Greenhouse gas restrictions denied, but new pollution limits imposed on Latrobe Valley power stations

Victoria’s three coal-fired power stations face tougher pollution controls but have escaped having limits placed on the amount of greenhouse gases they can emit after a review of their operating licences.

The Environment Protection Authority’s (EPA) review, which took three years to produce, has for the first time imposed limits on how much mercury and fine and coarse particulate matter the plants can release.

But it did not require the power stations to install fabric filters on their chimneys to reduce emissions — a key demand of health advocates and something the plant owners argued was impractical.

EPA executive director of regulatory standards Tim Eaton said the new requirements increased transparency by requiring the plants’ operators to publish more data about what they release into the atmosphere.

“So daily recording from each of the power stations on a website with a monthly wrap up in terms of the compliance and emissions out of the stacks,” Mr Eaton said.

The three plants are among Australia’s highest greenhouse gas producers and emit a range of chemicals including sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, and particulate matter.

Long-term exposure to particulate matter is linked to reduced life expectancy, reduced lung function, and cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

Environment Victoria said the failure to introduce greenhouse gas limits for the power stations made “a mockery of the Andrews governments’ efforts over the last five years to modernise the EPA”.

“For the EPA to be missing in action on climate change to the biggest environmental challenge in the 21st century .… is really disappointing,” Environment Victoria campaigns director Nick Aberle said.

The pollution limits imposed on the plants were also above what they currently produce and would make little difference, he said.

“It still means they’re going to be polluting at the same levels as they always were. We’re just going to know more about it because we’ve got better monitoring,” Dr Aberle said.

Energy Australia, which owns Victoria’s oldest power station Yallourn, welcomed the outcome of the licence review.

“In 2021 we plan to make significant investments to increase our continuous emissions monitoring capability to collect more emission data in real-time,” a company spokesperson said.

“We will also introduce new systems to report our data and publish this on our public website.

“Investments in maintenance and capital improvements over the last two decades have helped improve Yallourn’s efficiency and lower emissions.

“These improvements are equivalent to leaving one million tonnes of coal in the ground each year.”

Loy Yang A owner AGL said it had worked closely with the regulator on the review and it was taking steps to implement the revised licensing conditions.

Latrobe Valley health advocate Wendy Farmer, whose group Voices of the Valley was set up in the aftermath of the 2014 Hazelwood mine fire, said the EPA’s review contained good and bad elements.

“There’s a lot more consideration for health in this review including monitoring of PM 2.5 and [PM] 10 [particulate matter],” Ms Farmer said.

She said while increased monitoring of power station emissions was welcome, the pollution restrictions were not strict enough.

But she welcomed the fact the power station operators are now required to have rehabilitation plans for the ash dams in their mines which can contaminate groundwater if they leach.

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Siggi’s, Farmers Union and Tamar Valley

Although a health food, some yoghurts actually contain more sugar that chocolate. Here, Dietitian Melissa Meier reveals which ones you should be stocking your fridge with.

You’ve probably been told that yoghurt is a healthy go-to when the 3pm munchies strike. And while in many cases that is true, some varieties are packed with added sugar and are more like a decadent dessert than a healthy bite to eat.

To help you make a smart choice next time you find yourself staring into the yoghurt cabinet, here’s my guide to yoghurt.

Is yoghurt actually healthy?

Plain, natural yoghurt is certainly a healthy choice. It’s naturally rich in calcium, which is essential for strong bones and teeth. In fact, just one small tub of yoghurt (about 170 grams) packs roughly one third of your daily calcium needs.

You might be surprised to learn that yoghurt is a good source of protein, too, with around ten grams per serve. On top of that, you’re in for all of the natural goodness dairy offers, including potassium for heart and muscle function, vitamin A for healthy eyes and Vitamin B12 to support health blood. So far, so good, right?

The problem with yoghurt is when it comes packed with added sugar. You won’t usually find added sugar in plain, natural yoghurt – the sugar you see on the nutrition information panel of these products is simply the natural sugar called lactose that all dairy foods contain (and FYI there is absolutely nothing wrong with this type of sugar!).

Where you will find added sugar is in flavoured yoghurt. So, I recommend buying plain yoghurt and adding your own fresh fruit if you’re in need of some sweetness.

The fat content is another interesting point of contention. In the past, reduced-fat dairy has been recommended, but new research has shown that for otherwise healthy people (read: those without heart disease or diabetes), full-fat dairy is a-okay in the context of a healthy diet. Nonetheless, reduced-fat dairy is still much lower in kilojoules, so if weight loss is on your radar, a reduced-fat yoghurt could still be a smarter choice.

And what about the newer, trendier coconut- and almond-based yoghurts, I hear you ask? Unfortunately, these products don’t tend to live up to their health halo.

They are usually much lower in protein, and don’t come with all-important calcium, unless fortified. Plus, coconut products are very high in saturated fat, which isn’t good news for your ticker.

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The healthiest yoghurts on the Australian market, ranked

1. Siggi’s 0.5 per cent Plain

Per 100g: 266kJ (64cal), 10.1g protein, 0.2g sat fat, 3.6g sugar, 303mg calcium

2. Farmers Union Greek Style High in Protein

Per 100g: 254kJ (61cal), 8.1g protein, 0.1g sat fat, 5.2g sugar, 262mg calcium

3. Tamar Valley Dairy Natural 99.85 per cent Fat Free Yoghurt

Per 100g: 231kJ (55cal), 6.6g protein,

4. Jalna High Protein Yoghurt Natural

Per 100g: 282kJ (67cal), 9g protein, 0.1g sat fat, 5.5g sugar, 170mg calcium

5. Woolworths Natural 99 per cent Fat Free Greek Style Yoghurt

Per 100g: 240kJ (57cal), 6.1g protein,

6. Yoplait Yoplus Natural

Per 100g: 295kJ (71cal), 5.5g protein, 1.2g sat fat, 7.7g sugar, 194mg calcium

7. Paul’s All Natural Yoghurt Tub Set

Per 100g: 347kJ (83cal), 5.4g protein, 2g sat fat, 6.7g sugar, 195mg calcium

8. Brooklea Natural Pot Set Yoghurt

Per 100g: 223kJ (53cal), 5.3g protein, 0.1g sat fat, 5.7g sugar, 172mg calcium

9. Chobani Plain Greek Yoghurt

Per 100g: 244kJ (58cal), 9.7g protein, 0.1g sat fat, 3.3g sugar, 120mg calcium

10. Vaalia Natural Yoghurt

Per 100g: 348kJ (83cal), 6g protein, 1.2g sat fat, 7.4g sugar, 200mg calcium

Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based Accredited Practising Dietitian. You can connect with her at or on Instagram.

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Latrobe Valley community asks if electric vehicle factory will ever be built

Community members in Latrobe Valley want clarity about whether an electric vehicle factory will go ahead, more than two years after it was announced ahead of the 2018 Victorian state election.

Premier Daniel Andrews announced a deal with the company SEA Electric, to create 500 jobs building electric vans, during a visit to the region on the eve of the election campaign.

The project was the centrepiece of the government’s response to the closure of the Hazelwood power station and its attempt to recover the marginal seat of Morwell.

But more than two years later, a site has not been secured and the company said it needed to modify the agreement for the project to go ahead.

The government said its support “is contingent on the company meeting milestones set out in the agreement,” and has not paid any money to the company since May 2019.

It would not reveal how much has been paid, saying the matter is commercial in confidence.

Independent Morwell MP Russell Northe said he believed the factory would never come to fruition and the government needed to be clear about its future.

“If it’s not going ahead, at least come forward — tell the community the reasons why it’s not going ahead and look at other options for the Latrobe Valley community,” Mr Northe said.

Since the deal was announced, SEA Electric has shifted its focus to international markets and the company’s chief executive Tony Fairweather is now based in the United States.

He said the company would like to proceed with the Latrobe Valley factory, provided the focus could shift away from producing vans towards electric buses and battery packaging.

Last year, Parliament’s Public Accounts and Estimates Committee heard the factory had been delayed after a dispute with Westpac bank regarding a $7 million trade finance facility that needed to be repaid and closed.

Mr Fairweather said there was ample finance for electric vehicles available in the US and the issues with Westpac “pretty much sums up the challenges associated with [electric vehicles in] Australia at the moment”.

But he said despite the greater opportunities abroad, he still wanted to develop the business in Australia and “deliver on” the commitment to build a factory in the Latrobe Valley.

“So if the state has the ability to vary our terms in the agreement to look at the different structuring of what we’re doing down there … then we’re open to that,” Mr Fairweather said.

He said if that was not possible, the company could explore other opportunities in Australia.

Victorian Regional Development Minister Mary-Anne Thomas declined a request for an interview, but a spokesperson issued a statement which said the Government had supported SEA Electric “and its promise to deliver jobs for Victoria and the Latrobe Valley in particular”.

“While we are disappointed that the company has not yet been able to meet its commitment, our support for their project is contingent on the company meeting milestones set out in the agreement. As such, no Victorian Government financial support has been provided since May 2019,” the spokesperson said.

“Future milestone payments to SEA Electric are conditional on the company hiring additional workers from the Latrobe Valley; finalising a site, and entering into a contract for the construction of the new facility.

The spokesperson declined to say whether the government would renegotiate its agreement with SEA Electric as “the terms of the arrangements between SEA Electric and the Victorian Government are commercial in confidence”.

Ms Thomas last month revealed the Government was providing funding for four SEA Electric employees who live in the Latrobe Valley to travel to the company’s Dandenong factory as part of the agreement, in response to questions from the Opposition.

Behind closed doors in September 2019, the Latrobe City Council considered a request from SEA Electric to become the lead tenant at the council’s planned Gippsland Logistics Precinct in Morwell.

Latrobe City mayor Sharon Gibson said the council hoped the project would “kick start” the logistics precinct, leading to more jobs and hoped the Government and the company would “work through” any issues.

“Council has worked really hard with the company. The company have not come back to us with any issues [about the site agreement],” Cr Gibson said.

Wendy Farmer, from community group Voices of the Valley, said the community wanted certainty on whether the project would go ahead.

“If it’s a dead deal, let us know it’s a dead deal. If we can work with the company and work with government to make it happen, let’s make it happen,” Ms Farmer said.

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Appeal following teen assault – Hunter Valley – 16 News

Police are appealing for public assistance after a teenage girl was allegedly assaulted and inappropriately touched in the Hunter Valley last month.

About 9:40pm on Monday (15 February 2021), a 16-year-old girl was walking along Macauley Street in Denman, with an infant in a pram, when she was approached from behind by three people – believed to be a woman and two men – near the intersection of Hunter Street.

Police have been told the teen was pulled to the ground by her hair and kicked several times before a male touched her inappropriately.

The teen managed to free herself, fleeing the scene with the infant before being assisted by a resident.

Emergency services were contacted, and the teenage girl was taken to Muswellbrook Hospital for treatment to cuts and bruises; the infant was uninjured.

Detectives from Hunter Valley Police District have commenced an investigation into the incident.

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Here’s what you can expect with today’s Diamond Valley weather

Today’s forecast is partly cloudy.

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Road Trip through Currumbin Valley

A road trip to Currumbin Valley, the hidden jewel in the Gold Coast Hinterland, is the quintessential country drive, and one of those trips where the journey is as exciting as the destination.

Heading out on Currumbin Creek Rd from Currumbin Beach, in less than 10 minutes you’ll experience a ‘Through the Looking Glass’ moment as the beautiful beaches of Currumbin and the canals of Currumbin Waters give way to rolling green countryside. Take the time to explore and you’ll find waterfalls, bubbling streams, rock pools, grazing kangaroos, rustic cafes, markets and stunning luxury retreats. 

Currumbin Rock Pools

There are so many stops that you’ll want to make along the way and one of these is the famous Currumbin Rock Pools – an iconic beauty spot that for decades has been a drawcard for swimmers and day trippers. The stunning rock formation and cool clear waters are the perfect spot for a picnic or a dip before driving on.

Cougal Cascades

Cougal Cascades are another highlight of any visit to the Currumbin Valley – in the far inland reaches of the valley is this picture perfect rainforest waterfall which is reached via an easy short creekside trail. The path takes you along the bubbling crystal clear waters of Currumbin Creek, past more swimming holes and the remains of an historic logging mill. 

Currumbin Valley

Part of the fun is simply driving along the winding country road that is Currumbin Creek Rd, breathing in the fresh air and taking in the sights. Hemmed by creeks and streams on each side, the road passes by fields of grazing kangaroos and groves of lush rainforest and rolling green hills dotted with barns, farms and rambling estates.

Currumbin Valley

A couple of farms along the way are open to the public on weekends to buy produce, including Currumbin Valley Harvest, a biodynamic farm where you’ll find premium grade fruit, vegetables, herbs and organic coffee. There’s also Freeman’s Organic Farm (a family farm since 1915) providing fresh seasonal produce including avocados, paw paws, custard apples, mangoes and award-winning bananas. On weekends and Mondays, you can also enjoy a coffee and delicious snacks at the cafe at Arthur Freeman Lookout. Take a seat on the lawn, bask in the sun and drink in the rich views of the valley below.

Currumbin Valley Eco Village

Currumbin Valley is also known for The Ecovillage at Currumbin, an international award-winning sustainable community set on 270 acres, just 7 minutes’ drive from Currumbin Beach. Hundreds of native animals share the site with residents, including some 65 kangaroos, some of whom can be regularly seen grazing by the roadside. Visitors are welcome to visit the eco village’s Pasture and Co cafe, the perfect place for a leisurely brunch made from fresh, local ingredients.

Eden Health Retreat

There’s no better place for a relaxing stay than Currumbin Valley, with the best of both worlds – beaches and picturesque countryside – on your doorstep. A Perfect Stay is one option, that lives up to its name, boasting luxury eco cabins with bespoke outdoor baths. Or go for the full relaxation package and rejuvenate at the famous Eden Health Retreat, Australia’s longest running luxury health retreat, nestled in 400 acres of lush rainforest.      

Balter Brewing

Hidden away on the road back to Currumbin beach, just past Currumbin Waters, is Balter Brewing, a local secret that makes for the perfect end to a day in the Valley. Don’t be deceived by the plain unassuming exterior of this popular Gold Coast craft brewery, for inside you’ll find a funky warehouse style space adorned with street art and filled with locals who come here for the excellent food and premise-brewed beer. 

This feature was produced in partnership with our friends at Destination Gold Coast.

For more great things to do and see in Currumbin Valley and the rest of the Gold Coast, visit Destination Gold Coast HERE.

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Seven reasons why Tasmania’s Tamar Valley is better to visit than France’s Champagne

 Let’s face it, none of us are going wine tasting in France any time soon. But the world’s second best sparkling wine region (behind Champagne) is right under our noses… in northern Tasmania.

And get this; the Tamar Valley might be second best for sparkling wine quality, but it’s arguably better for a sparkling wine tasting holiday. Here’s seven reasons why Tasmania’s Tamar Valley wine region might be better to visit than Champagne…

The sparkling wine here is considered second only to Champagne

Because of its latitude and unique agricultural conditions, the Pipers River section of the Tamar Valley wine region (it’s in the north-east corner of the valley) is considered to produce the greatest sparkling wine on earth outside of Champagne. In the 1980s, winemakers from iconic champagne house, Louis Roederer, scoured the world looking for the best place to make sparkling wine and chose the Tamar Valley (to grow cool climate chardonnay and pinot noir, the two main grapes of the Champagne region). The rest is history, now wineries like Clover Hill Wines and Jansz Tasmania produce the country’s best sparkling wine – earning the region the moniker: Sparkling Tasmania.

It’s still blissfully free of tourists (and wine wankers)

<br />Located at Relbia, a fifteen minute drive south of Launceston in Northern Tasmania and just a short distance from the Launceston Airport. The estate includes a 61 hectare (150 acre) vineyard and newly completed state of the art winery, producing elegant wines from premium cool climate fruit.  Craig Tansley sparkling wine story for Traveller. One time use only. Tourism Tasmania/Alamy

Photo: Rob Burnett

Pre-Covid, France attracted 10 million wine tourists each year, including around a million to Champagne itself (over 250,000 tourists each year will walk down the region’s most Instagrammed street, the Avenue de Champagne in Epernay). There’s little room for spontaneity, most guests visit on pre-booked private tours, and must visit by appointment only. Tasmania only receives 625,000 tourists a year and just a tiny proportion visit the Tamar Valley. If there’s more than five cars parked at most Tamar Valley wineries, move on, no-one likes a crowd.

It’s right beside two of the world’s best golf courses

It’s 15 minutes drive from the Tamar Valley’s best sparkling wine estates to two of Australia’s best public golf courses, Barnbougle Dunes and Lost Farm, located on one site beside Bass Strait. In the early 2000s local farmer Richard Sattler decided to build a championship course on the sand dunes of his family farm. Within a few years, it became the world’s 11th best public course, and Australia’s best public course. Most courses in the world’s top 50 courses cost upwards of $400 in green fees, Barnbougle costs just over $100.

Most wineries are still family-owned and you’ll get to meet the owners

Very few champagne houses (in Champagne) are still family-owned, but most wineries in the Tamar Valley are. You won’t meet employees as you will in Champagne, you’ll meet owners. Stop in at Loira Vines to meet Adrian and Mirabai Carruthers, they went on a wine tasting tour three years ago and ended up buying a winery. Or meet Julie and Rohan Hirst at Cabbage Tree Hill Winery who came to buy a house in the area and ended up with a winery instead, though they had no winemaking experience. While you’re tasting, you’ll hear real-life stories you won’t hear in Champagne.

You don’t need to pre-book expensive wine tasting tours

An annual Tasmanian Sparkling Event will taking place in November. Craig Tansley sparkling wine story for Traveller. One time use only. Tourism Tasmania/Alamy

Photo: Andrew Wilson

Just turn up. You’ll find over 30 tasting rooms spread across a wine region split between two sides of the Tamar River. It runs from south of Launceston (Josef Chromy Wines) north to Bass Strait, 60 kilometres away. In Champagne most tasting rooms won’t allow walk-in wine tasters, you have to book a tasting – with the cheapest tasting around $A35. If you’d like to taste the best known champagnes, like Charles Heissieck, you’ll have to book a VIP-only tasting for hundreds of dollars. But it won’t cost a cent to taste the wines of the Tamar Valley. Also consider a wine tasting tour with Prestige Leisure Tours – then you won’t have to think about driving.

Its best champagne is drunk by royalty too

Tamar Valley’s sparkling wine pioneer, Andrew Pirie, has produced a sparkling wine at Pipers Brook Vineyard which has been drunk by Queen Elizabeth II… twice. And Tasmania’s own European princess, Mary (of Hobart), had bottles of local winery, Clover Hill’s legendary 2000 vintage served at her 2004 wedding to Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark.

Stay in Launceston for a fraction of Epernay or Reims​

Craig Tansley sparkling wine story for Traveller. One time use only. Tourism Tasmania/Alamy

Photo: Rob Burnett

Champagne’s two main population centres, Epernay and Reims, cater for people with champagne budgets. Swanky hotels like Les Crayeres or Royal Champagne cost upwards of $750 per night. Launceston, meanwhile, has become Tasmania’s underground food and hotel hot-spot, offering luxury options at a fraction of the price. Long overlooked by those preferring Hobart, it’s now home to some of Australia’s best new historic hotels (eat your heart out France, we have history too!), like Peppers Silo Hotel, rooms built within 35-metre-high barrels of four former grain silos, or Stillwater Seven, rooms built within an 1830s flour mill. And there’s gourmet restaurants, art galleries, weekly farmers’ markets and its architecture is a quaint mix of Victorian and Elizabethan styles reflecting its 19th Century origins.

See also: Ten reasons why this is the perfect Queensland island resort

See also: Before Hollywood and Hemsworth, Byron was just a backwater. And I liked it

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Here’s what you can expect with today’s Mooneey Valley weather

Today’s forecast is clear.

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Vintopia – Welcome to the Valley


Take a trip through the famous wine valleys of the world at Vintopia – Welcome to the Valley wine tasting event at Cloudland on Friday February 26th, 2021.

A blissfully unique and social way of ‘wining’ after work, Vintopia is held fortnightly at Brisbane’s most spectacular multi-storey bar on Friday afternoons from 5-7pm.

With Vintopia, you take a seat at one of the preset tables and the wine tasting guru comes to you. During the session you’ll get to taste nine wines, plus receive a full glass of your favourite. All wines presented are available to purchase by the glass and bottle at the bar. Small and large Vintopia cheese and Italian meats boards are also available to purchase at the Eventbrite checkout.

Embark on a tasting journey around a selection of the globe’s finest Valley wines, descending into regions such as Eden, Rhone, Hunter and Barossa to discover the impact each unique climate has on aroma and taste. Presented by Brad Nankervis from Domaine Wine.

Cloudland is a valued partner of Must Do

Embark on a tasting journey around a selection of the globe’s finest Valley wines, descending into regions such as Eden, Rhone, Hunter and Barossa to discover the impact each unique climate has on aroma and taste. Presented by Brad Nankervis from Domaine Wine.

Cloudland is a valued partner of Must Do

Vintopia – Welcome to the Valley


Ann St

Fortitude Valley

Feb 26, 2021


$20pp + book fee

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I’ve got Hunter Valley coal in my blood, but Joel Fitzgibbon doesn’t speak for me or the valley I know

That is how the communities of the Hunter used to be. And we still live by the same attitudes of rugged realism in the face of difficulty. We never perceive ourselves as entitled in that reckless, self-absorbed way that erodes trust and community spirit but are humbled by the earth in which we live and work.

Our forefathers made sacrifices by going down a pit for another back-breaking shift only so that the next generations could flourish. Now in 2021, those same values and sensibilities point to the need to close the coal mines, to help create a liveable Hunter for the next generations.

Most Australians know the paralysis in the climate debate in our country is an indulgence we cannot afford. We are dangerously poised in the current climate emergency. The claims being made by Fitzgibbon in pursuit of his own short-term political agenda do nothing constructive. They kneecap efforts by the Labor Party to form a cohesive voice as a functional opposition in our crucial national climate debate.

People in the Hunter are no different from people in other parts of the world who want immediate and drastic action to protect our Earth. Anyone unfamiliar with the Hunter could be forgiven for thinking that jobs in coal mining were all that mattered to our region. If you listened only to the distorted characterisations, you would think that a Hunter Valley without coal mines and coal dust would cause us all to collapse in despair.

This is bogus. Though Fitzgibbon only acknowledges it in passing, the fact is that the transition in employment out of primary industries has been afoot in our region for decades.

In the Hunter (excluding Newcastle), employment in the mining industries is low and shrinking. Jobs in tourism and hospitality outnumber jobs in mining, as do jobs in retail and construction. Population sizes in Hunter towns are booming while employment in the coal industry is declining. The Hunter Research Foundation showed that coal mining jobs in the Upper Hunter in 2018 had fallen by 2000 since 2012, and stood at 11,500. On the other hand, according to a parliamentary study, jobs in health and social assistance now stand at 17,100 .


The facts are that the performance of coal mining as an employment bastion in our region has been declining for a long time. The need for skills transfer by traditional workers in the coal mining industry to other sectors is a regular talking point among locals.

Sure, there are the newly settled or the “fly-in, fly-out” workers keen to make a quick buck, but that trend is grossly out of step with the natural attrition of a dwindling coal mining industry in the Hunter region. What we hear on the ground, the anecdotal evidence, shores up the official data.

We should be facilitating the transition out of coal mining and into future industries, not putting obstacles in the way. The invitation is open for Fitzgibbon to work with others to get an industry plan that fast-tracks to clean energy. The Hunter could positively model what can happen in other parts of the country for climate protection.

The Hunter region has been exploited for two centuries for its coal. Now it’s being exploited for political advantage in the most pernicious and regrettable way. By holding the national climate debate to ransom, Fitzgibbon is holding back the people of the Hunter and risking a dire future for our children and our children’s children. There have to be better ways forward.

Felicity McCallum is an Awabakal woman, a PhD candidate at Charles Sturt University and a research member of the Centre for Public and Contextual Theology. She lectures at the Australian Catholic University, Canberra.

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