15. Professor Perry Bartlett: Team Brisbane

Professor Perry Bartlett. Photo: Richard BriggsProfessor Perry Bartlett has dedicated his working life to studying the human brain.
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In the 1990s, he co-led a scientific team that discovered that stem cells in the brain could produce new neurons. It was a finding that gave hope that there may one day be a cure for diseases like dementia.

He moved from Melbourne to Brisbane 12 years ago to establish the Queensland Brain Institute, which has grown from a team of 10 to about 450 and has received more than $150 million in funding over a decade.

The institute, based at the University of Queensland in St Lucia, now has 35 lab teams trying to understand how the brain works.

“In terms of an institute who really focuses on fundamental discoveries and how brain circuitry and learning and memory works, we’re probably one of the largest institutes in the world,” he said.

He said cooperation was vital to their success.

“It’s very important to let the best and the brightest people to go at it, somewhat individually, but what one needs is the ability then to take those discoveries and investigate very rapidly how important they are and how they apply to diseases or to learning across the board,” he said.

“That requires teams of people to do it.”

About 332,000 Australians currently have dementia, but without a cure that number is expected to triple by 2050.

Professor Bartlett said in order to prevent this, scientists needed to better understand the brain before trying to repair it.

“It is a long game, it’s a tough game,” he said.

Given institutes like QBI receive a bulk of their funding from grants, Professor Bartlett says there was an increasing trend of governments and research councils placing higher expectations on short-term results.

“Short-term funding leads to people doing non-risk research, which usually doesn’t have any significant output in terms of discoveries and innovation,” he said.

“The US, Korea, China and Japan all understand that unless governments back that discovery phase then no-one else will. If you don’t support that as a government then you don’t have anything that industry can work on downstream.”

“We may well lose our ability to be at the forefront of discoveries, and this country has done very well especially in the biomedical sciences.”

That said, Professor Bartlett said neurological research had reached an exciting phase.

Researchers at QBI can now analyse individual brain cells in mice, and are not far behind with humans.

“We’re getting to the stage now where we can nearly do everything in the human that we can do in animals. The next 10 years is going to be very much focused on to use this technology to look at human function, rather than animals functions,” he said.

Professor Bartlett still enjoys his time in the lab and heads up a team that last year analysed how the loss of neurons is linked to the loss of cognitive function. The team also researched treatment of spinal cord injury.

Now 67, Professor Bartlett said he would remain director of QBI for at least another year, after which he planned to spend more time in the lab.

Visit the Team Brisbane website

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Victory eyeing Strikers winger

IT STARTED with a spot on the bench for Tasmania against the Melbourne Victory youth team late last month.
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HOT PROPERTY: Michael Holden lines up for Melbourne Victory’s youth team during a trial match.

Thirty-three minutes, one goal, and a near-miss later, Michael Holden suddenly became hot property among some of Australia’s biggest A-League clubs.

The 17-year-old now finds himself in Melbourne for a week-long trial with the Victory youth team, after initial interest from Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers.

It’s been a whirlwind few days for the Devonport Strikers winger, who is still coming to terms with the fact he may get signed by the team he supports.

‘‘I got a call-up from the Victory last Thursday and they organised me to come over,’’ Holden told The Advocate yesterday.

‘‘Sydney and Western Sydney showed some interest, but Melbourne just got it all done for me and were first in.

‘‘A couple of years ago Kevin Muscat [Victory coach] came down to Devonport for a clinic and I’ve followed him and Melbourne Victory ever since.’’

Holden, who travelled over with his dad Stewart, had little time to settle in to his new environment, lining up for the Victory in a trial match against Box Hill the day after he arrived.

He will train with the squad three times this week, before a second trial match on Saturday night.

‘‘It’s been good so far, I’ve been enjoying it,’’ Holden said.

‘‘I didn’t think I went too bad in the first match — it was the first time I had met them [my teammates].

‘‘They play the same formation as we do at Devonport, but it is a bit more technical than what I am used to.’’

Upon his return home next week, Holden won’t have long to find out if he has made the cut, with the Foxtel National Youth League starting on October 18.

‘‘They have 25 players at the moment, but they are looking to contract 16 of them,’’ Holden said.’’

‘‘When I get back we will see what happens, but nothing is organised at the moment — I’m guessing I’ll get a call from them (Victory).

‘‘It’s always been a dream that’s starting to come to reality now and it’s a bit of a shock.’’

Holden’s elation was also shared by Strikers president Rod Andrews, who said it was a great coup for his club to have a talented player get a direct chance with an A-League club.

‘‘It’s just great vindication for our club in terms of what we are doing with our junior program,’’ he said.

‘‘Sydney FC wanted his details on Monday, a couple of other clubs were in it as well, then Melbourne Victory came along and trumped them all.’’

Holden could become the third North-West Coaster to break into the A-League system, with former Devonport player Jesse Curran still in the Central Coast Mariners’ set-up, while Ulverstone junior Jeremy Walker’s stint at Melbourne Heart came to a close last season.

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Cawston and Bourn the big hits for Coast at titles

BEN Cawston and Tully Bourn were the standout Coastal players at the Medibank Tasmanian state championships gold JT, tournament director Trent Constance says.
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TOP PERFORMER: Ulverstone’s Ben Cawston prepares to serve in the 18-and-under playoff for third. Picture: Meg Windram.

Competition wrapped up yesterday after Monday’s downpour forced the completion of the tournament at the Burnie Tennis Club to be delayed.

‘‘There was some really good tennis played, and it’s always good to play at the Burnie Tennis Club,’’ Constance said.

‘‘There were some very impressive performances in testing conditions at times.’’

Constance said Cawston, Bourn and Hobart’s Daniel Groom were among those to underline their potential.

‘‘Daniel won the 16 and under, the 18 and under and the doubles, so he won all the events he played in,’’ Constance said.

‘‘From the North-West, the best player was Ben Cawston, and Tully Bourn, from Burnie, also had a very strong tournament.’’

Constance said Bourn was a surprise packet and would gain valuable ranking points from her performances.

The inclement weather and resulting delay caused South Australian David Abfalter to miss out on his playoff matches yesterday, due to being unable to change his flights.

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Market wrap

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Leadtec Systems has leased a refurbished 1000 sq m office for $250 net per sq m in Burwood East. JLL agent Joshua Tebb brokered the seven-year lease at 3/12 Wesley Court.


Tropicana Juice Bar has signed a new 10-year lease for 1(b)/55 Swanston Street, Melbourne, via Savills Australia. The 31 sq m site will cost $7000 per sq m net. Agents Jock Thomson, Michael Di Carlo and Jeremy Marmur reported that it was the business’s second CBD outlet.


Children’s and young adults’ book store Pictures and Pages will move into 400 Sydney Road, Coburg, after brokering a deal through Fitzroys agent Adam Lester. The 67 sq m shop was leased for three years with two further five-year options for $27,000 annually.


JLL agents Ben Scalora and Robert Breda have negotiated the four-year lease of 6/87 Newlands Road, Coburg North. The 1684 sq m warehouse and showroom will cost $109,460 net per year. 247 Labour Crew, which took the lease, also has a three-year option.


Hertz Trucks has leased a 700 sq m warehouse in Coolaroo from a private investor for the next four years. The property, 438 Barry Road, will cost $60,000 net annually. JLL’s agents Ben Scalora and Robert Breda negotiated the deal.


A 745 sq m warehouse at 63 Logistics Street, Keilor Park, has been leased by Quin Global for one year. JLL agents Ben Scalora and Robert Breda brokered the deal, which is worth $60,000.



773 Burke Road, Camberwell, has been sold at auction for $2.5 million, Fitzroys’ Michael Ryan and David Bourke brokered the sale of the 135 sq m property, which changed hands for the first time since 1973. It features a shop and car park.


Colliers International’s Oliver Hay and Daniel Wolman have sold 188 Little Collins Street to a private investor for $2.4 million. The 34 sq m property sold five days before auction. It currently is leased to fashion retailer Fred Perry.


A private investor has sold a two-storey office building at 430 Huntingdale Road, Mount Waverley, for $1.3 million. Chess World Pty Ltd bought the 440 sqm property through JLL agent Peter Sprekos.

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Small-business creditors set up name, shame and bill site

Pursuing debtors with a flurry of invoices and statements may be a thing of the past. Pursuing debtors with a flurry of invoices and statements may be a thing of the past.
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Pursuing debtors with a flurry of invoices and statements may be a thing of the past.

Pursuing debtors with a flurry of invoices and statements may be a thing of the past.

A name-and-shame website has been set up so small businesses can collect money they’re owed. While not a credit collector, www.hasntpaidyet南京夜网 is a database of known late payers that site members can refer to. The site also sends creditors frequent bill reminders. “Many small businesses don’t have the time or financial resources to engage in costly legal action, and instead walk away from bad debts and swallow an unfair loss, until now,” says co-founder Paul Wilson.

Cash-rate hike looms

A survey of economists by finder南京夜网.au finds that the nextcash-rate rise is likely to be in June 2015 and it will continue to gradually rise over the next 2-3 years to 4 per cent from 2.5 per cent now. There’s also a chance it could rise sooner, with a 21 per cent chance of a rate hike in the first few months of next year.

ATO warns deadline approaching

The ATO is reminding taxpayers who complete their own returns to lodge online before the October 31 deadline to avoid penalties. The fastest and most convenient way to lodge is through the ATO’s free myTax or e-tax services.

Medibank member-shareholders well positioned

Just over one-quarter of adult Medibank Private members are shareholders and have $94 billion sitting in the bank, according to a survey by Roy Morgan Research. “They show great potential to purchase their share of the estimated $4 billion to $5.7 billion value of the shares likely to be offered in the forthcoming float, particularly if they are eligible for a larger preferential allotment,” it says.

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Centrelink reverse mortgage scheme is justfor the wealthy

Reversal: The government’s reverse mortgage scheme doesn’t do anything for people drawing the full age pension. Caption
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Reversal: The government’s reverse mortgage scheme doesn’t do anything for people drawing the full age pension.

Reversal: The government’s reverse mortgage scheme doesn’t do anything for people drawing the full age pension.


Reversal: The government’s reverse mortgage scheme doesn’t do anything for people drawing the full age pension.


A little-known government reverse mortgage scheme trumps those offered by the private sector in many respects, but curiously, the government scheme is only available to better-off retirees.

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Reverse mortgages allow home owners to exchange equity in their homes for a loan that is repaid from the proceeds when the home is sold.

Private providers allow the money to be taken as a lump sum or as an income stream; though the vast majority take the money as a lump sum. As there are no repayments the interest on the loan is capitalised.

The debt can blow out over long periods. Care also needs to be taken in case there is any impact on age pension eligibility.

Centrelink and Department of Veterans’ Affairs have a little-known Pension Loan Scheme where those on a part age pension, who own their own home or investment property, can take out a loan that is repaid when the property is sold.

The loan has to be taken as an income stream and is limited to that which, when added to the part-pension, takes them to the maximum pension.

The interest rate is 5.25 per cent and fixed, which is much lower than the variable interest rates charged by reverse mortgage providers.

But get these: retirees who are poor enough that they are on the full age pension and who own their own homes are unable to boost their income through the government scheme.

Yet, as the think tank, The Australia Institute points out, retirees whose wealth or income makes them ineligible for the full age pension are able to access the scheme.

Even more bizarrely, self-funded retirees who own property can access the scheme if they are ineligible for the age pension under either the income test or the assets test.

If they are ineligible for the age pension under both tests, they cannot access the scheme. As the Australia Institute says, the scheme is available to those retirees who need it the least. There are reasons that retirees may prefer a private provider.

Under the government scheme the amount is capped to the age pension rate. More can be borrowed from a private provider and it can be taken as a lump sum. And, as mentioned, there is a big class of retirees, such as full age pensioners, who can not access the government scheme.

The Australia Institute says the scheme should be made available to everyone of pension age with a loan that would pay a fortnightly income up to the full age pension rate. Expanding the scheme would allow an existing retiree on the full age pension who owned property to potentially double their retirement income, depending on their age and the value of their home.

Similarly, wealthy retirees who are ineligible for the age pension would be able to borrow up to the equivalent of the full age pension.

On the Australia Institute’s numbers, the scheme could be expanded without significant cost to the budget. Any move to expand the scheme would meet with resistance from reverse mortgage providers.


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Lodes of reasons for silver’s decline

Hi Ho Silver! Fair exchange: Silver seems to be very relatively cheap, compared to gold.
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Fair exchange: Once closely tied to gold, silver has slipped its moorings of late.

Fair exchange: Silver seems to be very relatively cheap, compared to gold.

Fair exchange: Silver seems to be very relatively cheap, compared to gold.

Bobby, my morning coffee guy, is selling the lease on his kiosk so he can stock up on silver. I hope it wasn’t something I said.

A caffeine hit is one thing, but silver?

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Still, he got me thinking. Silver has always been the poor relation to gold. Normally one ounce of gold will buy 15 ounces of silver, today it’s almost 70 ounces. Clearly either silver is dead cheap or gold is extremely over-valued.

A statistical fact is “reversion to the mean” – that is, nothing stays out of whack forever even if it takes an awfully long while to get back to where it should be. So something has to give.

Besides, I suspect gold has done its dash. The biggest things it had going for it were a weak US dollar and a fear of rising inflation from all the extra money the US is printing to stave off deflation.

No more. The US dollar is on a roll. The US economy is picking up steam, not before time either, and its interest rates are almost certain to rise next year. This is potentially disastrous for bullion which doesn’t earn a cent of income. Higher interest rates on savings make it less attractive to hold gold, not to mention that its raison d’etre, inflation, is missing in action.

It had a great run in the global financial crisis when the financial system was on its knees though even then it failed to reach its 1980 peak after taking inflation into account.

That’s gold’s other problem. Despite its reputation as a hedge against inflation, an investment in either shares or property since then would have left it for dead. Deflation remains the biggest global economic threat, not inflation.

So if gold has its best behind it, why should its precious metal cousin fare any better? Both, after all, are sentiment driven: demand fluctuates wildly and  supply is limited.

If anything, silver is even more prone to market mood swings. It’s been known to drop 30 per cent in days. Heck, it did that twice in one year.

This year it’s dropped more than 20 per cent already.

How come? That’s where it gets interesting. One of the most prominent silver analysts, Ted Butler, claims the market is manipulated by the big American banks. This would sound far-fetched except that the silver price is determined by futures contracts which have been heavily short sold.

When something is short sold – meaning it wasn’t owned in the first place – at some point it has to be bought back. If short selling exaggerates a price drop the subsequent buying must exaggerate the move back up.

The spooky thing is that the bulk of the short-selling position was transferred  from Bear Sterns, one of the high profile victims of the financial crisis, to America’s biggest bank, JP Morgan Chase. Since the Silver Institute assures me that the demand for silver is growing faster than it’s being mined, the bank would lose a fortune, heaven forbid, if it rallied.

Mind you, a gap between demand and supply is typical of silver. Apart from jewellery, it’s used heavily in technology, industry and medicine, guaranteeing rising demand. Yet supply is constrained when at around  $US17 an ounce it isn’t profitable to mine unless you have lots of it.

But there’s a catch. Because it’s so malleable – its strength as it were – silver can be recycled for other uses, unlike gold. It’s also readily produced as a byproduct of other metals.

So silver isn’t quite as scarce as it appears. Still, if you agree with Bobby that its fall has been overdone, the easiest way to invest is buying silver coins, except you’re paying a big margin, or through a listed fund that holds only silver (ETPMAG is the ASX code).

Then there are the miners. The world’s biggest silver mine is BHP Billiton’s Cannington.

The others are still looking.


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Mayang Prasetyo’s mother forgives killer

Mayang Prasetyo was found dismembered in a Teneriffe apartment. Marcus Volke and Mayang Prasetyo. Photo: Facebook
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Mayang Prasetyo’s Indonesian mother says she has forgiven the man who murdered then reportedly dismembered and cooked the body parts of her eldest child less than a week ago.

But Nining Sukarni, 45, is still struggling to believe her son-in-law, Marcus Volke, is responsible for the violent slaying at an inner Brisbane apartment.

“I don’t believe it. I don’t think it’s possible. Marcus is very soft. he’s not capable of hurting people. He’s a kind person,” she said.

Mr Volke, 28, is believed to have killed his transgender partner in the ground floor apartment they shared in upmarket Teneriffe, before dismembering her body and cooking it in chemicals in a bid to dispose of it.

Police responding to requests for a welfare check at the apartment uncovered the grisly scene on Saturday night, prompting Mr Volke to flee and, shortly after, take his own life.

Speaking to Fairfax Media from her home in Lampung in southern Sumatra, Ms Sukarni reached out to Mr Volke’s family in the regional Victorian city of Ballarat, asking for forgiveness for both their son’s death and that of the child who was born her son Febri Andriansyah 27 years ago.

“My message for Marcus’ family is let’s forgive each other,” she said.

“Please forgive Febri if he did things that anger Marcus or his family.

“I forgave Marcus for whatever he has done to Febri.

“I hope Marcus’ mum and the whole family be strengthened in this difficult time.”

Ms Sukarni said Mr Volke and Ms Prasetyo were married in Denmark on August 1, 2013.

However, friends of Ms Prasetyo said though the couple referred to each other as husband and wife, their marriage was not legally recognised because Ms Prasetyo was a pre-operation transgender woman.

Ms Sukarni said he asked for her to pray for him when he told her he would begin gender reassignment surgery, having identified as a girl throughout his childhood.

“His first operation was on March 19, 2009. It was in Thailand,” Mrs Sukarni said.

“He told me, ‘Mum, I ask for your prayer on my decision. I want to do breast surgery.’

“I told him I would pray for him.”

She said her son sent money back to Indonesia to provide for her and his two younger sisters, aged 15 and 18.

Asked what she would do now Ms Prasetyo was gone, she said, “I still don’t know”.

She said she was unaware what her daughter was doing to make money in Australia and only became aware through news reports in the wake of her death that she worked on cruise ships.

She said she had previously owned a pet shop on the Indonesian resort island of Bali.

Ms Prasetyo’s Facebook profile lists her as a former employee of Melbourne-based transgender cabaret show Le Femme Garcon but the owner told Fairfax Media on Tuesday she had not worked there.

Mrs Sukarni said a neighbour delivered the tragic news of her son’s death on Sunday night, three days after she received her last text message from Ms Prasetyo.

“He said, ‘Ma’am, please be strong. Febri has gone’,” she said.

“I was shocked hearing that. I asked him what made him dead. I know he wasn’t sick. We still talked about five days earlier on the phone and on Thursday night he texted me asking me if everybody at home was okay.

“Febri’s friend said he didn’t know what happened to my son. He just told me I have to be strong.”

She said a phone call from the Indonesian embassy on Monday morning confirmed her fears.

Now, she is waiting for her son’s remains to finally return home, so she can lay him to rest.

She has no plans to come to Australia to bring them home.

“I’ll just wait here, I asked the Indonesian government to bring back his remains as soon as possible. I will bury him here,” she said.

If you are suffering depression or feeling distress visit beyondblue.org.au or call Lifeline on 131 114.

For assistance with family violence matters phone the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 1800 737 732.

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Attacks on Muslim women a ‘sad indictment’ on Brisbane

It’s the ugly side of society and, of late, it has only been getting worse.
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Brisbane’s Muslim population, particularly women, have increasingly been subject to both physical and verbal abuse amid terror raids and Australian military action in the Middle East.

On Tuesday Queensland police charged a 44-year-old Windsor man after he allegedly threatened to light a woman’s headscarf on fire in West End.

And Fairfax Media has been told of an attack on two Muslim women at Toowong last week, which was not reported to police.

One of the alleged victims, who did not want to be named, recounted her experience through a third party.

She said she and her friend, who had just finished shopping, were waiting a Toowong bus stop on Benson Road when some tormenters drove past and threw a ham sandwich at them.

“They were early- to mid-20s. When one of the men threw the sandwich, the other two were cheering,” she said.

“The driver was also cheering and shouted something.”

The woman, who studied at the University of Queensland, said she was “stunned and sad” about the unprovoked attack.

“I came here to study and didn’t ask to be treated like this,” she said.

“In fact, I had only arrived recently. I fear for my life even when I’m in public.

“If I didn’t have my friend there I would have cried.

It made me feel disappointed too. Just because I wear the hijab, it doesn’t make me a terrorist.

“I’m from Malaysia and many other Malaysians have lived and studied here in peace.

“I’ve studied here before and this never happened to me before and I came back because I felt like Australia was safe for Muslims in general.”

Muslim community leader and Eidfest president Yasmin Kahn said it was an unfortunate example of an increasing occurrence in Brisbane.

“The idiot wasted good food – we’re not going to eat it, but someone would have – you’ve got to look at it from that perspective,” she said.

“…The fact that you’re thinking you’re going to disturb someone’s life by doing that and that you’re going to feel good about it, get off on it, well that says more about you than the person you’re persecuting.

“That’s what bothers me. There’s this attitude to go out and harass people that wasn’t there before.

“It’s a free country but to harass and persecute people is, well I hate the word ‘unAustralian’ but that’s what it is, because that’s not who we are as a people.”

Ms Khan said Muslim women were being warned  on social medianot to walk the streets by themselves.

“I mean, this is 2014, 21st century Australia downtown Brisbane and we’re telling our women not to venture out by themselves,” Ms Kahn said.

“That’s just a sad indictment on the city and I don’t know if the city in itself is that bad.

“I know we’ve had some horrific incidents around the city in the past six to eight months and I’m not saying that’s all related, but I’d hate to think that’s becoming a natural occurrence in Brisbane.

“I think these Islamophobic attacks are just a product of their time, unfortunately, because of uneducated gits.”

Ms Khan said other migrant groups, such as the Mediterranean influx of the 1950s and the arrival of Vietnamese boat people in the 1970s and 1980s, had suffered similar abuse.

“In a way, it’s an indoctrination into the Australian way of life – you come here, then we’re going to chuck shit at you for a little while but then you’re a mate, you’re an Aussie and we accept you,” she said.

“But this particular strain that is happening at the moment is particularly vicious, hateful, the vitriol is beyond good natured ribbing – it’s pretty vile, vicious stuff and that makes it a little more explosive than what previous migrants have had to go through.”

The current round of attacks, Ms Khan said, had become “more personal” because it went to the heart of Muslims’ identity – their faith.

“You see a lot of non-Muslim people coming out and saying ‘this is not who we are’, so I don’t doubt they’re in a minority, but before when you were in a minority you were a silent minority,” she said.

“Now, you’re a vocal minority because you’ve got keyboards, you’ve got airwaves and you’ve got lots of other ways to get your message out so in that regard it’s probably a bit easier to get this stuff out.”

Ms Khan said the Muslim community in Brisbane went back more than a century, so the Islamic faith was nothing new to the city.

“The Holland Park Mosque is 106 or 108 years old – it’s the second-oldest religious building in Brisbane – so it’s not as if it’s a case of ‘who are all these new people, these new foreigners? Everyone’s arrived since September 11’,” she said.

“We’ve been here for 150 years , for God’s sake, so we’re not a new phenomenon but the hate and the vitriol is a new phenomenon and again that’s being influenced from overseas.

“That’s not being helped by leadership, by the rhetoric, by the public discourse. That’s not being helped at all, unfortunately.”Click here for the Brisbane Times special feature: The Changing Face of Queensland.

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Dress inspired by fallopian tube goes on display in Brisbane

Brisbane artist Svenja fused a Victorian-era dress with a jellyfish mermaid look in this piece of wearable art. Photo: SuppliedA piece of wearable art inspired by a section of the fallopian tube has gone on display at Brisbane’s popular Craft and Quilt Fair.
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Brisbane textile artist Svenja created the show-stopping piece Fimbria Figura after seeing a coloured, magnified image of the fimbria taken by a scanning electron microscope.

The dress is constructed from vibrant pink, purple and red silk organza screenprinted with the image and layered over a metallic foil jersey base.

Latin for “fringe”, the fimbria sits next to the ovary and sweeps the egg into the fallopian tube.

Svenja said she had represented this by distorting the dress with fishing line and stitching it into a circular pattern, with shibori-bound lame representing the finger-like cilia.

“I enjoy the freedom and opportunities that working in this medium allows,” she said.

“Textiles has it all – complete control of colour, shape, and texture that you can build into a sculpture.

“The human form provides a great framework for these works which often straddle the realms of fashion and art.”

Svenja has other work featured in the Brisbane Craft and Quilt Fair, which will take over the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre from Wednesday to Sunday.

Euphony Iridacaea is a working harp created from fibreglass iris petals, and Sirens of the Sea fuses an elegant Victorian-era woman with a jellyfish mermaid.

Svenja said after studying drama she took her first textile workshop in 2002 and decided it was the perfect way to fuse art and fashion.

She won her first Wearable Art Award at the Boonah Shire SPAR arts festival in 2007.

“Recently one of my costumes was featured in billboards for an Air NZ tourism campaign and street flags for a New Zealand Exhibition,” she said.

“It was such an honour.

“I am fortunate that it is now my full time passion, and I am enjoying my current explorations of more wearable constructions at TAFE.”

Thousands are expected to attend the Craft and Quilt Fair, which features displays, workshops and a range of experts on scrap-booking, knitting, card-making, quilting, jewellery creation, mixed media and more.

Brisbane artist Tricia Smout will show off Flowers of Friendship, a 4.4 metre long collaborative wall hanging made up of 495 separate flowers contributed by artists throughout Queensland.

The Queensland Quilters Inc display will feature 300 quilts to mark its 30th birthday and there will be a special Christmas-themed section dedicated to crafting the perfect holiday accessories.

Tickets for the Brisbane Craft and Quilt Fair cost $18 for adults, $16 for concession entries and $9 for children.

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Wyndham level crossings endanger commuters, says council

Lengthy delays at level crossings are putting the safety and prosperity of residents in outer western Melbourne at risk, a local council says.
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Boom gates at Wyndham level crossings are typically closed between 12 and 35 minutes in the hour during peak times, according to a new report from Wyndham CityCouncil.

Mayor Bob Fairclough said it was common to see cars lining the streets for 400 metres in the morning peak as they tried to cross the railway tracks next to Hoppers Crossing Station.

The long delays at level crossings posed a safety risk to commuters, he said.

“We’ve had accidents and near misses. People get impatient, they do U-turns to get out of the queue, they get stuck between the boom gates.”

The council wants state government funding to replace four level crossings on the Werribee railway line with tunnels underneath the tracks, or bridges over them.

Two other crossings, at Forsyth Road and Derrimut Road, were already separated but their capacity needed to be expanded as more people took to the roads, it said.

Home to 200,000 people in 2014, Wyndham, which includes Werribee and the surrounding area, is forecast to grow to more than 341,000 in 2031.

Traffic crossing the Werribee line in the area will nearly double by the middle of the century, the council found, and as the number of train services also increased, the capacity of six out of seven road crossings would be exceeded.

The report said there was one railway crossing every 1.8 kilometres in Wyndham, compared with an average of one each kilometre across the rest of Melbourne excluding the inner suburbs – so the area would also need new crossings.

With the renovation of each crossing likely to cost between $60 million and $100 million, Cr Fairclough admitted getting funding for all the work was likely to prove difficult.

But he said the streets of Wyndham and satellite roads in and out of the area would only become further gridlocked if no action was taken.

The state opposition has promised to replace 50 level crossings with over or underpasses. Of the 43 announced, two are in Wyndham – at Cherry Street and Werribee Street in Werribee.

Public Transport minister Terry Mulder said the government had significantly improved public transport in the outer west, including adding 1400 bus services for Point Cook and last week promising 800 more bus services per week for Wyndham.

But it had not committed to removing Wyndham’s level crossings.

The RACV and Public Transport Users Association will join the council in launching the report on Wednesday.

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Innes an award finalist

Recognition: Peter Innes has been recognised as a community leader finalist in the 2015 Victorian Australian of the Year Awards. PICTURE: LACHLAN BENCEPeter Innes’s life work of striving to help people in the community has seen him recognised as a community leader finalist in the 2015 Victorian Australian of the Year Awards in the Local Hero Category.
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Spreading his time between roles as a City of Ballarat councillor, primary school teacher and co-ordinator of Ballarat Secondary College’s LinkUp young parents program is no mean feat. But the Buninyong resident’s ethos is simple.

“I’ve always believed that if you think something should be changed, don’t whinge about it, do it,” he said.

Mr Innes has been a school teacher for decades and a councillor since 1993. But it is his tireless work as the co-ordinator of the LinkUp program which has seen him stand out from the rest.

The aim of the program, which is run by volunteers and teaching staff, is to support young parents to get back into education and the workforce.

“Since starting that group eight years ago I’ve had more satisfaction in my teaching career than I ever thought possible,” Mr Innes said.

“Some of these young people have had absolutely horrendous things happen to them. To be able to, along with staff, literally put them back together again and see them make something of their life is indescribable.”

Cr Innes said was humbled to be alongside the other three Victoria finalists in his category: breast cancer fundraiser Louise Davidson, humanitarian Justin Dickinson and child crusader Jane Rowe.

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Gillard to unveil bronze bust in Prime Ministers’ Avenue

File picture FORMER prime minister Julia Gillard will visit Ballarat on Thursday.
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Ms Gillard will be at the Ballarat Botanical Gardens from 3pm to unveil her bronze bust in the Prime Ministers’ Avenue.

The highly anticipated visit, which will unveil the sculpture of Australia’s first female prime minister, comes after the release of Ms Gillard’s autobiography, My Story.

The sculpture has been in storage since Ms Gillard’s initial 2012 sitting in Melbourne.

The bust was created by Rubbery Figures caricaturist and cartoonist Peter Nicholson, who completed the piece in July 2012.

Mr Nicholson detailed its creation to The Courier in September.

“Creating Julia’s sculpture was just like creating any other,” Mr Nicholson said at the time.

“For me it was about showing her in light as somebody who was under extreme pressure but who wasn’t beaten down and still kept her head held high.”

Ballarat’s Collins Booksellers is also hosting a sold-out launch of her biography including a talk and book signing at the Deluxe Spiegeltent on Armstrong Street South from 6pm to 8pm.

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