June 23 - 29, 2024: Issue 629

Our Youth page is for young people aged 13+ - if you are younger than this we have news for you in the Children's pageNews items and articles run at the top of this page. Information, local resources, events and local organisations, sports groups etc. are at the base of this page. All Previous pages for you are listed in Past Features

Life In Sydney In 1966

From The Film Australia Collection.  Made by The Commonwealth Film Unit 1966.  Directed by Joe Scully. Episode 12 of the Life in Australia series.  This series was made to encourage immigration to Australia and to highlight the various social activities, employment and educational opportunities and lifestyles of the various cities and regional centres throughout Australia. This film shows an idyllic picture of life in the New South Wales capital of Sydney in the mid 1960s and shows you how some places in our area looked.

TAFE NSW music graduate hitting the right career note on World Music Day

As World Music Day was celebrated around the globe on Friday June 21, a spotlight is shining on a local TAFE NSW music graduate achieving success in the multi-billion-dollar industry.

According to Sound NSW’s first State of the Scene Report, the live music industry employs more than 14,000 people in New South Wales and has an economic output of $5.5 billion each year.

Supporting this industry are musicians and technical professionals, including sound engineers, record producers, and composers. TAFE NSW is delivering a pipeline of workers to the sector through the music and production courses it offers, including at TAFE NSW Wollongong.

Corey Gee studied a Certificate IV in Music (Sound Production) there, graduating in 2017, and has gone on to become one of the South Coast’s most sought-after live music producers for concerts and gigs across the region. The leap into the industry has seen Mr Gee mix sound for artists including Grinspoon singer Phil Jamieson, Ben Lee, Skegss, and Jen Cloher. He has also worked with the likes of You Am I, Regurgitator, San Cisco, Art vs. Science, and Thirsty Merc.

“I was initially interested in learning about sound production so I could record my own band, so I enrolled at TAFE NSW to develop those skills; but while studying I instead grew a love for live sound production,” Mr Gee said.

“At the time, I was working in a hardware store and my mate said to me, ‘Why don’t you try and use what you’re learning to get a job in the music industry?’. That really resonated with me, so I quit my job and started contracting to local venues in the Illawarra and producing their music gigs. It was a big leap, but I was young and wanted to take the chance.”

“I feel incredibly fortunate to be working full-time as a live sound engineer. I’m working in an industry I’m passionate about and in a job I love - where I can use my skills to bring magic to the lives of others and contribute to a thriving Illawarra music scene,” Mr Gee said.

“Studying at TAFE NSW gave me a strong set of practical skills that enabled me to hit the ground running. Instead of entering the industry completely green, I knew the ground rules of sound production, what was expected, the terminology, and had the skills and confidence to start producing gigs.”

Mr Gee said he is proud to be contributing to the vibrant live music scene in the Illawarra.

“The Wollongong music scene is one of the greatest and most unique music scenes in all of Australia, and I’m so proud to be a part of it. Everyone supports each other and there’s a real hunger for local music in the city,” he said.

“Wollongong keeps turning out great bands and I’m glad to play a part in helping elevate their prominence, all thanks to the skills and insights I’ve gained by studying at TAFE NSW.”

TAFE NSW Media, Arts, Design, and Entertainment Head Teacher John Kilbey said the music courses provide students with the knowledge and practical skills they need to start working in the industry.

“World Music Day is a timely moment to recognise the people who contribute to the music industry and how they enrich the lives of others through their work,” Mr Kilbey said. “TAFE NSW has a long history of delivering a pipeline of talented workers to the music industry through our courses in the discipline.

“By studying music here, students have access to teachers with significant experience and connections in the industry, as well as high-quality equipment to enhance their learning and ready them for the workforce.

“Our courses provide students with the opportunity to develop practical skills that will see them hit the ground running when they begin working professionally – whether that be as musicians or in technical and sound production roles.”

Creator Academy Students Tour Optus Satellite Ground Station at belrose

Twenty students from Creator Academy had the incredible opportunity to tour the Optus Belrose Satellite Ground Station, gaining firsthand insight into the world of satellite communications and advanced engineering technologies.
As part of Creator Academy’s efforts to provide real-world STEAM experiences, the tour allowed students to explore the inner workings of satellite communications and navigation technology, rocketry, and engineering.
Optus specialists guided the students through various aspects of the ground station’s operations offering a comprehensive look at how the cutting-edge technology keeps us connected.
Creator Academy’s Garry Law said a highlight of the tour of Optus’ Satellite Ground Station was seeing real-world applications of STEAM.
“We can’t wait to see how students apply the learnings and their newfound knowledge to their innovation projects this year.
“Experiences like this are invaluable in sparking creativity and enhancing the educational journey of students.
“The skills and insights gained from this workshop and facility tour will undoubtedly drive their future successes,” Mr Law said.
Nicholas Gibson, Local General Manager at Optus, said Optus is thrilled to support initiatives that inspire young minds and encourage a passion for science and technology.
“It’s always rewarding to see the excitement and curiosity in students as they explore the complexities of satellite communications and engineering,” Nicholas said.
“By sparking students’ interest in STEAM, we are investing in the future of our industry. These young people are the innovators of tomorrow, and we are proud to play a part in their educational journey,” he concluded.
In addition to the technical tour, students were treated to an energetic science presentation at the end of the excursion delivered by Fizzics Education.
This hands-on learning experience is expected to benefit students as they prepare for upcoming competitions, such as the FIRST LEGO League, VEX IQ Robotics, and VEX Robotics.
Creator Academy is dedicated to nurturing young talent and providing opportunities that blend theoretical knowledge with practical application, preparing students for future careers in technology and engineering.

Hi-tech dog mannequin 'Sheila' helping TAFE NSW students hone real-world skills

A hi-tech and eerily lifelike canine mannequin is giving aspiring veterinary nurses at TAFE NSW Primary Industries Centre priceless hands-on experience.

“Sheila”, a state-of-the-art canine mannequin imported from the US, recently arrived at the campus, allowing animal studies and vet nursing students to practice important clinical skills, such as intubating, CPR, bandaging, and even ear cleaning.

TAFE NSW Primary Industries Centre animal studies teacher and local vet nurse Brooke Peters said the mannequin had become like a real pet for the class and was helping students hone their clinical skills without posing any risk to a live animal.

“It really does closely simulate how you would work on a live animal so it enables students to improve their skills before working on real pets in a clinic,” Ms Peters said.

“It allows students to take their time and provides both animal welfare and clinical advantages.”

Vet nursing jobs are in a steep growth phase, with Jobs and Skills Australia predicting the number of nurses will skyrocket from the current number of 10,700 to 17,800 by 2026.

TAFE NSW Primary Industries Centre student Bella Harrison, 19, is one of many who has capitalised on the surging demand for vet nurses, balancing her studies with work at Holbrook Vet Centre.

“I’ve always been an animal person and I have a cousin who’s a vet and was intrigued by what it would be like to work in the industry,” Ms Harrison said.

“I did a Certificate II in Animal Studies as a TVET course at high school and I loved it so much, I decided to pursue vet nursing after school through TAFE NSW.

“Having Sheila to practice my skills on has been amazing. It’s really helped build my skills and confidence and the CPR skills I learned with Sheila actually helped me bring back a pet in clinic recently.”

Ms Harrison started the Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing in June and was offered a job at Holbrook Vet Centre during her first clinical placement, such is the demand for TAFE NSW students.

“I love the job but it can be heartbreaking at times,” she said. “But the good days far outweigh the bad ones and the satisfaction of helping heal someone’s much-loved pet is so rewarding.”
Photo - PET PROJECT: TAFE NSW Primary Industries Centre animal studies teacher Brooke Peters with vet nursing student Bella Harrison and ‘Sheila’, the hi-tech canine mannequin.

Your Voice Our Future: have your say

The NSW Government is seeking feedback from young people on how the government can better support them in NSW.

The Minister for Youth, the Hon. Rose Jackson, MLC and the NSW Government is seeking feedback from young people aged 14 to 24 years on how the government can better support young people in NSW. The online survey asks about:

  • the important issues that young people face
  • what is not working well for young people in NSW
  • how the NSW Government should support and better engage with young people.

Your feedback will be summarised and and shared with the Minister for Youth, the Hon. Rose Jackson to inform ministerial priorities. It will also be promoted across NSW Government departments to help deliver better programs and services for young people. By completing the survey, you can go in a monthly draw to win a gift card of your choice up to the value of $250*.

This survey has been developed by the Minister for Youth, the Hon. Rose Jackson, MLC, the Office of the Advocate of Children and Young People (ACYP) and the Office for Regional Youth.

When we ask for your name and contact details

If you opt in to receive more communications about this work, you will be asked to provide your contact details so that you can be kept updated. You may also be contacted to see if you would like to participate in further surveys or activities.

If you opt in to enter the monthly draw, your contact details will be needed to request your preferred e-gift card so we can deliver it via email, if you win. If you win, we may publicise your first name, age and suburb on NSW Government webpages, social media and other public communications.

If you are under 18, you will also need to provide the contact details of your parent/guardian who may be contacted directly to confirm consent for you to participate.

*View the terms and conditions (PDF 140.28KB) and privacy policy (PDF 140.26KB)

Have your say by Tuesday 31 December 2024.

You can submit your feedback via an online survey, here: https://www.nsw.gov.au/have-your-say/your-voice-our-future

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. 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: www.yourcareer.gov.au/school-leavers-support

Word Of The Week: Charabanc

Word of the Week remains a keynote in 2024, simply to throw some disruption in amongst the 'yeah-nah' mix. 


from French char à bancs: “carriage with benches”; long, four-wheeled carriage with several rows of forward-facing seats, originated in France in the early 19th century. It was pulled by up to six horses and was used by private owners to convey guests on excursions.

British for "open-sided sightseeing bus," 1811, originally in a Continental context (especially Swiss), from French char-à-bancs, literally "benched carriage," from char "wagon" (from Latin carrus "two-wheeled wagon;" see car) + à "to" (see ad-) + banc "bench"


bench (noun)

Middle English bench, from Old English benc "long seat," especially one without a back, from Proto-Germanic bankon (source also of Old Frisian bank "bench," Old Norse bekkr, Danish bænk, Middle Dutch banc, Old High German banch). The group is cognate with bank "natural earthen incline beside a body of water," and perhaps the original notion is "man-made earthwork used as a seat."

Used from late 14c. of a merchant's table. From c. 1300 in reference to the seat where judges sat in court, hence, by metonymy, "judges collectively, office of a judge." Hence also bencher "senior member of an inn of court" (1580s). The sporting sense "reserve of players" is by 1909, from a literal sense in reference to where players sit when not in action (attested by 1889). A bench-warrant (1690s) is one issued by a judge, as opposed to one issued by an ordinary justice or magistrate.

car (noun)

c. 1300, "wheeled vehicle," from Anglo-French carre, Old North French carre, from Vulgar Latin carra, related to Latin carrum, carrus (plural carra), originally "two-wheeled Celtic war chariot," from Gaulish karros, a Celtic word (compare Old Irish and Welsh carr "cart, wagon," Breton karr "chariot"), from krsos, from root kers- "to run." The Celtic-Latin word also made it into Greek, as karron "wagon with four wheels."

"From 16th to 19th c. chiefly poetic, with associations of dignity, solemnity, or splendour ..." [OED]. Used in U.S. by 1826 of railway freight carriages and of passenger coaches on a railway by 1830; by 1862 of streetcars or tramway cars. The extension to "automobile" is by 1896, but between 1831 to the first decade of 20c. the cars meant "railroad train." Car bomb is attested from 1972, in a Northern Ireland context. The Latin word also is the source of Italian and Spanish carro, French char.

A charabanc or "char-à-banc" (often pronounced "sharra-bang" in colloquial British English) is a type of horse-drawn vehicle or early motor coach, usually open-topped, common in Britain during the early part of the 20th century. It has "benched seats arranged in rows, looking forward, commonly used for large parties, whether as public conveyances or for excursions". It was especially popular for sight-seeing or "works outings" to the country or the seaside, organised by businesses once a year. The name derives from the French char à bancs ("carriage with benches"), the vehicle having originated in France in the early 19th century.

Charabanc, horse-drawn, late 19th century, likely in Torbay, Devon. Dated to the late 19th-century; probably pre-1891. Source; Scan of a glass plate (the work of an unnamed amateur photographer), from a family image collection held by the uploader. Previously unpublished.

Image No.: c071420012 from Album: Glass negatives of Sydney regions, including Clovelly, Coogee, and Manly ca 1890-1910 by William Joseph Macpherson. Courtesy Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales- and enlargement from.

A sensational coach accident occurred yesterday morning on the Pittwater-road, about two miles from Rock Lily. A vehicle containing 16 passengers overturned, three of the occupants being slightly injured. The coach is the property of Charles Massey and Co., of Manly, and runs between Rock Lily and Manly.

As usual, four horses were attached to the vehicle, and all went well until the party reached Sheep Station Hill, which is very steep. There the reins of the leading horses became entangled with those in the pole of the coach. The driver, Harry Duncan, endeavoured to right matters, but before he was able to do so the horses swerved, the coach was overturned, and the passengers quickly found themselves on the roadway. When most of them had recovered from the shock caused by the accident, it was found that three of their number had been injured. Dr. Thomas, of Manly, was immediately sent for, and on arrival attended to their injuries.

Mrs. Rachel Cornu, who resides at Rock Lily Hotel, was found to be suffering from bruises on the right side, and shock. James Cooper, 39, an engineer, of Russell-street, Granville, sustained a scalp wound, which necessitated the insertion of three stitches. The third victim was Alfred Alexander Smith, a school teacher, living at Augustus-street, Enmore, his injuries consisting of cuts on the forehead and shin.

The coach was quickly righted and continued its journey to Rock Lily without further mishap. SENSATIONAL ACCIDENT. (1905, December 30). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 10. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article14718625

Manly Corso circa 1899-1900 showing an earlier Rock Lily Coach at base of postcard - Postcard Courtesy National Museum of Australia

Rock Lily circa 1895 - 1905 - Christmas postcard

Although the vehicle has not been common on the roads since the 1920s, a few signs survive from the era; a notable example at Wookey Hole in Somerset warns that the road to the neighbouring village of Easton is unsuitable for charabancs. The word is in common usage especially in Northern England in a jocular way referring to works outings by coach.

In Australia a modern similar type of bus or motor-coach, with two lateral doors for each row of seats, survived up to the 1970s and was referred to as side loader bus; but all or most of them were not open-topped. One such a bus based in Echuca, Victoria, has been restored and is used at the Port of Echuca on some public holidays and special events.

Buses with similar arrangement of doors and seats are a common equipment for the antiriot squads of many police forces, as the arrangement lends itself to the squad exiting the vehicle quickly.

Introduced in the 1830s as a French sporting vehicle, the char à bancs was popular at race meetings and for hunting or shooting parties where it served as a mobile grandstand. It could be pulled by a four-in-hand team of horses or a pair in pole gear. It had two or more rows of crosswise bench seats, plus a slightly lower rear seat for a groom, and most also had a slatted trunk for luggage. Initially used by the wealthy, they were later enlarged with more seats for school or works excursions and tourist transport, as a cheaper version of the tourist coach. The first charabanc in Britain was presented to Queen Victoria by Louis Philippe of France and is preserved in the Royal Mews.

Before the First World War, motor charabancs were used mainly for day trips, as they were not comfortable enough for longer journeys, and were largely replaced by motor buses in the 1920s.

The charabanc of the 1920s tended to last only a few years. It was normal at the time for the body to be built separately from the motor chassis, and some were fitted in summer only; a second goods body would be fitted in its place in winter to keep the vehicle occupied.

Motorised charabanc, early 1920s. Source: Harold F.B. Wheeler - The Book of Knowledge

Charabancs were normally open-top, with a large canvas folding hood stowed at the rear in case of rain, much like a convertible motor car. If rain started, this had to be pulled into position, a very heavy task, and it was considered honourable for the male members of the touring party to assist in getting it into position. The side windows would be of mica (a thin layer of quartz-like stone).

The charabanc offered little or no protection to the passengers in the event of an overturning accident, they had a high centre of gravity when loaded (and particularly if overloaded), and they often traversed the steep and winding roads leading to the coastal villages popular with tourists. These factors led to fatal accidents, which contributed to their early demise.

The French char à banc appears in Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina (1877).

The charabanc is notably mentioned in Dylan Thomas's short story "A Story", also known as "The Outing". In this piece the young Thomas unintentionally finds himself on the annual men's charabanc outing to Porthcawl. Within the story the charabanc is referred to as a "chara" in colloquial Welsh English.

Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee features a 1917 charabanc outing from rural Gloucestershire to Weston-super-Mare.

The first verse of “Maginot Waltz” by Ralph McTell starts: “All off to Brighton in a char-a-banc”.

Vince Hill's A Day at the Seaside begins with the line "Climb up little darling, into the charabanc". The song, written by Les Vandyke, came fifth in the 1963 Song for Europe competition.

A char-a-banc also figures prominently in Rudyard Kipling's short story "The Village that Voted the Earth Was Flat" (1913).

The charabanc appears in Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. Mr Lawrence, the March's wealthy neighbour, lends it to the March girls. Jokingly, they call it the "cherry bounce".

A groundbreaking discovery: how we found remnants of Earth’s primordial crust near Perth

Lukas Gojda / Shutterstock
Chris Kirkland, Curtin University

Our planet was born around 4.5 billion years ago. To understand this mind-bendingly long history, we need to study rocks and the minerals they are made of.

The oldest rocks in Australia, which are some of the oldest on Earth, are found in the Murchison district of Western Australia, 700 kilometres north of Perth. They have been dated at almost 4 billion years old.

In a new study, we have found evidence of rocks of a similar age near Collie, south of Perth. This suggests the ancient rocks of Western Australia cover a far greater area than we knew, buried deep in the crust.

The ancient continental crust

The ancient crust of Australia is crucial for understanding the early Earth, because it tells us about how the continental crust formed and evolved.

Continental crust forms the foundation of landmasses where humans live, supporting ecosystems, and providing essential resources for civilisation. Without it there would be no fresh water. It is rich in mineral resources such as gold and iron, making it economically significant.

However, exploring the ancient continental crust is not easy. Most of it is deeply buried, or has been intensely modified by its environment. There are only a few exposed areas where researchers can directly observe this ancient crust.

To understand the age and composition of this hidden ancient crust, scientists often rely on indirect methods, such as studying eroded minerals preserved in overlying basins, or using remote sensing of sound waves, magnetism or gravity.

However, there may be another way to peer into the deep crust and, with luck, even sample it.

Dragging crystals up from the depths

The crust of our planet is frequently cut by dark fingers of magma, rich in iron and magnesium, which can stretch from the upper crust all the way down to Earth’s mantle. These structures, known as dykes, can come from depths of at least 50 kilometres (much deeper than even the deepest borehole, which stretches a mere 12 kilometres).

These dykes can pick up tiny amounts of minerals from the depths and transport them all the way up to the surface, where we can examine them.

Younger dykes intruding into older rocks
Dykes in Norway cutting into older layered sandstone rocks. Cato Andersen/Mapillary, CC BY-SA

In our recent study, we have uncovered evidence of ancient buried rock by dating grains of zircon from one of these dykes.

Zircon contains trace amounts of uranium, which over time decays to lead. By precisely measuring the ratio of lead to uranium in zircon grains, we can tell how long ago the grain crystallised.

This method showed that the zircon crystals from the dyke date back 3.44 billion years.

Titanite armour

The zircons are encapsulated in a different mineral, called titanite, which is more chemically stable than zircon in the dyke. Think of a grain of salt, trapped inside a hard-boiled sugar sweet, dropped into a cup of hot tea.

Microscope image of titanite from dyke
Microscope image of titanite grain with zircon crystals trapped inside and protected. The scale bar in the right bottom of image is 100 microns, about the width of a human hair. C.L. Kirkland

The stability of the titanite armour protected the ancient zircon crystals through changes in the chemical, pressure and temperature conditions as the dyke travelled upward. Unshielded zircon crystals in the dyke were strongly modified during the journey, obliterating their isotopic records.

However, the grains armoured in titanite survived intact to provide a rare glimpse into Earth’s early history.

The dyke, itself dated to around 1.4 billion years old, has offered up a unique window into ancient crust that would otherwise have remained hidden. We also found similar ancient zircon grains further north in sand from the Swan River, which runs through Perth and drains the same region, further corroborating the age and origin of these ancient materials.

A cartoon cross-section of Earth's crust.
Cross-section of the crust south of Perth showing dykes picking up 3.4 billion-year-old zircon from depth and bringing it to the surface. The inset zoom-in shows the armouring of this ancient zircon by a shield of the mineral titanite. C.L. Kirkland

The results extend the known area of ancient crust, previously recognised in the Narryer area of the Murchison district.

One reason it’s important to understand the deep crust is because we often find metals at the boundaries between blocks of this crust. Mapping these blocks can help map out zones to investigate for mining potential.

Remnants of deep time

So next time you pick up a rock and some mineral grains rub off on your hand, spare a thought for how long those grains might have been around.

To come to grips with the time scale, imagine the history of our planet was a year long. Earth formed from swirling dust 12 months ago. Any handful of sand you pick up around Perth will contain a grain or two from about ten months ago. Most of Australia’s gold formed seven months ago, and land plants arrived only one month ago.

Two weeks ago, dinosaurs showed up. All of humanity has come in the past 30 minutes. And you? Soberingly, on this scale, your life would last about half a second.The Conversation

Chris Kirkland, Professor of Geochronology, Curtin University

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

Australia’s first civilian jury was entirely female. Here’s how ‘juries of matrons’ shaped our legal history

A French jury of matrons in 1771. British Museum, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-NC-SA
Alice Neikirk, University of Newcastle

It’s hard to imagine now, but for almost 1,000 years, pregnant women in England could avoid the death penalty just by virtue of being pregnant. A pregnant woman sentenced to death would receive a stay of execution until the baby was born. It was called “pleading the belly” and often resulted the death sentence being reduced to a less severe penalty once the pregnancy was over.

Of course, anyone could say they’re pregnant without actually being with child. So how did courts determine whether it was true?

It was standard practice to assemble all-female juries, called “juries of matrons”, to determine whether a woman was pregnant and could therefore avoid hanging for capital offences. These were also features of Australia’s colonial legal system, with juries of matrons being used in trials until the early 1900s.

Exploring the history of these juries reveals how the roles of women in our legal systems have changed over time. It also shows a shift in beliefs about who is an expert in the female body, and who gets to make decisions about it.

Highly regarded medical experts

All-female juries existed as early as 1140 in England and persisted until 1931. Their role in the courts was highly regarded. They were medical experts. If they found the woman was “quick with child” (pregnant), their findings were not disputed.

In addition to determining whether a woman was pregnant, they helped evaluate inheritance claims, examined females to determine whether they bore the physical marks of witchcraft, and decide whether a woman accused of infanticide had given birth. They provided expert medical testimony for the courts but were not necessarily midwives.

A black and white drawing of twelve women in turn of the century dress with various expressions on their faces.
This cartoon, imagining what women on juries would look like, was published in Life Magazine in the US in 1902. Charles Dana Gibson, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

These women were respectable, law-abiding women. Similar to their male counterparts, serving on a jury was a high-status privilege. There is evidence that from 1233 until 1435 in Newcastle upon Tyne, an official pool of matrons existed. They held an appointed position in the court.

Australia’s first civilian jury

Historically, we tend think of juries as only being comprised of males, yet these all-female juries also existed in colonial America and in Australia and New Zealand until the early 1900s. In fact, Australia’s first civilian jury was an all-female jury of matrons.

In 1789, Ann Davis was found guilty of stealing items of clothing. This theft was a capital offence. She “pleaded the belly”.

An all-female jury of matrons was convened to assess her claims, marking the first time a civilian jury was used in Australia. More than 200 years ago, the 76-year-old forewoman of that jury found, “Gentlemen! She is as much with child as I am”. Her plea unsuccessful, Davis became the first woman hung in Australia.

Another notable example of pleading the belly was Elizabeth McGree in South Australia. In 1883 she was charged with killing a man. The “powerfully built man” had been drinking with her husband that evening. After the husband passed out drunk, the man left the house, only to return in the early hours of the morning.

A clip put of the telegrams section of an old newspaper
An extract of the Border Watch newspaper from Mount Gambier on December 23 1882, discussing McGree’s case. Border Watch/National Library of Australia

The forensic evidence demonstrated he kicked in the door, strangling McGree while also attempting to rape her. McGree’s 12-year-old son hit the man on the head with a hammer in an effort to stop the assault. After the initial blow, McGree started to beat the man with the hammer (who got up after her son’s first blow and wandered outside, promising not to touch her again) and stabbed him with a knife.

McGree was found guilty, despite the forensic evidence, largely because she allowed the man to drink liquor at the house with her husband. She was sentenced to hang.

Once found guilty, she pleaded the belly and a jury of matrons was called. They determined she was “quick with child”, and she dodged the noose. She later gave birth to her child in Gladstone Prison. Her death sentence was commuted to ten years.

If the pregnancy resulted in birth, a reprieve from the noose was fairly common. This raised the concern among men that women might falsely plead the belly to avoid a capital offence. They worried a jury of matrons, being “naturally” sympathetic, might grant them a reprieve from death.

While there is scant evidence this was the case, to address this concern, the laws around pleading the belly stipulated this plea could only be made once. If a pregnant woman was granted a reprieve from death to have the baby, she could be executed for any future crime – even if pregnant.

Women “too irrational” for courts

By the late 1800s, suspicion that juries of matrons were “soft” and that women were abusing the belly plea merged with concerns that women were “too irrational, too burdened by suckling infants, too sexually ignorant or too easily corrupted by sexual knowledge” to have a role in courts.

These concerns, along with the rise of medical professionals and the invention of the stethoscope, shifted the balance of power away from the jury of matrons and towards male medical officers.

Who had expert knowledge of the female body shifted. Until this point, women determined whether the fetus was alive by examining the women and feeling for signs of fetal movement or “quickening”. Quickening was considered the moment the fetus becomes animated with a soul, and thus fully human.

Now, the stethoscope could detect a fetal heartbeat. This was considered a more reliable method of establishing pregnancy.

The jury of matrons disappeared from the courts in Australia. It was another 50 years before women in Australia would be allowed to serve on juries. Progress, in terms of female representation, is rarely linear.

Juries of matrons were an extraordinary example of women having an official role in a justice system otherwise dominated by men. The examples of women pleading the belly provide a glimpse the role and interactions women had in Australia’s early legal systems.The Conversation

Alice Neikirk, Program Convenor, Criminology, University of Newcastle

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

Alphonse Mucha and Art Nouveau: 100 years after its creation, his work is still a balm for a world in upheaval

Alphonse Mucha ‘Reverie’ 1898, colour lithograph, 72.7 x 55.2 cm © Mucha Trust 2024
Will Visconti, University of Sydney

Alphonse Mucha’s body of work is full of contradictions.

He is most often identified with late 19th-century Paris, but was in fact Moravian (Czech). His vision for the purpose of art was for the betterment of humanity and creation of utopia, but his most famous artworks are advertisements. His style typifies Art Nouveau, a movement at its peak between the 1890s and 1910s, but his career spanned several decades from the late 1800s until his death in 1939.

Self-portrait with posters for Sarah Bernhardt at Mucha’s studio in rue du Val-de-Grâce, Paris, c1901 © Mucha Trust 2024.

Born in 1860 in what is now the Czech Republic, Mucha trained in Paris. He worked as an illustrator in Paris and Prague, and exhibited work in the Paris Salon before rising to fame with his poster works and branching out into other media. After several visits to the United States, he returned to his homeland in 1910 and remained there until his death in 1939.

A new exhibition of his work at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the largest of its kind seen in Australia with over 200 pieces on display, shows the full breadth of Mucha’s work and his commitment to the transformative power of art across media.

Art and ideals

The twin concerns of Mucha’s art are beauty and identity, specifically, national identity.

This may provide the biggest surprise to viewers who recognise his work, showing the extent of his productivity over so many decades and multiple media. Not only did Mucha compose his iconic posters and design jewellery, but he created murals for Czech municipal buildings and a portfolio of designs for interiors.

Alphonse Mucha, Princess Hyacinth. 1911, colour lithograph 125.5 x 83.5 cm © Mucha Trust 2024.

Significantly, he also designed postage stamps and banknotes in 1918 for the newly-formed Republic of Czechoslovakia.

His work is suffused with his utopian ideals and vision for a better world. For Mucha, art was for all. He believed in the power of art to make the world kinder and more beautiful. Such was the popularity of his posters that people removed them as soon as they were put up, to keep for themselves.

His works define the Art Nouveau (“new art”) style of the late 1800s, full of dynamic natural forms or shapes. The vines and flowers that decorate and frame Mucha’s artworks are also found in art, architecture and interior design.

L Alphonse Mucha, Zodiac. 1896, colour lithograph 65.7 x 48.2cm, The Mucha Collection © Mucha Trust 2024.

To compose these works, Mucha used photographs of models as figure studies, which fill a wall of the exhibition. These photographs include Mucha himself posing with his daughter Jaroslava, a frequent collaborator and artist in her own right.

Celebrity and brand development

After the internationally-renowned actor the “Divine” Sarah Bernhardt, commissioned Mucha for a last-minute poster design, his own celebrity increased. Mucha began work on the poster for Bernhardt’s play, Gismonda, on Boxing Day 1894, and it was ready by New Year’s Day 1895. So began a fruitful relationship between the two.

Sarah Berhhardt posters
Installation view of the Alphonse Mucha: Spirit of Art Nouveau exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 15 June – 22 September 2024. Photo © Art Gallery of New South Wales, Diana Panuccio

Bernhardt, herself a sculptor, was rendered in larger-than-life sized posters for many of her plays, which convey the drama and tragedy of her performances, including roles as Hamlet and Lorenzo de’ Medici. When Bernhardt saw the Gismonda poster, she declared “You have made me immortal”.

Adjacent to these images conveying the glamour of celebrity and consumerism, the exhibition includes several works that highlight Mucha’s engagement with spirituality, Freemasonry and mysticism.

Alphonse Mucha, Sarah Bernhardt: La Plume art edition poster. 1897, colour lithograph, 69 x 51 cm © Mucha Trust 2024.

A curious juxtaposition in another room shows Mucha’s involvement with advertising alongside his famous rendering of seasons or artforms as allegorical figures. Where series of richly-decorated images show beautiful young women with glistening gold and silver, the largest and most eye-catching work is an advertisement for Nestlé.

By depicting lissom women in a recognisable style, products grabbed attention without necessarily being depicted, as with JOB cigarettes or Moët & Chandon.

Alphonse Mucha, Poster for JOB cigarette papers. 1896, colour lithograph, 66.7 x 46.4 cm © Mucha Trust 2024.

The Slav epic and national pride

Since his teen years, Mucha had a sense of patriotism, expressed first through amateur dramatics and later through his artworks.

This patriotic fervour is best encapsulated in the monumental Slav Epic, 20 canvases tracing pivotal episodes in Slavic history. The work was intended to educate and inspire the Slavic people to build a peaceful future and learn from their past. It is crowned with a golden Christ-like figure to embody the new republic.

Alphonse Mucha, The Slav Epic XX: Apotheosis Slavs for Humanity. 1926 (detail) egg tempera and oil on canvas, 480 x 405 cm © Mucha Trust 2024.

Given the fragility of the Slav Epic works to travel beyond their current home in the town of Moravský Krumlov, the Art Gallery of New South Wales instead provides digital projections set to music.

It offers a chance to experience the grandeur of the works, the richness of the colours and imagery, all treated with Mucha’s eye for detail.

Mucha with the Slav Epic canvases as exhibited in the Klementinum, Prague, 1919 © Mucha Trust 2024.

A final display shows both the links to Japanese art in Mucha’s works and the broader taste for Japonisme during the late 1800s. The same influence is seen beyond this exhibition in Toulouse-Lautrec’s posters, with their use of flowing black lines or a limited palette. There are also manga, showing the legacy of Mucha’s artworks now reflected back in Japanese art and album covers. Groups like The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane reproduced or appropriated Mucha posters, drawing on their iconic status and melding it with a psychedelic sensibility.

Alphonse Mucha, The Flowers: Carnation. 1898, colour lithograph on paper,107.5 x 47 cm. © Mucha Trust 2024

This exhibition offers more than just beautiful things. It provide the viewer with a glimpse of art that uplifts, and a balm for a world in upheaval, as it did 100 years ago.

Alphonse Mucha: Spirit of Art Nouveau is at the Art Gallery of New South Wales until September 22.The Conversation

Will Visconti, Teaching staff, Art History, University of Sydney

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

An homage to the dad joke, one of the great traditions of fatherhood

Sometimes lameness – not laughter – is the point. AHPhotoswpg/iStock via Getty Images
Ian Brodie, Cape Breton University and Moira Marsh, Indiana University

“Dad, I’m hungry.”

“Hi, hungry. I’m Dad.”

If you haven’t been asleep for the past 20 years, you’ll probably recognize this exchange as a dad joke.

The term dad joke is credited to a June 20, 1987, editorial in the Gettysburg Times. Writer Jim Kalbaugh praised fathers’ telling of groan-inducing jokes to their children – or, importantly, to others in front of their children.

The practice, Kalbaugh wrote, was “one of the great traditions of fatherhood worth preserving.”

The term stayed remarkably dormant until the internet age: The first entry in Urban Dictionary was in 2004 by a contributor named Bunny; it debuted on Twitter in 2007; joke compilation books were published under the theme starting in 2013 in the U.K. and 2016 in the U.S.; and the Oxford English Dictionary added it to its entry for “dad” in 2014.

The popularity of the term speaks to its resonance. But why do so many dads embrace this form of corny joke telling?

A (beer) league of its own

To better understand dad jokes, let’s start with what they aren’t.

As folklorists who study humor, we’re used to analyzing what are called joke cycles: jokes that spread that share the same structure or topic.

Elephant jokes and light bulb jokes are examples of joke cycles. (How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, but the light bulb has to want to change.)

But dad jokes don’t have a uniform structure. Nor do they center on a specific topic, such as parenting.

Furthermore, dad jokes are not transgressive; they are not sexist, racist, scatological, profane or political. They punch neither up nor down. For these reasons, they don’t involve any sort of risk of offending people; the dad joke is almost the opposite of stand-up comedy.

In addition to being “safe,” dad jokes are generally bad, lame, groan-inducing and so forth. But so are plenty of other jokes – all you have to do is turn on the TV and watch a sitcom to find them.


So, what makes a dad joke a dad joke?

It might be best to think of the dad joke not as a kind of joke but as a kind of performance, one that involves a teller – the dad – and an audience: his kids, friends of his kids, his spouse.

Say a family is out to dinner. Over breadsticks, a daughter might say, “Dad, you need a haircut.” Then dad responds with an unexpected punchline: “I usually get them all cut.”

Abruptly, dad has shifted the mood from casual conversation to joke. Because it’s a harmless quip, no one can recoil in indignation.

The only rule broken is the taboo against telling a bad joke. The child feels vicarious embarrassment for dad’s display of lameness. For his part, the dad knows perfectly well that it was a poor joke – but he doesn’t care.

Soft power plays

There’s a reason they’re called dad jokes and not father jokes.

“Father” retains the seriousness and stature of a patriarch and all of the power imbalances that accompany it: physical dominance, discipline and dependence. In contrast, “dad” implies affection and care. He’s still a male authority figure, but without the toxicity that patriarchy can often imply.

We see the dad joke, then, as an occasion for the dad to assert his fatherly privilege over his family and anyone else within earshot.

It’s a win-win situation for the dad. If the joke gets a laugh, well, good.

But if the joke doesn’t get a laugh … that’s good, too: Dad has intentionally invited this possibility, which is technically known as “unlaughter” and refers to jokes that create embarrassing and socially awkward situations. In this case, the way he flusters his children is his reward.

He’s commanding the room, as a patriarch would, but doing so in the gentlest, most playful way possible.

Telling corny jokes, of course, is not limited to fathers: Most of us are guilty of going for the joke we know will be met with an eye roll and a headshake.

Dad jokes are comfortable jokes for comfortable situations among friends and family. They might elicit a disapproving glare, but they ultimately bring people closer together.

They represent a dad at his most annoying, but also at his best: warm, silly and loving.The Conversation

Ian Brodie, Professor of Folklore, Cape Breton University and Moira Marsh, Librarian for Anthropology, Folklore and Sociology, Indiana University

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

Digital public archaeology: Excavating data from digs done decades ago and connecting with today’s communities

Archaeologists excavate at the Gulkana Site in the 1970s. Dr. William Workman Photo Collection
Emily Fletcher, Purdue University

The ancestors of Alaska Native people began using local copper sources to craft intricate tools roughly 1,000 years ago. Over one-third of all copper objects archaeologists have found in this region were excavated at a single spot, named the Gulkana Site.

This is the site I’ve studied for the past four years as a Ph.D. student at Purdue University. In spite of its importance, the Gulkana Site is not well known.

To my knowledge, it isn’t mentioned in any museums. Locals, including Alaska Native Ahtna people, who descend from the site’s original inhabitants, might recognize the name, but they don’t know much about what happened there. Even among archaeologists, little information is available about it – just a few reports and passing mentions in a handful of publications.

However, the Gulkana Site was first identified and excavated nearly 50 years ago. What gives?

Archaeology has a data management problem, and it is not unique to the Gulkana Site. U.S. federal regulations and disciplinary standards require archaeologists to preserve records of their excavations, but many of these records have never been analyzed. Archaeologists refer to this problem as the “legacy data backlog.”

As an example of this backlog, the Gulkana Site tells a story not only about Ahtna history and copperworking innovation, but also about the ongoing value of archaeological data to researchers and the public alike.

What happens after an excavation?

In the United States, most excavations, including those that have happened at the Gulkana Site, occur through a process called Cultural Resource Management. Since the 1960s, federal regulations in the U.S. have required archaeological excavations prior to certain development projects. Regulations also require that records of any finds be preserved for future generations.

One estimate suggests that this process has created millions of records in the legacy data backlog. Archaeological data is complex, and these records include many file formats, varying from handwritten maps to pictures and spatial data.

The problem is worst for datasets that were created before computers were in common use. Research suggests that archaeologists are biased toward digital datasets, which are easier to access and use with modern methods. Ignoring nondigital datasets means not only abandoning the product of decades of archaeological work, it also silences the human experiences those datasets are meant to preserve. Once a site is excavated, this data is the only way the people who lived there can tell their story.

Archaeologists aren’t sure how to resolve this problem. Many solutions have been proposed, including the creation of new data repositories, making new use of existing datasets whenever possible, and increasing collaboration with other disciplines and with public stakeholders. One of the more creative solutions, the Vesuvius Challenge, recently made headlines for awarding its US$700,000 grand prize to a team that successfully used artificial intelligence to read ancient text.

Digital archaeology excavates old data

Of course, such a complicated problem has no single miracle cure. In my work with the Gulkana Site, I’m employing many of these suggestions through a newer form of archaeology that some researchers are calling digital public archaeology. It combines digital archaeology, which uses computers in archaeological research, with public archaeology, which honors the public’s interest in the past.

For me, archaeology looks different than what people might expect. Instead of spending my days excavating in some fabulous location, my work involves being parked at a computer for hours on end. I dig through old information instead of digging up new information.

As a digital archaeologist, I apply modern methods like AI to bring new life to decades-old data about the Gulkana Site. I write software that converts 50-year-old handwritten excavation notes into a digital map that I can analyze with a computer.

Although it is less glamorous, this work is arguably more important than excavation. Excavation is merely a data collection technique; on its own, it can’t reveal much about a site. This is why there is still much to learn about the Gulkana Site, even though it was excavated decades ago.

Analysis is the way archaeologists learn about the past, and computers make more methods available to us than ever before. In my work, I use computational mapping techniques to study the copper artifacts recovered from the Gulkana Site. Studying where these objects were found will help us understand if they were used by all people at the Gulkana Site or reserved for a select few.

Connecting archaeology to communities today

I am also a public archaeologist; I believe that the past is made meaningful through the people connected to it. This means that my study of the Gulkana Site would be insufficient were it conducted solely by me, alone at my computer 3,000 miles away from Alaska. Instead, I have designed my research in collaboration with descendants of the people who lived at the Gulkana Site to ensure my research holds value to them, not just to archaeologists.

In my research, this means embedding opportunities for youth involvement throughout my project. Each year, I travel to Alaska to host a course about archaeology, Ahtna history, and technology in collaboration with Ahtna leadership and the local school district.

In the course, we take field trips to archaeological sites and the Ahtna Cultural Center. Kids learn about the artifacts found at the Gulkana Site and have an opportunity to make their own. Ahtna leaders share cultural knowledge with students. At the end of the course, students integrate what they’ve learned into a video game about the Gulkana Site.

The goal of my research is to bring new life to the Gulkana Site through digital methods and outreach. My experiences demonstrate that even a site excavated 50 years ago can reveal more to help us better understand the past. Perhaps more importantly, it can also help the next generation gain experience with technological skills and connect with their heritage. Old archaeological data is still meaningful in the digital age – we just have to pay attention to it.The Conversation

Emily Fletcher, Ph.D. Candidate in Archaeology, Purdue University

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

Modern human DNA contains bits from all over the Neanderthal genome – except the Y chromosome. What happened?

Untitled. Tamer A Soliman / Shutterstock
Jenny Graves, La Trobe University

Neanderthals, the closest cousins of modern humans, lived in parts of Europe and Asia until their extinction some 30,000 years ago.

Genetic studies are revealing ever more about the links between modern humans and these long-gone relatives – most recently that a rush of interbreeding between our species occurred in a relatively short burst of time around 47,000 years ago. But one mystery still remains.

The Homo sapiens genome today contains a little bit of Neanderthal DNA. These genetic traces come from almost every part of the Neanderthal genome – except the Y sex chromosome, which is responsible for making males.

So what happened to the Neanderthal Y chromosome? It could have been lost by accident, or because of mating patterns or inferior function. However, the answer may lie in a century-old theory about the health of interspecies hybrids.

Neanderthal sex, genes and chromosomes

Neanderthals and modern humans went their separate ways somewhere between 550,000 and 765,000 years ago in Africa, when Neanderthals wandered off into Europe but our ancestors stayed put. They would not meet again until H. sapiens migrated into Europe and Asia between 40,000 and 50,000 years ago.

Scientists have recovered copies of the full male and female Neanderthal genomes, thanks to DNA from well-preserved bones and teeth of Neanderthal individuals in Europe and Asia. Unsurprisingly, the Neanderthal genome was very similar to ours, containing about 20,000 genes bundled into 23 chromosomes.

Like us, they had two copies of 22 of those chromosomes (one from each parent), and also a pair of sex chromosomes. Females had two X chromosomes, while males had one X and one Y.

Y chromosomes are hard to sequence because they contain a lot of repetitive “junk” DNA, so the Neanderthal Y genome has only been partially sequenced. However, the large chunk that has been sequenced contains versions of several of the same genes that are in the modern human Y chromosome.

In modern humans, a Y chromosome gene called SRY kickstarts the process of an XY embryo developing into a male. The SRY gene plays this role in all apes, so we assume it did for Neanderthals as well – even though we haven’t found the Neanderthal SRY gene itself.

Interspecies mating left us with Neanderthal genes

There are lots of little giveaways that mark a DNA sequence as coming from a Neanderthal or a H. sapiens. So we can look for bits of Neanderthal DNA sequence in the genomes of modern humans.

The genomes of all human lineages originating in Europe contain about 2% Neanderthal DNA sequences. Lineages from Asia and India contain even more, while lineages restricted to Africa have none. Some ancient Homo sapiens genomes contained even more – 6% or so – so it looks like the Neanderthal genes are gradually fading out.

Most of this Neanderthal DNA arrived in a 7,000-year period about 47,000 years ago, after modern humans came out of Africa into Europe, and before Neanderthals became extinct about 30,000 years ago. During this time there must have been many pairings between Neanderthals and humans.

At least half of the whole Neanderthal genome can be pieced together from fragments found in the genomes of different contemporary humans. We have our Neanderthal ancestors to thank for traits including red hair, arthritis and resistance to some diseases.

There is one glaring exception. No contemporary humans have been found to harbour any part of the Neanderthal Y chromosome.

What happened to the Neanderthal Y chromosome?

Was it just bad luck that the Neanderthal Y chromosome got lost? Was it not very good at its job of making males? Did Neanderthal women, but not men, indulge in interspecies mating? Or was there something toxic about the Neanderthal Y so it wouldn’t work with human genes?

A Y chromosome comes to the end of the line if its bearers have no sons, so it may simply have been lost over thousands of generations.

Or maybe the Neanderthal Y was never present in interspecies matings. Perhaps it was always modern human men who fell in love with (or traded, seized or raped) Neanderthal women? Sons born to these women would all have the H. sapiens form of the Y chromosome. However, it’s hard to reconcile this idea with the finding that there is no trace of Neanderthal mitochondrial DNA (which is limited to the female line) in modern humans.

Or perhaps the Neanderthal Y chromosome was just not as good at is job as its H. sapiens rival. Neanderthal populations were always small, so harmful mutations would have been more likely to accumulate.

We know that Y chromosomes with a particularly useful gene (for instance for more or better or faster sperm) rapidly replace other Y chromosomes in a population (called the hitchhiker effect).

We also know the Y chromosome is degrading overall in humans. It is even possible that SRY was lost from the Neanderthal Y, and that Neanderthals were in the disruptive process of evolving a new sex-determining gene, like some rodents have.

Was the Neanderthal Y chromosome toxic in hybrid boys?

Another possibility is that the Neanderthal Y chromosome won’t work with genes on other chromosomes from modern humans.

The missing Neanderthal Y may then be explained by “Haldane’s rule”. In the 1920s, British biologist J.B.S. Haldane noted that, in hybrids between species, if one sex is infertile, rare or unhealthy, it is always the sex with unlike sex chromosomes.

In mammals and other animals where females have XX chromosomes and males have XY, it is disproportionately male hybrids that are unfit or infertile. In birds, butterflies and other animals where males have ZZ chromosomes and females have ZW, it is the females.

Many crosses between different species of mice show this pattern, as do feline crosses. For example, in lion–tiger crosses (ligers and tigons), females are fertile but males are sterile.

We still lack a good explanation of Haldane’s rule. It is one of the enduring mysteries of classic genetics.

But it seems reasonable that the Y chromosome from one species has evolved to work with genes from the other chromosomes of its own species, and might not work with genes from a related species that contain even small changes.

We know that genes on the Y evolve much faster than genes on other chromosomes, and several have functions in making sperm, which may explain the infertility of male hybrids.

So this might explain why the Neanderthal Y got lost. It also raises the possibility that it was the fault of the Y chromosome, in imposing a reproductive barrier, that Neanderthals and humans became separate species in the first place.The Conversation

Jenny Graves, Distinguished Professor of Genetics and Vice Chancellor's Fellow, La Trobe University

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

How Indigenous peoples are reclaiming their celebrations of the summer solstice − and using them to resist

Sacred site of the Wixárika people in Real de Catorce, San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Jmc.cantero/Wikimedia, CC BY-SA
Jason E. Ybarra, West Virginia University

If we were to watch the Sun rise every morning, we would notice that its location appears to shift a little each day.

During springtime in the Northern Hemisphere, the Sun appears on the horizon farther north each day. Annually, around June 20 or 21, this motion appears to stop in what is known as the summer solstice. During that time, the Earth’s axis is angled toward the Sun, and the intensity of sunlight on the Northern Hemisphere is greatest.

A diagram illustrating the position of the Sun at three points along the curvature of the Earth.
Sunrise at the solstices and equinoxes in the Northern Hemisphere. J. Ybarra, CC BY-NC

As a historian of astronomy, I am interested in the role astronomical events had on ancient people and continue to have in modern times. My ancestors lived on the Central Mexican Plateau, where for many Indigenous cultures, both past and present, the rising and setting of the Sun during equinoxes and solstices were sacred events.

North American solstice rituals

The significance of the summer solstice to the Indigenous peoples of Mexico largely depended on regional agricultural cycles. The summer solstice was not acknowledged in the ritual calendar of the Aztecs. This may be because in the basin of Mexico the rainy season begins in early May, and there was little agricultural activity in June.

In the Sierra Madre Occidental range northwest of the basin, however, the rainy season begins in late June. The Wixárika people of the region celebrate the summer solstice with the festival of Namawita Neixa, marking the beginning of their planting season. The Wixárika are subsistence farmers who grow primarily maize, beans and squash. They are known for their annual pilgrimages into the Wirikuta desert, which they believe is the birthplace of the Sun.

For many of the Indigenous peoples of the U.S. and Canada, the summer solstice is associated with a ceremonial Sun dance. The ceremony is thought to have originated with the Sioux people and spread throughout the Great Plains in the early 19th century after being adopted by neighboring tribes.

This time period also coincided with the forced displacement of Indigenous peoples from their ancestral lands, resulting in extreme cultural changes, where bison hunting and communal land use were replaced with sedentary life and farming on individual plots of land.

Suppression of Indigenous culture

In 1883, the U.S. government began a campaign to suppress the Sun dances, designating them as offenses for which penalties included imprisonment. The dominant culture at the time did not consider Indigenous rituals and beliefs as genuine religion – it was thus believed that they could not be afforded the protections of the First Amendment.

In the struggle for religious freedom and to preserve their traditions, many tribal leaders presented the dances as social events and celebrations of national holidays, most notably the Fourth of July. In other tribal communities, the dances were held in secret.

It wasn’t until 1934 that the U.S. government partially reversed its policy and allowed the dance to be performed again, although still prohibiting some ritual aspects.

In 1972, almost a century after the initial suppression, the Lakota Sun Dance was held once again at the Pine Ridge Reservation in its full traditional form. Six years later, Congress passed the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, acknowledging the right of Native Americans to participate in traditional ceremonies, access sacred sites, and possess sacred objects.

Ritual to resistance

In modern times, Indigenous people are dealing with many other challenges that include environmental degradation and cultural appropriation.

In the Wirikuta desert of north-central Mexico, increased industrial farming has resulted in accelerated extraction of groundwater and the reduction of biodiversity. The Wixárika people are becoming increasingly concerned about the effect this is having on their traditional lifestyle.

Around the summer solstice of 2023, a special pilgrimage was made by members of a regional Wixárika council to pray for rain, protection of their sacred lands and “renewal of the world.” The region has been experiencing recent heat waves and droughts. After the ceremony, the council released a public statement in which it petitioned the Mexican government for protections for their way of life and the environment.

In the U.S., a new struggle surrounds the Sun dance: In the 1980s, nonnative entrepreneurs started the commercialization of Indigenous products and practices. This includes the organization of ceremonies and dances for profit, which are usually devoid of history and cultural context. The profits rarely trickle back into the communities, many of which struggle for basic resources. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1 in 3 Indigenous Americans live in poverty.

In response, during an international convention of Sioux people in June 1993, a unanimous Declaration of War Against Exploiters of Lakota Spirituality was passed, calling on all Indigenous peoples to resist the exploitation and abuse of their sacred traditions. This has led to limiting the participation of many Sun dances to tribal members. Today, Native Americans are still actively working to preserve their culture and spirituality.

Both the words “solstice” and “resist” derive from the Latin verb sistere, which means “to stop” or “to stand still.” Interestingly, some acts of resistance by Indigenous peoples to preserve their traditional ways of life revolve around the solstice.

The Wixárika people are asking the outside world to stop industrial practices that are damaging the environment. The Sioux are demanding a stop to the exploitation of their sacred traditions.The Conversation

Jason E. Ybarra, Teaching Assistant Professor, West Virginia University

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

Ultra-processed foods: here’s how they may affect the way the immune system functions

Ultra-processed foods have been linked to poor health in many ways. Lightspring/ Shutterstock
Samuel J. White, York St John University and Philippe B. Wilson, York St John University

In our fast-paced world, convenience can often come at the cost of nutrition. This shift has led to an increased reliance on ultra-processed foods.

But diets high in ultra-processed foods are increasingly being linked to numerous health issues – including obesity, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular diseases. The poor nutritional profile of ultra-processed foods, which often lack essential nutrients and fibre, plays a significant role in these health risks.

There’s also growing evidence that ultra-processed foods may affect how our immune system works. This may explain why some studies have linked ultra-processed foods with inflammatory bowel disease and potentially autoimmune diseases.

Ultra-processed foods (such as packaged snacks, sugary drinks, instant noodles and ready-to-eat meals) often contain emulsifiers, microparticles (such as titanium dioxide), thickeners, stabilisers, flavours and colourants. While research on humans is limited, studies on mice have shown that these ingredients alter the gut microbiome (the community of microorganisms living in the intestines) in several ways. These many microbiome changes can in turn affect the way the immune system functions.

The microbiome and the immune system

Studies on mice have shown exposure to low concentrations of emulsifiers can weaken the gut’s mucus barrier. This can make it easier for microbes (including harmful ones) to cross in and out of the gut. Changes in the mucus barrier’s integrity also correlated with higher levels of inflammatory markers. These are signs the body’s immune system is activated.

The lack of fibre typical of diets high in ultra-processed foods may also affect the gut barrier’s integrity. The gut’s microbes need to digest fibre in order to produce short-chain fatty acids. These molecules help maintain the integrity of the intestinal barrier and regulate immune responses by dampening inflammation and helping produce T cells – a type of immune cell that attacks pathogens. Without these molecules, the integrity of the intestinal barrier may weaken and inflammation may increase.

Ultra-processed foods are also linked to changes in the gut microbiome’s composition. Diets high in saturated fats, sugars, salt and additives (such as emulsifiers) have all been shown to decrease the abundance of beneficial bacteria that help maintain the gut barrier in mice. There was also an increase in harmful bacteria that triggered inflammation.

A depiction of the gut microbiome and the microbes that live in it.
In mice, ultra-processed foods were shown to lower levels of beneficial gut bacteria. Sebastian Kaulitzki/ Shutterstock

Additionally, ultra-processed foods can turn on harmful genes in normally benign gut bacteria. This could potentially lead to chronic inflammation.

Real-world evidence

Observational studies in humans appear to support these findings.

Research has shown a link between diets high in ultra-processed foods and signs of systemic inflammation, changes in gut microbiome diversity, increased production of gut molecules that cause inflammation and decreased production of beneficial short-chain fatty acids.

For example, one trial showed that a diet high in ultra-processed foods led to higher calorie intake and weight gain compared to a diet without any ultra-processed foods that was matched for calories and sodium levels. Over time, highly ultra-processed diets may contribute to obesity and chronic inflammation. Both factors are closely linked to alterations in the gut microbiome – including decreased microbial diversity and increased gut permeability – which may subsequently affect immune function.

Other research has shown that consuming a lot of salt – common in ultra-processed foods – can increase the number of T cells the body generates, which may increase inflammation. A high-salt diet was also linked with lower levels of beneficial Lactobacillus bacteria in the gut. These bacteria help maintain good gut health by inhibiting harmful bacteria and supporting the gut barrier.

Another study found that when people avoided ultra-processed foods, they had significantly lower levels of systemic inflammation and a healthier gut microbiome compared to when they were following their usual diet. It’s not clear how many ultra-processed foods their normal diets included, however.

It’s important to note that these are observational studies, which can only show a correlation and cannot prove causation. There may very well be other factors (aside from diet) influencing these findings.

More research is needed to fully elucidate why ultra-processed foods are so harmful. But the current evidence linking ultra-processed foods to poor health, particularly concerning gut health and immune function, is compelling. As ultra-processed foods become a more significant part of global diets, understanding how they affect our health is crucial.The Conversation

Samuel J. White, Associate Professor & Head of Projects, York St John University and Philippe B. Wilson, Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor: Innovation and Knowledge Exchange, York St John University

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

book of the month - june/july 2024: Voss by patrick white

Voss (1957) is the fifth published novel by Patrick White. It is based upon the life of the 19th-century Prussian explorer and naturalist Ludwig Leichhardt, who disappeared while on an expedition into the Australian outback.

The novel centres on two characters: Voss, a German, and Laura, a young woman, orphaned and new to the colony of New South Wales. It opens as they meet for the first time in the house of Laura's uncle and the patron of Voss's expedition, Mr Bonner.

Johann Ulrich Voss sets out to cross the Australian continent in 1845. After collecting a party of settlers and two Aboriginal men, his party heads inland from the coast only to meet endless adversity. The explorers cross drought-plagued desert, then waterlogged lands until they retreat to a cave where they lie for weeks waiting for the rain to stop. Voss and Laura retain a connection despite Voss's absence and the story intersperses developments in each of their lives. Laura adopts an orphaned child and attends a ball during Voss's absence.

The travelling party splits in two and nearly all members eventually perish. The story ends some 20 years later at a garden party hosted by Laura's cousin Belle Radclyffe (née Bonner) on the day of the unveiling of a statue of Voss. The party is also attended by Laura Trevelyan and the one remaining member of Voss's expeditionary party, Mr Judd.

The strength of the novel comes not from the physical description of the events in the story but from the explorers' passion, insight and doom. The novel draws heavily on the complex character of Voss. The spirituality of Australia's indigenous people also infuses the sections of the book set in the desert.

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1973

The Australian Patrick White has been awarded the 1973 Nobel Literature Prize “for an epic and psychological narrative art which has introduced a new continent into literature”, as it says in the Swedish Academy’s citation. White’s growing fame is based chiefly on seven novels of which the earliest masterly work is The Aunt’s Story, a portrayal imbued with remarkable feeling of a lonely, unmarried, Australian woman’s life during experiences that extend also to Europe and America. The book with which White really made his name, however, was The Tree of Man, an epically broad and psychologically discerning account of a part of Australian social development in the form of two people’s long life together, and struggle against outward and inward difficulties.

Another aspect of Australia is shown in Voss, in which a fanatical explorer in the country’s interior meets his fate: an intensive character study against the background of the fascinating Australian wilds. The writer displays yet another kind of art in Riders in the Chariot, with special emphasis on his cystic and symbolic tendencies: a sacrificial drama, tense, yet with an everyday setting, in the midst of current Australian reality. From contrasting viewpoints, The Solid Mandala gives a double portrait of two brothers, in which the sterilely rational brother is set against the fertilely intuitive one, who is almost a fool in the eyes of the world.

White’s last two books are among his greatest feats, both as to size and to frenzied building up of tension. The Vivisector is the imaginary biography of an artist, in which a whole life is disclosed in a relentless scrutiny of motives and springs of action: an artist’s untiring battle to express the utmost while sacrificing both himself and his fellow-beings in the attempt. The Eye of the Storm places an old, dying woman in the centre of a narrative which revolves round, and encloses, the whole of her environment, past and present, until we have come to share an entire life panorama, in which everyone is on a decisive dramatic footing with the old lady.

Particularly, these latest books show White’s unbroken creative power, an ever deeper restlessness and seeking urge, an onslaught against vital problems that have never ceased to engage him, and a wrestling with the language in order to extract all its power and all its nuances, to the verge of the unattainable. White’s literary production has failings that belong to great and bold writing, exceeding, as it does, different kinds of conventional limits. He is the one who, for the first time, has given the continent of Australia an authentic voice that carries across the world, at the same time as his achievement contributes to the development, both artistic and, as regards ideas, of contemporary literature.


Patrick Victor Martindale White (28 May 1912 – 30 September 1990) was a British-born Australian writer who published 12 novels, three short-story collections, and eight plays, from 1935 to 1987.

White was born in Knightsbridge, London, to Victor Martindale White and Ruth (née Withycombe), both Australians, in their apartment overlooking Hyde Park, London on 28 May 1912.  His family returned to Sydney, Australia, when he was six months old. As a child he lived in a flat with his sister, a nanny, and a maid while his parents lived in an adjoining flat. In 1916 they moved to a house in Elizabeth Bay that many years later became a nursing home, Lulworth House, the residents of which included Gough Whitlam, Neville Wran, and White's partner Manoly Lascaris.

At the age of four White developed asthma, a condition that had taken the life of his maternal grandfather. White's health was fragile throughout his childhood, which precluded his participation in many childhood activities.

He loved the theatre, which he first visited at an early age (his mother took him to see The Merchant of Venice at the age of six). This love was expressed at home when he performed private rites in the garden and danced for his mother's friends.

At the age of five he attended kindergarten at Sandtoft in Woollahra, in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs, followed by 2 years at Cranbrook School.

At the age of ten White was sent to Tudor House School, a boarding school in Moss Vale in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, in an attempt to abate his asthma. It took him some time to adjust to the presence of other children. At boarding school, he started to write plays. Even at this early age, White wrote about palpably adult themes. In 1924 the boarding school ran into financial trouble, and the headmaster suggested that White be sent to a public school in England, a suggestion that his parents accepted.

Lulworth, White's childhood home in Elizabeth Bay, Sydney

White struggled to adjust to his new surroundings at Cheltenham College, England, describing it later as "a four-year prison sentence". He withdrew socially and had a limited circle of acquaintances. Occasionally, he would holiday with his parents at European locations, but their relationship remained distant. But he did spend time with his cousin Jack Withycombe during this period, and Jack's daughter Elizabeth Withycombe became a mentor to him while he was writing his first book of poems, Thirteen Poems between the years 1927–29.

While at school in London White made one close friend, Ronald Waterall, an older boy who shared similar interests. White's biographer, David Marr, wrote that "the two men would walk, arm-in-arm, to London shows; and stand around stage doors crumbing for a glimpse of their favourite stars, giving a practical demonstration of a chorus girl's high kick ... with appropriate vocal accompaniment". When Waterall left school White again withdrew. He asked his parents if he could leave school to become an actor. The parents compromised and allowed him to finish school early if he came home to Australia to try life on the land. They felt he should work on the land rather than become a writer, and hoped his work as a jackaroo would temper his artistic ambitions.

White spent two years working as a stockman at Bolaro, a 73-square-kilometre (28 sq mi) station near Adaminaby on the edge of the Snowy Mountains in south-eastern Australia. Although he grew to respect the land, and his health improved, it was clear that he was not suited to this work.

In 1936, White met the painter Roy De Maistre, 18 years his senior, who became an important influence in his life and work. The two men never became lovers but remained firm friends. In White's own words, "He became what I most needed, an intellectual and aesthetic mentor". They had many similarities: both were gay and felt like outsiders in their own families, for whom both harboured ambivalent feelings yet maintained close lifelong links with them, particularly their mothers. They also both appreciated the benefits of social standing and its connections. Christian symbolism and biblical themes are common to both artists' work.

White dedicated his first novel Happy Valley to De Maistre, and acknowledged De Maistre's influence on his writing. In 1947 De Maistre's painting Figure in a Garden (The Aunt) was used as the cover for the first edition of White's The Aunt's Story. White bought many of De Maistre's paintings, all of which in 1974 he gave to the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Toward the end of the 1930s White spent time in the United States, including Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and New York City – artistic hotbeds at the time, where he wrote The Living and the Dead. By the time World War II broke out he had returned to London and joined the British Royal Air Force. He was accepted as an intelligence officer, and was posted to the Middle East. He served in Egypt, Palestine, and Greece before the war was over. While in the Middle East he had an affair with a Greek army officer, Manoly Lascaris, who was to become his life partner.

White, circa 1940s

White and Lascaris lived together in Cairo for six years before moving in 1948 to a small farm purchased by White at Castle Hill, now a Sydney suburb but then semi-rural. He named the house "Dogwoods", after trees he planted there. They lived there for 18 years, selling flowers, vegetables, milk, and cream as well as pedigree puppies. 

White's house in Castle Hill, Sydney. Photo: By Sardaka 

After the war, when White had settled down with Lascaris, his reputation as a writer increased with publication of The Aunt's Story and The Tree of Man in the United States in 1955 and shortly after in the United Kingdom. The Tree of Man was released to rave reviews in the United States, but in what had become a typical pattern, it was panned in Australia. White had doubts about whether to continue writing after his books were largely dismissed in Australia (three of them having been called 'un-Australian' by critics), but decided to persevere, and a breakthrough in Australia came when his next novel, Voss, won the inaugural Miles Franklin Literary Award.

In 1961, White published Riders in the Chariot, a bestseller and a prize-winner, garnering a second Miles Franklin Award.  A number of White's books from the 1960s depict the fictional town of Sarsaparilla; his collection of short stories, The Burnt Ones, and the play, The Season at Sarsaparilla. Clearly established in his reputation as one of the world's great authors, he remained a private person, resisting opportunities for interviews and public appearances, though his circle of friends widened significantly.

Deciding not to accept any more prizes for his work, White declined both the $10,000 Britannia Award and another Miles Franklin Award. Harry M. Miller proposed to work on a screenplay for Voss but nothing came of it. He became an active opponent of literary censorship and joined a number of other public figures in signing a statement of defiance against Australia's decision to participate in the Vietnam War. His name had sometimes been mentioned as a contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature, but in 1971, after losing to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, he wrote to a friend: "That Nobel Prize! I hope I never hear it mentioned again. I certainly don't want it; the machinery behind it seems a bit dirty, when we thought that only applied to Australian awards. In my case to win the prize would upset my life far too much, and it would embarrass me to be held up to the world as an Australian writer when, apart from the accident of blood, I feel I am temperamentally a cosmopolitan Londoner".

Nevertheless, in 1973, White did accept the Nobel Prize "for an epic and psychological narrative art, which has introduced a new continent into literature". His cause was said to have been championed by a Scandinavian diplomat resident in Australia.[19] White enlisted Nolan to travel to Stockholm to accept the prize on his behalf. The award had an immediate impact on his career, as his publisher doubled the print run for The Eye of the Storm and gave him a larger advance for his next novel. White used the money from the prize to establish a trust to fund the Patrick White Award, given annually to established creative writers who have received little public recognition. He was invited by the House of Representatives to be seated on the floor of the House in recognition of his achievement. White declined, explaining that his nature could not easily adapt itself to such a situation. The last time such an invitation had been extended was in 1928, to pioneer aviator Bert Hinkler.

White was made Australian of the Year for 1974, but in a typically rebellious fashion, his acceptance speech encouraged Australians to spend the day reflecting on the state of the country. Privately, he was less than enthusiastic about it. In a letter to Marshall Best on 27 January 1974, he wrote: "Something terrible happened to me last week. There is an organisation which chooses an Australian of the Year, who has to appear at an official lunch in Melbourne Town Hall on Australia Day. This year I was picked on as they had run through all the swimmers, tennis players, yachtsmen".

After the death of White's mother in 1963, they moved into a large house, Highbury, in Centennial Park, where they lived for the rest of their lives.

White and Lascaris hosted many dinner parties at Highbury, their Centennial Park home, a leafy part of the Sydney's affluent Eastern Suburbs. In Patrick White, A Life, his biographer David Marr portrays White as a genial host but one who easily fell out with friends.

Patrick White's home Highbury, in Centennial Park, Sydney.  Photo: By Sardaka

White supported the conservative, business oriented Liberal Party of Australia until the election of Gough Whitlam's Labor government and, following the 1975 Australian constitutional crisis, he became particularly antiroyalist, making a rare appearance on national television to broadcast his views on the matter. White also publicly expressed his admiration for the historian Manning Clark, satirist Barry Humphries, and unionist Jack Mundey.

Marr dismissed ideas of White's Christian faith, which Patricia Morley has considered a weakness in the biography. Greg J Clarke has argued that Christian faith is central to White's fiction, even in the way that White uses apocalyptic imagery in the landscape of his 1957 work, Voss. He personally found it all but impossible to follow Christ's instruction to forgive, which he believed precluded him from becoming a Christian. Even so, in one essay he revealed, "What I am interested in is the relationship between the blundering human being and God."

During the 1970s, White's health began to deteriorate: he had issues with his teeth, his eyesight was failing and he had chronic lung problems. During this time he became more openly political, and commented publicly on current issues. He was among the first group of the Companions of the Order of Australia in 1975 but resigned in June 1976 in protest at the dismissal of the Whitlam government in November 1975 by the Governor-General Sir John Kerr. In 1979, his novel The Twyborn Affair was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, but White requested that it to be removed to give younger writers a chance to win. (The prize was won by Penelope Fitzgerald, who ironically was just four years younger than White.) Soon after, White announced that he had written his last novel, and thenceforth would write only for radio or the stage.

White in 1972. National Archives of Australia image

Director Jim Sharman introduced himself to White while walking down a Sydney street, some time after White had seen a politically loaded stage revue by Sharman, Terror Australis, which had been panned by Sydney newspaper critics. White had written a letter to the editor of a newspaper defending the show. There was a significant difference in their ages, but the two men became friends. Sharman in his theatrical circle, as well as his visual style as a director, inspired White to write a couple of new plays, notably Big Toys with its satirical portrayal of a posh and vulgar upper-class Sydney society. A few years later, Sharman asked White if he could make a film of The Night the Prowler. White agreed and wrote the screenplay for the film.

In 1981, White published his autobiography, Flaws in the Glass: a self-portrait, which explored issues about which he had publicly said little, such as his homosexuality, his dislike of the "subservient" attitude of Australian society towards Britain and the Royal family, and also the distance he had felt from his mother. On Palm Sunday, 1982, White addressed a crowd of 30,000 people, calling for a ban on uranium mining and for the destruction of nuclear weapons.

In 1986 White released one last novel, Memoirs of Many in One, but it was published under the pen name "Alex Xenophon Demirjian Gray" with White named as editor. In the same year, Voss was turned into an opera, with music by Richard Meale and the libretto adapted by David Malouf. White refused to see it when it was first performed at the Adelaide Festival of Arts, because Queen Elizabeth II had been invited, and chose instead to see it later in Sydney. In 1987, White wrote Three Uneasy Pieces, which incorporated his musings on ageing and society's efforts to achieve aesthetic perfection. When David Marr finished his biography of White in July 1990, his subject spent nine days going over the details with him.

White passed away in Sydney on 30 September 1990.

A 2024 review of White's legacy noted that, while a number of places of significance to his life have been afforded heritage protection, his works are less widely known in Australia than might be expected of one of the country's few Nobel Prize winners, even in literary circles. 

In 2006 a literary hoax was perpetrated whereby a chapter of his novel The Eye of the Storm was submitted to a dozen Australian publishers under the name Wraith Picket (an anagram of White's name). All of the publishers rejected the manuscript and none recognised it as White's work. All those young writers from the peninsula should take note of this - just because your work has been rejected by a publisher does not mean they know or can recognise good work when they have it placed in their hands.

Write on!

The world at your finger tips: Online

With current advice to stay at home and self-isolate, when you come in out of the garden, have had your fill of watching movies and want to explore something new, there's a whole world of books you can download, films you can watch and art galleries you can stroll through - all from at home and via the internet. This week a few suggestions of some of the resources available for you to explore and enjoy. For those who have a passion for Art - this month's Artist of the Month is the Online Australian Art Galleries and State Libraries where you can see great works of art from all over the world  and here - both older works and contemporary works.

Also remember the Project Gutenberg Australia - link here- has heaps of great books, not just focused on Australian subjects but fiction works by popular authors as well. Well worth a look at.

Short Stories for Teenagers you can read for free online

StoryStar is an online resource where you can access and read short stories for teenagers


Storystar is a totally FREE short stories site featuring some of the best short stories online, written by/for kids, teens, and adults of all ages around the world, where short story writers are the stars, and everyone is free to shine! Storystar is dedicated to providing a free place where everyone can share their stories. Stories can entertain us, enlighten us, and change us. Our lives are full of stories; stories of joy and sorrow, triumph and tragedy, success and failure. The stories of our lives matter. Share them. Sharing stories with each other can bring us closer together and help us get to know one another better. Please invite your friends and family to visit Storystar to read, rate and share all the short stories that have been published here, and to tell their stories too.

StoryStar headquarters are located on the central Oregon coast.

NFSA - National Film and Sound Archive of Australia

The doors may be temporarily closed but when it comes to the NFSA, we are always open online. We have content for Kids, Animal Lovers, Music fans, Film buffs & lots more.

You can explore what’s available online at the NFSA, see more in the link below.


NLA Ebooks - Free To Download

The National Library of Australia provides access to thousands of ebooks through its website, catalogue and eResources service. These include our own publications and digitised historical books from our collections as well as subscriptions to collections such as Chinese eResources, Early English Books Online and Ebsco ebooks.

What are ebooks?
Ebooks are books published in an electronic format. They can be read by using a personal computer or an ebook reader.

This guide will help you find and view different types of ebooks in the National Library collections.

Peruse the NLA's online ebooks, ready to download - HERE

The Internet Archive and Digital Library

The Internet Archive is an American digital library with the stated mission of "universal access to all knowledge." It provides free public access to collections of digitised materials, including websites, software applications/games, music, movies, videos, moving images, and millions of public-domain books. There's lots of Australian materials amongst the millions of works on offer.

Visit:  https://archive.org/

Avalon Youth Hub: More Meditation Spots

Due to popular demand our meditation evenings have EXPANDED. Two sessions will now be run every Wednesday evening at the Hub. Both sessions will be facilitated by Merryn at Soul Safaris.

6-7pm - 12 - 15 year olds welcome
7-8pm - 16 - 25 year olds welcome

No experience needed. Learn and develop your mindfulness and practice meditation in a group setting.

For all enquires, message us via facebook or email help@avalonyouthhub.org.au

BIG THANKS The Burdekin Association for funding these sessions!

Green Team Beach Cleans 

Hosted by The Green Team
It has been estimated that we will have more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050...These beach cleans are aimed at reducing the vast amounts of plastic from entering our oceans before they harm marine life. 

Anyone and everyone is welcome! If you would like to come along, please bring a bucket, gloves and hat. Kids of all ages are also welcome! 

We will meet in front of the surf club. 
Hope to see you there!

The Green Team is a Youth-run, volunteer-based environment initiative from Avalon, Sydney. Keeping our area green and clean.

 The Project Gutenberg Library of Australiana

Australian writers, works about Australia and works which may be of interest to Australians.This Australiana page boasts many ebooks by Australian writers, or books about Australia. There is a diverse range; from the journals of the land and sea explorers; to the early accounts of white settlement in Australia; to the fiction of 'Banjo' Paterson, Henry Lawson and many other Australian writers.

The list of titles form part of the huge collection of ebooks freely downloadable from Project Gutenberg Australia. Follow the links to read more about the authors and titles and to read and/or download the ebooks. 

Profile: Ingleside Riders Group

Ingleside Riders Group Inc. (IRG) is a not for profit incorporated association and is run solely by volunteers. It was formed in 2003 and provides a facility known as “Ingleside Equestrian Park” which is approximately 9 acres of land between Wattle St and McLean St, Ingleside. IRG has a licence agreement with the Minister of Education to use this land. This facility is very valuable as it is the only designated area solely for equestrian use in the Pittwater District.  IRG promotes equal rights and the respect of one another and our list of rules that all members must sign reflect this.


Research shows that one in five Australian children aged 8 to 17 has been the target of cyberbullying in the past year. The Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner can help you make a complaint, find someone to talk to and provide advice and strategies for dealing with these issues.

Make a Complaint 

The Enhancing Online Safety for Children Act 2015 gives the power to provide assistance in relation to serious cyberbullying material. That is, material that is directed at a particular child with the intention to seriously embarrass, harass, threaten or humiliate.


Before you make a complaint you need to have:

  • copies of the cyberbullying material to upload (eg screenshots or photos)
  • reported the material to the social media service (if possible) at least 48 hours ago
  • at hand as much information as possible about where the material is located
  • 15-20 minutes to complete the form

Visit: esafety.gov.au/complaints-and-reporting/cyberbullying

Our mission

The Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner is Australia's leader in online safety. The Office is committed to helping young people have safe, positive experiences online and encouraging behavioural change, where a generation of Australian children act responsibly online—just as they would offline.

We provide online safety education for Australian children and young people, a complaints service for young Australians who experience serious cyberbullying, and address illegal online content through the Online Content Scheme.

Our goal is to empower all Australians to explore the online world—safely.

Visit: esafety.gov.au/about-the-office 

The Green Team

This Youth-run, volunteer-based environment initiative has been attracting high praise from the founders of Living Ocean as much as other local environment groups recently. 
Creating Beach Cleans events, starting their own, sustainability days - ‘action speaks louder than words’ ethos is at the core of this group. 

National Training Complaints Hotline – 13 38 73

The National Training Complaints Hotline is accessible on 13 38 73 (Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm nationally) or via email at skilling@education.gov.au.

Sync Your Breathing with this - to help you Relax

Send In Your Stuff

Pittwater Online News is not only For and About you, it is also BY you.  
We will not publish swearing or the gossip about others. BUT: If you have a poem, story or something you want to see addressed, let us know or send to: pittwateronlinenews@live.com.au

All Are Welcome, All Belong!

Youth Source: Northern Sydney Region

A directory of services and resources relevant to young people and those who work, play and live alongside them.

The YouthSource directory has listings from the following types of service providers: Aboriginal, Accommodation, Alcohol & Other Drugs, Community Service, Counselling, Disability, Education & Training, Emergency Information, Employment, Financial, Gambling,  General Health & Wellbeing, Government Agency, Hospital & GP, Legal & Justice, Library, Mental Health, Multicultural, Nutrition & Eating Disorders, Parenting, Relationships, Sexual Health, University, Youth Centre

Driver Knowledge Test (DKT) Practice run Online

Did you know you can do a practice run of the DKT online on the RMS site? - check out the base of this page, and the rest on the webpage, it's loaded with information for you!

The DKT Practice test is designed to help you become familiar with the test, and decide if you’re ready to attempt the test for real.  Experienced drivers can also take the practice test to check their knowledge of the road rules. Unlike the real test, the practice DKT allows you to finish all 45 questions, regardless of how many you get wrong. At the end of the practice test, you’ll be advised whether you passed or failed.

Fined Out: Practical guide for people having problems with fines

Legal Aid NSW has just published an updated version of its 'Fined Out' booklet, produced in collaboration with Inner City Legal Centre and Redfern Legal Centre.

Fined Out is a practical guide to the NSW fines system. It provides information about how to deal with fines and contact information for services that can help people with their fines.

A fine is a financial penalty for breaking the law. The Fines Act 1996 (NSW) and Regulations sets out the rules about fines.

The 5th edition of 'Fined Out' includes information on the different types of fines and chapters on the various options to deal with fines at different stages of the fine lifecycle, including court options and pathways to seek a review, a 50% reduction, a write-off, plan, or a Work and Development Order (WDO).

The resource features links to self-help legal tools for people with NSW fines, traffic offence fines and court attendance notices (CANs) and also explains the role of Revenue NSW in administering and enforcing fines.

Other sections of the booklet include information specific to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, young people and driving offences, as well as a series of template letters to assist people to self-advocate.

Hard copies will soon be available to be ordered online through the Publications tab on the Legal Aid NSW website.

Hard copies will also be made available in all public and prison libraries throughout NSW.

Read the resource online, or download the PDF.

Apprenticeships and traineeships info

Are you going to leave school this year?
Looking for an apprenticeship or traineeship to get you started?
This website, Training Services NSW, has stacks of info for you;

It lists the group training organisations (GTOs) that are currently registered in NSW under the Apprenticeship and Traineeship Act 2001. These GTOs have been audited by independent auditors and are compliant with the National Standards for Group Training Organisations.

If you are interested in using the services of a registered GTO, please contact any of the organisations listed here: https://www.training.nsw.gov.au/gto/contacts.html

There are also some great websites, like 1300apprentice, which list what kind of apprenticeships and traineeships they can guide you to securing as well as listing work available right now.

Profile Bayview Yacht Racing Association (BYRA)
1842 Pittwater Rd, Bayview
Website: www.byra.org.au

BYRA has a passion for sharing the great waters of Pittwater and a love of sailing with everyone aged 8 to 80 or over!

 headspace Brookvale

headspace Brookvale provides services to young people aged 12-25. If you are a young person looking for health advice, support and/or information,headspace Brookvale can help you with:

• Mental health • Physical/sexual health • Alcohol and other drug services • Education and employment services

If you ever feel that you are:

• Alone and confused • Down, depressed or anxious • Worried about your use of alcohol and/or other drugs • Not coping at home, school or work • Being bullied, hurt or harassed • Wanting to hurt yourself • Concerned about your sexual health • Struggling with housing or accommodation • Having relationship problems • Finding it hard to get a job

Or if you just need someone to talk to… headspace Brookvale can help! The best part is our service is free, confidential and youth friendly.

headspace Brookvale is open from Monday to Friday 9:00am-5:30pm so if you want to talk or make an appointment give us a call on (02) 9937 6500. If you're not feeling up to contacting us yourself, feel free to ask your family, friend, teacher, doctor or someone close to you to make a referral on your behalf.

When you first come to headspace Brookvale you will be greeted by one of our friendly staff. You will then talk with a member of our headspace Brookvale Youth Access Team. The headspace Brookvale Youth Access Team consists of three workers, who will work with you around whatever problems you are facing. Depending on what's happening for you, you may meet with your Youth Access Worker a number of times or you may be referred on to a more appropriate service provider.

A number of service providers are operating out of headspace Brookvale including Psychologists, Drug & Alcohol Workers, Sexual Health Workers, Employment Services and more! If we can't find a service operating withinheadspace Brookvale that best suits you, the Youth Access Team can also refer you to other services in the Sydney area.

eheadspace provides online and telephone support for young people aged 12-25. It is a confidential, free, secure space where you can chat, email or talk on the phone to qualified youth mental health professionals.

Click here to go to eheadspace

For urgent mental health assistance or if you are in a crisis please call the Northern Sydney 24 hour Mental Health Access Line on 1800 011 511

Need Help Right NOW??

kids help line: 1800 55 1800 - www.kidshelpline.com.au

lifeline australia - 13 11 14 - www.lifeline.org.au

headspace Brookvale is located at Level 2 Brookvale House, 1A Cross Street Brookvale NSW 2100 (Old Medical Centre at Warringah Mall). We are nearby Brookvale Westfield's bus stop on Pittwater road, and have plenty of parking under the building opposite Bunnings. More at: www.headspace.org.au/headspace-centres/headspace-brookvale

Profile: Avalon Soccer Club
Avalon Soccer Club is an amateur club situated at the northern end of Sydney’s Northern Beaches. As a club we pride ourselves on our friendly, family club environment. The club is comprised of over a thousand players aged from 5 to 70 who enjoy playing the beautiful game at a variety of levels and is entirely run by a group of dedicated volunteers. 
Profile: Pittwater Baseball Club

Their Mission: Share a community spirit through the joy of our children engaging in baseball.

Year 13

Year13 is an online resource for post school options that specialises in providing information and services on Apprenticeships, Gap Year Programs, Job Vacancies, Studying, Money Advice, Internships and the fun of life after school. Partnering with leading companies across Australia Year13 helps facilitate positive choices for young Australians when finishing school.

NCYLC is a community legal centre dedicated to providing advice to children and young people. NCYLC has developed a Cyber Project called Lawmail, which allows young people to easily access free legal advice from anywhere in Australia, at any time.

NCYLC was set up to ensure children’s rights are not marginalised or ignored. NCYLC helps children across Australia with their problems, including abuse and neglect. The AGD, UNSW, KWM, Telstra and ASIC collaborate by providing financial, in-kind and/or pro bono volunteer resources to NCYLC to operate Lawmail and/or Lawstuff.

Kids Helpline

If you’re aged 5-25 the Kids Helpline provides free and confidential online and phone counselling 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 1800 55 1800. You can chat with us about anything… What’s going on at home, stuff with friends. Something at school or feeling sad, angry or worried. You don’t have to tell us your name if you don’t want to.

You can Webchat, email or phone. Always remember - Everyone deserves to be safe and happy. You’re important and we are here to help you. Visit: https://kidshelpline.com.au/kids/