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EPA SA 2018 State of the Environment Report released


The EPA SA Board released the 2018 State of the Environment (SOE) Report for South Australia on 19 November.

This five-yearly examination assesses the state and condition of our major environmental resources and identifies significant trends in environmental quality, and shows that, while South Australia was doing reasonably well, in some areas there are serious challenges to be met.

This is the seventh SOE Report and adds emerging pressures such as those stemming from climate change to the evidence that environmental sustainability must remain at the forefront of government, business and community decision making to ensure the state’s long-term prosperity.

The report draws together data and information from many sources to provide an independent, objective and consolidated assessment of environmental trends and issues.

It provides clarity about the South Australia’s environmental risks and pressures and sets out what is being done to protect the environment.

It also serves as a reminder that our quality of life, economic success, and social fabric are all underpinned by the health of the environment.

The SOE Report covers five themes: climate, air, inland waters, land, and coast. A new feature of the 2018 report is its inclusion of opinion pieces by experts Prof Corey Bradshaw, Prof Justin Brooks and Mark Western on biodiversity, coast protection, and aquatic ecosystems.

In some, such as air quality, the reuse of wastewater and stormwater, marine health and recycling, the state is doing reasonably well.

In others, like species loss, the increase in the amount and complexity of waste, and dealing with the effects of a changing climate, including sea level rise, there are challenges to be met.

The summary report highlights cross-cutting issues considered particularly important by the EPA Board, and makes six related recommendations to help safeguard our environment into the future, with a strong focus on preparing for a changing climate.

The EPA engaged quarterly with conservation organisations, whose views helped shape the report and provided the opportunity to debate important environmental issues facing the state.

The 2018 Report will continue to be a living document used to inform decision making across all sectors, including planning, investment decisions, policy development and management actions.

Read the 2018 State of the Environment Report.


Queensland quarrying company pleads guilty to offences under the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003


The Emerald Magistrates Court issued the company with a $188,000 fine (plus legal costs) and ordered it to pay an additional $250,000 towards restoration of the Aboriginal cultural heritage which had been harmed.

In 2015, the company undertook quarrying activities, which caused damage to Aboriginal cultural heritage at a site which formed part of a wider Significant Aboriginal Area.

The traditional owners of the area are the Karingbal People and the site is considered to be of high cultural significance to the Karingbal People being used for camping and as a resource reserve.

A licence agreement between the company and the owner of the site contained a term that the company undertake its own investigations and obtain all approvals required before commencing operations. Initial discussions were also held where the company was advised that Aboriginal cultural heritage had been identified at the site and as a part of its Management Plan, the company would liaise with a nominated cultural heritage advisor.

Despite this, the company commenced operations without taking steps to comply with the cultural heritage duty of care. The company ceased the works upon the discovery of the damage by the traditional owners.

Damage was caused to the land and whilst it was not possible to precisely quantify the physical harm, at least three Gumbi Gumbi trees were destroyed and at least 50 and likely many more artefacts were damaged or displaced. In addition, there was harm to cultural, historical, spiritual and social values.

On 2 November 2018, the defendant pleaded guilty in the Emerald Magistrates Court to two offences in contravention of sections 23(1) and 24 (1) of the Act.

The company was fined $188,000 and ordered to pay $2,519 in legal costs.

The Court also ordered that pursuant to section 27 of the Act, the defendant pay $250,000 towards the cost of repairing or restoring the Aboriginal cultural heritage at the site. No conviction was recorded.

In sentencing, the Magistrate accepted that the company did not intentionally cause harm and did co-operate with parts of the investigation, however stated:

  • the conduct was as a result of gross negligence on the part of the company especially given it was on notice that Aboriginal cultural heritage had been identified at the site;
  • no restoration work had commenced or been offered by the company;
  • the harm went beyond physical damage in the way of causing significant damage to the spiritual culture of the Karingbal People; 
  • not knowing the extent of the damage or destruction of the artefacts makes the offence more serious; and
  • deterrence, both generally and personally, was an important sentencing factor.

The outcome is a reminder of the importance in complying with the cultural heritage duty of care and the significant damage, both physical and cultural that can be caused.

Source: Queensland Department of Environment and Science




Kelly Crosthwaite and her partner Beth have taken turns being full-time stay-at-home parents as well as full-time employees. She writes about how they have supported each other as a two mum family and the important role her workplace has played, in this piece republished here thanks to Grace Papers and Womens Agenda

“We’re strongly committed to ensuring we’re benefiting from all that gender equality can deliver to our workplace, communities, and to the individuals whose lives we impact. We believe achieving diversity is about more than targets. So we’re taking a holistic approach, which includes challenging the biases in our systems and providing practical support for our people.”

— John Bradley, Secretary, Department Of Environment, Land, Water & Planning, Victoria

We are a two-Mum family. My partner Beth and I have two children, a nine year-old son and a six year-old daughter. We each gave birth to one of our children – our donor is a friend and our kids know him and his own children well.  Our kids have known, since they were very young, how they were created, and our donor is involved with our family but not as a parent. Why am I sharing this with you?

It is because we feel like it is normal to talk about our family situation, and we would like other people to feel normal talking about it too.  The more easily and naturally these things can be put out in the open, then the better off our kids will be in the future.

But we’re also very conscious that not every rainbow family likes to disclose the details of how their family is put together or who is in it.  Like the rest of the population – some people are inherently private and keep that stuff to themselves.

There isn’t any right or wrong approach.  But it is something to be mindful of for rainbow families – you need to respect people’s boundaries, and sensitively work them out as you go.

Beth and I have taken turns not only in giving birth, but also in being the full-time stay-at-home parent or full-time worker. We have both worked part-time for periods within the last nine years across two states and four government agencies (State and Federal).

All those workplaces have been incredibly flexible and supportive, and we have benefitted from the great conditions and policies that government agencies implement (or at least the ones we’ve worked in).

The policies and practices that have made the most difference to us are the same ones that make a difference to any family:

  1. Parental leave: we have clearly defined access to parental leave for mothers who give birth and for non-birth parents.
  2. Flexibility: we have the ability to work part-time and to work flexibly.
  3. Job sharing: we have the opportunity to job share – this one is an important ingredient to have in the mix so that the part-timer doesn’t get delegated ‘other’ more menial work in a workplace; and that the teams that you are a part of don’t have to ‘carry’ a position.

As with all HR policies and procedures, it is the practice of them that really makes the biggest impact and the intangibles that can make or break your experience.

For me, being in a workplace, like the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning that so pro-actively deals with gender equity, means that drawing boundaries around my time is seen as a good thing not a bad thing.

Then there is your boss. He or she is one of the most important factors in navigating parenthood and career and we have been fortunate to have caring and supportive supervisors who have made things easy.

The second biggest influence is the team that you’re in.  My teams have been fun, inclusive, caring and generous – and I have benefitted from that as much as anyone else in the team.  Those people that are extra thoughtful are so important in a situation where you might be made to feel on the outside. I know that my teammates in Adelaide celebrated the birth of our son with me just as much as if I had given birth – that meant the world to me.  And taught me lessons about how to do the same for others.




Essential Tips for the Environmentally Conscious Landscaping Enthusiast


Written by Ginger Reid; Photo by Andrea Reiman on Unsplash

While creating the most beautiful landscape you can is important to you, it doesn't trump your desire to be a friend of the environment. Mother Earth gives us a bounty of beautiful plants, flowers, fruits, vegetables, and herbs, and it's only fair that we pay her back by being as eco-conscious in our gardening practices as we can possibly be. Here's how you can adorn your home with beauty while protecting the gift of our natural ecosystems.

First and foremost, conserve water

While many think of water as a free, infinite resource, the truth is that water is one of our most precious commodities. You can't waste water and be an eco-conscious landscaper. One way to conserve water is to collect rainwater and use it to water your plants. Another way to is focus on quality soil. Both mulching and adding organic soil compounds to your existing soil helps it to retain water, which means you have to water it less frequently. Check here for more tips.

This is all especially important if your area is experiencing a drought. Part of your strategy for conserving water in drought-prone areas should involve the technique of xeriscaping, or filling your gardens with plants that require less moisture to survive. When you replace water-hungry plants with those that are less greedy, you can conserve water without really trying.

Forgo the pesticides

Nobody likes it when pests eat their plants, so it's understandable that you would want to prevent that. While chemical pesticides do work well in that regard, they are toxic to animals, pollute the water and soil, and can have adverse effects on any foodstuffs harvested from your garden. Fortunately, there are natural, eco-friendly concoctions that will get the job done. These include citrus oil, cayenne pepper mixtures, onion and garlic spray, and more.

Beyond that, you should invite birds, ladybugs, and spiders into your garden. These creatures eat other insects like aphids, which are true pests to any vegetation. There are also plants that specialize in repelling harmful critters, including basil, lavender, and lemon thyme.

Get into composting

Composting is dirty work, so you’ll want to invest in a good pair of gloves. But the benefits of home composting are far-reaching. Not only will you reduce your own landscaping waste by turning it into nutrients (the ultimate recycling effort), but you’ll reduce your eco-footprint by limiting the amount of new materials you have to purchase. You’ll want to research strategies and ratios of green (plant and veggie scraps, egg shells, grass clippings) and brown (dead leaves, cardboard, newspaper, twigs, branches) composting materials and learn how to properly layer them. But in the end, it’s a simple process.

Reduce your gas-powered tool usage

In the hierarchy of eco-friendly ways to trim and cut your home’s greenery, gas-powered devices like lawn mowers and weed-eaters reside at the bottom. Battery-powered devices are better, but not eco-perfect. Rotary (muscle-powered) devices are your smartest bet.

If you have a huge lawn with a lot of grass, a rotary mower is likely impractical. You then have two options: give in to the gas or simply reduce the amount of grass you have to mow to make it practical. The latter can be done through smart landscaping (more plants, bushes, and shrubs, less grass) and by creating elegant stone or brick pathways and patios.

When you make a decision to garden in an eco-friendly manner, you’re not just doing your part to help maintain the integrity of your local ecosystem, you’re making a small but still meaningful statement about global growing culture. Beyond that, it’s okay to think a little selfishly. Being eco-conscious and growing plants in a natural, non-wasteful way will actually improve the health of your own landscaping!