March 21 - 27, 2021: Issue 488

Our Youth page is for young people aged 13+ - if you are younger than this we have news for you in the Children's pageNews items and articles run at the top of this page. Information, local resources, events and local organisations, sports groups etc. are at the base of this page. All Previous pages for you are listed in Past Features

For you this week:

Front Page Issue 488 

2021 Budget Estimates Inquiry Brings Up Mona Vale Hospital Emergency Department And The NSW Budget On Health Of 30 Billion

Life Saving Events Of The 2021 NSW State Championships: Great Results From SLS SNB Members

Pictures: 2021 Pittwater Challenge - Round 1 Of PNSW Harbour Series

Aquatics NSW Masters Surf Life Saving Championships 2021

New Zealand Win The 36th America's Cup: Spithill Signals Intention To Return For 37th

Park Bench Philosopher Taking The Federal 'Environment' Minister To Court: With Australian Ecosystems Collapsing, Major Rivers 'Functionally Extinct', Koalas 2nd To The Logging $ - When Will Enough Be Enough?

Food Dine & Discover In Pittwater: By Postcode - Suburb The NSW Government has launched Dine & Discover NSW to encourage the community to get out and about and support dining, arts and tourism businesses. As we head into the Autumn School Holidays a list of what's available in our area, by postcode, heading south. You can look up participants for all areas simply by entering the suburb name or postcode at: dine-and-discover/business-finder

DIY Ideas Dealing with Storm Events: Flooding inside and around the home - how to Be Prepared Back-to-back storm events can put your home at risk of flooding. Knowing what to do before, during, and after a flood reduces the stress of dealing with this as you simply follow the steps needed to keep you and your family and furry or feathered loved ones safe. This Issue we'd like to share some timely tips from those who work in this field on what you can do when you need to and where you can download 'lists' of what to have prepared to take with you should you receive an order to evacuate. 

Shane Fitzsimmons Leads Charge For Graffiti Removal Day 2021 - on Sunday 28 March 2021

Avalon Place Plan Open For Feedback - Feedback Closes May 16

Profile Maja Dalby-Ball Olson

The Finalists of the BHP Foundation Science and Engineering Awards were announced on Thursday 10 December 2020 and Barrenjoey High Schools' Maja Dalby-Ball Olson was among them. The BHP Foundation Science and Engineering Awards are Australia's most prestigious school science and engineering awards. Finalists also have the chance to represent the Awards at the International Science and Engineering Fair.

Having completed her HSC through Barrenjoey High School in 2020, and excelled despite the challenges learning remotely imposed, Maja remains passionate about Aboriginal Studies, Flora, Fauna, Paramedicine and Disaster Management and is currently pursing more study in a Tasmanian university.

In 2020 Maja was the local Young Volunteer of the Year.

The citation reads;

HSC student Maja Dalby-Ball Olsen spreads her volunteering hours across many organisations including the local SES and Surf Life Saving organisations as well as the local Youth Council. She was also a part-time carer to five baby ring tail possums through the local WIRES service.

This week a small insight into one of our young adults who has a connection to place, to people and aspirations for creating a better future for us all, even if her way is to go about doing that quietly.

History Landing In Pittwater: That Beach-Estuary-Lagoon Looks Like A Great Place To Touchdown!
As Australia heads towards the R.A.A.F. 100th Celebrations of March 31st, 2021, insights into some Pittwater connections and tributes continues. This Issue a few insights into the sudden dropping in out of the blue, onto our beaches, lagoon and estuary, of some early aeroplanes by some remarkable pilots.

Although the instances when pilots have had to take the recourse of landing on our beaches have been few, there have been very few beaches that have missed out on a sudden visitation, and of course, these events occurred when our area was far less populated than it is today.

The reaction of residents and visitors was one of surprise, of course, but the incidents and the marvelling over those 'magnificent men (and women) in their flying machines' stayed in the memories of the witnesses and made the newspapers and journals of their times. 

It's not only emergency touchdowns that have marked our connection with aviation - everything from joy flights from Narrabeen Lagoon's perimeters during 'dry' years to those who first dreamed up having aquatic seaplanes and Narrabeen and Pittwater as part of their routes has been seen here and is still.


A Storm At Night.

Wailing comes the south breeze, heralding the gale,
The awning on my balcony is cracking like a sail,
Cracking like a topsail, while beneath the din
My heart is singing to the tune of "No, I won't go in!"

White-maned horses gallop in the bay beneath;
The trumpet blast has maddened them, the bit between their teeth;
Now the rain has caught them with a whiplash hiss—
And who would shut himself away from pageantry like this?

Watching drowsy-warm, 'twixt ranked verandah bars
The charging, massed cloud-cavalry come blotting out the stars,
Streaming manes and pennons swept across the sky—
I ponder, "Some would rather sleep, perhaps, but never I!"

Just beyond the rain's reach, safe I wait what comes
To shrieking bugle-blasts of wind and thunder's rolling drums,
Purring in my white bed, huddled soft and warm,
While on the whole horizon flares the splendour of the storm.

—Dorothea Mackellar, Pittwater, 1933

Dorothea Mackellar in 1918

Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Competition 2021 Entries Now Open


''Our poets are encouraged to take inspiration from wherever they may find it, however if they are looking for some direction, competition participants are invited to use this year's optional theme to inspire their entries."

In 2021, the Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society has chosen the theme “Rich and Rare.” As always, it is an optional theme, so please write about whatever topic sparks your poetic genius.

For a copy of the wonderful theme poster, please click here.


*PLEASE NOTE: If you're registering as an individual student, put your HOME address in your personal details and not your SCHOOL'S address! The address you list is where your participation certificate will be posted!*


(primary school and secondary school, anytime during the competition period)

Teacher/parent - registration completed online (invoice will be emailed within 2 weeks of registration)

Log in to your page.

Enter student details and submit poem(s) (cut and paste or type in poem content direct to the webpage) PLEASE DO NOT UPLOAD POEMS AS ATTACHMENTS AS THAT FUNCTION IS FOR POSTAL ENTRIES ONLY.

Repeat step 3 for every student/individual poem.



Have a read of the judges' reports from the previous year. They contain some very helpful advice for teachers and parents alike!

It is recommended for schools to appoint a coordinator for the competition.

Only a teacher/parent can complete the registration form on behalf of the student/child.

Log-in details: username is the email address and a password of your choice.

Log-in details can be given to other teachers/students for poem submission in class/at home.

Log-in as many times as necessary during the competition period.

Teachers can view progress by monitoring the number and content of entries.

Individual entries are accepted if the school is not participating or a child is home schooled. Parent needs to complete the registration form with their contact details. Please indicate 'individual entry' under school name and home postal address under school address.

Invoice for the entry fee will be sent to the registered email address within 2 weeks.

‘Participation certificate only’ option available for schools where pre-selection of entries has been carried out. Poems under this option will not be sent to judges, students will still receive participation certificate for their efforts.

Please read the Conditions of Entry before entering. Entries accepted: March 1 to June 30, results announced during early September.


Full steam ahead for iconic locomotive 3801

A defining part of Australia’s steam train history returned to the rails last weekend after more than a decade.

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said the widely adored steam locomotive 3801 is returning to passenger service after a $3.5 million dollar NSW Government funded overhaul, offering customers a unique view of our steam rail history.

“From this weekend, 3801 will offer customers the chance to go back in time with regular one-hour shuttle rides departing from Central Station,” Mr Toole said.

“No other steam engine in Australia has captured the imagination of rail enthusiasts and the public as much as 3801, so this is an exciting opportunity for people across NSW to take a trip on the State’s most iconic steam locomotive.

“This starts a new chapter in the life of the historic and much loved locomotive.

“I would like to thank the volunteers and staff who have worked closely with Transport Heritage NSW in the past decade to make this all possible.”

In the next few months 3801 will also make trips to the Southern Highlands, Albury, Wagga Wagga, Junee, the Blue Mountains and towns in western and northern NSW, sharing the magic of the steam era right across the state.

When 3801 first launched in 1943, it instantly changed the image of the NSW Railways with its streamlined art-deco style.

3801 made its first journey from Central Station in 1943 and operated as an express passenger locomotive and later as a freight locomotive until being formally withdrawn from service in 1962.

It became famous for being the only steam locomotive to have travelled to all mainland Australian states and territories. 

For more information on the 3801 and the regional tour visit HERE

World-class standard for Vocational Education and Training

March 18, 2021

The NSW Government will embark on a new reform as part of accepting and implementing all five recommendations from the Gonski-Shergold Review of the NSW Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector. 

The NSW Government has committed to: 

  1. Establishing Careers NSW
  2. Establishing a new form of tertiary education known as NSW Institute of Applied Technology (IAT)
  3. Advocating for VET student loans, similar to the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS), to be established. Work will continue with the Federal Government on the scheme
  4. Improving the quality of vocational education made available in high schools
  5. Consulting with industry experts on VET course curriculums. 

Premier Gladys Berejiklian thanked Mr David Gonski AC and Professor Peter Shergold AC who led the extensive review into the VET sector. 

“Mr Gonski and Professor Shergold have provided the government with new and innovative recommendations to ensure our training industry remains at the cutting edge and is relevant to a post COVID-19 economy,” Ms Berejiklian said. 

“The government’s record $107 billion spend in infrastructure has created a huge demand for tradies but we also need to upskill the workforce for emerging industries like 3D printing, robotics and other technology industries.

“If we are serious about having the best skilled workforce in the world, we have to do things a bit differently.

“The exciting new model of education will see industry and universities partner with TAFE at Meadowbank and Kingswood campuses to ensure NSW is set up to take advantage of the changing workforce requirements.” 

The NSW Government will use the report’s findings to advocate for the Commonwealth’s VET Student Loan scheme to be expanded to put VET study on an even financial playing field with university studies. 

The IAT will be a new model of tertiary education that will fully integrate the theoretical study of university with the practical training of vocational education. Students will be able to study flexibly for example, a student can complete a Certificate IV in year one, progress to a diploma in year two and have the option of achieving a Bachelor in Applied Technology in year three.   

Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education Geoff Lee said the recommendations will elevate the NSW VET system to an enviable standard.

“Our VET sector has already led the way in training frontline workers who have safeguarded our economy from the effects of a global pandemic and today’s announcement will further bolster the sector to a world-class standard.”

“The report highlights the skills industry needs are evolving and our VET sector must continue to evolve and remain accessible to ensure the people of NSW continue to undertake vocational education to drive NSW forward.”

Mr David Gonski AC said the recommendations were developed with a number of stakeholders.

“Consultation was undertaken with academics, industry associations, government and non-government school sectors and training providers to provide a holistic review of the challenges the sector is facing,” Mr Gonski said.

Professor Peter Shergold AC said the recommendations will also seek to enhance the status and improve the quality and accessibility of vocational education in high schools.

“Furthering the relevance and breadth of VET available in high schools is a significant step towards getting students interested in pursuing a vocational career,” Professor Shergold said.

Today’s announcements are in addition to the establishment of Careers NSW announced yesterday.  

Access the full review into the VET sector

Support to Help Young People in Online or Digital Employment Services into Work

March 17, 2021

The Australian Government is providing more opportunities for thousands of young Australians to get into work and training. 

Until 30 June 2022, the Australian Government’s Youth Advisory Sessions initiative will help connect up to 15,000 young people with youth employment specialists.

This assistance will help them remain connected to the labour market and encourage them to stay motivated and resilient when looking for work.

Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, says these specialists will help young people aged 15 to 24 stay connected to the workforce.

“We know young people have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and we want to help as many of them as possible to find work,” Minister Cash said.

“That’s why we’re providing access to free Youth Advisory Sessions to help young people stay engaged and supported.”

Assistant Minister for Youth and Employment Services, the Hon Luke Howarth MP, said up to three one-hour advisory sessions are free for young people with a Transition to Work provider.

“We want to ensure that young people are supported, can access help to stay motivated, and are ready to take up job opportunities as the economy continues to recover,” Assistant Minister Howarth said.

“These sessions will also help young people identify jobs in industries locally, and who are expecting the most employment growth in the medium term.”

These sessions are part of the $21.9 million Faster Connections and Greater Support for Young People measure, which was unveiled in the 2020-21 Budget.

“The Australian Government is providing unprecedented support for young people who are looking for work, including the $4 billion JobMaker Hiring Credit and the $1.2 billion Boosting Apprenticeship Commencement wage subsidy,” Minister Cash said.

Attending a Youth Advisory Session (YAS) can help you:

  • improve your job search skills
  • write a resume that will get you noticed
  • prepare for a great interview
  • connect with education, training and other support services

For more information on Youth Advisory Sessions, visit

New skipper for Breakers in Fire double

All-rounder Sammy-Jo Johnson has been named to lead NSW just six games into her Breakers career, taking the reigns from Alyssa Healy who is on international duty.

Johnson, 28, who is from northern NSW but had until this summer played all her senior cricket for Queensland and the Brisbane Heat, will captain a 13-player squad in crucial matches against her former side at North Sydney Oval on Friday and Sunday.

With Healy, Rachael Haynes, Ash Gardner and Hannah Darlington all part of the Australian squad in New Zealand, there are four changes to the Breakers contingent that beat the ACT in back to back matches earlier this month.

Experienced all-rounder Lisa Griffith, keeper/batter Maddy Darke and rising star Phoebe Litchfield all re-join the squad, while Dubbo’s exciting fast bowling prospect Emma Hughes is in line to make her Breakers debut.

Powerful hitting opening bowler Johnson becomes NSW’s 30th women’s captain and said she felt privileged to have been given the honour.

“I have played a lot of cricket in Queensland but I'm very proud to finally be wearing the Baggy Blue because that was a childhood dream," Johnson said.

"I'm extremely excited about the opportunity to lead this team and it's something I will treasure.

“These next two matches against Queensland are really important and I believe this squad has the talent and belief to play the brand of cricket we as the Breakers wish to showcase.

"If we put that on the park the results will hopefully lead to us having the opportunity to fight for the trophy in the final."

The Breakers (17 points) currently sit third on the WNCL ladder with three consecutive wins, a tie, three bonus points and two losses from their opening six games. They trail second placed Tasmania by just two points but the Breakers have a game in hand.

Queensland are just a point adrift of NSW in fourth.

NSW Breakers squad for fixtures against the QLD Fire (Friday 19 March and Sunday 21 March) at North Sydney Oval:
Sammy-Jo Johnson (C)
Erin Burns
Stella Campbell
Lauren Cheatle
Maddy Darke
Lisa Griffith
Emma Hughes
Anika Learoyd
Phoebe Litchfield
Lauren Smith
Hayley Silver-Holmes
Rachel Trenaman
Tahlia Wilson

Support Staff:

Dom Thornely (Head Coach)
Ben Sawyer (Assistant Coach)
Mark McInnes (Assistant Coach)
Katie Ryan (Physio)
Sean Hardy (Strength and Conditioning)

Follow all the action via, with Sunday’s game also set to be available on Kayo.

Rorts scandals in politics are rife. So what exactly are the rules?

Anne Twomey, University of Sydney

The sports rorts scandal has flared up again in the public consciousness with a scathing report by a Senate committee. It points to the many failures in governance and the political interference in what was supposed to be a merit-based grants program. It concludes that such behaviour “deepens public cynicism about the integrity of government decision making and expenditure”.

It is not hard to see why. The sports rorts affair was quickly followed by another controversy: the funding of the Safer Communities Program. Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton was accused of channelling funds to marginal Tasmanian seats during a contentious byelection.

These two programs don’t even scratch the surface of the massive government expenditure on discretionary programs with unimaginative (but suitably vague) titles such as “strengthening communities”, “stronger communities”, “strong and resilient communities”, “community development”, “national stronger regions” and “building better regions”.

Both sides of politics, when in government, use these programs to favour their supporters and influence voters, particularly in marginal seats, with scant regard to public need, fairness or responsible expenditure.

Every time another government rort is exposed, the response is always that the action was “entirely within the rules”. But what actually are “the rules” and does anyone ever enforce them?

Read more: The 'sports rorts' affair shows the need for a proper federal ICAC – with teeth

What the Constitution says

The first rule is the Constitution. The Commonwealth government cannot spend public money on grants to third parties unless authorised by a law that falls within a subject allocated by the Constitution to the Commonwealth parliament.

Most of these subjects concern international matters (for example, external affairs, defence and immigration), or intergovernmental matters (interstate trade or interstate industrial disputes), or matters that need one common standard across the nation (currency, weights and measures). These are all things that need to be dealt with at the national level.

Local matters, such as resurfacing a football oval, installing street lighting or building swimming pools, are left to the states, which can deal with them through local government bodies.

The constitutionally valid way for the Commonwealth to fund sports programs and community safety programs is through making grants to the states under section 96 of the Constitution. But this is not popular with the Commonwealth because it is unlikely to buy any votes.

So the Constitution is ignored, on the basis that no one with the legal standing to do so is likely to challenge the constitutional validity of such grants. This is dressed up in government circles as addressing “constitutional risk”. It really means “breaching the Constitution because we are confident we can get away with it”.

Both major parties, when in government, have used publicly funded programs to their political advantage. Mick Tsikas/AAP

Financial legislation

The next rule is section 71 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013. It says a minister must not approve a proposed expenditure of public money unless satisfied the expenditure would be a proper use of money. “Proper” is defined in the Act as meaning “efficient, effective, economical and ethical”.

Ordinarily, this is satisfied by an assessment made by public servants. But if the public servants advise that certain projects are unsuitable and not value for money (as occurred in relation to the Safer Communities Program), the minister can only overturn this if he or she makes reasonable inquiries resulting in evidence that supports a rational assessment that the projects are “efficient, effective, economical and ethical”.

Does anyone enforce these rules – even though they are imposed by law? It would seem not.

Rules about Commonwealth grants

The Commonwealth Grants Rules and Guidelines say that, before making grants, the minister must first receive written advice from officials, which sets out the application and selection process and assesses the merits of proposed grants against the guidelines.

This means a minister cannot approve and announce grants during a byelection (as occurred in relation to the Safer Communities Program), before the guidelines were made, applications opened, and any merit assessment was made.

The grant rules also say a minister may approve grants that are not recommended by public servants, but must report annually to the finance minister by March 31, giving reasons for the approval of each grant. The minister must record “the basis for the approval relative to the grant opportunity guidelines and the key principle of achieving value with relevant money”.

If the public servants advise certain grant applications are unsuitable and not value for money, and the minister overrides them, stating merely that the projects “will assist with the safety” of the relevant communities, is this adequate?

Well, no. At the very least, the minister must assess the project against the guidelines and should explain in writing why the grant was an efficient, effective, economical and ethical use of resources when the department had concluded it was not.

There are many rules that govern ministers’ abilities to allocate community grants, but most are neither followed nor enforced. Shutterstock

Administrative law

Under administrative law, decision-makers must act within their legal powers and must not act for an improper purpose or in an irrational manner. They must behave in a manner that is procedurally fair to those affected by the decision.

This includes not acting in a biased manner or a way that might be perceived as biased. The courts look to whether a fair-minded observer might reasonably believe the decision-maker might not be impartial in making the decision.

Announcing the outcome of a decision weeks before the application was even made or assessed against the merit criteria, and then overriding the contrary assessment of public servants who had undertaken a merits assessment, would be strong indicators of “apprehended bias”.

While the courts do sometimes give deference to ministers in making decisions, a fair-minded observer is likely conclude in such a case that there was pre-judgment of the issues and a failure to exercise an impartial mind.

The Statement of Ministerial Standards

The Statement of Ministerial Standards requires that ministers act in

the lawful and disinterested exercise of the statutory and other powers available to their office.

This standard would be breached if a minister broke any of the laws outlined above. It is also breached if the minister acts in self-interest or the interests of his or her political party, rather than in a “disinterested”, objective manner.

The standards also state:

Ministers are required to ensure that official decisions made by them as Ministers are unaffected by bias or irrelevant considerations, such as considerations of private advantage or disadvantage.

This requirement would be breached if a minister acted for his or her personal or political party’s benefit, rather than acting impartially in the public interest.

Are these rules enforced?

There are therefore many rules that limit ministers’ powers to approve grants. The real problem is that most of them are not enforced or enforceable.

The Statement of Ministerial Standards, for example, applies at the whim of the prime minister. There is no penalty for ministers breaching section 71 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 or the Commonwealth Grants Rules and Guidelines.

While legal proceedings can be brought to challenge the constitutional validity of the grants or the validity of the decisions under administrative law, it is generally not in the interests of those who could bring such proceedings to do so. All aggrieved grant applicants want the opportunity to get a grant in the future.

Ultimately, this means ministers can breach the rules and get away with it, undermining the rule of law and public confidence in governments.

So when politicians proclaim they have acted entirely within the rules, it may be more accurate to say that the rules cannot, in practice, be enforced against them, because they do their best to make sure this is the case.

The Senate committee clearly saw the consequence:

The failure to hold decision-makers to account gives rise to community anger and resentment about how governments conduct themselves in Australia. It also highlights the glaring disparity between how those in positions of authority are perceived to flout laws or rules with impunity, while ordinary citizens are required to strictly adhere to laws and rules or face severe penalties. This significantly undermines public trust in government and the political system.

Yes, it does, and both sides are to blame.The Conversation

Anne Twomey, Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Sydney

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Cave of Horror: fresh fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls echo dramatic human stories

Israel Antiquities Authority conservator Tanya Bitler shows newly discovered Dead Sea Scroll fragments at the Dead Sea Scrolls conservation lab in Jerusalem. AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner
Gareth Wearne, Australian Catholic University

On Tuesday news broke of the discovery of fresh fragments of a nearly 2,000-year-old scroll in Israel. The fragments were said to come from the evocatively named Cave of Horror, near the western shore of the Dead Sea.

The finds were announced with attention-grabbing headlines that these were new fragments of the famous Dead Sea Scrolls and some of our earliest evidence for the biblical books of Zechariah and Nahum.

But more than just remnants of ancient text, the discovery reflects the troubled history of the Dead Sea Scrolls and tells human stories of revolution, a desperate search for safety and archaeological ingenuity.

Read more: Dead Sea Scrolls: how we accidentally discovered missing text – in Manchester

People of the scroll

Information is still coming out, but unusually for ancient discoveries of this kind, we know something about the people who hid the scroll.

The Cave of Horror is one of a series of eight caves in the canyon of Naḥal Ḥever, which were used as places of refuge during a Jewish revolt against Rome (132–135 CE)in the time of the emperor Hadrian. The revolt was led by Simon bar Kochba (or Simon bar Kosebah, as he is also known in ancient sources), who was thought by his followers to be the Messiah.

The cave has been known to archaeologists since 1953, but it wasn’t until 1961 that it was excavated by a team led by the Israeli archaeologist, Yonahan Aharoni. The new fragments were found as part of a larger project to search for new manuscripts, which is being conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).

Caves and cliffs near the Dead Sea. Dave Herring/Unsplash, CC BY

The cave is remote and difficult to access, which is doubtless why it was used as a hiding place. Aharoni describes the entrance as being 80 meters below the edge of the canyon with a drop of hundreds of meters below it. The team who first explored the cave in 1955 had to use a 100-meter-long rope ladder to reach the opening.

The nickname Cave of Horror was given to the cave because of a large number of skeletons, including children’s skeletons, that were found inside. Together with the skeletons were personal documents, a fragmentary copy of a prayer written in Hebrew, and the scroll to which these fragments belong, which was hidden at the back of the cave.

Remains of a Roman camp at the top of the cliff suggests the refugees sheltering there died as a result of a Roman siege. The occupants were determined not to surrender. There were no signs of wounds on the skeletons, suggesting the occupants died as a result of hunger and thirst, or possibly smoke inhalation from a fire in the centre of the cave.

They buried their most prized possessions, including the scroll from which these fragments come, to keep them safe.

Woman in lab holds up ancient items
Israeli archaeologists on Tuesday announced the discovery of dozens of new Dead Sea Scroll fragments bearing a biblical text found in a desert cave and believed hidden during a Jewish revolt against Rome nearly 1,900 years ago. AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner

Our oldest biblical texts

The photographs and reports released by the IAA indicate the fragments contain our earliest copy of Zechariah 8:16–17 and one of our earliest copies of Nahum 1:5–6. The fragments appear to be missing pieces of a scroll already known to scholars — the Greek Minor Prophets scroll from Naḥal Ḥever, or 8ḤevXIIgr to give it its official designation.

As the name suggests, the scroll is a copy of the Greek translation of the biblical minor prophets, containing portions of the books of Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, and Zechariah. The “minor prophets” or “the twelve” customarily describes the books spanning from Hosea to Malachi in the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Old Testament.

Among other things, the minor prophets include the story of Jonah being swallowed by a “great fish”.

Read more: The Dead Sea Scrolls are a priceless link to the Bible's past

Don’t say His name

The ancient Hebrew scriptures were first translated into Greek for the benefit of Greek-speaking Jews who had begun to lose contact with their Hebrew roots. Ancient sources, such as the letter of Aristeas, indicate the work of translating the scriptures into Greek probably began in Egypt, some time around 200 years before Christ.

A fascinating feature of the Greek Minor Prophets scroll is the fact the name of God is written in Hebrew, not Greek. This practice stems back to the prohibition in Exodus 20:7 against “taking God’s name in vain”.

The Dead Sea Scrolls attest several practices for avoiding accidentally pronouncing the divine name while reading aloud. These include substituting dots in place of the letters and the use of an archaic form of the Hebrew alphabet.

This custom is the basis for the modern practice of writing Lord in capital letters in modern editions of the Bible.

Old papers rolled up in rubble
A photo of the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in the 1940s, before they were unravelled. Wikimedia Commons/Abraham Meir Habermann

Beating the looters

Shortly after the discovery of the first Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947 it became apparent the rare ancient manuscripts had financial value. This led to a race between archaeologists and local Bedouin to discover more scroll fragments.

Consequently, it can be difficult to verify the archaeological provenance of many of the Dead Sea Scrolls remnants.

More recently, fake scrolls have found their way into at least one modern museum collection. A new manuscript discovery with secure archaeological provenance, like the one announced last week, is immensely important.

Perhaps most excitingly, these new fragments leave open the tantalising possibility there are more scrolls out there, waiting to be found.

Read more: Fake scrolls at the Museum of the Bible The Conversation

Gareth Wearne, Lecturer in Biblical Studies, School of Theology, Australian Catholic University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

These underwater photos show Norfolk Island reef life still thrives, from vibrant blue flatworms to soft pink corals

A big coral bommie in the lagoon at Norfolk Island. John Turbull , Author provided
John Turnbull, UNSW

Environmental scientists see flora, fauna and phenomena the rest of us rarely do. In this new series, we’ve invited them to share their unique photos from the field.

Two weeks ago, I found myself hitting the water on Norfolk Island, complete with a survey reel, slate and camera.

Norfolk Island is a small volcanic outcrop located between New Caledonia and New Zealand, 1,400 kilometres east of Australia’s Gold Coast. It’s surrounded by coral reefs, with a shallow lagoon on the south side that looks out on two smaller islands: Nepean and Phillip.

The island is picturesque, but like marine environments the world over, Norfolk Marine Park is subject to pressures from climate change, fishing pressure, habitat change and pollution.

I was diving in the marine park as a volunteer for Reef Life Survey, a citizen science program where trained SCUBA divers survey marine biodiversity in rocky and coral reefs around the world. We first surveyed Norfolk Island in 2009, then again in 2013, with an eight year hiatus before our return this month.

While the scientific analysis of our data is yet to be done, we can make anecdotal observations to compare this year’s findings with prior records and photographs. This time, our surveys turned up several new sightings and observations.

A wrinkly orange nudibranch nestled in algae
A red-ringed nudibranch (Ardeadoris rubroannulata). This beautiful little mollusc was a couple of centimetres long, nestled on the side of a wall covered in colourful algae. I had to look twice to notice it, but recognised it as a species I had seen before in Sydney. It had previously only been recorded in the Coral Sea, the east coast of Australia and Lord Howe island, so it was nice to get a record of it even further east in the Pacific. John Turnbull, Author provided

What we saw

Diving under the waves in Norfolk Marine Park takes you into a world of crackling, popping reef sounds through clear blue water, with darting tropical fish, a tapestry of algae and hard and soft corals in pink, green, brown and red.

In these surveys we record fish species including their size and abundance, invertebrates such as urchins and sea stars, and habitat such as coral cover. This allows us to track changes in marine life using standardised scientific methods.

Emily Bay is a sheltered swimming beach at the eastern end of the lagoon, great for snorkelling too thanks to the diverse corals just below the surface. John Turbull, Author provided
An orange fish near a mound of orange coral
Banded parma are quite territorial — they charge you as you approach their turf. This one is guarding what it regards as its own personal coral clump. John Turbull, Author provided

Given recent major marine heatwaves and bleaching events in Australia, we were pleased to see healthy corals on many of our survey sites on Norfolk. We even felt there had been increases in coral cover at some sites.

This may be due to Norfolk’s location. The island is further south than most Australian coral reefs, which means it has cooler seas, and it’s surrounded by deeper water. I’m a marine ecologist involved in soft coral monitoring at the University of NSW, so I particularly noticed the wonderful diversity and size of soft corals.

Healthy brown coral garden
This photo shows the structure corals provide for fish and other animals to shelter in. They are the foundation for the whole tropical marine community. The corals here are a healthy brown — which comes from the symbiotic algae in their tissues – with no signs of bleaching. John Turbull, Author provided
Soft pink coral
The soft corals on Norfolk Island are some of the largest I’ve seen. Their structure is made up of soft tissue, often inflated by water pressure, rather than hard skeleton. John Turbull, Author provided
Close-up of white, wrinkly coral
Hard corals come in a diversity of shapes and sizes, including this massive form growing on the side of rock wall. John Turbull, Author provided

I noticed generally low numbers of large fish such as morwong and sharks on our survey sites. Some classes of invertebrate were also rare on this year’s surveys, particularly sea shell animals like tritons and whelks.

Urchins, on the other hand, were common, particularly the red urchin. Some sites also had numerous black long-spined urchins and large sea lamingtons.

These invertebrate observations follow patterns we see in eastern and southern Australia, where there are declines in the numbers of many invertebrate species, and increases in urchin barrens — regions where urchin populations grow unchecked.

The expansion of urchin barrens can threaten biodiversity in a region, as large numbers of a single species of urchin can out-compete multiple species of other invertebrates, over-graze algae and reduce habitat suitable for fish.

Red urchin beside coral
The abundant red urchin competes for space with other invertebrates, such as this one encrusting hard coral. John Turbull, Author provided
Fat, black and white urchins beneath a coral mound
Lamingtons are an Australian cake (although there are claims they were invented in NZ!) and I love this descriptive common name for the Tripneustes gratilla urchin. The sea lamingtons on Norfolk appear particularly fat and happy, as they cluster in sheltered grooves during the day to avoid predators. They can also be different colours — I’ve seen them on the east coast of Australia in orange and cream, even with stripes. John Turbull, Author provided
Two spindly shrimp beneath coral
A pair of banded cleaner shrimp, which grow to 9cm long. They advertise their fish cleaning services with their distinct banding and white antennae. John Turbull, Author provided

A highlight of any survey dive is when you find an animal you suspect may not have been recorded at a location before, and I had several of those on this trip.

I recorded first sightings for Reef Life Survey of blue mao mao, convict surgeonfish, the blue band glidergoby, sergeant major (a damselfish), chestnut blenny, Susan’s flatworm, red-ringed nudibranch, fine-net peristernia and an undescribed weedfish.

While some of these sightings are yet to be confirmed by specialists, they gave a buzz of excitement each night as we searched the records to confirm our suspicions of a new find.

A school of large blu fish
This big school of drummer circled us for several minutes on our first survey dive at Nepean Island. If you look closely you can see one of the fish is different, in the top right. This is one of a few blue mao mao circulating in the school – and a first sighting for Reef Life Survey at Norfolk. You might also notice another species in the school, the darker spotted sawtail down the bottom of the photo. John Turbull, Author provided
A vibrant blue ribbon-like worm with an orange stripe
Susan’s flatworm is a colourful invertebrate listed as living only in the Indian Ocean and Indonesia. This sighting from Norfolk Island is a new record in the Pacific Ocean. When I first saw this little worm at the end of a survey, I wondered if it was anything special. Just as well I took the photo anyway! John Turbull, Author provided

Recruiting the locals

Other highlights for me included the warm welcome we received from the local community on Norfolk and the great turnout we had at our community seminar. Everyone I spoke to was supportive and encouraging when they heard we were on the island as volunteers doing surveys, and several people expressed interest in getting involved.

This is great news, as the best outcome is for local people to be trained to conduct their own local surveys.

An underwater SCUBA selfie
Tyson, Sal, Jamie, Toni and me taking an underwater selfie on the west side of Phillip Island, 10 metres below the surface. It’s harder than on land, with your fins off the ground, everyone moving and bubbles to deal with. John Turbull, Author provided

Ideally we will return for comprehensive surveys of our 17 sites every two years or so, allowing us to plot trends over time. Only then can we hope to understand what is really happening in our marine environment, and make evidence-based conservation decisions. Having a skilled local team would make this easier and more likely to happen.

In any case, our 2021 surveys in Norfolk Marine Park, conducted by our team of five dedicated volunteers and supported by many others, give us one more essential point in time in the Norfolk series, and gave me some great memories to boot.

You can view my full photo album from the Norfolk Island survey here.

Read more: Photos from the field: zooming in on Australia's hidden world of exquisite mites, snails and beetles The Conversation

John Turnbull, Postdoctoral research associate, UNSW

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Hidden women of history: Catherine Hay Thomson, the Australian undercover journalist who went inside asylums and hospitals

Catherine Hay Thomson went undercover as an assistant nurse for her series on conditions at Melbourne Hospital. A. J. Campbell Collection/National Library of Australia
Kerrie Davies, UNSW and Willa McDonald, Macquarie University

In this series, we look at under-acknowledged women through the ages.

In 1886, a year before American journalist Nellie Bly feigned insanity to enter an asylum in New York and became a household name, Catherine Hay Thomson arrived at the entrance of Kew Asylum in Melbourne on “a hot grey morning with a lowering sky”.

Hay Thomson’s two-part article, The Female Side of Kew Asylum for The Argus newspaper revealed the conditions women endured in Melbourne’s public institutions.

Her articles were controversial, engaging, empathetic, and most likely the first known by an Australian female undercover journalist.

A ‘female vagabond’

Hay Thomson was accused of being a spy by Kew Asylum’s supervising doctor. The Bulletin called her “the female vagabond”, a reference to Melbourne’s famed undercover reporter of a decade earlier, Julian Thomas. But she was not after notoriety.

Unlike Bly and her ambitious contemporaries who turned to “stunt journalism” to escape the boredom of the women’s pages – one of the few avenues open to women newspaper writers – Hay Thomson was initially a teacher and ran schools with her mother in Melbourne and Ballarat.

Hay Thomson, standing centre with her mother and pupils at their Ballarat school, was a teacher before she became a journalist. Ballarat Grammar Archives/Museum Victoria

In 1876, she became one of the first female students to sit for the matriculation exam at Melbourne University, though women weren’t allowed to study at the university until 1880.

Going undercover

Hay Thomson’s series for The Argus began in March 1886 with a piece entitled The Inner Life of the Melbourne Hospital. She secured work as an assistant nurse at Melbourne Hospital (now The Royal Melbourne Hospital) which was under scrutiny for high running costs and an abnormally high patient death rate.

Doctors at Melbourne Hospital in the mid 1880s did not wash their hands between patients, wrote Catherine Hay Thomson. State Library of Victoria

Her articles increased the pressure. She observed that the assistant nurses were untrained, worked largely as cleaners for poor pay in unsanitary conditions, slept in overcrowded dormitories and survived on the same food as the patients, which she described in stomach-turning detail.

The hospital linen was dirty, she reported, dinner tins and jugs were washed in the patients’ bathroom where poultices were also made, doctors did not wash their hands between patients.

Writing about a young woman caring for her dying friend, a 21-year-old impoverished single mother, Hay Thomson observed them “clinging together through all fortunes” and added that “no man can say that friendship between women is an impossibility”.

The Argus editorial called for the setting up of a “ladies’ committee” to oversee the cooking and cleaning. Formal nursing training was introduced in Victoria three years later.

Kew Asylum

Hay Thomson’s next series, about women’s treatment in the Kew Asylum, was published in March and April 1886.

Her articles predate Ten Days in a Madhouse written by Nellie Bly (born Elizabeth Cochran) for Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World.

While working in the asylum for a fortnight, Hay Thomson witnessed overcrowding, understaffing, a lack of training, and a need for woman physicians. Most of all, the reporter saw that many in the asylum suffered from institutionalisation rather than illness.

Kew Asylum around the time Catherine Hay Thomson went undercover there. Charles Rudd/State Library of Victoria

She described “the girl with the lovely hair” who endured chronic ear pain and was believed to be delusional. The writer countered “her pain is most probably real”.

Observing another patient, Hay Thomson wrote:

She requires to be guarded – saved from herself; but at the same time, she requires treatment … I have no hesitation in saying that the kind of treatment she needs is unattainable in Kew Asylum.

The day before the first asylum article was published, Hay Thomson gave evidence to the final sitting of Victoria’s Royal Commission on Asylums for the Insane and Inebriate, pre-empting what was to come in The Argus. Among the Commission’s final recommendations was that a new governing board should supervise appointments and training and appoint “lady physicians” for the female wards.

Suffer the little children

In May 1886, An Infant Asylum written “by a Visitor” was published. The institution was a place where mothers – unwed and impoverished - could reside until their babies were weaned and later adopted out.

Hay Thomson reserved her harshest criticism for the absent fathers:

These women … have to bear the burden unaided, all the weight of shame, remorse, and toil, [while] the other partner in the sin goes scot free.

For another article, Among the Blind: Victorian Asylum and School, she worked as an assistant needlewoman and called for talented music students at the school to be allowed to sit exams.

In A Penitent’s Life in the Magdalen Asylum, Hay Thomson supported nuns’ efforts to help women at the Abbotsford Convent, most of whom were not residents because they were “fallen”, she explained, but for reasons including alcoholism, old age and destitution.

Suffrage and leadership

Hay Thomson helped found the Austral Salon of Women, Literature and the Arts in January 1890 and the National Council of Women of Victoria. Both organisations are still celebrating and campaigning for women.

Throughout, she continued writing, becoming Table Talk magazine’s music and social critic.

In 1899 she became editor of The Sun: An Australian Journal for the Home and Society, which she bought with Evelyn Gough. Hay Thomson also gave a series of lectures titled Women in Politics.

A Melbourne hotel maintains that Hay Thomson’s private residence was secretly on the fourth floor of Collins Street’s Rialto building around this time.

Home and back

After selling The Sun, Hay Thomson returned to her birth city, Glasgow, Scotland, and to a precarious freelance career for English magazines such as Cassell’s.

Despite her own declining fortunes, she brought attention to writer and friend Grace Jennings Carmichael’s three young sons, who had been stranded in a Northampton poorhouse for six years following their mother’s death from pneumonia. After Hay Thomson’s article in The Argus, the Victorian government granted them free passage home.

Hay Thomson eschewed the conformity of marriage but tied the knot back in Melbourne in 1918, aged 72. The wedding at the Women Writer’s Club to Thomas Floyd Legge, culminated “a romance of forty years ago”. Mrs Legge, as she became, died in Cheltenham in 1928, only nine years later.The Conversation

Kerrie Davies, Lecturer, School of the Arts & Media, UNSW and Willa McDonald, Senior Lecturer, Macquarie University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

How young LGBTQIA+ people used social media to thrive during COVID lockdowns

Benjamin Hanckel, Western Sydney University and Shiva Chandra, Western Sydney University

During COVID-19 lockdowns, a major concern for LGBTIQ+ communities, mental health professionals and academics was that young lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and questioning, intersex and asexual+ people may suffer from being stuck in transphobic, biphobic or homophobic households.

But encouragingly, our research found these young people largely managed to navigate these spaces successfully, by increasing their social media use, exploring identity through digital channels and finding safe ways to maintain family relationships.

We spoke to 65 LGBTQIA+ people aged 16–30 from across Australia, with cultural backgrounds including Indigenous, European, South Asian, Middle Eastern and East Asian. For many, isolation provided an opportunity to reflect and build on their identity.

Surfing the web during lockdown

We spoke to queer people who identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual, pansexual and demisexual — and with various gender identities such as cis male/female, intersex, non-binary, trans, gender-fluid, agender and questioning.

Our respondents expressed having generally increased their social media use during COVID-19 lockdowns, when they were forced to stay home. As a result, they reflected on and explored their gender and sexual identity online more than usual. One interviewee said:

It was definitely a big help just to have a chance to think about it on my own for a bit, instead of having to do other stuff.

The group reported using social mediums such as Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Snapchat and Discord to find others like them — and to discover language that helped them make sense of their own feelings and desires (which is often absent from classrooms).

Read more: Pages and prejudice: how queer texts could fight homophobia in Australian schools

Maintaining family ties and hobbies

During lockdowns, respondents had to actively decide what information to share with family and how to navigate these relationships online and offline.

This generally didn’t impede their identity work, however. Many said they blocked certain individuals, created multiple social media accounts or strategically shared content with only specific people.

Meanwhile, they also found ways to relate to and safely connect with other LGBTQIA+ people online. This is what experts call online “curation”. One young panromantic demiboy said:

I’m in a lot of private groups that are sort of other people from either Australia or across the world that just describe their experiences […] having a lot of other people around you that are in the same boat is just, you know, just really reassuring.

Online friends helped build an important sense of community, which then created space for discussions on gender and sexuality which may not have been possible with families.

Some respondents curated their online spaces with family in mind. For example, they would deliberately not be explicit about gender and sexual identity on certain platforms, due to concerns about repercussions for their parents. Thus, concern for loved ones shaped the way they used social media.

And while LGBTQIA+ communities were indeed important, this wasn’t all respondents looked for. Their online communities were made up of LGBTQIA+ people and others who enjoyed cosplay, gaming, art, baking, fandoms and anime.

Young queer people, like all people, are multifaceted and have a variety of interests, so identity work happens alongside hobbies and fun. One queer trans man we interviewed said his circles featured a strong mix of both queer and fandom themes:

I tend to find the queer community within the fandom really, really quickly.

Read more: How pop culture has become a refuge for queer children

But social media has its downsides

Unfortunately, we found young queer people also dealt with negativity on social media during lockdowns.

They recounted seeing hateful comments that marginalised and denigrated queer people and expressed concern about social media sites censoring queer-related content more harshly than other content.

We know queer online spaces themselves can be prejudicial and have examples of transphobia and discrimination against bisexual individuals.

Our respondents mentioned their experiences teaching others (both straight and LGBTQIA+ people) about gender and sexuality online. Many valued an educative approach for people with prejudicial and discriminatory ideas.

We found the onus of this work often fell on them, while they emphasised it was a balancing act; they didn’t always want to engage with negative material about themselves or similar groups.

Supporting young LGBTQIA+ people

Notwithstanding obvious differences in lived experience, our findings indicate LGBTQIA+ youth know how to find creative, resourceful and intelligent ways to thrive online.

Yet it’s imperative society at large continues to support LGBTQIA+ youth and help make sure their experiences are not negative. There are a few ways this can be done:

  • Introduce support resources to assist young LGBTQIA+ people with using online spaces to their advantage and as their circumstances require. Our respondents expressed this would be helpful as they frequently deal with stigma and fear online.

  • Advocate for better social media policies that support inclusion and diversity. Platforms must also be more discerning when LGBTQIA+ content is reported, as people may flag material due to their prejudices and not because something is wrong with it.

  • More broadly, we should all work to ensure fair representation and widespread acceptance of LGBTQIA+ people in everyday life. This will help reduce day-to-day stigma. For a start, we can all share more diverse LGBTQIA+ content on our own social media profiles.

Read more: Friday essay: hidden in plain sight — Australian queer men and women before gay liberation The Conversation

Benjamin Hanckel, Senior research fellow, Western Sydney University and Shiva Chandra, Research Assistant, Western Sydney University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Cheerleaders are athletes. The NRL should pause on packing away the pom poms

Michelle O'Shea, Western Sydney University; Patrick van Esch, Auckland University of Technology, and Sarah Duffy, Western Sydney University

As the NRL competition ushers in its 2021 season, women waving pom poms while clad in figure hugging attire and white, knee-high boots will be missing from some games.

The Parramatta Eels are the latest and fifth team to cut their cheerleading squad, announcing in late January their 30 cheerleaders wouldn’t be employed this year. This decision also means nearly 80 junior cheer girls no longer have a home.

From a peak of 16 cheerleading teams in 2006, this year only 11 teams will still have cheerleaders on the sidelines.

In 2007, the then new owner of the South Sydney Rabbitohs, Russell Crowe, said cheerleaders made spectators “uncomfortable”. They were replaced with a marching band. In 2017, the Canberra Raiders replaced their squad with a game-day competition for local dance schools.

In 2019, the Melbourne Storm replaced cheer girls with mixed gender hip hop crews.The Brisbane Broncos rebranded their cheerleaders as a “dance squad”, and toned down their uniforms to “desexualise” performers and celebrate their athleticism.

For many teams, the cheerleaders are now positioned as brand ambassadors, involved in community outreach, attired in more modest costumes. Their remit is fundamentally changing. Cheering on the sidelines is increasingly looking like a sexist relic.

But rather than remove cheerleaders from sport fields altogether, we should celebrate their athleticism, embracing cheerleading as a sport in its own right.

It wasn’t always women who cheered

Although women are most often associated with cheerleading, it was once a male pursuit. Even as teams diversified, George W. Bush, Dwight Eisenhower, and Franklin D. Roosevelt were all cheerleaders.

Black and white photo. Four boys squat in a cheer in front of bleachers.
Cheerleading was once a male pursuit, as in this photograph of Woodrow Wilson High School cheerleaders leading students in a yell at a football game. Library of Congress

Women first joined their American college cheer squads in 1923, participating in greater numbers in the 1940s as college-aged men went off to war. In this decade, cheerleading started to feature tumbling and acrobatics. Competitive cheerleading was introduced in the United States in the 1970s.

Today, both sideline and competition routines incorporate advanced tumbling, stunts and pyramid building alongside cheer and dance. The athleticism, skill and commitment is the same.

Cheerleading in Australia never reached the same mainstream popularity as in America. Female supporters banded together in the 1960s to form a cheer squad for the Carlton AFL club, but it never truly took off in the sport.

Cheerleading today has its Australian home in the NRL and the National Basketball League.

But as in America, Australian girls and women are increasingly becoming the team — not just cheering on the team from the sidelines.

Founded in 2016, Australia’s All Star Cheerleading competitions are gaining popularity and reach, now with over 60,000 registered competitors across the country, who show off their skills in complex routines featuring gymnastics, dance, pyramids and acrobatics.

In 2017, competition cheerleading was granted provisional Olympic status, putting it on the path to being an official Olympic sport as early as Paris 2024.

It’s time to rethink the cheerleader stereotype

In popular culture, cheerleaders continue to be cast as a trivial diversion to the real athletic performances on centre field. They are shown as two dimensional bimbos in pornography, and they are often portrayed as vapid and shallow in movies.

This reputation is slowly being recast, in part thanks to the popular Netflix docuseries Cheer. Following the co-ed team of a community college in Texas as they train for the national competition, the show highlights the sacrifices these athletes have made, and the high stakes for their physical health.

Cheer celebrates powerful images of the cheerleader by focusing on their athleticism, and their commitment to train, rehearse and perform to a competition level.

Cheerleading can reinforce the notion of sport as a masculine domain if the women involved are treated as a titillating sideline act. But cheer squads can also challenge gender ideals by celebrating women’s athleticism, skill and professionalism.

Cheerleading is a very physical – and potentially dangerous — activity, which requires both finesse and strength.

Don’t cancel the cheer

Rather than remove cheerleaders from the field, we should celebrate their athleticism and embrace it as a sport in its own right: moving away from the skimpy outfits and dancers, towards the physical athleticism of competition cheer.

Let’s challenge the status quo by dropping the eroticised messages that devalue cheerleaders but respect their contribution to their clubs, community and the game-day spectacle.

When cheerleaders are positioned as sexualised adornments alongside the “true” athletes playing rugby league, young boys and men are taught it is okay to treat women as objects.

When they are positioned as athletes, their physicality appreciated and respected, cheerleading can provide these women (and increasingly men) with paid work and a respected place on the sporting field.

As the football season begins, let’s not be too quick to cancel the cheer.The Conversation

Michelle O'Shea, Senior Lecturer, School of Business, Western Sydney University; Patrick van Esch, Senior Lecturer in Marketing, AUT Business School, Auckland University of Technology, and Sarah Duffy, Lecturer, School of Business, Western Sydney University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Book of the Month March 2021: The boy travellers in Australasia : adventures of two youths in a journey to the Sandwich, Marquesas, Society, Samoan and Feejee islands, and through the colonies of New Zealand, New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania, and South Australia

by Thomas Wallace Knox, 1835-1896; Harper & Brothers. pbl. Publication date 1889

New Shorebird Identification Booklet

The Migratory Shorebird Program has just released the third edition of its hugely popular Shorebird Identification Booklet. The team has thoroughly revised and updated this pocket-sized companion for all shorebird counters and interested birders, with lots of useful information on our most common shorebirds, key identification features, sighting distribution maps and short articles on some of BirdLife’s shorebird activities. 

The booklet can be downloaded here in PDF file format:

Paper copies can be ordered as well, see for details.

Download BirdLife Australia's children’s education kit to help them learn more about our wading birdlife

Shorebirds are a group of wading birds that can be found feeding on swamps, tidal mudflats, estuaries, beaches and open country. For many people, shorebirds are just those brown birds feeding a long way out on the mud but they are actually a remarkably diverse collection of birds including stilts, sandpipers, snipe, curlews, godwits, plovers and oystercatchers. Each species is superbly adapted to suit its preferred habitat.  The Red-necked Stint is as small as a sparrow, with relatively short legs and bill that it pecks food from the surface of the mud with, whereas the Eastern Curlew is over two feet long with a exceptionally long legs and a massively curved beak that it thrusts deep down into the mud to pull out crabs, worms and other creatures hidden below the surface.

Some shorebirds are fairly drab in plumage, especially when they are visiting Australia in their non-breeding season, but when they migrate to their Arctic nesting grounds, they develop a vibrant flush of bright colours to attract a mate. We have 37 types of shorebirds that annually migrate to Australia on some of the most lengthy and arduous journeys in the animal kingdom, but there are also 18 shorebirds that call Australia home all year round.

What all our shorebirds have in common—be they large or small, seasoned traveller or homebody, brightly coloured or in muted tones—is that each species needs adequate safe areas where they can successfully feed and breed.

The National Shorebird Monitoring Program is managed and supported by BirdLife Australia. 

This project is supported by Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority and Hunter Local Land Services through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program. Funding from Helen Macpherson Smith Trust and Port Phillip Bay Fund is acknowledged. 

The National Shorebird Monitoring Program is made possible with the help of over 1,600 volunteers working in coastal and inland habitats all over Australia. 

The National Shorebird Monitoring program (started as the Shorebirds 2020 project initiated to re-invigorate monitoring around Australia) is raising awareness of how incredible shorebirds are, and actively engaging the community to participate in gathering information needed to conserve shorebirds. 

In the short term, the destruction of tidal ecosystems will need to be stopped, and our program is designed to strengthen the case for protecting these important habitats. 

In the long term, there will be a need to mitigate against the likely effects of climate change on a species that travels across the entire range of latitudes where impacts are likely. 

The identification and protection of critical areas for shorebirds will need to continue in order to guard against the potential threats associated with habitats in close proximity to nearly half the human population. 

Here in Australia, the place where these birds grow up and spend most of their lives, continued monitoring is necessary to inform the best management practice to maintain shorebird populations. 

BirdLife Australia believe that we can help secure a brighter future for these remarkable birds by educating stakeholders, gathering information on how and why shorebird populations are changing, and working to grow the community of people who care about shorebirds.

To find out more visit:

The world at your finger tips: Online

With current advice to stay at home and self-isolate, when you come in out of the garden, have had your fill of watching movies and want to explore something new, there's a whole world of books you can download, films you can watch and art galleries you can stroll through - all from at home and via the internet. This week a few suggestions of some of the resources available for you to explore and enjoy. For those who have a passion for Art - this month's Artist of the Month is the Online Australian Art Galleries and State Libraries where you can see great works of art from all over the world  and here - both older works and contemporary works.

Also remember the Project Gutenberg Australia - link here- has heaps of great books, not just focused on Australian subjects but fiction works by popular authors as well. Well worth a look at.

Short Stories for Teenagers you can read for free online

StoryStar is an online resource where you can access and read short stories for teenagers


Storystar is a totally FREE short stories site featuring some of the best short stories online, written by/for kids, teens, and adults of all ages around the world, where short story writers are the stars, and everyone is free to shine! Storystar is dedicated to providing a free place where everyone can share their stories. Stories can entertain us, enlighten us, and change us. Our lives are full of stories; stories of joy and sorrow, triumph and tragedy, success and failure. The stories of our lives matter. Share them. Sharing stories with each other can bring us closer together and help us get to know one another better. Please invite your friends and family to visit Storystar to read, rate and share all the short stories that have been published here, and to tell their stories too.

StoryStar headquarters are located on the central Oregon coast.

NFSA - National Film and Sound Archive of Australia

The doors may be temporarily closed but when it comes to the NFSA, we are always open online. We have content for Kids, Animal Lovers, Music fans, Film buffs & lots more.

You can explore what’s available online at the NFSA, see more in the link below.

NLA Ebooks - Free To Download

The National Library of Australia provides access to thousands of ebooks through its website, catalogue and eResources service. These include our own publications and digitised historical books from our collections as well as subscriptions to collections such as Chinese eResources, Early English Books Online and Ebsco ebooks.

What are ebooks?
Ebooks are books published in an electronic format. They can be read by using a personal computer or an ebook reader.

This guide will help you find and view different types of ebooks in the National Library collections.

Peruse the NLA's online ebooks, ready to download - HERE

The Internet Archive and Digital Library

The Internet Archive is an American digital library with the stated mission of "universal access to all knowledge." It provides free public access to collections of digitised materials, including websites, software applications/games, music, movies, videos, moving images, and millions of public-domain books. There's lots of Australian materials amongst the millions of works on offer.


Avalon Youth Hub: More Meditation Spots

Due to popular demand our meditation evenings have EXPANDED. Two sessions will now be run every Wednesday evening at the Hub. Both sessions will be facilitated by Merryn at Soul Safaris.

6-7pm - 12 - 15 year olds welcome
7-8pm - 16 - 25 year olds welcome

No experience needed. Learn and develop your mindfulness and practice meditation in a group setting.

For all enquires, message us via facebook or email

BIG THANKS The Burdekin Association for funding these sessions!

Green Team Beach Cleans 

Hosted by The Green Team
It has been estimated that we will have more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050...These beach cleans are aimed at reducing the vast amounts of plastic from entering our oceans before they harm marine life. 

Anyone and everyone is welcome! If you would like to come along, please bring a bucket, gloves and hat. Kids of all ages are also welcome! 

We will meet in front of the surf club. 
Hope to see you there!

The Green Team is a Youth-run, volunteer-based environment initiative from Avalon, Sydney. Keeping our area green and clean.

 The Project Gutenberg Library of Australiana

Australian writers, works about Australia and works which may be of interest to Australians.This Australiana page boasts many ebooks by Australian writers, or books about Australia. There is a diverse range; from the journals of the land and sea explorers; to the early accounts of white settlement in Australia; to the fiction of 'Banjo' Paterson, Henry Lawson and many other Australian writers.

The list of titles form part of the huge collection of ebooks freely downloadable from Project Gutenberg Australia. Follow the links to read more about the authors and titles and to read and/or download the ebooks. 

Profile: Ingleside Riders Group

Ingleside Riders Group Inc. (IRG) is a not for profit incorporated association and is run solely by volunteers. It was formed in 2003 and provides a facility known as “Ingleside Equestrian Park” which is approximately 9 acres of land between Wattle St and McLean St, Ingleside. IRG has a licence agreement with the Minister of Education to use this land. This facility is very valuable as it is the only designated area solely for equestrian use in the Pittwater District.  IRG promotes equal rights and the respect of one another and our list of rules that all members must sign reflect this.


Research shows that one in five Australian children aged 8 to 17 has been the target of cyberbullying in the past year. The Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner can help you make a complaint, find someone to talk to and provide advice and strategies for dealing with these issues.

Make a Complaint 

The Enhancing Online Safety for Children Act 2015 gives the power to provide assistance in relation to serious cyberbullying material. That is, material that is directed at a particular child with the intention to seriously embarrass, harass, threaten or humiliate.


Before you make a complaint you need to have:

  • copies of the cyberbullying material to upload (eg screenshots or photos)
  • reported the material to the social media service (if possible) at least 48 hours ago
  • at hand as much information as possible about where the material is located
  • 15-20 minutes to complete the form


Our mission

The Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner is Australia's leader in online safety. The Office is committed to helping young people have safe, positive experiences online and encouraging behavioural change, where a generation of Australian children act responsibly online—just as they would offline.

We provide online safety education for Australian children and young people, a complaints service for young Australians who experience serious cyberbullying, and address illegal online content through the Online Content Scheme.

Our goal is to empower all Australians to explore the online world—safely.


The Green Team

This Youth-run, volunteer-based environment initiative has been attracting high praise from the founders of Living Ocean as much as other local environment groups recently. 
Creating Beach Cleans events, starting their own, sustainability days - ‘action speaks louder than words’ ethos is at the core of this group. 

National Training Complaints Hotline – 13 38 73

The National Training Complaints Hotline is accessible on 13 38 73 (Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm nationally) or via email at

Sync Your Breathing with this - to help you Relax

Send In Your Stuff

Pittwater Online News is not only For and About you, it is also BY you.  
We will not publish swearing or the gossip about others. BUT: If you have a poem, story or something you want to see addressed, let us know or send to:

All Are Welcome, All Belong!

Youth Source: Northern Sydney Region

A directory of services and resources relevant to young people and those who work, play and live alongside them.

The YouthSource directory has listings from the following types of service providers: Aboriginal, Accommodation, Alcohol & Other Drugs, Community Service, Counselling, Disability, Education & Training, Emergency Information, Employment, Financial, Gambling,  General Health & Wellbeing, Government Agency, Hospital & GP, Legal & Justice, Library, Mental Health, Multicultural, Nutrition & Eating Disorders, Parenting, Relationships, Sexual Health, University, Youth Centre

Apprenticeships and traineeships info

Are you going to leave school this year?
Looking for an apprenticeship or traineeship to get you started?
This website, Training Services NSW, has stacks of info for you;

It lists the group training organisations (GTOs) that are currently registered in NSW under the Apprenticeship and Traineeship Act 2001. These GTOs have been audited by independent auditors and are compliant with the National Standards for Group Training Organisations.

If you are interested in using the services of a registered GTO, please contact any of the organisations listed here:

There are also some great websites, like 1300apprentice, which list what kind of apprenticeships and traineeships they can guide you to securing as well as listing work available right now.

Profile Bayview Yacht Racing Association (BYRA)
1842 Pittwater Rd, Bayview

BYRA has a passion for sharing the great waters of Pittwater and a love of sailing with everyone aged 8 to 80 or over!

 headspace Brookvale

headspace Brookvale provides services to young people aged 12-25. If you are a young person looking for health advice, support and/or information,headspace Brookvale can help you with:

• Mental health • Physical/sexual health • Alcohol and other drug services • Education and employment services

If you ever feel that you are:

• Alone and confused • Down, depressed or anxious • Worried about your use of alcohol and/or other drugs • Not coping at home, school or work • Being bullied, hurt or harassed • Wanting to hurt yourself • Concerned about your sexual health • Struggling with housing or accommodation • Having relationship problems • Finding it hard to get a job

Or if you just need someone to talk to… headspace Brookvale can help! The best part is our service is free, confidential and youth friendly.

headspace Brookvale is open from Monday to Friday 9:00am-5:30pm so if you want to talk or make an appointment give us a call on (02) 9937 6500. If you're not feeling up to contacting us yourself, feel free to ask your family, friend, teacher, doctor or someone close to you to make a referral on your behalf.

When you first come to headspace Brookvale you will be greeted by one of our friendly staff. You will then talk with a member of our headspace Brookvale Youth Access Team. The headspace Brookvale Youth Access Team consists of three workers, who will work with you around whatever problems you are facing. Depending on what's happening for you, you may meet with your Youth Access Worker a number of times or you may be referred on to a more appropriate service provider.

A number of service providers are operating out of headspace Brookvale including Psychologists, Drug & Alcohol Workers, Sexual Health Workers, Employment Services and more! If we can't find a service operating withinheadspace Brookvale that best suits you, the Youth Access Team can also refer you to other services in the Sydney area.

eheadspace provides online and telephone support for young people aged 12-25. It is a confidential, free, secure space where you can chat, email or talk on the phone to qualified youth mental health professionals.

Click here to go to eheadspace

For urgent mental health assistance or if you are in a crisis please call the Northern Sydney 24 hour Mental Health Access Line on 1800 011 511

Need Help Right NOW??

kids help line: 1800 55 1800 -

lifeline australia - 13 11 14 -

headspace Brookvale is located at Level 2 Brookvale House, 1A Cross Street Brookvale NSW 2100 (Old Medical Centre at Warringah Mall). We are nearby Brookvale Westfield's bus stop on Pittwater road, and have plenty of parking under the building opposite Bunnings. More at:

Profile: Avalon Soccer Club
Avalon Soccer Club is an amateur club situated at the northern end of Sydney’s Northern Beaches. As a club we pride ourselves on our friendly, family club environment. The club is comprised of over a thousand players aged from 5 to 70 who enjoy playing the beautiful game at a variety of levels and is entirely run by a group of dedicated volunteers. 
Profile: Pittwater Baseball Club

Their Mission: Share a community spirit through the joy of our children engaging in baseball.

Year 13

Year13 is an online resource for post school options that specialises in providing information and services on Apprenticeships, Gap Year Programs, Job Vacancies, Studying, Money Advice, Internships and the fun of life after school. Partnering with leading companies across Australia Year13 helps facilitate positive choices for young Australians when finishing school.

Driver Knowledge Test (DKT) Practice run Online

Did you know you can do a practice run of the DKT online on the RMS site? - check out the base of this page, and the rest on the webpage, it's loaded with information for you!

The DKT Practice test is designed to help you become familiar with the test, and decide if you’re ready to attempt the test for real.  Experienced drivers can also take the practice test to check their knowledge of the road rules. Unlike the real test, the practice DKT allows you to finish all 45 questions, regardless of how many you get wrong. At the end of the practice test, you’ll be advised whether you passed or failed.

NCYLC is a community legal centre dedicated to providing advice to children and young people. NCYLC has developed a Cyber Project called Lawmail, which allows young people to easily access free legal advice from anywhere in Australia, at any time.

NCYLC was set up to ensure children’s rights are not marginalised or ignored. NCYLC helps children across Australia with their problems, including abuse and neglect. The AGD, UNSW, KWM, Telstra and ASIC collaborate by providing financial, in-kind and/or pro bono volunteer resources to NCYLC to operate Lawmail and/or Lawstuff.

Kids Helpline

If you’re aged 5-25 the Kids Helpline provides free and confidential online and phone counselling 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 1800 55 1800. You can chat with us about anything… What’s going on at home, stuff with friends. Something at school or feeling sad, angry or worried. You don’t have to tell us your name if you don’t want to.

You can Webchat, email or phone. Always remember - Everyone deserves to be safe and happy. You’re important and we are here to help you. Visit: