Dookie in regional Victoria named as new site for Victoria’s drought resilience hub

The University of Melbourne’s Dookie Campus has been named as the site for the multimillion-dollar Drought Resilience Adoption Hub in Victoria.

The hub will see researchers and farming groups team up to undertake projects and look at farming practices to help farmers be more resilient to future droughts.

The hub will be funded over the next four years, with $8 million provided by the Federal government and $22.5 million of co-contributions from partners of the hub.

This is one of eight hubs the Federal government is establishing across the country through the Future Drought Fund.

The core site in Victoria will be based in Dookie, north-east of Shepparton, however five ‘node’ sites will be created in Birchip, Mulwala, Warragul, Inverleigh and Mildura led by farming groups in the area.

Co-Director of the Dookie Hub Professor Tim Reeves said they want their work to make a real difference.

He said the model of the hub is unprecedented, universities working with farming groups in regional Victoria to come up with projects to improve drought resilience.

“The real thing we’re wanting here is that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, all these groups are working together for the first time ever.”

Professor Reeves said they will begin a formal consultation process across the six sites to identify the priorities for the local communities.

“They will run a process where by anyone that has a good idea, it’ll be able to go on the table and then people will be able to work around that.”

He said the hub isn’t about universities telling farmers what to do.

“It’s not a top-down hub it’s actually the other way around, a grassroots driven hub.”

“And saying ‘that’s a great idea you’ve come up with in Gippsland, we think that could also be really important in the north-east’ and ‘the north-west you’ve got a great idea there we think it could be really important in the south-west’.”

Member for Nicholls Damian Drum said the hub will look at how to help all the key agriculture industries in Victoria.

“There’s opportunities for every commodity, every industry associated with agriculture standing to benefit from these funds as they get rolled out.”

“Largely it will be to do with the use of water so that we can be less reliant on water and therefore when the next drought does come along then we’re going to be in a far stronger position to work through it.”

Mr Drum said farmers will have direct access to the information, technology and practices that come out of the hub.

He said the government is looking for results.

“There’s a whole range of talk that goes on in the political world in the agricultural sector there’s a whole range of talk and talk fests.”

“Come up with data, come up with research and do the trials that’s going to create a change in practices.”

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Collingwood co-captain Bri Davey followed in the footsteps of Magpie greats Darren Millane and Dane Swan by being named the AFLW’s most valuable player by her peers

Collingwood co-captain Brianna Davey followed in the footsteps of Magpies greats Darren Millane and Dane Swan by being named the AFLW’s most valuable player by her peers on Wednesday night.

Davey edged out Western Bulldogs skipper Ellie Blackburn and Fremantle star Kiara Bowers to claim the AFL Players’ Association gong. Only Millane (1990) and Swan (2010) had previously won an AFLPA MVP award for Collingwood.

Bri Davey capped off an outstanding AFLW season by winning the competition’s MVP award.Credit:Getty Images

“Bri is resilient and very dedicated to her craft. She’s been tasked with adversity and tough times over the journey through injury, but she’s persevered to piece together this amazing season,” Davey’s co-captain Steph Chiocci said.

“It takes a lotto stop her. I’ve seen her storm through one, two, three tackles and dish the ball out and not many girls can do that. Then you’ll have her smothering the ball, laying a tackle herself, and it inspires the girls.”

The versatile Davey was brilliant in her second season for the Pies since being traded from Carlton, leading her team to a preliminary final where Collingwood were shaded by Brisbane.


Fresh from the news she will miss the AFLW grand final through concussion, Adelaide’s Chelsea Randall was voted the league’s most courageous player. Blackburn won the award for best captain, while Richmond young gun and No.1 draft pick Ellie McKenzie claimed the best first-year player award.

Meanwhile, Sharni Norder (formerly Layton), the Pies’ AFLW ruck and vice-captain, has announced her retirement.

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Canberrans named in 2021 Young Gun of Wine Awards’ top 50 finalists

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Canberrans named in 2021 Young Gun of Wine Awards’ top 50 finalists
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World’s best cricket commentators named: Isa Guha rated best female commentator, Fox Sports, England

Fox Cricket host Isa Guha — the former England international fast bowler — has been named the world’s best female cricket commentator.

The rankings, which were compiled by Last Word on Sport, rated Guha as No. 1 in a star-studded list including Fox Cricket’s Mel Jones.

“Her tone of voice and style of commentary is both passionate and knowledgeable,” the publication said of Guha.

“Isa Guha is the best female cricket commentator in the world and of quite possibly of all-time.”

Gone are the days where men have a stranglehold over the microphone, with Guha one of the voices of the Australian summer.

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NFL star Deshaun Watson named in bombshell sexual assault lawsuit

Star NFL quarterback Deshaun Watson has denied allegations of sexual assault outlined in a lawsuit filed Wednesday (AEDT).

The bombshell allegations come with Watson being at the centre of the highest-profile trade negotiation of the NFL off-season, having demanded to be cut free from the $203 million, four year contract extension he signed with the Houston Texans in September.

Tony Buzbee, the Houston-based lawyer representing Watson’s alleged victim, told Fox 26 in Texas that Watson was getting a massage from the unidentified woman when the 25-year-old “went too far.”

Details surrounding the lawsuit are scarce.

Watson refuted the claim on Twitter on Wednesday after Buzbee made a social media post about the lawsuit.

“As a result of a social media post by a publicity-seeking plaintiff’s lawyer, I recently became aware of a lawsuit that has apparently been filed against me,” Watson wrote.

“I have not yet seen the complaint, but I know this: I Have never treated any woman with anything than the utmost respect. The plaintiff’s lawyer claims that this isn’t about money, but before filing suit he made a baseless six-figure settlement demand, which I quickly rejected.”

Watson added that he looked forward to clearing his name.

In a lengthy Instagram post, Buzbee said he was “extremely proud to represent those who have no perceived power against those who have PERCEIVED power.”

“This case we just filed against Watson isn’t about money — it’s about dignity and stopping behaviour that should be stopped, NOW!” Buzbee said.

Watson, a three-time Pro Bowl quarterback, is still under contract with the Texans for another five seasons.

It leaves him in one of the biggest contract messes to be seen in the league in recent years.

Watson has a no-trade clause, which could allow him to dictate his next team.

It’s not all one-way traffic, however, and ESPN reported last month the Texans have some leverage of their own.

The report claimed Watson can be fined by his franchise $50,000 for every day of training he doesn’t show up for.

If he fails to turn up full stop without agreeing to a trade, Houston can demand up $21.6 million from the stud quarterback.

Miami, New York Jets and the New York Giants are reportedly the teams with the best chance of securing Watson’s signature.

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Logan City Council fights to save endangered Gossia gonoclada tree, named after former premier

Along the banks of the Albert River amateur botanist and retired school teacher Glenn Leiper inspects a rich stretch of forest at Alexander Watt Park on the outskirts of Logan, south of Brisbane.

Mr Leiper narrows in on a small, green tree, about 4 metres high with shiny leaves.

“It’s growing extremely well,” Mr Leiper tells Lee-Anne Veage, an environmental planning expert for Logan City Council.

Mr Leiper is referring to the Gossia gonoclada — an endangered plant, named after Queensland’s 34th premier, Wayne Goss.

For almost 100 years the tree was considered extinct, until the late 1980s when Mr Leiper was exploring a section of forest in Slacks Creek with fellow amateur botanist Janet Hauser.

“We stumbled across a population of these plants and we didn’t know what they were,” Mr Leiper said.

In 2001, a study found there were only 73 natural Gossia gonoclada species in the world, with 64 of them located in the City of Logan.

The number of trees has fluctuated over the years.

“Where they grow is along creeks and rivers, where they can get their roots down into a high water table and that seems to be crucial for the survival of the species,” he said.

“[The Gossia] is found from the Brisbane River area, so Oxley and Hemmant, south to the Coomera River — there’s been some recent discoveries of a few specimens down there.”

To help the endangered species, the Logan City Council has created the ‘Gossia gonoclada Recovery Plan 2019-2029’.

Deputy mayor and environment chair, Cr Jon Raven, said council had a responsibility to make sure the tree thrived and numbers recovered.

“Logan’s got a 10-year plan for really supporting and making sure that this endangered species survives and we do that through our existing environment levy, which allows us to acquire valuable conservation properties in the city which have the habitat that this plant likes,” Cr Raven said.

In 2019, a 48-hectare parcel of land at Bahrs Scrub — a known koala habitat and home to several rare trees — was purchased by the council for conservation.

The area is one of several land acquisitions as part of the council’s action plan, with funds coming from its environmental levy reserve.

“A lot of the time people like to think of animals when they think of an endangered species and they focus on the cute and cuddly ones,” Cr Raven said.

“The long-term goal would be to have it all over the city in places where it would grow naturally so people can enjoy it, understand the value of it and the hard work that went into keeping it alive.”

In addition to Logan City Council’s acquisition of land for conservation management, environmental experts have been trying several different methods to repropagate the Gossia gonoclada.

Ms Veage is known as the council’s Gossia expert.

In recent months and years, Ms Veage’s team has planted nearly 160 new saplings around the city.

Six repropagated trees are also located just a few hundred metres from council’s chambers in the Logan Gardens.

“We can take cuttings, we have taken seeds as well,” Ms Veage said.

“To help try and generate some seed growth, we have gone out with some researchers to sort of hand pollinate.

“It’s just ensuring that they are being pollinated, that they are trying to produce viable seed that they can grow and we can re-introduce into the wild.

“There is quite a number of threats to the Gossia gonaclada from land clearing, to grazing, to weeds — but the most recent and significant threat is the fungal pathogen myrtle rust and that affects the Myrtaceae family.

“It’s susceptible as the rust targets all new leaf growth and any fruiting or flowering.”

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Natalie Barr named as Samantha Armytage’s replacement on Sunrise

Natalie Barr has been confirmed as Samantha Armytage’s replacement on Seven’s top-rating breakfast show Sunrise.

Barr was widely tipped to replace Armytage given she has been Sunrise’s newsreader and a fill-in co-host for the past 18 years. She will start her new role alongside long serving co-host David Koch on Monday.

Sunrise’s new co-host Natalie Barr.Credit:Louie Douvis

Sunrise’s executive producer, Michael Pell, confirmed the announcement in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Barr, 52, was born in Bunbury, Western Australia, and moved to Perth to study journalism at Curtin University. She got her start in journalism at a community newspaper before moving to the United States to work for several local TV networks. She joined Seven in 1994 after earning a Los Angeles Area Emmy Award nomination for her coverage of the OJ Simpson car chase.

Barr joined the Sunrise team in 2003 after proving popular as a summer fill-in presenter. She is married and lives in NSW with her two sons, Lachlan and Hunter.


Armytage tearily announced her resignation live on-air on Monday. She signed-off for the final time on Thursday, explaining she wished to take a step back from public life following the death of her mother and her marriage to millionaire businessman Richard Lavender.

The Seven Network’s chairman, Kerry Stokes, has said Armytage will continue to be “part of the Seven family”.

More to come

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Shakeup coming atop Canadian military as 1st woman deputy to be named

The Canadian military’s second-in-command will soon be replaced as part of an anticipated major shakeup of the senior ranks of the embattled institution.

Lt.-Gen. Mike Rouleau will be moved aside as Vice Chief of the Defence Staff (VCDS) in order to make way for Lt.-Gen. Frances Allen, CBC News has confirmed.

The move is part of a number of general officer appointments and transfers, which the Department of National Defence intends to announce on Tuesday.

Global News first reported the latest shakeup, but a confidential source confirmed the information late Monday to CBC News. 

It is happening at a time of extraordinary crisis within the military as the two most senior officers — Admiral Art McDonald and Gen. Jonathan Vance — remain under investigation by the Canadian Forces National Investigative Service for alleged sexual misconduct.

After learning last week that he was under investigation, McDonald, who had only been in the Chief of the Defence job a month, stepped aside.

The normal practice would have been to make the vice chief the acting top commander, but Rouleau was passed over and the head of the Canadian Army, Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre was given the temporary appointment by Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.

Lt.-Gen. Mike Rouleau will be moved aside as Vice Chief of the Defence Staff in order to make way for Lt.-Gen. Frances Allen, CBC News has confirmed. (CBC News)

The intention, according to a defence source, is to make Rouleau, who is the former commander of special forces, a senior adviser on future capabilities.

Both Rouleau and Allen have only been at their current jobs since last summer.

Allen, who as a major-general served as the deputy vice chief, is currently Canada’s military representative at NATO Headquarters in Brussels.

She will become the first woman to hold the position of vice chief and in that capacity will be responsible for the day-to-day administration of the military.

Increased political scrutiny

Allen inherits an institution in the midst of crisis, one that is struggling to salvage its signature social initiative: the campaign to stamp out sexual misconduct, which has suffered a major credibility hit because of the scandals surrounding Vance and McDonald.

There will be increased political scrutiny.

On Monday, a Parliamentary committee agreed to an expanded set of hearings into sexual misconduct in the military.

The House of Commons defence committee has held a series of meetings and heard from a number of witnesses, including former military ombudsman Gary Walbourne, who told MPs he had warned the minister three years ago about an allegation of inappropriate behavior involving Vance.

An investigation into the claim was hamstrung because the complaint was informal and Walbourne had given the woman his guarantee of confidentiality.

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NIMH » NIMH’s Dr. Andrea Beckel-Mitchener Named Deputy Director of NIH BRAIN Initiative

NIH has announced the selection of Andrea Beckel-Mitchener, Ph.D., of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), as deputy director of the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative. The BRAIN Initiative is a large-scale effort that seeks to deepen understanding of the inner workings of the human mind and to improve how we treat, prevent, and cure disorders of the brain.

Since 2017, Dr. Beckel-Mitchener has served as director of the Office for Disparities Research and Workforce Diversity and the Office of Rural Mental Health Research at NIMH. In this role, she has worked to reduce disparities and promote mental health equity within the United States and internationally. She has also led efforts to promote diverse perspectives in research and support inclusivity in the research workforce.

In addition, Dr. Beckel-Mitchener has been serving as acting deputy director of the BRAIN Initiative alongside Dr. John Ngai, who was named BRAIN Initiative director in January 2020. She has worked with NIH staff and scientists around the world, helping coordinate research opportunities to develop new technologies for examining cell and circuit function in the brain. She is involved in supporting a framework for the ethical use of technologies emerging from the BRAIN Initiative, and she has led several large projects including the BRAIN Initiative Cell Census Network.

Dr. Beckel-Mitchener began her NIH career in 2004 as director of the Functional Neurogenomics Program in the Division of Neuroscience and Basic Behavioral Science at NIMH. Before joining NIMH, she worked at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and for GlaxoSmithKline (formerly SmithKline-Beecham) in Worthing, U.K. She received both a master’s degree in Cell and Molecular Biology and a Ph.D. in Neurosciences from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.

The goal of the BRAIN Initiative is to develop novel neurotechnologies that will further our understanding of the brain, and to share those technologies with others. The scientific impact of the BRAIN Initiative will be accelerated through the rapid dissemination of technologies and resources to the neuroscience research community and beyond.

Since its initial funding in 2014, the BRAIN Initiative has supported more than 900 research awards totaling approximately $1.8 billion through 2020, with a budget of $560 million in 2021.

NIH recently announced the funding of more than 175 grants through the BRAIN Initiative that represent a variety of scientific disciplines, including chemistry, engineering, and psychology.

The NIH BRAIN Initiative® is managed by 10 institutes whose missions and research portfolios complement the goals of the BRAIN Initiative: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, National Eye Institute, National Institute on Aging, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders, National Institute of Mental Health, and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. The Initiative is co-led by the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

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Ravenhall shooting in Melbourne kills father named Sio

A father gunned down while standing outside a pool hall in Melbourne’s west may have been the victim of a random attack.

Police were told a number of shots were fired from a moving vehicle outside a pool hall in Ravenhall, on the outskirts of Melbourne, at around midnight on Saturday.

Emergency services found a man at the scene who was taken to hospital with serious injuries.

Another was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries, and later died.

He has since been identified as 33-year-old father of five, know to family and friends as “Sio”.

Police said a group of people including the victims were congregating in the car park when a vehicle drove past and four shots were fired.

“The information we have is there were two occupants of the offending vehicle and they were travelling past the venue and then made their way to Ballarat Road,” Detective Sergeant Simon Quinnell said on Sunday.

Homicide detectives do not believe the two victims knew each other.

They are trying to determine if either man was the intended target of the shooting.

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