NCWQ Habitat Report: November 2020

By Dr Donnell Davis, NCWQ Habitat Adviser

Urban design for disability, dementia and resilience

This report encompasses design for disability (D4D), dementia (D4De) and durability. It highlights human wellbeing (SDG 3), 7 senses, David Attenborough’s witness statement, climate impacts on human in cities (SDG 11 and SDG13) with policy assessment tools from the World Economic Forum, and the difference between bio-philia, biomimicry and regenerative cities.

Habitat means home – it is about humans living in social groups in community and cities

UN Habitat Day is celebrated on the first Monday of October each year to acknowledge the right to shelter, and advance of sharing of practices towards more sustainable cities.  On 31 October, ‘World Cities Day’ provides the opportunity for Local Governments to showcase innovation. (‘Shark Tank’ for Cities).  In 2020, the priority was to address Covid management, respond to growing complexity of climate impacts, and advance humans quality of life through wellbeing.  Measures for wellbeing include economic, social, Cultural, environmental, and institutional stewardship.   Dashboards from UN Habitat, Global Urban Observatory and Local government benchmarking help us measure, manage and evaluate trends in urban stewardship performance (good governance SDG16). But the whole scope for common benchmarking across cities and countries is SDG 11- Sustainable cities and communities with 11 set targets for 2030. Australia’s report card has gone from world leader to a caution status since 2016. This could be because of our slow response to housing vulnerable peoples.

My previous reports to NCW benchmarked international cities responses to COVID, so this report seeks to tackle Wellbeing SDG 3 in a more systematic way to consider our vulnerable urban peoples My June report showcased my methodology for Covid vulnerability of women proposing Fairer Feminist Futuresfor the Status of Women Network. This focussed on: (A) homeless migrant students, (B) health/ aged care workers, (C) casual workers (D) family violence survivors. The method included: (1) Status of Women Assessment with 4 sets of indices, (2) Fragility addressed 4 aspects of harm, (3)a positive path – never waste a crisis and (4) interactive priority setting process for cultural and local appropriateness.

In Queensland Parliament, the Economic and Governance Committee convened public hearings on the economic impacts of Coronavirus, and a joint paper from eight advisors was submitted, but few NCWQ recommendations were discussed.

Vulnerable peoples in these circumstances were generally unspoken in the Australian Federal Budget. Please refer to the Gender Lens Budget Statement undertaken by the National Foundation for Australian Women NFAW.  Even the Inquiries into Aged Care, modern slavery, youth mental health were not properly considered in the budget. Our voices are not heard, despite our efforts.

Quote: Diversity is having a seat at the table; inclusion is having a voice; belonging is having that voice heard. (@LizAndmollie)

Design for Disability

Design for Disability (D4D) was advanced by non-government organisations, charities and professional bodies with the Office of the Public Advocate (Qld) for past decades, but only recently 3 of the 57 aspects for good design were introduced to the Australian Building Code. However, state governments and local authorities have guidelines and some planning scheme regulations that articulate basic necessities.

When we design homes, facilities, public places, communities, infrastructure and cities, we often stop at physical disabilities: Accessibility. This month we celebrate 7 years of the ‘7 senses design’ that caters for inclusive communities, with a focus on intellectual disability. Autistic children and adults can finally enjoy public places and playgrounds that incorporate seven senses: five commonly understood – vision, hearing, smell, taste, and touch and two others – vestibular for gravity, balance and movement; and proprioception for deep-sense coordination and muscle interaction).

7-Senses also address wellbeing through exercise and ‘nature deficit disorder’, where we don’t experience the outdoors in balance with indoors, causing disconnection. (references: Volbert 7S, last child in the woods, Brisbane City C NDD, Karawatha Forest community design discovery centre)

“Debunking Disability” Image: unsure of original source – used by NGO groups internationally.

Let us debunk disability.  This matrix shows terms that we hear about but don’t necessarily interrogate. As a result we can better appreciate how we can cater for these temporary or permanent conditions in our everyday lives. Our ageing population may be most vulnerable to this array.

In 2008, I designed and built Selsey House for disability – principally physical- as well as minimal footprint for carbon, water and waste during both construction and post-occupancy phases. Results are variable.  Design for dementia is very different, but each room can be retrofitted.


D4De Design for Dementia

The elephant in the room for Australia and Queensland may be dementia, and how we cope , intervene and arrest further development. Although prevention is admirable, we need an ethical
framework to manage the current and progressing numbers. Adequate and appropriate housing and living is part of that framework, whether is it retrofitting the family home, designing a granny
flat, considering co-housing upgrades, assessing a purpose built community, or preparing an aged care room in a formal facility. There are 10 principles we teach in design classes (Swinburne Centre for Design Innovation), which morph into many possibilities because we are dealing with individuals who live in different settings.

The optimal outcome is person-centres, high impact, ethical, functional, labour-minimising, and economical. Psychological wellbeing is paramount, so that people like to stay without wandering (or preventing wandering with hidden doors), feel comfortable with old familiar surroundings (have music and garden that feels like home – which might be 50 years ago), and this is reinforced with physical systems to prevent harming themselves inadvertently. In communities, it is important that older folk relate to younger generations for vitality (and they don’t call themselves inmates). So the personal touch is so important to arrest degeneration of a working mind and hands. The success depends of careful, co-operative collaboration and constant vigil to ensure highest outcomes prevail.

Attenborough’s challenge for resilient cities

In David Attenborough’s new movie is his witness statement comprises the first half, while the second half is a set of observations and recommendations for resilience of the planet with humans as the integral part of making that happen. Some of my interpretations and desire to implement:

The ingenuity of humans is evident but the ethics and long term accountability is not evident for the past 200 years. The indigenous peoples for over 65,000 years and natures systems for 3.8 billion years have learned from Mother Nature (aka Pachamama, Otukan, Gaia, Terra, or other spiritual name)   (The race between education and catastrophe: 2018) What happened that we got so out of step and so dumb so quickly?  Was it that we built big cities that ignored natural systems and all that might collapse?  (CSIRO: 2020)

Image: SBS news. August 2020.

My response to David Attenborough’s recommendations is through ‘resilient city’ governance. Climate change is contributing to pandemics, accelerating biodiversity loss, widening inequity, and hastening loss of livelihoods, cultures, island countries and lives.  Global re-insurance companies chartered its impact in dollars but metrics for other impacts – even Genuine Progress Indicators – don’t measure ongoing physical and mental health and hardship.  The elephant in the big room is climate change sparked by flawed stewardship and narrow short-term governance systems.  But the evidence is recognised around us in Australia. (Bureau of Meteorology: 2020)  The World Econcomic Forum has interactive policy assessment tools underpinned by copious academic studies that articulate components in the interconnected policy playground.

Australia has both state and local governments with toolkits for how cities can be regenerative. This goes far beyond mere energy, to social resilience, park and urban forests for carbon sequestration, urban backyard food production, net positive development seen in new buildings and community co-design.  Brisbane’s new regenerative high-rise approved for development in October 2020 is an example of generating more than its takes: energy, oxygen, ?water with healthy human factors. Given that Hammerby in Sweden was operational in 2000, Singapore precincts from 2005, Thailand hospital precinct from 2010, this Brisbane design even looks different like a tree and comprises of live greenery for temperature moderation and air cleaning (sequestering pollution).

In Queensland, other tropical cities mitigate climate through restricting use of high biodiversity parks, urban re-foresting naturally, backyard farming, neighbour systems for pandemic community healthy crawl, and civility outbreaks. Hugh MacKay commented on ‘reinventing the neighbourhood’ as a positive impact of Covid, while re-engaging with the life’s natural assets. (Radio National:2020)

Circular bio economy of wellbeing.

The World Economic Forum published its findings in November 2020, linking my topics this month.

In interpreting David Attenborough further, I recognise bio-philia (human healthy founded on healthy ecosystem and natural statins), biomimicry (the ways humans behave with nature
innovating together – not dominating), and regenerative cities (where humans settlements give back more than they take from nature) as the way I can work towards better outcomes.

References: UN Habitat: 2020 World Habitat Day and World Cities Day, World Econcomic Forum – various, Urban Development Journal, NFAW Gender Budget 2020, Hugh McKay on Radio National.



NCWQ Environment Report: November 2020

By Pat Pepper, NCWQ Environmental Adviser

This report covers recommendations from the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements which aimed at increasing national co-ordination to prepare better for natural disasters, responding more rapidly, and ensuring the recovery endeavours make communities more resilient.  The status of the flora and fauna and their habitat in the aftermath of the fires is also considered

Follow up on 2019-2020 Black Summer Bushfires:

Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements:  The devastating effect of the 2019-2020 bushfires with the possible causes and potential remedies were reported in my NCWQ Environment Report April 2020. While the catalyst for the Commission was the 2019-2020 Black Summer fires, the inquiry investigated Australia’s readiness for and response to all natural disasters. Recommendations include

  1. New federal powers to enact a national state of emergency to allow the Federal Government to deploy troops and its full resources in exceptional circumstances without a request from the States or Territories. State and Territory Governments would continue to be responsible for disaster management with the creation of a new authoritative disaster advisory body to improve the co-ordination between governments.
  2. A ­nationally consistent guide on air quality to monitor smoke pollution and be updated in real-time since more than 450 people have died as a result of the toxic smoke during the Black Summer fires.
  3. A national data system where information, analysis and knowledge on climate change can be shared easily.
  4. Downscaled climate projections (i.e. projections on very coarse resolution made locally relevant down to a local scale by adding resolutions spatially and temporally) be produced by the Australian, State and Territory Governments to help  assess future natural disaster risk and plan responses. These projections to be underpinned by an agreed common core set of climate trajectories and timelines, and subject to regular review.
  5. A new national fire danger rating system and once released, a ­nationwide education program to improve fire warning literacy.
  6. Review of vegetation management and of the assessment and approval processes for hazard reductions, whether prescribed burns, or mechanical slashing to clear land, by all levels of government. Fuel load management strategies to be more transparent.
  7. Development of a national aerial fire fighting capability which includes a very large or large air tanker, helicopter capability, and extra pilots and support staff.
  8. A national app for all natural disasters so information on the warning system could be readily available. Inconsistencies and ­differences between state and ­territory apps caused ­issues for border communities and tourists.
  9. Update of the current strategies of states and territories or development of a new strategy with technology that allows communication across jurisdictions. And a national register showing the number of emergency services personnel, equipment and aerial assets that can be drawn on or moved around if needed.
  10. A single national scheme for the regulation of charitable fundraising
  11. Development of a national mechanism to communicate risk of hazard prone areas to households and prospective buyers and clear guidance on the risk mitigation  by insurance companies and actions that will be recognised when insurance premiums are set.
  12. Greater consistency and collaboration between governments on the collation of data related to Australian flora and fauna.

Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements – Report


Loss to Australia’s biodiversity and Responses:

 Threatened ecological communities (TECs): Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) has listed 37 TECs as having some of their estimated distribution in areas affected by bushfires in southern and eastern Australia between 1 July 2019 and 11 February 2020 and identified 25 of the 37 as a priority for management intervention in at least one fire-affected Natural Resource Management region.  The Wildlife and Threatened Species Bushfire Recovery Expert Panel (the Expert Panel) identified 19 of the 37 TECs as priority matters for funding in Tranche 1 of the Wildlife and Habitat Bushfire Recovery Program. At the request of the  Expert Panel and DAWE,  Professor David Keith, the Centre for Ecosystem Science, University of NSW, in collaboration with other ecological community experts, assessed the  threats, impacts and priorities for responses to the bushfires and compiled a  table of fire-related threats and recommended candidate management actions for fire-affected Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) listed ecological communities and a table of the state/territory recognised ecological communities that are likely to have been most affected. Candidate management actions for the latter table are to be released when available.

Keith DA, Auld TD, Barrett S, English V, Gallagher R, Gray R, van Leeuwen S, McIlwee A, Mitchell D, Tozer MG, Williams RJ, Yates CJ, Neldner J, Buchan A, White MD, Rogers D, West A, Seddon J, Simpson CC (in prep) Terrestrial Ecological Communities in Australia: initial assessment and management after the 2019-20 bushfires. Report to the Wildlife and Habitat Bushfire Expert Panel and the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. Centre for Ecosystem Science, University of NSW, Sydney.

Plant Species: Many plant species were at risk from the cumulative impact of the 2019-2020 fires and other stressors like high fire frequency or severity, drought, herbivory, or disease.  Of the 26,062 species impacted, 486 were prioritised as requiring immediate action to assess impacts and support recovery. Species with more than 80% of their range burnt, or were already listed as Endangered or Critically Endangered under the EPBC 1999 Act  or state/territory listings, or were identified as at high risk under two or more prioritisation criteria requiring unique management actions were listed as priority species. The list included rainforest trees and shrubs like Monga Waratah (Telopea mongaensis) and plants from subalpine vegetation like critically endangered Bredbo Gentiana (Gentiana bredboensis). Some species considered threatened before the fires, like the Forrester’s Bottlebrush (Callistemon forresterae), Betka Bottlebrush (Callistemon kenmorrisonii), and Grey Deua Pomaderris (Pomaderris gilmourii var. cana) have increased risk of extinction.

Gallagher RV. 2020. National prioritisation of Australian plants affected by the 2019-2020 bushfire season – Report to the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment.

Betka Bottlebrush


Animal Species: A provisional list of 119 animal species [92 vertebrates (17 bird, 20 mammal, 23 reptile, 16 frog, 16 fish species) 22 crayfish, 5 other invertebrate] have been identified as requiring urgent management intervention, based on the extent to which their range has potentially been burnt, how imperilled they were before the fires (e.g. already listed as vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered), and the physical, behavioural and ecological traits which influence their vulnerability to fire. At imminent risk of extinction because most of their range was burnt or they were already highly threatened are the Kangaroo Island Dunnart, Pugh’s Frog and the Blue Mountains Water Skink.  Having potentially lost a substantial portion of their range, other species like the Smoky Mouse, Koala and Giant Burrowing Frog require emergency intervention and strategic response to support their recovery.


Pugh’s Frog  Photo: Stephen Mahony


Many of approximately 320,000 invertebrate species in Australia have very localised ranges. Assessing the impacts of fires is challenging because of limited information on distribution and susceptibility to fire, and few monitoring programs. But 191 invertebrate species were known or presumed to have been severely impacted by the 2019-20 bushfires with a further 147 species prioritised for further assessment. Forty-nine species considered threatened on the list before the fires included freshwater mussels, shrimps, burrowing crayfish, land snails, spiders, millipedes, bees, dragonflies, bugs and butterflies.

Purple Copper Butterfly Photo: Simon Nally/OEH



Two broad management actions to assist in recovery were recommended (1) rapid on-ground surveys to establish the extent of population loss and provide a baseline for ongoing monitoring; and (2) protecting unburnt areas (within or adjacent to recently burnt ground, or in suitable habitat away from the burnt areas) that provide refuge.

The Australian Government is providing up to $10 million funding through competitive grant programs as part of its $200 million investment for the recovery of wildlife and habitat affected by the 2019–20 bushfires. Projects could include:

  • provision of supplementary shelter, nest boxes and artificial hollows
  • controlling pest animals
  • controlling of invasive weeds (including through Indigenous fire management practices)
  • seed collection and propagation of native plants for use in revegetation
  • revegetation of burnt areas using native plants
  • regenerating or protecting sensitive areas, including waterways

NCWQ Education Report: November 2020

By Deslyn Taylor, NCWQ Education Advisor

(photo credit:

In September the ‘Minister for Science Leeanne Enoch and Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women, Di Farmer announced the winners of the 2020 Queensland Women in STEM Awards, acknowledging the contributions of leading women in the field.

“It’s wonderful to recognise the 2020 Queensland Women in STEM prize winners Samantha Nixon, Toni Hay and Denuja Karunakaran, who are each doing pioneering work in the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) fields,” Minister Enoch said.

“By supporting career pathways for women in STEM we are contributing to jobs in science and research, and improving health outcomes, which are crucial parts of Queensland’s plan for economic recovery,” Minister Enoch said.

Six Queensland  scientists were nominated for these STEM awards across a wide-ranging field of scientific research, including creating antiparasitic drugs from spider venom to using genetic markers to combat obesity, and applying traditional knowledge to inform climate change adaptation plans. Other research nominations covered increasing energy yield from natural gas, understanding the biological mechanisms of mental health and rebuilding coral reefs.’

This is a wonderful glimpse into the future where increasingly women are being encouraged to study STEM subjects. This is a marked change from our past experiences. 6 students were chosen to talk to astronauts live. There were two girls selected.

New Senior Assessment in Queensland

2020 marks the first year that Year 12 students in Queensland will be required to be assessed under the new education assessment system.

“In the new QCE system, students’ results for General subjects are based on their achievement in three internal assessments and one external assessment.

Internal assessments contribute 75% towards a student’s final subject result, in most subjects. In Mathematics and Science subjects, internal assessment generally contributes 50%. Internal assessment results are not scaled by external assessment results when calculating a student’s final subject result.”

Due to school closures during COVID 2020 Senior students will have 1 less piece of assessment in each of their subjects. It has been a difficult year. We wish them well.

NCWQ Arts and Letters Report: Oct-Nov 2020

By Jennifer Ann Davies, NCWQ Arts and Letters Adviser (

Wise words from Professor JOLANDA JETTEN, School of Psychology: Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences: University of Queensland, reviewing closures and restrictions throughout our COVID crisis…

“We have to be mindful not to introduce a false dichotomy: do we want freedom or health? There is no freedom without health, and it is only by staying healthy that people can have freedoms,” UQ CONTACT Alumni & Community News Aug/Sept 2020 SDGs 3/4/17

THEATRE – TROPICAL ARTS have September selections for actors, crew members and volunteers for an October performance of Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Action is at The Tanks Centre, in Cairns. The performances are always lots of work and lots of fun for the audience and performers alike! – Contact: SDGs 8/10/12

QAGOMA brings us an exclusive once-in-a-lifetime exhibition ‘European Masterpieces’ from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (June-Oct 2020). This fine collection rarely leaves the permanent display in New York and includes treasured masterpieces by Fra Angelico, Titian, Raphael, Rembrandt, Turner, Van Gogh and Monet. SDGs 3/4/17

Clay/Ceramics/Cloth/Canvas/Creativity – New and Old

As the calamities, cruelties, changes and curbing of activities continue, to cope with the cursed COVID, a cascade of creativity creeps in to our communities! Like a beautiful waterfall, this cascade of creativity and activity calms, clears and retrieves some of yesteryear’s simplicity, creating newness, reviving the core, the soul, the quintessence of humanity! I am assured this is occurring all over our big, big state of Queensland! Salut!

CLAY PLAY WITH ASTRID ELIKA is great to “…come together and create useful art for your home or personalised gifts…” I watched the kids learn the skills of wheel throwing and hand building in a relaxed environment, in the old, old Cairns Potters Club. ASTRID offers a range of courses for all, with great skill, enthusiasm, support, clay, colourful underglazes, tools and firing all provided. Enjoy! 0406566227 Astrid

CAIRNS MUSEUM presented a wonderful school holiday programme which included:

  • Sea-Riffic Science Workshop
  • Museum Super Sleuth Challenge
  • Guided Tours for Kids
  • Let’s Go Surf Life Saving
  • Surf Slime & Sand Dough Workshop Traditionally, major cities with large museums have such programmes but regional Queensland has not always had them*

CREATIVITY AT THE BEACH is a shoppe where one must leap around the ‘gnome spotty-dot mushrooms’ to view the unique gifts, local Artists, Queensland suppliers’ goods and see what is offering in forthcoming Arts & Crafts workshops. Peta Smerdon who greeted me in this fascinating little hub, is also the facilitator of Yorkey’s Knob Workshop Hub offering workshops in: Resin Art, Macrame, Mosaics, Terrarium building, Painting and much more… …then one can pop across to CAFÉ YORKEYS to be greeted by Tim or Riki for a cuppa, coffee, chai and/or delicious snacks, breakfast or lunch! Whilst enjoying the beach aura, one can also swap a book or two in either shop. SDGs for all of the segment above: 3/4/8/17


LETTERS! Literature – New and Old

This was on the wall of Cairns State High School when I presented Sophia Baines with her Certificate for her Bursary!

“Books give a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and Life to everything.” Plato

Our own wonderful JANE SMITH has invited members of NCWQ to a Facebook launch of her new book. Members will be aware of this prior to publication of this report I believe. The Carly Mills’ books are short and simple with historically interesting characters and action! The October launch of Carly’s second book “Emergency” will stream live on Facebook so women can enjoy both a celebration of women’s achievements and a celebration of letters/literature! This book is about Queensland’s first female Doctor, the remarkable Dr Lilian COOPER. A small group of guests will gather at Jeremy’s Book Exchange in Toowoomba Queensland, on 16 October 2020. The group will include people Jane sees as “modern-day Caroline Chisholms” – for example, invitee Genevieve Allpass is founder of Peaceful Humans and Rojin Rash is a young immigrant, interpreter and promoter of education for all!  CONGRATULATIONS to Jane  on her continued success as an author and historian! Salut! SDGs 3/4/5/10/11/17

KATE GRENVILLE returns to the territory of The Secret River with an unforgettable story about courage, truth and the mystery of human desire; a novel that brilliantly turns historical fiction inside out!  A Room Made of Leaves is out now.

“If there were a Nobel prize for storytelling, Archer would win.” Daily Telegraph Jeffrey ARCHER’S ‘The Eleventh Commandment’ is not only full of twists and turns, but makes visible and audible truths that many fiction writers are able to make glaringly obvious. Chilling.

“…An almost Shakespearean study in the nature of evil – horror in its purest form.” Spectator. Explosive tension and palpable menace, yet again infuses the well-known David BALDACCI’s ‘Absolute Power’. This is another riveting thriller that dares to explore an unthinkable abuse of power and criminal conspiracy.

Patricia CORNWELL has now brought us ‘dust’ A Scarpetta novel newly in paperback. With unparalleled high-tension suspense and the latest in forensic technology, Cornwell once again proves her exceptional ability to surprise, and to thrill, in this electrifying Scarpetta novel. An intense book.  SDGs 3/4/11/16 for all of the above*

Harriet EVANS’ compelling and heartbreaking, “Love Always’ is a powerful tale of lost love, family secrets and those little moments that change your life forever. “ ….effortlessly readable…” Marie Claire Wonderful settings along the wild Cornish coast and then back in London continue to engage the reader, as the main character’s life reaches a turning point. SDGs 3/4/17

“WHERE does history begin?” asks critically acclaimed author Richard North PATTERSON. From this compelling novelist comes the mesmerizing story of a trial lawyer who must defend the woman he loves against a charge of conspiring to assassinate the Prime Minister of Israel. “EXILE” is a grand read, continuing the trend of exposing truths, within fiction. Mark Lawson wrote: “Balance of Power and Protect and Defend stand as a remarkable project in popular fiction: an extension of the genre of the legal thriller to explore the morality and strategies of the “US’s greatest civic controversies.” Guardian. Our ethics, defence counselling, legal systemics and politics differ little from those of our American contemporaries. SDGs 3/4/8/10/11/12/16

“Ashley Bell” may well be Dean KOONTZ’s finest and most personal novel to date. Bibi Blair is a fierce, funny, dauntless young woman – whose doctor says she has one year to live.

She replies: “We’ll see.”

This is an astonishing, super-interesting novel.

 Michelle RICHMOND, author of “Golden State” wrote: “Readers will fall hard for Bibi Blair, the fierce and dangerously smart heroine of (this) mind-bending thrill ride. Koontz delivers a sharp, unsettling, philosophically stimulating examination of consciousness, memory, and the intense power of story. He doesn’t just ask the big questions, he turns them inside out.” SDGs 3/4/17

Inspirational Australian, Turia Pitt, explores the idea of happiness, interviewing myriad people, to view how everything from money to our relationships has an impact on how happy we can be. “Happy (and other ridiculous aspirations)”

“Bush School” is from Peter O’Brien who started work in 1960 as the only teacher at a bush school in Weabonga. Interesting charm and struggles!

“Sam Bloom: Heartache and Birdsong” Sam’s captivating true story, written by her close friend, and featuring extraordinary photographs taken by Sam’s husband. Humbling, heartbreaking and uplifting are the elements that will capture the reader. Samantha Bloom, Cameron Bloom, Bradley Trevor Greive.

“One Last Lunch” is a heart-warming collection edited by Joseph Heller’s daughter, in which dozens of contributors imagine one last lunch with someone they cherished. Erica Heller.Pattie Lees and Adam C. Lees have produced “A Question of Colour”, which provides a first-hand account of Pattie’s experiences during Australia’s assimilationist policy era. It is a deeply moving and powerful testimony to the resilience of a young girl, her identity and her journey to belong.

“All Our Shimmering Skies” is to be released at the end of September 2020. Trent Dalton is an interesting Aussie writer to watch and has already won awards in journalism and for his debut novel, “Boy Swallows Universe”. His new novel is about gifts that fall from the sky, curses we dig from the earth and the secrets we bury inside ourselves. This is an odyssey of true love and great danger, of darkness and light, of bones and blue skies. This author has returned with an amazing new novel! (all of the above new publications are available at or stores near you)

Minette Walters has written yet another “…tour de force…” writes the Observer, of “The Shape of Snakes”. Wonderfully interesting and intriguing from a psychological and historical vantage point, this novel will engage instantly.  “November 1978. Britain is on strike. The dead lie unburied, rubbish piles in the streets – and somewhere in west London a black woman dies in as rain-soaked gutter.”

“Probably the most unsettling and complex in the whole, extraordinary Walters canon…The drama stays taut until the last page, which may, by the way, make you weep.” Frances Fyfield, Daily Mail. SDGs 1/2/3/4/5/10/11/16

Never to be diminished – always celebrated – sadly missed – greatly mourned

Champion of the Sex Discrimination Act and more – a colleague in the 1990s

She would NOT have “…gone gentle into that good night…” Dylan Thomas

Bless – Senator SUSAN RYAN…. Au revoir…

NCWQ Rural, Regional & Remote Women Annual Report: 2020

By Tracey Martin NCWQ Rural, Regional & Remote Adviser

(photo credit:

Women in rural and regional Queensland are renowned for overcoming the barriers that can inhibit them reaching their potential and limit their achievements or enjoyment of life. Women work to overcome these barriers, not just for themselves but for their families.

To to overcome the challenges of living and working in rural and regional areas women need support from organisations, government and their own approach to developing a collective voice and networking for support. Every day, I witness women from rural and regional areas harnessing what is available to them to project their voice for the benefit of their communities. They are bringing about changes and improvements. They are innovators, business women, community leaders, health care workers, parents and teachers. The list goes on. Some have been in rural and regional areas their whole live, many have travelled and others have joined their community and bring with them a wealth of knowledge and different experiences. They strengthen our State by their economic and personal contributions. They lift-up and support whole communities to recover from disasters and sustain themselves and others through challenging times. Women are the backbone of economies and communities in rural and regional Queensland.

At the beginning of the year there were parts of the State affected by bushfires and another underwhelming wet season that did little to break the drought in many areas. By mid-year, 65% of the state remains drought affected.  

The challenges to women reaching their potential in rural and regional Queensland are unique which is why it is essential that we continue to ensure we have a voice and speak up about the needs of rural and regional women and how they are impacted. 2020 has led to entirely new trials in the form of Covid-19 that has impacted many rural and regional women on top of the ongoing disasters of drought, bushfires, flood and difficult economic circumstances. The immediate and swift impacts of Covid-19 was job losses which in rural and regional areas disproportionately affected the employment of women. This has had dreadful impacts on families that they are supporting, increased the already significant under employment of women in rural and regional areas and leaves women and their families at risk financially today and in the long term.

We know that women earn 74% of off-farm income and the loss of job or their businesses being impacted due to Covid-19 – coupled with the additional childcare requirements (boarders returned home during lockdown) has negatively affected rural and regional women, their families and rural and regional businesses and industries in 2020. The job losses risk remaining for the long term if economic initiatives are not targeted to address women’s employment and underemployment in rural and regional areas including access to corporate and professional roles. Support for the care economy in rural and regional areas is essential to ensure that they can deliver the services under difficult conditions.

As we turn our mind to the recovery, we are keen to ensure that women in rural and regional areas are not left behind. ‘Shovel-ready’ initiatives do not address the job losses of women which risk becoming long-term if specific initiatives are not implemented by government at the local level. Women in rural and regional areas can underpin rural and regional economic recovery and growth through their contributions. When harnessed through their economic participation, women strengthen agriculture and associated industries and support the economy and businesses during difficult times – such as drought and other natural disasters. As mentioned above, drought is ongoing and risks affecting essential industries such as agriculture. Women support rural businesses through tough times – but this has been stripped away due to Covid-19 job losses thereby weakening the entire sector.

Rural and regional areas were delighted with the support provided to quickly ensure connectivity and telehealth. These were game changers for rural and regional areas and we hope and trust they will remain during and after the Covid-19 recovery. They address the disparity in services and on the health and wellbeing front – we hope they will improve the life expectancy and health outcomes that are poorer than those dwelling in the cities. What did become increasingly clear was that rural and regional Australia was comparatively well acquainted with isolation and limited services, such that adapting was possible when the Covid-19 lock-downs occurred. With agriculture continuing as an essential services we saw our rural and regional areas be highlighted for the always crucial role in providing food for the country. As mentioned above, women underwrite to a large degree the resilience of agriculture businesses. Tailored and specific consideration is needed for the needs of rural and regional families and businesses when decisions are being made about lockdown and/ or the lifting of restrictions. I am personally inspired by how rural and regional women have responded this year to the ongoing challenges and hope that we can continue to be a voice such that women are considered and harnessed during the recovery of our State from Covid-19 and not left behind.

NCWQ Arts and Letters Report: August 2020

By Jennifer Ann Davies, NCWQ Arts and Letters Adviser

 Poverty, prostitution, poisoning, pain, paedophilia, people-poaching, panic, physical and psychological paralysis and perversions persist; potently pronounced in places, by the pandemic!

Piccolo, Piano and Pipes play… poignant, purity, pacification. Painters, poets, pages, performers, palimpsests, printers, palettes, publishers, peers, philosophers, pamphleteers, panels, photographers, pantomimes, puppeteers and papyrologists posit pathways and peepholes for people, for peace.

…softly, sometimes silently, souls are soothed, nourished; happy memories are revived, retrieved; new ideas flow forth into body, mind and spirit; resilience rises yet again, to generate new generosities to help with the poverty, prostitution, poisoning, pain, paedophilia, people-poaching, panic, physical and psychological paralysis and perversions…for this is our Job, and one in which Arts, Letters and Music play a healing and significant role, in all communities and cultures, worldwide!



GUILTY WIVES James Patterson & David Ellis Arrow Books, London, 2013

Sitting in a dark, dank prison cell in Paris, serving a life sentence for murder, Abbie Elliot tries to piece together the story of how she came to be here. “This gripping novel by the world’s bestselling thriller writer will have you on the edge of your deckchair.” Daily Express

“I took another deep breath and burst into tears. I dove into the leaves, rolled through them, dug my hands into dirt, tasted and smelled and felt freedom for the first time in more than a year. I cried out and laughed and moaned. I looked up through the trees at the morning sky and marvelled at its majesty. I could stare up at the sky as long as I wished. I was free.” p422

…but she was not…                             SDGs 3/4/5/16


A Jack Reacher Thriller – LEE CHILD – THE MIDNIGHT LINE Bantam Press UK 2017

A righteous avenger for our troubled times – we all need Jack Reacher.

This author manages to make explicit a range of truths that are, more often than not, contained only implicitly. In addition to the drama and pathos, there are glaring communal truths of which readers should be aware. “There was heroin cough syrup for children…. Doctors prescribed heroin for fussy babies and bronchitis and insomnia and nerves and hysteria….patients loved it…millions got addicted…Corporations made a lot of easy money. World War 1 intervened…. The corporations took 80 years to back in the heroin business. They made a synthetic version…said they were for pain…” p182 SDGs 3/4/11



Timely, tender, touching, witty, wise and hilarious!

Wonderful irreverence! – ‘Perfect’ mother: “These boys need to be rounded. They need their flutes. They need fencing. Furthermore, I do not see social engagements as ‘Play dates.’ They are team-building exercises.”

Horrified male teacher: “THEY ARE CHILDREN!” “They are not corporate products! What they need to acquire is not a constant massaging of the ego, but confidence, fun, affection, love, a sense of self-worth. They need to understand, now, that there will always – always – be someone greater and lesser than themselves, and that their self-worth lies in their increasing contentment with who they are, what they are doing and their increasing competence in doing that.” p354

Mr Wallaker, the male teacher, celebrated those who proved that when scary stuff happens, they could be brave and calm. Lots of Fun!  p365  SDGs 3/4/5/10/11



KHAKI TOWN – Judy NUNN – A wartime story they didn’t want told… William Heinemann Australia 2019.

Inspired by a true wartime story that has remained a well-kept secret for over seventy  years!

March 1942 – Singapore has fallen. Darwin has been bombed. Australia is on the brink of being invaded by the Imperial Japanese Forces. Val Callahan, publican of The Brown’s Bar in Townsville, could not be happier as she contemplates the fortune she’s making from lonely,  thirsty soldiers. Overnight the small Queensland city is transformed into the transport hub for 70,000 American and Australian soldiers destined for combat in the South Pacific. Barbed wire and gun emplacements cover the beaches. Historic buildings are commandeered.

As racial violence explodes through the ranks of the military, a young United States congressman, Lyndon Baines Johnson, is sent to Townsville, by his president to investigate. “Keep a goddamned lid on it, Lyndon,” he is told, “lest it explode in our faces…”

A revealing read!      SDGs 3/4/10/11/16/17



THE MUSE – Jessie BURTON – multi-layered, gripping, rich…

 Picador/imprint of Pan MacMillan London 2016.

“A trio of artistic mysteries propel the story forwards with page-turning urgency. The novel is deftly plotted, a masterclass in pacing, tension and suspense, and richly characterized. Themes of feminism, race, family inheritance and love complete a rich novel that explores the danger of knowing other people’s secrets. ‘The Muse’ is an exquisitely written,  to evocative and suspenseful novel about art, aspiration and identity.’ Sunday Express

Written in sure-footed prose, this novel is delightful and seasoned with warm and wily wit! ‘… I wondered what she wanted…I reached for a bread roll and rested it in my palm. It was the weight and size of a small marsupial and I had an instinct to stroke it….” p24

In tandem with all else, ‘The Muse’ reveals a history of the gender divide in the worlds of Arts and Letters, in which “…the majority of work was by men…” but the main character listened intently and enraptured, to the voices of Una Marson, Gladys Lindo, and Constance Hollar – and was told that one day, she, also, would be READ OUT!  BBCs Caribbean voices. ‘Her little shining face, her bunches, she always made me feel like it was true. Seven years old and she was the only one who ever told me to keep going.’ p38 SDGs 3/4/5/8/10/12/17



A BURQA AND A HARD PLACE – Three Years in the New Afghanistan – Sally COOPER Pan MacMillan Australia P/L 2008

Sally Cooper grew up in Australia. After a career as a journalist and producer with ABC Radio  in Sydney, she travelled to Africa, working on radio projects in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. In 2004 she joined the United Nations, training local journalists across Afghanistan. This author and journalist makes a point of stating the primary concepts of ‘Journalism as we learned, in our day, before the bastardisation of the profession.  Crucial and primary, in our studies and practices: ACCURACY, NEUTRALITY AND RELEVANCE!

When Sally first arrived in Kabul in 2003, she knew next to nothing about Afghanistan. Over the next three years, together with a small team of Afghans, she travelled across the country training the first wave of post-Taliban journalists.

It was these people and their extraordinary stories that shaped Sally’s time in ‘the Ghan’ and opened up a window on a world completely foreign to most. From the strange realities of grocery shopping alongside armed mercenaries to picnicking amid spent bullet shells on a Kabul hillside, its’ a vivid, and sometimes, irreverent account of working in the ‘new Afghanistan’ and an affectionate portrait of a people coming to terms with yet another change in their nation’s fortune.

An extremely interesting read. ‘Under what circumstances do you decide to wear a burqa for your own protection?’ NON-FICTION.  SDGs 1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/10/11/12/16/17



MORTAL REMAINS – Kathy REICHS – Thrillers don’t get more real than this! William Heinemann UK 2010

This is not just a thriller or a tale of the bones holding the truth.  It is also a tribute to those who continue to seek the identities of service men missing in action; and those who had been in prison camps. From this top forensic anthropologist, supported by remarkable people and research, contacts and addresses are included, so that some may be able to identify, finally grieve adequately and put to rest, their family members, fathers, sons, husbands, lovers, sisters, brothers, cousins….Additionally, ‘In the Belly of the Lizard’, an unpublished manuscript by Miles Davis, provided insight into the United States involvement in the Vietnam War. “Mortal Remains”, writes Reich, benefitted greatly from the help and support of colleagues, friends and family.”

Never underestimate the truths and value of Fiction! This is a wonderful and informative read, as well as a challenging set of puzzles.  “Brilliant….seamless blending of fascinating science and dead-on psychological portrayals, not to mention a whirlwind of a plot.” Jeffrey Deaver.  SDGs 4/16/17


THE THIRTEENTH TALE – Diane SETTERFIELD – Orion Books Ltd London, 2006

“A riveting multi-layered mystery that twists and turns, and weaves a quite magical spell.”

“All children mythologize their birth. It is a universal trait. You want to know someone? Heart, mind and soul? Ask him to tell you about when he was born. What you get won’t be the truth: it will be a story.  And nothing is more telling than a story.” “Tales of Change and Desperation” by Vida Winter

A beautiful, beautiful tribute to the world of Letters – a world of language, writing, reading, stories, books and the preservation and usefulness of all of these!  A biographer of sorts, our heroine works in a bookshop, with her father. “The shop itself makes next to no money. It is a place to write and receive letters….waiting for the next international book fair….It is a repository of books, a place of safety for all the volumes, once so lovingly written, that at present no one seems to want… and it is a place to read.” p15

“People disappear when they die. Their voice, their laughter, the warmth of their breath. Their flesh. Eventually their bones.  All living memory of them ceases. This is both dreadful and natural. Yet for some there is an exception to this annihilation. For in the books they write they continue to exist.  We can rediscover them. Their humour, their tone of voice, their moods. Through the written word they can anger you or make you happy. They can comfort you. They can perplex you. They can alter you. All this, even though they are dead. Like flies in amber, like corpses frozen in ice, that which according to the laws of nature should pass away is, by the miracle of ink on paper, preserved. It is a kind of magic.” p19 SDGs 3/4/5/8/10



You will be provided with ‘FREE timed-entry’ tickets

GOMA welcomes you to new Exhibitions

CUT IT:COLLAGE TO MEME/Welcome to Colour Television/I. Object… and much more.


Sidney Nolan’s NED KELLY series now has extended presentations.

This is a National Gallery of Australia exhibition which had been cut short by the coronavirus.

The national tour of the series aims to inspire audiences across Australia to engage with this remarkable group of paintings, and contemplate the history or myth of an Australian story that will never die. In association with the exhibition, the National Gallery has loaned Ned Kelly’s death mask from the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) Old Melbourne Goal Collection and an exact replica of Kelly’s suit of armour from a private collection in Cairns. SDGs 4/5/8/10/16

All Queensland Galleries, regional and metropolitan, will follow SOCIAL DISTANCING DIRECTIVES, and are required to collect contact details of all visitors who are in the  buildings longer than 15 minutes. This is to assist with contact tracing in the event of a confirmed case of COVID-19 and will be handled in line with the relevant privacy act. The Precis from: Kuranda Paper July 2020/p10


KURANDA ARTS CO-OP welcomes a new member, Louise MABBUTT. Her artwork is inspired by childhood memories of growing up in Sabah, Borneo and in later years working on the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns, as a reef naturalist. During two years in Darwin, Louise found on the local beaches a vast array of different ,corals, shells, seaweeds and sponges. Combining watercolour paint with natural fabrics, she has developed her ‘reefscape’ artworks. The Kuranda Paper July 2020 p11. Gallery hours are shortened but can be checked on (07) 4093 9026. SDGs 3/4/5/8/14/17


PAINTED FROM LIFE! The Cardinal RULE of the nation’s most-watched Art Award: THE ARCHIBALD PRIZE. While we have all learned the arts of social distancing and socialising via

devices, the Art Gallery of NSW insists that artists and  must have met in person at least  once. Entries are open but extended through to September because of the lockdown. The  rules are inflexible, and contact cannot be via video!

Another portraiture prize, however, the $30,000 Portia Geach Memorial Award for Women Artists, declared flexibility in impossible times and adapted the rules to  “virtual” sittings. Brisbane Artist, MONICA ROHAN, prepares to enter the Archibald with her portrait of fellow artist, LUCY CULLITON. Monica will use sketches and photographs of Culliton, taken at her rural property before lockdown! The Weekend Australian Aug 1-2 2020 p3 SDGs 3/4/5/8/10/12


…softly, beautifully, sometimes eerily, always energetically, beautiful music from yesteryear haunts us…..heals us….heartens us…helps us…listen……

QUEENSLAND SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA is reinventing and recomposing some of the old, old Classics.

German-born English Composer, Max Richter has been shaking up classical music. VIVALDI’S “Four Seasons” was written in 1716 and is a musical expression of nature’s ever-changing calendar.  Listen to the ways in which Richter has captured this calendar, announcing and celebrating each season with evocative melodies and vibrant string textures! Beautiful.

Award-winning Icelandic composer, Olafur Arnalds and classical pianist, Alice Sara Ott took inspiration from Polish composer FREDERIC CHOPIN’S solo piano works, for The Chopin Project. Their composition transforms the listening experience.  Eerily exquisite and enjoyable. August 2020  SDGs 3/4/8/11/12/17



For You

…the caterpillar worked, spinning her cocoon

her sleeping place – the finale – her tomb.

…and she went to sleep


….the butterfly emerged, slowly, new

beautiful, spectacular – vibrant hue.


…a beginning and an end- old and new

sleep, re-birth, morning dew.


we are ALL caterpillars

and butterflies – adieu!

the Darkness never lasts – yes, you knew!!

A Few Thoughts from Me To You: Jennifer Ann Davies: 1987 2nd edition

NCWQ Child, Youth and Family Report: July 2020

By Leanne Francia, NCWQ Child, Youth and Family Adviser

(photo credit:

The April report took a look at what life at home now looked like for families in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The July report expands on the impact of COVID-19 with reporting in the context of family violence, and highlights proposed changes to legislation inspired by the horrific death of Brisbane woman Hannah Clarke and her children.

Family Violence

The already complex and numerous concerns regarding family violence have been heightened behind closed doors since the lockdown required under COVID-19. Concerningly, the number of children aged five to 12 years calling Kids Helpline spiked 25 per cent during COVID-19 compared to previous months ( Queensland police faced the grim milestone of being on track to hit a record number of family violence occurrences, with 96,364 recorded so far – an increase of 8% on last year ( The Queensland government had announced $5.5 million in funding for family violence, with support service DV Connect to receive $1.5 million, $1.7 million allocated for crisis accommodation, $1.8 million for enhanced services, with the remainder going towards an awareness campaign ( Finally, Brisbane City Council have adopted a domestic violence strategy which some argue, although a welcome step forward, does not go far enough (

Post Separation Family Violence

With family violence services generally focused on the intervention, assessment and crisis stages, a gap exists in support for mothers and children in the years following separation when court ordered contact arguably provides protracted opportunities for perpetrators of family violence to harass, abuse, and control their ex-partners and children. For those interested, Women’s Safety have conducted a survey of their members and released a full report on child contact, shared care, and family law in the context of family violence and COVID-19 ( The Commonwealth government has announced that it will provide $13.5 million to fund a risk screening and triage pilot in Adelaide, Parramatta, and Brisbane registries of the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. This pilot, implemented under the Lighthouse Project, is a welcome step to improving safety for women and children in the family law system.

Hannah Clarke

This year bore witness to the horrific murder by a perpetrator of family violence of Hannah Clarke and her young children, that again highlighted the need to keep in public view women’s experiences of violence and trauma after separation. Family violence is a social problem that remains an indictment on our society. The Clarke murders provided yet another pivotal moment in which all Australian governments charged with monitoring perpetrator risk and keeping women and children safe, could further understand the risk posed by coercive control. The evidence base on coercive control is well established, but it is yet to be translated into comprehensive training for frontline practitioners outside the specialist family violence sector in Australia (

            Hannah Clarke’s murder also inspired the introduction of a new bill to parliament by Federal Labor MP Graham Perrett. This private member’s bill is aimed at removing what Mr Perrett describes as confusing laws around custody arrangements ( This important piece of legislation is supported by Women’s Legal Services (QLD) who have an information page and petition for those wanting to put their voice forward (

In summary, a continuing focus within the Child, Youth, and Family portfolio of NCWQ is the post separation context and women and children’s experiences of coercive control and family violence. In that context I am working closely with my counterparts in the National Council of Women in NSW in drafting resolutions to be put forward for consideration at the 2020 Mid-Term Conference. Please feel free to contact me with any input you might have in this area.

Women with a Disability

Lastly, the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability is encouraging responses from individuals and organisations to the issues paper by 11 September 2020 on the experiences of First Nations people with a disability to share their views about what they think governments, institutions, and communities can do to prevent violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of First Nations peoples with a disability. The Royal Commission is interested in examples of laws, policies, and practices in different settings that are not working or not working well in areas such as education, healthcare, workplaces, the justice system, home, online communities, and families (

NCWQ Habitat Report: July 2020

By Dr Donnell Davis, NCWQ Habitat Adviser

This report covers:
1. NCWQ Narelle Townsend Urban Design Bursary 2020
2. Ngambany – Urban Design For Pandemics
3. Covid in Cities
a. density ≠ disease,
b. recovery success matrix 17 countries
c. unintended consequences
4. Feminist Futures (living with Covid) leadership by women (WEF)
5. ERA papers – housing and Covid


Download the Report

NCWQ-Habitat-Report-July-2020 (1mb pdf)



NCWQ Environment Report: July 2020

By Pat Pepper, NCWQ Environmental Adviser

Summary: In light of the COVID-19 pandemic  and since more than 70% of all new diseases emerging in humans are thought to have been caught from animals, factors  contributing to  zoonotic transmission are explored e.g. conditions in wildlife wet markets, illicit global wildlife trade.  Environmental and cultural issues are raised. The focus of this report has been on China since the COVID-19 pandemic began there. But there is no reason to suppose a similar pandemic could not begin elsewhere in Southeast Asia, South Asia, sub‐ Saharan Africa, or Latin America.

To avoid another pandemic, global cooperation is essential.  The unanimous passing of the EU and Australian led resolution at the World Health Assembly for an inquiry into the origins of and the international response to COVID-19, is encouraging. To a certain extent, nations and regions can undertake measures to ban wildlife sections in wet markets, enforce strict hygiene regulations, legislate on animal welfare, enforce wildlife trade legislation and undertake public outreach campaigns on these issues. However global illicit wildlife trade  can only be achieved through global cooperation.

Wet markets: For many low and middle-income countries wet markets provide fresh meat and other perishable goods for people who lack access to refrigeration. They are the predominate food-source for billions of people, particularly those living below the poverty line. The food is cheap and perceived to be fresher than in grocery stories. Given that food moves quickly in a wet market situation to prevent it spoiling and research in food safety have shown that the likelihood of foodborne disease increases with the length of value chains, there are some grounds for this belief.  Unfortunately hygiene standards in some markets leave a lot to be desired,

Wet markets with wildlife sections: Some wet markets in parts of Asia, Africa, South America and Oceania have a section for trading in exotic wildlife, slaughtering and selling live animals on site.  Not only are the products seen as  fresher, not expensive but also the market  provides rare types of creatures that serve as status symbols or are believed to possess unique healing elements.  Aguirre, A. Alonso, Catherina, Richard, Frye, Hailey   and Louise Shelley. Illicit Wildlife Trade, Wet Markets, and COVID‐19:  Preventing Future Pandemics.  World Medical and Health Policy · June 2020

In China, the wildlife trade is estimated to be a 520 billion yuan (US$740 billion) business employing more than 14 million people. A wide variety of exotic species from quail, to ostriches, snakes, crocodiles and civets are bred. About 7.6 million people are in the fur and leather industry valued at about 390 billion yuan. The rest help breed and process animals for food.

In addition, many animals are poached, imported, and exported illegally for food, medicine, trophies, and pets.  For example, although it is against the law, the critically endangered migratory songbird, the Yellow-breasted Bunting  is trapped at its wintering grounds in China  and eaten as a delicacy.

2014 study that surveyed more than a thousand people in five Chinese cities found radically different practices in different parts of the country. In Guangzhou in the southeast and a frequent destination for yellow-breasted buntings, 83% of people interviewed had eaten wildlife in the previous year; in Shanghai, 14% had, and in Beijing, just 5%. While only the rich can afford soup made with palm civet, fried cobra, or braised bear paw, frogs are a common and inexpensive wildlife dish.

According to a report in the South China Morning Post on January 29, 2020, Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Market which was identified as the likely source of many early cases of COVID-19,  had a section that sold some 120 different wildlife animals across 75 species. According to other reports, the wet market sold live animals including, but not limited to wolf cubs, camels, peacocks, bats, pangolins, pigs, crocodiles, and dogs. 14, 2020

In Indonesia wildlife wet markets selling slaughtered bats alongside other exotic animal meats continue to operate under conditions similar to those in China. At North Sulawesi’s Tomohon “extreme meat” market, bat carcas­ses, charred dog bodies, pig heads, eviscerated pythons suspended from meat hooks, whole cooked rats on sticks were photographed for sale. In Jakarta’s Jatinegara market, live bats — slaughtered for their hearts, which are considered good for asthmatics — were displayed in cages wedged against others ­holding known coronavirus vector species such as illegally caught civets, monkeys and snakes. April 28th 2020

Animal Welfare Concerns: In places where wet markets are most common, such as China, animal welfare regulations are still developing. For example, there is no legal requirement to “humanely” slaughter animals by first stunning them and rendering them insensitive to pain. However one survey found over 70% of respondents supporting the improvement of rearing conditions for farmed animals. Around 65% agreed to establish laws to improve animal welfare

Hygiene in wet wildlife markets has long been a major concern. Stressed and frightened animals who may be infected with diseases can urinate, defecate, and excrete other biofluids in essentially the same areas where they are killed and their meat is taken by customers. Substandard hygienic practices are contributing to the transmission of a broad range of infections, including COVID-19.

Malta, Monica ,  Rimoin, Anne W.and Steffanie A. Strathdee  The coronavirus 2019-nCoV epidemic: Is hindsight 20/20? EClinicalMedicine. 2020 Mar; 20: 100289.

The Risk of Transmitting Zoonotic Diseases: More than 70% of all new diseases emerging in humans are thought to have been caught from animals, some of which, such as bats, primates and rodents, might have lived with the viruses for thousands of years.

In the past half century, deadly disease outbreaks caused by novel viruses of animal origin include

  • Nipah virus in Malaysia,
  • Hendra virus in Australia,
  • Hanta virus in the United States,
  • Ebola virus in Africa,
  • HIV (human immunodeficiency virus),
  • several influenza subtypes,
  • SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) coronavirus and
  • MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) coronavirus.

Bats have served as a reservoir species with the following animals as transmission hosts

  • pigs for Nipah virus
  • horses for Hendra virus,
  • primates and bats for Ebola,
  • civet cats as for SARS and
  • dromedary camels for MERS-Co.

Bat viruses tend to be very stable but once the virus has jumped to a new host species, it can mutate and grow in potency before leaping again into humans.

Forum on Microbial Threats; Board on Global Health; Institute of Medicine. Emerging Viral Diseases: The One Health Connection: Workshop Summary. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2015 Mar 19. Workshop Overview. Available from:

COVID-19:  A few years ago, scientists traced the origin of the 2019-nCoV coronavirus to a fruit bat found in Yunnan province, but about 4% of its genes were new. A coronavirus isolated from pangolins is a 99% genetic match to the one that has killed many people in Central China according to a study by a team of Chinese civilian and military scientists. This suggested pangolins could be an intermediate host.

The emergence of disease from wildlife and spread to and among humans has been driven by

the escalated need for food production to meet present and future demand leading to the intrusion of agriculture into previously untouched areas of the native environment   As

populations grow  and expand geographically there are increasing opportunities for contact with wildlife and disturbance of  habitat.

  • The impact of climate change resulting in disturbances in ecosystems and a redistribution of disease reservoirs and vectors.
  • Increased globalization and travel significantly increasing the chance, extent, and spread at which disease transmission occurs.

Forum on Microbial Threats; Board on Global Health; Institute of Medicine. Emerging Viral Diseases: The One Health Connection: Workshop Summary. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2015 Mar 19. Workshop Overview. Available from:

As a consequence of environmental destruction, bats, reservoirs of zoonotic viruses, seek new areas to feed, sometimes causing them to come into contact with livestock that will be eventually sold in open markets. Viruses that are transmitted from animals to humans are very dangerous to human life due to the absence of herd immunity among the human population. Aguirre, A. Alonso, Catherina, Richard, Frye, Hailey   and Louise Shelley. Illicit Wildlife Trade, Wet Markets, and COVID‐19:  Preventing Future Pandemics.  World Medical and Health Policy · June 2020

Traditional Medicine:  The Chinese traditional medicine industry, which heavily relies on ancient belief in the healing powers of animal parts, is a massive driver of the wildlife trade.

Traditional medicines containing threatened wildlife parts such as pangolin scales, leopard bones, saiga horn and the bile of captive-bred bears are still legal in China. The Beijing Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine(TCM), which provides guidance for medical institutions in the municipality on treatments using TCM promotes a treatment containing bile extracted from the gallbladders of caged bears as part of an official COVID-19 treatment plan

Illicit Global Wildlife trade and threat to biodiversity: The global trade in exotic wildlife, sold for meat, parts and as exotic pets, is now the world’s fourth-largest contraband market after drugs, humans and guns. Trade in protected species is estimated at least $22 billion each year globally and demand is growing fast, but largely under-policed. The main corridor of trade, South-east Asia, includes China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar, with China still the biggest market, having outlawed the consumption of protected species only in recent years. But US and Europe’s markets are increasing.

China has banned ivory but continues to allow commercial farming of certain animals for their parts, including the critically endangered tiger.  In addition to civets and the critically endangered migratory songbird, the Yellow-breasted Bunting, being  served as delicacies, the endangered pangolin, the world’s most illegally trafficked animal, is in demand for its scales and meat in cuisine and traditional medicine. Other products such as tiger bone and rhino horn are increasingly sold as status symbols or cures for everything from cancer to hangovers.

Breeding centres are allowed to operate under loopholes in Chinese domestic law, arguably against the spirit of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

The Department of Agriculture and Environment says Australia’s unique wildlife is highly sought after abroad as pets and has been reported in Asia, Europe and North America. Data since 2017 shows Border Force has made about 500 seizures of illegal wildlife products a year, including turtle shells, ivory and animal skins, most of them imports. Australia now has some of the toughest penalties in the world – up to 10 years’ jail and $210,000 in fines.

Chinese Legislation: In February, the Chinese Government  banned the consumption of most terrestrial wild animals as food in the wake of COVID-19, although the ban does not cover use of wildlife products in traditional Chinese medicine or as ornamental items. This temporary ban covered some 20,000 captive enterprises and 54 different species allowed to be traded domestically.

The Chinese government has now issued a new draft list of livestock that can be farmed for meat including dietary staples such as pigs, cows, chickens and sheep, as well as “special livestock” such as a number of species of deer, alpaca and ostriches.  Two species of fox, raccoons and minks can be kept as livestock but not for their meat.  There is no mention of the species of animal which are suspected by scientists to have spread the virus to humans, such as pangolins, bats and civet cats. 

As China’s parliament prepares new laws to permanently ban the trade and consumption of wildlife, local action plans published this week suggest the country’s fur trade and lucrative traditional medicine sectors will continue as usual.

With a national plan, Chinese authorities have pledged to buy out breeders in an attempt to curb exotic animal breeding. Two major wildlife breeding central provinces, Hunan and Jiangxi, have already outlined details of a buyout program to help farmers switch to alternative livelihoods. Hunan has set out a compensation scheme to persuade breeders to rear other livestock or produce tea and herbal medicines. Authorities will evaluate farms and inventories and offer a one-off payment of 120 yuan ($16) per kilogram of rat snake, king ratsnake and cobra, while a kilogram of bamboo rat will fetch 75 yuan and a civet, 600yuan. These buy back and compensation schemes are commendable.

Still, the numerous exceptions in the Chinese legislation allow breeding of some wildlife to be used for traditional Chinese medicine, as long as they are not consumed as food for humans. If breeding centres for endangered species like tigers or pangolins could be permanently closed, it would be much harder for products to be laundered through legal channels and sold as more valuable wild product.

Global Problem needing Global Remedies: Some organisations are calling for blanket bans.  However, there are dangers. The trade could be driven underground where hygiene regulation would be near impossible. A black market could encourage corruption and even increase the risk of the trade being controlled by organised crime. 

Some measures to address the problem could be taken at the national or even regional level.

  • Banning wild life sections in wet markets. There is widespread support for closure of unregulated wildlife markets across Southeast Asia: In a March poll commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund, about 5,000 people in Hong Kong, Japan, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam, 93 percent of participants supported governments taking action to eliminate illegal and unregulated wildlife markets.
  • Enforcing strict hygiene regulations,
  • Legislating animal welfare,
  • Undertaking public outreach campaigns about the dangers of wild life sections in wet markets and exotic meats,
  • Enforcing legislation to combat illicit wildlife trade in endangered or exotic animals

However cooperation is needed at the global level on law enforcement to combat illicit wildlife trade

Australian researchers have developed a “Border Force-ready” test on echidna spines to detect whether wild echidnas are being laundered out of New Guinea. After the success of that trial, the team is hoping to develop a similar test for pangolin scales, which are trafficked by the tonne across the globe.

Training Program to help prevent spread of animal to human diseases: Since the majority of emerging infectious diseases, such as coronavirus, are zoonotic, a $4.3m program funded by the Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Security (IPCHS)  at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade  and  led by scientists from Schools of Veterinary Science in Universities across Australia, New Zealand and the Asia-Pacific, will engage with government animal health authorities and educators in the Asia-Pacific region to strengthen the capacity to detect, respond, control and prevent animal disease outbreaks that could affect human health, animal health and farmer livelihoods.  Program leader, Associate Professor Navneet Dhand, from the University of Sydney  said transboundary animal diseases, which travel quickly across borders, and zoonotic diseases, are increasing in frequency due to a range of factors including population growth, urbanisation and increasing global air travel. The program will run for three years in Cambodia, Fiji, Indonesia, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. The rapid transmission of COVID-19 and its huge economic and health impact has demonstrated the need for this training.;

The IPCSH is partnering with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) to strengthen health security of the above countries, including through National Bridging Workshops (NBW) that aim to bring human and animal health colleagues together to identify priority areas for action and collaboration. To better prevent and control infectious diseases of which 75% are zoonotic, systems for human health and animal health need to be closely linked.

Coronavirus inquiry resolution adopted at World Health Assembly. On the 19th May 2020 at the 73rd World Health Assembly, an EU and Australian led resolution for an inquiry into the origins of and the international response to coronavirus stablished at the earliest possible opportunity, was adopted unanimously. The review will identify the source of the virus and the route of introduction from other animals to the human population, as well as consider lessons learned from the WHO-coordinated international health response to COVID-19.