- UTS News Room - University of Technology, Sydney

Sweet science
Does Australian manuka honey
have medicinal potential?
Tailor-made propaganda
Fashion was more than a frivolity
when Europe went to war in 1914.
ISSUE 20, 18 NOVEMBER 2014
in suburbia
A photographer’s 20-year project capturing life in south-west Sydney
is part of a digital revolution keeping libraries relevant. Page 5
Rebel Grannies:
Bruna Trimarchi, centre,
Mika Klickovic and
Roma Jakubec outside
the Rebels clubhouse,
Leppington, 2009.
A new coaching team
is on the water as UTS
Haberfield Rowing
Club sets course for
Rio 2016
A young researcher
gets up close with
freshwater algae
for the sake of river
and reef health
Two decades behind
the lens produce
an intimate and
archive of Sydney life
Beekeepers and
patients may benefit
from new research into
the medicinal powers
of Australian honey
Ostrich feathers,
propaganda and
Parisian couture
tell an economic
back story to WWI
Once upon a time: using space
particles to tell the oldest story
Physicists are finding new ways to explore the building
blocks of the solar system, writes Leigh Dayton.
Photo: Thinkstock
Physicist Aiden Martin, at work in his UTS lab, is passionate about developing
scientific hardware to explain our solar system. Photo by Fiona McGill.
It’s difficult to imagine, but tiny
specks of cosmic dust hold
important clues to nothing less
than the evolution of our solar
system. There is a catch, though.
The precious particles – collected
during NASA’s 1999 Stardust
mission to the comet Wild 2 – are
trapped in a special silica aerogel.
How to retrieve them safely?
Enter Aiden Martin, a doctoral
student in physics at the University
of Technology, Sydney (UTS).
“The problem is mostly the size of
the particles. Some are a micron
in size or even less,” Martin says.
A micron is 100 times smaller
than the diameter of a human hair.
Until now, techniques for isolating
and extracting the particles from
their foam-like cocoon involved
inserting fine glass needles into the
silica aerogel, too often damaging
the particles in the process.
With a John Stocker scholarship
from Australia’s Science and Industry
Endowment Fund, Martin has
been able to tackle the problem
with fellow UTS physicists Dr
Igor Aharonovich, Professor Milos
Toth and Dr Charlene Lobo, and
astrophysicist Dr Eric Silver from
the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre
for Astrophysics (HSCA) in
Cambridge, Massachusetts.
It’s been a fruitful collaboration.
Martin and his colleagues have
used a newly developed, electron
beam-induced etching process
on a high-powered scanning
electron microscope developed
by the Oregon microscopy firm
FEI Company. Martin explains
that the procedure involves
“etching” the aerogel material
away from individual particles.
Dr Aharonovich adds: “It’s like
looking for jewellery in the sand.”
Dr Aharonovich joined UTS
in 2013 from Harvard University.
“I met Martin when he was visiting
Harvard,” he says. “We were having
a drink and I was interested in the
research here at UTS.”
When Martin visited the
HSCA they used their process with
Dr Silver’s high-resolution X-ray
detector to measure the structure
and mineralogical composition of
the particles.
Their technology promises to
enhance the continuing study of
Comet Wild 2 samples which
began after the arrival of Stardust’s
return canister in 2006.
Since then, more than 200
international scientists have
analysed samples. They’ve found
the particles are, as expected,
ancient building blocks of the
solar system. But the nature
and origin of the particles was
“quite remarkable”, says Stardust
investigator Dr Don Brownlee
of the University of Washington.
He says the comet’s ice formed
in cold regions beyond Neptune.
But the rocky bulk of its mass
formed much closer to the Sun,
in regions hot enough to evaporate
Then last August, at the
University of California, Berkeley,
physicist Andrew Westphal’s
team reported it had identified
seven particles from outside the
solar system, perhaps created in a
supernova explosion millions of
years ago. Martin and company
hope to use their extraction
technique on these particles.
This is a heady world for a
young scientist. Martin hopes to
complete his PhD this year, before
moving to San Francisco to look
for a postdoctoral position.
“I’m passionate about developing
new scientific hardware. I want to
be at the cutting edge,” he says.
Ready for a festival of self-control
On the eve of the summer festival
season, new research reveals good
news and bad news about crowd
management at large events.
Dr Rob Harris and Dr Deborah
Edwards, of the business school
at the University of Technology,
Sydney (UTS), led a study
with the Australian Institute of
Criminology to gather data for a
risk-management tool that could
assess crowd control needs.
Dr Harris and Dr Edwards
interviewed police, liquor-licensing
authorities, security firms, local
councils, large venues and stadiums
Managing Editor: Robert Button
Editor: Fiona McGill
Design and layout: Tui Prichard
Printer: Blue Star Print NSW
Editorial enquiries: 02 9514 2732,
[email protected]
Brink is published by the University
of Technology, Sydney through its
Marketing and Communication
Unit. The views expressed in Brink
are not necessarily the views of the
university or its editorial team.
and found a pervasive drinking
culture, abuse of drugs and general
lack of personal accountability
were overriding concerns.
“People are not accepting
responsibility for themselves.
They want it to be everybody
else’s problem,” says Dr Edwards.
The findings echo the experience
of security expert Jim Fidler,
director of Secure Events and
Assets in Sydney. The former
London Metropolitan Police officer
says too many people expect others
to pick up the pieces when they
behave badly.
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third Tuesday of every month.
You can subscribe to the print
version of Brink by emailing your
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“We have the pre-loading where
people have a bottle of vodka,
then an hour and two beers later
they’re throwing up and causing us
problems. Or the drugs – they take
them from people they don’t know,
and they don’t know what the
drugs are,” says Fidler.
“You don’t need to get that
drunk that we have to carry you out
on a stretcher … [and you could]
potentially die.”
A rule of thumb in event
management calls for two crowd
controllers for the first 100 patrons
and one controller for every 100
patrons thereafter. Dr Edwards says
their study, funded by the National
Drug Law Enforcement Research
Fund, aimed to determine if those
ratios were still appropriate.
“Should it be adjusted up
or down? What are the other
parameters that affect that 1:100
ratio? And what we found is
that the elements that impact
the number of crowd controllers
needed at an event is very broad,”
she says.
The “hype factor” of music is
significant – is it thrash metal or
Security staff remove a patron at a summer music festival. Photo by AAP/Jack Tran.
folk? – as is the type of beer served
– full strength or half strength –
overcrowding, availability of food
and water, and the age and gender
of patrons.
She says the calibre of crowdcontrol staff is also an issue. “Part
of the problem in the crowd control
industry is around wages and career
progression,” says Dr Edwards.
“Because the wages aren’t good,
because there’s a lack of career
progression, you’re always getting
casual or unskilled people going
An unexpected finding was
that women and university
students were found to be good
crowd controllers – patrons are
less antagonistic to women, while
students think outside the square
to solve problems. Jim Fidler says
maturity is a sound qualification;
he favours staff with “a bit of life
Dr Harris praised stadiums
and major venues, the City of
Sydney and some notable security
companies for their good practices.
And he made a plea to summer
revellers: be considerate of the
crowd controllers. They’re not the
fun police, they’re there for your
Oarsome twosome
back on stroke
Ellen Randell, head women's coach at UTS Haberfield, and returning men's
coach Tim McLaren greet the dawn at Iron Cove. Photo by Peter Morris.
There's new momentum in the boatshed and ambition on
the water as a coaching duo reunites, writes John Huxley.
can provide the environment – the
Sydney and Athens, respectively.
ust as she’s done almost
“To lure Tim back took a pretty big physical and mental support – for
every morning for 20 years
success. But like the boatshed did,
investment but it’s created a lot of
or so, rain or shine, Ellen
it will take some time rebuilding.”
Randell stands on the deck of UTS interest. Having two world-class
Despite their success with elite
coaches at the club should mean
Haberfield Rowing Club at Iron
rowers, McLaren, Randell and
we attract more talent.”
Cove and greets the dawn.
Welch are passionate advocates
Anthony “Doc” Blower, chief
A new era of rowing is dawning,
of club-based programs that cater
executive of Rowing NSW, says
too, as Randell, women’s head
for athletes of all ages and levels.
“that’s good for rowing locally and
coach, welcomes the return to
“Not every athlete will make it
nationally … there’s a number of
Haberfield of men’s head coach
to the Olympics, but they all add
clubs, such as Sydney, Mosman
Tim McLaren. “It’s great to have
and Sydney University, which work to the depth and fabric of the club,”
him back,” Randell says of the
says McLaren, who won a silver
with elite athletes, but they can
other half of the club’s so-called
always do with more competition.” medal in the quadruple sculls at the
“dream team”.
1984 Los Angeles Olympics.
Blower has a high opinion of
They prepared no fewer than 38
“UTS has always tried to create
the new “old” team and its ability
athletes and coaches for Olympic
to attract talent and support. “Ellen a culture built on principles of hard
Games between 1992 and 2008,
work, high standards and resilience
who between them won 16 medals is a saint, held in high regard by
athletes. And the thing I like about with a strongly supportive family– a remarkable achievement even
like environment.”
for a club that has “punched
Welch agrees. “It’s not
above its weight” for most of
all about coaches and boats.
its distinguished history.
We strive to be diligent,
It’s about creating the right
“For a while back there
... we strive to
we had the best squad in the
hardworking, aspirational and atmosphere
be diligent, hardworking,
country,” says McLaren, who
aspirational and cohesive.”
has worked in China, Britain
cohesive. And successful.
And successful.
and the United States, where
“There’s bragging rights,
he coached the 2012 Olympics
pride and ego involved ... we’d like
Tim is … he teaches the whole
squad. For the past two years, he
to be number one in NSW, number
person, not just the rower.”
has been head rowing coach at the
one in Australia.”
But how soon can the pair start
NSW Institute of Sport.
Beyond that, says Welch, the
winning Olympic medals for a
His reunion with Randell
famous club that began life in 1925 club maintains links with NSW
comes only a few months after
schools, as well as international
as Haberfield Rowing Club, and
the opening of the redeveloped
aspirations. “We aim each year
amalgamated with UTS in 1992?
University of Technology, Sydney
McLaren, 58, warns recapturing to compete against other world(UTS) boatshed, and has been
class rowing universities such as
welcomed by rowing experts inside the glory days won’t be easy, that
they might get a few athletes to the Cambridge, Oxford, Harvard, Yale,
and outside the club.
Princeton and Berkeley.”
2016 Olympics in Brazil, but are
“It’s a win for us at several
Indeed, McLaren will be
looking more to Japan in 2020.
levels,” says Stuart Welch, club
released for two weeks to prepare
“We’re starting virtually from
treasurer and its most successful
the Cambridge crew for its annual
scratch and … well, coaching’s not
Olympian. He won silver and
Boat Race against Oxford.
bronze medals in the men’s VIII in an exact science. Hopefully, we
Silver medal winner Laura Dunn has been part of the UTS rowing family
since she began her leisure management degree. Photo by Peter Morris.
All rows lead to Rio
In six minutes and 19 seconds,
UTS rower Laura Dunn reached
a new peak in the sport she has
pursued since her mid-teens.
The occasion was the 2014 World
Rowing Championships, held
in August at the Netherlands’
Bosbaan regatta course.
Dunn, in her first regatta
representing Australia, won
a silver medal in the women's
lightweight quadruple sculls.
As soon as she could escape
the post-race formalities, she
greeted her long-time coach,
Ellen Randell: “Ellen was
ecstatic, all smiles and hugs.
Obviously we would have loved
gold – that’s what we trained
for – but as a camp-based crew
we only had a total of three
weeks together before the
race, so still a great result.”
Dunn began rowing on Lake
Macquarie 11 years ago, after
hanging round at regattas
watching her older sister in
action. By the time she finished
school, she was hooked. A move
from the Hunter to Sydney to
study leisure management
brought her under Randell’s
tutelage and into a new family,
the rowing community of the
University of Technology, Sydney.
“I’d moved away from
home and from my family
… Ellen’s been there for the
ups and the downs, the tears
and the joy,” Dunn says.
Dunn, now 27, says she lives
much as she did when studying,
modestly. Her boyfriend,
a senior coach at another
rowing club, understands the
lifestyle – the unsocial hours,
the challenges of holding down
a full-time job, the lack of
funding. “This sort of life is not
easy but he gets it,” she says.
Each day, Dunn is on the
water before dawn at Iron
Cove, in Sydney’s inner west,
and in the gym each afternoon.
There’s no time to lose if she’s
to snag a spot in the lightweight
double sculls crew at the 2016
Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Sydney, this is your life
From left: Kids own creation,
Heckenberg 1996; Argentine drum
group, Heckenberg 1996; Vietnamese
migrant grows snake beans, Bringelly
2005. All photos courtesy of Therese
The archive of a photographer’s 20-year journey through the suburbs of her
childhood is part of the revolution transforming libraries, writes Fiona McGill.
When science gets
under the skin
A young researcher has spent three years up close with
freshwater algae in a study to improve the health of tropical
rivers and the Great Barrier Reef, writes Fiona McGill.
or three years, environmental
scientist and doctoral
student Rebecca Wood
has devoted herself to benthic
diatoms, or freshwater algae. She
has travelled to rivers up and
down the Queensland tropical
coast, scrubbing the algae off
rocks. She has exposed them to
herbicides, and peered through her
microscope to gauge their reaction.
Finally, she is using her data to
design a ground-breaking index
of species at risk for scientists
monitoring the health of waterways
flowing onto the Great Barrier Reef.
And, as if that hasn’t been enough
to keep her busy, she has just
competed in the national final of
the Three-Minute Thesis (3MT)
competition, held earlier this
month at the University of Western
Australia. Those 180 seconds of
high-pressure public speaking as
the finalist from the University of
Technology, Sydney (UTS) were the
culmination of years of practice at
the urging of her PhD supervisors,
who promoted her to speak at
conferences as far afield at Glasgow.
Her 3MT topic was “Benthic
diatoms as indicators of herbicide
toxicity” and, as Wood, 29, admits:
“My research is quite hard to
explain. [Having to distil it for]
the Three-Minute Thesis has made
it so much easier to talk about
what I’m doing.” She had no
need of notes, having memorised
her material and perfected
her conversational style in the
shower – where “you’re all relaxed
Rebecca Wood uses a toothbrush to scrub benthic diatoms, inset,
from rocks in a far north Queensland river. Photos supplied.
Research (TropWATER) at
the national park, looking for the
and you’ve got good acoustics” –
powerful owl, those sorts of things.” James Cook University, Townsville,
and out walking her dog.
says Wood’s work could be used
Wood says benthic diatoms
Wood is on the last leg of her
to highlight shortcomings in
are widely known as a good
PhD, writing up papers – four
the regulation of water quality.
indicator of ecological health
at last count – and preparing to
The project took her to far
because they are so responsive to
submit her thesis. At the back of
north Queensland where she
changes in water quality. They are,
her mind, though, is a particular
took samples from 14 rivers –
she says, “the dominant primary
celebration – acquiring a new
using a toothbrush to scrub the
tattoo to mark such a life milestone. producers in rivers … they’re
algae off rocks – for analysis in
Her husband, Angus, a tattoo artist, really important at the base of the
sensitivity experiments in the
food chain as a source for other
will add a “beautiful diatom” to
organisms such as fish and insects”. lab. She is now writing up her
Wood’s tattoo collection, which
results and compiling a database
They are also sensitive to
includes a corroboree frog she got
of herbicide-sensitive species
pollution and could be used to
after an alpine research project.
for a bio-monitoring index.
detect the impact of herbicides
“I love the imagery [of tattoos]
“Field work in the tropics is
and I love thinking about what the in waterways that flow onto the
certainly different,” says Wood,
Great Barrier Reef. At present,
next image will be. Diatoms are
who skirted round
so beautiful and I know
venomous snakes
they’d make a good
to get to the water
tattoo … I’ve just got to
That was really my project …
but managed to avoid
decide where to put it.”
to create a new species-at-risk index any close encounters
Art was Wood’s
with crocodiles.
first career choice: her
which can detect herbicide impacts
“I could live up there
favourite subjects at
Cheltenham Girls
in rivers before they flow into the reef. and go troppo …
you just feel this
High School were
different mode of
physics and art. After
living. I really loved it, and it’s
the HSC, she went to the National pollution monitoring is focused
beautiful, like another country.”
on the chemical, rather than
Art School, where she met
Dr Ben Kefford, assistant
biological: “It only gets you so
Angus. As a graduate, though, she
professor in water science at the
far to know how much chemicals
realised her passion lay elsewhere.
University of Canberra, says
are in the environment without
A year later, she was at UTS
Wood’s bio-monitoring method,
asking what effect it is having
studying environmental science.
which he hopes will be in use
on the biota that lives there?
The eldest of three children
within a few years, would allow
“That was really my project
– her father is a banker who
scientists to obtain a direct
… to create a new species-atkeeps bees and loves cycling and
measure of water toxicity.
bushwalking; her mother is a nurse risk index which can detect
“The federal and Queensland
herbicide impacts in rivers
who loves biology – Wood grew
governments have goals pertaining
before they flow into the reef.”
up in North Epping with Lane
to reef health and water quality,”
Jon Brodie, chief research
Cove National Park at her back
says Dr Kefford. “The index
scientist at the Centre for Tropical
door. “I’ve always loved nature:
could be used to indicate where
exploring our secret spots down in Water & Aquatic Ecosystem
there is toxicity in rivers and
help to meet those goals.”
Wood’s plans after her
doctorate – beyond that diatom
tattoo – are likely to include
further research. “I’m so loving
research. It’s like a job and I treat
it as such. I take it seriously and
I come in [to UTS] every day
and work hard at it. It’s just that
you don’t get paid as much.”
Rebecca Wood had a corroboree frog
tattooed on her foot after an earlier
environmental research project.
Photo by Simona Galimberti.
herese Sweeney has
thousands of photographs
of the area in south-west
Sydney where she grew up. Ask her
to choose her favourites and she’s
spoilt for choice.
There are the shots of market
gardeners and koi farmers, walking
groups and bocce players, big noisy
families celebrating weddings and
birthdays, and solitary folk leading
quiet, ordinary lives.
Sweeney’s “photo album” is
an intimate chronicle of social
change in several suburbs around
the Liverpool and Camden
municipalities – images she has
captured over 20 years and which
are now in a ground-breaking,
public archive developed by
librarians at the University of
Technology, Sydney (UTS).
When personal circumstances
drew her into this intense project –
“on reflection, the journey I had to
have” – she recognised she would
always be tied to her community.
“I grew up in Green Valley from
its beginnings – six suburbs full
of fibro housing and lots of kids,”
says Sweeney. She was able to gain
access to people’s lives because she
“was one of them”.
A favourite theme involved
pictures of people at bus stops.
One was taken outside the Rebels
building unique collections – and
motorcycle clubhouse. As a busload of Sydney’s south-west in
Therese’s is a unique collection –
the 1990s and beyond,” says
of women watched, Sweeney
and sharing it.”
Professor Ashton. “It’s a relatively
captured Austral market gardener
The dilemma for the archivist,
contemporary period and few have
Bruna Trimarchi and two friends
he says, is deciding when material
recorded it – certainly not in this
posing against the club gates.
which some might call ephemera
voluminous detail.
“They’re called the ‘Rebel
is worth collecting. “That’s the hard
“On the one hand, it’s domestic
Grannies’ now,” says Sweeney,
decision to make … is [an item]
and small scale – full of intimate
“and the photograph is framed
important or is it ephemeral?”
scenes. On the other, Therese’s
and hanging in their local
UTS Library staff digitised
work captures the massive changes
community centre.”
that have been wrought in a recent Sweeney’s selected negatives and
Sweeney started her project
transparencies and developed the
passage of time as the suburbs
in 1994, in the pre-digital era.
metadata framework,
Working with 35mm
adding context – author,
film, a second-hand
titles and places, for
Minolta X300 and
The bigger picture is the
example – to expose
a strict budget, she
each item to search
would process the
narrative of pioneering market
engines and other lines
negatives and print
gardeners and residents forming
of online inquiry. The
her pictures. “My shot
bigger picture is the
ratio had to be tight –
new suburbs from the early 1960s.
narrative of Sweeney’s
I allowed myself three
Memory Bank project,
shots to come up with
recording the stories of pioneering
undergo development of what
a keeper.”
migrant market gardeners and
were spaces for agriculture and
The next step, in 1995, was
residents forming new suburbs
beginning a communication
from the early 1960s.
Professor Ashton could see the
degree (and her enduring
The same team has recently
potential of Sweeney’s archive as
association with UTS) to hone
published Conflicted Dispatches,
a public resource, which brought
the theory side – filmmaking,
an archive of writings by Indian
UTS Librarian Mal Booth into
social history, politics. That brought
journalist PRS Mani, who was
the frame.
her into the orbit of Professor
an officer in the British army in
“When we talk about libraries
Paul Ashton, co-director of the
Indonesia from 1945 to 1949.
it’s less about building collections
Australian Centre for Public
The archive was edited by Professor
and putting them on shelves or
History, who recognised the
Heather Goodall of UTS.
making databases and making
significance of Sweeney’s work.
Booth says the benefits of
people come and find you,” says
“[It] documents in fine-grain
collecting Sweeney’s photographs
Booth. “It’s now more about
detail the rapid development
may not be revealed for years,
“… when someone desperate for
evidence – cultural material in an
exhibition, in a book – goes ‘this is
just gold’, combines it with some
other knowledge, or data sets, and
makes something else of it”.
Sweeney is pleased UTS has
made her collection public. “It’s
what I wanted from the beginning.
My purpose – apart from recording
working-class culture – was to
stimulate curiosity and research.”
The project is multi-layered:
some 1000-plus still photographs
are the first phase, to be followed
by sound and, finally, video.
“Photography was never enough
for me to honour the residents …
which led to the oral history and
the moving images.”
Sweeney says in some ways it
was a harsh landscape in which to
grow up. However, it had a rich mix
of people – from the home owners
to those dependent on welfare
– who looked after one another.
“What’s mine is yours,” says
Sweeney. “That’s how we got by.”
See the full archive at
The PRS Mani archive is at:
For more about Therese Sweeney's
work, see memorybank.org.au.
From far left: Therese
Sweeney with Margaret
and Gough Whitlam,
Darling Point 1995 (Gough
was the local MP during
her childhood); Paul and
Sharmaine, Penrith 1995.
Camera photo: Thinkstock.
Beekeepers eye
the sweet spot
Can any of Australia’s 83 species of manuka tree yield
honey with the potency to fight infection? A new study
aims to find out, writes Melinda Ham.
much-needed boost to honey
unable to become resistant
ou may already like
producers, says Ben Hooper,
to honey, unlike antibiotics.”
to spread Australian
The study will also test the ability who represents the country’s
honey on your toast
10,000 registered beekeepers with
of bacteria to become resistant to
or have a spoonful in your tea.
Australian Leptospermum honeys. the Rural Industries Research
However, if the outcome of
and Development Corporation
New Zealand has two species
research led by microbiologist
(RIRDC). The corporation is
of Leptospermum trees, while
Liz Harry is positive, it may
funding the research project.
Australia has 83 – the largest
become a topical treatment for
“This research is very exciting,”
diversity of this plant. They’re
chronic wounds – and boost
says Hooper. “Australian table
found in north-eastern NSW,
the earnings of beekeepers.
honey sells for about $4 a kilogram
south-eastern Queensland and
Professor Harry, the deputy
but medicinal-grade honey sells for
north-western Tasmania.
director of the ithree institute
about $30 a kilogram. In a good
“There is enormous potential
at the University of Technology,
year, we produce about 30,000
for the Australian honey industry
Sydney (UTS), and three cotonnes and if the price was high,
investigators have begun a five-year to really capitalise on the growing
we could easily double that.
project to examine the
Producing this additional
medicinal properties of
Medihoney dressings could honey would require only
honey from manuka trees
operational changes
in Australia (known as
help to prevent infection topically, minimal
and few extra input costs.”
Leptospermum honeys).
The global medicinal
They want to find out
giving the body a greater chance
honey market is already
which honeys from which
to fight disease.
worth $75 million annually.
areas have the highest
As further research supports
level of methylglyoxal,
honey’s effectiveness, demand
medicinal honey market, as we
a nectar-derived chemical that
for honey wound dressings is
have more land and larger forests
kills bacterial cells. Many studies
increasing in Britain, Canada
of these manuka trees,” says
have documented the high level
and the United States. It is
Professor Harry.
of this chemical in New Zealand
estimated that in the US alone,
“It will also have great
manuka honeys, but no one has yet
about 6.5 million people have
examined the antibacterial potency environmental benefits, increase
chronic wounds.
biodiversity and encourage us to
of Australian honey.
At the same time, with a
manage our forests better and really
“The chemistry is very complex
worldwide honey shortage caused
value them.”
and has evolved over millions of
by colony collapse disorder (when
If the research proves the
years to be hostile to bacterial
worker bees abruptly abandon a
growth,” says Professor Harry. “This potency and effectiveness of
hive) and the combined effects
is the reason we believe bacteria are Australian honey, it will give a
A beekeeper smokes his hives to remove the honey. Photo courtesy Capilano.
of the Varroa and Acarapis mites
in Europe and the Americas,
Australia and New Zealand for the
moment are uninfected.
Nurse Heidi Darcy, clinical
adviser to Comvita, New
Zealand’s biggest medicinal
honey manufacturer, says health
professionals are exploring honeybased wound dressings because
chronic wounds are becoming more
common and more complex to
treat. At the same time, bacteria are
developing resistance to traditional
antimicrobial treatments.
Darcy says medicinal honey
wound dressings could play a
synergistic role in fighting wound
infection. “Where antibiotics are
fighting infection from within the
bloodstream, Medihoney dressings
could help to prevent infection
topically, giving the body a greater
chance to fight disease.
“They can kick-start the
healing. The honey draws out
excess water, cellular debris and
bacteria from the wound, reducing
the risk of infection.” She says
medicinal honey is already used by
conducive to learning for the
80 to 100 children. Working with
the community development
organisation Sambhav Nepal,
Dr Prescott is supported by the
Rotary club of Wahroonga and a
group who volunteer their services
in Nepal.
Dr Prescott will make her
fourth trip to the Himalayan
kingdom in January, when she
hopes the rebuilding of Gandaki
school can begin.
Since she began training
teachers at the school, Dr Prescott
says the spoken English of pupils
and teachers has improved
enormously and they are now able
to hold conversations rather than
just exchange simple textbook
“Teachers tend to think you can
only learn from textbooks so we
have been taking them outside and
playing educational games to show
there are alternatives.”
Classroom management has
been another issue to address.
“I thought there was a lot of
shouting in class – they teach the
way they were taught – so we try
to break some of those habits.”
The cultural disconnect that can
occur between fund-raising and
local needs is evident in some wellmeaning but under-used initiatives.
One charitable organisation had
built a library that was hardly used.
Dr Prescott discovered this was
because teachers didn’t know how
to incorporate books other than
textbooks in their teaching.
“So I read aloud to them just
as I would to my own son. No one
had ever done that before and they
were enthralled,” she says.
Another school has a science lab
that lies dormant – again because
teachers don’t know how to use
it. “The internet is too expensive
and not available to them so one
of our big plans is to get them
access to DVDs so they can watch
experiments and learn how to
conduct them.”
Sanitation and sanctuary have to
be uppermost, though, if girls are
to have an equal stake in education,
says Dr Prescott. “It’s very hard for
the kids. They have to work on the
farm as well as go to school. There’s
some electricity but it’s intermittent
and, in the winter, temperatures can
drop to below zero.”
Her pragmatic message to
a society that prioritises boys’
education is simple: “If you want
your sons to be educated, you have
to educate their mothers.”
High ambition for students in
the mountain kingdom
epal entranced
mathematician Anne
Prescott in 1983 on
her first visit to the lakeside city
of Pokhara, and she promised
herself she would go back one
day to do some trekking.
That return trip, in January
2011, ended up being a professional
mission when Dr Prescott, a senior
maths lecturer at the University
of Technology, Sydney (UTS),
led a teacher-training team to the
western region of Nepal.
Dr Prescott has always viewed
education as a way for people to
get out of poverty, but the visit
opened her eyes to the problems
Conditions inside the classroom at Gandaki school are basic, but sanitation
facilities are worse, causing girls to leave education. Photo by Anne Prescott.
faced by teachers and pupils. “Some
teachers walked three or four hours
each way to attend the professional
development classes,” she says.
But it was the dilapidated state
of Gandaki school, near Arughat,
and the lack of sanitation that
really left an impression. Boys
far outnumbered the girls and
Dr Prescott soon realised girls
stopped attending class because
the toilets were terrible – little
more than a concrete slab.
Girls avoided drinking so they
didn’t have to use the toilets or,
if they had their periods, they
wouldn’t attend school at all.
“It was really unhealthy,” she says.
“So when I returned to Australia,
I set about trying to raise money
to improve the toilets in Gandaki
Dr Prescott collected twice the
amount of money needed, and her
efforts have been recognised with
a UTS Social Inclusion award.
She is now raising funds to
rebuild the Gandaki school and
replace mud floors and broken
desks with something more
For more about community
development in Nepal,
see sambhavnepal.org.
Frontline of fashion
From far left: French dancer
Gaby Deslys adorned with
ostrich feathers; magazine
illustrations contained
anti-German propaganda.
Images supplied.
Ostrich feathers, propaganda and Parisian couture tell an
economic back story to World War I, writes Fiona McGill.
abrielle Chanel opened her
first boutique in 1910, on
Rue Cambon in Paris; her
second followed in 1913, in the
French seaside town of Deauville.
A year later, Europe was at war and
munitions and uniforms suddenly
seemed more significant than
French couture gowns and prêt-àporter trends.
With the centenary of World
War I, historians have returned
to the archives to document
the significance of fashion and
the fashion industry in those
tumultuous times. In the process,
they have unearthed gems
of ingenuity, innovation and
impeccably dressed propaganda.
Next month in Paris, at a
conference titled “Fashion, Dress
and Society in Europe during
WWI”, Emily Brayshaw, a PhD
researcher at the University of
Technology, Sydney (UTS), will
deliver a paper on the social and
economic importance of ostrich
feathers in fashion during the war.
It is a story of rationing, feather
stockpiles and “ridiculous” prices
– before the war, says Brayshaw,
“a good plume could cost almost
as much as a diamond” – and will
put French actor and dancer Gaby
Deslys in the spotlight.
It is also part of the broader
story of fashion’s impact on the
French economy, social fabric and
war effort, and the role of Parisian
designers as style arbiters for women
all over the world. Other papers at
the conference will cover gender,
dress, fashion producers, consumers
and workers, and the wartime press.
“Fashion was a key component
of the French economy 100 years
ago … the world looked to Paris
to set the fashion,” says Brayshaw.
“One of the key things Paris
exported was intellectual property
… the incredibly wealthy would
travel from all over the world to get
their clothes made in Paris. But the
designers would also send designs
and sketches to department stores or
makers around the world and that
Paris look would be adopted.
“These looks did become
mass-produced by 1914 and you
could buy off the rack or from
catalogues … That was important,
given the geographical spread of
many countries. You’re living in
rural Canada but you can still feel
in touch with the latest French
fashions, buying from a catalogue;
you’re part of this imagined
community of fashion.”
Brayshaw says before war broke
out, merchants in Paris and London
stockpiled ostrich feathers because
they were so valuable. During the
war, many fashion items, including
fabrics, dyes and trimmings, became
heavily rationed but ostrich feathers
were exempt.
“The ostrich feather market was
gigantic before the war … there
was so much money to be made
… and then the market crashed in
1914. You’ve got all these stockpiled
ostrich feathers hanging around
worth nothing … By 1917, you
have the fashion industry saying
what can we use when we’re facing
restrictions? Oh, look, we’ve got all
these ostrich feathers lying around.”
Suddenly, ostrich feathers were
everywhere – trimming shoes,
decorating hats – and their use
seemed limited only by a designer’s
imagination. Brayshaw says the
feathers were also key to attempts
to rescue French fashion from the
pervasive misery of war time and
reinvigorate the national economy.
While Parisians were producing
garments in dark hues that echoed
the hardship – mounting casualties,
striking workers, mutineering
soldiers – the Americans, who
didn’t enter the war until 1917, were
grumbling because fashion was too
sombre. The French fashion trade
press took up the cause, Brayshaw
says, “saying [to the couture
industry], we’ve got to lift our game
and get the view out there that we’re
still ‘gay Paris’. Global consumers
don’t want austerity from us.”
And, notes Brayshaw, what better
way to send a sartorial message of
frivolity to people starved of luxury
than clothes trimmed with soft,
fluffy ostrich feathers?
Professor Peter McNeil, dean
of research at the UTS Faculty of
Design, Architecture and Building,
says work such as Brayshaw’s is
significant for the detail it reveals
about a cataclysmic period in history.
“People dismiss fashion [in this
context of commentary on war]
as facile or trivial but it’s not at all.
These are important discoveries, as
well as being a strong argument for
returning to the archive,” Professor
McNeil says.
Rebecca Barry, the producer and
director of documentary I Am A
Girl, little imagined the impact
her film would have when it was
released in Australia last year.
It traces the lives of six girls
between the ages of 17 and 19 in
Cambodia, Afghanistan (Aziza is
pictured left), Cameroon, Papua
New Guinea, the United States
and Australia, and has developed
its own momentum, says Barry.
Last month, the documentary
had its US premiere as part
of the annual UN-sponsored
International Day of the Girl
summit in New York City. Barry
is working with US partners to
develop accompanying educational
guides, and is planning screenings
in the UK and Europe for 2015.
Amnesty International has used
it with community groups as an
educational tool, while a troupe
of dance students choreographed
a new work reflecting the
messages on discrimination
and domestic violence.
Barry, who made the movie
as part of her doctorate at the
University of Technology, Sydney,
says its greatest success is the
way it has been embraced by
mainstream education because
“that’s where inter-generational
change can happen”. At Q&A
Brayshaw’s fascination with
ostrich feathers is a happy offshoot
of her own journey through the
archives, researching Parisian
showgirls and their costumes.
“The first grand, feathered
showgirl revue was staged in Paris
on Christmas night, 1917. I got to
thinking, where the hell did they get
all those ostrich feathers from in the
middle of a war zone?”
Delving into archives in
Australia, Europe and the US has
yielded a rich narrative, of which
ostrich feathers are only a part.
Brayshaw has chronicled the use of
fashion during the First World War
to signify grief (dark colours) and a
“defiant attitude in the face of terror
(frilly undergarments, especially
with lace made by Belgian refugees
in France); and to lampoon the
enemy (the fat German housewife)
and bolster the home side (the
elegant, slender French woman).
“Fashion and clothing bring
the human dimension to the war,”
she says. “It may seem frivolous on
the surface, but the clothes carried
strong sartorial messages.”
For more on the Paris conference,
see wwifashion.com.
Leading by example
sessions after screenings, Barry has
been approached by teachers who
want to use it in their classrooms.
Barry has worked with
the Documentary Australia
Foundation to create the
educational tools – including a
DVD of the 88-minute movie, but
also 10-minute vignettes of each
girl’s story. Individual tales portray
themes such as mental health,
self-esteem or domestic violence.
The DVD is augmented with five
curriculum-specific study guides,
free for teachers to download.
See iamagirl.com.au for
details, downloads or to
organise a screening.
UTS Public
Events Calendar
Mindfulness expert Charlotte
Thaarup-Owen and Dr Julia
Connell, director, researcher
development at UTS, will host a
business breakfast to provide an
introduction to mindfulness in
the workplace. In the hour-long
session, they will discuss the
basic concepts of mindfulness,
the history and science behind
it, and the small investment of
time required to put the theory to
work. Participants will do a short
mindfulness practice. ThaarupOwen says the essential part of
mindfulness starts with a simple
meditation called ABCD – attitude,
body/breath, counting, distraction
– for a minimum 10 minutes a day.
Dr Connell says some of the world’s
most progressive organisations and
companies, including Google, Apple,
Facebook, Carlsberg, Deutsche
Bank and Harvard University, now
use mindfulness training. She says
contemporary business leaders
are being asked to do more with
less in a global environment that is
moving faster and faster, and need
to consider “new ways of leading”.
7am for 7.30am start. Free; light
breakfast and tea/coffee provided.
Bookings essential: email
[email protected]; for
more information, go to uts.edu.
To mark the international 16 Days
Campaign, the Cosmopolitan Civil
Societies Research Centre at UTS
will host Rethinking Empowerment,
a public seminar and Q&A session
on the theme of Women, Peace and
Security. The 16 Days Campaign
takes place annually and begins on
25 November, the International Day
against Violence against Women.
This year’s priorities are stateperpetrated violence, the use of guns
in domestic violence, and sexual
violence in times of war. Speakers
include Maha Krayem Abdo of the
United Muslim Women’s Association
and torture and trauma counsellor
Neeraja Sanmuhanathan.
5.30pm registration for 6pm start.
$35/$15/donation (proceeds to
United Muslim Women's Refuge).
Level 4, Room 4.13, UTS Building 2,
Broadway, Ultimo.
Bookings essential:
go to eventbrite.com.au; search
for “Rethinking Empowerment
– UTS 16 Days Campaign”.
In her first Australian show,
Los Angeles artist Jill Daves will
combine with Sydney artist and
UTS lecturer Natalya Hughes
to exhibit a range of works
including painting and site-specific
installation. Or catch the last days
(until 22 November) of an exhibition
of new work by fellow UTS lecturer
David Burns and Sydney artists
Todd McMillan and Michael Moran.
6pm-8pm, opening night;
noon-4pm, Tuesday to Saturday.
Free. Carlton St Project Space,
Carlton St, Chippendale.
Until 13 December
See why the new engineering
and IT building at UTS was
highly commended in the NSW
government Green Globe Awards.
Hear about the building’s “living
labs”, rooftop renewable energy
systems linked to electric car
recharge points, and innovative
plumbing in which urine is diverted
for phosphorous collection.
1pm-2pm, Building 11, Broadway,
Ultimo (entry is at the corner of
Broadway and Jones Street). Free.
Bookings essential:
email [email protected]
Photo by Andrew Worssam
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