New Year skies explode in colour as Australia rings in 2017

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Fireworks explode over the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge during an early evening display. (Reuters: Jason Reed)
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Crowds build in Perth ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations. (ABC News: Rebecca Trigger)

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Hundreds camped out overnight in Sydney ahead of New Year’s Eve fireworks. (ABC News: Jade Macmillan)
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Spectacular New Year’s fireworks light up Sydney Harbour. (ABC News: Brant Cumming)

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Charlotte Kent from Huddersfield in England before watching the New Year’s Eve fireworks in Sydney.
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The 9.00pm New Year’s Eve Fireworks on Sydney Harbour at Mrs Macquarie’s Point in Sydney. (AAP: Mick Tsikas)
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People celebrate New Year’s Eve at Glenelg Beach in South Australia.

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Sydney Harbour awash in blue on New Year’s Eve.
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Fireworks explode over the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge as Australia ushers in the New Year.

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People watch the warm-up fireworks in Hobart, Tasmania.
Millions of people across Australia have partied into the New Year, after farewelling 2016 beneath night skies set ablaze with colour by stunning fireworks displays.More than 1 million people flocked to the shores of Sydney’s harbour foreshore to celebrate the first moments of 2017 and watch the city’s famed fireworks displays, which paid tribute to some of the musical legends who died in 2016.The early event, an eight-minute pyrotechnic display filled with flaming starbursts and firecrackers, saw purple fireworks rain down from the Sydney Harbour Bridge to honour the late artist Prince. Video: Watch Sydney's 9:00pm fireworks display (Photo by Reuters: Jason Reed)

(ABC News)
At midnight crowds were thrilled by a 12-minute display that lit up the iconic bridge and Opera House, and included Saturn, moon and star-shaped fireworks in what organisers said was a nod to David Bowie’s classic Space Oddity. External Link:

Sydney's midnight fireworks
The two displays comprised an estimated seven tonnes of fireworks, including 12,000 shells, 25,000 shooting comets and 100,000 individual pyrotechnic effects — the biggest show the city has ever seen.”The fireworks were absolutely beautiful today and tonight is just a good atmosphere and it has just blown my mind away,” said Mitchell McCallum, 10.In addition to the crowd lining the foreshore, around 2,000 boats filled the harbour to get a water view of the spectacular. External Link:

Sydney Harbour lit up by fireworks
Further south an estimated 500,000 people descended on Melbourne CBD landmarks including Kings Domain, Flagstaff Gardens, Docklands and Treasury Gardens. External Link:

Fireworks over Melbourne
Large crowds gathered at key vantage points across the city to get the best view of the skyline, and there were screams of enjoyment as fireworks were let off from the tops of 22 buildings.An estimated 13.5 tonnes of fireworks went off, covering an area of eight square kilometres — a record for the city.Extra police were deployed in the city, after an alleged terrorism plot targeting Melbourne landmarks on Christmas Day was foiled.
New Year celebrations from around the world

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People watch the New Year’s Eve fireworks in Brisbane.

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Dancers perform a Welcome to Country ceremony ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations in Sydney. (ABC )

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Chilean tourist Paula Aedo wears novelty headwear to usher in 2017 in Sydney.

By Monique Ross and staff

Updated

January 01, 2017 01:25:31

Video: Sydney ushers in 2017 with stunning fireworks (Photo by ABC's Brant Cumming)

(ABC News)

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People crowd along Sydney Harbour in preparation for the fireworks.

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People dance at a New Year’s Eve party in Glenelg, South Australia.

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A couple out early by the Brisbane River in South Bank – more than 12 hours ahead of New Year’s Eve midnight fireworks.

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The Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House lit up by fireworks as Australia welcomed in 2017. (ABC News: Brant Cumming)

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Fireworks explode around the   Sydney   Opera House and Harbour Bridge.

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Fireworks light Sydney Harbour up in pink on New Year’s Eve. (ABC News: Brant Cumming)

Video: Watch a timelapse of Brisbane's early New Year's Eve fireworks (Photo by ABC's Andrew Kos)

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In Adelaide, tens of thousands of people flooded Elder Park, while masses of people also took to the coast at Semaphore, Glenelg and Brighton.Street performers, face painters, live music and food stalls entertained the crowds at Glenelg, 20 minutes from the city’s CBD.Tens of thousands more celebrated the end of 2016 at the Adelaide Oval with the Big Bash League clash between the Adelaide Strikers and the Sydney Sixes. Video: Adelaide's New Year's fireworks (Photo by ABC's Shuba Krishnan)

(ABC News)
Canberra revellers enjoyed a dance party at Garema Place, while Hobart welcomed the New Year with a performance by Australian artist Kate Ceberano.People in Hobart also packed into local food and wine festival the Taste of Tasmania. Photo:
Charlotte Kent from Huddersfield in England before watching the New Year’s Eve fireworks in Sydney. Australia celebrates New Year's Eve Revellers in Brisbane turned out early to stake their claim along the river in South Bank, and were rewarded with two sets of stunning fireworks. Photo:
Crowds build in Perth ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations. Photo:
People watch the warm-up fireworks in Hobart, Tasmania. While a single rotation equates to one day, some days end up being a tiny fraction longer or shorter than others. If the difference grows too large, an extra second is added to bring everything back into harmony. (ABC News: Pablo Vinales )
In the Top End, around 5,000 people packed Darwin’s waterfront area to ring in the New Year with free entertainment and fireworks shows at 9:00pm and midnight.In the nation’s west, thousands headed to Northbridge in Perth for the city’s annual free New Year’s Eve celebrations. (ABC News: Rebecca Trigger)

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Rebecca Trigger tweets: So if you're wondering where the #Perth party is at right now, it's totally here #shakeitoff
Extra police were out in force in the major cities, and officials had urged urging revellers to stay safe and drink responsibly.Pet owners were also urged to make sure their animal has a safe space inside the house when fireworks kicked off.The RSPCA said there are more lost animals on January 1 than any other time of year, because pets get scared of the noise and try to run to safety.At midnight, an extra second was added to clocks by the world’s timekeepers, a move designed to synchronise our time with the Earth’s rotation. (Reuters: Jason Reed)

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Crowds begin to gather in Northbridge, Perth, for family friendly entertainment including movies, music and street performers.
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Children at Northbridge in Perth were not left out of New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Crowds build as revellers gear up for New Year’s Eve celebrations

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December 31, 2016 18:01:43

Video: Revellers run down the hill to Mrs Macquarie's Chair to secure best vantage spot

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What’s happening in your state?Popular Sydney vantage points at capacityTight security planned for MelbourneYour guide to ringing in 2017 in BrisbanePerth punters opting for cheaper eventsCanberra prepares to party for NYE
Extra police will be out in force in major cities, and officials are urging revellers to stay safe and drink responsibly.Pet owners are being urged to make sure their animal has a safe space inside the house when fireworks begin.The RSPCA says there are more lost animals on January 1 than any other time of year, because pets get scared of the noise and try to run to safety.”We highly recommend, if nothing else, that if you’re going to go out… (Reuters: Jason Ree)
In the nation’s west, thousands are expected to head to Northbridge in Perth for the city’s annual free New Year’s Eve celebrations.While in the Top End, 5,000 people are expected to pack Darwin’s waterfront area to ring in the New Year with free entertainment and fireworks shows at 9:00pm and midnight. make sure your pets are home and inside, rather than outside,” spokeswoman Tammy Van Dange said.”Because you might come back after you’ve had a good night out, and you find that they’ve gone away because they’ve been scared by the fireworks.” (Instagram: Jaegan Brozak)
Revellers in Brisbane also turned out early to stake their claim along the river in South Bank, ahead of tonight’s fireworks shows. Photo:
Chilean tourist Paula Aedo wears novelty headwear to usher in 2017 in Sydney. In Adelaide, 50,000 people are expected to celebrate the end of 2016 at the Adelaide Oval with the Big Bash League clash between the Adelaide Strikers and the Sydney Sixes.Another 30,000 people will ring in the new year across the road at Elder Park and large crowds are expected along the coast at Semaphore, Glenelg and Brighton for family friendly entertainment and fireworks. External Link:

Twitter: Two eager fireworks-watchers stake their claim by the Brisbane River
In Melbourne a range of musicians will take to stages at Kings Domain, Docklands, Treasury Gardens and Flagstaff Gardens.At midnight, 13.5 tonnes of fireworks are expected to go off, covering an area of 8 square kilometres.Hobart is welcoming the new year with a performance by Australian artists Kate Ceberano, while Canberra is holding a dance party at Garema Place. Crowds are building ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations across Australia tonight, with fireworks and live music on the party agenda in most major cities.Millions of people are expected to turn out to ring in 2017 across the country, with more than 1.5 million people set to hit the shores of Sydney’s harbour foreshore.Hundreds of people camped out overnight to get the best spot, and several of the most popular viewing points have already reached capacity. Photo:
People crowd along Sydney Harbour in preparation for the fireworks.

Blacksmith forges new life after near-fatal motorcycle accident

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Back pain to window panes: How lead light helped heal a construction worker
Ten years ago Benjamin Young was found in a field trampled by cows and close to death.He recalls fixing a water trough at a dairy farm that day before riding off to the next job on a motorcycle.The next thing he remembers is waking in a hospital two weeks later.”The whole left hand side of my body was paralysed.”The motorcycle accident and fall caused four brain haemorrhages that left Mr Young in a coma.His left shoulder had also been badly damaged.Learning to work againPrior to his accident Mr Young worked around 70 hours per week, sharing his time between blacksmithing and shifts at the dairy.Around the time of the accident he had been hired to sculpt an ornate staircase for a client.And it was his will to complete the job that spurred him through recovery.After just four weeks of rehabilitation, Mr Young returned to work. Photo:
Hand-stretched springs and an assortment of metal items are transformed into a dog. Photo:
Benjamin Young shapes a sword in his blacksmith workshop at Victor Harbor. (891 ABC Adelaide: Brett Williamson) (891 ABC Adelaide: Brett Williamson)
But it was a struggle.Mr Young had been left with an acquired brain injury that affected his short-term memory and his ability to control his body temperature.”I was frustrated because I didn’t want to be where I was — I wanted everything to be as it was.”Only half of my body was working, so that changed things a heck of a lot.”From being such an active person to being half paralysed — I just wanted to be fully functional again.”Forging a new careerThe need to slow down his life during rehabilitation gave Mr Young an opportunity to focus more on his blacksmithing.”It was very much a pivotal moment that helped me to re-evaluate what in life is really important.”It was not long before Mr Young’s body caught up with his creative mind and his bespoke iron creations began to gain traction.Some of his work includes giant wrought iron insects, a water bird made from metal parts and corrugated sheeting, furniture and garden sculptures. Photo:
Blacksmith Benjamin Young makes bespoke items and ornate swords. (891 ABC Adelaide: Brett Williamson)
“[Blacksmithing] helped my brain reconnect with my body.”It was good to have those challenges before me so that I could conquer those problems, deal with the issues and move forward.”Mr Young said he saw the parallels between the past 10 years with an acquired brain injury and his blacksmithing creations.”Quite often I need to change my perspective and look at if from a different angle to be able to be successful in the end result.”Mr Young’s Multifarious Customised Iron pieces are on display at the Signal Point Gallery in Goolwa until January 15.
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December 30, 2016 14:10:55

Video: A look inside Benjamin Young's blacksmith workshop

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A brave struggle with recurring tumours and annual surgeries

Charity to the fore as South Australians celebrate at Christmas

It’s about spreading more light to other people, though it’s also a time for personal reflection,” he said.Rare musical treat for some

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Emma Pask gets into the Gatsby theme for the Proms concerts, which supported a range of charities. (Supplied: Lutheran Church)
Many streets across Adelaide and towns across South Australia decorate houses with Christmas lights every December, with one of the biggest drawcards being the Lights of Lobethal celebration in the Adelaide Hills town.Thousands of people from the Adelaide plains drive up to the Hills town at night to see the spectacle, and the town also holds a street pageant and a living nativity display.Organiser Kevin Kleeman said one of the challenges each year was to find parents willing to let their newborn baby feature in the Christian re-enactment, but the town had never been without a newborn.”We have new babies every year, we’ve got it all planned,” he laughed.The first baby used back in the 1990s is still a Lobethal local, he said.”That person is about 24-25 now and he still lives in the town.”Candles for Hanukkah

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Hanukkah sees one more candle lit each night until eight are burning. (Facebook: Emma Pask)
Singer Emma Pask performed for the first time this year at Adelaide’s Christmas Proms concerts at Her Majesty’s Theatre, with the shows having a 1920s Great Gatsby theme.The concerts supported a range of charities including the Refugee Association, Foodbank, Common Ground and Catherine House.Ms Pask said she was pleased the audiences included some people who seldom, if ever, had seen a live music performance.”What the festival has done is that we gave 50 tickets to each of those charities,” she said.”So a lot of people that might not be fortunate enough to attend such an event, maybe never have attended an event like this, get the opportunity to come and check out some live music.” “We decorate the bikes with tinsel and window clings and put whatever we can on there and strap all the toys on,” Ms Hewick said.”It looks really good and seeing everyone in tinsel and Christmas gear just starts [the festive season], I think.”

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Locals recreate the nativity in live performances. (Wikimedia Commons)
For South Australia’s Jewish population, it is not Christmas but the Hanukkah festival which is special at this time of year.Rabbi Binyamin Tanny said Jews prayed, lit candles, gave gifts and celebrated by eating oily foods.”I’ve been trying to push for a healthier option,” he laughed.He said one candle per night was lit until eight were burning by the eighth night.”The candles, when we light them, are in the window to be seen by people outside. The festive season means many different things to South Australians, from relaxing with family to staging nativity performances or supporting charities to ensure all children get a toy at Christmas and families have food on the table.For keen motorcyclists Cheryl and Andy Hewick, beer and good food set the mood for a relaxing Christmas Day spent at Andy’s parents’ place.”The whole family gets together there and we just have good food, beer, just enjoy ourselves,” Ms Hewick said.The couple said riding their motorbikes as part of Adelaide’s Christmas toy run marked the start of the festive season for them each year.Thousands of riders dress colourfully for the annual charity event and the many toys donated are given to the St Vincent de Paul Society to pass on to children who might otherwise not get a Christmas gift.
(ABC News: Lauren Waldhuter) Posted

December 25, 2016 08:46:02

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Cheryl and Andy Hewick enjoy being part of the Christmas toy run in Adelaide.
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Man’s generous offer allows Adelaide mother to replace broken wheelchair

A good Samaritan has come to the help of an Adelaide mother whose electric wheelchair broke down a month ago.Alicia Dobson will now be able to hire a wheelchair while she waits for government agency Disability SA to replace her broken one.After Waled Elsayed heard Ms Dobson’s story on ABC News, he contacted the office of Disability Party MP Kelly Vincent, who had publicised the case.The man donated $1,200 so the Adelaide mother could hire an electric wheelchair.”We’re incredibly thankful, we don’t know what to do to thank him, I’m sure we’ll think of something,” Ms Dobson said. The woman’s wheelchair stopped working a month ago, so she was unable to leave the house unless her husband Aron was able to help her. Ms Dobson was on a waiting list for an appointment with a Disability SA occupational therapist about getting her broken chair replaced, and that seemed unlikely to happen before March.Ms Dobson said the generous offer from Mr Elsayed had come as a huge relief.”It’s not only a physical issue of getting around, it’s a financial issue because I had to rely on cabs — $60 each way — just to get to the shops,” she said.Ms Vincent said the woman’s plight was not unique, and she believed jobs could be created to properly maintain and fix wheelchairs for the disabled, to cut waiting times.”Given that we have people with some of these existing skills or very similar skills leaving Holden, why not take this opportunity in a state that is already struggling economically?” she said.
(ABC News: Nicola Gage) By Nicola Gage

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December 24, 2016 10:19:10

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Alicia Dobson and her husband Aron (L) were delighted with the generosity of Waled Elsayed (R).
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Christmas buses a hit as donations flow to chidren’s’ hospital

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Everyone ‘gets a big buzz pitching in to help’Many hours of work goes into each bus. The important thing is we get some donations for the kids at the children’s hospital.”There are six Christmas busses in the fleet.Each bus has its own Christmas theme. I love it,” he said. Catching a bus home in the heat of summer is rarely fun, but when an elaborately decorated Christmas themed bus turns up, it brings a smile to the face of even the most cynical Sydneysider.Every year for nearly the past decade, a small number of Sydney buses have been decorated with hundreds of meters of tinsel and let loose on their daily routes.Since it began in 2008, it has raised more than $80,000 for the Westmead Children’s Hospital.According to the man behind the Christmas bus decorations, it is all about bringing a bit of Christmas cheer to the city while raising money for sick children.”This year we’re targeting between $5,000 and $10,000 [for the Children’s hospital],” said Peter Rose, the manager at North Mede delivery centre for the company HillsBus.”It’s been a combination of donations from customers, from the drivers and from the company.”It goes to a good cause.”

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The Winter Wonderland Christmas bus (Supplied: HillsBus)
The yearly tradition of Christmas bus spottingSpotting Christmas busses ‘out in the wild’ as they travel their routes has become somewhat of a Sydney tradition, with people posting pictures on Twitter and Instagram. The frames are built specially for each, and then decorated with tinsel, baubles, stars and lights.”Each of these frames for this particular bus takes us about 120 hours to build. And they enjoy it, I think,” he said.Mr Rose said he had already started thinking ahead to next year, and was considering expanding it to include more buses.”There could be seven next year. Then there is the Party Bus, The Australian Bus, The North Pole Bus, The Santa Bus and The Winter Bus, which Mr Rose said he liked the most.”It’s all blue and white, with snow. To install, it takes us 12 hours,” he said.”My family helps [with the installation and decoration]. My son Ben does the electrics, and Bridget — my wife — does the windows. It’s brilliant. And they all get a big buzz out of it.”For the drivers, driving a Christmas bus guarantees smiles from the passengers.Harbik Oganisian has been driving buses for years, but said it was his first time driving a Christmas bus.”I like to drive the Christmas bus because the people like it when they come in. There is the Elf Bus, which has stickers dotted around on the windows. My daughter Angela and her boyfriend help.”A lot of the drivers come down and help too. I’ve just got to think of a theme,” he said.”Someone suggested a gingerbread man, but I’m not too sure about that.”

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Peter Edward Rose, the manager at North Mede delivery centre for the company HillsBus (Supplied: HillsBus) External Link:

christmas bus tweet
Mr Rose said it is great to see people’s excitement.”If people haven’t got on one of these before their immediate reactions is ‘wow!’ They’re gob-smacked,” he said.”It’s a good feeling for everyone. A smile for an hour [when passengers are travelling] to the city.
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December 23, 2016 11:44:02

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The Elf-themed Christmas bus, decorated with hundreds of meters of tinsel (ABC News: Will Ockenden)

Sydney doctor on track to revolutionise digital medicine

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He already has some experience in that space having co-developed an app for cancer patients that helps them record symptoms, better understand their diagnosis and connect them with medical literature and other people undergoing treatment.”It’s about automating or digitsing processes in medicine; how can we move away from paper into the 21st century in clinical medicine.”What I’m really interested in is the next step.”The question I’ll be looking at is how do we use the huge volumes of data in medicine more effectively so we understand you as an individual when you come into the clinic and personalise care as much as possible.” External Link:

WEF tweet from 2016
They will join heads of state, business leaders, academics and leaders of industry, arts and culture at the forum to discuss social issues facing the world; this year’s theme is “responsive and responsible leadership”.The only other young Australian chosen to attend is Abdullahi Alim, a tech entrepreneur in Perth who recently won a 2017 Queen’s Young Leader Award.It is only the second time young Australians have been chosen to attend the annual meeting.”It feels like a Willy Wonka golden ticket situation; it’s such a privilege to be going across,” Dr Seneviratne said.”The reason the WEF have invited these 50 young people is to try and get a genuine dialogue with the new generation.”They try and create real opportunities to have a voice and say what you think.”Finding tech solutions for medicineDr Seneviratne is passionate about finding ways technology can better intersect with medicine.He has an impressive resume — an undergraduate degree in physics and postgraduate medical degree — and will be heading to Stanford University on a scholarship next year to study clinical informatics.The course aims to train its students to be innovative and use technology, computer science and software to solve problems across the medical landscape. Australia’s young leaders Three inspiring entrepreneurs have won the 2017 Queen’s Young Leaders Award for their social and community work. Much of the medical world is steeped in old-fashioned processes — clinics still use fax machines while doctors use pagers and paper notes in hospitals.These are processes Martin Seneviratne hopes to help revolutionise.The 27-year-old is working as a junior doctor at Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, but has plans to develop a “hybrid career” working as a physician, software developer and tech entrepreneur.”I made a pitch around how I thought data analytics and machine learning within medicine could really impact how we deliver health care and make it accessible worldwide.”The pitch earned Dr Seneviratne selection as one of 50 young people from across the world to attend the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, in January.Each year, youth representatives are chosen from the global shapers community — an international network of city-based hubs led by people aged 20 to 30 who have been selected for their leadership potential, social impact initiatives and high achievements.
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December 22, 2016 14:33:15

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Dr Martin Seneviratne is passionate about developing technology that personalises medical care.

Meet the young Australian leaders making a difference

Boxing program delivers knockout blow against crime

I love having them around and they always want to hang with me and Eunice. And he’s coming out for the Clean Slate program. “When my brother walked in and saw me here too, I think he was proud.” It’s like a little family.”The boys motivate us as well, they keep us going. “We’re on call 24/7, it’s not a five-day-a-week thing, it’s 24 hours.”We’re all about embracing, accepting and encouraging people to make sure they stay on the right track.”Lavina PhillipsMentor

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Lavina Phillips is among the first female mentors in the program. I get a buzz and get so proud when I see a kid accomplishing their dreams. They push us to our full limit. Since Eunice and Lavina have come it’s been really good to have girl mentors so we can look up to someone, they can show us the right way to go.” Grace NiuqilaProgram participant, 15yo

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Grace Niuqila described the program participants as being like family. It’s 5am in Redfern and Lavina Phillips is behind the wheel of a bus, the radio blasting.In the back seat, Eunice Grimes hustles bleary-eyed teenagers as seatbelt clips snap into place.Discipline and routine — it is the mantra of the Clean Slate Without Prejudice program, which began five years ago and is credited with a more than 80 per cent drop in the inner-Sydney suburb’s crime rate.When it began, the program was dedicated to helping a group of between 10 and 15 boys that caused trouble in Redfern.The young men were brought under the wing of the Tribal Warrior Association — a not-for-profit Aboriginal cultural organisation — in partnership with police.Now, the program has expanded its reach and employed its first female mentors.Grimes and Phillips are Indigenous rugby stars. There’s a lot of energy after boxing and it’s just fun meeting new people. (ABC News: Natasha Robinson)
“Mentoring has changed my life and my whole family structure. (ABC News: Natasha Robinson)
“I keep coming back because it’s just a fun community to be around. It’s really good that the boys do that, otherwise we’d just slack off.”I think the first day my brother walked in, that was the best day. We all motivate each other. I started back this year but before that I did it for two years straight.”It’s motivating, it’s fun, it’s something to get up for to in the morning. Everyone helps each other out. Eunice GrimesMentor

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Clean Slate Without Prejudice mentor Eunice Grimes gets a “buzz” out of the program. I was coming to the program because my eldest boy comes here. I took two terms off. I don’t have a little sister so they’re like my little sisters.”My hope for these girls is that they’re able to just find themselves and realise what they want just like anybody else and just strive for it, don’t let anyone hold you back.” Lena RileyProgram participant, 16 years old

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Lena Riley has been getting plenty out of the boxing program. Just from that, they offered me a job. “It’s good now that we’ve got the female mentors, because before the girls didn’t really have any mentors here. I’ve recently become a foster carer for three kids. (ABC News: Natasha Robinson)
“I have a background in teaching. He’s in jail at the moment. They play together for the Redfern All Blacks and have previously both been selected for the NRL’s Indigenous All-Stars team. Under the pair’s guidance, more and more girls are turning up at the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence three times a week to pull on the boxing gloves and punch out drills. We hadn’t been out all together as family with my mum and my other brother. (ABC News: Natasha Robinson)
“Before I started coming to boxing, it was just sleep-ins every day. I took it with both hands. “Mentoring is similar to teaching. The mentees feel like my own children sometimes, I love it.”It’s sort of like big sister, little sister. I hadn’t seen him out in a long time in the community.
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December 22, 2016 13:45:46

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Clean Slate Without Prejudice mentor Lavina Phillips, left, and participant Grace Niuqila go toe-to-toe. (ABC News: Natasha Robinson)

Antidote to 2016: The best feel-good stories

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The best photos of the year
(ABC News)
Dee Goldberg’s flamboyant garments may not have been paraded on the runway yet, but her unique passion for fashion has long been turning heads. (ABC News)
Taylor Anderton and Michael Cox, who were both born with Down syndrome, have known each other for six years and been a serious couple since last year.When Michael partnered Taylor at the 16th Gold Coast Debutante Ball for Disability, they had already decided they would spend the rest of their lives together — and our video of their love story has had more than 13 million views on social media.Indigenous medical grad to head home

Video: Vinka Barunga is one of six Aboriginal medical graduates in her year. to have a real shower”. (ABC News)
Vinka Barunga was one of six Aboriginal medical students to graduate from the University of Western Australia this year — and now she hopes to return to her home in a remote part of the state to become the town’s first Indigenous doctor.”I hope that one day it gets to a point where it’s not a significant thing that an Aboriginal person is studying medicine,” said Ms Barunga, who grew up on the outskirts of the Kimberley town of Derby.A fresh take on things

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Urban Food Street began in 2009 in the Sunshine Coast suburb of Buderim. (ABC Sunshine Coast: Harriet Tatham)
Disgruntled over the price of a lime, two Queensland locals started Australia’s first integrated, edible streetscape in a bid to live a simple organic lifestyle of community and fresh food.And what began with one citrus-lined street is now an 11-street suburban enclave, paved with seasonal fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, that encourages growing, sourcing and eating fresh food in the public realm.Australia’s most eclectic fashionista

Video: Is this Australia's most eclectic fashionista? The 61-year-old, who was born into a conservative family in South Africa, only found her individual style when she was in her 40s after working in finance for 14 years.When it comes to clothes, her motto is “more is more”.Young teddy bear maker wins hearts

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Campbell Remess has been making teddy bears nearly every day for three years. (Supplied: Nic Marchesi)
The Brisbane duo famous for launching the world’s first free mobile laundry for the homeless launched their second charitable venture in June — a shower van.The van, built from scratch by Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett of Orange Sky — means homeless people will have access to a free hot shower every day.The shower van was trialled in Brisbane earlier this year and, with the help of the Victoria-based Shine On Foundation, has since permanently set up in Melbourne.Dave ‘Bushie’ Brum, who has lived on the streets for more than 20 years, said it was “bloody awesome … Ms Galloway Gallego has performed at more than 400 concerts, interpreting a stunning array of artists over the years including Kendrick Lamar, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper and The Black Keys.Love story captures hearts around globe

Video: Taylor Anderton and Michael Cox were two of the 19 youth at the debutant ball for youth with a disability. Amber Galloway Gallego is not your everyday American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter — she specialises in the interpretation of music, in real time and in front of thousands of people. (ABC News: Elise Fantin)
A bedroom that resembles a sewing room may not be a dream set-up for most pre-teen boys, but Campbell Remess is not like most 12-year-olds.The boy from Hobart makes teddy bears for sick children, and he captured the hearts of millions around the world after a video about his good deeds went viral.’Bloody awesome’ mobile shower van for homeless

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Dave “Bushie” Brum said the shower van was “bloody awesome”.

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December 22, 2016 05:53:52
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Amber Galloway Gallego interprets Hilltop Hoods in American Sign Language
(Supplied: Louise Haynes)
Louise the infant koala — a squeaking, wet, grey bundle of fur found on the ground after the east coast storms — became a symbol of hope after wild weather hit Australia’s east coast in June.The storm cell brought tragedy and tears to many who lost loved ones, livelihoods, and homes, but when the iconic little Australia was rescued — and named after rescuer Louise Haynes — her fate was soon being followed by thousands of fans on social media.Making music for those who can’t hear So here’s our pick of the year’s most heartening stories — get ready to feel warm and fuzzy.Baby koala Louise rescued after wild storms

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Louise tried climbing back up to her mother after being knocked out of a tree. “I don’t watch the news, because it’s too depressing.” Sound familiar?Yes, 2016 was a pretty bad year all around, but you might just need a dose of good news in time for the festive season.

Police officer delivers 6yo boy’s lost Christmas present

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This six-year-old boy was all smiles after police reunited him with a Christmas present believed to be lost. (Supplied: Roebourne Police )
Santa preparing for Christmas at Finland home
By Edwina Seselja

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December 21, 2016 22:16:07
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“Without that, this kid wouldn’t have gotten his present.” A police officer in Western Australia has used his investigative skills to play Santa’s helper and find the intended recipient of a lost Christmas present found on the side of the road.A wrapped Christmas parcel was handed into Roebourne Police Station on Tuesday and Senior Constable Jeremy Dickenson set about solving the case.”A nice gentlemen handed in a present which he found on the highway,” Senior Constable Dickenson said.”It was all wrapped up and had a first name on it and then it just had ‘from uncle’, so we didn’t have a great deal to go on.”But Senior Constable Dickenson remembered a young boy with the same name had received a police road safety award earlier in the year and the investigation took off from there.”I hunted through a heap of the old archive records and found this kid’s surname and through a bit of searching around got an address,” he said.The officer made sure the gift was not lost in transit for a second time, personally delivering it to the six-year-old boy.”He was just absolutely rapt,” he said.”I think he knew, his uncle must have said something to him, he knew he had a present missing.”So as soon as we turned up with his big present he was all grins, he was just very happy.”Santa needs a help, there are a lot of presents out there.”Senior Constable Dickenson thanked the man, known only as “Mr Miles from KTA”, for handing the gift in to police.”He obviously went to the effort of stopping his car, picking it up off the road and bringing it into the police station,” he said.
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Welcome rain for WA’s Kimberley region brings out frogs

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(Supplied: Tracey Gibbs) and frogs

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Tara de Landgrafft

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December 21, 2016 19:50:50

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Doongan Station received more than 170 mm of rain on Wednesday. Email

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It wasn’t the rain that kept us awake last night — it was all the frogs,” she said.”They went ballistic and we had to go out and pick up all the frog eggs this morning off the concrete pad; they just went nuts.”Ms Gibbs said the weather had abated in recent hours and she was unsure what the rest of the season would bring.”It’s now just a light drizzle, which is pleasant and the temperature is pleasant. More than 200mm of rain has fallen in parts of Western Australia’s Kimberley region in the past 24 hours.The wet weather has brought relief for pastoralists who have been needing a decent drop of rain after several drier-than-usual months.Tracey Gibbs, who with her husband John is a caretaker at Doongan Station near Kununurra, said she tipped 172mm out of the rain gauge on Wednesday morning.”It started off very hot and pleasant and quiet and then we just got massive rains last night,” she said.”It’s been amazing; where we were standing in places yesterday at creeks just checking water levels, there’s just no way we can get near them now, there’s just water everywhere.”It means that we are definitely stuck now, we won’t be going anywhere.”We can get maybe 5km up the road and 10km down the road, that will be our area we can get to from now on.”It’s actually really lovely, because its been so dry before this that trees were losing their leaves, stressing out and now its just almost like the country is breathing again.”Ms Gibbs said given the amount of rain received this week and the cyclone season heating up, she expected to be station-bound for some time.”If this keeps up, we probably won’t get out again until May,” she said.”We’ve got the airstrip here though; we get the mail delivered once a week, so it’s always nice to look forward to that.” Early Christmas present

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Frogs at Doongan station homestead enjoying the December downpour (Supplied: Tracey Gibbs)
Ms Gibbs said with surrounding stations also receiving good rainfalls it made for a happy pastoral community in time for the festive season.”I reckon it is [a good Christmas present] just for the fact that everything seems to be okay now,” she said.”Before, with the trees and the animals and the cattle, they were all doing it hard and now it’s green pastures on their way and lots of water for everybody and the cycle begins again.”She said while the cattle were all happily frolicking far from the homestead, the rain had brought out the wildlife.”There’s just frogs for Africa. It’s not so humid or sticky anymore, its very enjoyable,” she said.”If this keeps up, it looks like it’s going to be a good wet [season] but once again, anything is possible.”This could be it, this could be our big rain and that’s it; you just never know what it’s going to throw at you in the Kimberley.”

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Barney Miller overcomes horrific injury to win silver in surfing for Australia

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Liz Keen

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December 21, 2016 14:27:39

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Barney Miller came second in the ISA World Adaptive Championships. (Supplied: Barney Miller)
His neck was broken and he is now a C6, complete quadriplegic.He was a competitive young surfer who lived to get in the water, and he said he thought this is part of what saved his life in the days after the crash.”I was pretty much dead. Now, not only can he breathe, he can swim and surf.Mr Miller, who lives on the mid north coast of NSW, was one of five Australians to compete in the ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championships earlier this month, and he came second in the assist division.In 1999, Mr Miller was a passenger in a car that slammed into a tree. After a horrific car accident 18 years ago, Barney Miller was told he would never be able to breathe unassisted again. It was lucky I was fit or I would have died for sure.”

Video: "You and Me" is the film about Barney and his partner Kate and it is available online

(ABC News)
Keeping hopeMr Miller found that the doctors focussed on telling him what they thought he would never do again, rather than what he could work towards.”I think all a person needs is a slim chance that ‘I can recover from this.’ “That’s what the body needs, and that’s the beginning.”The doctors said that he would never be able to breathe unassisted again, and that he would never use his right arm.He said his right arm had become his strongest, and he could not only breathe, he could swim.He said a history of being a competitor helped him push himself to recover.I’m not saying there weren’t dark days, it’s learning to pull yourself out of those dark days and focus on what’s important.”Getting back in the oceanIt took six years of intensive rehabilitation for him to get back in the ocean, and now he wonders why it took him so long because he finds the ocean healing.”Surfing has helped me because there’s no wheelchair, it’s stretching all my muscles in the front,” he said.”If you get a big wipe-out you get thrown around and it just loosens every joint in your body.”He said working to keep getting stronger and improving his movement, was a fulltime job.”I’m slowly chipping away at the big picture of walking, and standing up surfing,” he said.He has taken some assisted steps now with his trainer, and can hold his own weight. (Supplied: Barney Miller)
Surfing for AustraliaThe surfing championship was Mr Miller’s first competition since the accident, but he said as soon as he got in the water, the experience of competing came straight back to him.Not only did Mr Miller gain a silver, the Australian team of five surfers came fourth in the world overall.”I went in there to see what I can achieve,” he said. Photo:
Barney came second, and Australia came forth in the world at the championships. “It’s just lit a fire under me to strive to be at the top.”He said he and his partner Kate planned to spend time travelling and sharing their story in a hope to inspire people.”We want to help people have hope and show them what’s possible if you never give up.”

‘Dad brightened up’: Virtual reality game helps people with dementia

A virtual reality game is helping people with dementia and leading to a drastic reduction in medication needed for some patients.The “Virtual Forest” allows users to sit in front of a screen and use simple hand movements to cause changes in the landscape shown in the game.It does not require headsets or hand controls and the scenery includes elements such as butterflies fluttering through flowers, a rowboat floating around a pond or a family of ducks splashing about in the water.Dr Tanya Petrovich, a tech developer with Alzheimer’s Australia, said early findings showed the virtual reality experience made significant changes to the quality of life of many users. (Supplied: Alzheimer’s Australia)
“It had to be intuitive as well, because for a person living with dementia, you can’t give them a whole set of, ‘these are the rules of the game’,” she said.”It had to be something that was really intuitive and easy to understand so the person can, without any instruction, understand how to play the game.”The park-like setting that we’ve got, with lots of trees and flowers and people engaging through actions of their hands — we know that those are the elements that would help to create this very calm interaction for people.”Dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australia and more than 350,000 people currently live with the condition.There is no cure and it is estimated the number of patients will increase to about 900,000 in Australia by 2050.The plan is to make the Virtual Forest game available nationwide. I noticed that he perked up.”Dr Petrovich said research around dementia had suggested the game idea would be beneficial and early trials had allowed developers to fine-tune the mechanics. Photo:
A scene from Virtual Forest. External Link:

'Virtual Forest' reacts to the user's hand movements
“[Trials] found a 64 per cent reduction in the use of antipsychotics, so this is a fabulous thing,” she told ABC News Breakfast.”If we can actually reduce the amount of medications that people live on, they have a much better quality of life.”The project began as a crowdfunded idea in 2014 and attracted $24,000 in pledges before being picked up by technology groups.It uses the Kinect technology usually found in children’s video games on the Xbox One console.Dora Spratling’s father is one of the early users and she said it had made a noticeable difference to his behaviour.”My father’s normal demeanour on a daily basis would be one of confusion [and] misunderstanding of why he’s actually doing what he’s doing,” she said.”When he was actually conducting the forest he actually brightened up a little bit.

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December 21, 2016 11:22:25

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Uni reverses decision to eject 102yo scientist

(ABC News: Charlotte Hamlyn) By

Charlotte Hamlyn

Updated

December 20, 2016 20:24:12

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Dr Goodall says he is grateful the university has been able to accommodate him.
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But I still think the emphasis on safety was unnecessary.”Dr Goodall’s plight gained international attention, sparking debate about the value of older people in the workforce.”I think people were rather sympathetic to me as a centenarian who wanted to continue life in society,” Dr Goodall said.”I prefer to be on campus because there are other people around and people who potentially are friends.”Dr Goodall has accepted an offer from the university to serve as an unpaid honorary research associate for another three years. Photo:
Dr Goodall has studied ecology for more than 70 years. A 102-year-old scientist will remain on campus at a Perth university after the institution reversed a decision to kick him out of his office.Doctor David Goodall is Australia’s oldest working scientist, having studied ecology for more than 70 years.He now serves in an unpaid position at Edith Cowan University as an honorary research associate.He has been travelling to his office at the university’s Joondalup campus at least four days a week, catching a train and two buses during his 90-minute commute.But in August ECU advised him that from next year he would have to work from home because he presented a health and safety risk.It has now reversed that decision, having found more suitable accommodation at its Mt Lawley campus.ECU vice-chancellor Steve Chapman said the new arrangement involved compromise on both sides.”It is better in many ways,” Mr Chapman said.”First of all it’s closer to his residence and it’s easier for him to commute.”Secondly, there’s an office very close that’s manned all the time so we will be able to keep an eye on him that he’s okay.”Thirdly, he’s agreed to inform us when he comes in so that if he didn’t arrive we could check what had happened. “All round I think it’s a better solution for him and a better solution for the university.”Satisfactory solution: David GoodallDr Goodall said while he was disappointed to be leaving his original office, he was grateful the university had been able to accommodate him.”Given that I had to move, this is satisfactory,” he said. (ABC News: Charlotte Hamlyn)
“I hope to continue with some useful work in my field in so far as my eyesight permits.
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Behind the scenes with Queensland Museum’s reptile man

(612 ABC Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
“We went out one Saturday morning in Moreton Bay and started tagging turtles. Photo:
Small extinct frogs tagged and kept in formaldehyde. (612 ABC Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
As curator of reptiles and amphibians at the Queensland Museum, when Mr Couper is not on the road he is in the museum’s collections room surrounded by jars of frogs, snakes and turtles in formaldehyde.After meeting a taxidermist at the Dominion Museum in Wellington as a child, Mr Couper said he knew he wanted to pursue a career in ecology. I will do it again.”Discovering leaf-tailed geckosMr Couper said his career highlight to date had been working alongside Dr Conrad Hoskin in discovering different types of leaf-tailed geckos.”In the early 1990s I was doing work up around Mackay and we were moving between rainforest mountain sites and we noticed that each rainforested mountain had its own species,” he said. Photo:
Turtle shells packed in the collections room at the Queensland Museum. (612 ABC Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
“When I came over to Australia there was a museum in the zoology department in Armidale so I gravitated to it and learnt more about taxidermy.”I then held roles in the prep room until a vacancy came up in the reptile section.”For the love of turtlesMr Couper is known by many in Queensland for his work with turtles.He said he was keen to learn more about the much-loved reptile after meeting internationally renowned turtle biologist Dr Colin Limpus. It was hard work though and we had to leap on turtles to tag them,” he said.”In the early 1990s there were many turtles dying so I was busy retrieving stranded turtles and doing various nesting studies.”Once he [Dr Limpus] sent me to Crab Island at the tip of Cape York Peninsula. Photo:
Small crocodile bones are numbered and tagged as part of the collection at the Queensland Museum. (Dr Conrad Hoskin, James Cook University)
“When I started there there was four described species and now we have about 17.”In 2017 Mr Couper said he planned to carry out more skeletal work and looking further into rainforest skinks. (612 ABC Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe) (612 ABC Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
Recently, Mr Couper helped more than 50 turtle eggs hatch on cue in front of audiences in Brisbane for the World Science Festival.”That was so popular with the public, it was a lot of hard work to get the conditions right … (612 ABC Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
“I also have a komodo dragon skeleton that I would like to have on display.”I’ve been so lucky career-wise as it’s a very interesting job and if you like collections you’re surrounded by the most amazing objects.”There are some amazing people here and in the broader network of researchers … Meet the Queenslander who has dedicated his life to studying and cataloguing repulsive reptiles and amazing amphibians throughout Australia.For more than 30 years, Patrick Couper has travelled the country researching and collecting some of our most diverse fauna. Photo:
The collections room includes animals that Patrick Couper has collected around the country. Photo:
The Cape Melville leaf-tailed gecko was listed in the International Institute for Species Exploration top 10 discoveries of 2013. I spent three weeks there tagging flat-back turtles and we were the only ones there.”

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A young Loggerhead turtle swimming as part of the World Science Festival. I’ve met some impressive people.”

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Patrick Couper working in his office at the Queensland Museum. “As a child I did try stuffing birds so I went on and studied biology and zoology at university,” he said.
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Jessica Hinchliffe

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December 20, 2016 14:23:12

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Patrick Couper has been part of the Queensland Museum team since 1984. (612 ABC Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
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