Home' InDaily : March 30th 2011 Contents PARTNERS
SPONSOR OF THE DAY
New research site to unlock groundwater secrets
A new $3.3 million groundwater research
site, run by the National Centre for
Groundwater Research and Training
(NCGRT) at Flinders University, was
opened at Willunga this month.
SuperScience Willunga is one of five
highly instrumented and coordinated
field research sites around Australia that
will provide critical, high-density data
about groundwater to researchers for the
NCGRT Director, Professor Craig Simmons
said that while more than 30 per cent of
total water consumption in Australia
relies on groundwater, there is a crucial
lack of data on the resource.
“These research facilities are important
because groundwater systems are, by
their very nature, difficult to study,”
Professor Simmons said.
“Australia’s ability to identify and manage
its groundwater resources have so far
been hampered by a lack of data,” he said.
“These sites will enable researchers to
conduct regional groundwater resource
assessments at an unprecedented spatial
and temporal resolution and will also
establish long-term monitoring for
climate change impacts on groundwater.
“Similar research facilities in the United
States have resulted in significant
Ten shallow bores and three deep wells
have been drilled in the Pedler Creek
catchment to study the interaction
between the creeks and groundwater in
Later this year, a further 30 wells will be
drilled to investigate flow from fractured
rock highlands into the basin.
The sites are funded through a $15 million
grant from the Federal Government’s
Education Investment Fund. The Willunga
site is also supported by the South
The NCGRT has announced another
groundwater initiative, which will give
two Indigenous students the opportunity
to have their entire Flinders University
tuition fees paid through a new
The Aboriginal Groundwater Scholarship,
the first of its kind in Australia, is being
offered by Flinders University, the National
Centre for Groundwater Research and
Training (NCGRT) and the SA Department
It aims to encourage Indigenous students
to be part of the growing field of
Mr Eddie Banks, Minister Paul Caica and
Professor Craig Simmons
Knowing more about how pathogens break
down in wastewater is a crucial step in
improving the design of the water recycling
systems that support numerous small rural
and remote communities around Australia.
Natalie Bolton, a PhD student in the School of
the Environment at Flinders, is studying the
role played in breaking down bacteria and
viral pathogens by various factors including
UV and visible light from sunshine, pH and
dissolved oxygen levels, and temperature.
Ms Bolton said existing models do not
predict how well the systems will perform.
She said the process of modeling is highly
complex: because of the variability of factors
in each location, even systems with identical
specifications may act differently.
She said that the current removal rates of
pathogens are poor, and most water
reclaimed from community wastewater
management schemes goes to irrigation.
“If we know something more about the
actual mechanisms that are going on behind
the inactivation of the micro-organisms and
– more importantly from a public health
perspective – the pathogens, then ultimately
the water will be able to be used for higher
value reuse applications,” Ms Bolton said.
Ms Bolton is working with fellow PhD
student Neil Buchanan, who is conducting
research on the action of
ponds in the field, to see
how her laboratory
results translate to
Fallowfield, who is
supervising both projects,
said that there is strong
potential to design
optimised systems that
will boost the
treatment and produce a
higher throughput. By
reducing the time the
water spends standing
in the ponds, high
evaporation rates could
eventually be reduced by
as much as 90 per cent.
Ms Bolton is also
working to develop new
monitoring indicators that will assess safe
levels of viruses in water. Standard tests
for microbial water quality rely principally
on measuring levels of bacteria such
as E. coli.
Ms Bolton is investigating bacteriophages,
viruses that infect bacteria, to see if they
offer a reliable indicator of removal of
viruses that infect humans. If the indicator
proves to be valid, it could form the basis
for a simple, reliable test.
“So far, the results are looking good in the
lab,” she said.
Ms Natalie Bolton
Picking up the pace of water recycling
Taking heart from The King’s Speech
The King’s Speech authentically portrayed the
frustration and anxiety that stuttering can bring
about, but also showed that the inhibiting
effects of the disorder can be overcome,
according to a Flinders lecturer in speech
Ms Michelle Carr Swift said the condition is
estimated to affect about one per cent of the
While rates of stuttering are much higher
among young children, most recover naturally
within a year of onset, and early treatment in
the preschool years also shows the best
“Rates of natural recovery fall sharply as children
age, but treatment for adolescents and adults
is still beneficial in reducing the disorder’s
severity and negative impacts,” Ms Carr Swift
Onset can be quite sudden and severe, she said.
Although the film blamed childhood trauma
for King George’s problem,
Ms Carr Swift said the origins of stuttering are
generally regarded as physiological rather than
psychological. A stutter is thought to result
from a breakdown in speech monitoring and
timing mechanisms, which can be exacerbated
by stressful and emotional situations.
“Stress does affect motor co-ordination, and if
you start to worry about your ability to talk, it
tends to make things even worse,” Ms Carr
“Certainly if there is any anxiety or avoidance,
it’s important to treat that as well – in the past,
speech pathology may have concentrated
too much on the mechanics of speech.”
Stuttering can have marked effects on
quality of life, and what starts as a source of
teasing at school may in later life lead to
self-imposed restrictions that can even
affect a choice of career. Ms Carr Swift said
that The King’s Speech encouraged people
not to be held back by the disorder.
Attitude is important: “Some people might
being conducted to investigate the link
between mental health and academic
performance by making use of data from the
My School website for each KidsMatter school.
Federal agencies are keenly awaiting these
The KidsMatter evaluation also established a
link between children with disabilities and
Researcher and evaluation Project Manager
Dr Katherine Dix said that, at the request of
the SA Health Minister, the team partnered
with the South Australian Ministerial Advisory
Committee: Students with Disabilities to
examine the data for such a connection, and
to examine whether KidsMatter was
supportive of this cohort.
“The results show that while students without
a disability had a one in eight chance of having
mental health difficulties, students with one
identified disability had a one in three chance
and students with multiple disabilities had a
50 per cent chance,” Dr Dix said.
“We also found that, overall, there were
practically significant positive
improvements in mental health and
wellbeing for students with a disability and
this is attributed to the impact of
KidsMatter,” she said.
Dr Dix and her colleagues have now been
invited by Federal Minister for Mental
Health and Ageing Mark Butler to make a
submission to conduct further research
about the effectiveness of KidsMatter and
the link between mental health and children
with disabilities at a national level.
SWAPv members are drawn from various
Schools across the University. It also has an
international focus with a number of its
members involved in projects in countries
including Greece, Italy and Spain, including a
four-year cyber-bullying project with 24
European Union countries.
Ms Michelle Carr Swift
have what we consider a severe stutter,
but it’s not stopping them at all; other
people with a mild stutter can get very
inhibited by it,” Ms Carr Swift said.
Flinders holds regular fluency clinics at the
Flinders Medical Centre and with the
Women’s and Children’s Hospital, and also
runs Smooth Speech Intensive clinics, one
for adolescents in July and another for
adults in September.
. .. continued from page 1
“On the basis
of the work
over the past
SWAPv is now
being a centre
can and does
on a state, national and international level,”
Professor Slee said.
Cover photo: Dr Katherine Dix interviews a student
Photo: Ashton Claridge
Links Archive March 29th 2011 March 31st 2011 Navigation Previous Page Next Page