Evelyn Zaragoza

Evelyn Zaragoza

 

A new project in Northern Australia will focus on how Australia can better protect and rapidly respond to the growing global risk of emergent infectious diseases which can spread to humans through animals and insects.

Increased surveillance of wildlife, improved disease monitoring, and more extensive field-based sampling are some of the initiatives being targeted by the new project, which is a collaboration between James Cook University (JCU) and CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency.

Northern Australia is at increased risk of infectious diseases found in South East Asia because of its close proximity to Asia, potentially providing a gateway to the rest of Australia.

RIGHT: A CSIRO scientist at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL).

Australia’s susceptibility is also increased because of global mobility, growing trade, increased urbanisation leading to human encroachment into wildlife habitats, expanding agricultural development including the rise of peri-urban farming, as well as environmental and land use changes.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews welcomed the collaboration between two of Australia’s leading biosecurity research organisations to protect Australia from the growing threat of zoonotic diseases.

“This collaboration will create an integrated northern and southern research capability that will be pivotal in helping to strengthen Australia’s preparedness and response to emerging infectious diseases,” Minister Andrews said.

Dean of the College, Professor Maxine Whittaker, said it is estimated that 75 per cent of infectious diseases in humans originate in animals, and the frequency of such transmissions has been steadily increasing over time.

“The global annual incidence of zoonotic infectious disease outbreaks has increased by more than 300 per cent since the 1980s,” Professor Whittaker said.

“This worrying trend is now seen as a global and national health security risk, with recent global outbreaks include Ebola virus disease, highly pathogenic avian influenza (bird flu), and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).”

LEFT: The Aedes albopictus, or Asian Tiger mosquito

Bringing together world-class capabilities from the north and south of Australia, the program will connect JCU’s College of Public Health, Medicinal and Veterinary Sciences in Townsville with two CSIRO facilities: the Australian Tropical Sciences and Innovation Precinct (ATSIP) in Townsville and the Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) in Geelong.

JCU and CSIRO will share knowledge and training opportunities to foster an agile team of experts able to respond rapidly to emerging infectious disease events in the future.

The CSIRO Board met in Townsville this week and welcomed the announcement. CSIRO Chair, David Thodey AO, said CSIRO’s wide-ranging expertise, broad geographical footprint, and commitment to collaboration can connect knowledge and research capability from Northern Australia to Victoria for the benefit of the whole country.

“We’re well-known in the Townsville community for our partnerships to protect and restore the Great Barrier Reef, but the challenge to help safeguard Australia from biosecurity threats is equally important,” he said.

“We can’t solve this biosecurity challenge alone, that‘s why collaboration with our long-standing partner, James Cook University, is crucial in strengthening and integrating Australia’s national biosecurity response capabilities.

“Our Townsville team aren’t just experts in biosecurity and environmental science, they’re Townsville’s front door to the whole of the national science agency, from energy to space, manufacturing to agriculture, and many others – whatever challenges Australians are facing, we’re here to help them solve.”

MEDIA CALL: 10am, Friday 30 August, JCU
Media are invited to film and photograph laboratories and hear from Minister Karen Andrews and representatives from James Cook University and CSIRO at 10am on Friday 30 August 2019.

James Cook University, Townsville
Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine (AITHM) building (Building 48)
1 James Cook Drive, Douglas, QLD
First floor lab.
Map here. Please wear closed-in shoes.

Background

Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL)
Australia has considerable emerging infectious diseases research capabilities at CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) based in Geelong, one of the most sophisticated laboratories in the world for the safe handling, containment, diagnosis and research of animal and zoonotic diseases.

James Cook University
James Cook University has extensive experience in addressing the risk of infectious disease spread between animal and humans, and across the borders throughout tropical regions. Work includes vector control; disease monitoring, containment and prevention to protect animals and humans against potential zoonotic disease outbreaks; human behaviour; animal and human health services responsiveness to zoonotic infections; and modelling the influence of changes (environmental, people and animal movement, land use, antimicrobial treatment effectiveness and climatic) upon disease spread.

 

Tickets on Sale Now!

 

Set against the stunning backdrop of the picturesque township of Berry, crowds of all ages will gather this spring for the inaugural South Coast Food & Wine Festival.

Running from Friday 13 – Sunday 15 September the festival promises to showcase the very best the South Coast has to offer. Boasting over 15 events, there will be cooking classes, demos and tastings from local hero chefs, hatted restaurants hosting pop-ups, first-rate South Coast vineyards, and superb local producers, all supported by a vibrant array of free live music and entertainment.

The Festival’s culinary offerings are made up of 100% South Coast producers and products, with over 50 stallholders expected to be showcasing delicacies from all over the region. Seafood, cheese, berries, wines and much more will be on offer from local producers eager to present their wares.

A signature event of the Festival will be the Long Lunch on Saturday 14 September. Kierrin McKnight, Head Chef and Owner of Wild Ginger and previously Seagrass Brasserie will be bringing the Long Lunch at South Coast Food & Wine Festival to life with his award winning skills. McKnight will be showcasing local produce with a six course feast style menu featuring local produce in each course complemented by local wines and beers.

The South Coast Food & Wine Festival is the not-to-be-missed spring event in NSW, where the culture of gourmet food and beverages converge with awe-inspiring activities, markets and music in one of Australia’s most breathtaking regions.

Tickets to the South Coast Food & Wine Festival cost just $28pp and are on sale now at www.southcoastfoodandwinefestival.com.au

Friday, 30 August 2019 13:08

BREAKING THE CYCLE OF ROUGH SLEEPING

 


The NSW Government has reaffirmed its commitment to halving rough sleeping across the state by 2025, injecting funds to help tackle the ambitious target.

Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward has announced the latest figures that show the Government’s record investment of $1 billion a year towards reducing homelessness is making a difference.

“Since March 2017, more than 450 people sleeping rough have been helped into long-term permanent accommodation,” Mr Ward said.

“We also know that 92 per cent of people previously sleeping rough in Sydney who were helped into housing in the two years to March 2019 have sustained their tenancies.”

“We have come a long way in breaking the cycle of rough sleeping across our state, but there is still much more to be done to meet the Premier’s priority.”

Mr Ward also announced a $300,000 investment, to help coordinate project delivery with the non-Government sector through the establishment of the End Street Sleeping Collaboration.

The Hon Graham West, who convenes the group of NGO’s and Government organisations under the landmark agreement signed last year, said it was a vital step forward.

“These funds lay the foundation for the Government’s pursuit of the ambitious targets that we have set in relation to homelessness,” Mr West said.

“It will help establish an office, board and working groups which will drive the collaboration of homelessness services and systems and help break the cycle of rough sleeping in NSW.”

The new body will also co-ordinate data on street sleeping and report on progress towards the Premier’s Priority.

The 2019-20 Budget delivered $1 billion towards a range of homelessness and social and affordable housing programs, which contribute to the Premier’s Priority to reduce rough sleeping across NSW by 50 per cent by 2025.

 


Applications for the NSW Government’s Celebrating Diversity Events Grants are now open.

Minister for Multiculturalism John Sidoti said all eligible community organisations should consider applying for the program.

“NSW is home to hundreds of world class multicultural festivals and events that celebrate our diversity,” Mr Sidoti said.

“This program offers a helping hand of up to $10,000 to the many hardworking community organisations who promote social cohesion in our community.”

Co.As.It. General Manager Thomas Camporeale said the organisation was delighted to receive support from the NSW Government for its Multicultural Moonlight Cinema, held earlier in the year.

“We were able to hold a free event over three nights to share the best of world cinema with all members of our community,” Mr Camporeale said.

“Our open-air cinema featured films representing Italian, Spanish, French languages.”

“The cinema was a huge success, bringing more than a 1000 film lovers from all backgrounds together to enjoy diverse cultures and traditions through film.”

Event grants have previously supported Australia Day and Harmony Day celebrations, sporting, art and interfaith events.

Celebrating Diversity Events Grants are now open and will close 5pm Friday, 20 September 2019. For more information about the Celebrating Diversity Events grants program, visit https://multicultural.nsw.gov.au/grants/

 

The RISEUP youth employment strategy has seen roaring success in its first year running, with over 140 young people referred into workplace opportunities.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott joined NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller APM and PCYC NSW CEO Dominic Teakle at Woolloomooloo PCYC to thank employers and businesses for their support of RISEUP.

“This success is testament to the hard work and dedication of police and PCYC to improve the lives of young people across the State and steering them away from a life of crime and disadvantage,” Mr Elliott said.

The strategy, launched in August last year, collaborates with PCYC NSW and business leaders to provide young people with on-the-job training and workshops on relationship building, nutrition and leadership.

Mr Elliott said the initiative was not just about keep young people on the right side of the law, but about boosting their employment prospects.

Mr Fuller said NSW Police, together with PCYC, have shown incredible initiative in reengaging with some of the State’s most vulnerable young people.

“By partnering with a number of commercial and local businesses, we are helping our youth realise their true potential,” Commissioner Fuller said.

Mr Teakle said the suite of programs offered by the PCYC under the RISEUP strategy creates a place of belonging for young people and gives them a sense of purpose.

Since 2011, the NSW Government has invested a record of almost $80 million towards PCYC club infrastructure, programs and staff across NSW.

Friday, 30 August 2019 13:05

FIRST METRO BREAKTHROUGH AT NORTH SYDNEY

 


A mega tunnel boring machine has broken through a rock wall at North Sydney and entered the biggest underground cavern built so far on the Sydney Metro project.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Minister for Transport Andrew Constance today welcomed mega borer Wendy at the new Victoria Cross Station 25 metres below ground.

“It was just over two months ago TBM Wendy broke through at Crows Nest and now she has already made it to the next stop in North Sydney,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“TBM Wendy has tunnelled 4.5 kilometres from Chatswood in eight months and only has another 1.7 kilometres to reach the edge of Sydney Harbour at Blues Point.

“This is incredible progress on the next stage of Sydney Metro which will take the North West Metro, under the harbour, through the CBD and on to Bankstown.”

Mr Constance said Sydney Metro is Australia’s biggest public transport project and will deliver turn-up-and-go Metro train services to 31 stations along a new 66 kilometre railway.

“Wendy is one of five boring machines busy excavating 15.5 kilometre twin railway tunnels to help deliver more metro rail services as quickly as possible,” Mr Constance said.

The huge cavern at Victoria Cross is 40 per cent bigger than both the cavern being built at Barangaroo and the cavern built 25 metres under Castle Hill on the new North West Metro.

TBM Wendy will spend about three weeks undergoing maintenance before being re-launched to complete the last 1.7 kilometre section of the 6.2 kilometre tunnel between Chatswood and the edge of Sydney Harbour.

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