Monday, May 18, 2009

Blacklist to Create Blackmarket for Fish Hobbyists

Strolling into an aquarium filled with colourful exotic fish on a lazy Sunday morning is a common childhood memory, and yet soon the quiet bubbling of a fish tank in the living-room corner will be no more.

That is if pending government legislation succeeds in banning the sale and collection of selected ornamental fish species deemed pests, not pets, in the coming weeks.

The dumping of ornamental fish into natural waterways has posed a significant threat to native wildlife for some time.

In 2006, the National Resource Management Ministerial Council endorsed a national strategy that sought to resolve this ongoing concern by creating a national ‘noxious’ list.

On this list, compiled by the Ornamental Fish Management Implementation Group (OFMIG), any species proven to be of ‘high risk’ to Australia’s biodiversity will be made illegal to keep or sell.

In their November report, OFMIG concluded that the 780 revised additions to the national noxious list are unlikely to be of direct importance to the trade and hobby sectors.

Hobbyist societies and pet industry representatives are not of the same opinion, and many have lashed out at government departments, burying ministers with objections to the proposed legislation.

No one has felt the impact so acutely as hobbyist and retailer Norm Halliwell who, over the past 25 years, has been a fierce representative of the aquarium industry and in constant dialogue with both state and federal agencies.

The Riverside Aquariums owner was present at OFMIG stakeholder workshops held earlier this year and feels fish hobbyists’ pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

“Pending legislation is set to make honest men criminals overnight and decimate the $350 million a year industry,” he said.

“If the government get their way and make it illegal to sell or even keep certain species, the fish hobby would cease to exist; no one could continue to breed and sell species because there will be none left to trade.”

Fellow hobbyist and retailer Anthony Ramsey is of a similar opinion. Mr Ramsey believes fish species should only be put on the noxious list if they are scientifically proven to be harmful.

“It would be sad and disappointing to see our bread and butter species taken away by silly hypothetical declarations made by bureaucratic departments,” he said.

“Species at risk hold both intrinsic and monetary value; they are at the heart of hobbyist’s collections but are also the economic mainstay of many aquarium retailers who have tens of thousands of dollars worth of fish in their collections- all of which could be wiped out overnight.”

If arbitrary decisions are made and enforcement procedures continue to be lax, Mr Ramsey believes legislation will only drive the trade to an underground market.

“Just like when the government banned alcohol, fish keeping is no different: the new bans will change people being able to walk into retailers and buy fish, instead they will be walking through back doors and into people's garages,” he said.

“Endangered species such as eels and piranhas are already being traded on open public forums like, these laws will only drive more of the legitimate economy into a black market.”

The Department of Primary Industries declined to comment about the proposed extension of the national noxious list, stating the government will be available for public comment within the next few weeks once legislation has gone through the parliamentary process.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Rural Communities Given a Sporting Chance

PERTH GLORY captain Tanya Oxtoby is set to help aspiring young soccer fans kick their own goals this month as part of Football Federation Australia's new Indigenous Football Development Program.

Throughout May, seven sports mentors will team up with Ms Oxtoby to visit rural communities such as Launceston, Shepparton, Alice Springs, Port Augusta, Dubbo and Townsville to give children an opportunity to develop their football skills.

Ms Oxtoby is thrilled to showcase the positive benefits football can bring to young people and hopes to inspire fellow Indigenous players to work towards their dreams.
“The FFA program is not only aimed at promoting the sport, but also getting numbers of Indigenous people playing football throughout Australia a lot higher- not only from the grass roots level but all the way up into the elite levels,” she said.
“We want to develop really good players and get them into A-league and W-League clubs.”

The first visit in May will encourage participation by children and educate the community about football. The second meeting later in June will help form a Perth team to participate in the annual Indigenous Football Festival held in Townsville in July.
“This will give people in communities who wouldn't usually have had the platform to go to Townsville, the chance to meet new friends, try new things and express themselves.”

Ms Oxtoby has come a long way from playing in her local soccer team coached by her father when she was eight, and hopes communities won't let the small percentages of professional Indigenous football players scare off the young hopefuls.
“The pathways are now so much more open than when I was starting off in my career,” she said.
“Players should use their heritage and remoteness as motivating factors, if you want it bad enough, chase after that dream because you never know what will happen.”

Other mentors participating in the development program include A-League players Travis Dodd from Adelaide United and Fred Agius from North Queensland Fury, former Socceroo Alistair Edwards, and football analyst Andy Harper.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


It has been so long since my last update, mainly because I have now started uni and need to keep a distinction average (NOTE: it's a requirement for me to keep my scholarship, and is proving more challenging than I originally imagined). I am also doing a play (Julie in Louis Nowra's Cosi) with a local theatre company.

The articles I just posted in a "mass post" are a combination of work I did at the Liverpool Leader (some things for their youth blog) and some little uni assignments.

At the moment I am enjoying getting into the whole 'journo thing'- ie. actually interviewing people and creating 'news' in a more professional sense.

I have just started co-hosting a radio sports show, Koori Radio sport. Koori Radio is Sydney's Indigenous Radio station, and although I am not Indigenous they have welcomed me into their community very warmly. It is proving challenging (as is waking up early to be in the city by 9am for a 10am-12noon time slot); radio and sports are two elements that don't come naturally, but my wonderful co-host Dan is a great support. :)

There is still hope that I will post reasonably regularly but sporadic clumps of posts are more probable.

Right now I want a part time job, in the media industry would be a triple treat, but regular and set hours would do wonders for my sanity in the time being!

No Single Solution to Energy Problem

WIDESPREAD blackouts across Adelaide, Victoria and Sydney over the past months have intensified debate over the best solution to Australia's energy supply problem.

Despite EnergyAustralia's confidence that demands for electricity can now be met with ample supply, claims that interruptions were merely highly unusual faults have come into question.

“As air-conditioners are replaced with heaters, households and businesses want the guarantee of a steady electricity supply for winter,” Energy Matters marketing manager, Andrew Scarlett said.

Michael Kilgariff, director of energy policy for Energy Networks Association, thinks EnergyAustralia's $1.13 billion capital works program bid to upgrade electricity networks in response to the Sydney blackouts is not the solution.

“The blackouts reflect the energy sectors need to upgrade aging infrastructure rather than build more coal-fired power stations,” Mr Kilgariff said.

“To meet long-term challenges, the most innovative technologies must be utilised, away from traditional investment in poles, pipes and wires.”

The Rudd Government's Energy Efficient Homes package provides one form of stimulus for households and businesses to take a pro-active approach towards energy conservation.

Matthew Wright, director of Eureka Insulation, said insulation is one of the most cost effective ways to reduce unnecessary energy wastage and improve energy efficiency.

“Insulation is a win-win solution; individuals save on energy bills while easing pressures on the electricity grid,” Mr Wright said.

Associate Professor Richard de Dear, from the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney, believes there is more work to be done.

“Insulation rebates are a sensible demand-side policy, however, it remains to be seen whether it will dampen peak electricity demand on a scale that would avert power blackouts,” Dr de Dear said.

Individuals and communities are sporadically employing innovative technologies that harness renewable energy.

In 2007, Townsville began a $30 million investment project in solar systems to become the first 'solar city'.

Mr Scarlett sees these instances as stories of hope but said the federal government needs to apply ideas such as 'solar city' to a nation-wide policy framework.

“With Australia's abundance of roof space and sun, it is ludicrous not to utilise zero emission technologies such as solar and wind power,” he said.

“In the large scheme of things, with common consensus in scientific opinion that climate change is a problem in need of addressing, the government doesn't have time to not make it right.”

Just add Colin Firth

The Sydney University Darcy Society had the chance to re-acquaint themselves with Mr Darcy himself at last Tuesday's Easy Virtue movie screening.

Members of the society met at Dendy Newtown after their day at university to enjoy 'cheap Tuesday', free lollies, Colin Firth and the company of like minded period-drama loving folk.

Easy Virtue is the first period drama to hit cinemas this year, following the release of Brideshead Revisited and The Duchess in 2008.

President of the society, Claudette Palomares, believes the film was an ideal first event.
“It is a period drama that seems to be targeted for younger audiences despite its Noel Coward origins,” Ms Palomares said.
“The soundtrack contained some surprising contemporary touches such as period specific arrangements of 'Sex Bomb' and 'Car Wash' and I think most of us found these sly contemporary touches pretty entertaining.”

The film lacked the classic romantic idealism as epitomised in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice to enter the Darcy Society pantheon, however members agreed that it was refreshing to see their leading man on the silver screen.

Although the screening was an enjoyable affair Ms Palomares said in hindsight she would have arranged post-screening activities.
“The problem with film screenings was that you only have a little time to socialise before the movie starts and then when it finishes, everyone seemed to go separate ways,” she said.
“It probably wasn't the ideal first event but it is an easy way to encourage people to participate.”

The Darcy Society have many other events promising their trademark jam and scones planned for upcoming weeks.

The first of which will be held on Tuesday, March 31st, from 1-2pm where the first episode of Elizabeth Gaskell's classic North and South will be screened in the Education Seminar Room 323, Education Building.
“I've introduced a lot of people to period dramas through movie nights and it really is the best way to watch these type of films- with friends,” Ms Palomares said.

For more information on the Darcy Society and it's events, join the Darcy Society facebook group.

Go on, get active

WHY rest on your laurels in the knowledge that you are a sensible citizen of Liverpool when there are so many ways to get involved in the community?

Just because you don't cause the locals any strife doesn't mean your work is done.

Each of us have a responsibility to contribute back to the community that provided a vehicle for the development of our own skills. So many opportunities are waiting for us to snatch up!

From 2006 to 2008 I was in the Liverpool City Youth Council and they were the two most rewarding years of my life as a Liverpoolian.

I co-hosted a monthly radio show RADAR at 2GLF 89.3, kick-started a quarterly e-magazine for youth and made important media contacts which are now helpful as I complete my degree in journalism.

Furthermore, by submerging myself in community life and organising events I met many diverse and friendly people I will never forget. Volunteer work is a double blessing- you not only help others but you also feel valued and productive in the process.

In Liverpool, us youth have the potential to really stand up and make a difference.
As cliche as it sounds, it only only takes one spark to light a fire. Your idea to run a monthly youth sports event, host an annual music competition or even develop something completely original could quite literally become a legacy in Liverpool.

Just think of Liverpool Idol- artists have found ways to get a leg up in the music industry while at the same time making their local community proud.

Funding is not necessarily a setback as there are plenty of government and business initiatives which can help get the ball rolling.

In the 21st Century, youth are empowered and we are being listened to.

Keep on the look out for opportunities in local papers, the council website or even billet boards.

Better still, seek out opportunities yourself and see just how fulfilling it is to play an active role in society.

Home-grown performers to light up the Powerhouse stage?

WHEN the Casula Powerhouse re-opened it's doors last April I was thrilled.

Mostly because of the wonderful can of worms a fully-equipped, state of the art 326 seat theatre unhatched for the young and old alike.

Just think of the endless possibilities it presented for theatre-goers: live theatre, musical theatre!

Since April I have seen many shows at the Casula Powerhouse, Helpman Award winner Keating! was certainly a stand out.

However, while it is inspiring to see the Casula Powerhouse nurturing one-off performances of touring musical theatre productions, I'd like to witness some of our own creations.

There is a myriad of talented singers, dancers and actors in Liverpool who would jump at the opportunity to perform in a local production.

The buck doesn't stop there either.

In a musical there is a role for everyone: those who love to paint and design could artistically decorate the set while those who love to perform could light up the stage. Costume, prop and set designers are required. Stage managers, musicians, directors, music directors and choreographers give a piece of theatre life.

Putting on a musical would be a culturally enriching and community building undertaking.
It would also provide a creative and cathartic outlet for the youth to make friends, have barrels of fun and develop their skills.

We have the facility, now let's make the Casula Powerhouse's mission of helping to grow the creative industry in South West Sydney an even greater reality.

Let's take the next step and develop a musical theatre society.

Rare breast cancer serious and aggressive

INFLAMMATORY breast cancer (IBC) is a rare but aggressive form of breast cancer which accounts for about one percent of all breast cancer patients in Liverpool.

Director of radiation oncology at the Liverpool Cancer Therapy Centre, Professor Geoff Delaney, treats three to four patients a year.

“It is a particularly serious type of cancer and because it is rare, it's not always the first thing a patient or GP thinks about," he said.

“IBC can present in different ways to more common forms of breast cancer and is often mistaken to be an infection and treated with anti-biotics."

Inflammatory breast cancer spreads along and blocks the lymph vessels in the skin of the breast and can be difficult to diagnose because there is usually no lump.

Signs of inflammatory breast cancer may include inflamed, swollen and tender breasts where the skin can appear dimpled or pitted, like an orange peel.

If diagnosed, all three types of cancer treatment is needed.

“Anyone with an inflamed looking red-hot breast should see their GP urgently," Professor Geoff Delaney said.

“The earlier the diagnosis, the more likely treatment is successful."

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