Archives by date

You are browsing the site archives by date.

Smart technology builds a better future

Heading towards a smarter future: Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker looks forward to ambitious and transformational proposals to develop smarter towns and cities.Port Macquarie-Hastings and Kempsey Shire residents are invited to help shape a flagshipCoalition government smart technology program for Australian cities and regions.
Nanjing Night Net

The $50 million Smart Cities and Suburbs Program will support projects that apply innovativetechnology and data solutions to fix local problems and make cities, suburbs and towns moreliveable.

The draft guidelines for the program are open for public consultation until 20 January 2017. Inputfrom the public and stakeholders is essential to ensure the program is well-designed and makes apractical difference for local communities.

Technologies like sensors, WiFi, control systems, computer-vision software, augmented realityand building management systems are transforming the way cities and towns work all over theworld.

Technology has huge potential to improve engagement with citizens, resolve persistenturban problems and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of local government service delivery.

The government is committed to working in partnership withgovernments, business and the community to help our regional and metropolitan cities reach theirfull potential.

Following consultation on the guidelines, the initial funding round will open in the first half of 2017,with collaborative projects involving local governments, the private sector, research agencies andnot for profit organisations expected.

Eligible applicants will be able to apply for up to $5 million in grant funding to meet up to 50 percent of project costs. Applicants will be encouraged to submit ambitious and transformationalproposals that will be scalable or able to be rolled out quickly to other regions.

Local governments will be invited to register their interest in participating in a structured incubationprogram to progress ideas and support the development of innovative smarttechnology projects.

To help shape the guidelines, visit cities.dpmc.gov419论坛

On the edge: a frog’s life

Picture: Nick MoirThe Illawarra’s most famous threatened species may have found unique benefits to co-existing with humans and heavy industry, reports BEN LANGFORD
Nanjing Night Net

What ifco-existence with heavy industry can actually benefit one of our most endangered species? For the green and golden bell frog, it seems a combination of salty sea spray and possibly chemical runoff could actually help it survive a fungus which looms as the greatest threat to its survival.

Sounds far-fetched,perhaps. And this is not to suggest native animals aren’t better off in the wilderness. But the eastern seaboard habitat of this large nativefrog is no longer wilderness, and it has shown a fussiness regardingliving quarters on par with most coastal property owners. More recently, the addition of an introducedfungus has created the perfect storm to threaten a bellfrog’s survival. And desperate times call for whatever measures work.

But first let’s get to know our subject. It can be beloved or loathed, depending on your point of view. Not because of its nature (fussy but shy, curious) or appearance (the bright pea-and-brass brown colouring is attractive and a unique identifier like a fingerprint; thisis no warty, poisonous toad). It’s because, perhaps more than any other creature in the greater Illawarra region, the green and golden bell frog has provided a thorn in the side for development.

For some reason we may expect a threatened species to be small. This one is not. Adults are in the 45mm-110mm range, making it a fairly large frog.

It is neither named nor loved its call. Don’t go listening out for the sound of a brilliantly cute ringing bell. You willnot find it. Rather, this frog’s call sounds more like a “grumpy chicken”, said Lachlan Wilmott, a threatened species officer with the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. Others might say it sounds like a drunken duck staggering home. Search YouTube for examples and try not to cackle.

Its status as a threatened species has meant its presence must be taken seriously. But this has come late for the green and golden bell frog, which has experienced a 90 per cent contraction in range since 1990 (although researchers estimate it probably started at least a decade prior to this).

Hard living: The green and golden bell frog is ‘a pretty chilled frog, they like to bask in the sun’ – and can handle salty, polluted areas.

Once found on the southern and central tablelands and the western slopes of NSW, ths frog is now only found near the coast, at sea level, with communities sometimes as small as just five adults.

The green and golden bell frog first gained notoriety in the late 1990s as its discovery at Homebushhalted construction of the Olympic tennis courts, which were then built in another location.

In early 2012, then Gilmore MP Joanna Gash actually suggested the frog be removed from the threatened species list because its presence had halted the Princes Hwy upgrade at South Nowra.

Luckily for the frog, Ms Gash’s understanding of threatened species conservationhas not been mirrored across the region.

Also that year, when the Village buildingcompany wanted to develop its Edgewood estate at Woonona, it had an issue with a green and golden bell frog community there.

Happy couple (above): Green and golden bell frogs were once found across the southern tablelands.

With the aid of a Taronga Zoo breeding program they released thousands of bell frog tadpoles at purpose-built ponds nearby. Unfortunately, this community did not succeed, and is believed to have died out. It is possible that a small number of frogs survived and have retreated through the drier months, but this may be wishful thinking.

OEH programs in this region focus on two large populations–at Crookhaven and Meroo in the Shoalhaven. This is funded under the NSW Saving Our Species initiative.

The frog actually enjoys some disturbance of its habitat, Mr Wilmott said –drying out, then resoaking,of pools. “They’re sort of fussy and sort of not fussy,” he said. “Theyactually quite like some sorts of disturbances, but there’s others they don’t.”

This makes it difficult to design habitat projects –some that have been designed did not work; others, the frog has taken to despite seemingly hostile conditions.

“A lot of their strongholds these days are in man-made ponds and infrastructure,” Mr Wilmott said.“A lot of those natural areas where the frogs used to be, they have gone from, and they’re existing in Port Kembla and Kooragang Island off Newcastle, which are heavily industrialised, but that’s where they’re hanging on.”

Bluescope, whose steelworks have had a significant impact on frog-rich lagoons, has built a frog sanctuary, and Port Kembla remains one of the frog’s “strongholds”.

Many environmentalists may find it counterintuitive to suggest co-location between flora, fauna and heavy industry would be desirable. But the chemical runoff, along with sea salt, are understood to helping to protect the frogfromchytrid Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, a fungus that would otherwise finish off this unique creature.

“These populations that are persisting have either salt water nearby, or mine tailings, or industrial runoff,” Mr Willmot said.

“When they’re in water that has salt or these chemicals, it oftenkills the fungus, so they persist. Whereas in those natural areas that are more pristine –which they still exist at in some sites –there’s not that environmental fungus control.”

Chytrid(an introduced fungus, first found in the 1970s)has overtaken habitat loss as the greatest threat to this frog. It is also threatening other species, some of which have evolved to resist the fungus –including the stuttering frog and the giant barred frog.

“We haven’t really seen that in bell frogs yet, but there’s potential,” he said.“There’s a lot of work going on at the minute on disease and what can be done tomitigate it.”

BlueScope, whose steelworks have had a an impact on frog-rich lagoons, has built a frog sanctuary. And on Kooragang Island ponds are being built deeper so they take in more saline water to fight the fungus.

Slim chances: About 4000 tadpoles were released near a housing estate at Woonona but it is understood the community has not succeeded. Picture: ORLANDO CHIODO.

But while scientists are getting better at understanding its habitat,the frog has not yet becomeresilient. “The situation is not, I would say, improving,” Mr Wilmott said.”

Of course, if habitat had not been contractedbyhousing and industry, numbers might not be so critical thatchytridposed the final threat. But for now, this unique creature may have reached a spot it will occupy for years–threatened by disease in its shrunken ideal habitat,eking out an existence on the margins, on the edge.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Letters to the editor

THANKFUL: As we spend quality time with our families and loved ones this Christmas we should reflect on those in the defence force who will be overseas, writes Dan Tehan.Taming our silent killerThis Christmas, Alzheimer’s Australia NSW is urging anybody with a family member or friend with dementia to be mindful of their symptoms and look out for changes in their condition.
Nanjing Night Net

In the Albury, Cootamundra, Murray and Wagga electorates, there are an estimated 5400 people living with dementia.

That figure is projected to increase to about 10,500 by 2050.

Because holiday celebrations provide a time for families and friends to come together after what can often be long periods of time, it is in these instances that changes in thinking, memory and behaviour can seem most apparent.

That’s why this festive season we’re encouraging families to re-assess their loved one’s condition and situation. This is important in identifying what extra support might be required in light of any change in behaviours or worsening of symptoms.

If you notice changes in a loved one or have any other concerns, I urge you to call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500 to speak to an expert.

Our dementia advisers are trained to listen to your concerns, and to provide compassionate, targeted support that can empower you to make key decisions and access the local services and supports that are available in your local area.

Your concerns are our concerns, so no matter how minor or major the issue, every call matters.

John Watkins, CEO –Alzheimer’s Australia NSWGift of giving the bestAs we head into Christmas, a time where families come together to share in the love of the holiday season, I ask that you spare a thought for some of Australia’s most disadvantaged; our homeless youth.

While many young people are spending time with their family and loved ones it is easy to forget about those who have no home or family to turn to.

This time of joy for most is often a period of sadness and isolation for our disadvantaged youth who lack a sense of belonging.

Often these young people turn to alcohol and other drugs to numb these negative feelings.

These choices can lead down a slippery slope to addiction, mental health issues and family breakdown.

Youth Off The Streets helps young people address these issues though our services and outreach but sadly we cannot reach everyone in this holiday period.

This year on Christmas Day, Youth Off The Streets is providing lunch for some of our most disadvantaged young people and their families.

The simple act of providing a hot meal and a place to come together on Christmas day means so much to these families.

If you can, I encourage you to host or participate in a community event to support families and young people in your local area.

Together in this season of giving, we can provide a welcoming environment for those who may not have one this Christmas. After over 40 years of working with young disaffected youth, let me tell you that the greatest gift of all is the gift of giving.

I hope you have a fantastic holiday period and a happy new year.

Father Chris Riley, CEO and founder of Youth Off The StreetsIn the line of dutyThis year around 2300 Australian Defence Force personnel deployed on operations around the world will celebrate Christmas away from their families and friends.

The men and women who serve in defence of our nation make many sacrifices in the line of duty and for some this means Christmas away from home.

As we spend quality time with our families and loved ones this Christmas we should reflect on those sacrifices and be grateful for the men and women of the ADF who are prepared to keep us safe and defend our values.

Dan Tehan, Minister for Defence PersonnelThis story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Remember those struggling with the season

ON THEIR OWN: Some of our eldest residents will face Christmas without family this season. How can we help ease that loneliness. Photo: Getty ImagesHave you really listened to Christmas carols?
Nanjing Night Net

“Joy to the world”, “Silent night…all is calm, all is bright”, “Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh”.

Lyrics often centre on happiness, wonder, family and love. They are jolly songs, rich with joyful melodies, hopeful messages or beautiful music.

The familiar tunes we find ourselves humming as we do our holiday shopping or bustle through our days can lift our spirits, and inducehappy anticipation for spending the coming days with our loved ones and friends.

We look forward to seeing people we have not hugged or laughed with for a long time.

This is not always the case for everyone. For some, the Christmas season, or holiday period evokes feelings of great sadness and feelings of dread.Facing the first holiday without a family member of friend can be a devastation, and the intent for the season to bring peopletogether can actually be a reminder of how much has beenlost.

Though fairy lights twinkle from windows and verandas, for many, life just plods on in the form of no home at the end of a day, seeking relief from the summer heat, spending time in cool places out of the heat. No welcoming faces and no gift on December 25.

Even if you do not observe a religion, the pervasive atmosphere of happiness this time of year can feel suffocating.

The expectation we should be happy can plummet peoplefurther into depression, and even among a boisterous family setting, it is important we acknowledge and support those struggling at this time.

Those of us that have, must not forget our most senior residents without anybody this holiday. In their own homes, or Fairview, people are facing this season without family or friends, due to distance or death.

Perhaps it is a time to pickup the phone and ring to find out about the visitor’s scheme, or check in with the local churches to find out if they need help distributing care and company to shut-ins this year.

Nobody chooses to be alone or desperate, and the message of family, home and hearth is more prevalent now than any other period of the year. Instead of only reminding those who have what lies in store, we should also remember those who have not.

It is a timeto listen, extend companionship and human connection. Taking is never as joyful as giving.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Inmates open hearts

The Saving Place founder Paul Davis shakes hands with a representative of the inmates at the Mid North Coast Correctional Centre.THE CHRISTMASspirit has fallen upon the inmates at the Mid North Coast Correctional Centre and they have unselfishly donated non-perishable items to help feed local children over the holiday period.
Nanjing Night Net

Local charity, the Shalom House of Hope, which is popularly known as The Saving Place, was the recipient of the inmates’ donations. The charityfeeds children in need every day along the Mid North Coast.

Baptistcare chaplain at the Mid North Coast Correctional Centre, James Deaton, organised the donations but admits the inmates weren’t given enough notice to prepare.

“Unfortunately it was a last minute idea and the system that is set in place allows inmates to order food for the following week,” Mr Deaton explained.

“There were some inmates whodidn’t have non-perishable foods to donate and they requested if they could send money.

“Almost half of the inmates donated an item, which is pretty incredible considering the short notice.”

Officers and other staff members at the Mid North Coast Correctional Centre also contributed to the not-for-profit charity.

Mr Deaton saidhe plans to give an opportunity forthe inmates to donate goods and money every year and they will be given more notice next year and the ability to donate money too.

Founder of The Saving Place, Dave Davis, wasthankful.

“It is pretty incredible. We received a car load of stuff and everything helps,” Mr Davis said.

“It is great to see people who are earning a second chance do something for the local community to make people in a tough situation improve their lifestyle of living.”

The Saving Place goes through two to four tonnes of food every week and feeds students at schools on a daily basis as well as giving food to places such as the PCYC Kempsey.

Mr Davis has been completing charity work since 1999 and started the program in the Macleay Valley in 2012, and it has expanded across the Mid North Coast.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.