A team of scientists from the CSIRO and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory from California has documented changing patterns of salinity in the global oceans over the past 50 years in a paper published in the journal Science.


Lead author, Dr Paul Durack, said that by looking at observed ocean salinity changes and the relationship between salinity, rainfall and evaporation in climate models, they determined the water cycle has strengthened by four per cent from 1950-2000. This is twice the response projected by current generation global climate models.


"Salinity shifts in the ocean confirm climate and the global water cycle have changed,” Dr Durack said.


"These changes suggest that arid regions have become drier and high rainfall regions have become wetter in response to observed global warming," said Dr Durack, a post-doctoral fellow at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.


With a projected temperature rise of 3ºC by the end of the century, the researchers estimate a 24 per cent acceleration of the water cycle is possible.


Scientists have struggled to determine coherent estimates of water cycle changes from land-based data because surface observations of rainfall and evaporation are sparse. However, according to the team, global oceans provide a much clearer picture.


"The ocean matters to climate – it stores 97 per cent of the world’s water; receives 80 per cent of the all surface rainfall and; it has absorbed 90 per cent of the Earth's energy increase associated with past atmospheric warming," said co-author, Dr Richard Matear of CSIRO's Wealth from Oceans Flagship.


Published on: GreenCareer

The Federal Government has outlined plans to protect the country’s most at-risk koala populations after moving to include them on the national list of threatened species.


Federal Minister for the Environment Tony Burke announced the Government will list koala populations in the ACT, New South Wales and Queensland as vulnerable under national environment law.


"My decision to list the koala under national environment law follows a rigorous scientific assessment by the Threatened Species Scientific Committee which gathered information from a variety of experts over the past three years,” Mr Burke said.


"Koala populations are under serious threat from habitat loss and urban expansion, as well as vehicle strikes, dog attacks, and disease.


"However, koala numbers vary significantly across the country, so while koala populations are clearly declining in some areas, there are large, stable or even increasing populations in other areas.


"In fact, in some areas in Victoria and South Australia, koalas are eating themselves out of suitable foraging habitat and their numbers need to be managed.


"But the Queensland, New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory koala populations are very clearly in trouble, so we must take action.


"That is why the scientific committee recommended to me to list the Queensland, New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory populations as threatened, rather than to list the koala as nationally threatened across its full range."


Mr Burke said the Gillard Government had committed $300,000 of new funding under the National Environmental Research Program Emerging Priorities to find out more about koala habitat.


"This funding will be used to develop new survey methods that will improve our knowledge of the quality of koala habitat using remote sensing, and help fill important data gaps to enhance our understanding and ability to protect the species," Mr Burke said.


"The new funding is in addition to more than $3 million we have invested since 2007 to ensure the resilience and sustainability of our koala population."




Published on: GreenCareer

The Victorian Government has confirmed $4.5 million in funding for a biomass plant that will convert organic waste into electricity.


State Energy and Resources Minister Michael O’Brien said the Government had made the initial offer last year, but an agreement had taken months to finalise for stage payments to Pacific Pyrolysis and its partners for the project.


"This innovative renewable energy technology will access under-utilised waste organics resources," Mr O'Brien said.


The pilot plant will use non-crop organic material such as green waste and waste wood from demolished buildings to power a renewable electricity pilot plant with a capacity of about one megawatt.


The project will offer local employment opportunities, as well as sub-contracting. A site is yet to be selected, but will be in outer metropolitan Melbourne.


The plant will produce a by-product called biochar, which can provide a long-lasting boost to soil fertility and provide a carbon sequestration tool for primary industry.


"The Pacific Pyrolysis biomass pilot plant has the potential to deliver a win-win by producing clean energy as well as providing benefits for Victoria's primary industry sector."


The plant will provide an advanced processing alternative for wood waste and green waste which would otherwise end up in landfill where it would produce greenhouse gases.


Published on: GreenCareer

Researchers from the Institute and the University of Melbourne are hoping to shape the future of adolescent health, by bringing into focus the risks and issues associated with this vulnerable age group.


In a special series on adolescent health published in The Lancet, Australian authors Professor George Patton and Professor Susan Sawyer are calling for worldwide investment in the health and future of adolescents, based on research and grounded evidence about what works.


Approximately half of the world's population is younger than 25 years, with 1.8 billion adolescents.  Today's adolescents are facing unprecedented changes in the world's social and physical environments. These changes are transforming adolescent development and, in so doing, changing the prospects for health now and in the future.


In the first paper of the series, which was led by Professor Sawyer, researchers say adolescents are now more exposed than previous generations to harmful alcohol consumption, illicit drug use, tobacco use and sexually transmitted infections, among other risks.


Professor Sawyer says the paper combines a wide range of research which shows there is a lack of focus on adolescent health, and that the preventable health risks initiated during adolescence commonly have lifelong consequences for health, highlighting the need to address the issue.


"Adolescence could be described as a missing link in the life course approach to health.  The impacts of health-related behaviours that start in adolescents have impacts throughout their lives, for instance tobacco and alcohol use or obesity and physical inactivity contribute to the epidemic of non-infectious disease such as heart, disease, cancer, diabetes and lung disease," he said.


At least 70 per cent of premature adult deaths reflect behaviours started or reinforced during adolescence. The link between adolescent and adult health suggests that evidence based investments in healthy adolescent development have enormous implications for future global health.

Published on: HealthCareer

Australia’s medical workforce has grown steadily in the 10 years to 2009 with the number of female working doctors increasing to make up more than one-third (36 per cent) of all working doctors.


A new report by Health Workforce Australia, Australia’s Health Workforce Series: Doctors in focus, provides a comprehensive and up-to-date picture of Australia’s medical workforce from 1999 to 2009.


Doctors in focus shows the increasing participation of women in the medical workforce over the decade to 2009. In 1999, women comprised 29 per cent of all working doctors compared with 36 per cent, or more than one-third, by 2009. Figures show the participation of women is still increasing at a greater rate than men.


In 2009, women accounted for 39 per cent of primary care practitioners (who are mostly GPs) and 47 per cent of hospital non-specialists but were least represented among specialties, accounting for one-quarter of specialists.


In 2009 there were 82,895 doctors registered in Australia with 90 per cent of them in the medical labour force, a 44 per cent increase on the number of doctors registered in 1999 (57,553).


Doctors in focus also shows the number of clinicians has increased, including primary care practitioners, specialists and specialists-in-training, while among the 54 fields of medical specialty, most doctors are concentrated in 10 areas.


The Doctors in focus workforce profile is the first in the Australia’s Health Workforce Series which will increase the understanding of the existing medical, nursing and allied health workforces and their characteristics.

Published on: HealthCareer

The Federal Government has released the final report of the independent Convergence review Committee.


“The Convergence Review’s final report sets out the Committee’s recommendations for the future of the media and communications industry,” Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Senator Stephen Conroy said.


“In preparing their recommendations the Convergence Review engaged in a comprehensive nationwide consultation program with stakeholders and the Australian public, including three separate written submission processes.”


“The Government’s approach to regulatory reform builds on our substantial communications reform agenda, which includes the delivery of the NBN and digital television switchover.”


The Convergence Review Final Report can be found at: www.dbcde.gov.au/convergence



Published on: ICTCareer

The Federal Government has released legislation for public consultation that will see superannuation funds be obliged to disclose executive remuneration information.


The draft legislation requires superannuation funds to publish on their websites:

  • details of director and executive pay;
  • details of what assets the fund has invested in; and
  • an up-to-date 'product dashboard', setting out information on target investment returns, past performance against targets, investment risk, liquidity and fees, in relation to each product offered by the fund.

“In the wake of collapses such as TRIO, it is important for Australians to know where their super savings are being invested. I also think it's valuable to understand how we can extend these standards outside super,” Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation Bill Shorten said.


“I will be holding more discussions with key stakeholders on how to further improve transparency and governance in the superannuation industry. Better representation of women on super boards and requiring more regular board renewal are amongst these issues.”


The legislation also provides for the APRA to undertake enhanced data collection and publish a wider range of superannuation information, including quarterly data on MySuper products. Further, more detailed transparency requirements will be able to be specified in regulations.


The exposure draft can be found here

Published on: ExecutiveCareer

A group of leading Australian scientists have come together to further the development of lower-cost, flexible optoelectronic  devices that promises to transform the country’s consumer electronics industry.


The Transparent Electrodes for Plastic Electronics Research Cluster brings together leading scientists from the University of Queensland, the University of Technology Sydney and Flinders University.


With over $3 million in funding contributed to the research cluster by CSIRO Flagship Collaboration Fund and a further $3 million from the partnering Universities, the project will run until June 2014.


One of the cluster’s key goals is to produce cheap, flexible optoelectronic devices such as displays and lighting based on organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs), solar cells, plastic electronics and sensors – technologies for use in products ranging from plastic solar cells to flexible televisions.


Dr Calum Drummond, Group Executive of CSIRO Manufacturing, Materials and Minerals, said the research cluster provided a new and very unique combination of skills and technical capability in Australia.


 “The cluster consists of leading Australian scientists with individual specialist skills in areas such as nanoscience, thin film deposition and characterisation, chemical physics and electrical engineering,” he said.


“This is a novel partnership and one which is essential to the development of new commercial products such as plastic solar cells, solid-state lighting, flexible TV screens, computer displays and beyond,” said Dr Drummond.


Published on: ResearchCareer

The Housing Industry Association (HIA) is urging the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) to cut the official cash rate by 50 basis points to support the construction sector after a lower than expected inflation rate was posted.


“The housing industry and wider Australian economy needs a further 75bps of interest rate cuts and there is nothing standing in the way of a 50bp move to get the ball rolling next Tuesday," said HIA Chief Economist, Dr Harley Dale.


“That would, admittedly, be a bold move for the RBA, but it would be entirely appropriate given the pulse of the Australian economy is not beating as fast as the Bank earlier expected,"  noted Dr Dale.


“The banks need to follow suit and pass any rate cuts on in full rather than hide behind the fallicious argument that higher funding costs somehow justify them holding some interest rate relief back.”


Published on: TradesCareer

Locating and colonising new habitable worlds is a crucial next step for the continued existence of humankind according to research currently being undertaken by scientists from the Australian National University (ANU).


Research indicates that such planets are more abundant than stars, meaning that the number of habitable planets should be higher than previously estimated.


“Determining whether these planets are habitable has become the new holy grail of astronomy,” said planetary scientist Dr Charley Lineweaver, lead author of the study.


“The new-found abundance of planets, combined with the much larger range of inhabited terrestrial environments suggests that habitable planets are common. This increases the probability of finding some kind of extraterrestrial life,” he said.


Dr Lineweaver added: “Habitability is not just a question of abiotic environmental conditions – the presence of life may be required to maintain the habitability of a planet over billions of years. The study of the habitability of other Earths is the major focus of astrobiology – and increasingly planetary science and astronomy.


“Planetary habitability is a complex and confusing concept that we are only beginning to get our heads around, but as a species that wants to survive, it is in our interest to get our heads around it soon.”


The research has been published in the paper, The Habitability of Our Earth and Other Earths: Astrophysical, Geochemical, Geophysical, and Biological Limits on Planet Habitability, online in the Annual Reviews of Earth and Planetary Sciences:




Published on: ResearchCareer

Work on Perth’s $440 million redevelopment has commenced after Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett attended a groundbreaking ceremony.


The Premier said the works will see 10ha of prime riverfront land into a vibrant, contemporary development, set around a 2.7ha inlet and connected by promenades and boardwalks.


“This is a very exciting time for Western Australia - a period of significant transformation, renewal and development that will change the face of Perth and ensure our city can accommodate a rapidly growing population,” Mr Barnett said.


“Perth Waterfront will deliver a new destination that continues the public’s use and enjoyment of this area of the city and address the critical need for more residential, commercial and hotel accommodation in the CBD.”


Planning Minister John Day said the State Government had awarded a $50million forward works contract to Georgiou Group - one of two major construction packages for Perth Waterfront.


“Over the next 12-18 months the removal and relocation of trees, demolition and deconstruction of existing structures, road works and service infrastructure upgrades will be completed to prepare the site for construction of the inlet,” he said.


Mr Day said the forward works program for Perth Waterfront also included: 

  • construction of a new two-way road from under the Narrows Bridge to William Street providing direct access into the CBD from Mounts Bay Road
  • demolition of the existing buildings and structures on the Esplanade Reserve
  • deconstruction and storage of the Florence Hummerston Kiosk, ready to be rebuilt at a suitable new location
  • archaeological investigations
  • jetty reconstruction works at Barrack Square
  • full reconstruction of William Street (south of The Esplanade) as a two-way street.




Published on: TradesCareer

The proportion of employees who were trade union members in their main job remained steady at 18% in August 2011, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). 

This represents 1.8 million persons who were trade union members in their main job, which is an increase of 46,900 persons from the previous year.

The proportion of public sector employees who were trade union members in their main job was 41% in August 2010 and 43% in August 2011. The proportion of private sector employees who were trade union members in their main job was 13%. 

Two thirds of trade union members (66%) had been a trade union member for 5 years or more, compared with 11% who had been a trade union member for less than 1 year. 

There were 1.5 million employees who were not currently members of a trade union, although they had been previously. Of these, 77% hadn't been a trade union member for 5 years or more, while 4% had been members of a trade union less than 1 year ago. A further 6.6 million (66%) employees had never been a trade union member.

Other findings on trade union membership include:

  • The industry with the highest proportion of male employees who were trade union members was Public Administration and Safety (38%), while for female employees it was Education and Training (40%), and
  • The occupation with the highest proportion of male employees who were trade union members was Machinery Operators and Drivers (29%), while for female employees it was Professionals (33%).



Published on: TradesCareer

The Western Australian Government has announced it has awarded the $22 million contract for road and infrastructure works at Perth’s Riverside project to Broad Construction.


Planning Minister John Day said the next stage of works would stabilise ground conditions and ensure the site was ready for future public spaces and development.


“The Riverside project will create new connections and cater for the growing number of people who will live, work and socialise in the area,” Mr Day said.


“When complete, Riverside will deliver more than 4,000 new dwellings for 7,000 new residents, and 90,000sqm of retail and commercial space for 6,000 new workers in the area. 


Works include site stabilisation and road works that will realign the existing slip lane from Hay Street to the Causeway; the construction of a new two-way road between Trinity College and the WACA; and re-opening Hale Street to private vehicles and two-way traffic.



Published on: EngineeringCareer

The Federal Government has announced the country is drought free for the first time in over a decade after the two final Exceptional Circumstances (EC) declarations expire.


Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Senator Joe Ludwig said the expiry of EC declarations in Bundarra and Eurobodalla marks a major milestone for agriculture in Australia.


“Now is the time to progress drought reform. We need to take this opportunity to transition from reacting to crises, to a pro-active policy approach that prepares our farmers for the future,” Senator Ludwig said.


The Federal Government is working with State and Territory Governments to progress new drought policy, with reform a key topic for discussion at the first Standing Council on Primary Industries meeting held in Adelaide.


“As previously agreed with State and Territory Ministers, and recommended by the review of pilot drought reform measures in Western Australia, our reform will see a national framework introduced which focuses on risk management and preparedness, rather than on crisis management,” Senator Ludwig said.


“A major step toward that framework will be phasing out the EC interest rate subsidy, which given the end of the final two EC declarations, will conclude on 30 June this year.”



Published on: GreenCareer

The development of South Australia’s next major uranium mining development has inched closer after the signing of a 10-year least for the Four Mile site.


State Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy Tom Koutsantonis said the lease has been accepted by proponents of the project near the Beverley uranium mine in the state’s far north.


“PACE funding played a crucial role in discovering the resource at Four Mile, one of the most significant uranium deposits anywhere in the world in the past 25 years,” Mr Koutsantonis says.


“The lease accepted by Quasar, an affiliate of Heathgate Resources, the owner and operator of the Beverley Mine, and ASX-listed Alliance Resources allows these joint venturers to develop a mining and rehabilitation program for the Four Mile project.”


The minister said he expects the mine to cater heavily for demand from both China and India.


“China’s domestic production of uranium can only meet a small part of the demand created by its 13 operating nuclear reactors and the 27 more under construction,” Mr Koutsantonis said.


“India on the other hand is expected to increase its use of nuclear power from its current three percent of electricity generation to 40 percent by 2050."

Published on: ResourcesCareer

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has published a report which details the increase in hospital admissions in Australia, finding that rates of admissions in public hospitals are particularly high.


The Australian hospital statics 2010-11 report shows that hospital admissions have increased from 8.5 million to 8.9 million between 2009-10 and 2010-11.


The report found that the increase in admissions was higher in public hospitals (4.1 per cent) than in private hospitals (3.9 per cent).


“This contrasts with the trend over 5 years which showed larger increases for private hospitals than for public hospitals,” said AIHW spokesperson Jenny Hargreaves.


Of the 8.9 million hospital admissions, 5.3 million were in public hospitals and 3.6 million were in private hospitals.


The increased admissions in public hospitals were accompanied by increased spending. Expenditure on public hospitals was $37 billion in 2010–11. This spending has been increasing faster than inflation, rising by an average of 5.9% each year between 2006-07 and 2010-11 and by 8.2% between 2009–10 and 2010–11.   


“People aged over 65 make up a large proportion of all hospital admissions—accounting for 38% of hospital admissions in 2010–11 and 48% of patient days,” Ms Hargreaves said.

“Admissions for people aged 85 and over increased significantly in the 5 years to 2010–11—rising by 41% compared with an increase of about 15% for all other age groups.”


Most of these admissions were for acute care (87%) or rehabilitation care (8%).


There were 2.2 million admissions that involved a surgical procedure in 2010-11. Of these, about 280,000 were emergency admissions and the remainder were elective


About two-thirds of elective admissions involving surgery were in private hospitals.


In contrast, about 87% of emergency admissions involving surgery were in public hospitals.


“Indigenous Australians had about twice the rate of emergency admissions involving surgery compared with other Australians,” Ms Hargreaves said.


The report can be found here



Published on: HealthCareer

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare  (AIHW) has published a report of the findings of a program aimed at reducing the number of younger people with a disability in residential aged care.


The Younger People with disability in aged care: 2010-11 report found that an estimated 1,432 people had been assisted by the program.


The report shows the number of service users increased steadily over the five years of the Younger People with Disability in Residential Aged Care (YPIRAC) program.


“Of these, an estimated 250 achieved the first YPIRAC objective—to move out of residential aged care and into more appropriate accommodation,” said AIHW spokesperson Nigel Harding.


A further 244 people achieved the second objective, and were diverted away from residential aged care, while another 456 people achieved the third YPIRAC objective—receiving enhanced services within residential aged care, when this was an available, suitable accommodation option.


The remaining program participants received YPIRAC assessment and/or monitoring.


Over the life of the YPIRAC program, the total number of permanent residents of residential aged care aged under 65 fell.


“In particular, there has been a 35% drop in the number of people under 50 living in permanent aged care since 2005–06,” Mr Harding said.


More information can be found here





Published on: HealthCareer

The third annual Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) meeting has convened in London, bringing together energy ministers and business leaders from around the world with an aim of driving greater corporation between governments and the private sector on clean energy development.


The meeting saw Ministers from 23 countries to review the progress being made in 11 separate initiatives, covering renewable energy, energy efficiency, energy performance and carbon capture and storage.


The meeting also covered ways to improve collaboration between governments, strategy development and drive community and business support for clean energy development.


"The Clean Energy Ministerial has underscored the challenges and opportunities we face in increasing the development and uptake of renewable energy," Minister for Resources and Energy Martin Ferguson said.


"I had the opportunity to participate in two wide ranging roundtable discussions on financing renewable energy and on accelerating the development of carbon capture use and storage technology.


"Both of these sessions highlighted how the challenges confronting finance of renewables and CCS are long-term problems requiring governments to invest in projects that drive down costs whilst improving their utility.


“This emphasised the necessity and importance of Australia’s price on carbon and the $17 billion of clean energy funding contained in the Government’s Clean Energy Future package.


Participating CEM governments account for 80 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and 90 per cent of global clean energy investment. They also fund the vast majority of public research and development in clean energy technologies.


For more information on the CEM see http://www.cleanenergyministerial.org/events/cem3/



Published on: GreenCareer

Telstra and Optus have both announced plans to expand 4G services in the Newcastle and Hunter regions, with both telcos promising ‘ultra-fast’ mobile coverage.


While Optus’ 4G network has been activated in areas across Greater Newcastle as well as the Hunter Valley, Telstra has concentrated its efforts on Newcastle and the immediate area.


“Since launching 4G in Newcastle last September, Telstra has quickly expanded its 4G product range to include advanced smartphones, a 4G tablet and three mobile broadband devices including a 4G Mobile Wi-Fi which allows customers to share a 4G network connection with up to five devices simultaneously,” Telstra Area General Manager Chris Cusack said.


The announcement by Optus comes ahead of their planned 4G capital city network rollout, which will see the company deliver 4G services to Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Brisbane from mid-2012.



Published on: ICTCareer

Optus has released the results of a communication survey, with findings showing users place more importance on the quantity rather than quality of communication.


According to the research, 85 per cent of Australians feel they are not communicating with friends and family as much as they would like, while almost half (43 per cent) admit they spend more time communicating with people outside of their friends and family.


Optus found the average Australian has 165 Facebook friends, while only 33 of those are considered close.


“Rather than feeling closer to their network, 45 per cent of people actually feel that social networking makes them feel less close to friends and family, with more than half (54 per cent) admitting they find it difficult to say the words they need to loved ones, in particular to our parents,” the research report found.


"In an age where we can communicate with more people than ever before, the research suggests we find it hard to stay as close to the people who matter most. Social media is a fantastic way of staying in touch. We just need to use it more to stay in touch with the people we care about the most - that is our close friends and family,” Gavin Williams, Head of Segment Marketing at Optus said.



“Rather than feeling closer to their network, 45 per cent of people actually feel that social networking makes them feel less close to friends and family, with more than half (54 per cent) admitting they find it difficult to say the words they need to loved ones, in particular to our parents,” the research report found.


"In an age where we can communicate with more people than ever before, the research suggests we find it hard to stay as close to the people who matter most. Social media is a fantastic way of staying in touch. We just need to use it more to stay in touch with the people we care about the most - that is our close friends and family,” Gavin Williams, Head of Segment Marketing at Optus said.



Published on: ICTCareer

Executives at Huawei Australia could be shortlisted as the company’s possible new global CEO, according to a report conducted by the Australian Financial Review (AFR).


Current CEO and founder Ren Zhengfei announced plans to rotate the position once every six months among a selected group of senior executives.


Although the pool of candidates is currently limited to the group’s senior directors, Australian executives are considered a black horse for the role, according to insiders contacted by the AFR.


The full AFR story can be found here

Published on: ExecutiveCareer

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