked at habitat change -- coral bleaching, for example -- and temperature change and found that impacts varied depending on the reef's location. Fishes on temperate and subtropical reefs appeared to show the signs of temperature change more, and tropical reef fishes seemed to be more affected from habitat change. After a 2011 marine heatwave warmed waters in southwestern Australia, temperate reefs saw an influx of tropical fishes that hung around for years after the event.

The team also examined how a loss of coral and kelp cover resulted in less unique fish populations. Regions in northeastern Australia showed evidence of habitat degradation that has led to fish populations dominated by generalist species, rather than niche species adapted to specific habitats.

Stuart-Smith hopes that this research will encourage more widespread, standardized, and coordinated local research, which can then be better used to evaluate global trends. The team also calls for more climate-related reef research. "Climate change clearly has a huge impact on marine biodiversity, with changes we observed around the Australian continent over short time scales indicating that much larger changes are likely over the next half century as ocean warming progresses," write the authors.

Rick D. Stuart-Smith, Graham J. Edgar, Ella Clausius, Elizabeth S. Oh, Neville S. Barrett, Michael J. Emslie, Amanda E. Bates, Nic Bax, Daniel Brock, Antonia Cooper, Tom R. Davis, Paul B. Day, Jillian C. Dunic, Andrew Green, Norfaizny Hasweera, Jamie Hicks, Thomas H. Holmes, Ben Jones, Alan Jordan, Nathan Knott, Meryl F. Larkin, Scott D. Ling, Peter Mooney, Jacqueline B. Pocklington, Yanir Seroussi, Ian Shaw, Derek Shields, Margo Smith, German A. Soler, Jemina Stuart-Smith, Emre Turak, John W. Turnbull, Camille Mellin. Tracking widespread climate-driven change on temperate and tropical reefs. Current Biology, 2022; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2022.07.067

What does the Optus data breach mean for you and how can you protect yourself? A step-by-step guide

Jennifer J. WilliamsMacquarie UniversityJeffrey FosterMacquarie University, and Tamara WatsonWestern Sydney University

Optus, Australia’s second largest telecommunications company, announced on September 22 that identifying details of up to 9.8 million customers were stolen from their customer database.

The details, dating back to 2017, include names, birth dates, phone numbers, email addresses, and – for some customers – addresses and driver’s licence or passport numbers.

According to the Australian law, telecommunications providers are required to hold your data while you are their customer and for an additional two years, but may keep the data for longer for their own business purposes.

This means that if you are a previous customer of Optus, your data may also be involved - although it remains unclear how long the details of past customers have been held.

A snippet of an email received by a former Optus customer
Optus has been contacting former and current customers to notify them of the data breach. The Conversation

The stolen data constitutes an almost complete suite of identity information about a significant number of Australians. Optus states they have notified those affected, but there are plenty of questions remaining.

What happens with your data next, and what can the average Australian do to protect against the threats caused by this unprecedented data breach?

What Will Happen To The Data?

Late last week, an anonymous poster on a dark web forum posted a sample of data ostensibly from the breach, with an offer not to sell the data if Optus pays a US$1 million ransom. While its legitimacy has not yet been verified, it is unlikely the attackers will delete the data and move on.

More likely, the data will be distributed across the dark net (sold at first, but eventually available for free). Cyber criminals use these data to commit identity theft and fraudulent credit applications, or use the personal information to gain your trust in phishing attacks.

Below, we outline several steps you can take to proactively defend yourself, and how to detect and respond to malicious uses of your data and identity.

What Should I Do If I’ve Been Affected?

Step 1: Identify your most vulnerable accounts and secure them

Make a list of your most vulnerable accounts. What bank accounts do you hold? What about superannuation or brokerage accounts? Do you have important medical information on any services that thieves may use against you? What accounts are your credit card details saved to? Amazon and eBay are common targets as people often keep credit card details saved to those accounts.

Next, check how a password reset is done on these accounts. Does it merely require access to your text messages or email account? If so, you need to protect those accounts as well. Consider updating your password to a new – never before used – password for each account as a precaution.

Many accounts allow multi-factor authentication. This adds an extra layer for criminals to break through, for example by requesting an additional code to type in. Activate multi-factor authentication on your sensitive accounts, such as banks, superannuation and brokerage accounts.

Ideally, use an application like Google Authenticator or Microsoft Authenticator if the service allows, or an email that is not listed with Optus. Avoid having codes sent to your Optus phone number, as it’s at higher risk of being stolen.

Step 2: Lock your SIM card and credit card if possible

One of the most immediate concerns will be using the leaked data to compromise your phone number, which is what many people use for their multi-factor authentication. SIM jacking – getting a mobile phone provider to give access to a phone number they don’t own – will be a serious threat.

Most carriers allow you to add a verbal PIN as the second verification step, to prevent SIM jacking. While Optus has locked SIM cards temporarily, that lock is unlikely to last. Call your provider and ask for a verbal PIN to be added to your account. If you suddenly lose all mobile service in unusual circumstances, contact your provider to make sure you haven’t been SIM jacked.

To prevent identity theft, you can place a short-term freeze (or credit ban) on your credit checks. These can help stop criminals taking out credit in your name, but it makes applying for credit yourself difficult during the freeze. The three major credit report companies, ExperianIllion, and Equifax offer this service.

If you can’t freeze your credit because you need access yourself, Equifax offers a paid credit alert service to notify you of credit checks on your identity. If you get a suspicious credit alert, you can halt the process quickly by contacting the service that requested the report.

A notebook with several versions of fake passwords written down
Safeguarding your data online involves looking after your passwords properly. Vitalii Vodolazskyi/Shutterstock

Step 3: Improve your cyber hygiene

These breaches don’t exist in a vacuum. The personal information stolen from Optus may be used with other information cyber criminals find about you online; social media, your employer’s website, discussion forums and previous breaches provide additional information.

Many people have unknowingly been victims of cyber breaches in the past. You should check what information about you is available to cyber criminals by checking HaveIBeenPwned. HaveIBeenPwned is operated by Australian security professional Troy Hunt, who maintains a database of known leaked data.

You can search your email accounts on the site to get a list of what breaches they have been involved in. Consider what passwords those accounts used. Are you using those passwords anywhere else?

Take extra care in verifying emails and text messages. Scammers use leaked information to make phishing attempts more credible and targeted. Never click links sent via text or email. Don’t assume someone calling from a company is legitimate, get the customer support number from their website, and call them on that number.

Creating unique and secure passwords for every service is the best defence you have. It is made easier using a password manager – many free apps are available – to manage your passwords. Don’t reuse passwords across multiple services, since they can be used to access other accounts.

If you aren’t using a password manager, you should at least keep unique passwords on your most vulnerable accounts, and avoid keeping digital records of them in email or in computer files while keeping any written passwords in a safe, secure, location.

I’ve Been Hacked, Now What?

Sometimes you can do everything right, and still become a victim of a breach, so how do you know if you’ve been hacked and what can you do about it?

If you receive phone calls, emails or letters from financial institutions regarding a loan or service you know nothing about, call the institution and clarify the situation.

You should also contact IDCare, a not-for-profit organisation designed to assist victims of cyber-attacks and identity theft, for further guidance. You can also report cyber crimes – including identity theft – through CyberReport.The Conversation

Jennifer J. Williams, PhD Candidate, Macquarie UniversityJeffrey Foster, Associate Professor in Cyber Security Studies, Macquarie University, and Tamara Watson, Associate Professor in Psychological Science, Western Sydney University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

We asked over 700 teens where they bought their vapes. Here’s what they said

Mushtaq Hussain/PexelsCC BY-SA
Christina WattsUniversity of SydneyBecky FreemanUniversity of Sydney, and Sam EggerUniversity of Sydney

Teen vaping has been in the news, with reports of rapidly increasing use and illegal sales of e-cigarettes.

As a Four Corners documentary on ABC TV earlier this year showed, parents and schools are struggling to manage this swift rise in vaping, with fears children are addicted and harming their health.

In contrast, very limited research about Australian teen vaping has been published, until today.

We have published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health the first results from the Generation Vape study. The study aims to to track teenagers’ knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and behaviours about using vapes (e-cigarettes).

Here’s what we found about where teenagers were accessing vapes and what types of products they use.

Vaping Common, Especially In Non-Smokers

We surveyed more than 700 teenagers 14-17 years old from New South Wales. The sample was closely representative of the population, with key characteristics such as age, gender, location and education monitored throughout data collection.

We found teenagers are readily accessing and using illegal, flavoured, disposable vaping products that contain nicotine.

Among the teens surveyed, 32% had ever vaped, at least a few puffs. Of these, more than half (54%) had never previously smoked.

Where Are Teens Getting Vapes From?

We found most teens (70%) didn’t directly buy the last vape they used. The vast majority (80%) of these got it from their friends.

However, for the 30% who did buy their own vape, close to half (49%) bought it from a friend or another individual, and 31% bought it from a retailer such as a petrol station, tobacconist or convenience store.

Teens also said they bought vapes through social media, at vape stores and via websites.

What Products Are Teens Using, And Why?

Of the teens who had ever vaped and reported the type of device they used, 86% had used a disposable vape. This confirms anecdotal reports.

These devices appeal to young people and are easy to use. They do not require refilling (unlike tank-style vaping products) and are activated by inhaling on the mouthpiece.

Disposable vapes can contain hundreds, or even thousands of puffs, and are inexpensive, with illicit vapes from retail stores costing between $20-$30, or as little as $5 online.

This ‘Juicy Fruity’ disposable vape resembles Juicy Fruit chewing gum. Author provided

There is an enormous range of vape flavours likely to appeal to children – from chewing gum to fruit and soft drink, even desserts. So it is unsurprising teens rated “flavourings and taste” as the most important characteristic of vapes they used.

Disposable vapes often contain very high concentrations of nicotine, even those claiming to be nicotine-free. The way these products are made (using nicotine salts rather than the free-base nicotine you’d find in cigarettes) allows manufacturers to increase the nicotine concentration without causing throat irritation.

In our study, over half (53%) of the teens who had ever vaped said they had used a vape containing nicotine. Many, however, were unsure whether they had used a vape containing nicotine (27%).

All vaping products, irrespective of nicotine content, are illegal to sell to under 18s in Australia.

Today, disposable vapes containing nicotine can only be legally sold in Australia by pharmacies to adult users with a valid prescription.

We Need To End Illegal Imports And Sales

Our results emphasise that teen vaping is increasingly normalised, and the most popular devices are designed to be highly appealing to young people. This is despite product manufacturers and proponents claiming they are smoking cessation aids only for adult smokers who are struggling to quit.

Turning the tide on teen vaping requires strong and immediate policy action, including ending the illicit importation and sale of vaping products.

Hand reach for vape and vape products on store shelf
We need to clamp down on the illegal sale of e-cigarettes. E-Liquids UK/UnsplashCC BY-SA

Education is often the default first action to address unhealthy behaviours in young people. However, unless this is coupled with strong, supportive policy action, this approach is unlikely to have any measurable impact. Education campaigns cannot protect young people from an industry that so freely disregards laws meant to protect health.

We have strong evidence that vaping leads to harms such as poisoning, injuries, burns, toxicity, addiction and lung injury. The odds of becoming a smoker is more than three times higher for never-smokers who vape than for never-smokers who don’t vape.

What’s Next?

This study uses data from the first wave of the Generation Vape research project, a three-year study with Australian teenagers, young adults, parents and guardians of teenagers, and secondary school teachers.

It is funded by the Cancer Council NSW, federal Department of Health and Ageing, NSW Ministry of Health, Cancer Institute NSW and the Minderoo Foundation.

Future waves of this repeat cross-sectional study, coupled with in-depth interviews, will allow us to track and monitor changes to adolescent, young adult, teacher, and parent attitudes, perceptions, and knowledge of vaping over time.

Vaping is a rapidly evolving public health crisis in Australia. Our research provides evidence for concerted policy action to prevent young people from accessing harmful and addictive products.

Failure to act will see a whole new generation of Australians addicted to dangerous products.The Conversation

Christina Watts, Research fellow, tobacco control, University of SydneyBecky Freeman, Associate Professor, School of Public Health, University of Sydney, and Sam Egger, Biostatistician, University of Sydney

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Clickbait extremism, mass shootings, and the assault on democracy – time for a rethink of social media?

Rioters outside the Capitol Building, Washington DC, 6 January 2021. Mihoko Owada/STAR MAX/IPx/AP
Shirley LeitchAustralian National University

Social media companies have done well out of the United States congressional hearings on the January 6 insurrection. They profited from livestreamed video as rioters stormed the Capitol Building. They profited from the incendiary brew of misinformation that incited thousands to travel to Washington D.C. for the “Save America” rally. They continue to profit from its aftermath. Clickbait extremism has been good for business.

Video footage shot by the rioters themselves has also been a major source of evidence for police and prosecutors. On the day of the Capitol Building attack, content moderators at mainstream social media platforms were overwhelmed with posts that violated their policies against incitement to or glorification of violence. Sites more sympathetic to the extreme right, such as Parler, were awash with such content.

In testifying to the congressional hearings, a former Twitter employee spoke of begging the company to take stronger action. In despair, the night before the attack, she messaged fellow employees:

When people are shooting each other tomorrow, I will try to rest in the knowledge that we tried.

Alluding to tweets by former President Trump, the Proud Boys, and other extremist groups, she spoke of realising that “we were at the whim of a violent crowd that was locked and loaded”.

The Need For Change

In the weeks after the 2019 Christchurch massacre, there were hopeful signs that nations – individually and collectively – were prepared to better regulate the internet.

Social media companies had fought hard against accepting responsibility for their content, citing arguments that reflected the libertarian philosophies of internet pioneers. In the name of freedom, they argued, long established rules and behavioural norms should be set aside. Their success in influencing law makers has enabled companies to avoid legal penalty, even when their platforms are used to motivate, plan, execute and livestream violent attacks.

After Christchurch, mounting public outrage forced the mainstream companies into action. They acknowledged their platforms had played a role in violent attacks, adopted more stringent policies around acceptable content, hired more content moderators, and expanded their ability to intercept extreme content before it was published.

It seemed unthinkable back in 2019 that real action would not be taken to regulate and moderate social media platforms to prevent the propagation of violent, online extremism in all its forms. The livestream was a core element of the Christchurch attack, carefully framed to resemble a video game and intended to inspire future attacks.

Nearly two years later, multiple social media platforms were central to the incitement and organising of the violent attack on the US Capitol that caused multiple deaths and injuries, and led many to fear a civil war was about to erupt.

Indeed, social media was implicated in every aspect of the Capitol Building attack, just as it had been in the Christchurch massacre. Both were fermented by wild and unfounded conspiracy theories that circulated freely across social media platforms. Both were undertaken by people who felt strongly connected to an online community of true believers.

The Process Of Radicalisation

The testimony of Stephen Ayres to the January 6 congressional hearings provides a window into the process of radicalisation.

Describing himself as an “ordinary family man” who was “hard core into social media”, Ayres pleaded guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct for his role in the Capitol invasion. He referenced his accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as the source of his belief that the 2020 US Presidential election had been stolen. His primary sources were posts made by the former president himself.

Ayres testified that a tweet by President Trump had led him to attend the “Save America” rally. He exemplified the thousands of Americans who were not members of any extremist group, but had been motivated through mainstream social media to travel to Washington D.C.

The role of former US President Trump in the rise of right-wing extremism, in the US and beyond, is a recurring theme in Rethinking Social Media and Extremism, which I co-edited with Paul Pickering. At the time of the Christchurch massacre, there was ample evidence that US-based internet companies were providing global platforms for extremist causes.

Yet whenever their content moderation extended to the voices of the far right, these companies faced censure from conservatives, including from the Trump White House. The message was clear: allowing unfettered free speech for the so-called “alt-right” was the price social media companies would have to pay for their oligopoly. Though the growing danger of domestic terrorism was apparent, the threat of antitrust suits was a powerful disincentive for corporate action against right-wing extremists.

Social media companies have faced significant pressure from nations outside the US. For example, within months of the Christchurch attack, world leaders came together in Paris to sign the Christchurch Call to combat violent extremism online. The document was moderate in tone, but the US refused to sign. Instead, the White House doubled down in alleging that the major threat lay in the suppression of conservative voices.

In 2021, the Biden administration belatedly signed up to the Christchurch Call, but it has not succeeded in advancing any measures domestically. Despite some tough talk during the election campaign, President Biden has been unable to pass legislation that would better regulate technology companies.

With the midterm elections looming – elections which often go against the party of the president – there is little reason for optimism. The decisions of US lawmakers will continue to reverberate globally while ownership of Western social media remains firmly centred in the US.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Anthony Quintano/Wikimedia Commons

The Failure Of Self-Regulation

The spirit of libertarianism lives on within companies that exploded from home-grown start-ups to trillion dollar corporations within a decade. Their commitment to self-regulation suited legislators, who struggled to understand this new and constantly shape-shifting technology. The demonstrable failure of self-regulation has proven lethal for the targets of terrorism and now presents as a danger to democracy itself.

In her chapter in Rethinking Social Media and Extremism, Sally Wheeler asks us to reconsider the basis of the social licence social media companies have to operate within democracies. She argues that, rather than asking whether their activities are legal, we might ask what reforms are needed to ensure social media does not cause serious harm to people or societies.

Now central to the provision of many public services, social media platforms might be deemed public utilities and, for this reason alone, be subject to different and higher rules and expectations. This point was amply if unintentionally demonstrated by Facebook itself when it blocked many sites – including emergency services – during a disagreement with the Australian Government in 2021. In the process, Facebook shone a spotlight on the nation’s growing reliance on a poorly regulated, privately owned platform.

Amid the national outcry following the Christchurch massacre, the Australian government hastily introduced legislation intended to increase the responsibilities of internet companies. Reportedly drafted in just 48 hours before being rushed through both houses of parliament, the bill was always going to be flawed.

Effective reform demands that we first recognise the internet as a space in which actions carry real-world consequences. The most visible victims are those directly targeted by threats of extreme violence – mainly women, immigrants and minorities. Even when the threats are not enacted, people are intimidated into silence, even self-harm.

More insidious but perhaps just as harmful in the long term, is the overall decline in civility that drives public discourse towards extreme positions. On social media, what is known as the Overton Window of mainstream political debate has not so much been pushed out as kicked in.

There is broad agreement that existing legal and regulatory frameworks are simply inadequate for the digital age. Yet even as the global pandemic has accelerated our reliance on all things digital, there is less agreement about the nature of the problem, much less about the remedies required. While action is clearly needed, there is always the danger of overreach.

The functioning of democratic society depends as much on our ability to debate ideas and express dissent as it does on the prevention of violent extremism. Our challenge is to balance free speech against other competing rights on the internet, just as we do elsewhere. The current approach of simply ratcheting up the penalties faced by social media companies is more likely to tip the balance against free speech. In a communication landscape that is increasingly concentrated in the hands of just a few major corporations, we are in need of more voices and more diversity, not less.The Conversation

Shirley Leitch, ANU Professorial Fellow and Emeritus Professor, Australian National University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

How I reunited the most important documents in English theatre history for the first time in 200 years

Grace J. IoppoloUniversity of Reading

Most of what we know about the beginnings of English professional theatre as a financial enterprise and artistic endeavour comes from thousands of manuscript pages in the archive of Philip Henslowe (1550-1616) and his son-in-law and business partner, the actor Edward Alleyn (1566-1626).

Henslowe and Alleyn financed many acting companies, including Lord Strange’s Men, the first to employ Shakespeare, and Lord Admiral’s Men, the important troupe of its time. These manuscripts, currently held at Dulwich College, London, comprise the largest and, arguably, the most important existing archive of material about professional theatre in early modern England.

Among the manuscripts are the only surviving records of box office receipts for any play by Shakespeare (Titus Andronicus and Henry IV) and Christopher Marlowe (Doctor Faustus, The Jew of Malta and Tamburlaine).

The manuscripts remained stored in Alleyn’s locked trunk, in their original folded condition, for 260 years, and access to them was gained through visits to the college’s library. For many years, they remained uncatalogued, and sticky-fingered visitors purloined pages, sending fragments of the archive across the country and later the world.

In 2004, I founded a project to digitise these records. By 2022, with the help of other scholars and the archive at Dulwich College, I had reunited all the known fragments, as well as pages of correspondence, legal documents, receipts and other records for the first time in more than 200 years.

Thieves And Scholars

In the early 18th century, rumours began to spread about the uncatalogued archive and a stream of people went to Dulwich College (a school founded by Alleyn) determined to unlock the history of Shakespeare’s dramas, playhouses and performances.

As well as box office receipts, Henslowe and Alleyn’s archive includes the sole surviving actor’s “part” (or script) of the age from the play Orlando Furioso and the “plot” (or prompter’s outline) of the anonymous play The Second Part of the Seven Deadly Sins, one of six plots from this period known to survive.

The archive also includes the 1587 partnership deed between Henslowe and his associates to build the Rose Playhouse on London’s Southbank and the 1600 contract between Peter Street, who built the Globe Playhouse, and Henslowe and Alleyn to build the Fortune Playhouse in north London.

The most important document in this archive, and in English theatre history, however, is Henslowe’s account book. This document provides detailed records from 1597 to the early 1600s of payments to Ben JohnsonThomas MiddletonHenry Chettle and many other playwrights. The document mentions more than 325 commissioned plays, many of which no longer exist, as well as transactions with royal and local officials, actors, censors, costumers and other theatre workers. It also features many signatures (or valuable autographs to thieves).

As scholar and editor Edmond Malone announced in an addition to his influential Historical Account of the Rise and Progress of the English Stage from 1790, the document completely reshaped the understanding of early modern English drama.

Pages Go Missing

Unfortunately, Dulwich College librarians weren’t so vigilant in protecting this important archive. They allowed some visitors unsupervised access to the manuscripts – many of whom didn’t leave empty-handed. The most infamous of these thieves was the Shakespearean scholar and notorious forger John Payne Collier. Collier not only read the “diary” for his scholarly works on Henslowe and Alleyn but also pilfered pages.

Collier pasted pages he stole into a literary autograph scrapbook, which he later sold to the British Museum claiming he had found them in various bookshops. Other collections sold to the British Museum included fragments also compiled by Collier or those he sold them to.

In the 1880s, the manuscripts were finally catalogued in more than 20 volumes by the British Museum’s assistant keeper of manuscripts, George Warner. Warner understood their immense importance to England’s cultural history and recognised that some items had been stolen over the centuries.

Luckily, the noted Shakespearean bibliographer W.W. Greg played literary detective, locating most of the fragments, many still uncatalogued, while preparing his first edition of the diary in 1904.

But, as the Shakespeare scholar R.A. Foakes mentioned in his 1961 edition of the diary, at least 69 pages were still missing and others were removed or partially cut out by autograph hunters. Fragments of some of these pages, with the signatures of poet George Chapman, playwright Thomas Dekker and others, found their way into 18th- and 19th-century auctions and later into manuscript collections at the British Museum, the Bodleian Library in Oxford, Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire (discovered by Greg in 1938) and the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC.

Since the 1800s calls by Dulwich College librarians for the return of these documents have been met with polite refusals.

With the help of Calista Lucy, keeper of the archive at Dulwich College, I contacted all the librarians responsible for these pilfered items, asking if I could upload them to the electronic archive.

The academic Paul Caton and I have now uploaded all the known fragments, along with letters, deeds and other manuscripts – digitally reuniting the diary and the archive for the first time in over 200 years.The Conversation

Grace J. Ioppolo, Professor Emerita, University of Reading

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Fighting Fungal Infections With Metals

September 24, 2022
Each year, more than one billion people contract a fungal infection. Although they are harmless to most people, over 1.5 million patients die each year as a result of infections of this kind. While more and more fungal strains are being detected that are resistant to one or more of the available drugs, the development of new drugs has come to a virtual standstill in recent years. Today, only around a dozen clinical trials are underway with new active agents for the treatment of fungal infections. 

"In comparison with more than a thousand cancer drugs that are currently being tested on human subjects, this is an exceptionally small number," explains Dr. Angelo Frei of the Department of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Pharmacy at the University of Bern, lead author of the study. The results have been published in the journal JACS Au.

Boosting antibiotics research with crowd sourcing
To encourage the development of anti-fungal and antibacterial agents, researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia have founded the Community for Open Antimicrobial Drug Discovery, or CO-ADD. The ambitious goal of the initiative is to find new antimicrobial active agents by offering chemists worldwide the opportunity to test any chemical compound against bacteria and fungi at no cost. As Frei explains, the initial focus of CO-ADD has been on "organic" molecules, which mainly consist of the elements of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen, and do not contain any metals.

However, Frei, who is trying to develop new metal-based antibiotics with his research group at the University of Bern, has found that over 1,000 of the more than 300,000 compounds tested by CO-ADD contained metals.

"For most folks, when used in connection with the word 'people', the word metal triggers a feeling of unease. The opinion that metals are fundamentally harmful to us is widespread. However, this is only partially true. The decisive factor is which metal is used and in which form," explains Frei, who is responsible for all the metal compounds in the CO-ADD database.

Low toxicity demonstrated
In their new study, the researchers turned their attention to the metal compounds which showed activity against fungal infections. Here, 21 highly-active metal compounds were tested against various resistant fungal strains. These contained the metals cobalt, nickel, rhodium, palladium, silver, europium, iridium, platinum, molybdenum and gold.

"Many of the metal compounds demonstrated a good activity against all fungal strains and were up to 30,000 times more active against fungi than against human cells," explains Frei. The most active compounds were then tested in a model organism, the larvae of the wax moth. The researchers observed that just one of the eleven tested metal compounds showed signs of toxicity, while the others were well tolerated by the larvae. In the next step, some metal compounds were tested in an infection model, and one compound was effective in reducing the fungal infection in larvae.

Considerable potential for broad application
Metal compounds are not new to the world of medicine: Cisplatin, for example, which contains platinum, is one of the most widely used anti-cancer drugs. Despite this, there is a long way to go before new antimicrobial drugs that contain metals can be approved. 

"Our hope is that our work will improve the reputation of metals in medical applications and motivate other research groups to further explore this large but relatively unexplored field," says Frei. "If we exploit the full potential of the periodic table, we may be able to prevent a future where we don't have any effective antibiotics and active agents to prevent and treat fungal infections."

The study was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation, the Wellcome Trust and the University of Queensland, among others.

Angelo Frei, Alysha G. Elliott, Alex Kan, Hue Dinh, Stefan Bräse, Alice E. Bruce, Mitchell R. Bruce, Feng Chen, Dhirgam Humaidy, Nicole Jung, A. Paden King, Peter G. Lye, Hanna K. Maliszewska, Ahmed M. Mansour, Dimitris Matiadis, María Paz Muñoz, Tsung-Yu Pai, Shyam Pokhrel, Peter J. Sadler, Marina Sagnou, Michelle Taylor, Justin J. Wilson, Dean Woods, Johannes Zuegg, Wieland Meyer, Amy K. Cain, Matthew A. Cooper, Mark A. T. Blaskovich. Metal Complexes as Antifungals? From a Crowd-Sourced Compound Library to the First In Vivo Experiments. JACS Au, 2022; DOI: 10.1021/jacsau.2c00308

Simple Process Extracts Valuable Magnesium Salt From Seawater

September 24, 2022
Since ancient times, humans have extracted salts, like table salt, from the ocean. While table salt is the easiest to obtain, seawater is a rich source of different minerals, and researchers are exploring which ones they can pull from the ocean. One such mineral, magnesium, is abundant in the sea and increasingly useful on the land.

Magnesium has emerging sustainability-related applications, including in carbon capture, low-carbon cement, and potential next-generation batteries. These applications are bringing renewed attention to domestic magnesium production. Currently, magnesium is obtained in the United States through an energy-intensive process from salt lake brines, some of which are in danger due to droughts. The Department of Energy included magnesium on its recently released list of critical materials for domestic production.

A paper published in Environmental Science & Technology Letters shows how researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and the University of Washington (UW) have found a simple way to isolate a pure magnesium salt, a feedstock for magnesium metal, from seawater. Their new method flows two solutions side-by-side in a long stream. Called the laminar coflow method, the process takes advantage of the fact that the flowing solutions create a constantly reacting boundary. Fresh solutions flow by, never allowing the system to reach a balance.

This method plays a new trick with an old process. In the mid-20th century, chemical companies successfully created magnesium feedstock from seawater by mixing it with sodium hydroxide, commonly known as lye. The resulting magnesium hydroxide salt, which gives the antacid milk of magnesia its name, was then processed to make magnesium metal. However, the process results in a complex mixture of magnesium and calcium salts, which are hard and costly to separate. This recent work produces pure magnesium salt, enabling more efficient processing.

"Normally, people move separations research forward by developing more complicated materials," said PNNL chemist and UW Affiliate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering Chinmayee Subban. "This work is so exciting because we're taking a completely different approach. We found a simple process that works. When scaled, this process could help drive the renaissance of U.S. magnesium production by generating primary feedstock. We're surrounded by a huge, blue, untapped resource."

Seawater from the PNNL-Sequim campus fueled this research project. (Photograph by Andrea Starr | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

From Sequim water to solid salt
Subban and the team tested their new method using seawater from the PNNL-Sequim campus, allowing the researchers to take advantage of PNNL facilities across Washington State.

"As a Coastal Sciences staff member, I just called a member of our Sequim chemistry team and requested a seawater sample," said Subban. "The next day, we had a cooler delivered to our lab in Seattle. Inside, we found cold packs and a bottle of chilled Sequim seawater." This work represents the collaboration that can happen across PNNL's Richland, Seattle, and Sequim campuses.

In the laminar coflow method, the researchers flow seawater alongside a solution with hydroxide. The magnesium-containing seawater quickly reacts to form a layer of solid magnesium hydroxide. This thin layer acts as a barrier to solution mixing.

"The flow process produces dramatically different results than simple solution mixing," said PNNL postdoctoral researcher Qingpu Wang. "The initial solid magnesium hydroxide barrier prevents calcium from interacting with the hydroxide. We can selectively produce pure solid magnesium hydroxide without needing additional purification steps."

The selectivity of this process makes it particularly powerful. Generating pure magnesium hydroxide, without any calcium contamination, allows researchers to skip energy-intensive and expensive purification steps.

Sustainability for the future
The new and gentle process has the potential to be highly sustainable. For example, the sodium hydroxide used to extract the magnesium salt can be generated on site using seawater and marine renewable energy. Removing magnesium is a necessary pre-treatment for seawater desalination. Coupling the new process with existing technologies could make it easier and cheaper to turn seawater into freshwater.

The team is particularly excited about the future of the process. Their work is the first demonstration of the laminar coflow method for selective separations. This new approach has many additional potential applications, but more work needs to be done to understand the underlying chemistry of the process. The knowledge gap offers new possibilities and research directions for powering the blue economy.

"We want to take this work from the empirical to the predictive," said PNNL materials scientist Elias Nakouzi. "There is an exciting opportunity to develop a fundamental understanding of how this process operates while applying it to important problems like creating new energy materials and achieving selective separation of hard-to-separate ions for water treatment and resource recovery."

The published study was supported by the PNNL Laboratory Directed Research and Development program. Elisabeth Ryan of UW was also a co-author of the study. Current development of this technology is supported by the Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Water Power Technologies Office under the Marine Energy Seedlings Program.

Qingpu Wang, Elias Nakouzi, Elisabeth A. Ryan, Chinmayee V. Subban. Flow-Assisted Selective Mineral Extraction from Seawater. Environmental Science & Technology Letters, 2022; 9 (7): 645 DOI: 10.1021/acs.estlett.2c00229

Museums Of History Bill Passes In NSW

September 26, 2022
The NSW Government’s Museums of History Bill creating two new agencies, Museums of History NSW and State Records NSW, has passed parliament.

Minister for the Arts Ben Franklin said the Bill meant the State’s most important and historic collections, records and archives will be better preserved, presented and accessible to the public.

“It will see the NSW State Archives and Sydney Living Museums brought together to create a flagship body, Museums of History NSW, to serve the people of NSW and beyond,” said Mr Franklin.

“The NSW Government is committed to a future where history is alive and the telling of history takes a more prominent place in our cultural landscape.”

“The creation of Museums of History NSW is increasing accessibility by making history immersive, discoverable and relevant to the people of NSW.”

The Bill also includes the creation of State Records NSW, a separate and dedicated agency for recordkeeping standards, regulation, advice, education and policy.

“Good recordkeeping is the foundation of good government. The creation of a dedicated agency will ensure the highest of standards is maintained for NSW Government integrity and accountability now and into the future,” Mr. Franklin said.

CEO of NSW State Archives and Sydney Living Museums, Adam Lindsay said the passing of the Bill was a tremendous achievement in the ongoing preservation of, and access to our precious history for generations to come.

“History is happening as every moment passes into the next and it can be shared by all of us. With this formidable portfolio of assets combined with the expertise of our dedicated professionals, the creation of Museums of History NSW offers the chance to dig deep, discover and enjoy the wonders held within this vast and rich collection of archives, objects and built heritage,” Mr Lindsay said.

The Museums of History Act 2022 and the State Records Act amendments will be effective from 31 December 2022.

New Hawkesbury Hub For Fires And Floods

September 26, 2022
The State Government has announced emergency response to fires and floods in the Hawkesbury is being significantly enhanced with construction beginning on a new $8 million Fire Control and Emergency Operations Centre.

Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience and Minister for Flood Recovery Steph Cooke joined Member for Hawkesbury Robyn Preston and Rural Fire Service (RFS) members at the site in Wilberforce today to officially turn the first sod.

“Communities in the Hawkesbury have been devastated by back-to-back fires and floods over recent years, which is why it has been earmarked for this state-of-the-art operations hub to help our emergency services better respond to hazards rapidly and effectively,” Ms Cooke said.

“We are investing $71 million in eight new Fire Control Centres in high fire risk areas across the State including Armidale, the Clarence Valley, Cooma, Hawkesbury, Moruya, Mudgee, Narrabri and Tumut.”

Ms Preston said the NSW Government is committed to ensuring emergency services organisations have the infrastructure and resources they need to better protect communities from future emergencies.

“Having a purpose-built and co-located Fire Control and Emergency Operations Centre will provide our local RFS staff and volunteers with the very best facilities for day-to-day operations, and ample room for additional personnel when major events occur,” Ms Preston said.

RFS Commissioner Rob Rogers said construction is expected to take two years and once completed, the new facility will give RFS volunteers what they need to carry out their roles safely and effectively.

“RFS members are dedicated to helping their communities 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Once completed this centre will ensure members of the 23 Brigades in the Hawkesbury District have access to the latest technology and equipment to support emergency events, increase the level of safety and keep the community informed,” Commissioner Rogers said.

Wellbeing Support To Ensure Student Success In NSW

September 25, 2022
The NSW Government has announced that world-leading child health researchers have been tasked with looking at the mental health and wellbeing of NSW primary school students and helping to create innovative social and emotional support measures for our youngest learners.   

Premier Dominic Perrottet says the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute will undertake the work and propose a suite of new social and wellbeing initiatives. 

“The unprecedented challenges of the past few years have certainly been tough and we’ve heard from teachers and parents right across our state how they’ve noticed an impact on student capacity to focus, social interactions and general happiness,” Mr Perrottet said.   

“This research is vital to find the best ways of providing support in our schools. We’re already reforming curriculums to give students the best educational start in life and wellbeing is another important component to help set them up for success.”  

Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell said when it comes to student wellbeing, early identification and prevention is key.       

“The NSW Government has invested significantly in health and wellbeing support, services and personnel in our high schools over the last few years, and we want that same high calibre of support in our primary schools,” Ms Mitchell said.   

“We need to think holistically, whether that’s introducing student support officers into every primary school or helping schools make better choices about the wellbeing programs they offer to their students – there are endless possibilities.    

“The work the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute will be ground-breaking, and will help deliver a tool and evidence-base for us to choose between those possibilities, and support our schools, and our kids, in the best possible way.”   

Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor echoed the importance of prevention in the wellbeing of young people.   

“This partnership will complement the NSW Government’s successful School Wellbeing Nurses Program and create a web of support around our students – ensuring they have the support and resources they need no matter their age or where they live,” Mrs Taylor said.   

The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute’s work will be completed by February 2023.  

“We know how important it is to have a variety of supports for our children– one size doesn’t fit all,” said Sharon Goldfeld, Professor at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.   

“We’re excited to work with the NSW Government to support schools and kids right across NSW.” 

Since 2015, the NSW Government has invested more than $290 million to provide mental health and wellbeing professionals and services in NSW public schools, along with a series of programs to connect students and families with support in their community.

Engineers Build A Battery-Free Wireless Underwater Camera

September 26, 2022
Scientists estimate that more than 95 percent of Earth's oceans have never been observed, which means we have seen less of our planet's ocean than we have the far side of the moon or the surface of Mars.

The high cost of powering an underwater camera for a long time, by tethering it to a research vessel or sending a ship to recharge its batteries, is a steep challenge preventing widespread undersea exploration.

MIT researchers have taken a major step to overcome this problem by developing a battery-free, wireless underwater camera that is about 100,000 times more energy-efficient than other undersea cameras. The device takes colour photos, even in dark underwater environments, and transmits image data wirelessly through the water.

Image: Adam Glanzman

The autonomous camera is powered by sound. It converts mechanical energy from sound waves traveling through water into electrical energy that powers its imaging and communications equipment. After capturing and encoding image data, the camera also uses sound waves to transmit data to a receiver that reconstructs the image.

Because it doesn't need a power source, the camera could run for weeks on end before retrieval, enabling scientists to search remote parts of the ocean for new species. It could also be used to capture images of ocean pollution or monitor the health and growth of fish raised in aquaculture farms.

"One of the most exciting applications of this camera for me personally is in the context of climate monitoring. We are building climate models, but we are missing data from over 95 percent of the ocean. This technology could help us build more accurate climate models and better understand how climate change impacts the underwater world," says Fadel Adib, associate professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and director of the Signal Kinetics group in the MIT Media Lab, and senior author of the paper.

Joining Adib on the paper are co-lead authors and Signal Kinetics group research assistants Sayed Saad Afzal, Waleed Akbar, and Osvy Rodriguez, as well as research scientist Unsoo Ha, and former group researchers Mario Doumet and Reza Ghaffarivardavagh. The paper is published in Nature Communications.

Going battery-free
To build a camera that could operate autonomously for long periods, the researchers needed a device that could harvest energy underwater on its own while consuming very little power.

The camera acquires energy using transducers made from piezoelectric materials that are placed around its exterior. Piezoelectric materials produce an electric signal when a mechanical force is applied to them. When a sound wave traveling through the water hits the transducers, they vibrate and convert that mechanical energy into electrical energy.

Those sound waves could come from any source, like a passing ship or marine life. The camera stores harvested energy until it has built up enough to power the electronics that take photos and communicate data.

To keep power consumption as a low as possible, the researchers used off-the-shelf, ultra-low-power imaging sensors. But these sensors only capture grayscale images. And since most underwater environments lack a light source, they needed to develop a low-power flash, too.

"We were trying to minimize the hardware as much as possible, and that creates new constraints on how to build the system, send information, and perform image reconstruction. It took a fair amount of creativity to figure out how to do this," Adib says.

They solved both problems simultaneously using red, green, and blue LEDs. When the camera captures an image, it shines a red LED and then uses image sensors to take the photo. It repeats the same process with green and blue LEDs.

Even though the image looks black and white, the red, green, and blue colored light is reflected in the white part of each photo, Akbar explains. When the image data are combined in post-processing, the color image can be reconstructed.

"When we were kids in art class, we were taught that we could make all colors using three basic colors. The same rules follow for color images we see on our computers. We just need red, green, and blue -- these three channels -- to construct color images," he says.

Sending data with sound
Once image data are captured, they are encoded as bits (1s and 0s) and sent to a receiver one bit at a time using a process called underwater backscatter. The receiver transmits sound waves through the water to the camera, which acts as a mirror to reflect those waves. The camera either reflects a wave back to the receiver or changes its mirror to an absorber so that it does not reflect back.

A hydrophone next to the transmitter senses if a signal is reflected back from the camera. If it receives a signal, that is a bit-1, and if there is no signal, that is a bit-0. The system uses this binary information to reconstruct and post-process the image.

"This whole process, since it just requires a single switch to convert the device from a nonreflective state to a reflective state, consumes five orders of magnitude less power than typical underwater communications systems," Afzal says.

The researchers tested the camera in several underwater environments. In one, they captured color images of plastic bottles floating in a New Hampshire pond. They were also able to take such high-quality photos of an African starfish that tiny tubercles along its arms were clearly visible. The device was also effective at repeatedly imaging the underwater plant Aponogeton ulvaceus in a dark environment over the course of a week to monitor its growth.

Now that they have demonstrated a working prototype, the researchers plan to enhance the device so it is practical for deployment in real-world settings. They want to increase the camera's memory so it could capture photos in real-time, stream images, or even shoot underwater video.

They also want to extend the camera's range. They successfully transmitted data 40 meters from the receiver, but pushing that range wider would enable the camera to be used in more underwater settings.

This research is supported, in part, by the Office of Naval Research, the Sloan Research Fellowship, the National Science Foundation, the MIT Media Lab, and the Doherty Chair in Ocean Utilization.

Sayed Saad Afzal, Waleed Akbar, Osvy Rodriguez, Mario Doumet, Unsoo Ha, Reza Ghaffarivardavagh, Fadel Adib. Battery-free wireless imaging of underwater environments. Nature Communications, 2022; 13 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-33223-x

Disclaimer: These articles are not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.  Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Pittwater Online News or its staff.