NCWQ Environment Report: February 2020

By Pat Pepper, NCWQ Environment Adviser

Update on impact of lack of reliable water on regional communities and industries and the environment.   

The Problem: In my NCWQ Environment Adviser’s Report, November 2019, I drew attention to the fact that many billions of megalitres of water can flow out to sea while other parts of the country suffer extreme drought.  The freshwater flood plumes can cause environmental damage to the reefs in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Drought significantly impacts the environment, industries and communities including Murray Darling Basin.

Regional towns were running out of water with dam levels dangerously low.  While some rain has fallen, emergency water restrictions remain in place in some areas. e.g. While the level and volume for Stanthorpe increased from 9.5% and 196 megalitres (ML)  at 3rd February 2020 to 17.5% and 362 ML. at 17th February, water carting is continuing to Stanthorpe. Water remains in Storm King Dam as a contingency for emergency events and to provide a habitat for aquatic life.

Rain has fallen across Murray Darling Basin recently but not enough to end the drought.  The flows in many rivers will be boosted and dam storage levels lifted but threats to water quality persist, including contamination from bushfire debris.

Rainfall Projections: Rainfall in the near future (2030) and late in the century (2090) has been projected by CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology  for clusters of Natural Resource Management Regions including the following:-

  • The Wet Tropics cluster which contains the Wet Tropics and Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Areas, as well as a high proportion of the Great Barrier Reef catchment,
  • The Monsoonal North East with the Mitchell, Gilbert, Norman and Staaten River catchments, all of which flow into the Gulf of Carpentaria and the Burdekin region, 
  • The Central Slopes cluster comprising NRM regions to the west of the Great Dividing Range from the Darling Downs in Queensland to the central west of New South Wales with a number of important headwater catchments for the Murray Darling Basin and
  • The Murray Basin cluster comprises NRM regions across New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. The cluster extends from the flatlands of inland New South Wales to the Great Dividing Range.

In the near future, natural variability is projected to predominate over trends due to greenhouse gas emissions for all of the above clusters. However for the Wet Tropics and Monsoonal North East Clusters it is noted that because global climate models offer diverse results, and models have shortcomings in resolving some tropical processes it is difficult to provide confident rainfall projections.

By late in the century, 

  • for the Wet Tropics, projections generally have low confidence,
  • for the Monsoonal North East, projections generally have low confidence
  • for the Central Slopes, climate models indicate decreasing winter rainfall with high confidence. There is a good understanding of the physical mechanisms driving this change (southward shift of winter storm systems together with rising mean pressure over the region). Decreases are also projected in spring, with medium confidence. The direction of change in summer and autumn cannot be confidently projected due to the complexity of rain producing systems in this region, the large spread of model results, and some inconsistent results from finer scale modelling. 
  • For the Murray Basin cool season (April to October) less rainfall is projected with high confidence. In the warm season (November to March), there is medium confidence that rainfall will remain unchanged. 

Increased intensity of extreme daily rainfall events is projected with high confidence for Wet Tropics, Monsoonal North East and Central Slopes clusters. Even though mean annual rainfall is projected to decline, heavy rainfall intensity is projected to increase, with high confidence.

For the Murray Basin and Central Slopes clusters time spent in drought is projected, with medium confidence, to increase over the course of the century. For Wet Tropics and Monsoonal North East clusters, drought will continue to be a feature of the regional climate variability, but projected changes are uncertain.


Various Proposals to address the problem:

In my NCWQ Environment Adviser’s Report, November2019, the following proposals were discussed:-

  • Bradfield Scheme 1938
  • Revised Bradfield’s Scheme 1981
  • Moore-Hielscher Updated Bradfield Scheme: 2019
  • NSW Proposals (diverting flows from the Manning, Macleay and Hunter rivers inland)
  • Hell’s Gate Dam in North Queensland :
  • Northern Australia Water Resource Assessment program (Fitzroy, Darwin, Mitchell catchments)
  • National Water Grid

Environmental impacts of dams: Dams can supply significant sources of hydropower, water supply or flood protection but a dam must have a sustainable purpose and operating mission to provide a greater benefit than the environmental impacts of its existence or the risks associated with its ageing structure

Environmental issues with dams to be addressed include:-

  • riparian habitat loss,: upstream of a dam, impounded water can drown riparian communities; downstream  the shore line changes and with it the riparian communities,
  •  sedimentation:  Dams can trap sediments normally deposited downstream. The storage capacity of the dam can be reduced with high sedimentation. Seasonal flooding which would fertilise and water flood plains can be interrupted and debris in river channels not cleared or redistributed downstream,
  • erosion can reshape river channels below the dam, once sediment deposition ceases,
  • water quality may deteriorate in reservoirs (e.g., thermal stress, low dissolved oxygen, acidification), especially close to the bottom.  It can decline as a result of drainage water returning from irrigation projects . If the reservoir becomes shallower through sedimentation, in arid regions evaporation could increase leaving behind salts and decreasing the water quality.
  • groundwater: With seepage into bedrock, river water  could enter groundwater and water tables rise around a reservoir,
  • fish migration and reproduction could be disrupted



Dams: Ecological Impacts and Management Stefan Schmutz and Otto Moog (,

The location of the dam, size of reservoir (height of dam, volume of reservoir), and water residence time affect the impact.  The dam operation mode can determine the seasonal variation of stored water, water level fluctuations, sediment capture and release, as well as daily and seasonal downstream flow patterns.

Sediment Management options depend on storage capacity, mean annual runoff, and

mean annual sediment load and include sediment sluicing, sediment flushing, sediment bypass, and sediment augmentation downstream of reservoirs .

Habitat Improvements in Reservoirs. Mitigation measures can comprise instream structures such as gravel bars, islands, etc., lateral widenings of the cross profiles in riverine  sections of impoundments, creating artificial habitats in lacustrine section, and bypass systems within  the alluvial floodplains.

Riverine Zone                          Lacustrine Zone

Dams: Ecological Impacts and Management Stefan Schmutz and Otto Moog (,

Large and small dams can provide water storage but the size and type of dam needs to suit both the site conditions and satisfy the objectives for its construction.  The impact of a dam varies with the river, the dam’s design, and the projected use.  Small dams can be best suited for small hydroelectric developments utilising low diversion and storage, for smaller scale irrigation projects, flood control on smaller tributaries, ground water recharge basins, and off-site storage of recycled water or desalinated water.

Off-stream reservoirs constructed on smaller streams which store water pumped from a nearby river or adjacent basin typically have less environmental impact. A small dam can have less impact on the environment if designed to be more effective in safely passing fish species both upstream and downstream, and to bypass sediment

While fluvial characteristics are maintained to some extent in small reservoirs, e.g., run-of-the-river

hydropower plants, lentic conditions prevail in large storage reservoirs.

Dams: Ecological Impacts and Management Stefan Schmutz and Otto Moog (,

Water security throughout the country and in all sectors is vitally important.  Surely an extensive feasibility study with bipartisan support, both Federal and State, is needed to address this perennial problem of lack of  reliable water for regional communities and industries and the environment.  Surface and groundwater capture-and-storage options, land suitability, the commercial viability of primary production should be considered with potential environmental, social, indigenous and economic impacts and risks.

NCWQ Arts and Letters Report, April 2020

By Jennifer Ann Davies, NCWQ Arts and Letters Adviser

It was in the midst of “Mrs Wiggins Wartymelons” and the pandemic…

…just as Ralphie the adopted goat was pruning the rose bushes,

the whisper first announced itself…. gently…………..

“The DARKNESS never lasts…”

Thusly, we square our shoulders, compose ourselves, hold our heads high – and proceed. ‘Mrs Wiggins’ is set in Korweinguboora.  It is a REAL place! Australia’s Glenda MILLARD and Stephen AXELSEN produced a wonderful kids’ storybook of Change! Endearing and whimsical; often read and loved, though this story is – one cannot explain the whisper – heard again – and again….”The Darkness never lasts”…

As many will be hunkered down and in varied degrees of isolation, I will happily produce much for you to read in this month’s report. Repeatedly, not just like the whisper whilst reading “Mrs Wiggins”, but in the world, all around us, ‘HEARING OUR VOICES’ not only whispers, but calls, sings, chants, shouts, repeats itself, and becomes a magnificent chorus in which there is no dissonance….

CASSANDRA is usually seen as tragic and quite mad! German author, the late Christa WOLF stretched physic limbs to explore changed relationships and retained taboos in her text “Cassandra”. (Virago Modern Classic Number 315 London: reprinted 1985, 1989, 1991). With changed internal and external relationships, gnaws the question of the degree of responsibility inherent in full consciousness. Today, I believe, like Wolf, that Cassandra lives on because the conflict between full awareness and woman’s aesthetic and socio-political impotence, still exists, as does her eternal plea for peace! SDGs 4/5/10/11

Strong, pained, whole, individuated/ I have felt her inside me – many times/Crouched. Previewing mangled, bloody/ piles of lifeless flesh. Death, city Troy Anaemic! Cassandra – fully alive…

Standing. Autonomous. Paradox of Life/pregnant now with the Knowing/that whispers and sings and shouts/and sometimes panics Itself into/Lunacy’s refuge. Dichotomous, Cassandra…

Watching the Sea swallow the Sun/ near the Scean Gate – with Myrine and I/ raising our voices with women – different/laughing, singing, crying, berating/yet no chromatic divergence, Cassandra…

Distorts, deflects or dissipates language/or our Pens, for they are One – and/powerful still, despite aged Shadows/Clytemnestra, Hecuba, Apollo, Priam/mildewy blinds in the contemporary/ and Collective Unconscious. Cassandra…

Boadicea we are not. Daughters of Iceni/Troy, Noonuccal and Etna, we drink no poison/ for our chalice is crafted, finely, of the Gold/and Silver that celebrates Life!…Neither/ full nor empty – the cup contains all Things.

Deep, the draught of Consciousness -/ Inherently potent with the Pain and Elixir/ of Knowing; of Being – every Other and Self. / Shouting and whispering to the Sleeping Ones/the Bound, the Egoic, the Heroes, the Destroyers

Who nevertheless shape Society and State. /Implicit, then, in the stance of Knowing/ is Woman’s still-born cry – still tearing/ impotent…for she is not shape-maker of/ Nations. Only of Self, Prophecy and Pen.

Regardless the dimension of her Perception/ Potent, then, her Pain. Present. Paradox. /Fully Conscious Cassandra, Woman, Mother/Knower, Lover, Political Literate, Priestess/No longer crouched – all seeing forever…./ We stand within each – gestate each other – Separate! Unify! Book Five Always Becoming…Jennifer Ann Davies 2010

WOMEN – The National Geographic Image Collection reflects women’s lives and is available at: GOLDBERG wrote HEARING OUR VOICES in a special edition of National Geographic, in November 2019. Her introduction? “THE FIRST SCENE in the history of National Geographic doesn’t have a single woman in it…” Reference is to January 13, 1888, when 33 men of science and letters….voted the National Geographic Society into existence. “Over time, as the Image Collection grew – to more than 64 physical and digital assets today – another record unwittingly was formed: a global chronicle of the lives of women, up to the present day. These pictures, taken largely over the past century, are snapshots of their times, showing how women were perceived, how they were treated, how much power they had – or didn’t have. The images illustrate what used to be called, quaintly, “a woman’s place” – a concept that’s changing before our eyes.” Susan Goldberg National Geographic Nov 2019 SDGs 5/10/11

This was the first ever issue with all female contributing writers, artists and photographers. The question asked of each was: “What is your greatest strength?” Writer, Michele Norris responds that hers is “…my ability to recognise blind spots, see and hear things that most ignore, and spot pathways between well-worn trails.” p.10 Erika Larsen, photographer: “My belief in what I cannot see or hear but in what I feel.” Lyn Johnson, photographer: “I listen.” p.50 Writer, Nilanjana Bhowmick smiles: “I can delve beyond the obvious and apparent, and transform experiences into stories that matter.” p.98 and Saumya Khandelwal’s photography on page 98 supports her response that “Everything that’s in me by virtue of being a woman, I feel closely, live intuitively and steal moments of silence from what I see.” 

The myriad responses to the question of one’s greatest strength are worth reading! This publication is a grand read for every Woman; embracing the truths and possibilities of rejecting inferior status, demanding equality and unapologetically revelling in our ambition and success. Michele Norris p.10. Amid a stunning volume of immensely interesting articles, both here are important to our operations and goals.

Melinda Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which supports efforts to reduce inequality, poverty and other global ills: There isn’t a country on Earth where women have achieved true equality, and the barriers they face look different in different places. (However), no matter where you are in the world, understanding these barriers is the first step to dismantling them – and that requires making a concerted effort to gather better data about women and their lives. We don’t have reliable information about how many girls are going to school, how many women have the chance to earn an income, what their health and safety looks like and whether they’re dying preventable deaths. Without the data, we can’t design effective policies or interventions to meet women’s needs. Data is power. p.32 SDGs 4/5/10/17

Christiane Amanpour is chief international correspondent for CNN. A veteran war reporter, she has covered conflicts from Bosnia and Rwanda to Iraq and Afghanistan. Her message is important: “The most important challenge is still being considered second-class citizens, and the most important thing for us is to get men on our side, period. This has to be something that men help us with. It’s not a question of just swapping who’s dominant. We’re not looking for female dominance; we’re looking for equality and to level the playing field – and we can’t do that without men’s buy-in as well.” p.33 National Geographic: WOMEN: A Century of Change 

Overview of Non-Fiction Australian publications: A Dog Called Harry – Jill Baker. My Lucky Stroke – Sarah Brooker. Truganini – Cassandra Pybus.  Missing William Tyrrell – Caroline Overington.

The School of Restoration – Alice Achan & Phillippa Tyndale: Alice was just 13 when the Lord’s Resistance Army first terrorised her village in 1987. She took in a pregnant teenage girl, kidnapped and assaulted by the LRA and began to house survivors of the sexual violence that was a trademark of the LRA’s 20 year campaign. Out of this rose the Pader Girls’ Academy, which Alice saw as a ‘School of Restoration’. It has helped hundreds of girls left with babies and HIV as a result of their enslavement. SDGs 4/5/8/10/16

Overview of Fiction Australian publications – Where the Truth Lies.  Karina Kilmore. Who is more dangerous – a ruthless enemy or a woman pushed to the edge? The River Home Hannah Richell. Change, sorrow, healing…only if the Truth is told. Melting Moments – Anna Goldsworthy. …doing her duty as a woman, occasionally wondering, is this all there is? 

Desire Lines – Felicity Volk: Arctic Circle, 2012. Landscape architect Evie finds herself exhuming the past as she buries Australian seeds in a frozen vault. Molong, 1953. Catastrophe had befallen 7 year old Paddy – shipped from care in London to an Australian farm school, his world was a shadowy place….a compulsive, unconventional love grows, spans decades and takes the main characters in unexpected directions.

Well informed, prolific writer, Jennifer A. Nielsen, brings us the stories and voices of the lesser known heroines and heroes of the ghettos and death camps during the atrocities of World War 11. “Resistance” blends subjects skilfully: Jewish girls – Poland – The history of underground movements and occupation and the startling Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. 

The blend displays a bravery one hopes the world has not lost! Included in the extensive research is material from the archives of Yad Vashem. (German, Polish & Yiddish words are italicized on first appearance in the text.)

“To those who resisted, in every way they resisted, this book is for you.”

For the young Jewish couriers, I hold you in the highest respect.

“Defence in the ghetto has become a fact. Armed Jewish resistance and revenge are actually happening. I have witnessed the glorious and heroic combat of the Jewish fighters…”excerpt from the last letter of Mordecai Anielewicz, April 23, 1943.

An afterword furnishes brief yet solid facts about resistance in Krakow and Warsaw; of ghettos and extermination camps: Bedzin, Bialystok, Treblinka, Sobibor and Auschwitz. An urgent history! Jennifer collects old books, loves good theatre and thinks that a quiet afternoon in the mountains makes for a nearly perfect moment. She lives with her husband, three children and a perpetually muddy dog! Scholastic Press, N Y, 2018. SDGs 4/16

Kind messages, that pass from land to land

Kind letters that betray the hearts deep history

In which we feel the pressure of a hand

One touch of fire and all the rest is mystery. Henry Wordsworth Longfellow.

KIND MESSAGES have indeed passed from land to land during this unprecedented global crisis! Kind messages come to us from our Elisabeth in Melbourne, hunkered down with her trusty sewing machine and engaged in reviving her delicious veggie garden, as well as continuing reporting for all of us in Australia and our international colleagues, all over the world. President of the ICW-CIF, Dr Jungsook also sends her best and is hopeful that the postponed mid-term conference may be held in Avignon at the end of September 2020. 

Communication continues via our networks – and more kind messages have been received from Annamaria in Italy – Annamaria has been in lockdown for much longer than we have here in Australia – thankfully able to speak with family members but NO CONTACT has been the law in Northern Italy for some time. Mazel in Israel has informed us of the continuing hard work being carried out there with the heightening of tensions and fear as the Virus advances and swallows up lives; of the additional, heart-breaking work of helping those who are experiencing heightened cases of domestic violence and of those who are fearful of HOW they will put food on the table!  Hedva in Israel continues to send beautiful emails of the work and worries of the women in her surrounds; these are kind and wonderfully received, as are those from Eleanore in Austria. A magickal Grande Dame of Music, our international colleague will now be seeking other ways to soothe the soul and maintain hope; without silencing the song and sounds altogether! Leonie, our international co-ordinator for Communications, retains a positivity and humour that keeps people buoyant, as does Noela, our Queensland Angel; eternally contactable, helpful, wise and endlessly extending that beautiful ‘pressure of a hand’!! Salut! to All and Many Thanks! Grazie! Danke! Merci! Detecte! Gamsahabnida!

As Helen Keller once said: “I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.”

Groups of musicians and artists are presenting their ‘gigs’ online – and on Facebook live – the singers and musicians say that this is not as easy as it may look, but some, like Australia’s BLONDE group, have presented their gig at the venue in which it would have taken place pre-Corona virus. The Absence of an audience is eerie, although the presence and vivacity of the performers lightens the darkness.

Other music lovers have sought YouTube presentations, such as that of Ed Sheeran – Perfect Symphony with the famed Andre BOCELLI. Another of great beauty is Andrea and Matteo Bocelli – Radio 2 Piano Room. More news of how the Arts/Music/Drama/Film industries will survive will be advised as such comes to hand.

SBS WORLD MOVIES is currently showing a Queensland film, set in Toowoomba. ‘DON’T TELL’ is moving, challenging, true and a grand tribute to the film-makers, director, script-writer, actors and actresses and to the sheer bravery of the young woman, who forged the way for Landmark Legislation for the future. “Once in a while, a movie qualified as art, because it was about Truth. Art was art only if it honoured enduring truths….” Dean Koontz

The people of Cairns were lucky enough to enjoy the Exhibition Opening Event of SIDNEY NOLAN’S NED KELLY SERIES on Friday 6 March, at the Cairns Art Gallery. This is a National Gallery of Australia exhibition, on tour for the first time in fifteen years. The Ned Kelly series of paintings is widely regarded as a masterpiece of 20th century Australian art. 

The iconic Ned Kelly series demonstrates Nolan’s extraordinary ability as an artist and a storyteller who could weave history with myths and legends to create an evocative and compelling series of works that celebrate an anti-hero and infamous outlaw. 

Dr Deborah HART, Head of Australian Art and Senior Curator of Australian Painting and Sculpture, National Gallery of Australia presented a lively and well-informed talk about the series and the ways in which the paintings are hung – for this is not necessarily in the sequence in which the works were painted. Dr Hart also pointed out the interesting symbology in the works and added some history, stating that Nolan’s grandfather was indeed one of the policemen who has chased Ned Kelly! The works themselves are fascinating, and just as the series did in the Irish Art Gallery in Dublin, it is clear that Nolan opens questions to which he does not actually offer answers! 

This is a delightful exhibition and it is a great shame that the public will not be able to view the series because of our current crisis. If it is to remain in North Queensland longer, I will advise.  Numbers of Queensland Art Galleries kindly informed us of their closures. Many thanks to all of you from the National Council of Women Queensland.

Another grand exhibition one hopes may be extended, is John MAWURNDJUL’s I AM THE OLD AND THE NEW. “Mankerrnge la mankare.” The old ways of doing things have changed into the new ways. The new generation does things differently. But me, I have two ways. I am the old and the new. John Mawurndjul: organised and toured by Museum of Contemporary Art Australia.

As galleries, theatres and myriad venues have been forced to shut to protect Life, we return to the World of Letters – our world of Literature and what people here are reading. Some of these books reveal secrets, some hide more. Some lie and some reveal Truth. Some lighten and brighten, some challenge. All are interesting…and where I bring you the dense and the dark – remember The Darkness never lasts. Perhaps sometimes without it we are not able to see the LIGHT! 

Fiona Erskine – “She blows things up to keep people safe”! The Chemical Detective: Dr Jaq Silver, skier, scientist, international jet-setter, explosives expert, stumbles across a problem in Slovenia. Her evidence disappears. Racing between the snowy slopes of Slovenia and the ghostly ruins of Chernobyl, ‘The Chemical Detective’ is an electrifying read!  Point Blank Oneworld Publications, London, 2019. 

Erskine is a professional engineer based in Teesside, ‘though she travels frequently to Brazil, Russia, India and China. As a female engineer, she is often the lone representative of her gender in board meetings, cargo ships, night-time factories and off-shore oil rigs. Her writing offers a fascinating insight into this traditionally male world.

“Jaq thought that there must be a way.

Surely there was a way.

There was no breeze in the tunnel, no natural light, the whoosh and rattle of forced ventilation had long ceased. Within minutes the stuffy underground warren smelt of decay.

And death.

The lights went off.” SDGs 4/5/10/11

Sweeping across the world…Dean Koontz – The Night Window reflects a different world…. “The art of Francis Bacon reflects his view of human society as chaotic, confirms his belief in the need to impose order by brute power and extreme violence.” p.14 Harper Collins 2019

“Creating a neural (brain) lace is the thing that really matters for humanity to achieve symbiosis with machines.” Elon Musk

“Ultimately they were going to inject her with the neural lace that would web her brain and enslave her…” p.20

“He told stories of courage and fortitude; stories of ordinary people who refused to be crushed by the system or dictated to by self-appointed elites.” p.117

“It’s a goblin night: eerie green snowflakes, the falling of flakes like luminous citrine scales shed by some gathering of dragons in the sky.” p.122  SDGs 4/11/16     Read while we are all being Brave!

A 2010 novel by Harlan Coben ‘PLAY DEAD’ keeps you in suspense until the final page. Set in Palm Cove, the Pacific International Hotel and business houses just near the Marlin Jetty, this is a great thriller “…full of twists and turns, which explores the fierceness of paternal love…” Evening Standard

Extraordinary author, holder of the 2011 Medal of Chevalier of the Order of Arts & Letters; famed forensic consultant and founding member of the U.S. National Forensic Academy, PATRICIA CORNWELL penned and publishes “Port Mortuary” also in 2010. Sphere. An imprint of Little Brown Book Group, London.   This is a startling, ‘though not an ‘easy’ read. Cornwell compiled an unusual “Note to My Readers’ revealing the chilling reality of places, organisations, weaponry and technology in today’s world.

“The great Renaissance genius, Leonardo da Vinci, believed that art is science and science is art, and the solutions to all problems can be found in nature if one is meticulous and observant; if one faithfully seeks truth.” p.46

“A substantial percentage of research grants go to Cambridge area labs – Harvard M I T…war has become our national industry, like automotives, steel and the railroads once were…robots like MORT could be utilized in theatre to recover casualties so troops didn’t risk their lives for a fallen comrade”. This got tabled because using robots for such a purpose ‘supposes’ they can decide a fallen soldier, a human being, is fatally injured or dead! p.76

“I don’t agree with the belief that technology can save us. Certainly, it isn’t making us more civilised, and I actually think the opposite is true.” Pp179-180

“This is what we’re up against, Kay,” Briggs says, “Our brave new world, what I call neuroterrosism, what the Pentagon calls ‘the big fear’. Make us crazy and you win. Make us crazy enough and we’ll kill ourselves, saving the bad guys the trouble. In Afghanistan, give our troops opium, give them benzodiazepines, give them hallucinogenics, something to take the edge off their boredom – and then see what happens….”p430 SDGs 3/4/11/16

A read like no other!  Primum non nocere….First – do no harm.

Lightening up a little in this epic report – An Aussie Author to remember! Liane MORIARTY



Lies      Pan Macmillan Aust 2015

Liane Moriarty produces novels that are miracles of structure as well as human insight. Sydney Morning Herald

Piriwee Public School is like a zillion others. Mothers frantic, bullying, secrets – new young women, one single, with a son – another married another mother’s ex-husband – fuses herself with Yoga, herbal tea (vegan of course) and chakras…

The author fuses friendship, fuss, fears, fallacies and fun with marvellous humour and incisive insights, treating the reader, as well as her characters, with extraordinary tenderness.

“No-one marries funny and poignant quite like Lianne. She is the mistress of the razor-sharp observation…my favourite so far.” Kate Morton

“…little children have to be handled like explosive devices!” p191

WARNING: This novel may also have to be handled like an explosive device! Moriarty is a fantastically nimble writer. “Lashings of dark humour and ultimately drama.”Saturday Age.   SDGs 3/4/10/16

“Magical and healing. 

Lovely.” The Times

“A glorious poem of a novel – a story to read slowly and to marvel at the beauty of it.” Rosamund Lupton.  

“Poetic and deeply moving…a lavish and clever read which will stand the test of time.” Herald.



This author writes with an excellence in her sweeping prose and beautiful interconnection with the natural and the unseen worlds. She magically weaves this sheer beauty throughout the entire novel, with her unwavering theme of love in all its forms. It is utterly beautiful and wonderfully readable, with the richest prose that ebbs and flows.

This is a story about Marvellous Ways, an eighty-nine year old Woman who sits by a creek in Cornwell, waiting for a last adventure. It’s also about Francis Drake, a young soldier who washes up there, reeling from the war and broken-hearted. It’s about the magic in everyday life and the lure of the sea, the healing powers of storytelling and sloe gin, and how we carry on when grief comes snapping at our heels.

This is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read and Thank You to Nile and Sheila or I may have missed it!!! You were telling me a story and the story’s not finished. You can’t leave a story in the middle.

How do you know it was the middle?

Because it wasn’t the beginning. And it wasn’t the end.

How do you know it wasn’t the end? p123   Kathy you will love this novel.

SDGs 4/17

‘Marvellous held the postcard up to her eyes again and studied the script. She saw gratitude and promise in the flourish of his hand. It had been a long time since she had cried, but she knew she didn’t need her tears any more because there was no point in tears outliving eyes, so she let them fall.”p235. “Later she listened to the earth turn. It has a melody that only the gentle hear.” p254 

A poet, writer and woman after my own heart, Winman writes in her acknowledgements: “Research is not something that comes easily to me and I find it sleep inducing at the best of times, frustrating at the worst, and a hindrance, always, to my childlike impulse to spontaneously tell a story…” She does, however, thank the people, institutions and organisations for relevant information, which allowed the writing process to be truly enriching….Tinder Press an imprint of Headline Publishing Group UK 2015.

All the very best in these trying times.  Wait… can you hear that? So very, very soft – gentle – persistent…The softest, most gentle whisper of all Time “Remember – The Darkness never lasts”

Even with libraries closed, there may be new ways to share books – not just online. I will advise if new ideas or projects to accommodate readers are available. Facebook users will already know that The Marketplace offers all sorts of commodities.

NCWQ Health Report, April 2020

By Dr Kathryn Mainstone, NCWQ Health Adviser

Unease During Coronavirus Over Personal  Protective Equipment

Edith Cowan University in WA has recently released a study, based on their questions asked of 350 health workers –  doctors, nurses and paramedics – during the current coronavirus pandemic. It revealed that half of those who responded did not have access to sufficient PPE ( personal protective equipment )  and that 70% had been asked to ration their use of PPE. Doctors were more likely to report overall a lack of face masks, face shields, gowns and hand sanitiser. Over 20% report being tested for COVID-19 and 17% had undergone periods of self-isolation due to work-based exposure. 80% were concerned about exposing their family and 41% expressed this concern as “extreme”. They report a lack of communication between their employers and themselves regarding the issue.       

There is currently a huge gap between what is seen as “safe” for GPs and what in reality is available in terms of PPE. Dr Bernie Hudson, microbiologist at Royal North Shore Hospital, spoke to GPs recently about the issue. He said that in reality, there has been very little research done on the subject but let us know what they currently know. We know that the wearing of surgical masks seems to reduce the spread of infection from someone who already has the virus but does little to stop someone getting the virus. Given that people may be infectious for up to 48 hours prior to getting any symptoms, it might be an idea to offer a mask to anyone wanting to come into the practice and see a GP. He also said that if we had supplies of P2/N95 masks then GPs should use them, assuming that anyone may have COVID-19. The N95 mask is the mask that has a respirator within it and, if fitted well, prevents spread far better than a simple surgical mask. How long should a health care worker wear a mask and can we reprocess them? This is in fact a science-free zone; we have simply not done the studies necessary to give answers to these questions. What we do know is that dentists, ENT surgeons, anaesthetists and maxillofacial surgeons are at high risk given that they are involved in aerosol generating procedures and should be wearing P2/N95 masks at all times.

We have always had pandemics and it comes as no surprise that South Korea and Taiwan have dealt with the current pandemic so well, given that they had to confront SARS in 2003. They knew exactly how to go about dealing with this virus from the outset. It is sad that Australia has found itself so short-supplied with all aspects of personal protective equipment and is still so woefully unprepared. Never again should we rely on overseas countries for the supply of masks, gowns, gloves and test kit reagents. We have mercifully been released from the initial human carnage which has been present in the US and Europe but this is an ongoing story and will require tremendous effort to prevent it from breaking out in spot fire scenarios over the coming months. Hopefully, our current PPE situation will be rectified but that story that is yet to be told…     

NCWQ Environment Report: April 2020

By Pap Pepper, NCWQ Environmental Adviser

The environmental issues of two major recent occurrences, the 2019-20 bushfires and the coral bleaching of reefs in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park are discussed – Why they occurred, the consequences and some actions being taken or that have potential.

The 2019-20 bushfire season was disastrous with at least 34 lives lost, over 5,900 buildings (including 2,779 homes) destroyed and an estimated 18.6 million hectares burnt. NASA estimated that 306 million tonnes of CO2 had been emitted as of 2 January 2020. While this might normally be reabsorbed by forest regrowth, prolonged drought has damaged the ability of forests to fully regrow and may take decades.

Raging bushfire with flames as tall as the trees
Koala after a bushfire sitting on the ground in front of a fence.


Photo: CSIRO                                                       Photo: M Fillinger                                             crisis-five-big-numbers/12007716

Australian Academy of Science Fellow Professor Chris Dickman has estimated that Australia has lost at least a billion birds, mammals and reptiles this bushfire season. This figure does not include insects, bats, fish and frogs.  Even if animals survive the fires by fleeing or going underground, they return or re-emerge into areas that don’t have the resources to support them. Others will fall victim to introduced predators such as feral cats and red foxes. Even for those birds or animals able to flee to unaffected areas they will rarely be able to successfully compete with animals already living there and succumb within a short time. Some endangered species may be driven to extinction.

Australia is at risk of losing a significant proportion of its biodiversity and because much of that biodiversity occurs only here in Australia, it’s a global loss. Also the bushfires have not only taken a heavy toll on wildlife but have affected water and air quality.

While bushfires form part of the natural cycle of Australia’s landscapes, factors such as climate trends, weather patterns and vegetation management by humans can all contribute to the intensity of bushfires. The most destructive fires have been preceded by extreme high temperatures, low relative humidity and strong winds, combining to create ideal conditions to rapidly spread fire.


FFDI (Forest Fire Danger Index), Spring 2019

The primary causes of the 2019–20 bushfire was seen as severely below average fuel moisture attributed to record-breaking temperatures and drought, accompanied by severe fire weather, and that these are likely to have been exacerbated by long-term trends of warmer and dryer weather observed over the Australian land mass. 

The major cause of ignition of fires during the 2019-20 fire crisis in NSW and Victoria is reported to be lightning strikes with alleged arson accounting for around 1% of NSW fires and 0.3% of Victorian fires by 18 January 2020.

The significance of major circulation patterns on climate variability in Australia has been studied:- 

  • the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) referring to the extensive warming of the sea surface region in the central and eastern Pacific, 
  • the Inter-decadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO) similar to El Nino in that it is a change in climate related to sea surface temperatures but tending to last much longer, 20-30 years as opposed to 18 months, 
  • the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) – the difference in ocean temperatures between the west and east tropical Indian Ocean, that can shift moisture towards or away from Australia, and 
  • Southern Annular Mode (SAM) – a mode of variation in the atmosphere of the high latitudes in the southern hemisphere. 

One study investigating the influence of the ENSO on fire risk found that the proportion of days with a high, or greater than high, fire danger rating markedly increased during El Niño episodes and was further increased when the IPO was negative during these El Niño eventsVerdon D.C. , Kiem A.S and S.W. Franks (2004) Int. J. of Wildland Fire 13(2) 165-171

In another study with data from 39 stations from1973 to 2017, Harris and Lucas (2019) found ENSO to be the main driver for interannual variability of fire weather as measured by the McArthur Forest Fire Danger Index (FFDI). They reported that in general, El Niño-like conditions led to more extreme fire weather, with this effect stronger in eastern Australia but with significant regional variations to this general rule. In NSW, particularly along the central coast, negative SAM was a primary influence for elevated fire weather in late-winter and spring. In the southeast (Victoria and Tasmania), the El Niño-like impact was exacerbated when positive IOD conditions were simultaneously observed. The spring conditions were key, and strongly influenced what was observed during the following summer. On longer time scales (45 years), linear trends were upward at most stations; this trend was strongest in the southeast and during the spring. The positive trends were not driven by the trends in the climate drivers and they were not consistent with hypothesized impacts of the IPO, either before or after its late-1990s shift to the cold phase. Harris and Lucas proposed that anthropogenic climate change was the primary driver of the trend, through both higher mean temperatures and potentially through associated shifts in large-scale rainfall patterns. They also said that variations from interannual factors were generally larger in magnitude than the trend effects observed. 


Time series of 90th percentile FFDI annual anomaly (July-June) at each station (1973–2017). The thick line indicates the multi-station mean. The thick dotted line indicates the linear trend.

Harris S, Lucas C (2019) Understanding the variability of Australian fire weather between 1973 and 2017. PLoS ONE 14(9): e0222328.

Bruce Boyes, Knowledge Manager, Environmental manager, Project manager, Educator claimed the scale and seriousness of the current bushfire crisis was caused by the progressive temperature increase due to climate change, the strongest IOD on record, the influence of SAM and a well-advanced IPO progressively drying the landscape of southeastern Australia. While each one of these factors on their own would have been unlikely to have caused something of the scale and seriousness of the current bushfire crisis, all of these factors coming together did. Removing any one of these factors but leaving all of the others would also have been unlikely to have caused such a crisis.

In a further paper, Bruce Boyes  addressed hazard reduction burning  and debunks some of the myths about Aboriginal fire management practices.  Rather than practices being widespread and constant, they depended on the species composition of the vegetation communities in the area inhabited.  

To provide a line of defence between buildings and bushland, Boyes promotes a buffer zone completely clear of understorey, midstorey, and any fuel load and if local conditions indicate a high risk of crown fires the overstorey trees. He also discusses firelines  along the boundaries between the buffer zones and the bushland to facilitate easy access for back burning in case of an approaching wildfire, and additional firelines within the bushland areas if possible, to provide additional lines of defence

Citizen Science Forum:  On 14 February, CSIRO hosted a national forum which recognised that in a time of crisis, research capability is under pressure and citizen science could provide an important complement to traditional research-led monitoring campaigns.  To that end, in collaboration with the Atlas of Living Australia (a National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy capability) and the Australian Citizen Science Association, CSIRO has developed the Citizen Science Bushfire Project Finder website which allows members of the public to contribute to projects ranging from air quality, to identifying and confirming animal and plant sightings while maintaining safe social distancing practices.   While citizen scientists can be confronted by the number of tools and protocols aimed at ensuring data is captured in a consistent manner, this is essential to make the best use of the data. In many cases it may only be practical to get a true picture of the composition of the flora and fauna in an area and how it changes with time with the help of dedicated citizen scientists.

Threat to koalas from bats carrying a retrovirus:  On top of the high mortality from the bushfires, and loss of habitat and food supply, the koala population can be exposed, by a koala retrovirus KoRV, to cancer and chlamydia, a leading cause of infertility, blindness and kidney failure. Scientists from Burnet Institute, Melbourne and CSIRO have identified bats as a source of diverse infectious retroviruses related to KoRV. This implicates bats as a reservoir of KoRV-related viruses that potentially can be transmitted to other mammalian species. Bats are reservoirs of emerging viruses that are highly pathogenic to other mammals, including humans. For example, while remaining unaffected, bats, can host viruses including Ebola, Hendra and coronaviruses, and transmit the viruses by droppings and body fluids to other mammals. The research of Hayward et al reported the first exogenous retrovirus described in bats.  Hayward et al  (2020) Infectious KoRV-related retroviruses circulating in Australian bats SARS or SARS-like, MERS or MERS-like, 2019-nCOV or 2019-nCoV-like viruses have not yet been found in Australian wildlife (including bats), overseas bats host these viruses.

However, it should be remembered flying-foxes play a crucial role as pollinators and help keep forest ecosystems that support other species like koalas, healthy.

Coral Bleaching of reefs in the Great Barrier Marine Park (GBRMP): Sea temperatures in February around the Great Barrier Reef were the warmest on record since the Bureau of Meteorology’s sea surface temperature records began in 1900. 

PHOTO: Sea temperatures in February around the Great Barrier Reef were the warmest on record. (Supplied: Bureau of Meteorology)

Director of the ARC Centre for Excellence in Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University (CCRS JCU) Professor Terry Hughes said serious coral bleaching occurs when coral suffers heat stress due to spikes in sea temperatures caused by unusually hot summers. 

Aerial surveys of 1036 reefs (focusing on shallow water corals, down to five metres) showed a different pattern of bleaching within the GBRMP than from bleaching events in 2016 and 2017:-

The aerial surveys accurately record bleaching to only a five metre depth, and bleaching severity generally declines with increasing depth.

Of the 1036 reefs surveyed

  • about 40%  had little or no bleaching and it is anticipated that most will recover,
  • about 25%  were severely (each reef >60%) bleached and
  • about 35%  were moderately bleached with responses dependent on history of disturbance. 07/04/20 GBRMPAuthority Weekly Reef health update — 02 April 2020

An aerial survey of coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef. Picture: AFP

An aerial survey of coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef. Picture: AFP

Professor Hughes said the distinctive footprint of each bleaching event has closely matched the location of hotter and cooler conditions in different years.  But it was difficult to make predictions about how much coral would die, as scientists had found corals were reacting differently after each marine heatwave. To know whether coral is surviving and recovering after bleaching or dying, water surveys are needed.

Professor Morgan Pratchett also from CCRS JCU, who leads the underwater surveys, noted that bleaching isn’t necessarily fatal as some species are affected more than others.  He will be assessing the losses of corals from this most recent event later in the year.  

With the five mass bleaching events (1998, 2002, 2016, 2017, 2020) the number of reefs escaping severe bleaching continues to dwindle and the gap between recurrent bleaching events to shrink, hindering a full recovery. Hughes and Pratchett are concerned the Great Barrier Reef will continue to lose corals from heat stress, until global emissions of greenhouse gasses are reduced to net zero, and sea temperatures stabilise.;

The GBRMPA also urges that the strongest possible global efforts be made to reduce emissions and global warming as large scale marine heatwaves and associated coral bleaching events become more severe and frequent, and the Reef’s natural recovery processes are unable to keep up. Such action is needed in conjunction with their current programme protecting coral cover through crown-of-thorns starfish control, improved water quality, increased monitoring and effective Marine Park management, preventing illegal fishing, and developing potential new restoration and interventions that can occur within the Reef.

Recently the Australian Government launched the research and development phase (initially $150million) of its Reef Restoration and Adaptation Science Program to help preserve and restore the Great Barrier Reef in the face of rising ocean temperatures and coral bleaching and endorsed a two-year feasibility study led by the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) into a range of science-based interventions.

This included: 

  • examining ways to collect and freeze coral larvae for use in year-round coral seeding,
  • seeding reefs with corals that are more resilient to heat to help coral reefs to evolve and adapt to the changing environment, 
  • developing technologies that increase the survival rate of coral larvae and that can produce and deploy large quantities of more resilient coral larvae,
  • an ambitious concept to shade and cool large areas of reef at risk of bleaching by spraying microscopic saltwater droplets into clouds to make them more reflective of sunlight (cloud brightening – see below) and
  • investigating methods to physically stabilise damaged reefs, after cyclone and bleaching events, to facilitate faster recovery.       16 April 2020

Researchers at Southern Cross University and the Sydney Institute of Marine Science have trialled cloud brightening using a boat-mounted fan similar to a snow cannon to shoot salt crystals into the air and  have achieved promising results. To have a significant impact on the reef, a full-scale experiment would need to be 10 times larger, involving the use of several big barge-mounted turbines. The effectiveness of this cloud-brightening technique would drop significantly as the ocean warms further, hence would need to be used in conjunction with other systems.

NCWQ Child, Youth and Family Report: April 2020

By Leanne Francia, NCWQ Child, Youth and Family Adviser

(photo credit:

Life for Queensland families has changed dramatically since our February report. In our April report we will take a look at what life at home now looks like in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report will provide details on a new Australian website for disabled women and girls, and finally, as with most aspects of life at present, this report will finish on a different note with suggestions that can support parents to foster their child’s engagement in learning and physical fitness during this period of isolation, and perhaps in a small way contribute to a household that does not descend into disorder and endless screen time.

Life at Home

Over the last month Queensland family’s microsystem has collapsed, and the macrosystems in Australia have profoundly changed. The broader exosystem’s of parents’ work, employers and employment, and teachers and teaching have changed. The separate microsystems of recreational activities, school, sport, and home have now collapsed into one place – home. Parents are experiencing extra strain as they either work from home, are now out of work, or working on reduced hours. Many are worried about their friends and extended family. For children there is no school, no hanging out in the holidays or after school, no visits to or from extended family, no team sports, no sleepovers with friends, and no large birthday parties or big Easter celebrations. For most children they have only the face to face company of their parent, parents, caregivers, or siblings.

Vulnerable Women and Children

Our February report focused on the devastating start to 2020 for many Australians with the 2019-20 bushfire events. Little did we realise what lay ahead for Queensland, Australia, and indeed the rest of the world in the COVID-19 pandemic. How quickly social norms have changed and again reiterated that in times of financial stress and isolation, family violence increases. The recent bushfire events served as a sharp reminder of the different issues affecting women and families. During disasters, women and children experiencing family or sexual violence have additional marginalisations including isolation, homelessness, disability, being culturally or linguistically diverse, or being LGBTQI+. There are now additional risks within the pandemic where families experiencing family violence are required to stay at home, whilst at the same time being separated from extended family, friends, and other protective networks. The Queensland State government has unveiled a $5.5 million dollar funding package aimed at responding to family violence amongst the COVID-19 crisis. Free child care has been announced and Accor, one of the nation’s largest hotel chains will be sheltering individuals fleeing family violence. We have not witnessed anything like this in recent history and life is not going to be the like it was for a while to come. Let us all be mindful to continue to check in through the use of technology on those most vulnerable.

Women and Girls with a Disability

On a different note, following on from our February report where we discussed submissions for the Royal Commission into violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation of people with disability, we would like to mention a new Australian website established for women and girls with a disability. In Australia over 2 million women and girls have a disability. This group is one of the most marginalised and excluded groups in the country. With a wealth of resources on rights, safety and violence, sex and your body, personal stories, and much more go to

Fostering Children’s Engagement in Learning and Physical Activities

In conclusion, as with most aspects of life at present, this report will finish with an altered tact and focus on some suggestions that can support parents and caregivers to foster their child’s engagement in learning and physical fitness during this period of isolation. With all children there are different developmental needs, personality, and learning styles, and these are a few broad suggestions that can be tailored accordingly. It includes modelling as a parent, observational learning as a child, and using items that may already be available in the home, without spending a lot of money. Some suggestions:

  • There exists a seemingly endless choice of technology and apps that support children’s learning. There are drawing apps, collage apps, math’s, literacy, history, yoga, Zumba, martial arts, science websites, and apps that promote children to solve problems, build, or create. Many zoos, museums, and art galleries are now offering virtual tours. Many are free to access; however, parents need to be mindful of security and limits on screen time.
  • Continue to encourage reading, and aim to read with or around your children. Older siblings might also read to younger siblings and support parents by giving them some uninterrupted work time. You might read a recipe or an instruction book, and then do that activity together. You could read a dictionary and start a word bank of new words learned and their meaning. Even if children are reading books that may not be of great literary value, allow them some choice what they read. You could create a story map with characters, themes, and plots and get children to make predictions about how the story will end. You could get children to collect items from the garden, or in the house, and make a story using these items. Your child might like to start an online book club with their friends. Maybe they can design, write, and create their own book. They might also want to keep a journal about their experiences through this pandemic.
  • Board and card games can be a lot of fun. Jigsaw puzzles. Craft activities. Can a family member who can knit or crochet Facetime or Zoom and give a child one on one lessons? Can children make their own toys from items around the house? Maybe your child can write a letter to a friend or grandparent and attach photos.
  • Let children choose how they organise their play some days, or let them be the teacher for the day and decide on a topic to teach. For those with a backyard, siblings can play ball games together. Parents or children might like to set up an obstacle course that changes each day. Children might take more responsibility for looking after, feeding, and walking pets. Treasure and scavenger hunts – both designing and taking part in. Skipping rope, painting pebbles, using cardboard boxes to make castles for pets, egg and spoon races, ping pong or volleyball with a balloon.
  • Putting on music, listening to music, dancing or singing together, playing musical instruments, or making their own musical instruments. Maybe children can put on a weekly concert/show for their family.
  • Taking photos of items in the environment (other than themselves) and perhaps create a collage. Or have unstructured play where children use items around the house to come up with a game or creation.
  • If you have tent can children set up camp site in the back yard? Do they want to learn more about what is in their environment for example plants, insects, or how things work such as a toaster, the internet, their phone, or what is electricity or weather?
  • Cooking is a great opportunity to continue to learn about volume, mass, ingredients, what tastes good together, or what might not. Can children create menus for the week? Playdough is an old favourite but might be more difficult with restrictions on staples such as flour.
  • Gardening can foster patience (waiting for the seedling they plant to grow). And don’t forget the practical stuff like fixing a leaking pipe – letting them assist or watch how this is fixed. Don’t take for granted chores around the house, where children can collaborate, learn, and contribute.

Parents need to care for themselves and might like to set up a regular virtual coffee chat with friends or other parents. Parents might need to accept that the home will remain a bit messier than it might usually be, and be more realistic about what they will get done in a day. Try and create some level of routine sooner rather than later. Above all stay safe, stay well, and stay healthy.

NCWQ Education Report: March 2020

By Deslyn Taylor, NCWQ Education Advisor

2020 is proving to be one of the most educationally challenging years ever. At the time of writing this report all Australian schools and most Educational Institutions have been closed because of COVID19.

However schools have accepted this challenge and are now running online classes for their students. This has highlighted the lack of available technology for some students and some schools. Many schools where students already have a personal laptop and some systems in place are better able to switch to this mode of teaching. Systems commonly being used include Moodle, Microsoft Teams, Zoom.

Qld Education Department

“The Department of Education has a number of online tools and resources to support students. Curriculum resources for English and Mathematics are available for students to complete at their own pace. Students in Prep to Year 3 may require support to read and understand instructions.

The resources provided here are a sample of activities that can be printed and are designed as a support tool for students to continue their learning and engage in familiar activities essential to their learning and wellbeing.

Additional online resources are available for Queensland state school students through The Learning Place website using student log in. This is the same logon and password that students use to log onto the computers in their classrooms.” (Learning at Home – Qld Education Dept)

Learning Resources is another Government site offering further resources for online schooling.

One of the most popular methods of continuing “face to face“ lessons is by using Zoom Video Conferencing

“How to use Zoom for online classes

With time limits lifted on the Basic plans for K-12 schools across the world, it is easier than ever to conduct online classes. Teachers can use Zoom to schedule classes and meetings. Breakout rooms allow you to divide your Zoom conference into up to 50 separate sessions with audio, video, and screen-sharing capabilities, which is ideal for group work. The host of the main room can jump between breakout rooms to check in on the group learning.Zoom also has collaborative features like white boarding, annotation tools for screen-sharing, nonverbal feedback to mimic raising your hand in class, and local recording so that students can easily revisit lectures.”


Because many schools and students as well as much of the workforce use Microsoft products Microsoft Teams integrates nicely into Office and is the choice of many schools. Another option is Google classroom. But this relies on students using Google Docs rather than Microsoft Office. The choice very much depends on which platform the students and teachers find most familiar.

“Both Microsoft Teams and Google Classroom offer a core package of tools that cover classroom essentials. In Microsoft Teams, for example, students and teachers have access to Word, Excel and
PowerPoint. Google Classroom provides similar applications through Google Docs, Sheets and Slides”


Teachers are needing to work hard at reorganising their teaching methods to fit into this new paradigm.

Students particularly those in Year 12 also face the uncertainty of Assessment and possible
Tertiary Entrance requirements. This is a continuing conversation with government and other authorities and their decisions will impact greatly on current students and their hopes for the future. University students are similarly impacted with questions about how to complete their courses and particularly practical work if they must follow current COVID19 restrictions.

NCWQ Habitat Report: February 2020

By Dr Donnell Davis, NCWQ Habitat Adviser

Habitat is all about the right to shelter. Shelter includes our cohesive communities and sustainable cities. United Nations Habitat is now led by a woman, former Governor for Penang in Malaysia, Ms Maimunah Mohd Sharif   who convened special events in Asia in 2019, and the World Urban Forum last week in Dubai.

The World Urban Forum saw professionals, NGOs, financial institutions and local government representatives from cites of 90 countries. While innovation was focussed on technology for smarter cities (for better faster, safer infrastructure and transport systems), the practical innovations came from Planners for Climate change (P4CA) and community groups for affordable and adequate housing for vulnerable populations. Vulnerable people include students, families, sole parents, ageing and the disabled.  The solutions may look sensible, but there are many practical issues to address to be effective as medium or long term living. Ideally, people wish to be independent as long as possible in safe quality surroundings, with connectivity to work, shops, schools, health services and recreational places. Tiny housing, mobile housing, granny flats, fonzie flats, and co-housing provide only part of the puzzle.

Climate change is impacting different cities in different ways. Coastal cities may be vulnerable in many ways with storms, cyclones, sea level rise, inundation, tidal waves and in Australia, dense populations fighting for different uses of the thin strip of fertile land on our coastal plans.  While rural towns contend with either too much or not enough rain (CSIRO 2020), raging bushfires after early or extended droughts(WWF), economic downturns (ABARE), primary industry stresses, loss of children migrating to cities for education and not returning to the family home (ACOSS), ageing farmers, and loss of food crops because natural systems are changing.

Locally these things are not being met with sufficient good governance.  In Brisbane city, several decisions for town planning have been seen as milestones. On the one hand we have a suburb that has prohibited development that does not fit with preserving the character of the street and neighbourhood, thereby keeping the timber and tin and the Queenslander style, for renovations and for new infill development. On the other hand, code assessment of new developments mean a tick a box approach to building that does not require third party review of plans, thereby fast tracking construction. The assessment codes interpretations range from esoteric to prescriptive.  So what? Your new neighbours can build to the boundary and may prevent sunshine or fresh ventilation to your older home, without consulting you about their plans.  The unintended consequence is unhappy neighbours resulting in long processes in the Planning and Environment Court when it is too late to find a compromise.

In the Redlands, there are proposals to privatise public land, meaning that public access to the foreshore with RAMSAR endangered species, will be sold to private hospitality investors to control the access, foreshore, littoral zone, and part of the passage to the Moreton Bay Islands. This has been a concern for residents for years and an inquiry has been launched in the Queensland Parliament. ‘Longevity by Design’ involved 15 teams of urban design professionals, community members and ageing advocates, who designed futures for living longer in the Redlands for Maclay Island, Russell Island, Mount Cotton, and Victoria Point. Each provided something special but few addressed the innovative recommendations arising from the World Urban Forum. However, there is hope for affordable, healthier, connected, cohesive futures for older people and a ‘Blue Zone’.


NCWQ Education Report: January 2020

By Deslyn Taylor, NCWQ Education Advisor

STEM Update

Girls are becoming recognised in STEM fields. In my last report I spoke of the number of women acknowledged in Australia but this is a world wide phenomenon. For the first time in
history girls have won all top 5 prizes in the National STEM Competition in the US.

However despite receiving accolades in many fields women only occupy 15% of the top positions in research facilities. If we wish to encourage girls to aim for STEM careers then we need to address this apparent gender discrimination in research organisations and the workforce. With the number of brilliant women being recognised maybe this will slowly occur. Here are some experiences from a variety of women:-

  • “In my experience, gender discrimination isn’t rampant at an early career stage. But a glance around any research organisation tells me that along the way, something is happening that discriminates against the progression of women in research careers. In fact I’ve been told that although similar numbers of women and men graduate with PhDs, we fill only 15% of the highest academic ranks.” (
  • “International mobility is regarded as a critical step in career progression for a successful researcher. I spent 10 years establishing a career, completing a PhD at University College London followed by postdoctoral training at the University of Edinburgh. I had a strong and diverse scientific network in the UK, Europe, and America, yet upon returning…

    Unfortunately, my extensive overseas experience hasn’t translated in regard to pay or job security in Australia.”

  • “I now know why so many promising and established researchers leave Academia. It is hard, sometimes too hard, to face the uncertainty over and over again. The incredible stress of not knowing if you are good enough to be funded eats away at you, even after receiving funding there is little joy or excitement, just relief you have survived another round. Many decide it is just too much to keep going. I get it now. The penny has dropped. (

Not only women are affected. Researchers are usually on 12 month contracts and if funding is cancelled then they may lose their position. This does not encourage our brightest minds to make a career as a researcher in a STEM field or in fact in any field. This is a problem when we are trying to encourage this.

Approaches in schools

The 7 most important STEM skills as decided by some STEM experts are:-

“1. Statistics
“If I were to choose one specific discipline for students to study, it would be statistics, a course that can be applied across all STEM fields. You don’t need higher levels of calculus or physics for all STEM careers, but you do need statistics. A deep understanding of statistics means understanding probability and error rates, concepts that cut across almost any type of problem you want to solve in STEM.”

—Gregg Fleisher, president, National Math and Science Initiative, Dallas, Texas

2. Problem-Solving
“What binds together the STEM movement is the notion of modern skills. Employers talk about problem-solving. Society requires problem-solving. Doing your taxes requires problem-solving.
Those are the types of skills that really matter. A practicing engineer will tell you, ‘I didn’t use the calculus I learned to solve problems on paper, but the way it taught me to solve problems and to think about problems was really important.’”

—James Brown, executive director of the STEM Education Coalition in Washington, D.C., and a nuclear engineer by training

3. Creativity
“Creativity can be simple and complex at the same time. We don’t always teach to think outside of the box. You’ve got to look at a problem from a different perspective sometimes.Teachers can nurture this by asking open-ended questions. In math and science, you can show different models so students get varying ideas of how it might look to bring together one idea. Or don’t show a model at all and leave it a little open-ended so they have to come up with a solution on their own. Ask: ‘Why do you think this is?’ Reflecting and explaining what they did to solve a problem can foster creativity and teach collaboration another important skill.”

—Jenny Nash, education specialist with LEGO Education in Boston, former middle school teacher and teacher-preparation instructor

4. Argumentation
“The act of arguing is using evidence to support a claim. In the STEM fields, this means using analytical and critical-thinking skills to look for patterns in data, trying to determine what those
patterns mean, and then using that data to support a claim. This skill transfers across all disciplines. In an elementary school science class, for example, if you give students a lot of different experiences with noisemakers—everything from tuning forks to speakers to whoopee cushions—they have the experience of collecting data. And then they will be able to use that data to make the argument that sounds are caused by vibrations.”

—Eric Brunsell, associate professor of science education and director of the teacher education program at University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh

5. Intellectual Curiosity
“The days of coming into an organization and having the same role forever are over. Many people will have two-year stints and then are moved into a different role. That’s the nature of modern career paths. Beyond mastering content, individuals need to be innovators, learn from failures and keep moving on. You need to cut across disciplines and be able to ask the questions that help build connections. People need to be lifelong learners and be driven by an intellectual curiosity to try to figure things out.”

—Ted Wells, vice president and chief strategy officer at STEMconnector®, in Washington, D.C.

6. Data-Driven Decision-Making
“Students need to be able to make a decision not just based on what they think or feel, but on scientific data that supports the best solution. Everyone needs to know how to do this. It doesn’t matter whether you go on to a career in STEM or not—you need to know how to use data to make informed decisions in your life.”

—Stacy Klein-Gardner, director of Center for STEM Education for Girls at Harpeth Hall School in Nashville, Tennessee. She is a biomedical engineer and on faculty at Vanderbilt University.

7. Flexibility
“People are now required to adapt quickly to new demands and new situations. They need quantitative skills to manipulate data well. They need to be able to communicate clearly. There is a broad set of skills that, I would argue, everyone needs. Just look at the sheer number of people in manufacturing who were skilled at what they did but who now need a whole new set of skills, often late in their careers, to be viable in the job market. They need to know statistics, technology, quality control. They need to understand programming and systems to ensure the automated production technology is operating correctly. The trick for teachers is to give their students authentic problems to tackle in school, problems that require students to draw on different areas of knowledge and skill.”

—Claus von Zastrow, chief operating officer and director of research for Change the Equationin Washington, D.C. “(

You will note that many of these skills are applicable across a broad range of other subject areas. In looking at how to acquire these skills I came across 2 sites with two different approaches to teaching and learning:- Constructivism and Cognitive Load Theory. I include the links. A combination of the two is probably the best option. Finally in response to Jennifer Davies report re Reading for Meaning I would totally agree that parents should read to children and that all children should be encouraged to read as early as possible.

This webpage offered 10 effective ways of improving Reading Comprehension. I still use many if not most of these methods especially if I’m studying.

STEM and Literacy are strongly linked.

“The STEM disciplines require the interpretation of technical texts, a vast knowledge of content specific vocabulary, critical thinking, and the ability to clearly communicate these complex concepts to others verbally and in writing. All of these skills are developed through literacy based instruction. By integrating literacy and STEM, children can become strong readers while exploring topics that may pique their interest in STEM.” (

Perhaps if our leaders had some of these skills our world would be in a better position.

NCWQ Arts and Letters Report February 2020

Queensland’s extraordinary and prolific Poet and Author, Stefanie BENNETT haspublished over a dozen volumes of poetry, a libretto and a novel. She has tutored in The Institute of Modern Languages (James Cook University); acted as a published editor and worked with Arts Action for Peace. Of mixed heritage (Irish/Italian/Paugussett-Shawnee), she was born in Queensland, Australia in 1945. Stefanie, an ex-blues singer and musician, has been fluent internationally in poetry online and in print journals, and nominated for Best of the Net and The Pushcart! Of ALL her outstanding attributes, Stefanie has kept Poetry and Poets alive and well for as long as humanly possible! A stunning record – Salut, my Dear Friend!

“…Of all the women poets she has the greatest range and her writing is interesting even when it’s pretentious.” Frank Kellaway

“There are pieces of excellence, a call, at once witty and emotional for enduring, intelligent sisterhood.” Cheryl Frost

“No-one knew for sure where you were really at…now onward for your love of all the poets.” Robert Adamson


Published by Burringbah Books. Purchases: P.O. Box 1006 LISMORE NSW 2480


A chorus of blackbirds:

the eye

of the sky


It’s what didn’t get said

that matters


SDGs 3/4/5/8/10/12/17

A world of Music!! Sitting with friends discussing the Cornish film Fisherman‘s Friends, in which a fast-living London music executive heads to a remote Cornish village, trying to sign up a group of shanty singing fishermen. Contrasting the deep values of family, friendship and community and ‘fame and fortune’, this character is drawn to the depth of traditional ways whilst also presenting the world with some beautiful, traditional song! 

“…and what about OUR girl?” asked one friend, excitedly – Cairns audiences were spellbound and proud the night before our meeting, listening to CASSANDRA WRIGHT. Cassandra Wright and Jan O’Donnell in recital, featuring Dayna Johnston on clarinet and Charlotte Wright, Soprano. Two of my friends had taught Cassandra, thusly our excitement and pride was heightened!

London based soprano, Cassandra, is currently completing a Master of Arts majoring in Vocal Performance at the Royal Academy of Music. Since commencing her studies in September 2019, she has been accepted as a member of the Academy’s prestigious Song Circle and is preparing the role of Ilia (Idomeneo) for the upcoming Vocal Department Opera Scenes. She also performed in ‘The Magic Flute’. 

Cassandra holds a Graduate Certificate in Performance and a Bachelor of Music with First Class Honours from the Queensland Conservatorium. Preceding myriad awards in 2019, Cassandra was the winner of the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Aria Competition in 2018 and the Australian Concerto and Vocal Competition in 2016. This outstanding singer’s operatic roles are also many and she performs regularly with the internationally acclaimed group, The 7 Sopranos. Our Congratulations are extended to Cassandra WRIGHT and continued good wishes for 2020. SDGs 3/4/5/17

Travel Associates in Cairns and colleagues nation-wide are proud of this: “Thank you Travel Associates for partnering with us and walking the journey with precious girls who had no voice, but who now know healing, hope and purpose.” Bloomasia.   Empowering women to find a new future. Healing, hope and purpose for girls who have suffered horrific human rights abuses. 

M. was shading a beautiful rose with edible crimson, her hand steady, her face a study of concentration as she brought the hand-crafted sugar flower to life brushstroke by brushstroke. I caught her shyly looking up at me and she reminded me of a little child ….’This is absolutely beautiful’ I told her. She broke into a big smile and I thought of the power our words can have. This little one endured so much horror in her short life and was told she was worthless. A kind smile, a soft face and constant words of encouragement have the power to spark something new – a kernel of self-belief that maybe she has values, abilities and talent. Maybe she can think of a future with hope and excitement?

Details of abuse are not shared to protect and dignify the girls who come through Bloom. Bloom Asia was founded by Ruth LARWILL who worked with Travel Associates for many years before moving to Cambodia. Travel Associates Summer 2019/20 p.38 – SDGs 1/2/3/4/8/10/16/17

Stories! Histories! Queenslanders and Australians are reaching back into relatively recent social history, pulling sometimes gently, sometimes fiercely, threads of Truth, Dreams…Meaning is not always retrieved, or re-composed via this process, ‘though at times it may be….

Joan DIDION’s essay ‘The White Album’ was presented as theatre, by Lars JAN and Early Morning Opera, as part of the Sydney Festival. Didion famously opens her essay, “We tell ourselves stories in order to live…” – and then proceeds to lose the story and give us threads, fragmented scenes that she doesn’t claim to understand. The threads, fragmented series of scenes and those belonging to the dreams that defined the 60s and crossed generations. Didion claims that the essence of the 60s dreams died with the August 9 shock Manson murders. Rich in social history and fragments we may never understand, a chorus conveys the crowds, student groups protesting for peace, alternative dreams of communal living that were all such important features of the 60s, and so savagely destroyed by the violent, individualistic ‘commune’ leader, Charles Manson.  Then, in later decades, the dreams disappeared altogether, defeated by a blatant capitalistic-materialistic system. Challenging and interesting threads continue to be woven….. p.9 Jan 10 2020.  SDGs 3/4/5/11/17

On a recent trip to Fremantle, Western Australia I read an interesting novel. ‘NEVER NEVER’James PATTERSON and Candice FOX.

“It’s easy to go missing in the middle of nowhere.”

Detective Harriet Blue needed to get out of town, fast…from Sydney New South Wales to the West Australian desert, where three young people have disappeared from the Bandya Mine. In this unforgiving land, she has no idea how close she is to a whole new kind of danger…

This fast-paced novel is fraught with twists and turns and it reveals truths and the underbelly of our mining industry! It is disappointing NOT to discover further information about co-writer, Candice Fox – however, only an Aussie with genuine knowledge could have revealed the truths and underbelly that solidify setting, tensions and a plot to surprise readers!!        SDGs 3/4/8/11/12

WOMEN’S HISTORY – ‘Wearing Paper Dresses’ Anne BRINSDEN.  A tremendously polished, heartbreaking debut… a story of mothers and daughters, a saga of two generations of women on the land. Enthralling. Tragic. Romantic. Absolutely unputdownable. A Woman’s Point of View by Jennifer: offers the CWA Cookery Book. Valuable Information: The Land: offers ‘….Naturally, considering the compilers, the woman who lives in the country has been carefully catered for. No longer, if she decides to tan a sheepskin, will she have to go further than her own bookshelf to learn the method. She will also find how to: make a wool mattress, cure bacon, construct a bush ice chest and a fireless cooker, make soup and candles; and repair an iron tank. Pan Macmillan Australia: Chapter Sampler, 2019. Social history! A compelling story of country Australia with all its stigma, controversy and beauty. SDGs 1/3/4/5/8/10/15

OUR HISTORY IN VISUAL ART! – PHOTOGRAPHY, SCULPTURE….MORE STORIES in exhibitions shaped with great love….

Interdisciplinary Artist, Emily PUXTY, combines ceramic and photographic works to consider HOW the retelling of the implicit vulnerability and intimacy of early shared adult experiences can be communicated.

‘WITH LOVE’    POP Gallery

381 Brunswick Street FORTITUDE VALLEY QLD 4006

‘THE TIME OF LIGHT’ – Brisbane based Artist, Courtney COOMBS, responds to the unique role of LIGHT in the Metro Arts galleries. As one of many former arts students who first exhibited at Metro Arts, this up and coming Queensland Artist offers her exhibition with tenderness and reflection, as a loving farewell to the space SDGs 3/4/8/12/17

‘To whom shall I go to learn about the one I love?’

Kabir says: “When you are trying to find a hardwood forest

it seems wise to know what a tree is.’ 1440-1518: Hoka-Hey = Completeness Bennett S.

NCWQ Child, Youth and Family Report: November 2019

By Leanne Francia, NCWQ Child, Youth and Family Adviser

(photo credit:

Art Therapy Supporting LGBTIQ Youth

The Queensland Mental Health Commission funded Open Doors Youth Service to trial the PRIDE art therapy program in Brisbane, in which young people aged 12 to 24, who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, sistergirl and/or brotherboy (LGBTIQ+SB) are given the opportunity to express themselves in new and different ways. This art therapy program supporting LGBTIQ youth in Brisbane has gone on to win a statewide mental health award in the 2019 Queensland Mental Health Achievement Awards.

Black&Write! Writing Fellowships

Black&write! is a national project with a dual focus on Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander writing and editing. It is the first project of its kind in Australia. In conjunction this national project offers two Black&write! Writing Fellowships annually to two Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander writers. The fellowships include a prize of $10,000, editorial development and publication opportunities. Black&write! encourages lifelong learning and literacy, and fosters a love of reading, writing and ideas. The 2020 black&write! Writing Fellowships will open for applications in late 2019 (

Sexual Violence “Start By Believing” Campaign

The Gold Coast Centre Against Sexual Violence, Southport has last month launched an important campaign aimed at improving responses to sexual violence. Research evidences that first disclosures generally happen to a friend or family member. Sexual violence can have long lasting and severe impacts on victims, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, substance abuse, suicidal behaviours, and chronic physical health problems. It is vital that responses and reactions support victim’s wellbeing and increase chances that they will report to law enforcement agencies. This campaign is embedded in a philosophical stance that guides responses of friends, family, and practitioners. For more information go to

The Queensland government has also launched its first framework to prevent sexual violence. “Prevent.Support.Believe. Queensland’s Framework to Address Sexual Violence”. A  whole of government action plan is to be released in 2020 (

Andrews-Hanson Family Law Inquiry

In the May 2019 CYF report I provided an overview of the findings from the Australian Law Reform Commissions inquiry into the family law system. At the end I noted “It is hoped that the Government  and all politicians will give careful consideration to these recommendations”. As has been evident in the last few months, this has not been the case. Instead the government has set up a further inquiry which is to be deputy chaired by Pauline Hanson. The Australian people were told to wait 18 months ago for the findings from Australian Law Reform Commission inquiry and now we are being told to wait another 12 months for the findings from the Andrews-Hanson inquiry. In the light of this new inquiry there are grave concerns moving forward that the family law system will become an even more dangerous institution for children.

Ms Hanson has been outspoken in her belief that women lie in family law proceedings. It is doubtful that women who have experienced family and domestic violence will feel comfortable airing their most traumatic stories before a politician who has already pre-judged them as liars. Over 13,880 individual letters have been sent to parliamentarians asking that this new inquiry be abandoned. And over 100 peak bodies and practitioners have signed a joint statement rejecting the legitimacy of the government’s new inquiry. The joint statement is also calling on implementation NOW of recommendations set out in the earlier ALRC inquiry. Jess Hill in an excerpt from her book “See What You Made Me Do” states  “Of the 87,000 women killed globally in 2017….30,000 were killed by an intimate partner, and another 20,000 by a family member. In Australia…one woman a week is killed by a man she’s been intimate with.”

People believe that the family law system is there to support women and children in family violence. Anecdotal and empirical evidence-based research put forwards a different perspective. In Australia today the myth that separation ends family violence remains just that a myth. Over the last decade I have interviewed  and spoken to many women about their experiences of family violence following separation. Over this time, I have also witnessed the struggles children have faced as they grew through adolescence and young adulthood having to continue to, either see, or be in the care of an abusive parent.

In September I presented my research findings into post separation family violence within the Australian family law system at the 3rd European Conference on Domestic Violence in Oslo, Norway. At the end of my presentation a lawyer spoke with me and said that she hears the same findings over and over again, and yet she is unsure of what she can do. So, what can she do? More importantly, what can WE do?

Together we must continue to advocate for women’s and children’s safety and rights. We need to listen. We need to listen to women and children who are experiencing family violence following separation. We need to not only listen, but we need to believe and support them. We need to advocate for them. We need to walk beside them and be prepared to walk beside them long term. And we need to start NOW. This is an urgent public health issue.


And referring to public health issues – which I note is stepping a little outside of context of this portfolio, I would like to draw your attention to endometriosis. Endometriosis is chronic pelvic pain which occurs for a period of at least six months in women. Women with this condition experience a variety of symptoms and it is currently treated medically and surgically. Around 7% of Australian women aged 25 – 29 years and 11% of women aged 40 – 44 are likely to have endometriosis, which affects many aspects of women’s lives from social activities, intimate relationships and friendships, work, education, and productivity. One study reported that the average cost on a personal and social level to women is around $30,000.00 per year, putting the total economic burden at $9.7 billion per year (Armour & Lawson). Last year Greg Hunt launched a national plan, however South Australia is currently the only state implementing the endometriosis education program in schools for girls in Years 9 and 10. We need to work with our state government to have the program made available to young women in Queensland. It is important that maintaining good health be the primary focus of everyone.