inbox and environment news: Issue 596

August 27 - September 2, 2023: Issue 596

Wallaby On Station Beach - Lives In Dunes At North Palm Beach

Photos by and courtesy Paul O'Keefe, taken Thursday August 24 - going into the dunes and North Palm Beach. 

Residents have stated they have seen its paws in the sand at Station Beach and on North Palm Beach but now someone has caught this 'local' on a camera. 

Interestingly 'Barrenjoey' headland's name derives from a indigenous word meaning 'little kangaroo' - ergo: the wallaby! 

Thanks Paul - great pictures - another Urban Wallaby of Pittwater, and Barrenjoey!


NSW Government States It Will Continue With Shark Mesh Program

The NSW Government has announced it will continue the Shark Management Program in its current form for the upcoming summer swimming season.

'The Shark Management Program is an effective mitigation program, with a mix of traditional and modern technologies along the NSW coastline.' the Government said in a statement

'Last year was the first summer where SMART drumlines, drones and tagged shark listening stations were deployed at beaches which also have shark nets.'

Continuing the full suite of measures for the 2023-24 season will help us gather further data to make better informed decisions about possible changes for the following (2024-25) season.'

''The shark meshing program is actively managed to minimise the impact on marine animals while protecting swimmers at some of NSW’s most popular beaches.'' the Government states
''The safety of beachgoers is the Government’s number one priority.''

The NSW Shark Management Program includes:
  • Nets at 51 beaches across 8 LGAs between Newcastle and Wollongong from 1 September to 30 April each year
  • 305 SMART drumlines across the 19 LGAs, including 138 in LGAs with nets
  • 37 tagged shark listening stations, including 13 in LGAs with nets
  • Surveillance drone patrols at the current 50 beaches across 25 LGAs, including 15 in LGAs with nets
For more information on the NSW Government’s Shark Management Program, visit Sharksmart.

Minister for Agriculture, Regional NSW and Western NSW Tara Moriarty said on Monday August 21:

“We will continue to work with Councils to assess options for different strategies in future, but for this summer we are sticking with the complement of nets, SMART drumlines, drones and listening stations.

"Nets are only set from September to April to avoid the majority of the whale migration season and are fitted with acoustic devices designed to deter marine mammals from interacting with them.

“The NSW Government will continue to listen to coastal councils and their communities to ensure that local preferences are balanced against effective, evidence-based shark mitigation for beachgoers.” the Minister for Agriculture stated.

Underside of a loggerhead sea turtle as it swims overhead. Photo: Lance Miller


Council Calls For Removal Of Shark Nets On The Northern Beaches

Council is calling on the NSW government to remove shark nets on beaches in the Council area and replace them with a combination of modern and effective alternative shark mitigation strategies that maintain or improve swimmer safety and reduce unwanted by-catch of non-target species. 

Council made the call in response to Department of Primary Industries – Fisheries (DPI Fisheries) request for input from stakeholders on their preferred shark mitigation measures, following a five-year project considering the benefits and impacts of a range of mitigation measures.  

A number of residents addressed Council’s meeting last night in support of shark net removal, including surfing champion Layne Beachley. 

A/Mayor Candy Bingham said Council considered both the need to maintain or improve swimmer safety as well as the negative impacts on non-target marine species in reaching their decision.
“The effectiveness of shark nets has been questioned by many, yet their impact on other marine species is devastating,” Cr Bingham said. 

“We have an aquatic reserve in Manly where turtles and rays are regularly seen by snorkelers, and up and down the beaches dolphins surf the waves alongside local board riders. 

“The research conducted by DPI Fisheries found that 90% of marine species caught in nets were non-target species and that sharks can in fact swim over, under and around the nets anyhow. 

“If the evidence is that there are other just as, or more, effective ways to mitigate shark risk, such as drone and helicopter surveillance, listening stations and deterrent devices, then we owe it to those non-target species to remove the nets. 

‘We will be providing that feedback through this consultation process and look forward to the government implementing effective shark mitigation measures while protecting other important marine species.”

Green Turtle Eggs Found Here To Head North

January 10, 2020: From Northern Beaches Police Area Command Facebook page - Inbox and Environment News Issue 434

Pre-dawn this morning at North Steyne as a close to full moon was setting, a green turtle laboured its way up the sand. Just south of the surf club she dug a nest, laid her eggs, carefully covered them up and headed back to sea. The only sign she'd been there, two sets of tracks in the sand.

Tracks up the sand and back to sea

With virtually no chance of the baby turtles surviving this far south, crews from Taronga Zoo and National Parks came to the beach and carefully retrieved the eggs for relocation to a more suitable environment.

The exercise saw the two teams carefully dig until the nest was found, 37cm down. Each egg was removed, numbered and laid out in rows of ten. From there they were packed in coolers, complete with sand from the nest to be transported to a beach much further north. There, a hole of identical depth will be dug and each egg placed, one-by-one, in its new home. That way, any female turtles that hatch will return to lay their eggs closer to that beach rather than one of the busiest stretches of sand in Sydney.

The dig begins

Each egg carefully numbered 

Crews found 144 of the white, ping pong ball sized eggs, their shells still soft and leathery. They say incidents of turtles laying their eggs so far south are extremely rare. The eggs have been carefully placed in sand at an undisclosed location near Coffs Harbour, where they were more likely to hatch.

The eggs will be will be monitored by NSW TurtleWatch Citizen Science Nesting Program volunteers alongside local rangers to ensure predators don't take the eggs, and keep an eye out for signs that the turtles are hatching, which will happen in about two months time.

Shark Drumlines Going In Off Our Beaches 

Another 3 month trial of SMART drumlines will be carried out across northern Sydney beaches from 30 August – 1 December 2019.
This trial will repeat the previous trial carried out at the start of 2019.

SMART drumlines were placed across two areas near existing shark nets to compare how this new technology performs at:
Barrenjoey to Newport beaches at Palm, Whale, Avalon, Bilgola and Newport; and
Dee Why to Manly beaches at Dee Why, Curl Curl, Freshwater, Queenscliff and Manly.

For more information on the trial, read the Barrenjoey to Newport fact sheet (PDF, 13889.89 KB) and the Dee Why to Manly fact sheet(PDF, 13084.33 KB).

The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is trialling 10 SMART (Shark-Management-Alert-InReal-Time) drumlines across Sydney beaches from 30 August - 1 December 2019.

Each day, 10 SMART drumlines will be set in the morning and collected in the evening (weather dependent) across Each day, 10 SMART drumlines will be set in the morning and collected in the evening (weather dependent) across Palm, Whale, Avalon, Bilgola and
Newport beaches, as well as Dee Why, Curl Curl, Freshwater, Queenscliff and Manly beaches, located near existing shark nets to compare how this new technology performs. They are not left out overnight.

SMART drumlines are new technology that allow target sharks to be intercepted beyond the surf break; once caught, they are tagged and relocated 1km offshore.

‘Target sharks’ are White, Bull and Tiger sharks as they are the species mainly involved in shark bites in NSW.
Currently, DPI is successfully trialling 35 SMART drumlines between Evans Head and Lennox Head and has completed trials at Coffs Harbour, Forster, Kiama, and Ulladulla.

Trials in NSW have shown that SMART drumlines are effective at managing target sharks with minimal impact on the marine environment. Reports from other trials can be found on our website at

DPI manages the NSW Government’s five-year Shark Management Strategy. SMART drumlines are one of the new technologies that are being trialled for shark management along with drones and helicopters for aerial surveillance.

This is the first time SMART drumlines will be trialled in Sydney and will complement the NSW Government’s Shark Meshing (nets) Program. Sharks tagged in the trial will allow DPI and the community to monitor shark movements along the NSW coast.

The locations of the SMART drumlines and nets are shown in the maps below:

Valerie Taylor AM, 88, and Bailey Mason attended the Shark Nets Out Now protest at Manly on Saturday December 3rd, 2022

The Powerful Owl Project:  It’s Fledging Time! 

Our favourite time of year is here. 
Powerful Owlets have taken that great leap of faith from several hollows in Greater Sydney and the delightful sound of trilling owlets is floating out from many more.
These gorgeous balls of fluff are very vulnerable for the first few weeks after they fledge. They’re still learning to fly and they’re easily frightened. Frightened owlets might trill or flush from their roost and then be mobbed by day birds.

If you’re lucky enough to come across owlets, observe quietly and from a distance. 

If you take your dog with you when you go walking, please keep it on-leash, especially in parkland and in the bush, to help keep newly fledged owlets safe.

NB: Dogs are prohibited in Pittwater Wildlife Preservation Areas.
Photo: PO Project

Sydney Water's North Head Facility To Increase Fertiliser Production For Farmers 

Kelvin Chow and  Ian Blair on site. Photo: Biosolids

A $94 million upgrade to Sydney Water’s North Head Water Resource Recovery Facility (WRRF) has reached an important milestone with the installation of two digesters which will help increase fertiliser production for the Central Tablelands of NSW.

The digestors will almost double the amount of biosolids which can be reused as agricultural fertiliser from 40 tonnes to 70 tonnes per day.  Fertiliser from biosolids will continue to be delivered to farms in the Central Tablelands of New South Wales including Bathurst and Orange. 

The North Head WRRF provides wastewater facilities for one-million Sydneysiders; from Seven Hills in the west, to Yagoona in the south and Ku-Ring-Gai and Collaroy in the north.

In 2021, Sydney Water began important upgrades to the facility to improve how we process biosolids for use as fertiliser for agricultural purposes.

Over 100 workers recently helped build and install two digestors which will almost double the capacity of sludge production for fertiliser from 40 to 70 tonnes a day by 2043. 

The upgrades provide important circular economy benefits in that almost 100 percent of biosolids will be reused for agricultural purposes. Recovering biosolids also helps reduce waste to landfill while also reducing the number of chemical fertilisers used on farms and enhance soil structures.

Sydney Water North Head Project Interface Manager, Kelvin Chow says the upgrades are an important step forward in how we treat wastewater. 

“We proudly produce biosolids for agricultural purposes which help reduce our environmental footprint. Not only will these upgrades result in increased biosolids production which are stable and odour free, but they will ensure the ongoing reliability of the facility,” says Mr Chow.

Sydney Water is constantly looking to reduce its carbon footprint and use alternative and renewable energy sources. At North Head WRRF, almost 60% of the facility’s total energy needs come from renewable sources.

The facility features a hydroelectric generator. The treated wastewater falls down a long drop shaft on its way to the deep-water ocean outfall. The falling water has enough kinetic energy to drive a water-powered generator, producing hydroelectricity.

North Head WRRF also uses cogeneration to meet some of its energy needs. Methane gas (biogas) is captured from the anaerobic digesters and used to power a combustion engine that drives an electricity generator.

Upgrades to the North Head WRRF are due for completion by late 2024.

Smoke In Air-On Horizon - Red Sunsets Already: August 23-24, 2023

NSW Rural Fire Service - Plan and Prepare
It's been another busy weekend for firefighters, as high fire danger and strong winds fanned several fires in the northern parts of the state. As of 3pm today, August 22nd, there are currently more than 300 firefighters working to contain over 60 fires burning across NSW.

There are also a number of Hazard Reductions taking place out west and closer to Sydney.

If you suffer from asthma please take proper precautions to protect your health at this time.
If there is a hazard reduction burn planned for your area, please take the following steps:
  • Keep doors and windows closed to prevent smoke entering homes
  • Keep outdoor furniture under cover to prevent ember burns
  • Retract pool covers to prevent ember damage
  • Remove washing from clotheslines
  • Ensure pets have a protected area
  • Vehicles must slow down, keep windows up, turn headlights on
  • Sightseers must keep away from burns for their own safety
  • If you have asthma or a lung condition, reduce outdoor activities if smoke levels are high and if shortness of breath or coughing develops, take your reliever medicine or seek medical advice
For health information relating to smoke from bush fires and hazard reduction burning, visit the NSW Health website or Asthma Australia.

With the fire season just around the corner, it's important you prepare your property for the threat of fire. For more information on how to prepare, visit the RFS website:

Photo: view west from Pittwater

Get Ready Weekend 2023: Know Your Risk This Bush Fire Season

The risk of bush fires is returning. With several years of wet weather grass and scrub has grown across NSW. Talk to your local RFS members about the likely risk of bush or grass fire in your local area.

In September every year RFS members are out in the community hosting Get Ready Weekend events. Contact your local brigade to find out when and where they are holding an event.

Get Ready Weekend is held across NSW in around 500 locations and its aim is to encourage residents and landowners to plan and prepare for the upcoming bush fire season.

In 2023, the majority of Get Ready Weekend events will be held on the weekend of September 16 and 17.

If you live in an area near grasslands or farms, recent rain has caused widespread grass growth. As this dries out the risk of grassfires increases. Grass fires can start easily and move quickly. Farmlands may be at increased risk.

Even if you live in an area affected by the 2019/20 bush fires, you may be at risk this bush fire season. Many areas are seeing new growth among grasses and shrubs. It takes only a few days of hot dry and windy weather for these to dry out. Fires may start quickly and move quickly.

If you live in an area near bushland that was not affected by recent fires you may be at higher risk this Summer. Recent wet weather has encouraged growth and has hampered efforts for fire agencies to reduce hazards.

With hot and drier conditions expected this Summer, you may be at higher than normal risk of bush and grass fire. Know your risk this bush fire season and prepare well ahead.

Get prepared now at

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo
Careel Bay; August 24, 2023

Aurora Australis At Mawson Station: August 2023

photos by and courtesy Jess Condon Antarctica, taken on Saturday August 19 2023

''Aurora over an Emperor penguin rookery. Emperor's are only found in Antarctica, and are about the size of a 6 year old child, 19/8/23 Mawson Station, Antarctica.'' - Jess

Jess arrived there in February with 19 others and will be getting collected Feb. next year. She is there for 12 months helping to keep a research station running through the Winter.


Bioluminescence at Station Beach, Palm Beach in the early hours of Sunday-Monday morning August 20 to 21 this week from midnight until around 1am. 

Photos: by and courtesy Jarvis Liu - Artist: jarvisliu559

Jarvis specialises in Street Photography. He was based in Chengdu, China and is now in Sydney, Australia.

Check out more of his work on Instagram; and via:

Palm Beach Longboarders Inc states there  was bioluminescence at  Avalon beach on the evening Thursday August 24. People can witness this natural phenomenon when there is lots of bioluminescence in the water, usually from an algae bloom of plankton. The bioluminescent sea or estuary will glow when it's disturbed by a wave breaking or a splash in the water at night. Algae bloom sea sparkle events occur in calm and warm sea conditions.

Saving Native Species Grants

The Saving Native Species Program is providing $224.5 million over four years to support the recovery of our unique plants, animals and ecological communities.

The program includes commitments to save the koala, and tackle yellow crazy ants and gamba grass that are threatening our native species.

It will also strengthen conservation planning to better protect threatened species and guide on-ground action.

The plan maps our pathway to protect, manage and restore Australia’s threatened species and important natural places.

It also identifies 110 priority species and 20 priority places to drive action where it is needed most, and where it will have the biggest impact.

Available Grant Opportunities

Applications for this grant opportunity will close on Thursday 7 September 2023.

Apply now at
The grant opportunity seeks to improve trajectories for the priority species from the Threatened Species Action Plan: Towards Zero Extinctions 2022-2032. For this opportunity, $20 million is available until 2025-26.

This grant opportunity will not include projects that fund the koala. For information on koala specific conservation initiatives, refer to the Saving Koalas Fund.

Threatened Species Action Plan - 110 priority species
There are:
  • 22 Birds
  • 21 Mammals
  • 9 Fish
  • 6 Frogs
  • 11 Reptiles
  • 11 Invertebrates
  • 30 Plants

Supporting priority species
The Australian Government is funding more than $12 million in Priority Species grants through the Environment Restoration Fund. Community led projects are delivering a wide range of actions to directly benefit over 50 priority species on the ground, including weed management, feral predator control, habitat restoration, seed collection and propagation, captive breeding, and citizen science programs.

A full list of the successful projects can be found at Environment Restoration Fund.

Threatened Species Action Plan 2022-2032
110 priority species
22 Birds
Australasian Bittern Botaurus poiciloptilus
Black-eared Miner Manorina melanotis
Carnaby’s Cockatoo Zanda latirostris
Christmas Island Goshawk Accipiter hiogaster natalis
Eastern Curlew Numenius madagascariensis
Golden-shouldered Parrot, Alwal Psephotus chrysopterygius
Hooded Plover (e) Thinornis cucullatus cucullatus
King Is. Brown Thornbill Acanthiza pusilla magnirostris
King Is. Scrubtit Acanthornis magna greeniana
Malleefowl Leipoa ocellata
Night Parrot Pezoporus occidentalis
Noisy Scrub-bird Atrichornis clamosus
Norfolk Is. Green Parrot Cyanoramphus cookii
Orange-bellied Parrot Neophema chrysogaster
Plains-wanderer Pedionomus torquatus
Princess Parrot Polytelis alexandrae
Red Goshawk Erythrotriorchis radiatus
Red-tailed Black Cockatoo (SE)
Calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne
Regent Honeyeater Anthochaera phrygia
Swift Parrot Lathamus discolor
Western Ground Parrot Pezoporus flaviventris
White-throated Grasswren Amytornis woodwardia

21 Mammals
Australian Sea-lion Neophoca cinerea
Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby Petrogale penicillata
Central Rock-rat, Antina Zyzomys pedunculatus
Chuditch, Western Quoll Dasyurus geoffroii
Eastern Quoll, Luaner Dasyurus viverrinus
Gilbert’s Potoroo, Ngilkat Potorous gilbertii
Greater Bilby Macrotis lagotis
Kangaroo Is. Echidna Tachyglossus aculeatus multiaculeatus
Koala (Qld, NSW, ACT) Phascolarctos cinereus
Leadbeater’s Possum Gymnobelideus leadbeateri
Mountain Pygmy-possum Burramys parvus
New Holland Mouse, Pookila Pseudomys novaehollandiae
Northern Brushtail Possum Trichosurus vulpecula arnhemensis
Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat, Yaminon Lasiorhinus krefftii
Northern Hopping-mouse, Woorrentinta Notomys aquilo
Northern Quoll Dasyurus hallucatus
Numbat Myrmecobius fasciatus
Quokka Setonix brachyurus
Spectacled Flying-fox Pteropus conspicillatus
Southern Bent-wing Bat Miniopterus orianae bassanii
Western Ringtail Possum Pseudocheirus occidentalis

11 Invertebrates
Ammonite Snail Ammoniropa vigens
Cauliflower Soft Coral Dendronephthya australis
Eltham Copper Butterfly Paralucia pyrodiscus lucida
Giant Gippsland Earthworm Megascolides australis
Glenelg Freshwater Mussel Hyridella glenelgensis
Kangaroo Island Assassin Spider Zephyrarchaea austini
Lord Howe Island Phasmid Dryococelus australis
Margaret River Burrowing Crayfish Engaewa pseudoreducta
Mount Lidgbird Charopid Land Snail Pseudocharopa ledgbirdi
Pink Underwing Moth Phyllodes imperialis smithersi
Tasmanian Giant Freshwater Crayfish Astacopsis gouldi

9 Fish
Freshwater Sawfish Pristis pristis
Grey Nurse Shark (eastern) Carcharias taurus
Maugean Skate Zearaja maugeana
Murray Hardyhead Craterocephalus fluviatilis
Red Handfish Thymichthys politus
Redfin Blue-eye Scaturiginichthys vermeilipinnis
Stocky Galaxias Galaxias tantangara
Swan Galaxias Galaxias fontanus
White’s Seahorse Hippocampus whitei

6 Frogs
Growling Grass Frog Litoria raniformis
Kroombit Tinker Frog Taudactylus pleione
Mountain Frog Philoria kundagungan
Mountain-top Nursery-frog Cophixalus monticola
Southern Corroboree Frog Pseudophryne corroboree
White-bellied Frog Anstisia alba

11 Reptiles
Arnhem Land Gorges Skink Bellatorias obiri
Bellinger River Snapping Turtle Wollumbinia georgesi
Canberra Earless Dragon Tympanocryptis lineata
Collared Delma, Adorned Delma Delma torquata
Great Desert Skink, Tjakura Liopholis kintorei
Green Turtle Chelonia mydas
Olive Ridley Turtle Lepidochelys olivacea
Pygmy Blue-tongue Lizard Tiliqua adelaidensis
Short-nosed Sea Snake Aipysurus apraefrontalis
Western Swamp Turtle Pseudemydura umbrina
Yinnietharra Rock-dragon Ctenophorus yinnietharra

30 Plants
Adamson’s Blown-grass Lachnagrostis adamsonii
Angle-stemmed Myrtle Gossia gonoclada
Arckaringa Daisy Olearia arckaringensis
Bolivia Hill Rice-flower Pimelea venosa
Border Ranges Lined Fern Antrophyum austroqueenslandicum
Bulberin Nut Macadamia jansenii
Carrington Falls Pomaderris Pomaderris walshii
Davies’ Waxflower Phebalium daviesii
Foote’s Grevillea Grevillea calliantha
Forked Spyridium Spyridium furculentum
Giant Andersonia Andersonia axilliflora
Gorge Rice-flower Pimelea cremnophila
Graveside Leek-orchid Prasophyllum taphanyx
Imlay Mallee Eucalyptus imlayensis
King Blue-grass Dichanthium queenslandicum
Lax Leek Orchid Prasophyllum laxum
Little Mountain Palm Lepidorrhachis mooreana
MacDonnell Ranges Cycad Macrozamia macdonnellii
Narrow-leaf Eremophila Eremophila subangustifolia
Native Guava Rhodomyrtus psidioides
Scaly-butt Mallee Eucalyptus leprophloia
Small-flowered Snottygobble Persoonia micranthera
Smooth Davidson’s Plum Davidsonia johnsonii
Stiff Groundsel Senecio behrianus
Stirling Range Dryandra Banksia montana
Tangled Wattle Acacia volubilis
Waddy-wood Acacia peuce
Wollemi Pine Wollemia nobilis
Wongan Eriostemon Philotheca wonganensis
Woods Well Spyridium Spyridium fontis-woodii

Invitation For Public Comment: Mt Gilead Stage 2 Residential Development, Gilead, NSW (EPBC 2019/8587)

The following notice is published pursuant to Section 95A(3) of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
Lendlease Communities (Figtree Hill) Pty Limited is proposing to construct a residential development at Gilead, NSW. The overall development will be for residential land use and is planned to consist of low and medium density residential development of approximately 3,300 lots, retail and educational facilities and associated infrastructure, parkland, open space and biodiversity offset and environmental conservation areas.

The location of the action is Lot’s 1 & 2 DP 1218887, Lot 2 DP 249393, part Lot 5 DP1240836, Lot 2 DP603674 and Lot 1 DP603675 at Gilead, approximately 10 kilometers (km) south of Campbelltown, NSW. The Action Area is approximately 644 ha of which 259 ha will be developed and 236 ha will be registered as dedicated conservation areas. A further 149 ha will be retained as rural land, open space and existing easements.

The proposed action has been determined to be a “controlled action” under the EPBC Act and will therefore require assessment and approval by the Commonwealth Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water before it can proceed. The controlling provision under the EPBC Act is “Listed threatened species and communities” (Sections 18 and 18A) and the assessment approach is through preliminary documentation.

The draft preliminary documentation for this proposal includes the referral information and will be on public display from Monday 14th August to Friday 1st September 2023 at the following locations:
Campbelltown City Library – 1 Hurley St, Campbelltown, NSW, 2560
State Library of NSW – Macquarie St, Sydney NSW, 2000

Note: Persons with any special needs may contact Eco Logical Australia on 1300 646 131 and ask for Robert Humphries for assistance in accessing the documentation.
Interested persons and organisations are invited to provide comments on the proposal in writing to Lendlease Communities (Figtree Hill) Pty Limited via Robert Humphries at Eco Logical Australia:
Post: Robert Humphries
Eco Logical Australia
Suite 2, Level 3, 668 Old Princes Hwy
Sutherland, NSW 2232
The deadline for submissions is 5pm (EST) on Friday 1st September 2023 - opened August 14, 2023

Documents can be downloaded by using the links above
  1. Click here to download – EPBC 2019_8587 Mt Gilead Stage 2 Preliminary Documentation_AdequacyAssessment_Ver 3_20230720
  2. Click here to download – Appendix A_2019-8587 Referral
  3. Click here to download – Appendix B_EPBC 2019_8587 Decision notice 24FEB2020
  4. Click here to download – Appendix C_EPBC 2019_8587 PD Requirements_24FEB2020
  5. Click here to download – Appendix E_Lendlease SustainabilityPolicy
  6. Click here to download – Appendix F_cam-sustainability-framework-full-1
  7. Click here to download – Appendix G_ Australia-mission-zero-roadmap-summary
  8. Click here to download – Appendix H_MtGilead Stage2_Biocert_v8_20230718
  9. Click here to download – Appendix I_Draft Response Principles for Koala Protection in the Greater Macarthur and Wilton Growth Areas
  10. Click here to download – Appendix J_DPE Methodology to calculate Koala corridor widths
  11. Click here to download – Appendix K1_DPE Letter to Lendlease re Koala corridors – Dec 2021
  12. Click here to download – Appendix K2_DPE Indicative koala corridor map Gilead
  13. Click here to download – Appendix L_Koala_Conservation_at_Gilead_Lendlease 2022
  14. Click here to download – Appendix M_ Mount Gilead Stage 2 Koala Plan of Mgnt v4_20230720
  15. Click here to download – Appendix N_Mount Gilead Stage 2 EPBC CEMP V5_20230720_signed
  16. Click here to download – Appendix O – PMST Search – 2 February 2023
  17. Click here to download – Appendix P_EPBC Likelihood tables_v3-02022023
  18. Click here to download – Appendix Q_Koala Drone surveys Figtree Hill_Wild Conservation 2021
  19. Click here to download – Appendix R_Koala Drone Surveys Figtree Hill_Wild Conservation 2022
  20. Click here to download – Appendix S_PlotData_EPBCondition_20191009
  21. Click here to download – Appendix T_Flora Species List from plot data
  22. Click here to download – Appendix U_Naturalised Stormwater Strategy for Gilead_E2 Designs
  23. Click here to download – Appendix V_BioBankingCreditSummaryReport_Development_20230626
  24. Click here to download – Appendix W_BioBankingCreditSummaryReport_BiobankSite_20230626

Appendix X EPBC 2019-8587 Offset Calculations Ver 3 20230630
  1. Click here to download – Gilead EPBC offset_CPW Step 1_Cond C_Ver 3_20230628
  2. Click here to download – Gilead EPBC offset_CPW Step 2_Cond A_Ver 3_20230628
  3. Click here to download – Gilead EPBC Offset_GHFF_Large-eared Pied Bat Offset Calculations_existing_Ver 3_20230628
  4. Click here to download – Gilead EPBC Offset_GHFF_Large-eared Pied Bat Offset Calculations_restored_Ver 3_20230628
  5. Click here to download – Gilead EPBC offset_Pomaderris_Vul_Ver 3_20220628
  6. Click here to download – Gilead EPBC offset_RFEF Step 1_Cond C_Ver 2_10112022
  7. Click here to download – Gilead EPBC offset_SSTF Step 1_ Cond A_Ver 3_20230628
  8. Click here to download – Gilead EPBC offset_SSTF Step 2_ Cond B_Ver 3_20230628
  9. Click here to download – Gilead EPBC offset_SSTF Step 3_Cond D_Ver 3_20230628
  10. Click here to download – Gilead_Koala Offset Calculations_Endangered_existing_Ver 3_20230628
  11. Click here to download – Gilead_Koala Offset Calculations_Endangered_restored_Ver 3_20230628
  12. Click here to download – Gilead_Koala Offset Calculations_Vulnerable_existing_Ver 3_20230628
  13. Click here to download – Gilead_Koala Offset Calculations_Vulnerable_restored_Ver 3_20230628
  14. Click here to download – Gilead_Quoll Offset Calculations_Vulnerable_existing_Ver 3_20230628
  15. Click here to download – Gilead_Quoll Offset Calculations_Vulnerable_restored_Ver 3_20230628
  16. Click here to download – Gilead_Quoll Offset Calculations_Vulnerable_Ver 2_10112022
  17. Click here to download – Gilead_Swift Parrot Offset Calculations_existing_CE_Ver 3_20230628
  18. Click here to download – Gilead_Swift Parrot Offset Calculations_restored_CE_Ver 3_20230628
Swift parrot; DCCEEW -  3 Oct 2021 — Swift Parrot. EPBC Status: Critically Endangered
DCCEEW; ›  13 Feb 2023 — The koala (combined populations of Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory) was listed as endangered on 12 February 2023 › Large-eared Pied Bat critically endangered from 23 Nov 2021 — Chalinolobus dwyeri (Large-eared Pied Bat) is listed in the Vulnerable category of the threatened species list under the Environment - The main factors that make the species eligible for listing in the Vulnerable category are its very restricted geographic distribution, the low number of nursery roosts, and the presence of numerous actual and potential threats
The spotted-tailed quoll is listed as a vulnerable species in New South Wales. Its distribution and population have dramatically declined, and the animal is now found over a restricted range. In many cases, quolls are living in isolated areas that may be too small to support viable long-term populations- 29 June 2023

Time Of Wiritjiribin

Tugarah Gunya'marri—cold and windy
The lyrebirds' calls ring out through the bushland as he builds his dancing mounds to attract his potential mates. It is the time of the flowering of the Marrai'uo (Acacia floribunda) which is a sign that the fish are running in the rivers.

At the end of this time the Boo'kerrikin (Acacia decurrens) flower, which indicates the end of the cold, windy weather, and the beginning of the gentle spring rains.

From the D'harawal calendar - D'harawal Country and language area extends from the southern shores of Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour) to the northern shores of the Shoalhaven River, and from the eastern shores of the Wollondilly River system to the eastern seaboard.

Female Lyre bird - Elanora Heights

Photo by Selena Griffith, May 29 2023

Selena says ''this one followed me along the path. Never been so close.''

Bushcare Training Day At North Narrabeen

All volunteers new and experienced are invited to register for Council's Bushcare training day: 
Saturday 16th September 9:00am to 1:30pm - Lunch provided
Coastal Environment Centre, Narrabeen & Site Visit to Irrawong Bushcare Site

Council will be hosting a hands-on training day, with topics covering: 
  • Weed identification and best practice removal techniques
  • Native plant identification and weed species including lookalikes
  • Hands-on weed removal
  • Bring along your unknown plant species for identification
Site visit to Irrawong Bushcare site and meet some fellow bushcare volunteers
Please confirm if you would like to register for the day by replying to and let Council know if you would be interested in staying for lunch.

Palmgrove Park Avalon: New Bushcare Group Begins 

Palmgrove Park Avalon is a remnant of the Spotted Gum forest that was once widespread on the lower slopes of the Pittwater peninsula. This bushland’s official name and forest type is Pittwater and Wagstaffe Endangered Ecological Community, endangered because so much has been cleared for suburban development. Canopy trees, smaller trees and shrubs, and ground layer plants make up this community. Though scattered remnant Spotted Gums remain on private land, there is little chance of seedlings surviving in gardens and lawns. More information HERE

A grant to PNHA from Council in 2021 funded revegetation of a section between Dress Circle Rd and Bellevue Rd. The tubestock planted there late in 2022 by students from Avalon Primary and bush regeneration contractors is flourishing.

More tubestock was planted on National Tree Day on July 30 2023.

A new Bushcare group will now be working there from Saturday August 5, starting at 9am and working for up to three hours. Your help would be wonderful.

Contact Pittwater Natural Heritage Association on to find out more.

2023 Banksia Foundation NSW Sustainability Awards Open For Nominations

NSW Department of Planning and Environment: Do you know someone with a big idea to improve sustainability in NSW?
The 2023 Banksia Foundation NSW Sustainability Awards are now open for nominations! 

Individuals, businesses, large and small, and community and government groups are welcome to enter. 
Showcase your green credentials and receive recognition for your achievements.

Explore the categories and nominate now at
Entries close September 7, 2023

Northern Beaches Clean Up Crew: Sunday August 27 2023 From 10:00-12:15 - Turimetta Beach Clean Up

Thank you to everyone who came to the Dee Why Lagoon Beach Side Clean Up  on Sunday July 30. You, me and everyone are all the clean up crew. So proud and grateful to each and everyone who came today to make our planet a little bit cleaner for all beings.

DY Clean July 2023

Come and join us for our family friendly August clean up, at beautiful Turimetta Beach on the 27th at 10am. We meet in the grass area close to opposite number 56 Narrabeen Park Parade.

We have gloves, bags, and buckets, and grabbers. We're trying to remove as much plastic and rubbish as possible before it enters the ocean. Some of us can focus on the bush area and sandy/rocky areas, and others can walk along the beach and even clean up in the water (at own risk). There a steps down to the beach, and they can be steep, so please don't fill your bags too heavy before carrying them up. We will clean up until around 11.20, and after that, we will sort and count the rubbish so we can contribute to research by entering it into a marine debris database. The sorting and counting is normally finished around noon, and we'll often go for lunch together at our own expense. We understand if you cannot stay for this part, but are grateful if you can. We appreciate any help we can get, no matter how small or big.

No booking required - just show up on the day - we will be there no matter what weather. We're a friendly group of people, and everyone is welcome to this family friendly event. It's a nice community - make some new friends and do a good deed for the planet at the same time. For everyone to feel welcome, please leave political and religious messages at home - this includes t-shirts with political campaign messages.
Message us on our social media or send us an email if you are lost. All welcome - the more the merrier. Please invite your friends too!

Photos: NBCUC

Waste And Sustainability In Schools NR37040: At Kimbriki

Friday September 15 2023 - 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM at Kimbriki
5 hours elective professional development - Limited spaces 30 maximum. DET bookings through MyPL - NR37040
Non DET Staff please REGISTER directly with

Stony Range Spring Festival 2023: Sunday September 10

Seen Any Glossies Drinking Around Nambucca, Bellingen, Coffs Or Clarence? Want To Help?: Join The Glossy Squad

If you've seen a black cockatoo with a red tail drinking at a watering spot in the late afternoon, please let the NSW Dept. of Environment know.
The threatened glossy black-cockatoo's peak nesting season is now, and the Biliirrgan Project's Glossy Squad is keen to protect glossies' nests.

Led by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment's Saving our Species program with partners including BirdLife Australia, Landcare, and the Clarence Environment Centre, the project wants to hear of any sightings across the area.

Glossies are the only black cockatoo with red tails in northern New South Wales. The females have yellow on their heads and pairs mate for life.

Female glossies lay a single egg in a vertical tree hollow, then stay put for a month while it incubates. During that time, the female relies entirely on her mate to feed her. He eats for 2, gorging himself on she-oak (allocasuarina) seeds each day.

Late in the afternoon he drinks – again for 2 – before returning with food supplies to his nesting hen who can be heard 'begging' or calling for food. Only after the chick hatches does the hen leave the nest.

The Black Summer fires of 2019–20 burnt nearly half of the glossy habitat in northern New South Wales, resulting in a significant loss of feed and nest trees.

Protecting nest trees is crucial to conserving the glossy black-cockatoo, however at this stage there are only a handful of nests known across the whole of northern New south Wales.

The Glossy Squad needs eyes on the ground to find more active nests so the remaining birds can be monitored and protected.

Let the Squad know if you see glossy black-cockatoos drinking in the late afternoon, or any of these nesting signs:
  • a female bird (identifiable by yellow on her head) begging and/or being fed by a male (with plain black/brown head and body and unbarred red tail feathers)
  • a lone adult male, or a male with a begging female, flying purposefully after drinking at the end of the day.
Glossies only eat the seeds from she-oak (allocasuarina) cones and need to drink water each evening. They can be seen at watering holes, dams or other fresh water sources at dusk.

Please report any sightings through the online survey, which can also be accessed by the QR code below, or by emailing

Want to be more involved? Join the Glossy Squad and actively help find new nests of this important species. Just email to find out how.

The Biliirrgan Project aims to conserve the glossy black-cockatoo (Biliirrgan in Gumbaynggirr) on Gumbaynggirr, Yaegl and Bundjalung country in northern New South Wales. The project was initially funded through a Commonwealth Bushfire Recovery grant.

2 female glossies and a male. Glossy black-cockatoos tend to travel in small families of between 3 and 6. Photo: Laurie Ross

Glossy black-cockatoo id

Statutory Reviews Into Native Vegetation Management And Biodiversity Laws Tabled

August 24, 2023
Two statutory reviews into native vegetation management and biodiversity conservation laws have today been tabled in the NSW Parliament.
Minister for the Environment Penny Sharpe tabled the five-year statutory review of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016. Minister for Agriculture Tara Moriarty tabled the review of the native vegetation provisions of the Local Land Services Act 2013 (Part 5A, Schedule 5A and Schedule 5B).

The independent review of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 has been conducted by a panel led by Dr Ken Henry, AC. It concludes the Act is not meeting its primary purpose of maintaining a healthy, productive and resilient environment. It makes 58 recommendations, including changes to the Biodiversity Offset Scheme.

The statutory review of Part 5A, Schedule 5A and Schedule 5B of the Local Land Services Act 2013 has been conducted with the assistance of an Independent Expert Advisory Panel. It found the objectives of the native vegetation provisions of the Act are valid, while identifying 13 recommendations to improve the implementation and outcomes of the Act.

The NSW Government will now consider both reviews, in consultation with key stakeholders, while developing a whole of government response.

Copies of the reports can be found via:
Minister for the Environment, Penny Sharpe said, 
"The previous government presided over 12 years of environmental neglect that led to record numbers of threatened species, increased land clearing and saw koalas become endangered and on track to extinction.

"The Minns Government will closely consider the report's recommendations, as we deliver on our election commitments to fix the Biodiversity Offset Scheme, strengthen environmental protections and stop runaway land clearing.''

Minister for Agriculture, Tara Moriarty said,
"Our farmers have a strong connection with their land, and we're committed to working with them to ensure they continue to achieve productive outcomes, while providing support to protect and conserve native vegetation.

"Following a robust public consultation and review process, the review into the native vegetation provisions of the Local Land Services Act identified 13 recommendations to improve the implementation and outcomes of the Act."

$850,000 In Funding Open To Improve Fish Habitat

Keen local anglers, farmers, land managers and community groups are invited to apply for the latest round of the Habitat Action Grants to see their local waterways flourish with more than $850,000 available, Minister for Agriculture Tara Moriarty announced.

Habitat Action Grants are open from 8 August 2023 to 29 September 2023.

Ms Moriarty said that recreational fishing groups, community organisations, local councils and natural resource managers across the state would have until September 29 to apply for funding for their projects to improve habitat for native fish.

“These grants will see up to $40,000 awarded per project for both our inland waterways and our coastal systems,” Ms Moriarty said.

“The Habitat Action Grant program is a fantastic opportunity to improve your local creek, river, estuary or surrounding area to promote healthy waterways and to encourage more native fish, naturally.

“I encourage as many submissions as possible – so we can improve fish habitat to give our local fishers some great opportunities to make a difference in their area.

“As locals, you know your waterways better than anyone, so it’s time to float your ideas and come up with some fantastic ways to enhance our aquatic environments. We are particularly interested in your concepts for rehabilitating Trout cod and their freshwater habitats.”

Habitat Action Grants are supported by the Recreational Fishing Trusts, with funds being raised by the NSW Recreational Fishing Fees.

“This is your opportunity to put your recreational fishing fees to work to make more fish”

In the past, habitat rehabilitation projects which have been funded have included:
  • removal or modification of barriers to fish passage
  • rehabilitation of riparian lands (riverbanks, wetlands, mangrove forests, saltmarsh)
  • re-snagging waterways with timber structure
  • the removal of exotic vegetation from waterways and replacement with native plants
  • bank stabilisation works
  • fencing to exclude livestock.
“There are some long-term benefits for completing this work and ultimately, it’s about making sure we have functional fish habitat and happy native fish here in NSW.”

Since 2009, the Recreational Fishing Trusts have invested nearly $8 million into the Habitat Action Grants program, seeing significant improvement to fish habitat across NSW.

For more information and to apply for this round, visit

Fast Tracking Feasibility Study For Prospect Reservoir

August 21, 2023
Western Sydney is on the path to having a new go-to water destination, with the NSW Government starting work on a feasibility study that will look at opening Prospect Reservoir up for recreation in a phased approach.

The NSW Government is asking the community to have their say and have released a discussion paper with an overview of some of the recreational possibilities being considered for Prospect Reservoir.

There will also be local drop-in sessions and information webinars hosted throughout the month of September 2023 to provide more opportunities for the community to get involved.

A key outcome for this feasibility study is to understand how the area could be best managed to balance the opportunities for increased recreation whilst protecting Sydney’s drinking water supply and the significant environmental and cultural values of the area.

There are already dams across the state used for both town water supply and recreation, including Chifley Dam near Bathurst and Brogo Dam on the South Coast.

This study acknowledges Prospect Reservoir is an important part of Sydney’s drinking water supply and will explore how we can expand the use of the reservoir for the community.

Minister for Water Rose Jackson said:

“We promised Western Sydney residents we would prioritise this project and that’s what we’re doing by fast tracking the feasibility study.

“If it stacks up, it could pave the way for a new spot to swim and relax only a short drive from Blacktown, 20 minutes from Cabramatta and Badgerys Creek and 15 minutes from Parramatta.

“The COVID lockdowns were a wake-up call. You had eastern suburbs residents who had beaches and pools within a 5km radius, but most people in the western suburbs didn’t have any options for taking a dip while travel restrictions were in place.

“We’ve been working hard behind the scenes to drive this project forward to start the feasibility study and we look forward to receiving feedback from the community to help chart our path forward.”

Member for Prospect Hugh McDermott said:

“For Western Sydney families, getting to the beach means expensive tolls, long hours in a car or on public transport and extensive time spent away from home or work. Opening up the Prospect Reservoir would be a huge win for our local community.

“Prospect Reservoir is one of Sydney’s most beautiful public places and it would be a game changer for families in the west if we were able to open it up for swimming and non-motorised watercraft.

“Getting these feasibility studies right takes time, so we won’t have an answer overnight, but we are looking at all options that would enable us to turn the reservoir into a public space that would benefit the community for many generations.”

Have your say about Prospect Reservoir - Until September 30 2023

Blue Mountains National Park And Kanangra-Boyd National Park Draft Plan Of Management: Public Consultation

The Blue Mountains National Park and Kanangra-Boyd National Park Draft Plan of Management is on public exhibition until 26 September 2023.
Public exhibition of the draft plan provides an important opportunity for community members to have a say in the future management of the Blue Mountains and Kanangra-Boyd national parks. Once adopted, this plan of management will replace the existing plans for these parks, which were adopted in 2001.

The draft plan is accompanied by the Blue Mountains National Park and Kanangra-Boyd National Park Draft Planning Considerations report. It is recommended that readers of the plan refer to the planning considerations report for detailed explanations of the parks' values and management considerations.

These parks are a part of Darug and Gundungurra Country. The parks form the core component of one of the largest and most intact stretches of protected bushland in New South Wales. They are part of the Greater Blue Mountains Area World and National Heritage property, contain significant areas of wilderness, occupy a large part of the Sydney Drinking Water Catchment, and are one of the key attractions in a major tourism region.

Key management directions and new uses for buildings or new campsites proposed in the draft plan includes:
  • improving recognition of the parks significant values, including World and National Heritage values, and providing for adaptive management to protect the values
  • recognising and supporting the continuation of partnerships with Aboriginal communities
  • providing outstanding nature-based experiences for visitors through improvements to visitor facilities - including:
  • Opportunities for supported or serviced camping, where tents and services are provided by commercial tour operators, may be offered at some camping areas in the parks 
  • Jamison Creek, Jamison Valley Walk-in camping Potential new camping
  • Leura Amphitheatre Jamison Valley Walk-in camping Potential new camping
  • Mount Solitary Jamison Valley Walk-in camping Potential new camping
  • Maxwell’s HuC Kedumba Valley Cabin/hut Potential new accommodation
  • Kedumba Valley Maxwell’s Hut (historic slab hut) - Building restoration in progress; potential new Accommodation for bushwalkers
  • Government Town Police station; courthouse - Potential new Visitor accommodation
Documents available at: HERE

Have your say
Public exhibition is from 28 July 2023 to 26 September 2023.

You can provide your written submission in any of the following ways:

Email your submission to:
Post your written submission to:
Manager, National Parks and Wildlife Service Planning and Assessment
Locked Bag 5022
Parramatta NSW 2124
All submissions must be received by 26 September 2023.

Our response to your submission will be based on the merits of the ideas and issues you raise rather than the quantity of submissions making similar points. For this reason, a submission that clearly explains the matters it raises will be the most effective way to influence the finalisation of the plan.

Submissions are most effective when DPE/NPWS understand your ideas and the outcomes you want for park management. Some suggestions to help you write your submissions are:
  • write clearly and be specific about the issues that are of concern to you
  • note which part or section of the document your comments relate to
  • give reasoning in support of your points - this makes it easier for us to consider your ideas and will help avoid misinterpretation
  • tell us specifically what you agree/disagree with and why you agree or disagree
  • suggest solutions or alternatives to managing the issue if you can.
Your submission will be provided to relevant National Parks and Wildlife Service advisory bodies. See our privacy policy at link above for information on how they will treat any personal information you provide.

Areas Closed For West Head Lookout Upgrades

NPWS advise that the following areas are closed from Monday 22 May to Thursday 30 November 2023 while West Head lookout upgrades are underway:

  • West Head lookout
  • The loop section of West Head Road
  • West Head Army track.

Vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians will have access to the Resolute picnic area and public toilets. Access is restricted past this point.

The following walking tracks remain open:

  • Red Hands track
  • Aboriginal Heritage track
  • Resolute track, including access to Resolute Beach and West Head Beach
  • Mackeral Beach track
  • Koolewong track.

The West Head lookout cannot be accessed from any of these tracks.

Image: Visualisation of upcoming works, looking east from the ramp towards Barrenjoey Head Credit: DPE

More at:

Bush Turkeys: Backyard Buddies Breeding Time Commences In August - BIG Tick Eaters - Ringtail Posse Insights

Around now you may see some of your local neighbourhood Bush Turkeys setting up nesting mounds.

Male brush turkeys rake up huge leafy mounds to entice females to lay their eggs deep inside the pile between August to February each year. They usually lay one egg every 2 to 5 days. The females do not stay around the mound once they have laid. The male maintains the mound temperature to around 34 degrees Celsius by shifting around the composting material to incubate the eggs for 50 days. The mulch may hold around 20 eggs.

Chicks take 48 hours to dig themselves out to an independent life. They receive no further parental care. Unfortunately, they are very vulnerable to attack. On average, only one chick in every 200 eggs laid survives.

In our area NSW Dept. of Environment statistics show 928 have been rescued since data was collected and just 255 released, meaning 673 did not survive. Collision with motor vehicles, unsuitable environment (people not wanting them in their gardens or passing through same)along with dog and cat attacks are listed as the primary causes of rescues.

During the Great Depression in the 1930s, when jobs and food were scarce, Australian brush turkeys (bush turkeys) were nearly wiped out when people used them for meat and eggs. Today, this native wildlife is protected under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and the population of brush turkeys is now recovering in areas where they have not been seen for many decades.

Mound builders like lyrebirds and brush turkeys are territorial, and in the large area where they rake and shift leaf litter, looking for insects and worms, they are also breaking up the dry leaves and twigs and pushing them into the soil. This reduces the fuel available for hot ground fires and can create a refuge for small animals during wildfires.

If you have ticks in your yard, you want bush turkeys visiting! According to Wild Birds Unlimited, an adult turkey is one of the most voracious tick predators around, and an individual may eat 200 or more of these parasites in a given day. The Tick Encounter Resource Center reported that many species of bird feast on parasites.

As we head into what is reported to be a HOT Spring and Summer, to keep ticks down in your yard, keeping Bush turkeys safe and encouraging other insect eating birds to visit by providing suitable habitat, will also keep you and your family safer from tick bites.

Photos: a baby Bush Turkey in PON yard - which is a thoroughfare for bush turkeys. Adult bird in PON yard. Images: AJG/PON

PNHA Guided Nature Walks 2023

Our walks are gentle strolls, enjoying and learning about the bush rather than aiming for destinations. Wear enclosed shoes. We welcome interested children over about 8 years old with carers. All Welcome. 

So we know you’re coming please book by emailing: and include your phone number so we can contact you if weather is doubtful. 

The whole PNHA 2023 Guided Nature Walks Program is available at:

Red-browed finch (Neochmia temporalis). Photo: J J Harrison

Report Fox Sightings

Fox sightings, signs of fox activity, den locations and attacks on native or domestic animals can be reported into FoxScan. FoxScan is a free resource for residents, community groups, local Councils, and other land managers to record and report fox sightings and control activities. 

Our Council's Invasive species Team receives an alert when an entry is made into FoxScan.  The information in FoxScan will assist with planning fox control activities and to notify the community when and where foxes are active.

Marine Wildlife Rescue Group On The Central Coast

A new wildlife group was launched on the Central Coast on Saturday, December 10, 2022.

Marine Wildlife Rescue Central Coast (MWRCC) had its official launch at The Entrance Boat Shed at 10am.

The group comprises current and former members of ASTR, ORRCA, Sea Shepherd, Greenpeace, WIRES and Wildlife ARC, as well as vets, academics, and people from all walks of life.

Well known marine wildlife advocate and activist Cathy Gilmore is spearheading the organisation.

“We believe that it is time the Central Coast looked after its own marine wildlife, and not be under the control or directed by groups that aren’t based locally,” Gilmore said.

“We have the local knowledge and are set up to respond and help injured animals more quickly.

“This also means that donations and money fundraised will go directly into helping our local marine creatures, and not get tied up elsewhere in the state.”

The organisation plans to have rehabilitation facilities and rescue kits placed in strategic locations around the region.

MWRCC will also be in touch with Indigenous groups to learn the traditional importance of the local marine environment and its inhabitants.

“We want to work with these groups and share knowledge between us,” Gilmore said.

“This is an opportunity to help save and protect our local marine wildlife, so if you have passion and commitment, then you are more than welcome to join us.”

Marine Wildlife Rescue Central Coast has a Facebook page where you may contact members. Visit:

Watch Out - Shorebirds About

Summer 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.

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

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.

Bushcare In Pittwater 

For further information or to confirm the meeting details for below groups, please contact Council's Bushcare Officer on 9970 1367 or visit Council's bushcare webpage to find out how you can get involved.

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

Friends Of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment Activities

Bush Regeneration - Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment  
This is a wonderful way to become connected to nature and contribute to the health of the environment.  Over the weeks and months you can see positive changes as you give native species a better chance to thrive.  Wildlife appreciate the improvement in their habitat.

Belrose area - Thursday mornings 
Belrose area - Weekend mornings by arrangement
Contact: Phone or text Conny Harris on 0432 643 295

Wheeler Creek - Wednesday mornings 9-11am
Contact: Phone or text Judith Bennett on 0402 974 105
Or email: Friends of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment :

Gardens And Environment Groups And Organisations In Pittwater

I’ve spent 40 years studying Antarctica. The frozen continent has never needed our help more

Patti Virtue
Dana M BergstromUniversity of Wollongong

After decades immersed in Antarctic science, I’ve learned that physical and biological changes rarely occur smoothly. More often than not, they unfold in sharp steps. Right now, Antarctica’s climate and ecosystems are experiencing disturbing changes.

Much of this winter’s sea ice is missing. A crucial ocean current is slowing down, and glaciers and ice shelves are disintegrating.

On land, fragile moss ecosystems are collapsing. Majestic emperor penguins may be headed for extinction. And pollution from human activity in Antarctica has left a toxic legacy.

It’s almost certain things will get worse. On Friday, hundreds of international scientists called for an urgent expansion – not contraction – of Southern Ocean science in response to the emerging climate crisis. This adds to the scientific chorus claiming we have only a narrow window to save the planet.

I’ve spent 40 years in Antarctic and subantarctic research. Some 22 of those were spent at the federal government’s Australian Antarctic Division; my final day there was last Thursday. No longer a public servant, I feel compelled, as a private citizen now, to publicly stand up for the icy continent and the benefit of Antarctic science to society.

Crucial To Life As We Know It

Antarctica matters. What happens there affects global weather patterns and sea levels.

But Antarctica’s climate is changing. Record-breaking stored heat is melting ice shelves from underneath, setting off a chain reaction. Without the buttressing of the ice shelves, glaciers flow faster to the sea. In West Antarctica, the Thwaites “doomsday glacier” is melting faster than predicted. In East Antarctica, lesser-known ice shelves have collapsed and glaciers are shrinking, adding to sea-level rise.

Antarctica is governed by the Antarctic Treaty, negotiated by 12 countries, including Australia, during the Cold War in 1959. Australia’s territory in Antarctica comprises 42% of the continent.

In my view, the treaty is magnificent. It represents a grand vision: a continent set aside for conservation, peace and science.

But Antarctica remains under threat. And the biggest threat of all is climate change.

In June this year, all treaty nations, including Australia, collectively stated:

changes in Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments are linked to, and influence, climate impact drivers globally.

They added “further irreversible change is likely” without “accelerated efforts” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Scientific research is crucial in the face of these threats, to help better understand these changes now and over the longer term, and to feed into policy interventions.

Surprisingly a budget shortfall appears to be inadvertently curtailing plans for science this summer, according to the Guardian Australia.

In July, the ABC reported the Antarctic Division told staff A$25 million in budget savings was needed this financial year. This led to a review of plans for field research this summer. Reportedly, two out of three permanent research stations (Mawson and Davis) will not be filled with the normal number of scientists this season. That means some planned and approved projects will not be going ahead this year, including surveys on sea-ice thickness and landfast sea ice.

The Greens claim the $25 million hit to the Antarctic Division represents a 16% cut to its operating budget for the current financial year.

Seizing an opportunity, the Greens and Liberal Party established a Senate inquiry into what they refer to as funding cuts, to report by November 30.

Generally speaking, Antarctic activities receive overwhelmingly bipartisan support. For many decades Australia’s record in Antarctic protection has been impressive. For example, Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek recently tripled the size of the marine protected area around Macquarie Island.

Former Labor environment minister Peter Garrett advanced whale conservation. He was instrumental in the campaign against so-called “scientific whaling” in the Antarctic, backed by government scientists, which culminated in Australia’s successful challenge to Japanese whaling in the International Court of Justice in 2014.

Liberal prime minister Malcolm Turnbull funded Australia’s new icebreaker and feral pest eradication from Macquarie Island. And Labor prime minister Bob Hawke, with treasurer Paul Keating, collaborated with French prime minister Michel Rocard in 1991 to ensure a mining ban and sign the Madrid Protocol to protect Antarctic ecosystems.

Support for Antarctic Division activities contributed to curtailing the illegal toothfish fishing in Antarctic waters. A regulated, sustainable industry is now in place. Krill fisheries operate according to science-based decisions. Efforts to reduce albatross bycatch in longline fishing were also led by Antarctic Division scientists.

A photo of icy mountains looming over Ross Sea in east Antarctica
Mount Martin looms over the Ross Sea in east Antarctica. Dana M Bergstrom

Cleaning Up The Mess In Antarctica

The story of Antarctica serves as a compelling reminder humanity must end our reliance on fossil fuels. We must also do a far better job of environmental stewardship – including paying for the scientific research so urgently needed.

Failing to fully support vital Antarctic science in a rapidly unfolding climate emergency, in my view, is unwise.The Conversation

Dana M Bergstrom, Honorary Senior Fellow, University of Wollongong

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

Disease in the dirt: how mange-causing mites decimated a Tasmanian wombat population

Scott CarverUniversity of Tasmania

More than 80% of Australian mammals are found nowhere else in the world. Many of these unique, iconic creatures are under threat.

The most important and well-known threats are invasive species (such as cats and foxes) and human-driven changes to the environment (such as land clearing and climate change).

Invasive pathogens – parasites, viruses, bacteria, fungi – often attract less attention, but they too can pose a significant threat to native animals.

Take sarcoptic mange, a parasitic disease that affects mammals around the world. In a new study published in the journal Biology Letters, we report on a sarcoptic mange outbreak in a population of bare-nosed wombats in central Tasmania, which caused a population decline of more than 80%.

What Is Sarcoptic Mange, And Where Did It Come From?

Sarcoptic mange is caused by the parasitic mite Sarcoptes scabiei, which burrows into the skin. These mites are happy to infest many mammals, including humans (in which case the disease is called scabies).

A microscope image showing a tiny translucent bug.
Sarcoptes scabiei mite seen under the microscope. Arthur Goldstein / WikimediaCC BY-SA

Research suggests the spread of the mites around the world is associated with European colonialism, although where they originally evolved is uncertain. In Australia, the mites were likely introduced multiple times over the past 230 years.

In southern Australia, sarcoptic mange is mostly a concern for wildlife health. It can be deadly to bare-nosed wombats, as well as some other species including koalas and quenda (also known as western brown bandicoots). In tropical northern Australia, scabies is a significant (although rarely life-threatening) human health issue.

How Does Sarcoptic Mange Spread Among Solitary Wombats?

In some animals, the mange-causing mites move directly from one animal to another when the animals come into direct contact. However, wombats are relatively solitary. It is rare for them to touch one another outside of mating.

Nevertheless, the mites still spread via “environmental transmission”. Wombats change burrows quite frequently, usually staying in one burrow for somewhere between one and nine days before changing.

When a mite-infested wombat stays in a burrow, it leaves some mites behind. Research shows mites can survive in the cool, humid soil of the burrow for between five and 16 days. If another wombat comes along during this period, the mites have found themselves a new host.

The Ratio Of Wombats To Burrows May Be The Key

When scientists study how pathogens are transmitted among animals, we often assume it will depend on the population density of the animals in question. At higher densities, individual animals come into contact more often so the pathogen is more likely to spread. And if population density is too low, a pathogen may “die out”.

However, it’s a different story for environmentally transmitted pathogens like S. scabiei. In our research, we found individual wombats continued to be infected and diseased even when population density declined.

Our research suggests the number of burrows per wombat likely influences how often they can encounter mites in the environment.

Because infested burrows are the likely source of the infections, the number of available burrows per wombat should be a more important determinant of whether a population decline from sarcoptic mange occurs.

How Big A Problem Is Sarcoptic Mange?

Our study is the third formally documented decline in a bare-nosed wombat population from a sarcoptic mange outbreak.

Does this mean bare-nosed wombat populations are threatened everywhere by this invasive pathogen – or even worse, at risk of going extinct? This does not appear to be the case.

There is no doubt mange causes immense suffering to wombats and is a serious wildlife health issue. However, a combination of factors such as wombat-to-burrow ratios and environmental conditions mean declines appear to be occasional events.

Understanding the spread and effect of the disease is not simple, but a growing body of research is revealing why some wombat populations are free of sarcoptic mange, some have disease but don’t decline, and why occasionally some do decline.

Another finding of our study was a potential indicator of the risk of population decline from sarcoptic mange. When more than 25% of a population show signs of the disease, based on systematic population surveys from multiple studies, it may mean population decline is possible.

What Can Be Done?

Can anything be done to help wombats and other wildlife affected by sarcoptic mange? The answer is yes for individual wombats and sub-populations, but not yet for larger scales.

Across southeast Australia a significant number of wildlife carers, rehabilitators, and rescue organisations make important contributions to the welfare of bare-nosed wombats. A small number of researchers also work on the issue, and the health of wombats has increasingly been supported by investments from state governments and industry, particularly over the past decade.

Help for wombats is predominantly through the use of treatments delivered to captive and wild individuals.

There are significant practical challenges in treating free-living wombats. To improve the chances of success, decisions must be made based on data and with collaboration among all stakeholders. Indeed, the last decade has seen significant advances through collaboration, research and engagement that are benefiting wombats.

There are also challenges that persist, such as confirmation-biases leading some well intended wildlife groups to treat sarcoptic mange in wombats with drug doses many times higher than the needed or recommended amount. This can have unintended results, such as toxicity to the wombat, pharmaceuticals entering the environment, and mites developing a resistance to the drugs.

The Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Management Authority makes important decisions about granting permits for management of mange in wombats. The authority must be astute in interpreting the strengths and limitations of evidence when making these decisions, and seek input where additional expertise is needed.The Conversation

Scott Carver, Associate Professor, Wildlife Ecology, University of Tasmania

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

What harm could one coal mine do? Plenty – 1.7 million Hiroshima bombs of heat for starters

Simon CampbellMonash University

This year, the Australian government rejected Clive Palmer’s coal mine proposal – but approved three others. Over 100 more fossil fuel projects are in the decision pipeline.

Why are we still approving coal projects when climate impacts are intensifying? There is, as the International Energy Agency has pointed out, no place for new fossil fuels if we have a chance of holding global heating to 1.5℃ above pre-industrial levels. Our existing fossil fuel infrastructure is enough to blow our remaining carbon budget.

Unusually, Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek and her department were required to account for climate impacts in a recent decision.

They decided the climate effects did not have “relevant impact”. One of the key reasons they gave for this was that the emissions from burning the coal from a single mine will, they claim, have a “very small” impact on warming – just 0.00024℃ over the lifetime of the mine.

As a physicist, this argument does not stack up. What seems like a minuscule amount of warming to a politician is, to scientists, very concerning. It’s no wonder environmental organisations are filing lawsuits to try to stop these mines.

coal power
It might not sound like a lot of extra warming – but on a planetary scale, it’s huge. Shutterstock

One New Mine Is The Same As Millions Of Nuclear Bombs Of Heat

Right now, Plibersek and her department are weighing up final approval for the expansion of the Mount Pleasant coal mine in New South Wales’ Hunter Valley. If approved, it would let the mine’s owners MACH Energy Australia double its extraction rate to 21 million tonnes of coal per year.

So far, the project has breezed through environmental approvals. But how can Australia’s environment minister reason that new coal mines won’t do too much damage to the climate?

Plibersek gives two main arguments. One is the assumption that if we don’t dig up fossil fuels, someone else will. Known as “the drug dealer’s defence”, this rationale has been rejected in a growing number of fossil fuel court cases, for example in in NSWQueensland and the United States.

The second – the “very small” impact on warming – is worth a closer look.

By the mining company’s calculation, the expanded project will add 535 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO₂e) to our atmosphere over the lifetime of the mine. That’s about a year’s worth of Australia’s entire domestic emissions.

The department took this CO₂e figure and estimated how much this would change Earth’s global temperature. That’s where they got the “very small” figure of 0.00024℃.

To a politician, this small number may seem insignificant. But to a physicist it is truly remarkable. What it actually means is we are able to alter an entire planet’s temperature with this single mine extension.

Changing a planet’s temperature takes an enormous amount of energy.

If it weren’t for the greenhouse effect, Earth would be too cold for life. The problem is humans have been steadily increasing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, causing Earth to retain more and more of the Sun’s vast energy, heating the planet to dangerous levels.

Burning fossil fuels is responsible for most of this.

Our planet is now warming at a rate of 0.018℃ per year.

If we compare that to the department’s figure of 0.00024℃, we see the total warming effect from the Mount Pleasant mine would be about 1.3% of one year’s global warming.

Doesn’t sound like much? Consider this. Human activity is causing about 7.8 zettajoules of extra heat to be added to the Earth’s climate system every year. So, 1.3% of a year’s global warming gives roughly 0.1 zettajoules worth of extra heat through burning the output of an expanded Mount Pleasant coal mine.

Now, 0.1 zettajoules is 100,000,000,000,000,000,000 joules of energy. This number is so large we can’t relate to it. We can think of it instead as around 1.7 million Hiroshima bombs worth of extra heat. From one single mine extension.

So, it is not a “very small” amount of energy. And that’s just one mine. If the 25 proposed new coal mines and three recently approved projects go ahead, they would add 12,600 million tonnes of CO₂ emissions to the atmosphere. That, in turn, would trap heat equivalent to roughly 43 million Hiroshima bombs. And this doesn’t even count the planned gas and oil projects, or projects approved at the state level.

We Can’t Claim We Don’t Know

New fossil fuel project approvals at a time when global heating is accelerating seem like a remarkable disconnect.

It’s for this reason we’re seeing a spike in climate lawsuits. The Environment Council of Central Queensland is taking Plibersek to court, aided by Environmental Justice Australia.

This NASA visualisation shows carbon dioxide being added to Earth’s atmosphere over the course of the year 2021, split into four major contributors: fossil fuels in orange, burning biomass in red, land ecosystems in green, and the ocean in blue. The dots on the surface also show how atmospheric carbon dioxide is also being absorbed by land ecosystems in green and the ocean in blue.

Central to their case will be the claim the minister acted unlawfully when she “refused to accept the climate harm these projects are likely to cause, as outlined in thousands of scientific reports, including from the IPCC and her own department.”

The lawsuit has stopped the Mount Pleasant extension and Whitehaven’s Narrabri mine from proceeding further until the case has been heard.

We can’t predict the outcome of the case – it could go either way.

But we can predict the outcome of new fossil fuel projects. Dig up coal, burn it, heat the planet. We can’t argue our way out of the laws of physics. The Conversation

Simon Campbell, Senior research fellow and lecturer, Monash University

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

Greenhouse gases are changing air flow over the Pacific Ocean – raising Australia’s risks of extreme weather

Georgina FalsterAustralian National University

After a rare three-year La Niña event brought heavy rain and flooding to eastern Australia in 2020-22, we’re now bracing for the heat and drought of El Niño at the opposite end of the spectrum.

But while the World Meteorological Organisation has declared an El Niño event is underway, Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology is yet to make a similar declaration. Instead, the Bureau remains on “El Niño alert”.

The reason for this discrepancy is what’s called the Pacific Walker Circulation. The pattern and strength of air flows over the Pacific Ocean, combined with sea surface temperatures, determines whether Australia experiences El Niño or La Niña events.

In our new research, published today in the journal Nature, we asked whether the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere had affected the Walker Circulation. We found the overall strength hasn’t changed yet, but instead, the year-to-year behaviour is different.

Switching between El Niño and La Niña conditions has slowed over the industrial era. That means in the future we could see more of these multi-year La Niña or El Niño type events. So we need to prepare for greater risks of floods, drought and fire.

What is the Pacific Walker Circulation? An explainer.

An Ocean-Atmosphere Climate System

La Niña and its counterpart El Niño are the two extremes of the El Niño Southern Oscillation — a coupled ocean-atmosphere system that plays a major role in global climate variability.

The Walker Circulation is the atmospheric part. Air rises over the Indo-Pacific Warm Pool (a region of the ocean that stays warm year-round) and flows eastward high in the atmosphere. Then it sinks back to the surface over the eastern equatorial Pacific and flows back to the west along the surface, forming the Pacific trade winds. In short, it loops in an east-west direction across the equatorial Pacific Ocean.

But the Walker Circulation doesn’t always flow with the same intensity — sometimes it is stronger, and sometimes it is weaker.

Periods of stronger or weaker Walker Circulation have major impacts on Australian climate. A stronger Walker Circulation means stronger-than-average trade winds, and generally La Niña-like ocean conditions. This often brings wetter weather to eastern Australia.

On the flip side, a weaker Walker Circulation brings weaker-than-average trade winds, and El Niño-like ocean conditions. A weak Walker Circulation is often associated with drier weather across northern and eastern Australia.

So far, the Walker Circulation is what’s missing from the current El Niño event developing in the Pacific Ocean: it has not weakened enough for the Bureau to declare an El Niño event.

Animated GIF illustrating the Pacific Walker Circulation
In the Pacific Walker Circulation, warm air rises above the western Pacific Ocean, cools down and sinks over the east of the Pacific Ocean, circling back and continuing an important atmospheric cycle for the entire planet. The ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes via

What’s Happening To The Walker Circulation?

The Walker Circulation is a major influence on weather and climate in many places around the world, not just Australia.

A stronger-than-usual Walker Circulation even contributed to the “global warming slowdown” of the early 2000s. This is because a stronger Walker Circulation is often associated with slightly cooler global temperature.

So we need to know how it is going to behave in the future. To do that, we first need to know if — and if so, how — the Walker Circulation’s behaviour has changed due to human activities. And to do that, we need information about how the Walker Circulation behaved before humans started affecting the climate system.

We reconstructed Walker Circulation variability over the past millennium. We used global data from ice cores, trees, lakes, corals and caves to build a picture of how the Walker Circulation changed over time.

We found that on average, there has not yet been any industrial-era change in the strength of the Walker Circulation. This was surprising, because computer simulations of Earth’s climate generally suggest global warming will ultimately cause a weaker, or more El Niño-like, Walker Circulation.

There are a few possible reasons for this. One is that a buildup of fine particles in the air, such as smoke or industrial pollution, may be driving a stronger Walker Circulation, hence “cancelling out” the weakening effect of global warming.

Another is there may have been some weakening, but so far it is too small to be detectable among the Walker Circulation’s large year-to-year variability.

Our research also does not rule out the possibility that with future increases in global temperature, the Walker Circulation will indeed weaken, in a trend to more El Niño-like conditions. In that scenario, Australians might expect decreased rainfall in the north and east, as well as warmer temperatures across the continent, and less snow in the Australian Alps.

Even though the average strength of the Walker Circulation has not changed in the industrial era, there has been a subtle change in the length of time taken for the Walker Circulation to switch from one state to the next.

The Walker Circulation now switches more slowly between weak and strong phases, and we suspect this is influenced by climate change. This has potentially important implications for climate extremes, as El Niño and La Niña conditions could hang around for longer.

Our research also found that major explosive volcanic eruptions — at least as big as the 1982 eruption of El Chichón — can trigger an El Niño-like weakening of the Walker Circulation one to three years after the eruption. Unfortunately, volcanic eruptions remain extremely difficult to predict, so this doesn’t help our long-term climate predictions.

What Is The Message For Australians?

In terms of predicting how the Walker Circulation will change in the future, we can now focus attention on the particular climate models whose outputs most closely match what we discovered from our reconstruction.

That is, models that show no industrial-era weakening trend. This approach might help us get more accurate predictions of future Walker Circulation change.

The other thing we can do is to be prepared for more consecutive-year El Niño and La Niña events, and the sustained wet or dry spells they could bring to Australia.

And if there is a major volcanic eruption? Be prepared for a couple of years of weak Walker Circulation, and the warm, dry weather that can bring. The Conversation

Georgina Falster, Postdoctoral Fellow, Australian National University

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

Murray-Darling Basin Plan to be extended under a new agreement, without Victoria – but an uphill battle lies ahead

Jamie PittockAustralian National University

Federal Minister for Water Tanya Plibersek today announced a new agreement to restore Australia’s largest and most important river basin. It comes just months before the original Murray-Darling Basin Plan was to be completed.

This was a plan to benefit people and nature, to protect river communities, industries and the environment against future droughts. It was forged in response to the gruelling Millennium Drought, when the Murray River stopped flowing to the sea.

It was clear too much water was being taken out of the system and everyone would suffer if Basin states could not find a better way to share. But it has been much harder to strike the right balance than first hoped.

When it became clear in July it was no longer possible to deliver the plan in full and on time, the federal government started hatching a new plan.

Now Plibersek is offering “more time, more money, more options, and more accountability”, acutely aware that “the next drought is just around the corner”. But she faces an uphill battle, with Victoria still holding out. Further, the legislation is yet to go before parliament and needs to be passed before Christmas.

How Did We Get Here?

Management of the Basin rivers today is a far cry from the hope engendered in 2007 when Prime Minister John Howard announced the National Plan for Water Security, at the peak of the Millenium Drought.

He proposed reforms to Basin water governance, saying “nothing can change the basic facts of our continent” and calling for action to end “the tyranny of incrementalism and the lowest common denominator” governance. These “once and for all” reforms were intended to prevent “economic and environmental decline”.

But the Basin states were loathe to hand their powers over to the Commonwealth. Victoria and New South Wales resisted reallocating water from agriculture. Amid navigating the complex science and trade offs, it was another five years before the controversial Basin Plan was adopted in 2012.

Unfortunately, the plan then languished over the past decade as the federal, New South Wales and Victorian governments frustrated measures originally agreed to return water from agricultural use to the environment.

This week’s announcement represents the federal government taking firm steps to implement the first part of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s five-point election commitment for the Basin.

darling river
A plan for the water: the politics of the Murray-Darling Basin have long been fraught. Shutterstock

Now the federal government has reached agreements with most states who share management of the river system – Queensland, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and South Australia – but not Victoria. The Victorian government appears to be rivalling the National Party in its opposition to buying more water entitlements from irrigators (water buybacks).

The federal government is looking to purchase water entitlements from willing sellers. This is because past investments in water efficiency projects have proven to be too slow, very expensive and have had unexpected outcomes for agricultural industries and the rivers.

Victoria continues to argue its irrigation-based industries would be harmed by more water buybacks, and that the state has borne an unfair share of the burden compared to New South Wales. The Victorian government has knowledgeable staff and is well resourced, and resistance could be fierce.

Plibersek appears to be counting on her alliance with other states enabling required amendments to the Water Act and Basin Plan to be passed before Christmas. Given almost certain rejection by the Opposition of more water reallocation, she will require the support of cross bench Senators who may demand stronger environmental measures. The Greens have already criticised the minister’s announcement as a move that “kicks the can down the road”, but buying such a large volume of water will take years.

If the legislation is not amended, and existing deadlines remain, the federal government may be forced into recovering even more water. In particular, they would need to respond to the states’ failure to deliver on projects that are supposed to conserve wetland with less water by building water supply infrastructure.

A Welcome Development

The new agreement is welcome in doubling down on the original plan to recover 3,200 billion litres a year of additional water essential to maintain the health of the rivers and the people who rely on them. The federal government has focused on recovering 450 billion litres a year of water within this target that was agreed with the former South Australian premier. Premier Jay Weatherill drew on scientific advice to insist the minimum volume of water was recovered that is needed to keep the lower River Murray floodplain, lower lakes and Coorong healthy.

Unfortunately, the past decade of stalling by the federal, NSW and Victorian governments means the 2023-24 Basin Plan deadlines must be extended by two to three years if key projects are to be completed.

Much greater public assurance with transparency and accountability measures is needed if the new targets are to be met. The federal government needs to find more effective carrots and sticks to engender state compliance. This time it would be wise to withhold payments to the states until they deliver the promised action.

murray darling rivers meeting
The muddy waters of the Darling meet the clearer Murray at Wentworth in New South Wales. Shutterstock

The federal government’s intention to redouble efforts to “relax constraints” and enable more water to flow to where it’s most needed to conserve flora and fauna is crucial. This is essential to get the most benefits for freshwater ecosystems by allowing environmental water to spill out of river channels onto floodplain wetlands. Despite a recent flurry of activity, NSW and Victoria have not delivered promised agreements with river side land owners to enable this watering.

The one disappointing aspect of the agreement is the proposal to allow more water offset projects (under the Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism). These ecologically dubious projects have been problematic, with at least one being abandoned and many delayed. It is inconceivable that new projects could be identified and delivered by 2026.

But the new agreement only deals with the most immediate problems in implementing the Basin Plan. The Plan is due to be revised in 2026. The current measures do not deal with two major issues. First, ways need to be found to restore the rights of Indigenous nations to own and manage water. Currently they hold only 0.2% of issued entitlements. Second, a new Plan is needed to manage the project loss of a lot of water to climate and other environmental change.

The federal government’s agreement with most states (but not Victoria) is a really welcome initiative to get Basin Plan implementation back on track. However, even harder decisions await.The Conversation

Jamie Pittock, Professor, Fenner School of Environment & Society, Australian National University

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

Bushfires focus public attention on climate change for months, but it’s different for storms and floods

VanderWolf Images, Shutterstock
Christopher CrellinUniversité catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain) and Robert MacNeilUniversity of Sydney

As the world warms and the climate changes, people are experiencing more frequent and intense extreme weather events. Just this year, heatwaves blasted southern Europe, the United States and China; wildfires lit up Greece, Canada and Maui in Hawaii; and winter storms froze large parts of the US.

Our new research explores the connection between extreme weather events in Australia and public interest in climate change or global warming between 2009 and 2020. We found that bushfires, storms and floods tended to focus attention on climate change. But, crucially, the effect was short-lived and varied depending on the type of weather event.

In between extreme events, the level of interest in climate change does not appear to be increasing over time. This is despite developments in the science attributing extreme weather events to climate change, and the growing tendency of the media to make these connections.

Climate activists and policymakers may be able to use these “focusing events” to raise awareness and harness support for stronger action.

Here’s how climate change is affecting Australian weather.

Do Bushfires, Storms And Floods Garner Attention?

We collected data on extreme weather events from the Australian Disaster Resilience Knowledge Hub, which is managed by the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience.

We concentrated on the bushfires, storms and floods that occurred in Australia between 2008 and 2020.

Using the Google Trends intensity index to measure people’s attention, we analysed the use of the search terms “climate change” and “global warming” in the months following each event.

We found more searches for climate change and global warming during the month of, and immediately after, an extreme weather event.

However, such heightened attention was rather short-lived. And there were differences in the intensity and duration of this attention, depending on the type of weather event.

Major bushfires generated intense and sustained interest. During the month of a major bushfire, attention to climate change increased. The level of attention was higher still one month after the bushfire, and remained elevated for about four months.

Extreme storms prompted the most intense search activity but the effect did not last long. Attention to climate change dissipated one month after the storm.

Major flooding events did not appear to generate significant attention to climate change. This suggests Australians are more likely to think of climate change in terms of its tendency to cause hotter, drier weather, and less inclined to appreciate how it can cause wetter weather as well.

Although there is a growing trend within the media to underscore the connection between extreme weather events and climate change over the past decade, this does not seem to be generating more climate attention. For instance, while the Black Summer bushfires drove an exceptional uptick in climate attention, the same occurred during the Black Saturday bushfires a decade earlier.

It’s Worth Paying Attention To Attention

Australia has been described as “the petri-dish of climate change”. Our continent is prone to a variety of severe climate impacts such as droughts, floods, fires, storms and coral bleaching, and yet we’re also one of the world’s worst climate laggards.

Understanding how Australians respond to extreme weather events could serve as a much-needed catalyst for national climate progress.

But increased climate ambition is not guaranteed to flow from these destructive events. That’s because climate attention is quite short-lived, and not always as intense as one might hope.

We believe our research can help activists and policymakers capitalise on the increased intensity and duration of public interest in climate change following extreme events and translate that attention into a sustained appetite for climate policy action.

The Conversation

Christopher Crellin, PhD Student / FNRS Aspirant, Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain) and Robert MacNeil, Lecturer in Environmental Politics, University of Sydney

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

Is it worth investing in a battery for your rooftop solar? Here’s what buyers need to know (but often can’t find out)

Asma AzizEdith Cowan University and Daryoush HabibiEdith Cowan University

Recent electricity price increases of 20–30% have hit households hard. Some are installing rooftop solar systems and batteries to reduce or even end their reliance on energy providers.

However, Australia’s uptake of household batteries lags well behind rooftop solar installations. The high upfront cost of batteries is a key reason.

A household battery stores excess electricity generated by your solar power system. You can use it later when solar generation can’t meet your needs – for example, at night or on cloudy days. This reduces the amount of power you buy from the grid.

But how long will the battery take to pay for itself, in the form of lower power bills? The answer varies. It depends, among other things, on where you live, your solar system size and design, how much electricity you use and at what times, network tariffs, and limits on how much surplus electricity you can feed into the grid.

Our current research project has found cases in which a solar panel and battery system will save you money in Western Australia. But the situation varies across Australia. Here, we take a look at what to consider before you buy.

Solar panel ready to be installed in front of a household battery mounted on a wall
Consumers need to consider many factors to work out whether adding a battery to their solar system is worth it. Shutterstock

A Tricky Transition For Consumers

Almost a third of Australian households have rooftop solar systems – the highest rate in the world. Households can now generate electricity on a massive collective scale.

This capability is key to the clean energy transition. But when solar systems aren’t generating enough power, households must draw electricity from the grid or a battery.

Battery costs vary with brand, size and location. On average, you’ll pay around A$1,420 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to install 1–5kWh of storage capacity. That’s down from $1,710 per kWh in 2017. The point at which buying a battery makes sense for most households is estimated at around $700 per kWh (for a lithium battery with a ten-year warranty).

At current prices, online advice suggests the warranty will typically expire before the battery pays for itself. So consumers might conclude they are better off buying solar systems only and waiting for battery prices to drop.

That’s not always the case. Our modelling found the payback time is less than the warranty period in Perth for at least two cases: using 50kWh per day with a 13.5kW solar system and 13kWh per day Tesla Powerwall 2 battery, and at 30kWh per day with a 6.6kW system and 6.5kWh LG Chem RESU battery. These batteries will cost you around $12,900 and $5,300 respectively, plus installation.

Our research also found that while there can be other reasons to get a battery, most people care about the financial benefits. But it’s not a simple decision. Some situations are good for batteries, but many people can’t use them effectively.

The amount of sunshine where you live and electricity prices also matter a lot.

In many cases, batteries might need government subsidies to be worth it.

What You Need To Know To Design The Optimum System

Installers usually advise householders on what size solar and battery system is best for them. To get this right, installers need to know:

  • household load profile – its energy use at different hours of the day and times of the year
  • daily load – the household’s average total energy use in 24 hours
  • tariffs – how much the household is charged for electricity from the grid, with higher tariffs at times of peak demand
  • grid sales limits – households might be paid for energy they export to the grid. However, retailers may restrict the level of exports, change the feed-in tariff at different times of the day, and block feed-in to maintain grid stability.

Most households will not know their load profile. Even if they do, it might change in response to energy providers’ demand management programs – which give households incentives to reduce electricity consumption at peak times.

A system that was optimally sized might not remain so. And once installed, systems are difficult and costly to modify.

Also, customers can’t control tariff changes and grid sales limits. These can have huge impacts on the returns from their solar investments.

Unless all these factors are considered, a household might end up with an unsuitable solar panel and battery system and never recover the costs.

All this means consumers need a reliable source of information. The problem is not a lack of information but an overwhelming amount from a wide range of sources. It can be hard to tell who has a vested interest in promoting certain choices and who is offering independent advice.

Many consumers will leave the decisions to their installer. They must then choose their installer with care.

Solar panels on tiled roof of house on a sunny day
At times of peak solar generation, household exports of electricity to the grid might be cut off. Shutterstock

How To Fix This

Householders are not the only ones who will benefit from widespread adoption of solar batteries. Network operators will too.

WA has one of the world’s largest isolated electricity grids. It also has a high uptake of rooftop solar. This threatens grid stability when solar generation surges and exceeds the capacity the network is designed to handle. Network operators are permitted to disconnect systems installed after March 14 last year as a last resort.

If more households installed batteries, they could store surplus energy that otherwise could destabilise the grid. But households want to be sure it’s a good investment. As recommended by Energy Consumers Australia, a trusted “one-stop shop” is needed to provide independent, tailored advice to consumers and refer them to government programs and measures.

Retailers and installers should provide households with consumer-friendly technology such as home energy management systems, including smart meters, to help them understand and manage their energy use.

Households should also be informed of alternatives. One option is community batteries, which store and supply energy to a neighbourhood of homes with solar power. Another is virtual power plants – energy-sharing networks that connect thousands of household batteries.

Armed with all this information, consumers could make more informed decisions about investing in the energy transition. Until then, many will defer the decision. And that could increase costs for both households and electricity networks.The Conversation

Asma Aziz, Lecturer in Power Engineering, Edith Cowan University and Daryoush Habibi, Professor and Executive Dean, School of Engineering, Edith Cowan University

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

5 tips for getting off gas at home – for a cleaner, cheaper, healthier all-electric future

Elena M. Tarasova, Shutterstock
Trivess MooreRMIT UniversityAlan PearsRMIT University, and Nicola WillandRMIT University

Burning gas in our homes to cook food or heat air and water has become a contentious issue. Gas is an expensive, polluting fossil fuel, and there’s mounting evidence to suggest it’s also bad for our health.

Five million existing Australian households will need to get off gas within the next 30 years. But for homeowners, the upfront cost can be a major barrier to action. Renters rarely get a say over the appliances installed in their homes. And apartment owners can struggle to make individual changes too.

In most cases it’s worth making the switch, for the energy bill savings alone. For example, analysis suggests a household in Melbourne switching from gas to electricity can save up to A$13,900 over a decade.

If you’re contemplating upgrading gas appliances in your home, or even disconnecting from the gas network altogether, here are a few handy tips and resources to cut through the confusion.

Homes must switch away from gas by 2050, says policy think tank (ABC News)

Tip 1 – Find Trusted, Independent Information

There is no shortage of information on how to make the switch from gas to all-electric appliances. The challenge is finding trusted and independent information.

Not-for-profit organisation Renew has compiled a range of presentations, guides, case studies and researchChoice provides independent reviews of household appliances, including operating costs. The Australian government’s Energy Rating website provides information on appliances to help consumers compare performance. Some local councils and community groups also provide information, support and bulk-buying schemes.

You could also visit some of the all-electric homes open to the public for Sustainable House Day. This can help you learn what works from people who have already made the change.

The My Efficient Electric Home group on Facebook is another active and helpful forum.

If you are going all-electric as part of a wider retrofit, consider an independent Residential Efficiency Scorecard assessment. This will help you understand what to else you can do to maximise thermal comfort, environmental benefits and financial outcomes.

Tip 2 – Plan Your Approach

Once you understand what to do, the next step is planning how to go about it. Think about what is most important to your household. What is driving the change? If it’s your health, you might like to start by eliminating indoor air pollution from the gas stove. Or if you want to save money, start using reverse-cycle air conditioning to heat your home, rather than gas.

There are three main ways to go all-electric:

  • Replace all your gas appliances at once. Making the change quickly minimises disruption to your home. You may save money on installation costs by doing everything in one go. You will avoid ongoing fixed gas supply charges once you disconnect from the gas network, but you may be required to pay an “abolishment fee” for permanent disconnection. That fee can vary significantly, depending on your location and gas provider. Costs could be up to $1000 (or more) but some states like Victoria have capped the price a household can be charged at $220. Renters wouldn’t be able to permanently disconnect without permission from the landlord, so they would still be open to paying the daily connection fee even if they found alternative electric options for everything else.

  • Replace your gas appliances one at a time, as finances allow. However, there will come a point where financially you will be better off replacing all the remaining gas appliances. This is largely because it will not be affordable to keep paying the daily connection cost for gas if you just have one gas appliance remaining.

  • Just stop using gas appliances in favour of existing electric appliances that do the same job, such as a reverse cycle air conditioner for space heating. You may have – or can buy – plug-in electric alternatives, such as a microwave ovens, portable induction cooktops, air fryers and heaters. These can be a good option for renters when landlords won’t make changes.

You could even borrow portable appliances to see how they work before committing to buying your own.

Households share their electrification journey (Renew)

Tip 3 – Access Available Rebates And Resources

Most states offer various rebates for households to reduce the upfront cost of replacing gas appliances. These could reduce costs by thousands of dollars. Some rebates also target rental housing. Here is a list of key rebates available in different states:

Some not-for-profit organisations (such as the Brotherhood of St Laurence) offer financial and other support for lower-income households struggling to pay their energy bills.

Tip 4 – Wait For A Sale Or Negotiate A Better Deal

It might sound simple but you can always save money by waiting until these electric appliances are on sale. If you are buying multiple appliances you can try to negotiate a better price. Factory seconds outlets offer lower prices as well.

Tip 5 – Know The Issues

While the shift to all-electric will likely provide many benefits there are some things you need to consider:

  • The carbon emissions from electricity are falling fast, and many homes have rooftop solar. Combining all-electric with solar panels will maximise returns.
  • You may have to adjust to how new technologies operate and perform. For example, you may need new, metallic cookware for an induction cooktop and become familiar with their fast response. Additionally, some people find heat from reverse cycle air conditioners to be drier and/or draughtier than gas heating. Floor-mounted units heat more effectively.
  • It is not just the energy performance of appliances that matters. For example, noise from heat pump hot water services can vary across different brands. They can also require more space for installation.
  • Undertaking a wider energy retrofit (for example, increasing insulation in walls, ceiling and underfloor, upgrading windows to double glazing) may mean you can buy a smaller, cheaper reverse cycle air conditioner when replacing gas heating.
  • Electric appliances also need maintenance to make sure they perform optimally. For example, reverse cycle air conditioners have filters that must be regularly cleaned. While this can be done by households, it can be hard for people with mobility issues.
  • Depending on the capacity of your electricity switchboard or wiring, extra electric appliances may require upgrades.
  • For renters, while you could use portable appliances, you may not be able to disconnect from gas completely, meaning you would still have to pay a daily connection fee.
  • Gas and electricity prices can change over time, for many reasons. For example, if fixed gas distribution costs are spread over fewer customers.

A Worthwhile Investment

Australian states and territories have started banning gas in new builds. Victoria and the ACT will soon require new housing and major renovations to be all-electric. Others are likely to follow.

For people in existing housing around Australia, it can be daunting to make the switch. Many of us have grown up with gas in our homes and when one appliance breaks, the easiest thing to do is replace like-for-like. But the weight of evidence shows it’s worth taking the time to look at the alteratives and invest in upgrading to all-electric appliances. The benefits far outweigh the costs. The Conversation

Trivess Moore, Senior Lecturer, School of Property, Construction and Project Management, RMIT UniversityAlan Pears, Senior Industry Fellow, RMIT University, and Nicola Willand, Senior Lecturer, School of Property, Construction and Project Management, RMIT University

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

Move Over Lithium-Ion: Zinc-Air Batteries A Cheaper And Safer Alternative

August 21, 2023
Zinc-air batteries have emerged as a better alternative to lithium in a recent Edith Cowan University (ECU) study into the advancement of sustainable battery systems.

ECU's Dr Muhammad Rizwan Azhar led the project which discovered lithium-ion batteries, although a popular choice for electric vehicles around the world, face limitations related to cost, finite resources, and safety concerns.

"Rechargeable zinc-air batteries (ZABs) are becoming more appealing because of their low cost, environmental friendliness, high theoretical energy density, and inherent safety," Dr Muhammad Rizwan Azhar said.

"With the emergence of next-generation long-range vehicles and electric aircraft in the market, there is an increasing need for safer, more cost-effective, and high-performance battery systems that can surpass the capabilities of lithium-ion batteries."

Zinc-air: An explainer

A zinc-air battery consists of a zinc negative electrode and an air positive electrode.

The major disadvantage of these has been the limited power output, due to poor performance of air electrodes and short lifespan -- until now.
ECU's breakthrough has enabled engineers to use a combination of new materials, such as carbon, cheaper iron and cobalt based minerals to redesign zinc-air batteries.

"The new design has been so efficient it suppressed the internal resistance of batteries, and their voltage was close to the theoretical voltage which resulted in a high peak power density and ultra-long stability," Dr Azhar said.

"In addition to revolutionising the energy storage industry, this breakthrough contributes significantly to building a sustainable society, reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, and mitigating environmental impacts."

"By using natural resources, such as zinc from Australia and air, this further enhances the cost-effectiveness and viability of these innovative zinc-air batteries for the future."

Viable and reliable

Dr Azhar said while renewable resources such as solar, wind, and hydro energy play a critical role in the future of green energy, they are not completely reliable solutions as they are intermittent sources of energy.

"Due to the abundance of zinc available in countries such as Australia, and the ubiquity of air, this becomes a highly viable and reliable energy storage solution," Dr Azhar explained.

ECU's re-design of zinc-air batteries brings Australia closer to achieving the UN sustainable development goals and targets set by the Paris Agreement, which was established in late 2015 to emphasise the need for sustainable energy resources to limit climate change.

Yasir Arafat, Yijun Zhong, Muhammad R. Azhar, Mohammad Asif, Moses O. Tadé, Zongping Shao. CoNiFe‐layered double hydroxide decorated Co‐N‐C network as a robust bi‐functional oxygen electrocatalyst for zinc‐air batteries. EcoMat, 2023; DOI: 10.1002/eom2.12394

Graphic: ECU

Intergenerational report highlights the threat of a hotter, less productive Australia due to global warming

Michelle GrattanUniversity of Canberra

Global warning threatens to have major impacts on Australia’s labour productivity, agriculture and tourism over coming decades, according to the Intergenerational Report, which makes climate change a major focus of its projections for the early 2060s.

Climate change and the international energy transition will also have extensive implications for Australia’s resources sector, with demand for thermal coal falling dramatically and that for critical minerals increasing substantially.

The report, which projects four decade ahead, stresses the need for effective mitigation of further temperature increases and targeted investment in adaptation.

Under the Paris Agreement, countries have committed to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above preindustrial levels and pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°C.

The report, to be released by Treasurer Jim Chalmers on Thursday, says over the next 40 years, under a scenario where global temperatures increase by up to 3°C by 2100, Australia’s average temperature is projected to rise by 1.7°C. But there would be regional variations.

The average temperature in parts of central and northern Western Australia is projected to rise by 1.8°C, but only a 1.3°C increase is projected for Tasmania.

“This suggests Western Australia could be more directly affected by the labour productivity impacts of higher temperatures than some other Australian states and territories,” the report says.

“Similarly, some regional and remote communities, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, are expected to be particularly exposed to higher temperatures.”

If global temperatures were to increase by up to 3°C or more than 4°C, without changes to present ways of working, Australia’s aggregate labour productivity levels could decrease by 0.2%-0.8% by 2063.

This would reduce economic output over this period by $135 billion - $423 billion (in today’s dollars), through the direct impacts of higher temperatures on labour productivity.

In contrast, if global action limits temperature increases to 2°C, Australia could benefit from up to an extra $155 billion in GDP, compared with a scenario where temperatures increase up to 3°C. This is equal to 26 to 41 million more hours of work in 2063, the report says.

It notes that investing in measures to limit worker heat exposure, such as tree planting or altering building designs to enhance passive cooling, can also mitigate to some extent the impacts on labour productivity of higher temperatures.

If global action limits temperature increases to 1.5°C, reduced demand for thermal coal could cut Australia’s exports of it to less than 1% of present levels by 2063.

But if temperature increases are limited to 2°C this century, Australia’s thermal coal exports are estimated to fall by 50% by 2063.

The fall in international demand for Australia’s thermal coal would be slower if global action fails to deliver on the Paris Agreement, resulting in warming above 2°C this century, the report says.

Without adaptation measures Australian crop yields could be up to 4% lower by 2063 if global action fails to keep temperature rises below 3°C this century. These reductions could be largely avoided if global temperatures rise less than 2°C.

The report says some impacts on crop yields could be mitigated by measures such as changing the crops planted in particular areas and improving water efficiency.

It says other countries in our region might be even more affected than Australia by climate change, which could result in more demand for Australian agricultural exports.

Australia’s services sector will also be affected by rising temperatures, with tourists adjusting where and when they decide to travel.

“Australia has a large number of natural attractions at risk of environmental degradation which may attract fewer tourists in a world of higher global temperatures. At least 50% of Australia’s sandy coastline, a major drawcard for tourism, is under threat of erosion due to climate change.

"Many of Australia’s top attractions are also in regions likely to be increasingly susceptible to natural disasters, risking travel disruption and reputational harm. For example, in the immediate aftermath of the 2019–20 bushfires, an estimated 80,000 tourists cancelled or postponed activities,” the report says.The Conversation

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

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

Leakage or spillover? Conservation parks boost biodiversity outside them – but there’s a catch, new study shows

A Southern Red Muntjac deer peering at a camera trap. Authors
Matthew Scott LuskinThe University of Queensland and Jedediah BrodieUniversity of Montana

It’s easy to assume protected areas such as national parks conserve wildlife – that seems obvious. But what is the proof? And how does park success vary across different ecosystems – in deserts versus tropical rainforests, or wetlands versus oceans?

While we can use satellite imagery to measure the effect of protected areas in reducing human impacts such as logging, you can’t see the animals from space. In particularly dense tropical rainforests, it was nearly impossible to accurately monitor wildlife, until remotely triggered camera traps became available in the past decade.

There is a longstanding conservation debate on the benefits that protected areas such as national parks have for biodiversity.

Some scientists have argued that conservation success inside park boundaries may come at the expense of neighbouring unprotected habitats. Essentially, they suggest parks displace impacts such as hunting and logging to other nearby areas. The technical term for this is leakage.

On the other hand, marine parks have often reported higher biodiversity nearby. Fish reproduce successfully inside park boundaries and their offspring disperse, benefiting surrounding habitats in a “spillover” effect.

We set out to see which of those effects actually prevails in protected land areas and their surrounds. Our new study, published today in Nature, shows parks do enhance bird diversity inside their borders. Large parks also support higher diversity of both birds and mammals in nearby unprotected areas.

Rare rainforest species captured by camera traps used by the research team in protected areas across South-East Asia.

What Did The Study Look At?

We recruited an international team of scientists to conduct a comprehensive analysis of bird and mammal diversity inside and outside parks across South-East Asia. We used more than 2,000 cameras and bird surveys across the region.

South-East Asia is one of the most biodiverse regions on Earth, but hunting is a key concern. It’s a prime suspect for why diversity has often been assumed to decline outside protected park areas.

Three people attaching a camera trap to a tree
Members of the research team set up a camera trap in Sumatra. Authors
Pheasant in a rainforest clearing
A Silver Pheasant eyes the camera. Authors

Hunters are mobile, so hunting bans within park boundaries may only displace these activities to nearby unprotected areas, undermining their net benefit. To be honest, we were surprised mammal diversity was higher outside large parks. It’s common to see hunters both inside and outside parks in many countries.

We expected hunters’ removal of game animals would reduce diversity outside parks. However, it appears large parks limit the impacts of hunting so it does not completely remove these animals. Specifically, when comparing unprotected areas near large reserves to unprotected areas that didn’t border large reserves, we found large reserves boosted mammal diversity in unprotected areas by up to 194%.

However, a sad note from our study was the finding that only larger parks significantly enhanced mammal diversity, casting doubt on the effectiveness of smaller parks for mammal conservation. Recent work in the region suggests many large mammals persist in small parks, but our study shows the presence of a few resilient animals in small parks doesn’t scale up to higher biodiversity overall.

A wild cat in a rainforest clearing
A Marbled Cat looks back at the camera. Authors

Not All Parks Are Equal

These findings are especially timely for the United Nations, which recently announced more ambitious biodiversity targets, including significant expansions of global protected areas. The UN strategy is to conserve 30% of Earth’s lands and waters by 2030 – the so-called “30 by 30 goal”. Massive expansions of the global area of protected land will be difficult and expensive, but our results support this approach.

The work provides a clear case for park design to consider size. Larger parks routinely had higher bird diversity. Large mammals such as tigers and elephants travel huge distances and don’t see park boundaries drawn on maps. Larger parks support these wide-ranging animals that move across entire landscapes.

Considering the UN’s goal of increasing protected area to 30% of the world’s surface, our findings support the creation of fewer larger parks, rather than many smaller ones.

Elephant's foot and trunk in a rainforest clearing
A Thai elephant captured by the camera trap moments before destroying it. Authors

Next Steps In South-East Asia And Australia

Our findings also provide a much-needed conservation “win” for South-East Asia. Despite being a biodiversity hotspot, the region suffers from high rates of forest loss and hunting, which pose threats to birds and mammals.

Our team built a collaborative network and massive database to conduct the analysis, and this can also be used to answer other questions. Our next project will quantify shifts in abundance – the numbers of animals rather than numbers of species – inside and outside parks. We suspect parks will support increased mammal and bird abundances, even more than increased in wildlife diversity.

Based on the success of the Asian collaborative network project, a related team is now building a domestic collaborative network and database to conduct similar analyses, called Wildlife Observatory of Australia. Key questions will include the impact of fire and climate change on Australia’s wildlife diversity and abundance.The Conversation

Matthew Scott Luskin, Researcher and Lecturer in Conservation Science, The University of Queensland and Jedediah Brodie, Research Fellow, Institute of Biodiversity and Environmental Conservation, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak; Associate Professor and John Craighead Endowed Chair of Conservation, University of Montana

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

How bees can monitor pollution for us – everything from toxic metals to antimicrobial resistance

Mark Patrick TaylorMacquarie UniversityKara FryMacquarie University, and Max M GillingsMacquarie University

Our cities are complex places of work, industry and residential activities. This often makes it hard to pin down the spread of different contaminants throughout them.

This can be a concern, especially given mounting evidence there is no “safe” limit of exposure for many of the chemicals we use in our daily lives. The connections between contamination, food, water and human health add to these concerns.

Measuring contamination in soil or dust is a good start. But this can only tell us the level of a contaminant at the place it was sampled. Our two new studies have used backyard bees to better monitor contamination in urban environments.

The Buzz Behind Biomonitoring

When it comes to understanding contamination, honey bees can do the hard work for us. While foraging for nectar, pollen and water, bees are constantly picking up contaminants from their environment. Because we know their lifespan and approximate foraging range, chemical analysis can provide a snapshot of the levels of contaminants in their foraging area at that time.

A honey bee foraging on a flower
Foraging honey bees pick up contaminants in the environment. Mark Patrick Taylor

With the help of backyard beekeepers, our two studies traced toxic metals and antimicrobial resistance genes across two urban centres: Sydney, Australia, and Nouméa, New Caledonia.

European honey bees have long been used as sentinel species to monitor for pests and diseases, including Varroa mites and chemicals at airports. Bees can also be used as biomonitors to understand contaminants across our urban environments.

As the popularity of urban beekeeping has grown, there has been more research on honey bee biomonitoring of a range of contaminants, including metalspesticides and so-called “forever chemicals”, known as PFAS, in honey.

Two children next to a backyard beehive
Bees effectively collect environmental samples and bring them back to hives across the city. Mark Patrick Taylor

How Bees Help Us Map Pollution

Honey bees can reveal patterns of contamination that might otherwise go unnoticed.

In Nouméa, we used honey bees to map impacts from the local nickel smelter. We found levels of metals associated with the smelter – nickel, chromium and cobalt – were elevated next to the smelter and decreased farther away.

This might not sound surprising given the smelter is a major source of pollution. However, comparing the data from bees to soil and dust samples revealed bees were the most sensitive and effective marker of smelter contamination.

By mapping trace metals in honey bees in Sydney we could look at the specific factors contributing to metal pollution within their foraging range. For the neurotoxic metal lead, we found residential and industrial activity were key influences, especially in heavily populated inner-city areas.

In contrast, less populated locations and larger areas of parks or farms had higher levels of manganese. This likely came from natural soil sources and pesticide use.

We also examined how bees can help us understand emerging concerns such as the spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) genes. It’s a key concern in urban areas, driven by the misuse and overuse of antibiotics.

We found these AMR genes were common across Sydney – 83% of bees examined had ingested one or more of the genes we looked for. The source was not strongly linked to industrial activity, but rather the area of water bodies available for the bees to drink from. This may be because these genes can enter the environment through human wastewater and runoff and then be absorbed by foraging bees.

Bees likely ingest antimicrobial resistance genes from water bodies exposed to runoff from people’s properties or wastewater. Shutterstock

How Do Contaminants Affect Bees?

We also wanted to know if bees that contained contaminants were actually ingesting them. Our analyses showed contaminants build up within the bee over time and were not present on their exterior. We compared metal concentrations in matched samples of washed and unwashed bees and they were no different, indicating contaminants were inside the bee. Further, metal concentrations were higher in older, dead bees at the end of their lives than in the younger bees.

Using high-resolution imaging, we found only organic non-metal particles on the outside of bees. This may be because bees have very good self-cleaning habits. These behaviours also keep hives free from parasites and fungi brought in by foraging bees.

scanning electron microscope images of body surface of bees
Scanning electron microscope images of Nouméa bees. Where particles could be identified they were found to be not metallic. Authors

Research has shown exposure to contaminants including metals and neonicotinoid insecticides can impair honey bee development, foraging ability and survival.

And What’s In Their Honey?

Both honey producers and consumers want to know if their honey is safe to eat. While we previously identified some commercial honeys are adulterated with sugar syrups, this new work focused on potentially toxic trace metals in the honey.

The good news is we found trace metals in honey at very low levels that do not pose a concern. In Nouméa, the main smelter element, nickel, was more than 30 times lower in honey than in the bees.

We found similar outcomes in the mining town of Broken Hill, Australia where lead levels in honey were ten times lower than in the bees themselves.

A researcher in protective beekeeping gear collects bees returning to the hive
Bees returning to the hive are collected by EPA Victoria for analysis of the contaminants they picked up while foraging. Ian Travers

Bees Aren’t The Only Biomonitors

The lessons from this work have led the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria, with which we are all affiliated, to explore the use of biomonitors (honey bees, house sparrows and birds of prey) in its ongoing environmental contaminant research. As a science-based regulator, the EPA uses these types of studies to better understand the presence, uptake and dispersal of contaminants and protect environmental and human health.

Earth is facing a multitude of interlacing environmental challenges including biodiversity loss, climate change, population growth and pervasive chemical pollution. More comprehensive monitoring, including surveillance using bees, will allow us to respond more quickly and effectively to environmental health challenges.The Conversation

Mark Patrick Taylor, Chief Environmental Scientist, EPA Victoria; Honorary Professor, School of Natural Sciences, Macquarie UniversityKara Fry, Adjunct Fellow, School of Natural Sciences, Macquarie University, and Max M Gillings, PhD Candidate, School of Natural Sciences, Macquarie University

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

America's Wealthiest 10% Responsible For 40% Of US Greenhouse Gas Emissions

August 17, 2023
A new study, led by the University of Massachusetts Amherst, reveals that the wealthiest Americans, those whose income places them in the top 10% of earners, are responsible for 40% of the nation's total greenhouse gas emissions. The study, published in  PLOS Climate, is the first to link income, especially income derived from financial investments, to the emissions used in generating that income. The authors suggest that policymakers adopt taxes focused on shareholders and the carbon intensity of investment incomes in order to equitably meet the goal of keeping the global temperature to 1.5 C of warming.

Scientists and environmentalists have long known that consumption -- the amount and kind of food we eat, the vehicles we drive and all the stuff we buy -- is closely linked to greenhouse gas emission. Traditional environmental policy has then sought to either limit consumption or guide it into more environmentally friendly avenues: replacing red meat with plant-based diets or swapping a gas-guzzler for an electric vehicle.

"But," says Jared Starr, a sustainability scientist at UMass Amherst and the lead author of the new study, "consumption-based approaches to limiting greenhouse gas emissions are regressive. They disproportionately punish the poor while having little impact on the extremely wealthy, who tend to save and invest a large share of their income. Consumption-based approaches miss something important: carbon pollution generates income, but when that income is reinvested into stocks, rather than spent on necessities, it isn't subject to a consumption-based carbon tax."

"What happens," Starr asks, "when we focus on how emissions create income, rather than how they enable consumption?"

An answer to that seemingly simple question, however, is fraught with difficulty, because though it's relatively easy to capture a snapshot of wages and salaries -- the main sources of income for 90% of Americans -- it has been very difficult to get a sense of the investment income that makes up a large source of the richest Americans' wealth.

To solve this problem, Starr and his colleagues looked at 30 years' worth of data, drawing first on a database containing over 2.8 billion inter-sectoral financial transfers and following the flow of carbon and income through these transactions. This allowed them to calculate two different values: supplier-based and producer-based greenhouse gas emissions of income.

Supplier-based emissions are those created by industries that supply fossil fuels to the economy. For instance, the operational emissions released by fossil fuel companies are actually quite low, but they make enormous profits by selling oil to others who will burn it.

Producer-based emissions are those directly released by the operation of the business itself -- like a coal-fired power plant.

With these two figures in hand, Starr and his co-authors then linked their emissions data with another database containing detailed demographic and income data for over 5 million Americans. This database parses out income sources differentiating active income -- the wages or salaries earned through employment -- from the passively generated investment income.

Not only did the team find that over 40% of U.S. emissions were attributable with the income flows of the top 10%, they also discovered that the top 1% of earners alone generate 15 -- 17% of the nation's emissions. In general, white, non-Hispanic households had the highest emission-linked income and Black households the lowest. Emissions tended to increase with age, peaking with the 45-54 age group, before declining.

The team also identified "super emitters" with extremely high emissions intensity. These are almost exclusively among the top 0.1% of households, which are overrepresented in the fields of finance, real estate and insurance, manufacturing, and mining and quarrying.

"This research gives us insight into the way that income and investments obscure emissions responsibility," says Starr. "For example, 15 days of income for a top 0.1% household generates as much carbon pollution as a lifetime of income for a household in the bottom 10%. An income-based lens helps us focus in on exactly who is profiting the most from climate-changing carbon pollution, and design policies to shift their behaviour."

In particular, Starr and his colleagues point to income and shareholder-based taxation -- rather than taxing consumables.

"In this way," says Starr, "we could really incentivize the Americans who are driving and profiting the most from climate change to decarbonize their industries and investments. It's divestment through self-interest, rather than altruism. Imagine how quickly corporate executives, board members and large shareholders would decarbonize their industries if we made it in their financial interest to do so. The tax revenue gained could help the nation invest substantially in decarbonization efforts."

Jared Starr, Craig Nicolson, Michael Ash, Ezra M. Markowitz, Daniel Moran. Income-based U.S. household carbon footprints (1990–2019) offer new insights on emissions inequality and climate finance. PLOS Climate, 2023; 2 (8): e0000190 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pclm.0000190

Climate Win-Win: Study Quantifies Benefits Of Enhanced Weathering

August 21, 2023
Applying ground-up silicate rock to Midwestern American farm fields can capture significant amounts of carbon dioxide and prevent it from accumulating in the atmosphere, according to a new study that successfully quantified those climate benefits for the first time.

Working with Eion Corp., researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation (LC3M) developed a new method to calculate the CO2-reduction potential of basalt rock amendments applied to cropland soil, a process known as enhanced weathering.

Traditional row-crop agriculture releases sizable amounts of soil-derived carbon to the atmosphere as CO2, a greenhouse gas that is a primary driver of climate change. With enhanced weathering, silicate rock is applied to farmland to capture that carbon before it reaches the atmosphere. As the rock weathers, calcium and magnesium are released and react with dissolved CO2 to produce bicarbonate, essentially locking up the gas and redirecting it harmlessly into groundwater.

Quantifying its carbon-capture potential, however, has been a challenge -- until now. The Illinois team was able to calculate both the weathering rate and carbon dioxide reduction potential of the basalt rock amendments applied to maize and miscanthus fields. Those factors are critical for efforts to optimize carbon sequestration and for farmers hoping to earn carbon credits.

"In addition to reducing emissions, we desperately need effective ways to draw down atmospheric carbon dioxide. Our results suggest that basalt application to farms could be a win-win for farmers and for the planet, improving yields and drawing down CO2," said study co-author Evan DeLucia, Director Emeritus at the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE), G. William Arends Professor Emeritus of Plant Biology, and Co-Investigator at the Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation (CABBI) at Illinois.

The breakthrough -- the result of a five-year study at the Illinois Energy Farm -- was published in Global Change Biology Bioenergy. The study was led by DeLucia and Ilsa Kantola, Research Scientist at iSEE and the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB).

The work is part of iSEE's partnership with the Leverhulme Centre at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom, which is investigating enhanced weathering for carbon dioxide removal in field sites around the world: Malaysia, Australia, the U.K., and the United States.

In this case, researchers repeatedly applied finely-ground basalt on twin fields at the Energy Farm for four years -- one field with a maize/soybean crop rotation and the other with Miscanthus x giganteus, a perennial grass that is emerging as a productive bioenergy crop to replace fossil fuels.

Grinding the basalt accelerates a natural weathering process that involves two chemical reactions. First, atmospheric CO2 dissolves in rainwater to create carbonic acid. Then, the acid reacts with the rock dust in the soil to form bicarbonate, a soluble compound that leaches with soil water; that redirects the CO2 from the atmosphere to the water cycle, where it can pass harmlessly into waterways and potentially help fight ocean acidification. Basalt contains both calcium and magnesium as well as phosphorus and minor nutrients that are released during weathering and benefit soil fertility.

The Illinois team calculated the CO2 reduction and weathering rate of the basalt by measuring the change in rare earth elements in the soil with the addition of basalt and comparing it to the calcium and magnesium in the system. The rare earth elements are "sticky," building up in the soil in tiny amounts as more basalt is applied, and calcium and magnesium are released by weathering, with some taken up by the crops. The difference in rare earth elements indicates how much basalt, and therefore how much calcium and magnesium, has been applied; and the difference between the expected amount of calcium and magnesium and the actual amount in the soil tells researchers how much has been consumed by reactions in the soil.

The calculations showed that enhanced weathering reduced net carbon loss to the atmosphere by 42% in maize plots. Paired with conservation tillage or cover crops, the basalt application could turn maize into a net carbon sink. In miscanthus plots, which already stored more CO2 than they emitted before the addition of basalt, enhanced weathering more than doubled carbon storage. The finding adds to the potential climate benefits of this renewable bioenergy crop, one of three targeted by CABBI in its U.S. Department of Energy-funded work.

Carbon dioxide removal methods are a critical part of climate mitigation strategies, and as social and political efforts to reduce carbon emissions to the atmosphere are delayed, pressure is growing to implement these strategies soon.

Farmers, landowners, and others seeking carbon credits all want to know how much basalt rock to apply and how long the effect will last, both of which depend on the composition of the rock and the environmental conditions where it is applied.

"As we look for new ways to offset carbon emissions, we need to be able to quantify those carbon savings to better compare our options," Kantola said.

Co-authors on the paper included Professor Carl Bernacchi of the Department of Plant Biology at Illinois, CABBI, and the USDA Agricultural Research Service; Illinois researchers Elena Blanc-Betes of iSEE and CABBI and Mike Masters of ISEE and Plant Biology; Elliot Chang, Alison Marklein, and Adam Wolf of Eion Corp; Caitlin Moore of the University of Western Australia and former CABBI postdoc; Adam von Haden of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and former CABBI postdoc; and Dimitar Epihov and Professor David Beerling of LC3M.

Ilsa B. Kantola, Elena Blanc-Betes, Michael D. Masters, Elliot Chang, Alison Marklein, Caitlin E. Moore, Adam von Haden, Carl J. Bernacchi, Adam Wolf, Dimitar Z. Epihov, David J. Beerling, Evan H. DeLucia. Improved net carbon budgets in the US Midwest through direct measured impacts of enhanced weathering. Global Change Biology Bioenergy. First published: 17 August 2023

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
A Stroll Through Warriewood Wetlands by Joe Mills February 2023
A Walk Around The Cromer Side Of Narrabeen Lake by Joe Mills
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
Mona Vale Woolworths Front Entrance Gets Garden Upgrade: A Few Notes On The Site's History 
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 Reserves: The Green Ways; Bungan Beach and Bungan Head Reserves:  A Headland Garden 
Pittwater Reserves, The Green Ways: Clareville Wharf and Taylor's Point Jetty
Pittwater Reserves: The Green Ways; Hordern, Wilshire Parks, McKay Reserve: From Beach to Estuary 
Pittwater Reserves - The Green Ways: Mona Vale's Village Greens a Map of the Historic Crown Lands Ethos Realised in The Village, Kitchener and Beeby Parks 
Pittwater Reserves: The Green Ways Bilgola Beach - The Cabbage Tree Gardens and Camping Grounds - Includes Bilgola - The Story Of A Politician, A Pilot and An Epicure by Tony Dawson and Anne Spencer  
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 Chiltern Trail On The Verge Of Spring 2023 by Kevin Murray and Joe Mills
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 - Creeks Deteriorating: How To Report Construction Site Breaches, Weed Infestations + The Long Campaign To Save The Warriewood Wetlands & Ingleside Escarpment March 2023
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

Pittwater's Birds

Attracting Insectivore Birds to Your Garden: DIY Natural Tick Control small bird insectivores, species like the Silvereye, Spotted Pardalote, Gerygone, Fairywren and Thornbill, feed on ticks. Attracting these birds back into your garden will provide not only a residence for tick eaters but also the delightful moments watching these tiny birds provides.
Aussie Backyard Bird Count 2017: Take part from 23 - 29 October - how many birds live here?
Aussie Backyard Bird Count 2018 - Our Annual 'What Bird Is That?' Week Is Here! This week the annual Aussie Backyard Bird Count runs from 22-28 October 2018. Pittwater is one of those places fortunate to have birds that thrive because of an Aquatic environment, a tall treed Bush environment and areas set aside for those that dwell closer to the ground, in a sand, scrub or earth environment. To take part all you need is 20 minutes and your favourite outdoor space. Head to the website and register as a Counter today! And if you're a teacher, check out BirdLife Australia's Bird Count curriculum-based lesson plans to get your students (or the whole school!) involved

Australian Predators of the Sky by Penny Olsen - published by National Library of Australia

Australian Raven  Australian Wood Duck Family at Newport

A Week In Pittwater Issue 128   A Week In Pittwater - June 2014 Issue 168

Baby Birds Spring 2015 - Rainbow Lorikeets in our Yard - for Children Baby Birds by Lynleigh Greig, Southern Cross Wildlife Care - what do if being chased by a nesting magpie or if you find a baby bird on the ground

Baby Kookaburras in our Backyard: Aussie Bird Count 2016 - October

Balloons Are The Number 1 Marine Debris Risk Of Mortality For Our Seabirds - Feb 2019 Study

Bangalley Mid-Winter   Barrenjoey Birds Bird Antics This Week: December 2016

Bird of the Month February 2019 by Michael Mannington

Birdland Above the Estuary - October 2012  Birds At Our Window   Birds at our Window - Winter 2014  Birdland June 2016

Birdsong Is a Lovesong at This time of The Year - Brown Falcon, Little Wattle Bird, Australian Pied cormorant, Mangrove or Striated Heron, Great Egret, Grey Butcherbird, White-faced Heron 

Bird Songs – poems about our birds by youngsters from yesterdays - for children Bird Week 2015: 19-25 October

Bird Songs For Spring 2016 For Children by Joanne Seve

Birds at Careel Creek this Week - November 2017: includes Bird Count 2017 for Local Birds - BirdLife Australia by postcode

Black Cockatoo photographed in the Narrabeen Catchment Reserves this week by Margaret G Woods - July 2019

Black-Necked Stork, Mycteria Australis, Now Endangered In NSW, Once Visited Pittwater: Breeding Pair shot in 1855

Black Swans on Narrabeen Lagoon - April 2013   Black Swans Pictorial

Brush Turkeys In Suburbia: There's An App For That - Citizen Scientists Called On To Spot Brush Turkeys In Their Backyards
Buff-banded Rail spotted at Careel Creek 22.12.2012: a breeding pair and a fluffy black chick

Cayley & Son - The life and Art of Neville Henry Cayley & Neville William Cayley by Penny Olsen - great new book on the art works on birds of these Australian gentlemen and a few insights from the author herself
Crimson Rosella - + Historical Articles on

Death By 775 Cuts: How Conservation Law Is Failing The Black-Throated Finch - new study 'How to Send a Finch Extinct' now published

Eastern Rosella - and a little more about our progression to protecting our birds instead of exporting them or decimating them.

Endangered Little Tern Fishing at Mona Vale Beach

‘Feather Map of Australia’: Citizen scientists can support the future of Australia's wetland birds: for Birdwatchers, school students and everyone who loves our estuarine and lagoon and wetland birds

First Week of Spring 2014

Fledgling Common Koel Adopted by Red Wattlebird -Summer Bird fest 2013  Flegdlings of Summer - January 2012

Flocks of Colour by Penny Olsen - beautiful new Bird Book Celebrates the 'Land of the Parrots'

Friendly Goose at Palm Beach Wharf - Pittwater's Own Mother Goose

Front Page Issue 177  Front Page Issue 185 Front Page Issue 193 - Discarded Fishing Tackle killing shorebirds Front Page Issue 203 - Juvenile Brush Turkey  Front Page Issue 208 - Lyrebird by Marita Macrae Front Page Issue 219  Superb Fairy Wren Female  Front Page Issue 234National Bird Week October 19-25  and the 2015 the Aussie Back Yard Bird Count: Australia's First Bird Counts - a 115 Year Legacy - with a small insight into our first zoos Front Page Issue 236: Bird Week 2015 Front Page Issue 244: watebirds Front Page Issue 260: White-face Heron at Careel Creek Front Page Issue 283: Pittwater + more birds for Bird Week/Aussie Bird Count  Front Page Issue 284: Pittwater + more birds for Bird Week/Aussie Bird Count Front Page Issue 285: Bird Week 2016  Front Page Issue 331: Spring Visitor Birds Return

G . E. Archer Russell (1881-1960) and His Passion For Avifauna From Narrabeen To Newport 

Glossy Black-Cockatoo Returns To Pittwater by Paul Wheeler Glossy Cockatoos - 6 spotted at Careel Bay February 2018

Grey Butcher Birds of Pittwater

Harry Wolstenholme (June 21, 1868 - October 14, 1930) Ornithologist Of Palm Beach, Bird Man Of Wahroonga 


Issue 60 May 2012 Birdland - Smiles- Beamings -Early -Winter - Blooms

Jayden Walsh’s Northern Beaches Big Year - courtesy Pittwater Natural Heritage Association

John Gould's Extinct and Endangered Mammals of Australia  by Dr. Fred Ford - Between 1850 and 1950 as many mammals disappeared from the Australian continent as had disappeared from the rest of the world between 1600 and 2000! Zoologist Fred Ford provides fascinating, and often poignant, stories of European attitudes and behaviour towards Australia's native fauna and connects these to the animal's fate today in this beautiful new book - our interview with the author

July 2012 Pittwater Environment Snippets; Birds, Sea and Flowerings

Juvenile Sea Eagle at Church Point - for children

King Parrots in Our Front Yard  

Kookaburra Turf Kookaburra Fledglings Summer 2013  Kookaburra Nesting Season by Ray Chappelow  Kookaburra Nest – Babies at 1.5 and 2.5 weeks old by Ray Chappelow  Kookaburra Nest – Babies at 3 and 4 weeks old by Ray Chappelow  Kookaburra Nest – Babies at 5 weeks old by Ray Chappelow Kookaburra and Pittwater Fledglings February 2020 to April 2020

Lion Island's Little Penguins (Fairy Penguins) Get Fireproof Homes - thanks to NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Fix it Sisters Shed

Lorikeet - Summer 2015 Nectar

Lyre Bird Sings in Local National Park - Flock of Black Cockatoos spotted - June 2019

Magpie's Melodic Melodies - For Children (includes 'The Magpie's Song' by F S Williamson)

Masked Lapwing (Plover) - Reflected

May 2012 Birdland Smiles Beamings Early Winter Blooms 

Mistletoebird At Bayview

Musk Lorikeets In Pittwater: Pittwater Spotted Gum Flower Feast - May 2020

Nankeen Kestrel Feasting at Newport: May 2016

National Bird Week 2014 - Get Involved in the Aussie Backyard Bird Count: National Bird Week 2014 will take place between Monday 20 October and Sunday 26 October, 2014. BirdLife Australia and the Birds in Backyards team have come together to launch this year’s national Bird Week event the Aussie Backyard Bird Count! This is one the whole family can do together and become citizen scientists...

National Bird Week October 19-25  and the 2015 the Aussie Back Yard Bird Count: Australia's First Bird Counts - a 115 Year Legacy - with a small insight into our first zoos

Native Duck Hunting Season Opens in Tasmania and Victoria March 2018: hundreds of thousands of endangered birds being killed - 'legally'!

Nature 2015 Review Earth Air Water Stone

New Family of Barking Owls Seen in Bayview - Church Point by Pittwater Council

Noisy Visitors by Marita Macrae of PNHA 

Odes to Australia's Fairy-wrens by Douglas Brooke Wheelton Sladen and Constance Le Plastrier 1884 and 1926

Oystercatcher and Dollarbird Families - Summer visitors

Pacific Black Duck Bath

Painted Button-Quail Rescued By Locals - Elanora-Ingleside escarpment-Warriewood wetlands birds

Palm Beach Protection Group Launch, Supporters InvitedSaturday Feb.16th - Residents Are Saying 'NO' To Off-Leash Dogs In Station Beach Eco-System - reports over 50 dogs a day on Station Beach throughout December-January (a No Dogs Beach) small children being jumped on, Native birds chased, dog faeces being left, families with toddlers leaving beach to get away from uncontrolled dogs and 'Failure of Process' in council 'consultation' open to February 28th 

Pardalote, Scrub Wren and a Thornbill of Pittwater

Pecking Order by Robyn McWilliam

Pelican Lamps at Narrabeen  Pelican Dreamsong - A Legend of the Great Flood - dreamtime legend for children

Pittwater Becalmed  Pittwater Birds in Careel Creek Spring 2018   Pittwater Waterbirds Spring 2011  Pittwater Waterbirds - A Celebration for World Oceans Day 2015

Pittwater's Little Penguin Colony: The Saving of the Fairies of Lion Island Commenced 65 Years Ago this Year - 2019

Pittwater's Mother Nature for Mother's Day 2019

Pittwater's Waterhens: Some Notes - Narrabeen Creek Bird Gathering: Curious Juvenile Swamp Hen On Warriewood Boardwalk + Dusky Moorhens + Buff Banded Rails In Careel Creek

Plastic in 99 percent of seabirds by 2050 by CSIRO

Plover Appreciation Day September 16th 2015

Powerful and Precious by Lynleigh Grieg

Red Wattlebird Song - November 2012

Restoring The Diamond: every single drop. A Reason to Keep Dogs and Cats in at Night. 

Salt Air Creatures Feb.2013

Sea Birds off the Pittwater Coast: Albatross, Gannet, Skau + Australian Poets 1849, 1898 and 1930, 1932

Sea Eagle Juvenile at Church Point

Seagulls at Narrabeen Lagoon

Seen but Not Heard: Lilian Medland's Birds - Christobel Mattingley - one of Australia's premier Ornithological illustrators was a Queenscliff lady - 53 of her previously unpublished works have now been made available through the auspices of the National Library of Australia in a beautiful new book

7 Little Ducklings: Just Keep Paddling - Australian Wood Duck family take over local pool by Peta Wise 

Shag on a North Avalon Rock -  Seabirds for World Oceans Day 2012

Short-tailed Shearwaters Spring Migration 2013 

South-West North-East Issue 176 Pictorial

Spring 2012 - Birds are Splashing - Bees are Buzzing

Spring Becomes Summer 2014- Royal Spoonbill Pair at Careel Creek

Spring Notes 2018 - Royal Spoonbill in Careel Creek

Station Beach Off Leash Dog Area Proposal Ignores Current Uses Of Area, Environment, Long-Term Fauna Residents, Lack Of Safe Parking and Clearly Stated Intentions Of Proponents have your say until February 28, 2019

Summer 2013 BirdFest - Brown Thornbill  Summer 2013 BirdFest- Canoodlers and getting Wet to Cool off  Summer 2013 Bird Fest - Little Black Cormorant   Summer 2013 BirdFest - Magpie Lark

The Mopoke or Tawny Frogmouth – For Children - A little bit about these birds, an Australian Mopoke Fairy Story from 91 years ago, some poems and more - photo by Adrian Boddy
Winter Bird Party by Joanne Seve

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 -

Avalon Beach SLSC Boat Crew Looking For Members

Peter Carter and Nathan Wellings are Sweeps and Surf Boat Captains for the Avalon Beach SLSC Boat Crew, a division of the club which has members from U19’s through to Masters. Currently Pete and Nathan are seeking new members to join the team and crews for the upcoming Season- anyone from Avalon to Newport is welcome to come and have a try rowing and see if they like it. After all, Summer sports are a great way to keep fit and with rowing a surf boat, you will also keep cool.

We spoke to ABSLSC’s Sweeps this week about what’s involved.

So Pete you’re looking for new members for the Boat Crew?
Peter: Always, always looking for new members to come and join in in this great sport.

It sounds as though you’re looking for young innocents to induct this Season?
Peter: Not necessarily. If we can get older members involved as well then they can tell their kids how good it is, and that brings the kids in as well.

Doesn’t Avalon Beach SLSC already have one of the larger Boat Crews in our area?
Peter: yes and no, we go through periods when members have other commitments they need to meet and as we try to keep it local – we were always taught by Rick (Millar) to keep the local kids involved so they can help build great boat crews. 

The sport has been good to us so we’re trying to give that back to the community by offering new spots for new members. There’s some details in that poster and they can just contact us via the numbers listed there and come and have a go and have some fun.

What are you two looking forward to this Surf Boat Season and Patrol Season?
Nathan: We’re looking forward to getting some new members involved and setting up the Avalon Boat Crew for a great future. Most years all the kids coming in either lived in Avalon beach, Bilgola, Clareville or Newport. So we do try to take members from the local community and get the kids here involved, give them that opportunity to have a go and be a part of it. 

What’s the best part about being involved in a surf boat crew or division within a surf club?
Peter: It’s a variety of things;’ the camaraderie, the getting top meet and spend time with people from different interests and all ages. Within a crew itself you  have a tight knit team – you have 4 people in a boat and you can’t let each other down and this really promotes a mindset where you have 4 people committed to a cause, to each other and doing their best. Then you have the community side of that where you become a member of a Volunteer Patrol where you become an integral part of a bigger team, all working together to fulfil their Patrols. There again you meet great people who are doing something for the community and building a community, even by each person doing their bit. You get to learn how to save a life, you get to learn how the water works, you get to meet and work with the people you see on the street in the village and be a part of what this community does. Just through giving back to the community a little bit you learn some self discipline and how you can apply that in every other part of your life. It’s great stuff. Come and have a row!

Pete Carter(centre) at Bilgola Surf Boat Carnival

Nathan with one of his women's crews - winning at Aussies

Fire And Rescue NSW Delivers Car Crash Simulations To ‘Drive Home’ Safety Lessons For Teenagers

Thursday August 24, 2023

Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) and its emergency services partners have shared information with thousands of teenagers in an effort to make them smarter and safer drivers, staging confronting car crash simulations to press home the potential consequences of poor decisions behind the wheel.

The realistic demonstrations have formed part of the three-day ‘bstreetsmart’ event, an initiative of the Trauma Service at Westmead Hospital, held at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney’s west.

It is aimed at reducing the fatality and injury rates among young people on our roads.

The demos begin with the audience, comprising 16 to 18 year olds, being shown a video with a number of young people inside a moving car and discussing a party they had just attended.

The driver is heard saying he’s fine to drive despite having drank alcohol, before one of his passengers is seen unclipping her seatbelt to show him a text message she received.

The dangerous antics result in a ‘fatal’ crash with a bike before a dramatic rescue operation plays out on-stage involving firefighters and other first-responders.

The mock scenario involves FRNSW crews using hydraulic tools to cut ‘trapped passengers’ from the vehicles as paramedics treat the injured; police interview witnesses, inspect the scene and subsequently arrest the driver; and an undertaker removes the body of the deceased.

The entire production is narrated and embedded with life-saving lessons for the students.

The ‘bstreetsmart’ event has also included moving presentations from Melissa McGuinness, whose son Jordan and four other people were killed in a car crash in Queensland in 2012.

Jordan had been speeding and driving under the influence of alcohol. The students also gained unique insights from a spinal injury patient, brain injury experts and a learner driver instructor.

FRNSW Acting Assistant Commissioner – Community Safety, Dave Felton, highlighted that people aged 15 to 30 are disproportionally represented in road trauma.

“The ‘bstreetsmart’ initiative is critical to developing good drivers, riders and passengers, as it demonstrates to young people how quickly and easily things can go wrong on our roads,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Felton said.

“The crash simulations are shocking, but they’re designed to be, because too many young people ignore other road safety messaging and aren’t alert to the dangers.

“Fire and Rescue NSW is proud to be involved with ‘bstreetsmart’ and it’s extraordinary to think how many lives have likely been saved as a result of the lessons this program has been rolling out over the past two decades.”

For more information, visit or Online lessons available at:

Students Name Final Mega-Boring Machine For Western Sydney Airport Metro After Dr Marlene Kanga AO

The fourth and final name of the tunnel boring machine (TBM) for the Sydney Metro – Western Sydney Airport project has been unveiled during a special launch ceremony at the Orchard Hills metro station site.

NSW Deputy Premier Prue Car, Marlene Kanga AO flanked by Claremont Meadows Public School students, and NSW Minister for Transport Jo Haylen, 

On hand to witness the launch were representatives from six local primary schools who participated in a Sydney Metro competition to name the machine. The students were the first to be introduced to TBM Marlene, the winning name submitted by Claremont Meadows Public School.

The machine is named in honour of Dr Marlene Kanga AO, recognising her significant contribution as a global leader in engineering and role model to women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). 

TBM Marlene will tunnel 4.3km, carving out the metro tunnel from Orchard Hills to St Marys alongside TBM Catherine, which is currently about 100m into its journey.

The 900-tonne TBM will tunnel on average 120m per week and is expected to arrive at the St Marys metro station site in mid-2024.

The naming competition was an opportunity for local primary school students to learn more about the new 23km metro line currently under construction from St Marys to the Aerotropolis that will transform travel in their area.

It also provided a chance for students to explore achievements of inspiring Australian women in the community, with all names submitted required to be female – a tunnelling tradition stemming from the 1600s when miners working underground prayed to Saint Barbara for protection.

All six schools that participated in the competition - Claremont Meadows Public School, Our Lady of the Rosary Primary, Kurrambee School, St Marys South Public School, St Marys North Public School and Orchard Hills Public School - were commended for the significant thought and effort they put into their suggested names.

The launch of TBM Marlene means all four TBMs for the mega project are now in the ground, with TBMs Eileen and Peggy 1275m and 386m into excavating the 5.5km of tunnels between the Airport Business Park and the Aerotropolis, respectively.

New metro rail will become the transport spine for Greater Western Sydney, connecting communities and travellers with the new Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport and the growing region.

The Australian and NSW Governments have a shared objective of having Sydney Metro – Western Sydney Airport operational when Western Sydney International Airport opens for passenger services.

There is more information on the Western Sydney Airport Metro project available here

About Marlene Kanga AO

Dr Marlene Kanga AO is listed among Australia’s top 10 women engineers and top 100 engineers. A chemical engineer, she was National President of Engineers Australia in 2013 and President of the World Federation of Engineering Organisations in 2017-2019.

Dr Kanga has had an executive career in complex systems safety in the oil and gas and chemical industry. She is now a non-executive director and a board member at Endeavour Energy, Business Events Sydney, Standards Australia and formerly, Sydney Water Corporation and Innovation Australia. She is a director of iOmniscient Pty Ltd which has developed advanced video analytic technologies and Rux Energy Pty Ltd which is commercialising new materials for hydrogen storage.

She is Chair of the global Institution of Chemical Engineers Safety Centre, advancing complex system safety engineering internationally.

Dr Kanga is an Honorary Fellow of Engineers Australia, an Honorary Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers (UK), a Foundation Fellow of the International Science Council, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

She was the Engineers Australia 2018 Professional Engineer of the Year, received the Chemeca Medal in 2019 for contributions to chemical engineering and the Ada Lovelace Medal as an outstanding women engineer, in 2023. She is an Officer of the Order of Australia “for distinguished service to engineering, as a global leader and role model to women.”

Deputy Premier Prue Car said:

“The students have done a great job naming this tunnelling machine after such an inspiring leader in STEM.

“The name Marlene was suggested by Claremont Meadows Public School, and it is fitting that students from nearby schools were here at today’s launch as this project will serve many generations to come.

“It has been a joy to have these local school children attend the launch and send the fourth and final TBM for this transformational project off in style.

“The entries from local schools demonstrated an awareness of the contributions and successes of many outstanding women, and I’m so pleased to see Dr Marlene Kanga AO recognised in this way.

“The naming of TBM Marlene is a tremendous legacy for its namesake, and I look forward to tracking the machine’s progress as the tunnel advances from Orchard Hills to St Marys.”

Minister for Transport Jo Haylen said:

“Major construction is well underway on the Western Sydney Airport Metro, with the fourth and final tunnel boring machine launching its journey to build Sydney’s newest rail tunnels.

“It is fantastic to see local schools get involved and learn more about this vital transport link that will revolutionise how people will move in the area putting Western Sydney on the doorstep of the rest of the world.”

Deputy Premier Prue Car and Marlene Kanga AO. Photos: NSW Government

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:

Word Of The Week: Rascal

Word of the Week returns in 2023 simply to throw some disruption in amongst the 'yeah-nah' mix. 


1. : a mean, unprincipled, or dishonest person. 2. : a mischievous person or animal. 3. a cheeky person or creature; a troublemaker.

From Middle English (in the senses ‘a mob’ and ‘member of the rabble’): from Old French rascaille ‘rabble’, of uncertain origin. mid-14c., rascaile "people of the lowest class, the general mass; rabble or foot-soldiers of an army" (senses now obsolete), also singular, "low, tricky, dishonest person," from Old French rascaille "rabble, mob" (12c., Modern French racaille), as Cotgrave's French-English Dictionary (1611) defines it: "the rascality or base and rascall sort, the scumme, dregs, offals, outcasts, of any company."

This is of uncertain origin, perhaps a diminutive from Old French rascler, from Vulgar Latin rasicare "to scrape" on the notion of "the scrapings." "Used in objurgation with much latitude, and often, like rogue, with slight meaning" [Century Dictionary]. Used also in Middle English of animals unfit to chase as game on account of some quality, especially a lean deer. Also formerly an adjective.

Compare: rapscallion (n.); "A rascally, disorderly, or despicable person" [Century Dictionary], 1690s, alteration of rascallion (1640s), a fanciful elaboration of rascal (q.v.). It had a parallel in now-extinct rampallion (1590s), from Middle English ramp (n.2) "ill-behaved woman." Also compare rascabilian (1620s). Rapscallionry "rascals collectively" is marked "[Rare.]" in Century Dictionary (1897); Galsworthy used  rapscallionism.

Compare Rascar - Etymology; From Old Spanish rascar, from Vulgar Latin rāsicāre, a frequentative verb based on Latin rāsus (“shaven”).

"Ain't Misbehavin'" is a 1929 stride jazz/early swing song. Andy Razaf wrote the lyrics to a score by Thomas "Fats" Waller and Harry Brooks for the Broadway musical comedy play Connie's Hot Chocolates.
Terence Trent D'Arby ~ Right Thing, Wrong Way

Painting the unfamiliar: why the first European paintings of Australian animals look so alien to our eyes

The Kongouro from New Holland, 1772, George Stubbs National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Janelle EvansThe University of Melbourne

In 1772, Joseph Banks commissioned the foremost painter of animals in England, George Stubbs, to paint a dingo and a kangaroo.

To our modern eyes the paintings lack the vitality and strength of the animals we are familiar with in Australia. The kangaroo more closely resembles a rodent than a bipedal marsupial. The dingo’s glassy-eyed stare lacks any animation.

Stubbs was renowned for how well he captured horses and dogs. Even today, those paintings of his capture the lifelike individual essence of his subject. So why did his paintings of the dingo and kangaroo – some of the earliest European representations of Australian animals – look so strange?

‘To Compare It Would Be Impossible’

Stubbs had not travelled with the 1768 Endeavour expedition to the South Seas. Instead, Banks commissioned him to paint from skins collected during the voyage.

While the journey was officially to chart the transit of Venus across the Sun from the vantage point of Tahiti, King George III also secretly instructed James Cook to search for the fabled Terra Australis Incognito and

with the consent of the Natives […] to take possession of a Continent or Land of great extent […]in the Name of the King of Great Britain.

Banks collected the skins of a “large dog” and a “kongouro” (thought to be a misinterpretation of the Guugu Yimidhirr word gangurru, which refers to the Grey Kangaroo) when the Endeavour pulled into safe harbour for repairs after striking the Great Barrier Reef in June 1770.

Banks recorded his first impressions of this very unfamiliar animal in his journal entry dated July 14 1770.

To compare it to any European animal would be impossible as it had not the least resemblance of any one I have seen. Its fore legs are extremely short and of no use to it in walking, its hind again as disproportionately long; with these it hops 7 or 8 feet at each hop in the same manner as the Gerbua, to which animal indeed it bears much resemblance, except in size […]

A simple pencil sketch.
The first European drawing of a kangaroo, by Sydney Parkinson in 1770. Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London

Sydney Parkinson, one of the artists who accompanied Banks, made five sketches of the dead animal after it was shot by one of the ship’s gamekeepers.

These sketches, the flayed (and possibly inflated) skins, Banks’ journal entry and his personal memories were the material that informed Stubbs as he made his preparations to paint these very unfamiliar animals.

The Semantic Memory

Stubbs was lauded for his anatomically correct forms of horses and dogs. On occasion, Stubbs also painted exotic animals like the lions housed in the Royal Menagerie.

A beautiful horse
Whistlejacket by George Stubbs, 1762. National Gallery

But his paintings of the dingo and kangaroo were the first time he painted animals he had never studied from life.

Stubbs capitalised on the swell of interest in the return of the Endeavour by exhibiting the paintings at the Society of Artists in London 1773.

This brought the dingo and the kangaroo to the scientific community and public’s attention. The animals became the two most associated with the new world of Australia – adding greatly to Great Britain’s sense of national pride as the conqueror of new worlds.

Portrait of a Large Dog (dingo) by George Stubbs, 1772. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

Stubbs’ kangaroo painting set the standard for future representations of the animal until well into the 19th century, serving as a model for engravings and illustrations used in scientific and popular publications.

But Stubbs’ kangaroo more closely resembles the rat-like Gerbua of Banks’ description than the creature we know today. This can perhaps be explained by Stubbs’s unfamiliarity with the animals.

An animal of a new species found on the coast of New South Wales. 1773 engraving based on Stubbs’ painting. National Museum of Australia

As an artist who had made a lifelong study of the anatomy and movement of animals, he would normally have relied on what psychologists refer to as “implicit memory” when painting his subject in the studio. That is, the unconscious memory he would instinctively rely on from years of painting animals he was familiar with.

It’s a bit like riding a bicycle: once learned, it’s never forgotten.

In this case, Stubbs primarily relied on “semantic memory”, or general knowledge of his experiences in the world, to paint the unfamiliar by utilising the knowledge, written material and personal recollections Banks had given to him.

Having been told a kangaroo was a giant rat-like gerbua by Banks, it is understandable that Stubbs also relied on his implicit memory of rats and gerbuas to depict the kangaroo.

A kangaroo with a joey.
An animal found on the coast of New Holland called kanguroo, 1809, by Thomas Thornton, based on Stubbs’ painting. National Library of Australia.

Rendering The Unfamiliar

As an artist, I can relate to this. My paintings of unfamiliar landscapes in Scotland and Ireland always seem to depict trees that look like eucalypts.

Despite using the same brand of watercolours I have used my whole artistic life, the way I paint the interplay of light, shadow and hue on mountain passes, birch groves and fields of heather and gorse usually seems more gaudy than the dull blue-grey colours of the Australian bush.

Unconsciously, I overlay the hues of the Australian landscape onto my paintings of the British landscape in order to tone the gaudiness down – much like the English painters who conversely depicted the Australian bush as English landscapes.

Rendering the unfamiliar familiar. The Conversation

Janelle Evans, Senior Lecturer, Critical and Theoretical Studies, Victorian College of the Arts, Faculty of Fine Arts and Music, The University of Melbourne

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

Trampling plants, damaging rock art, risking your life: taking selfies in nature has a cost

Samuel CornellUNSW Sydney and Amy PedenUNSW Sydney

In the age of the selfie taking photos of yourself has become an everyday occurrence. Half of all teenagers regularly post selfies. Driven by social media algorithms, many of us now flock to natural places for the best selfie background.

But what happens when our pursuit of the perfect selfie starts damaging nature – or even ourselves? Many people have been severely injured or killed by taking risky selfies and photos in dangerous locations. Indian researchers catalogued 259 selfie-related deaths worldwide as of 2018.

And the search for the perfect selfie can injure animals like quokkas, crayfish and glow-worms, protected plants and even First Nations rock art. Selfies have even become a biosecurity threat.

Spare a thought for our land managers, tasked with caring for the natural places sometimes despoiled for a photo and emergency workers entrusted with rescuing selfie-seekers. As our new research has found, Australia’s land managers are often at their wit’s end trying to keep people safe in nature.

The problem? Fences and warning signs don’t work well. Hardcore selfie-seekers jump the fence and perch on the edge of the cliff to get the shot. We may well need selfie educational campaigns.

Selfies Make A New Brand Of Tourist

Social media tourism is drastically changing who and how many of us go to places such as Figure Eight Pools in Sydney’s Royal National Park or Josephine Falls not far from Cairns.

As one land manager told us:

We noticed a massive increase in the number of people, and the kind of visitor that we were getting. We’re getting a lot more people who are maybe urban based, didn’t spend a lot of time in national parks, weren’t particularly familiar with the concept of bushwalking

Land managers told us these new kinds of tourist were motivated to seek out photos and selfies. The problem was, many were willing to ignore warning signs or bans on drones to get their photos.

You know, it’s all just to get that photo, really. That’s it. People definitely, more so now than ever, I think, are coming for the photo. They’re not coming for a bushwalk and to look around at the trees and to experience nature.

Drone use is common, even when it is banned.

They break the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) rules [on drones], every flipping day, they annoy the people, the guests, the wildlife […] I’ve got eight crashed drones in the park currently [risking] environmental harm to the park if they catch fire or the batteries leak in the World Heritage area, in the creeks where the rare crayfish are.

For other land managers, the challenge is the damage to the environment. Plants get trampled, wildlife disturbed, and in some cases, delicate ecosystems suffer long-term damage.

Someone goes swimming, puts it on social media and suddenly there’s 100 people a day coming to go wild swimming where the platypus and the glow-worms live. And in a wet year, suddenly all the vegetation around the rock pool is trampled, it turns into a muddy mess

Mainstream tourism bodies can make the problem worse by promoting social media hotspot locations.

I was horrified the other day noticing promotions for these Figure Eight pools. I just thought, “You’ve gotta be kidding me. How many times have we told the tourism industry to stop it?”

Safe Selfies?

Perhaps the thorniest challenge for land managers is accommodating increased interest while keeping people safe. That’s because selfie-seekers sometimes deliberately avoid safety measures like fences. As one land manager told us:

They want to get a photo without a fence in it. Look at me with my toes over the edge of the crumbly sandstone cliff.

Other land managers are working to assist this new demand by reshaping nature to make better scenery – and keep visitors safer. At Moran Falls in Queensland’s Lamington National Park, a famous view across the gorge had been obscured by vegetation. That drove some visitors to jump the fence at the viewing platform and stand directly on top of a very tall cliff.

As a solution, land managers got an arborist to trim the trees blocking the view and then use the fallen limbs to hide the goat track made by selfie-seekers.

Once we improved the view and the photo shot, people were happy to take the photo from the platform. But when the view was impeded from the platform, they would undertake risky behaviour and stand on top of a 300ft cliff, right on the edge, to get the photo.

Why do traditional measures like signs and warnings often prove ineffective? The answer may lie in social validation. For many, the risk seems worth the reward if it means garnering admiration on social media.

Nature-based content on platforms like Instagram and TikTok often performs very well, giving other would-be influencers the incentive to seek out new locations.

What Can We Do?

Land managers have repeatedly told us signs aren’t working for these new tourists. As a result, there’s an urgent need to communicate risk and safety information in novel ways which resonate.

The tools land managers have are often preventive – barriers, boardwalks and signs, coupled with punitive measures such as fines. But this isn’t working.

Better risk communication, as New South Wales authorities are doing with time-sensitive risk warnings for Figure Eight Pools, may help.

risk communication
Figure Eight Pools are on a rock platform which is inundated at high tide. This risk communication approach has promise. NSW National Parks and Wildlife

Our research points to the need for fresh strategies to tackle social media hotspots and selfie-seeking by understanding what drives social-media tourists, improving risk communication and developing partnerships.

This problem has been created by the confluence of social media and human psychology. It may well be that the solution lies in the same intersection.

Responsible selfie and tourism campaigns on platforms like TikTok and Instagram could be a start.

After all, it’s not that national parks shouldn’t have visitors. It’s finding ways to deal with this spurt of interest which doesn’t harm people - or nature.The Conversation

Samuel Cornell, PhD Candidate, School of Population Health, UNSW Sydney and Amy Peden, NHMRC Research Fellow, School of Population Health & co-founder UNSW Beach Safety Research Group, UNSW Sydney

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

Birdwatching, immune responses and evolutionary mapping honoured at 2023 Eureka Prizes

Michael LucyThe Conversation

Hundreds of scientists from across the country have gathered at the Australian Museum in Sydney for the presentation of the Eureka Prizes. Awarded annually since 1990, the prizes recognise outstanding contributions to science and the public understanding of science.

Some highlights from this year’s ceremony were awards for one of the world’s biggest wildlife monitoring programs, a rescue project for endangered orchids, and research on how our bodies fight COVID-19. Also honoured were software for sustainable energy and mining, a method for turning waste carbon dioxide into useful molecular building blocks, and an open-source tool for linking DNA sequences to the evolution of life.

In a statement, Australian Museum chief executive Kim McKay said:

As the world faces unprecedented challenges such as accelerating climate change, Australian scientists continue to lead, innovate and inspire. Scientific knowledge and innovation is key to progress. Researchers and scientists help us understand how our universe works and how we can protect it.

Waterbirds, Orchids And Immune Responses

The prize for applied environmental research went to the Waterbirds Aerial Survey Team from UNSW and the New South Wales Department of Planning and Environment. This team has carried out one of the world’s largest and longest-running wildlife surveys. Their work has had a significant influence on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan as well as the management of wetlands and national parks.

Noushka Reiter from the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria was awarded the prize for excellence in botanical science. Reiter leads an orchid conservation program that has propagated more than 20,000 plants from 80 endangered species. Fourteen of these species have been reintroduced to the wild, with populations increasing by as much as 260%.

A team of three researchers from the University of Melbourne and the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity took home the prize for infectious diseases research. The Corona Queens – Katherine Kedzierska, Louise Rowntree and Oanh Nguyen – were recognised for their work on the immune response to COVID-19 in high-risk groups, such as children, older people and cancer patients.

Getting To Net Zero, Transforming CO₂ And Mapping Evolution

The prize for innovative research in sustainability went to the Economic Fairways Mapper Team from Monash University and Geoscience Australia. They have built a set of open-source tools to identify the most sustainable locations for renewable energy and mining projects, to aid the transition to net zero emissions.

Fengwang Li at the University of Sydney received the prize for outstanding early career researcher. He has developed a more efficient process to make ethylene – a basic chemical component of plastic – from waste carbon dioxide captured from industrial processes.

The prize for excellence in research software was awarded to Minh Bui and Robert Lanfear from the Australian National University. They created open-source software that analyses DNA data to map evolution. It has been used by life scientists around the world to everything from ancient life to the development of the SARS-COV-2 virus.

Research, Leadership And Communication

There were plenty of other prizes given out as well. A full list is below.

  • Emerging leader in science: Stephanie Partridge from the University of Sydney

  • Leadership in science and innovation: Michael Kassiou, University of Sydney

  • Outstanding mentor of young researchers: Renae Ryan, University of Sydney

  • Excellence in interdisciplinary scientific research: Cystic Fibrosis Lung Health Imaging, University of Adelaide; Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Adelaide; 4D Medical Pty Ltd; and Monash University

  • Innovative use of technology: IMAGENDO, University of Adelaide; and OMNI Ultrasound and Gynaecological Care

  • Outstanding science in safeguarding Australia: MetaSteerers Team, University of Technology Sydney; Defence Science and Technology Group; and Macquarie University

  • Scientific research: Tim Thomas and Anne Voss, WEHI

  • Innovation in citizen science: 1 Million Turtles, Western Sydney University; La Trobe University and University of New England

  • Promoting understanding of science: Toby Walsh, UNSW

  • Science journalism: Jo Chandler, Griffith Review

  • STEM inclusion: That’s What I Call Science

  • School science – primary: Anna P, PLC Sydney

  • School science – secondary: Darcy B, Ashfield Boys High School

  • The Australian Museum Research Institute Medal: Jodi Rowely.The Conversation

Michael Lucy, Deputy Science + Technology Editor, The Conversation

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

This cave on Borneo has been used for 20,000 years – and we’ve now dated rock art showing colonial resistance 400 years ago

Andrea JalandoniCC BY-ND
Jillian HuntleyGriffith UniversityAndrea JalandoniGriffith UniversityEmilie Dotte-SaroutThe University of Western AustraliaFiona PetcheyUniversity of Waikato, and Paul S.C.TaçonGriffith University

The islands of South-East Asia record a long and dynamic human history of technological innovation, migration and conflict.

The region’s rock art stretches back more than 45,000 years. It’s a unique source of information about this complex human past.

But rock art doesn’t just record ancient history. Researchers have identified artwork documenting the more recent past, including Indigenous resistance to colonial occupation, violent frontier conflicts and enslavement.

Our new study, published today, shines a new light on rock art of Sarawak (a state of Malaysia on the island of Borneo). The rock art we have dated records resistance to colonial forces in Malaysian Borneo during the 17th to 19th centuries.

The two rock art drawings that were dated and interpreted by our new research. Digital tracing and design by Lucas Huntley.CC BY-ND

Rock Art In Borneo

Black drawings of people, animals, ships and abstract geometric designs dominate caves throughout Borneo’s north-west.

Gua Sireh is one of the region’s best-known rock art sites, attracting hundreds of visitors each year. The cave is about 55 kilometres south-east of Sarawak’s capital, Kuching.

Hundreds of charcoal drawings cover the walls of Gua Sireh. People are shown wearing headdresses. Some are armed with shields, knives and spears in scenes of hunting, butchering, fishing, fighting and dancing.

Excavations in the 1950s, 1970s and 1980s revealed people intermittently used Gua Sireh for around 20,000 years, before abandoning the site around 1900. The Indigenous people who used the cave were the ancestors of the contemporary Bidayuh (inland tribal people), also known as “Land Dayaks” in early ethnographic accounts.

Malayo-Polynesian Austronesian speakers (whose language originates in Taiwan) spread across Island South-East Asia and the Pacific starting around 3,000 to 4,000 years ago. Austronesian influence at Gua Sireh dates from about 4,000 years ago, indicated by the first appearance of charred rice and pottery.

The presence of Austronesian communities at Gua Sireh is a part of broader evidence for dynamic human migrations in the region over thousands of years.

Further cultural interactions at the site occurred around 2,000 years ago, with grave goods, such as glass beads, showing contact between the Bidayuh and coastal traders.

In the 17th to 19th centuries, there was a period of increasing conflict when Malay elites controlling the region exacted heavy tolls on local Indigenous tribes. Using radiocarbon dating, we have been able to date two large, elaborate human figures to this period. They were drawn between 1670 and 1830.

We interpreted our results informed by the oral histories of the Bidayuh, who have continuing custodial responsibilities over the site today.

Our findings sit alongside other recent archaeological work that has highlighted Indigenous resistance to colonial occupation.

Carbon Dating The Images

In addition to radiocarbon dating and oral history, another strand of evidence we used to interpret these new dates were the images themselves.

One figure we looked at in our carbon dating brandishes two short-bladed Parang Ilang, the principal weapon used during the warfare that marked the first decades of white rule in Borneo. We have dated this figure as drawn between 1670 and 1710 when Malay elites dominated the Bidayuh.

Bidayuh descendant Mohammad Sherman Sauffi William (Sarawak Museum Department) and Jillian Huntley harvesting a sample from the rock art. Paul S.C. TaçonCC BY-ND

In another image we studied, large human figures are shown holding distinctive weapons such as a Pandat – the war sword of Land Dayaks, including the Bidayuh. Pandat were used exclusively for fighting and protection, never in agriculture or handicrafts, suggesting the drawing relates to conflict.

We have dated this figure to between 1790 and 1830. This was a period of increasing conflict between the Bidayuh and Iban (Indigenous peoples from the coast, also known as Sea Dayaks) and Brunei Malay rulers.

The Pandat in this rock art was used exclusively for fighting and protection, suggesting the drawing relates to conflict. Andrea JalandoniCC BY-ND

During this period many Indigenous Sarawakians moved into the upland interior, including the Gua Sireh area, to escape persecution.

Brunei rulers were known to not only bully and enslave people but also allowed expeditions of Ibans to attack the Bidayuh. The Ibans were said to keep the heads of the people they slaughtered and handed over the “slaves” they captured to the Brunei authority.

An example from Bidayuh oral histories of the cave being used as a refuge during territorial violence comes from 1855. The British diplomat Spenser St John was shown a skeleton in Gua Sireh. A local tribesman said he had shot this man years earlier, before the rule of James Brooke, which began in 1839.

The shooting resulted from a skirmish with a very harsh Malay chief who had demanded the Bidayuh hand over their children. They refused and retreated to Gua Sireh where they held off a force of 300 armed men.

Suffering some losses (two Bidayuh were shot, and seven were taken prisoner and enslaved), most of the tribe escaped through the far side of the cave complex, saving their children.

Oral histories combined with the figures holding weapons of warfare contextualise the ages we now have for the rock art.

Plan of the Gua Sireh cave system showing passage through Gunung Nambi (limestone hill) via the connecting passage between Gua Sireh and Gua Sebayan. Blue indicates water. CC BY-ND

The direct dates we have produced demonstrate distinct periods of drawing can be identified.

The ubiquity of black drawings across the region and their probable links to the migrations of Austronesian and Malay peoples opens exciting possibilities for further understanding the complexities of rock art production in Island South-East Asia.

This article was coauthored with Mohammad Sherman Sauffi William from the Sarawak Museum Department.The Conversation

Jillian Huntley, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Social and Cultural Research, Griffith UniversityAndrea Jalandoni, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Social Cultural Research, Griffith UniversityEmilie Dotte-Sarout, ARC DECRA Research Fellow in Archaeology, The University of Western AustraliaFiona Petchey, Associate Professor and Director, Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory, Te Aka Mātuatua - School of Science, University of Waikato, and Paul S.C.Taçon, Chair in Rock Art Research and Director of the Place, Evolution and Rock Art Heritage Unit (PERAHU), Griffith University

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

Just the beginning: 7 ways the Women’s World Cup can move the dial on women’s sport forever

Fiona CrawfordQueensland University of Technology

So, that’s it then. The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, hosted on Australian and New Zealand soil for the first time, came to an end on Sunday night as Spain beat England 1-0 in the final, after the Matildas lost 2-0 to Sweden on Saturday to finish fourth, their best ever result.

On top of the historic result, the Matildas captured the hearts of a nation. They broke television streaming records, with the semi-final match against England becoming the most-watched program since the current rating method was established in 2001.

Jubilant scenes erupted at live sites, pubs and homes across the nation. One viral video even captured a flight full of international travelers tuning in mid-air to watch the Matildas’ penalty shootout against France.

The Women’s World Cup has also delivered an estimated A$7.6 billion boost to the Australian economy.

Through countless instances such as these, we’re experiencing not just a great sporting moment, but a great cultural one too.

But, as anyone in and around women’s football knows, the Women’s World Cup needs to be more than a four-week football festival.

It needs to move the dial on the treatment of, and investment in, women’s sport, including with the following big-ticket items.

1. Celebrate And Extend The Cultural Shift

The “Olympic Games effect” often sees coverage of women’s sports increase during the Olympics, where people are cheering on not their usual men’s or women’s teams, but their country.

But the Women’s World Cup has generated something incredible: women inspiring girls, women, boys, and men with feats that simultaneously position gender front and centre and inspire changing attitudes around the skills, capability, and value of girls and women.

Encouraging and continuing this cultural shift will be equally, if not more, game-changing.

For starters, it will ensure young girls have idols to look up to – which women’s football greats such as Brazil’s Marta missed out on.

We must cement such a shift with good policy and investment to promote further inclusion. This should have implications beyond sport, including extending to improving women’s representation in boardrooms.

2. Acknowledge No Single Event Can Fix Everything

In speaking about AFLW, but in a sentiment equally applicable to football, sports journalist Neroli Meadows noted that one day the concept of women not being able to play football, or their playing being seen as a novelty, will be as foreign a concept as women not being allowed to vote.

The 2023 Women’s World Cup has gone at least partway to achieving that normalisation.

But it’s imperative not to overplay what the team and the tournament have brought. No single sport event can neatly address all gender equality issues (we’ve heard such optimism and hype around women’s sport and its gender-equality-advancing ability before).

So while it’s important to celebrate the wins, it’s equally important to recognise the tournament isn’t the endgame but an important next step.

3. Use The Data To Align Value With Investment

Until recently, the absence of investment in women’s football and the failure to broadcast matches meant the resulting data have only ever shown us what women’s football is not.

That lack of data is also why broadcasters were able to lowball FIFA when it was trying to sell the 2023 Women’s World Cup broadcast rights. It’s also why Channel 7 was able to secure the rights to screen 15 matches for just A$4–5 million (since described as “the deal of the century”).

It’s likewise why women’s football hasn’t been considered important enough to warrant inclusion under anti-siphoning laws, which facilitate events of national significance being broadcast on free-to-air television to ensure maximum accessibility.

That cannot be allowed to happen again. The astonishing viewership data and record ticket sales must be leveraged into real commercial and gender-equality change possibilities.

4. Invest In Gender-Specific Research And Gear

A spate of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries extinguished the tournament dreams of some of the world’s top women’s footballers.

Oft-cited research confirms women are up to eight times more likely to suffer ACL injuries than men. But there remains little women-specific research into ACL injury causes, much less prevention. Addressing this glaring absence is urgent.

This is symptomatic of wider issues around research overlooking women. For example, it was only last week that the world’s first study into period product absorption that used actual blood, not saline or water, was released.

The need to address other barriers is similarly important. For example, poorly fitting kits contribute to a high attrition rate for girls and women from sport. A Victoria University study confirmed what most girls and women already knew: done well, uniforms imbue comfort and confidence. But done poorly, they cause discomfort and self-consciousness and can put girls off wanting to continue sport.

Girls and women want flexibility and self-determination in uniform selection, and shorts and T-shirt options rather than skirts or dresses. Also, breathable dark material that masks sweat – so we should get rid of white shorts.

There’s also a glaring need to consider kits beyond outfield players: women referees remain overlooked.

Likewise, women’s goalkeeper kits have been unavailable for purchase this Women’s World Cup, despite many ‘keepers nation-inspiring defensive efforts. If ever there were something that summed up how women’s football simultaneously excels while being thwarted, this is it.

5. Appoint Women To Senior Positions, But Avoid The 'Glass Cliff’

England coach Sarina Weigman was the only woman coach in the final four, and women remain a long way from holding apex positions such as the president of FIFA.

This tournament needs to open the door for women to be making decisions for women’s sport.

At the same time, we need to be measured and sustainable in the approach we take. We need to steer clear of the “glass cliff” phenomenon – where women are awarded senior positions only during tumult and the men who usually hold those roles are abandoning ship.

Establishing solid, steady training and mentoring programs and networks is a must.

6. Pay Them Properly

Providing a public holiday if the Matildas were to have won the final is all well and good. But there remains one key missing element for them, as it is for all women’s sports: pay and prize money commensurate with their contributions and talent.

Having achieved pay parity in 2019 and now earning base payments and bonuses for progressing to the knockout stages, the Matildas are in a slightly better position than their netball peers the Diamonds. The latter won the netball World Cup last week but received no pay and no bonuses for their efforts.

However, FIFA Women’s World Cup prize money, still a fraction of the men’s prize money, remains the elephant in the room. Total prize money for this year’s women’s tournament was US$110 million (A$165 million), while the total for the 2022 men’s edition was US$440 million (A$688 million).

FIFA has paid lip service to achieving prize money parity in coming years, but there’s little to stop it getting there now — especially off the back of record ticket sales.

7. ‘Correct The Internet’

Women’s contributions have traditionally been devalued or overlooked (a phenomenon known in science as the “Matilda effect”). This has happened across many domains, including women’s football.

For example, often the historical record has seen football records such as the world’s leading international goalscorer misattributed to men. This is actually Canadian forward Christine Sinclair, having scored 190 international goals, not Cristiano Ronaldo, who’s scored 123.

Former New Zealand international footballer Rebecca Sowden has launched a campaign to “correct the internet”, aided by a gender-bias-correcting approach Google announced in July.

Efforts such as this aim to accurately place the women at the centre of this cultural and sporting revolution, appropriately affording them their place in history.The Conversation

Fiona Crawford, Adjunct Lecturer at the Centre for Justice, Queensland University of Technology

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

Edwardian local press invented the ‘middlebrow’ with a lively mix of local news, reviews and fiction

Our First Tiff by Robert Walker Macbeth (1878). Walker Art Gallery
Stephanie PalmerNottingham Trent University

As the provincial press has declined in Britain, so too has local arts and cultural criticism. In the 19th and early 20th century, regional newspapers regularly published reviews of theatre productions and a wide variety of books including history, science, travel writing, poetry and fiction.

Starting in the late 19th century and coming to a head in the Edwardian period (1901-1914), regional newspapers even experimented with a different style of reviewing, which was shorter, chattier and more personal – a shift from the more formal style of the Victorian era.

Historians have traced the sad decline in the fortunes of the local and regional newspaper press with interest. In the 19th century, it was impossible to get a London paper to distant towns or cities by breakfast, because the train system didn’t yet run quickly enough. This gave local newspapers a clear advantage in distribution.

Transportation began to change at the turn of the 20th century, however, and by the 1950s, the national dailies dominated the British market. As a result, local and regional papers had to consolidate titles. The computerisation of the newspaper workforce meant further lost jobs in the 1980s and 1990s. And today, they struggle to compete with social media for classified ad revenue.

Access to these local and regional papers can be gained through inexpensive databases such as the British Newspaper Archive, which is available at many local libraries. A brief perusal of this database shows that many different sorts of papers published book reviews, from major regional titles such as the Glasgow Herald to smaller titles, including the Walsall Advertiser.

These reviews were published before the reviews in esteemed national quarterlies or monthlies and could therefore set the tone. A reader could turn to their local morning paper for ideas of theatre productions to purchase tickets to, or books to borrow from circulating libraries.

Although newspaper syndications existed during this period and reviews of monthly magazines were often repeated verbatim in several local titles, reviews of individual books were overwhelmingly original. This means that someone, probably local to the area, received a copy of the book and was paid to report on the reading experience for a wide variety of readerships.

Painting of a woman in a Victorian-style black dress and hair in a bun reading a large newspaper.
A Woman Reading a Newspaper by Norman Garstin (1891). TateCC BY

Since these reviews had no byline, it is difficult to trace who wrote them. Book reviews were also printed on the same page as articles about economics, politics, or sports, which made them seem more like news and less like a rarefied topic divorced from the issues of the day.

The Changing Review

In the Edwardian period, when the number of readers had risen due to the establishment of public libraries and state-funded primary education, reviews in local and regional newspapers began to change and become more experimental in style.

Due to competition from an ever-growing number of newspapers and magazines, reviews were generally published earlier and became shorter. Various cultural commentators, including Edith Wharton and T.S. Eliot, bemoaned the lowering of the national tone through these shorter reviews.

Edith Wharton, for example, complained that reviewers supplied plot summaries rather than judging the books: “Whether real criticism be of service to literature or not, it is clear that this pseudo-reviewing is harmful, since it places books of very different qualities on the same dead level of mediocrity, by ignoring their true purport and significance.”

Wharton and others attributed this different style of reviewing to the cultivation of a different style of reading, which became known as “middlebrow”. Reviews in provincial papers targeted their remarks about books at the leisure reader, complaining when a title was too long, disliking a book when it seemed too gloomy, or praising an author who seemed to be writing for women.

Such reviewing catered to a new, less reverent form of reading. Although many cultural critics of the day (and today) sneer at middlebrow taste, I view it as a democratisation of the reading experience.

The loss of the local paper was also a loss for local readers, who could no longer rely on receiving reviews from someone in their area. Some newspaper historians argue that modern local papers will have to seek new business models to survive, given that they are no longer able to compete with social media.

Forms of media are always changing. Today anyone can publish a review on sites like Goodreads. The local press must consider many factors as it carves a place for itself in the new media landscape – and perhaps the vibrant arts scene of the past can serve as food for thought.

Looking for something good? Cut through the noise with a carefully curated selection of the latest releases, live events and exhibitions, straight to your inbox every fortnight, on Fridays. Sign up here.The Conversation

Stephanie Palmer, Senior Lecturer, School of Arts & Humanities, Nottingham Trent University

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

Cricket Story

Published by NFSA - From the Film Australia Collection.  Made by the Commonwealth Film Unit 1961. 

An account of the part cricket plays in Australian life, showing facilities for learning the game and highlights from famous matches.  Narrated by former Australian Captain Victor Richardson. Today’s players as well as players from the past, like Bradman, O’Reily, Miller, Lindwall and Oldfield are shown playing or coaching. Young cricket enthusiasts learn the game at school and can progress to competitive matches if they show promise. Later, they may be selected for a national team. Filmed during the 1960 / 61 series between Australia and the West Indies.

Council's Support For Young Writers Produces 'Promising' Results In 2023 Competition 

Quest Haven Primary School, at Mona Vale during the 1930's - photographed by Max Dupain, courtesy Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales

The winners of this year's Young Writers Competition were announced on Saturday 19 August at Dee Why Council Chambers.

Now in its fourteenth year, the challenge this year was to write a short story based on the theme ‘promise’… and the students certainly kept their promise rising to the occasion.

Northern Beaches Mayor Sue Heins presented the awards to the aspiring writers, encouraging a new generation to continue their commitment to writing in an increasingly technologically focused world.

“Writing is so important for children. It's the fuel that drives communication, and writing enhances problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

“I was so impressed by the depth of talent and passion of students from kindergarten to year 12. It was terrific to see such a diverse range of uplifting, and creative interpretations of the theme.

“Thank you to all the judges who had the very difficult job of selecting 24 finalists as well as the many teachers, school librarians and parents who inspire a love of literacy in our young people.

“Congratulations to all the winners and equally well done to all those who submitted entries in this year’s competition.

This year 400 entries from across 50 schools were received with 24 finalists selected. 

The winners are:

Year K-2

Olivia Pollrock “The Story of the Witch and the Broken Promise

Year 3-4

Ashley Smith “The Promise of Safety

Year 5-6

Frankie Boulter “The Last Promise

Year 7-8

Nico Clausen “Don’t Reach Me

Year 9- 10

Lillian Hamilton “Evening Rounds

Year 11-12

Quinn Campbell “Infallible Memories

All the finalists run below.

The students' compelling stories explore space, witches, astronauts and robots. They invoke feelings of family, safety, self-belief, love and heartbreak. From War to art theft and cuddly ninja penguins, the creative pieces capture a range of themes and adventures across this world and beyond.

The Young Writers' Competition is an annual competition open to students up to and including year 12 who live or go to school in our area and are members of the Northern Beaches Council Library Service.

Entries are judged according to characterisation, originality, plot and use of language. Stories are arranged into six different age group categories with highly commended, runner up and winner.

Congratulations to this year’s winners and finalists:

Kindergarten - Year 2, judged by Author Ashling Kwok:
Winner: Olivia Pollrock for The Story of the Witch and the Broken Promise
Runner Up: Isabelle Jones for Space
Highly Commended: Jasper Cook for The Missing Painting
Highly Commended: Teddy Brown for Revenge of the T-Rex    

Years 3 – 4, judged by Authors Beck & Robin Feiner:
Winner: Ashley Smith for The Promise of Safety
Runner Up: Lily Elliott for The Promise
Highly Commended: Ella Harding for The Promise
Highly Commended: Maya Gaffney for Prometheus

Years 5 - 6, judged by Author Deborah Abela:
Winner:  Frankie Boulter for The Last Promise
Runner Up: Anoushka Dymock for What Becomes of a Promise?
Highly Commended: Bronte McDevitt for The Endless Trek for Water
Highly Commended: Harriet Soper for A Dog’s Promise

Years 7 – 8, judged by Author Jeremy Lachlan:
Winner: Nico Clausen for Don’t Reach Me
Runner Up: Lauren Kuiper for I Promise
Highly Commended: Lachlan Kline for An Unexpected Battle
Highly Commended: Lam Nhi Catalinotto for It’s Me

Years 9 - 10, judged by Author Leanne Yong:
Winner: Lillian Hamilton for Evening Rounds
Runner Up: Lexie McCoy for Switch
Highly Commended: Annika Schulte-Paterson for To Heal a Broken Heart
Highly Commended: Laura Piper for All that I am

Years 11 – 12, judged by Author Gary Lonesborough:
Winner: Quinn Campbell for Infallible Memories
Runner Up: Otto Maxwell for Bronze Pocket Watch
Highly Commended: Jared Kimpton for The Farm at the Edge of Human Space
Highly Commended: Lachlan Ginger for Shadow

Coiuncil asked some of this year’s winners what they think makes a good story:

“A good story is something that anyone can see a part of themselves in” Quinn Campbell, Winner of Year 11-12 Category.

"A story needs a hooking start and emotion” Frankie Boulter, Winner of Year 5-6 Category.

Nine out of Council's 24 finalists this year have been finalists in previous Young Writers’ Competitions, demonstrating the student’s commitment to creative writing each year across multiple theme words and by different author judges.

All 24 finalists’ stories will feature in the 2023 Young Writers’ Competition ‘Promise’ e-book, which is available in the library’s collection.

Thank you to all the students who entered this year’s competition. For those interested in entering next year, this year's finalists have offered the following advice:  

“Choose your idea, write about your passion and make the theme fit it” Lachlan Kline, Highly Commended for Year 7-8 Category.

“Be brave and just keep going!” Ashley Smith, Winner for Year 3-4 Category.

“Just keep writing!” Annika Shulte-Paterson, Highly Commended for Year 9-10 Category.

Council look forward to seeing what wonderful stories next year’s competition brings!

World's Biggest Lego Store Coming To Sydney + Lego Braille Bricks Launched

Australia is set to be the home of the Worlds Largest LEGO Branded Store, opening in coming months, with a new store opening in the Sydney Arcade, overlooking the Pitt St Mall in Sydney.

Spread across 2 floors, and covering 900 square meters, the store will be bringing some new experiences to the the Australian LEGO scene, including the Minifigure Factory, where you can have a minifigure printed with torsos and stickers that are unique to the store.

The store will feature models designed and built by Ryan ‘Brickman’ McNaught and his team, along with a new Story Telling Table: LEGO fans can go behind-the-scenes of the LEGO design process with a new storytelling table including interactive areas that allow access ‘behind-the- scenes’ through interviews and videos displayed on screens.

The store will also feature the stalwarts of LEGO Branded Stores:

  • Pick and Build Wall: an enormous signature brick experience where visitors select the exact LEGO brick elements required to create personalised builds;
  • Hands-on play opportunities: including a LEGO play wall and free LEGO build challenges and in-store events every month;
  • Brick Specialists: whether visitors are picking out a gift, looking for the latest set or bringing a LEGO fan in for a special treat, Brick Specialists can help find the perfect LEGO set.

Troy Taylor, Vice President and General Manager, LEGO Australia and New Zealand, comments: “We’re really looking forward to opening the LEGO Sydney CBD store as the world’s biggest LEGO store.

“Supporting the LEGO Group’s mission to inspire and develop builders of tomorrow, the immersive new store will feature creative play experiences, with playful nods to Australian culture, that are sure to create lasting memories for every Aussie or visitor from around the world.”

Richard Facioni, Executive Chairman, Alquemie Group, said the new store would capitalise on the enduring appeal of the LEGO brand and bring a world-class retail concept to Australia. “We’re incredibly excited to unveil our flagship store and the world’s largest LEGO store, in partnership with the LEGO Group ANZ, right in the heart of Sydney.

“This globally unique store will offer an immersive LEGO experience for local and international brick fans, with a number of features new to this market. It will have something for LEGO fans of all ages and will definitely put Sydney on the LEGO world map!”

LEGO Braille bricks now available

In related news, Lego announced on Thursday August 24 LEGO® Braille Bricks are on Sale now for the first time. Ahead of World Blind Awareness Month this October and in response to global demand, the LEGO Group announces LEGO® braille bricks are available to purchase for the first time through The new product - LEGO® Braille Bricks – Play with Braille – is aimed at kids aged 6+ and has been designed so that anyone who is curious about braille, be they blind, partially-sighted or sighted, can have fun getting to know the braille system at home with their family members in a playful, inclusive way.

Martine Abel-Williamson, President, World Blind Union, commented: “For blind and partially sighted children, and adults for that matter, it makes all the difference if they can share their journey of learning braille with the people they love the most. For the blind community, braille is not just literacy, it’s our entry to independence and inclusion into this world, and to have LEGO Braille Bricks made available for the wider public is a massive step forward to ensuring more children will want to learn braille in the first place. And because it’s based on a product that so many families already know and love, this is really an invitation for all family members to have fun building tactile skills and getting familiar with braille using the same tool.”

Until now, LEGO Braille Bricks have only been distributed free of charge by the LEGO Foundation to organisations* specializing in the education of children with vision impairment. Since the launch of these educational kits in 2020, feedback from parents, carers, grandparents, children, and educators has continually highlighted the positive impact the bricks have and how they transform the way children with vision impairment can learn braille. This overwhelming response has led to the creation of LEGO Braille Bricks - Play with Braille to give families the opportunity to enjoy the benefits and practice their tactile skills at home.

Lisa Taylor, mum to 7-year-old Olivia and 4-year-old Imogen, commented: “Olivia first discovered LEGO braille bricks at school and they had such a big impact on her curiosity for braille. Before then, she found it hard to get started with the symbols but now she’s improving all the time. To have a set at home changes everything. We can play with braille together as a family and she can introduce braille to her little sister in a way they both love. LEGO braille bricks are accessible for her without being really different for other kids, so she gets to play and learn just like every other child. That makes her feel included which is so important, not just to Olivia but any child.”

LEGO Braille Bricks – Play with Braille includes 287 bricks in five colours: white, yellow, green, red and blue. All bricks are fully compatible with other LEGO products and the studs on each brick are arranged to correspond to the numbers and letters in the braille system, with the printed version of the symbol or letter situated below the studs.

The set also includes two baseplates to build on and comes in packaging with braille embossing. To enhance the play experience and support pre-braille skill development, a series of supporting play starters are available on and will teach players how to orient, attach and stack the bricks through well-loved games such as Rock, Paper, Scissors, which all members of the family can take part in.

Rasmus Løgstrup, LEGO Group Lead Designer on LEGO Braille Bricks said: “Play has the power to change lives; when children play, they learn vital life-long skills, so we were thrilled by the reception that LEGO Braille Bricks received in educational settings. We’ve been inundated with thousands of requests to make them more widely available, so we just knew we had to make it happen!”

“It’s been a fantastic journey collaborating with children, families and experts from around the world to develop the product and online activity packs. Our partners have been instrumental also in advising on what colourways should be used for the bricks, product packaging and digital experiences to ensure this is optimised for individuals who experience low vision and vision loss. We know this is a strong platform for social inclusion, and can’t wait to see families get creative and have fun playing with braille together.”

With its ongoing commitment to make its play experiences more inclusive, the LEGO Group has also partnered with the free mobile app Be My Eyes. The popular app connects blind and partially sighted people with companies to help with everyday tasks through a live video call. As part of the partnership, LEGO Customer Service colleagues will provide confidential, live visual assistance through the app covering support from a wide range of topics from unboxing, to general product support.

Mike Buckley, Chairman and CEO, Be My Eyes, commented: "The fact that the LEGO Group is investing in inclusion is huge because so many people in the blind and low vision community already love and enjoy LEGO products. Be My Eyes is incredibly honoured to partner with the LEGO Group to enable and inspire the creativity of blind and low vision builders across the globe."

The LEGO Group is also pleased to announce that LEGO® Audio & Braille Building Instructions will now become a permanent offering. Inspired and co-developed by entrepreneur Matthew Shifrin who is blind, this experience gives builders the option of having select LEGO building instructions available as audio or text for braille readers.

LEGO Braille Bricks – Play with Braille is priced at $149.99 and now available for pre-order in English and French versions ahead of launch September 1st 2023. In early 2024, the set will also be available in Italian, German and Spanish versions.

LEGO® Braille Bricks Play with Braille – English version availability:

  • United Kingdom: £79.99: GBP
  • Ireland: 89.99 EUR
  • United States: $89.99 USD
  • Canada: $119.99 CAD
  • Australia: $149.99 AUD
  • New Zealand: $169.99 NZD

The LEGO Foundation will continue to carry out research and distribute LEGO Braille Bricks educational kits free of charge through partnering national blindness associations and other partnering organisations.

*LEGO Braille Bricks as a concept has been tested and developed in close collaboration with partnering blind organisations from around the world.

LEGO Braille Bricks educational toolkits are distributed free of charge to select institutions, schools and services catering to the education of children with vision impairment. In each country where they are available, the LEGO Foundation works with an Official Partner to distribute them to these institutions.

The LEGO Group’s mission is to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow through the power of play. The LEGO System in Play, with its foundation in LEGO bricks, allows children and fans to build and rebuild anything they can imagine.

The LEGO Group was founded in Billund, Denmark in 1932 by Ole Kirk Kristiansen, its name derived from the two Danish words LEg GOdt, which mean “Play Well”. Today, the LEGO Group remains a family-owned company headquartered in Billund. However, its products are now sold in more than 130 countries worldwide.

Photos for report supplied by LEGO

10th Reunion Day On The Gold Coast: Local Legends Get Together

Past Profilee of the Week Paul Cunningham shares some photos this week of a get together that happened August 17 in what Paul describes as 'a top day at Manos restaurant in Surfer’s Paradise.'

North Palm Beach surf champion in the sixties Peter Lewis 

With Tony Holt; a lot of fond memories

With the legend Larry (Flash) Corowa 

Larry Corowa MBE (born 5 August 1957 in Murwillumbah, New South Wales) is an Indigenous Australian former professional rugby league footballer who played in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. An Australian international and New South Wales representative winger, he played club football at the Balmain Tigers for six seasons between 1978 and 1983, with two games for the Gold Coast Seagulls in the 1991 New South Wales Rugby League Premiership. Playing on the wing, Corowa became one of Rugby League's most prolific try scorers of his era. He is one of a select few players to have scored more than a try a game in a season of football in Australia.

He was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 1980 New Year Honours for service to sport.

Larry was selected as a member of the 1978 Kangaroo tour, though he did not play a test on tour. He made his test debut for Australia during the 1979 Ashes series against the touring Great Britain Lions at Lang Park in Brisbane with the Kangaroos winning 35–0. He played in the first two games of the series for his only test appearances, scoring a try on debut at Lang Park. Nicknamed "The Black Flash", Corowa was considered during his time with Balmain to be 'the fastest player in the game' not only in Australia but the rest of the rugby league world. Larry Corowa is listed on the Australian Players Register as Kangaroo No. 516.

Catching up with Ken Arthurson and legend Peter 'Hollywood' Byrnes at Manos Surfer’s Paradise brought back a lot of good memories.

Kenneth Richard "Arko" Arthurson AM is an Australian rugby league football identity. Affectionately known as "The Godfather of Manly", he played, coached and was later an administrator at the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles club in the New South Wales Rugby League premiership.

Peter played for the Newtown and the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles. Bradman Best, who plays as a centre for the Newcastle Knights in the NRL, is his grandson.

Great photos of those still kicking up their heels - thanks Paul!

Federal Government Needs To Lead Action To Improve Services For Australians Of All Ages

August 25, 2023
The Federal Government needs to use the Intergenerational Report released today as the springboard we need to start taking real action to improve services for Australians of all ages, COTA Australia – the leading advocacy organisation for older Australians says.

Patricia Sparrow, Chief Executive Officer of COTA Australia says the intergenerational reports crystallises the fact that we have a policy design challenge to ensure we harness older people to support the growth and improvements of our nation.

“Given the long-term outlook outlined in the Intergenerational Report, a renewed focus on fundamental services and systems such as retirement incomes, health and aged care is crucial,” Ms Sparrow said.

“The Treasurer outlined his government’s commitment to focusing on both the retirement, as well as the accumulation, phase of superannuation which is overdue and welcome.

“COTA Australia has been calling for action to support older people better plan for retirement. Financial literacy and retirement income products are key elements to make sure people are confident to spend more than the legislated minimum draw down and support them to have a dignified retirement.”

Ms Sparrow said it’s also crucial action is taken to address ageism and other issues preventing older people from maximising the contribution they wish to make to society.

“Older Australians are a resource with valuable experience and expertise that can and should be shared. Without harnessing that we’re robbing every generation.

“Older people can and do continue to contribute to the economy. However, ageism keeps older people who want to work out of our workforce.

“We look forward to seeing the Federal Government’s Employment White Paper and how it intends to give older workers choices and chances. Addressing ageism will have to form part of that approach so that older Australians can make the meaningful contribution they want to.”

Intergenerational Report - Opportunity For Change

August 21, 2023
Thursday’s release of Treasury’s 2023 Intergenerational Report (IGR) is an opportunity to change the way Australians view older people, their capacity, and contribution to our country, states National Seniors.

Chief Advocate Ian Henschke said while the report predicts an ageing population will increase government spending on health and aged care, this is an opportunity, not a burden.

Mr Henschke said he agrees with the Treasurer’s view that: “The future is full of possibilities for Australia if we understand the big changes happening in our economy and our society and we position ourselves to make Australians the major beneficiaries rather than victims.”

“Too often we hear negative language when describing older people. Not only does this reflect poorly on society, but it also fuels the misconception they are a financial burden,” Mr Henschke said.

“Older people have made significant contributions to society and the economy throughout their lives and continue to do so in later life as workers, carers and volunteers.

“As Australians grow old, many if not most will rely on health and aged care services. In this regard, we all have common interest in ensuring there is adequate services available in later life.

“The focus on costs must be balanced with an acknowledgment that supporting older people is what a good society does.”

Mr Henschke said it’s important for government to adjust its policy settings and to make the most of our ageing population. There’s a vast number of willing older people with experience and skills who could significantly help solve workforce shortages. Yet, the current system penalises pensioners and Veterans who work more than about one day per week. This must change.

“Intergenerational reports are not foolproof, they’re estimations that have in the past proven wrong as was the prediction with the cost of the Age Pension which has been going down, not up, because of increased superannuation returns,” he said.

“There have also been savings because more people are staying in their own homes and not going into aged care. 

“Actuary Michael Rice suggests the best approach is to set a target of total cost of pension and aged care as percentage of GDP and work towards that over the next 30 years in terms of sustainable economic management.”

Act Now For A Dementia-Friendly Future This Dementia Action Week

Local councils, businesses and community organisations will be asked to consider the steps they can take to be more dementia-friendly during this year’s Dementia Action Week (18 - 24 September).

The Dementia Action Week theme is ‘Act Now for a Dementia-Friendly Future’ – because communities that take action to become dementia-friendly have less fear and a greater understanding of dementia.

It also results in less stigma and discrimination, as well as more support for people living with dementia to live well in their communities for longer.

During Dementia Action Week, which includes World Alzheimer’s Day on Thursday 21 September, Dementia Australia is encouraging communities to think about and ask people living with dementia, their families and carers what they need to help them live well.

While two-thirds of people with dementia live in the community, Dementia Australia research shows 81 per cent of people with a loved one living with dementia felt people in shops, cafes and restaurants treated people with dementia differently.

Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe AM said it was important for communities to be dementia-friendly, so people living with dementia could access the services, activities and spaces to which we are all entitled.

“So, ahead of Dementia Action Week, start thinking about the small steps you can take, to include people living with dementia and create a better experience for all in your community,” Ms McCabe said.

Dementia Action Week is a major leadership, awareness and advocacy campaign led by Dementia Australia as the peak body for people living with dementia, their families and carers. In the coming weeks businesses and local councils will have access to a digital toolkit full of resources with information on how they can act now to make their organisation more dementia-friendly.

For more information, visit: 

Dementia Australia is the source of trusted information, education and services for the estimated more than 400,000 Australians living with dementia, and the more than 1.5 million people involved in their care. We advocate for positive change and support vital research. We are here to support people impacted by dementia, and to enable them to live as well as possible. No matter how you are impacted by dementia or who you are, we are here for you.

For support, please contact the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500. An interpreter service is available. The National Dementia Helpline is funded by the Australian Government. People looking for information can also visit

2024 NSW Seniors Festival Grants Program Applications Open

Applications are open for 2024 NSW Seniors Festival grants - at:

From art classes to information sessions, we're calling for applications to fund activities that provide seniors with opportunities to be active and engaged in their local communities.

$200,000 in funding is available for local councils and not-for-profit organisations to run events and activities during the festival. Do you know a local organisation or council that should apply? Let them know today so they don’t miss their chance!  

Read the Grant Guidelines to check if your organisation is eligible: 

Applications close at 5pm on Monday 28 August.

Find out more and visit:

2024 Festival Dates 
Save the Date!
The 2024 NSW Seniors Festival will run from 11 – 24 March and you're invited!

The Premier's Gala Concerts and Seniors Festival Expo will be held at ICC Sydney on 13 and 14 March.

Gala Concerts' performers and on-sale ticket dates will be announced in late 2023.

NSW Seniors Festival Grant Program 2024
The NSW Seniors Festival Grants program provides $200,000 in funding for community programs and activities that enable older Australians to remain active, healthy, and engaged during the NSW Seniors Festival.

The grants program is a key part of the 2024 NSW Seniors Festival. The festival will run from Monday, 11 March – Sunday 24 March 2024.

The NSW Seniors Festival Grant program encourages Seniors in NSW to enjoy new experiences, continue learning, stay active and connect to their communities. It does this by:
  • supporting a broad range of local community organisations
  • supporting programs and activities in regional NSW
  • fostering partnerships with community groups and services
  • providing programs and activities for diverse communities in NSW
  • supporting projects that empower older people to stay connected
  • assisting organisations to increase capacity of current programs and activities.
Applications can be for small scale, multiple and larger activities throughout the NSW Seniors Festival.

There are two funding levels that applicants can apply for:
  • Up to $5,000 for local community programs and activities.
  • $5,001 - $10,000 to local government organisations for large scale community and regional programs and activities – funding is available to local government organisations only.
Projects must be located within NSW and conducted between 11-24 March 2024.

As ABC chair, Ita Buttrose stood up for the broadcaster’s independence. It’s time others did the same

Denis MullerThe University of Melbourne

Ita Buttrose has announced she will not seek a second term as ABC chair, which means her term will expire in March 2024.

Buttrose’s appointment as chair of the ABC in February 2019 was tainted by being a “captain’s pick” on the part of then Prime Minister Scott Morrison, yet at crucial moments she was to prove a strong defender of the ABC’s independence against the predations of his government.

It was the issue that came to define her tenure. It had also brought down her predecessor, Justin Milne. The manner of her appointment continued the Coalition’s contemptuous disregard of the independent merit-based selection process for ABC board appointments, and she inherited a board stained by political patronage.

Four of the seven non-executive directors already there had been appointed outside the merit system by Mitch Fifield as minister for communication.

Buttrose herself put ABC independence at the centre of her commitments. In a sharp departure from Milne’s temporising approach to government pressure, Buttrose stated soon after her appointment:

I will fight any attempts to muzzle the national broadcaster or interfere with its obligations to the Australian public. Independence is not exercised by degrees. It is absolute.

Within months, this declaration was put to the test when the Australian Federal Police raided the ABC headquarters in Sydney as part of an investigation into who had leaked information about alleged war crimes by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan. Buttrose attacked the police raid as a clear attempt to intimidate journalists.

In November 2020, it was put to the test again. Four Corners broadcast a program called Inside the Canberra Bubble. In it Rachelle Miller, a former staffer to acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge, said she had had an affair with him. She also alleged that Christian Porter, who was to become attorney-general, had been seen cuddling a staffer of another minister in a Canberra bar in 2017. Porter denied the claim.

On November 30, Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher wrote to Buttrose demanding answers within 14 days to 15 questions mostly about the program’s impartiality.

On the 14th day, December 14 2020, Buttrose sent him a reply, hitting back hard. She dismissed the 15 questions and accused the government of a pattern of behaviour that “smacks of political interference”.

The ABC’s managing director, David Anderson, subsequently told a Senate estimates committee hearing that Buttrose had seen the program before it went to air and had supported the decision to broadcast it.

Then in late February 2021, Four Corners broke a related story saying the Australian Federal Police had been notified of a letter sent to Scott Morrison detailing an alleged historical rape by a cabinet minister in the federal government.

In early March, Christian Porter outed himself as the cabinet minister referred to, and strongly denied the allegation.

He sued the ABC for defamation but the ABC defended it vigorously and he discontinued the action.

In late 2021, Buttrose went on the attack again, this time over an attempt by Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg to launch a Senate inquiry into the ABC’s complaints process, while an internal inquiry into the same issue was already on foot. She called it out as a “partisan political exercise” and Bragg’s effort foundered.

It is clear that far from behaving like a Liberal Party stooge, Buttrose has stood up courageously for the ABC’s independence, as she said she would. That will be an important part of her legacy.

Yet she has not been able to imbue the organisation’s editorial leadership with the same spirit. This was shown in two recent cases where editorial independence was again under attack.

The first concerned the coverage of King Charles III’s coronation in May. For about 45 minutes in the lead-up to the ceremony, the ABC ran a panel discussion about the contemporary relevance of the British monarchy to Australian lives. The nine guests on the program included Stan Grant, a Wiradjuri man and celebrated ABC journalist.

The panel discussion provoked a backlash and drew about 1,800 complaints to the ABC. After investigating these, the ABC ombudsman found the program had not breached the ABC’s editorial policies.

Much of the backlash focused on Grant, and in late May he stepped aside from his role as moderator of Q+A on ABC television, writing in his ABC column:

No one at the ABC — whose producers invited me onto their coronation coverage as a guest — has uttered one word of public support. Not one ABC executive has publicly refuted the lies written or spoken about me. I don’t hold any individual responsible; this is an institutional failure.

He has since left the ABC and taken up a position at Monash University.

It was not until Grant announced his decision to step back from Q+A that the head of the ABC’s news division, Justin Stevens, finally made a public statement in Grant’s defence, apologising for not having done so “ten days earlier”. Anderson’s apology to Grant in a staff email had come only one day sooner.

The second case concerns Nicole Chvastek, an experienced journalist who, until March, had presented ABC Radio Victoria’s Statewide Drive program for almost a decade.

Her career ended abruptly in July after a 17-month saga set in motion by a complaint from a National Party politician, Darren Chester, telephoned directly to a senior ABC executive in Sydney. It concerned the way Chvastek had covered the Morrison government’s handling of flood relief payments to victims in northern NSW: those who lived in the National seat of Page got more, initially, than those in the neighbouring Labor-held seat of Richmond.

The details of Chvastek’s case have been traversed elsewhere. It remains only for me to declare that for eight and a half years I was a guest on her program discussing media issues, and the charge of misconduct arising from Chester’s complaint was not upheld.

In both cases, at the most senior levels of ABC editorial leadership there was a failure of an editor’s first responsibility, which is to provide a safe environment within which staff can do good journalism.

There have been many analyses of how nine years of Coalition government attacks demoralised the ABC. But with Buttrose’s departure now on the horizon, it is time for others at the top to stand up.The Conversation

Denis Muller, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Advancing Journalism, The University of Melbourne

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

Champagne is deeply French – but the English invented the bubbles

Garritt C Van DykUniversity of Newcastle

In 1889, the Syndicat du Commerce des Vins de Champagne produced a pamphlet promoting champagne at the Exposition Universelle in Paris, claiming that Dom Pérignon, procurator of the Benedictine Abbey of Hautvillers from 1668, was the “inventor”, “creator” or discoverer" of sparkling champagne.

“Come, Brothers! I drink stars!” is the famous quote often attributed to him.

The story of a blind monk having an epiphany, accidentally happening upon the secret to effervescence, was seductive. It combined divine revelation and French winemaking expertise to produce a national symbol deeply rooted in the French landscape.

However, the truth is slightly different. Dom Pérignon did contribute to improving the still wines of the Champagne region, but he did not discover effervescence – he was trying to get rid of the bubbles.

Jean François de Troy’s 1735 painting Le Déjeuner d'Huîtres (The Oyster Luncheon) is the first known depiction of champagne in painting. WikimediaCC BY

The Champagne Myth

The expo where the champagne myth was propagated marked the 100-year anniversary of Bastille Day and is best known for the debut of another icon of French culture, the Eiffel Tower. The Pérignon story gained traction at the same moment these other symbols of nation-building reinforced the uniqueness of French culture and history.

The basis for the myth can be traced to a letter from Dom Grossard of Hautvillers Abbey to the mayor of Aÿ, in the heart of the Champagne region. Grossard claimed that Pérignon had perfected the method for making perfectly white wine from pinot noir grapes (blanc de noirs), pioneered the technique for effervescence, and championed the use of bottles and corks.

Only the first of these claims is true. At the abbey, wooden stoppers and canvas soaked in grease were used to seal bottles, and French glass was too weak to contain the pressure from effervescence. A bigger problem was that French winemakers – and consumers – considered bubbles a fault, a trick to distract the drinker from bad wine.

Prominent French wine merchant Bertin de Rocheret advised a client who inquired about sparkling wine:

effervescence obscures the best characteristics of good wines, in the same way that it improves wines of lesser quality.

Bubbles, Bottles And Corks

The method for effervescence, strong glass bottles and the use of corks all came from England in the 17th century. English consumers imported wine in barrels from France because bottles were taxed at a higher rate than wine imported in bulk.

The wines often deteriorated during the journey across the channel and once opened, they oxidised quickly, developing an unpleasant flavour. To improve the taste, consumers added honey, syrup made from raisins or sugar. The additional sugar content caused a secondary fermentation – and effervescence.

In 1662, Christopher Merrett, a founder of the Royal Society, published a paper titled “Some Observations Concerning the Ordering of Wines”, in which he described the method for effervescence:

Our winecoopers of latter times use vast quantities of sugar and molasses to all sorts of wines, to make them drink brisk and sparkling, and to give them spirits, as also to mend their bad tastes.

To produce sparkling wine and retain the effervescence, three things are necessary: bubbles, strong glass bottles and corks.

Merrett’s method provided the fizz, and corks were already used in England for bottling cider and perry. Strong glass in England was a by-product of a prohibition on using wood in industrial furnaces, decreed by King James I in 1615.

Timber was too valuable to be burned for glassmaking, reserved for building ships for the merchant fleet. Using sea coal, English glass furnaces reached higher temperatures and produced stronger glass. These bottles could withstand pressure (as much as a car tyre) without bursting.

Statue of Dom Pérignon at Moët et Chandon. Wikipedia

The Paradox?

The only ingredient the English lacked was wine, prompting French wine historians to refer to their contribution as “The English Paradox”. How could a country with no winemaking tradition pioneer the technique for effervescence? The “paradox” label, however, only makes sense if the traditions and standards of French winemaking are presumed to be superior.

Bound by tradition, French winemakers were unwilling to contemplate a fault as a desirable innovation. Driven by necessity, and without any winemaking rules, English consumers were free to experiment.

But necessity was only part of the equation – English culture did play a part in the success of effervesce. Reserving timber for the English fleet made for stronger glass, and cider and perry production provided corks to seal the bottles.

The French champagne industry now claims effervescence was not invented, but is a natural product of the soil and climate in a strictly defined region.

Natural fermentation does produce some fizz, but rarely enough to pop a cork without the intervention of a winemaker. The emphasis on nature reinforces the exclusivity and unique geographic attributes to distinguish champagne from all other sparkling wines.

more complex history of the origin of effervescence challenges preconceptions about national identity, even in matters of taste. This does not diminish champagne’s luxury status, but it does reveal the influence of cultural traditions on innovation, and the many influences that pave the way to novelty.The Conversation

Garritt C Van Dyk, Lecturer, University of Newcastle

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

Concessions Now Available To Pensioners For Council Rates

August 24, 203
Eligible pensioners across NSW can now apply for a rebate on their council rates to help with the rising cost of living.

An annual concession of up to $250 per property is available to pensioners for ordinary rates and domestic waste charges.

A further rebate of up to $87.50 is available for annual water rates and up to $87.50 for annual sewerage rates, where councils provide those services.

The NSW Government funds 55 per cent of the pensioner rebate, while councils pay the remaining 45 per cent. The Government’s share of the funding is provided to councils, which administer the entire rebate to eligible ratepayers.

Eligibility for the pensioner concessions is determined in accordance with the Australian Government’s policies on pensioner eligibility and income thresholds.

A range of further savings and support is available from the Government to help ease the cost of living for NSW pensioners.

Find out more on the Savings Finder page of the Service NSW website 

Applications for payment of the Pensioner Concession Subsidy to local councils are now open. Councils have until Friday 6 October 2023 to submit their claims covering concessions provided to pensioners for the 2023-24 year.

Minister for Local Government Ron Hoenig said:

“The NSW Government understands people are doing it tough right now, with pensioners especially vulnerable to rising cost of living.

“The rate rebates provided each year by the Government and councils are an important relief measure to help ease the financial burden of day to day living expenses for pensioners.

“Councils also have the discretion to provide and fund further rebates for pensioners should they wish to do so.

“I encourage councils to submit their concession subsidy forms to the Office of Local Government before the October deadline and take full advantage of the funding available.”

Val's Story – Ageing Against Adversity

August 23, 2023
By Department of Health and Aged Care
2022 Senior Australian of the Year Val Dempsey shares her story of overcoming ageism and how she continues to achieve her dreams.

Fragile. Disabled. Lost their minds. Past their prime.

These are all words that Valmai ‘Val’ Dempsey has heard about older people in Australia. As a senior Australian herself at 72 (and 2022 Senior Australian of the Year to boot), she says this couldn’t be further from the truth.

In 2021, the Australian Human Rights Commission reported that ageism (stereotypes, prejudice or discrimination based on age) remains the most accepted form of prejudice in Australia, with 63% of Australians having experienced ageism in the last few years. For Val, ageism is something that has become more and more evident as she’s aged.

‘As a culture, we generally don’t idealise ageing very well. When we grow older, we aren’t prepared to cope with the discrimination, prejudice and biases against us when we try to remain active members of the community and workforce,’ Val said.

‘I’ve discovered that it’s a wonderful thing to be an older person and engage in the community. There is so much for us to do, but trying to get into that role you certainly do experience ageism and the absolute prejudice that comes with it.’

A registered nurse and dedicated volunteer with St John Ambulance for more than 50 years, age has never stopped Val from achieving her goals – although this has become increasingly difficult when faced with society’s expectations around the retirement age.

‘While ageism is not attached to any one role, I look at people who are employed in nursing and they are not in their 70s. Turning 65 isn’t a use by date! I'm in my 70s, but really I’m 21 at heart with 50 odd years of experience.’

‘As part of St John Ambulance, I’ve been actively involved in the bush fires, the Lismore floods and supporting people through COVID-19 – the most dreadful time this nation has faced in recent years. I can say that I’ve done that as someone over the age of 65!’

She says although overcoming ageism is a daunting task, it is made easier when Australians of every age work together with kindness and respect to achieve equity.

‘If somebody puts a barrier up in front of me, I’ll work out a thousand ways to get around it without shooting down the people who’ve put those barriers up. When people are standing as a hurdle in front of you, it might be reasonable to knock them down and push them aside. But I like to think you can gather them in your embrace and work together to let them know your worth and value.’

‘Everyone should have the ability to age gracefully, which involves connection to community, good health and mental wellbeing, financial freedom, housing, access to healthcare and food, and the ability to give back. Most of all, everyone deserves love and respect, both given and received.’

Ageing well is something you can begin planning for from a young age. Val recommends you consider how to achieve your short-term and long-term goals while also setting up your older self for success.

‘You need to look at where your life is going long-term and begin planning for the future. If I was to go back to when I was 21, I would start saving early and consider my health and mental wellbeing as a chart to greatness.’

‘Believe in yourself and your dreams. When you get to the age I am now, you’re going to hold your head up high and say I worked hard for this. I would be so proud to tell my 21-year-old self that they set this up for me and thank them for looking after me in my old age."

Reflecting on her own experiences, Val says having a positive mindset and continual learning is the key to ageing well and dispelling the myths and barriers of ageism.

‘There is a mindset that learning is only about academic achievement. Learning life experience is a whole different kettle of fish altogether. You need to build resilience in your own heart and develop skills within yourself about how to persevere, how to be resilient, how to take challenges on board and how to fail. You don’t always win, and how you accept that is part of life.’

‘It really matters that you see ageing as moving into a new phase of your life, not looking at the end of it. It’s your next chapter – the gold at the end of the rainbow where you can say ‘I’ve joined the club and boy, isn’t it wonderful!’.’

Since being named the 2022 Senior Australian of the Year, Val continues to achieve her dreams and is using her platform to advocate for every learner driver in Australia to undertake compulsory first aid training.

In November 2022, thanks to Val’s calls for change, it was announced that learner drivers in the ACT will be offered a free 30-minute online first-aid course in exchange for a reduction in the mandatory 100 hours of supervised driving.

‘My rainbow is glowing and I'm not looking at the end of it yet. The gratitude I feel for having this life has never been so wondrous as in the last few years, where I’ve been able to step up and be heavily involved with my community and the work that I love to do. I still pinch myself every day.’

Learn more
Val is one of many older people in Australia achieving incredible things as they age. She is sharing her story with the Department of Health and Aged Care as part of their sponsorship of the Senior Australian of the Year category of the Australian of the Year Awards.

Wyvern Music Forestville: Delightful Discoveries

With the 2023 Sydney Symphony Fellows 
For over 20 years the Sydney Symphony Fellowship program has helped develop the careers of Australia’s next generation of professional musicians. 

Join us for an afternoon of musical delights, featuring a diverse and captivating program of works by Elliott Carter, Jacques Castérède, Bohuslav Martinů and Robert Schumann. You will hear the virtuosic and expressive 6 Etudes from Carter's "8 Etudes and a Fantasy", a collection of pieces that explore the possibilities of counterpoint and harmony. You will also enjoy the witty and playful Concertino for trumpet, trombone and piano by Castérède, a work that showcases the contrasting timbres and characters of the brass instruments. Next, you will be transported to the world of Martinů's La Revue de Cuisine, a ballet suite that depicts the love affairs of various kitchen utensils, with a charming and colourful score that blends jazz, tango and Charleston influences. Finally, you will be moved by the sublime and powerful Piano Quintet in Eb Op 44 by Schumann, with pianist Alexander Yau joining the Fellows in one of the masterpieces of Romantic chamber music that combines lyrical melodies, rich harmonies and brilliant virtuosity. Don't miss this opportunity to experience these wonderful works performed by talented musicians.

When: Sunday 27th August 2023 at 4:00pm
Where: Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church, 9 Currie Rd, Forestville 
Tickets: Full:$30 Concession/Students: $20 Children under 16 Free
Enquiries: Wyvern Music Forestville Tel: 9416 5234

Hotline To Report Food Quality In Aged Care Now Live

Australians now have a simple and efficient way to report food concerns in aged care, with the launch of a dedicated Food, Nutrition and Dining Unit hotline at the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

The hotline is active and callers will have access to experts in the areas of food, nutrition, and dining, including dietitians and speech pathologists.

A good meal with good nutrition is crucial to quality of life for everyone but especially older people.

The Food, Nutrition and Dining Hotline is also available to aged care providers to access food and nutrition advice, support and education to deliver improved food, nutrition and dining experiences for older people in their care.

Older people, their families and carers, providers and aged care workers can call the Food, Nutrition and Dining Hotline on 1800 844 044.

The hotline builds on the Federal Government’s grant to the Maggie Beer Foundation to build the capability of aged care chefs and cooks working in aged care.

The first free online training modules are now available:

Minister for Aged Care, Anika Wells stated;

“What older Australians consume and their dining experience has a significant impact on their overall wellbeing.

“Australians were shocked when the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety found that 68% of aged care residents were malnourished or at risk of malnourishment on the Coalition’s watch.
“I can't be clear enough, food must be a priority in aged care.

“The Food, Nutrition and Dining Unit hotline is another important step in the Albanese Government’s mission to make sure older people have access to nourishing food that improves their quality of life.”

Taking more than 5 pills a day? ‘Deprescribing’ can prevent harm – especially for older people

Emily ReeveMonash UniversityJacinta L JohnsonUniversity of South AustraliaJanet SluggettUniversity of South Australia, and Kate O'HaraUniversity of Newcastle

People are living longer and with more chronic health conditions – including heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and dementia – than ever before. As societies continue to grow older, one pressing concern is the use of multiple medications, a phenomenon known as polypharmacy.

About 1 million older Australians experience polypharmacy and this group is increasing. They may wake up in the morning and pop a pill for their heart, then another one or two to control blood pressure, a couple more if they have diabetes, a vitamin pill and maybe one for joint pain.

Polypharmacy is usually defined as taking five or more different medications daily. In aged care homes, 90% of residents take at least five regular medications every single day. That can put their health at risk with increased costs for them and the health system.

Adding Up Over Time

As people age, the effects of medications can change. Some medications, which were once beneficial, might start to do more harm than good or might not be needed anymore. About half of older Australians are taking a medication where the likely harms outweigh the potential benefits.

While polypharmacy is sometimes necessary and helpful in managing multiple health conditions, it can lead to unintended consequences.

Prescription costs can quickly add up. Taking multiple medications can be difficult to manage particularly when there are specific instructions to crush them or take them with food, or when extra monitoring is needed. There is also a risk of drug interactions.

Medications bought “over the counter” without a prescription, such as vitamins, herbal medications or pain relievers, can also cause problems. Some people might take an over-the-counter medication each day due to previous advice, but they might not need it anymore. Just like prescription medications, over-the-counter medications add to the overall burden and cost of polypharmacy as well as drug interactions and side effects.

Unfortunately, the more medications you take, the more likely you are to have problems with your medications, a reduced quality of life and increased risk of falls, hospitalisation and death. Each year, 250,000 Australians are admitted to hospital due to medication-related harms, many of which are preventable. For example, use of multiple medications like sleeping pills, strong pain relievers and some blood pressure medications can cause drowsiness and dizziness, potentially resulting in a fall and broken bones.

Prescribing And Deprescribing Are Both Important

Ensuring safe and effective use of medications involves both prescribing, and deprescribing them.

Deprescribing is a process of stopping (or reducing the dose of) medications that are no longer required, or for which the risk of harm outweighs the benefits for the person taking them.

The process involves reviewing all the medications a person takes with a health-care professional to identify medications that should be stopped.

Think of deprescribing as spring cleaning your medicine cabinet. Just like how you tidy up your house and get rid of objects that are causing clutter without being useful, deprescribing tidies up your medication list to keep only the ones truly required.

older couple sit at table looking at medications
Deprescribing is the process of stopping or stepping down medications that are no longer needed. Shutterstock

But Care Is Needed

The process of deprescribing requires close monitoring and, for many medications, slow reductions in dose (tapering).

This helps the body adjust gradually and can prevent sudden, unpleasant changes. Deprescribing is often done on a trial basis and medication can be restarted if symptoms come back. Alternatively, a safer medication, or non-drug treatment may be started in its place.

Studies show deprescribing is a safe process when managed by a health-care professional, both for people living at home and those in residential aged care. You should always talk with your care team before stopping any medications.

Deprescribing needs to be a team effort involving the person, their health-care team and possibly family or other carers. Shared decision-making throughout the process empowers the person taking medications to have a say in their health care. The team can work together to clarify treatment goals and decide which medications are still serving the person well and which can be safely discontinued.

If you or a loved one take multiple medications you might be eligible for a free visit from a pharmacist (a Home Medicines Review) to help you get the best out of your medications.

What’s Next?

Health care has traditionally focused on prescribing medications, with little focus on when to stop them. Deprescribing is not happening as often as it should. Researchers are working hard to develop tools, resources and service models to support deprescribing in the community.

Health-care professionals may think older adults are not open to deprescribing, but about eight out of ten people are willing to stop one or more of their medications. That said, of course some people may have concerns. If you have been taking a medication for a long time, you might wonder why you should stop or whether your health could get worse if you do. These are important questions to ask a doctor or pharmacist.

We need more public awareness about polypharmacy and deprescribing to turn the tide of increasing medication use and related harms. The Conversation

Emily Reeve, Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Medicine Use and Safety , Monash UniversityJacinta L Johnson, Senior Lecturer in Pharmacy Practice, University of South AustraliaJanet Sluggett, Enterprise Fellow, University of South Australia, and Kate O'Hara, PhD student, Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Newcastle

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

Calories and kilojoules: how do we know the energy content of food, and how accurate are the labels?

Lauren BallThe University of QueenslandEmily BurchSouthern Cross University, and Katelyn BarnesThe University of Queensland

Everything we consume contains energy our bodies use to move, grow and maintain health. To work out how much energy is in different foods and drinks, we need to first look at a few core concepts.

Firstly, you’ve probably heard of the units of measurement for energy – calories – as well as the metric equivalent, which is joules. One calorie is defined as the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1℃.

In human nutrition, the amounts of energy needed to maintain health, and to fuel a body, are much larger than the tiny singular calories used to heat up a gram of water. So, the term “calorie” in nutrition commonly refers to a kilocalorie (or kcal), which is 1,000 calories. When you see the word “calories” on a nutrition label, it’s likely referring to kcals.

The energy stored in food and drinks is released when the body breaks down one or more of the four macronutrients inside the food (carbohydrates, proteins, fats, alcohol). The body then uses that energy for activities such as keeping our heart beating, our lungs breathing and our muscles moving.

When energy in food is estimated, it is the amount of energy food and drinks provide for these bodily processes. The four macronutrients provide different amounts of energy:

  1. 1 gram of carbohydrate provides about 4 kcal of energy
  2. 1 gram of fat provides about 9 kcal of energy
  3. 1 gram of protein provides about 4 kcal of energy
  4. 1 gram of alcohol provides about 7 kcal of energy.

How Are Calories Estimated?

There are two ways to estimate the amount of energy in food and drinks.

The first is called “bomb calorimetry”. This gold-standard method involves placing a small sample of food or drink inside a device known as a bomb calorimeter. The food is burned in the presence of oxygen, releasing heat.

The amount of heat released is directly related to the amount of energy in the food, allowing a calculation to be made. This method is most commonly used for foods rich in fats and is considered the most reliable (but expensive) method.

The second method, the Atwater system, is a much less expensive method for estimating energy content. It is more commonly used when calculating energy of most food and drinks sold in supermarkets. Named after legendary food researcher Wilbur Atwater, this system uses a standard conversion factor for each macronutrient found in food and drinks. By estimating the amount of each of the four macronutrients, an approximate calculation of the total energy can be made.

However, this method requires detailed knowledge of the ingredients within composite foods (such as muesli bars or hamburgers) – which may reduce accuracy. There is also a margin of error to expect with the Atwater system, because it assumes each ingredient is always the same in composition.

For example, a cup of oats grown in one part of the country won’t necessarily have the exact same nutritional content as another cup of oats grown elsewhere, due to climate and soil differences. So, this system is an estimation based on an average.

Importantly, both methods estimate the amount of energy in food and drinks. But the actual energy our bodies extract from these foods and drinks can vary due to factors such as individual differences in digestion and absorption, as well as food processing and cooking methods.

Why Do Foods Have Calories Written On Them?

In Australia, it’s a legal requirement for packaged food items to have a nutrition information panel that displays the number of kcal it contains.

However, homemade food items sold at places like a fresh market may not be required to provide a nutrition information panel. This will depend on the type of food being sold and the scale of the business operation.

Fresh foods such as fruit, vegetables and meat also don’t require a nutrition information panel. To find out the number of kcal in them, you can either run an experiment with a bomb calorimeter or look up an estimated value in an online nutrition database.

Food composition databases such as CalorieKing compile information about the energy and nutrient content of various foods. Dietitians and other health professionals often use these databases to estimate the energy content of foods to inform dietary recommendations.

Different International Standards

Both kJ and kcal refer to energy – they are just two different units of measurements (such as how inches and centimetres are two different units for measuring length). Kilojoules (kJ) is part of the International System of Units (SI).

Australia, New Zealand and some parts of Europe use kJ. The United States and the United Kingdom use kcal. To convert between calories and kilojoules you use the conversion factors:

  • 1 kcal = 4.184 kJ
  • 1 kJ = 0.24 kcal (about ¼).

For example, if you have a packet of chips with an energy content of 200 kcal, you can convert it to kJ as follows: 200 kcal × 4.184 = 836.8 kJ.

As for how many calories are acceptable to eat, the Australian Guidelines for Healthy Eating estimate the average adult requires about 7,000kJ or 1,670Kcal every day. However, differences in age, gender, size, health and physical activity will influence how much energy a person needs.

To estimate your personal energy requirements, you can use this nutrients and dietary energy calculator.The Conversation

Lauren Ball, Professor of Community Health and Wellbeing, The University of QueenslandEmily Burch, Dietitian, Researcher & Lecturer, Southern Cross University, and Katelyn Barnes, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences, The University of Queensland

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

Ballet flats are back. Here’s what the research says about how they affect your feet

Kristin GrahamUniversity of South AustraliaHelen BanwellUniversity of South Australia, and Saravana KumarUniversity of South Australia

Ballet flat shoes – those thin-heeled lightweight slip-on shoes – are making a fashion comeback. And it’s not hard to see why: they’re versatile, easy to wear, soft, flexible and often worn by celebrities.

We have often been warned of the dangers of high-heeled shoes, so you might think ballet flats are problem-free.

When you look at the research, however, a complicated picture emerges. There’s no definitive evidence to show ballet flats are generally harmful to foot health in the long-term. But ill-fitting ballet flats can be a problem.

Ballet flats are back. Shutterstock

Make Sure It Fits, Especially In The Toe Box

An estimated 70% of the population are wearing ill-fitting shoes. This mismatch between foot and shoe shape can increase foot pain, reduce stability, and can mean more blisters, corns and calluses. And habitual wearing of tight shoes has been associated with bone changes in the toes and feet over time.

Many flats feature a shallow and narrow toe box (the part of the shoe where the toes go). A too-small toe box often doesn’t align with the shape of a foot and ends up squishing the toes. It can also increase pressure on top of and under the foot, and restrict the movement of the forefoot during walking.

But a too-big toe box is also a problem. Too much foot movement within the shoe can cause pressure and friction on the skin, which can also lead to calluses, corns, blisters, and wounds.

A poorly fitting toe box can also cause micro trauma to toenails which, ultimately, can change their look and thickness.

So if you’re wearing flats, make sure you choose a shoe with the right sized toe box.

Flats are often accused of lacking support. Shutterstock

What About The Heel?

Health professionals often recommend a small heel over a completely flat shoe. Very flat shoes can place more strain on the soft tissues that support the foot arch – specifically, the plantar fascia.

Research has shown moving from a completely flat shoe to a small, raised heel reduces the tension force on the plantar fascia during standing activities.

On the other hand, other research has shown most people will adapt their ankle and knee motion to accommodate shoes of different heel heights.

What About Support?

Ballet flats tend to have very flexible, thin soles and heel counters (the part, coloured red in this picture, that hugs the heel and the back part of the foot).

The heel counter here is coloured red. Shutterstock

These thin and flexible structures mean flats are often accused of lacking support. But debate rages among foot and shoe experts about how important support is in the first place.

Research on barefoot-style shoes has shown walking in these types of shoes significantly reduces some loads on the knee compared to more stable supportive shoes.

Minimalist shoes have also been found to increase strength in certain foot muscles used when we push off during walking, running or jumping.

However, other research found stable supportive shoes can improve knee pain when walking more than flat flexible shoes.

The thin soles in flats mean there is little cushioning under the foot. While more cushioning can improve comfort, and reduce stress and strain on your foot sole skin, there is no evidence it reduces loads across the lower leg.

In fact, walking in cushioned shoes has been shown to increase the load on the knee compared to flat, flexible shoes.

We have often been warned of the dangers of high-heeled shoes, so you might think ballet flats are problem-free. Shutterstock

So, What’s The Verdict?

The verdict is mixed. Yes, there’s evidence poorly fitting shoes and a flat heel can be detrimental, with consequences seen in the rearfoot (around the ankle) and knee.

But there’s also no hard evidence ballet flats cause long-term foot health problems.

What matters is choosing a well-fitted shoe to suit your foot shape and needs.

If you’re shopping for ballet flats, try to:

  • choose a pair with a toe box that does not cramp your toes and has a sole at least as wide as your foot

  • choose flats that offer at least some structure and support

  • choose a pair with a small heel rather being than completely flat.The Conversation

Kristin Graham, Lecturer in Podiatry, University of South AustraliaHelen Banwell, Lecturer in Podiatry, University of South Australia, and Saravana Kumar, Professor in Allied Health and Health Services Research, University of South Australia

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

E-Scooters Roll Into Armidale

August 22, 2023
Armidale locals will soon be able to scoot to their destinations, becoming the newest location in NSW to welcome a trial of shared scheme e-scooters.

The trial, which is expected to run for 12 months from Thursday 7 September, allow e-scooters, hired through Beam Mobility, to be ridden across most of Armidale, including from The University of New England to the city centre. 

The scooters are limited to a maximum of 20km/h on bicycle paths, or roads with a speed limit up to 50 km/h, and a speed limit of 10km/h for shared paths. E-scooters are not permitted for use on footpaths.

Riders must adhere to the rules of the trial, wear a helmet, remain below the speed limits and must not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Privately owned e-scooters remain illegal on NSW roads and road-related areas, including footpaths, shared paths and bicycle lanes.

Minister for Transport Jo Haylen said:

"This e-scooter trial will open up a new mode of transport for the people of Armidale, giving people the option of a convenient, low cost and low emission journey.

"These scooters will be a great option to jump on and get to your destination or to get out and explore this beautiful city.

"We look forward to seeing how the e-scooters are used and enjoyed by locals and visitors over the next 12-months."

Armidale Regional Council Mayor Sam Coupland said:

"Trialing e-scooters across the city is a step in the right direction to our region achieving its Zero30 carbon emissions goals.

"The use of e-scooters is gaining momentum across the globe and provides a cheap and accessible mode of transportation and importantly a sustainable one that cuts back on our Co2 emissions."

Beam’s General Manager (ANZ) Tom Cooper said:

"We have seen shared micromobility take off in other cities and towns across the country, with data showing a shift from cars to our climate neutral e-scooters for shorter trips under 5 km, and we look forward to seeing the same modal shift benefits in Armidale.

"As we prepare to commence the city’s first shared micromobility service, we are committed to forming partnerships with local community members and organisations, and engaging in discussions around the safe operation of e-scooters to ensure the safety of riders, pedestrians and other road users.

"Our e-scooters feature safety-first technology that will support both rider education and enforcement, including GPS tracking, geofencing and speed limiting technology to ensure micromobility’s safe integration into the city’s transport network.

“We know e-scooters are new to the community, and we are committed to working closely with the local community to ensure riders know their responsibilities when on an e-scooter."

Parliament Must Give Immediate Relief To Stop GP Clinics Closing: NSW Liberal Party

August 22, 2023
The Opposition has stated it will move an amendment in Parliament this week to provide an immediate exemption from payroll tax on payments to GPs and other health practitioners to ensure that essential medical clinics are not forced to close.

Shadow Treasurer Damien Tudehope said some GP clinics are facing demands for retrospective payroll tax bills of a half a million dollars or more, and many medical clinics are now discovering that operating in a particular way made them liable to additional payroll tax.

“Retrospective audits leading to demands for payments of payroll tax covering five years of operation are creating a crisis for these clinics that must be addressed,” Mr Tudehope said. “The best solution to this urgent problem is to provide an amnesty from all such payroll tax for the past five years and an exemption for the next two years while a satisfactory solution is found.”

Shadow Minister for Health Matt Kean said he was concerned about the impacts on hospitals.

“Combined with other pressures on the health system there is a real danger that these clinics may need to close,” Mr Kean said. “This will put serious additional pressure on emergency departments and could result in patients having to wait even longer to receive care.”

Shadow Minister for Regional Health Bronnie Taylor said “the Government is offering $20,000 to get health workers to move to the regions while simultaneously threatening some regional medical clinics with massive tax bills that will force them to close, leaving people in regional NSW without needed health services.”

Shadow Minister for Finance Eleni Petinos said that local GP clinics provide invaluable community services across the state, and the immediate tax relief will help ensure survival of many clinics. “With growing waiting lists across NSW hospitals and ongoing industrial chaos in the health sector, NSW should be seeking to support medical clinics, not imposing a retrospective tax that will see a number wiped out.”

Our older population will triple in 40 years. But a social insurance model won’t fix the aged care funding crisis

Henry CutlerMacquarie University

Preliminary data from the 2023 Intergenerational Report shows Australia’s population aged 85 and over is set to more than triple over the next 40 years. This will exacerbate existing strains on the aged-care system.

The government’s Aged Care Taskforce is investigating aged-care funding options to develop a “fair and equitable” system, while exploring efficiency, affordability and sustainability.

The government will spend more than A$146 billion on aged care in the next four years. General tax revenue will cover that cost, mostly funded by individual income tax receipts. But the government is concerned general tax revenue won’t be enough to fund the expected growth in aged care, in the near future and longer term.

There are three primary options to increase aged-care funding. The government can either increase its contribution, ask consumers to pay more, or use a combination of both.

The need for more consumer contributions has dominated recent aged-care debates. The less asked, but more important, question is whether the general tax revenue model the government uses to fund aged care is an appropriate model to promote sustainability.

While a social insurance model is the main alternative, it won’t be the silver bullet we’re looking for to fix our aged-care funding crisis.

How Would Social Insurance Work?

A social insurance model would use either voluntary or compulsory contributions from worker salaries to cover the cost of aged-care services.

It could include a prior build-up of funds, where consumers draw on accumulated savings to purchase aged-care services. Alternatively, it could operate as a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) system, where consumers draw on worker contributions each year, with an understanding that workers will draw on future contributions when they require aged care.

The first social insurance model was established in 1883 by the first chancellor of the German Empire, Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. He wanted blue-collar workers to remain healthy and productive by providing access to health-care services.

The “Bismarck” model has since permeated throughout Europe, funding health-care systems in Germany, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

While this model works reasonably well in these countries, whether a social insurance model is right for funding aged care in Australia is debatable. How social insurance levies are applied matters to efficiency and equity.

Is Social Insurance Efficient?

An efficient funding model collects and distributes revenue for the least cost possible. A social insurance model would require new legislation and a government agency managing reserves, increasing administration costs.

Less visible but more substantial funding model costs are from market distortions associated with the revenue collection mechanism such as personal income tax or a levy.

Whether a social insurance model is more efficient from a market perspective depends on how the government would otherwise increase general tax revenue.

The impact on efficiency from a social insurance model would be equivalent to an increase in income tax rates under a general tax revenue model. Both would reduce take-home pay and potentially reduce the incentive to work, for example, by reducing the willingness to work overtime.

Efficiency differences would occur if the government increased tax rates faced by businesses. This could distort business decisions, potentially reducing investment.

The size of the impact would depend on the size of the tax increase. The Victorian government introduced the mental health and wellbeing surcharge on payroll tax in 2022 to raise funds for improved mental health-care services. While business suggested it would harm growth, there is no indication this has occurred.

Is Social Insurance Equitable?

Other differences exist between general tax and social insurance models when assessed against equity. An equitable funding model requires people with similar financial means to pay similar amounts, and those with greater financial means to pay more.

Differences primarily result from our ageing population. Under a general tax revenue model, current workers pay for current aged-care services, but may receive more and better quality aged care when older. They will pay less compared to their future cost of care.

Nurse helps elderly man in a wheelchair
It’s difficult to measure future aged-care costs. Shutterstock

A social insurance model that builds up funds may better match contributions with future costs. But this requires a big ask from workers, to simultaneously build up the fund for future aged-care costs and pay for current aged-care costs.

Future aged-care costs are also uncertain. Underestimating costs mean the government will still need to spend more on aged care. Overestimating costs means workers contributed more funding than needed, losing some opportunity to spend on other goods and services, such as holidays.

What Else Should The Government Consider?

A social insurance model is a departure from our broader tax system. The government does not ask workers to contribute to their future health-care costs, nor to future social payments such as the aged pension. Both are funded by general tax revenue.

A social insurance model that required a prior build-up of funds would also take years to establish. It would not help with current underfunding problems in aged care, which have provoked poor quality and provider financial distress.

There is no strong evidence to suggest social insurance is more efficient or equitable than a general tax revenue model. Like general tax revenue models, social insurance models are exposed to shifting political winds.

The best path toward sustainable aged-care funding is for the government and consumers to pay more. The problem of securing aged-care funding may lie less in the funding model and more in securing government commitment when fiscal priorities change.The Conversation

Henry Cutler, Professor and Director, Macquarie University Centre for the Health Economy, Macquarie University

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

Collaboration To Deliver For Community At Rozelle Parklands

August 22, 2023
The Minns Labor Government will work with Inner West Council and Transport for NSW to undertake a new masterplan for Rozelle Parklands to salvage the project.

A new masterplan is necessary after the former government left behind a parklands project that was not going to provide the sporting facilities, accessibility and car parking that the community had been promised.

This included the failure to deliver on a promised facilities including:
  • An all-weather sporting field for use by local sporting clubs
  • Sufficient car parking to allow for the utilisation of the park
  • Four multipurpose sports courts
  • Toilet facilities for the inclusive playground
All-weather sporting fields benefit local clubs and communities as they can be used all year round in various weather conditions and had been the preference of local sporting clubs and Inner West Council.

The former government’s Rozelle Parklands plan placed the field above a power cable that would cost more than $57 million to relocate to safely install the field.

The review will also consider disability parking near the Parklands, which had not been planned for previously.

The Minns Labor Government has agreed to address this failure through a new masterplan for the Parklands.

The parklands are due to open with the Rozelle Interchange of WestConnex later in the year.

With the park due to open in only a few months, the masterplan will identify ongoing improvements that will need to be made to the parklands after it has opened.

The masterplan will finalise next steps and ensure the inner west community is getting the best possible outcome from Rozelle Parklands.

The community, who weren’t consulted properly by the previous government, will be involved in the development of this masterplan. The recurrent costs of maintaining the parkland will be transparently disclosed so that Inner West Council can take care, control and management of the site in the future.

Plans are also being developed to ensure an accessible toilet is provided in the children’s play area and a review is underway to assess how to progress plans that had promised up to 150 new car parking spots around the perimeter of the parklands on Lilyfield Road.

People in NSW are doing it tough right now with the cost of living rising sharply all over Australia, and it's becoming increasingly difficult for families in NSW to make ends meet. The last thing our community needs is more disruptions and delayed plans.

Minister for Roads John Graham said:

“The Inner West, and specifically the Rozelle community, has accepted much more than its fair share of disruption during the construction of WestConnex.

“The former government promised their reward would be a new parkland that met the wishes of the community.

“What was left behind was not that – and what is worse is that the previous government had given up on communicating directly with the community.

“We are working with council to salvage this project and make sure the community really does get the best facilities as promised.

Mayor of Inner West Council Darcy Byrne said:   

“The former Government promised the Rozelle Parklands as compensation to our community but now we know they were planning to off-load a half-finished park to us.

“With no parking provided and multiple sporting facilities and basic amenities deleted, our community was being ripped off.

“The Inner West will now undertake a Masterplan with the new Government to clean up this mess and ensure that the high-quality park that was promised is actually delivered.”

Driverless Cars Are No Place To Relax New Study Shows

August 21, 2023
Early data on activities that will be unsafe to undertake in automated vehicles has been released. From doing work to watching the world, from social media to resting -- preliminary results are in.

Research led by RMIT University looked at what happens if a driver is suddenly required to take control of an automated vehicle, such as in an emergency.

The series of papers examines how experience and three types of distractions (work, social media and rest) impacted on the driver's ability to respond.

Study lead author in the School of Engineering, Dr Neng Zhang, said authorities need to begin drafting policies to regulate the responsible use of automated vehicles before Level 3 and 4 automated vehicles appear on Australian roads.

While the National Transport Commission has outlined a regulatory framework for automated vehicles in Australia, driver training, licensing and obligations are still being considered.

Lead study author, Dr Neng Zhang, in front of the automated vehicle simulator used in the research on the effect of distraction and experience on driver takeover response. Photo: RMIT Australia

Laying the road to regulation
There are five levels of vehicle automation. Already, Level 1 and Level 2 are common through features such as lane keeping, automated parking and cruise control. More advanced automated vehicles -- what we think of when we say 'driverless cars' -- are currently being trialled but are not yet commercially available in Australia.

"In Level 3 and 4 automated driving, the human driver will still need to respond in an emergency, taking control of the vehicle," said Zhang.

"This data is a starting place for regulation and could lead to data-backed legislation that ensures drivers are given enough time to respond quickly and flawlessly to emergency events."

A study of distraction
Using a Level 3 automated vehicle simulation, the researchers tested participants' speed and effectiveness in taking over the vehicle in the event of an emergency.

"We had them writing business emails (working condition), watching videos (entertaining condition), and taking a break with their eyes closed (resting condition)," said Zhang.

"These tasks required drivers to invest high, moderate, and low levels of mental workload. We tested their responses after a short interval (5 minutes) or long interval (30 minutes) of participating in one of these tasks. All of these tasks worsened the takeover and led to a period of poorer driving.

"We found that resting resulted in the worst takeover response, followed by working. Social media was less disruptive. However, the longer the participant engaged in an activity, the worse their response was to an emergency."

The cross-disciplinary research team brought together RMIT expertise in human body vibration, automotive engineering and cognitive psychology from the School of Engineering, School of Health and Biomedical Sciences and School of Science.

Biomedical researcher and author on the papers, Professor Stephen Robinson, warned that emergencies require a high level of cognition.

"As soon as something unexpected happens, such as a child running across the road, we need to be able to use our full cognitive abilities to assess the situation and take appropriate action," said Robinson.

"Takeover requests in automated vehicles occur when the onboard computer lacks the capacity to deal with changed or complex driving conditions. Such conditions are potentially dangerous and require the driver to focus quickly and act decisively to keep our roads safe."

Young drivers to struggle with emergency takeovers
In addition to distractions, the study looked at the experience of drivers with a focus on young people.

"We found that driving experience and takeover performance were highly correlated, with inexperienced drivers (with less than 20,000 kilometres of driving experience) responding more slowly and less effectively. The distance driven since gaining a driver's licence is more important than the number of years since the licence was issued," said Zhang.

"Our findings highlight the need for vehicle manufacturers and licencing authorities to develop solutions that ensure that conditionally automated vehicles are safe for drivers with varying experience levels."

Driving research to back legislation
The paper, "Is driving experience all that matters? Drivers' takeover performance in conditionally automated driving" (DOI 10.1016/j.jsr.2023.08.003), with lead author Neng Zhang, was published in the Journal of Safety Research this month.

It builds on "Influence of non-driving related tasks on driving performance after takeover transition in conditionally automated driving" (DOI 10.1016/j.trf.2023.05.009) published in Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour in mid-2023.

The team is now investigating how to stimulate alertness and improve effectiveness of driver takeovers.

Engineering expert and author on the papers, Professor Mohammad Fard, explained that seamless and safe transition between vehicle automation and human is the goal.

"The aim of our work is to enhance 'human-automation interaction' for autonomous vehicles and significantly improve the way humans interact with and control these advanced autonomous vehicles, leading to enhanced efficiency and safety in their operation," said Fard.

However, there is a limit to what the engineering and design of autonomous vehicles can achieve. The researchers emphasised that regulations must also address issues such as distraction, alertness and experience before Level 3 automation can be successfully adopted in Australia.

"Governments can effectively safeguard road safety by acknowledging these detrimental effects and regulating non-driving activities in the context of autonomous driving."

Neng Zhang, Mohammad Fard, John Laurence Davy, Sibashis Parida, Stephen R. Robinson. Is driving experience all that matters? Drivers’ takeover performance in conditionally automated driving. Journal of Safety Research, 2023; DOI: 10.1016/j.jsr.2023.08.003

Breast Size Affects Australian Women's Attitudes To Exercise

Women with larger breasts tend to exercise less frequently and avoid high-intensity exercise and a new study has found much improved participation in recreational group exercises after breast reduction surgery.

The new study published in the international Journal of Reconstructive Surgery (JPRAS Open) further strengthens calls for more accessible, publicly funded breast reduction and other interventions in some cases.

Based on research at Flinders University, the questionnaire was conducted with support from the free community Parkrun UK research board, an organisation aiming to promote 5km running and walking events around the world -- for all ages and fitness levels.

The survey was completed by almost 2000 women involved in the Parkrun program in Australia, England and South Africa found women with bigger breasts believe that reducing their breast size would improve their exercise performance and participation

As well, all 56 women who had undergone breast reduction surgery in the group of 1987 surveyed women reported leading more healthy and active lifestyles.

"Women who had undergone breast reduction reported increased overall frequency, enjoyment and willingness to exercise in a group," says lead author Dr Claire Baxter, a clinical registrar in reconstructive surgery at the Flinders Medical Centre.

"Our study found that breast size affects exercise habits and that breast reduction surgery changes their willingness to exercise."

Excluding women with a history of breast cancer, the study aimed to investigate how breast size impacts the exercise habits of women and how this compares to women who have undergone breast reduction surgery.

The South Australian study, including Flinders University Associate Professor Nicola Dean, promotes the importance of regular exercise for weight and ischemic heart disease and points out barriers for Australian Government subsidies for reduction mammoplasty as determined in the Australian Medicare Benefits Schedule.

"As well as the need for patients to have macromastia, experiencing pain in the neck of shoulder region, there are a number of state-based requirements for breast reduction to be performed," says Associate Professor Dean.

"For example, there are body mass index (BMI) restrictions in Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania which can lead to wait times of 12 months or more.

"In the UK, breast reduction surgery via the National Health Service varies across locations, resulting in a 'postcode lottery' as breast reduction is considered a lower priority procedure."

As well as comparisons between 5km parkrun competition times and bra size, the BREAST-Q study also looked at the cup size satisfaction levels -- which showed more self-satisfaction with AA, A, B and C cup sizes than DD, E, F, G and H or greater.

In addition, life satisfaction and happiness was significantly related to bra size, with cup sizes greater than E reliably reporting lower mean results.

"The benefits of breast reduction surgery need more awareness and academic support," concludes Dr Baxter.

Claire R. Baxter, Tamara A. Crittenden, Nicola R. Dean. Self-reported breast size, exercise habits and BREAST-Q data – an international cross-sectional study of community runners. JPRAS Open, 2023; 37: 92 DOI: 10.1016/j.jpra.2023.06.013

Dr Claire Baxter, clinical registrar, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Flinders Medical Centre.

Associate Professor Nicola Dean, left, and researchers including Dr Tamara Crittenden, right, and Dr Claire Baxter have evaluating the long-term benefits of breast reduction surgery on a mixed cohort. Photos: Flinders University

Poor Report Card For Children’s Wellbeing Post Lockdowns: University Of SA

August 23, 2023
While COVID-19 lockdowns are no longer mandated, the stress and anxiety of the pandemic still lingers, especially among young South Australians, say health experts at the University of South Australia.

In a new study released today, researchers show that children’s mental health and wellbeing have gradually worsened over the past six years, particular during and post the pandemic.

Examining measures of wellbeing – life satisfaction, optimism, happiness, cognitive engagement, emotional regulation, perseverance, worry, and sadness – among more than 56,000 South Australian school children (in grades four to nine and aged 9-14) the study found that most wellbeing measures declined over time, consistently worsening from 2020 onwards which correlated with COVID-19.

It also found that female students, children in higher year levels, and students from lower socioeconomic cohorts were more likely to have poor wellbeing than their counterparts.

Wellbeing covers various dimensions of psychological, physical, emotional, cognitive, and social experiences. Higher wellbeing is associated with healthy lifestyle behaviours like exercise, healthy eating, and self-esteem; and lower wellbeing is associated with smoking, alcohol, and drug use.

Lead researcher, UniSA’s Dr Dot Dumuid, says the COVID-19 pandemic has had long-lasting disruptions for Australian children.

“During the pandemic, children had to change the way they learn, play and socialise, all the while living in an environment of widespread uncertainty and anxiety,” Dr Dumuid says.

“Children and young people have dealt with school closures, isolation, social distancing and cancelled extracurricular activities, and this has led to decreased levels of physical activity and increased sedentary time.

“Now that pandemic restrictions have been lifted, life has not necessarily gone back to how it was pre-pandemic. And when we assessed how children have fared in terms of wellbeing across this period, the news was not good.

Wellbeing clearly dropped during covid and has shown little signs of improvement since then. But certain groups were more affected than others, with worsening wellbeing particularly worrying for female students, students in later school grades, and students with socioeconomic disadvantage.

The analysis was conducted on cross-sectional annual data between 2017-2022 from data in the South Australian Wellbeing and Engagement Collective census. Children self-reported responses.

Co researcher, Prof Carol Maher, says that while the data originates from South Australia, the implications are likely to be globally relevant.

“The COVID-19 pandemic, sweeping changes in children's lifestyles - from physical activity and screen time to sleep and diet - and the pervasive influence of social media aren't regional anomalies. They're global phenomena likely impacting children's wellbeing worldwide.”

Dr Dumuid says now is a particularly critical time to support young people’s wellbeing.

“There is a clear indication that urgent and equitable support is needed to improve the wellbeing of all young people, particularly those facing disparity,” Dr Dumuid says.

“This is not only important for children’s present experiences, but also their future potential.

“Of particular concern is that the data shows worsening of wellbeing in children of the same age, which indicates that children aged 9-14 are at-risk age groups for poor mental health.

“While there are suggestions that reduced physical activity and increased use of social media and screens may be contributing to poor wellbeing, more research in this area is needed.”

Initiatives such as the Federal Government’s release of a new National Wellbeing Framework, and the South Australian Department for Education’s School Mental Health Service are welcomed, Dr Dumuid says.

“Managing wellbeing and mental health in young people requires a whole-of-community approach, Dr Dumuid says.

“Government and school wellbeing programs are certainly a step in the right direction, but a lot more needs to be done to ensure this young group of Australians does not slip through the cracks.

“Everyone has a responsibility to look out for the next generation. We all play a role in the overall wellbeing of our kids.”

Strict Tech Rules At Boarding School A Bonus For Teens' Sleep

August 21, 2023
Struggling with a teenager who refuses to ditch digital devices at night and wakes up grumpy? Boarding school could be the answer according to a new study by University of South Australia researchers which shows that boarders get 40 minutes more sleep most nights than day students, due to fixed bedtimes and stricter policies around technology use.

They go to bed earlier and wake up later, despite sleeping in shared, sometimes noisy, dormitories -- factors that are normally associated with disrupted sleep.

The findings are based on a survey of 309 students from a co-educational school in Adelaide, including 59 boarders and 250 day students.

Published in the British Journal of Educational Psychology, the study also found that despite teen boarders getting more sleep, they experienced similar levels of stress, anxiety, and depression to their day peers.

UniSA researcher Dr Alex Agostini says the structured routine of a boarding school -- with set times for sport, dinner, study, socialising, and lights out -- was more conducive to sleep.

"Night-time routine and restricting technology seem to be the key to better sleep and this was borne out by feedback both from the students surveyed and the focus groups we interviewed," Dr Agostini says.
While homesickness can often disrupt sleep for new boarders, once they settle into their new environment and make friends, this usually settles down.

Boarding school is a double edged sword for many students, the researchers say. While it can promote social connections, life satisfaction and better academic outcomes, it is also associated with loneliness, behavioural problems, and isolation.

These issues are especially common in adolescence, which is well recognised for the onset of mental health issues, with a clear link to sleep disruption.

Female boarders reported higher stress levels and loneliness than their male counterparts, but there were no significant gender differences in any of the sleep or technology use variables.

Alexander Reardon, Kurt Lushington, Andrew Junge, Jonathan Crichton, Alex Agostini. Boarding versus day‐students: A mixed‐methods analysis of sleep and its relationship with psychological distress. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 2023; DOI: 10.1111/bjep.12624

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.