Wednesday 31 May 2023

PHOTOVOICE: Clarence Valley people with disability are invited to take part in a photography project, designed to capture their experience of the world and give others more understanding of living with disability


Clarence Valley Independent, 29 May 2023:

Artist’s Statement “Gaslit” You’re being too sensitive… Get over it… C’mon its not that bad… Harden up… The world doesn’t revolve around you… Some things are not as obvious as a ramp or cane. I suffer in silence and sit in shame. Noises razor sharp and I struggle to breathe. Someone just listen to me please.

Clarence Valley people with disability are invited to take part in a photography project, designed to capture their experience of the world and give others more understanding of living with disability.

Photovoice is a five-week photography workshop-project led by not-for-profit organisation, Social Futures – an NDIS partner in the community.

Social Futures Capacity Building and Engagement Manager Lynda Hope describes Photovoice as a form of photographic storytelling.

Photovoice explores the concept of ‘disability pride’ and each week participants take a photo connected to a theme that helps them express how they feel. The topics the group will discuss include ‘I love being me because…’, ‘inclusion’, ‘courage’ and ‘pride’,” Ms Hope said.

Photovoice will be run online, so all participants need is a smart phone or a camera, and the Zoom video chat app….

You can learn more about Photovoice by watching this video on the Social Futures website:

If you are aged 18 years or older and interested in being part of Photovoice – Disability Pride groups with Social Futures, call 1800 522 679 or email

Tuesday 30 May 2023

So this Australian Winter was expected to be drier and warmer than the median mark, but now it seems twice as likely a rainfall suppressing El Niño event will also start this year

During the multi-year Millennium Drought from 1997 to 2010, south east Australia experienced its lowest 13-year rainfall record since 1865 over the years 2006 to 2010.

Temperatures were also much hotter than in previous droughts and temperature extremes peaked during the heatwave and bushfires in early 2009. This culminated in the loss of 374 lives in Victoria and many more over the larger southeast in the heatwave leading up to Black Saturday. There were 173 lives lost in the fires.

The years 2015 to 2016 saw El Niño combined with a positive Indian Ocean Dipole in the second half of 2015 further suppressing rainfall, so that rainfall was the equal fourth-lowest on record for Australia during September, Tasmania had its driest Spring on record and mean temperatures were also highest on record for October to December 2015. This El Niño also contributed to an early start to the 2015-16 southern fire season.

By 2017 Australia was again in the grips of a multi-year drought. Very dry conditions in the cool season were followed by only a limited recovery in the October–December period in 2017 and 2018. This meant record-low rainfalls over various multi-year periods.

By June 2018 more than 99% of NSW was declared as affected by drought. The most extreme rainfall deficiencies over multi-year periods occurring in the northern half of New South Wales.

In June-July 2019 New South Wales began a trial by mega bushfires, as did other east coast states, that lasted through to January 2020.

Widespread drought was not an issue for the remainder of 2020 through to the present day, given La Niña visited three times in three years bringing high rainfall events and record floods in the eastern states.

However, the Australian Dept. of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (ABARE) is now drawing attention to this:

All but one international climate model surveyed by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology suggest sea-surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific will exceed El Niño thresholds in June. [ABARES Weekly Australian Climate, Water and Agricultural Update, 25 May 2023] 

[ABARES, 25 May 2023] Click on image to enlarge

Suggesting in its climate update that there is now twice the risk of an El Niño event this year, with a likelihood of it making itself felt sometime between August and October.

The overall outlook for this Australian Winter continues to be below median rainfall and warmer median temperatures. 

The main urban centres in the Clarence Valley have a chance of unusually warm temperatures over the winter months of between est. 55-60% (Maclean-Yamba-Iluka) and 59-65% (Grafton). While elsewhere in the Northern Rivers region unusually warm temperatures are expected in Lismore with est. 58-59% chance, Tweed Heads est. 59-62% chance, with Byron Bay & Ballina at est. 60-61% chance. [BOM, Climate outlooks—weeks, months and seasons, June-September 2023]

How this developing scenario affects agricultural growing seasons over the next twelve months is anyone's guess.

In New South Wales only the parishes of Newbold and Braylesford in the Clarence Valley are showing Combined Drought Indicator (CDI) at “Drought Affected”

Nevertheless, root-zone soil moisture has been falling across north-east NSW so that by end of April 2023 it was very much below average in from the coast. 

Remembering that drought 'safety net' Shannon Creek Dam, which supplies urban town water to both Coffs Harbour City and Clarence Valley resident populations (total 134,538 persons, June 2022) is currently at 92.6% capacity or 27,677 megalitres, perhaps we may see increased water restrictions by the next Christmas-New Year period. Given the tourist-driven seasonal population rise increases water consumption and that 80% dam capacity is the increased restrictions trigger.

It doesn't take a genius to suspect that should a drought develop, the 2024 and 2025 bush fire seasons might also be highly problematic for rural and regional areas across Australia.

Monday 29 May 2023

Single mega complex for Murwillumbah public schools gone for good as Saffin fulfils her election promise of demerger

The Echo, 26 May 2023:

The significant issue of a merger of several Murwillumbah schools has been ongoing since 2020 when the then State Government announced via Sarah Mitchell MP that four public schools would be amalgamated into a single Kindergarten to Year 12 campus at Murwillumbah High.

It was clear from the outset that this was not something that any of the school communities wanted, yet the government continued to foist it upon students, teachers and families in the Murwillumbah area, but the government was determined to push ahead saying there was plenty of support for the project.

An election promise

Murwillumbah High School the site of the mega campus.
Image supplied

The new Labor Government said that if elected they would stop the merger and yesterday they announced their intention to do just that.

Deputy Premier of New South Wales, Prue Car, who is also Minister for Education and Early announced that the Minns Labor Government is committed to the demerger of the Murwillumbah Education Campus in consultation with the community. ‘The Member for Lismore, Janelle Saffin, and I have had an initial, fruitful and clarifying meeting with the NSW Department of Education about the needs of each of the four school sites.

The Department, in collaboration with myself and the Member for Lismore, is finalising plans for consultation with the community….

P&C President at Murwillumbah East Public School, Kylie Rose, said she was very pleased to see this confirmation from the Minister. ‘Our beautiful public schools will be staying open!’

Our community fought so hard to save our schools.

This statement from the Education Minister will be a great relief to many.

Labor went to the last election promising to keep these schools open if elected. We didn’t get a say in the previous government’s decision to close these schools but my goodness didn’t we have our say at the ballot box!’

Thank you Janelle

Thank you to Janelle Saffin MP for honouring her election commitment to keep all four of our public schools open.’

Ms Car said the department has stopped infrastructure-related activities on the Murwillumbah Education Campus project and will work with the community on supporting the four schools into the future….. 

Sunday 28 May 2023

MEMO TO CURRENT & FUTURE AUSTRALIAN & NSW GOVERNMENTS: The Clarence Valley Was Declared A Nuclear-Free Zone On 23 May 2023


It was brief, to the point and supported by Clarence Valley Council’s Climate Change Advisory Committee and Council in the Chamber.

Ordinary Monthly Meeting of Clarence Valley Council held on 23 May 2023, Minutes, p.16:



This report forwards a recommendation of the Clarence Valley Climate Change Advisory Committee

requesting that Council consider declaring the Clarence Valley a nuclear free zone.


That Council support the Climate Change Advisory Committee recommendation and declare the Clarence

Valley local government area as a nuclear free zone.



That Council support the Climate Change Advisory Committee recommendation and declare the

Clarence Valley local government area as a nuclear free zone.

Voting recorded as follows

For: Clancy, Day, Pickering, Smith, Tiley

Against: Johnstone, Novak, Toms, Whaites



Heartfelt thanks to members of the Climate Change Advisory Committee for mirroring the aesthetic, social, cultural, environmental and economic values of our Valley communities and, for the work put in to achieve this outcome: Cr Greg Clancy (Chair), Judith McNeill, Leonie Blain, Helen Granleese, Stephen Fletcher, Nicholas Reeve, Phillip Hocking, Janet Cavanagh, Geoff Little, Robert Mylchreest, Clair Purvis, Ian Gaillard, Lynette Eggins, Richard Roper (CVC Staff), Ken Wilson (CVC Staff), Scott Lenton (CVC Staff), Ben Ellis (CVC Staff), Suzanne Lynch (CVC Staff), Adam Cameron (Director CVC).

Wednesday 24 May 2023

North Coast Voices Notice

Due to illness North Coast Voices will not be posting again until Sunday, 28 May 2023. 

Sorry to disappoint.  

Tuesday 23 May 2023

Where to from here? A perspective on the Liberal and National Coalition

The Echo, 18 May 2023, excerpts from “A case for a Lib-Nats reformation” by Catherine Cusack:

Catherine Cusack is a former Liberal NSW MLC 
Photo Tree Faerie
Trump Fatigue Syndrome (TFS) has been defined by   American Professor, John Rennie Short, as ‘a depressing sense of watching the same drama over and over again. And just like being stuck in a movie theatre watching a badly scripted and poorly produced B movie, it begins with feelings of exhaustion, then panic, with the realisation that it may never end.’ 

So I audibly groaned when a friend sent me one of Donald Trump’s latest pearlers……

The Washington Post speculated his claim that some children are ‘deservedly’ unloved by their parents, is a ‘dog whistle’ to older conservative white Americans. It resonates with those who fear increasing diversity in America, and blame the younger generation of voters for caring about climate change and voting for Democrats, like Barrack Obama and Joe Biden.

Whatever the logic, it is clear a toxic and rampant Trump is back and the hijacked Republican Party can’t control or stop him.

Being found to be a ‘sexual abuser’ only seems to have energised his base. Trump’s angry brand –denying facts, deriding minorities and bullying opponents – is likely to invade at least the next 18 months of newsfeeds, through to the November 2024 presidential election.

Emboldened fringe right wing groups

The impact in Australia has been to embolden fringe right wing groups, including neo-Nazis and evangelical Christians who, for years, have backed minor religious parties like Fred Nile’s old ‘Call to Australia’ Party. That strategy has been replaced with a clandestine USA tactic of infiltrating the major conservative parties.

For example, here in the federal seat of Richmond, where we were looking for local leadership after the floods, the Nationals selected a Pentecostal Christian candidate whose stated mission was to ‘bring God’s Kingdom to politics’.

The past week has seen extraordinary disarray and increasingly selfish behaviour derailing conservative politics. In Victoria, a religious right Liberals MP, Moira Deeming, was expelled from the Parliamentary wing of the Liberal Party after threatening to sue her own leader.

In Tasmania, two right wing Liberals resigned, putting the last Liberal government into minority, because they disagreed with a decision to fund an AFL stadium.

And here in NSW, Nationals MLC, Ben Franklin, betrayed his parliamentary colleagues, who wanted to keep pressure on Labor in the hung Upper House. In order to reduce the number of LNP votes, Labor offered Ben the highly paid, prestigious office of Upper House presidency.

By accepting, Mr Franklin has rendered the entire Liberals-National coalition irrelevant in opposition for four years.

The moral decay of conservative politics

Instead of learning from multiple election defeats, the moral decay of conservative politics in Australia seems to be accelerating.

I am one of many long time Liberals who have left in recent years, owing to a lurch to the right in policy and the unethical LNP deals, which have handed portfolios, including education, most of environment, Aboriginal Affairs, the Women’s portfolio, and even Sydney Water, to the NSW Nationals – a party so backwards they are still voting against daylight savings and in favour of subsidies to turn koala habitat into woodchips.

In Sydney, thousands of moderate Liberal voters have rejected these policies, turning instead to the Teals as representing their views better than the LNP. In regional NSW, many have turned to the Independents as an alternative to the Nationals.

Electing independent MPs is, in my view, a temporary fix for the problem. What is required is a full-scale reformation of Australian centre right politics – a reformed, or new, party that seeks to return to the patrician values of virtuous politics; cleansing itself of religious extremists and political bigots.

Dissolving the LNP Coalition agreement

Step one on the journey to reform conservative politics has got to be dissolving the LNP Coalition agreement, thus freeing both the Liberals and National Party to be true to their roots, and authentically represent their communities…….

The next year will tell if Australian Liberals have the depth and fortitude to detach from the Nationals, to choose their own path, or whether they are doomed like American Republicans to keep repeating the same Trumpian drama.

Monday 22 May 2023

COVID-19 NSW 2023: Counting Dead People - Part 6


NSW Dept. of Health, @NSWHealth, 19 May 2023

In the 7 days up to 18 May 2023 the national COVID-19 death toll was in excess of 114 people.

Between Friday 12 May to Thursday 18 May 2023 61 of these confirmed COVID-19 deaths occurred in News South Wales.

There have been no 7-day reporting periods in 2023 where NSW deaths have been recorded in single digits – according to Covid Live weekly deaths over the last 20 NSW reporting periods have ranged from a low of 22 deaths (17, 24 March & 14 April 2023) to a high of 131 deaths (20 Jan 2023).

As NSW Dept. of Health no longer publishes the COVID-19 fourteen-day tables which include deaths by gender, age group and health district, there is now no way to break down current COVID-19 publicly available death data for the state or for the Northern Rivers region.

The last published table recording COVID-19 deaths by NSW local health district was for the week ending 22 April 2023 and the last published table including a Northern Rivers COVID-19 death was for week ending 15 April 2023.

From January 2023 to 15 April 2023 there have been est. 40 confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the Northern Rivers region.

All that can be stated from published tables from then on is that; as of 18 May there were 252 confirmed COVID-19 cases recorded that 7-day reporting period for the Northern NSW Local Health District, spread across all 7 local government areas and, that as of the preceding 6 May the health district was recording on a “Week To Date” and “Year To Date” basis more confirmed COVID-19 cases than confirmed Influenza and RSV cases combined.

The Australian Department of Health and Aged Care released the following information on 19 May 2023:

As at 8:00 am 18 May 2023 there are 3,132 active COVID-19 cases in 453 active outbreaks in residential aged care facilities across Australia. There have been 207 new outbreaks, 38 new resident deaths and 2,751 combined new resident and staff cases reported since 11 May 2023.

[my yellow highlighting]

New South Wales had the highest number of aged care facility COVID-19 outbreaks during 12-18 May period. As well as the highest number of aged care residents & staff with active COVID-19 infections. 

Sadly, compared to other states and territories New South Wales at 14 residential facilities also had the highest number of aged care facilities reporting COVID-19 deaths among their residents. Resulting in this state having possibly the highest number of residential aged care deaths* across all Australian states and territories.


* The actual number of NSW aged care deaths in the 7 days to 18 May 2023 is problematic as the Dept. of Health for privacy reasons reported deaths in aged care facilities in blocs of “<6”. So deaths at the 14 individual facilities involved ranged from 1-5 elderly people per facility.

See: COVID-19 outbreaks in Australian residential aged care facilities: National snapshot, 19 May 2023, APPENDIX 1

Sunday 21 May 2023

AUSTRALIA EMPLOYMENT STATE OF PLAY APRIL 2023: monthly figures reveal fewer people have full time jobs & 528,000 workers are in the unemployment queue


The latest Labor Force Australia: Headline estimates of employment, unemployment, underemployment, participation and hours worked from the monthly Labour Force Survey was released on Thursday, 18 May 2023.

This survey reveals that:

In seasonally adjusted terms, in April 2023:

  • unemployment rate increased to 3.7%.

  • participation rate decreased to 66.7%.

  • employment decreased to 13,882,100.

  • employment to population ratio decreased to 64.2%.

  • underemployment rate decreased to 6.1%.

  • monthly hours worked increased to 1,974 million.

  • full-time employment decreased by 27,100 to 9,726,500 people.

  • part-time employment increased by 22,800 to 4,155,600 people.

So to recap:

Seasonally adjusted a total of 13.8 million workers remain in employment across Australia, with est. 4.8 million working less than 35 hours a week and 4.1 million classified as part-time employees.
While the national monthly seasonally adjusted unemployment figure stood at 528,000 persons and the unemployment rate at 3.7%. The gender breakdown for that number was 301,900 males (unemployment rate 4.0%) and 226,100 females (unemployment rate 3.3%). 

In NSW the monthly seasonally adjusted unemployment figure was 151,500 persons, being 85,200 males (unemployment rate 3.6%) and 66,300 females (unemployment rate 3.1%).


Coffs Harbour-Grafton

Employed Full-Time  40,100 persons

Employed Part-Time  28,100 persons

Unemployed Total  2,800 persons

Not in the Labour Force  55,100 persons

Unemployment rate for 15-64 years of age  4

Youth Unemployment Rate 15-24 years — 6.3%.


Employed Full-Time  79,800 persons

Employed Part-Time  50,400 persons

Unemployed Total  3,600 persons

Not in the Labour Force  86,500 persons

Unemployment Rate for 15-64 years of age — 2.7

Youth Unemployment Rate 15-24 years — 5.4%.

NOTE: NSW regional estimates for all SA4 employment areas in April 2023 can be found at:

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), media release, 18 May 2023:

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose by 0.1 percentage point (rounded) to 3.7 per cent in April, according to data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Bjorn Jarvis, ABS head of labour statistics, said: "with employment dropping by around 4,000 people and the number of unemployed increasing by 18,000 people, the unemployment rate rose to 3.7 per cent.”

The small fall in employment followed an average monthly increase of around 39,000 people during the first quarter of this year.”

Similarly, the employment-to-population ratio fell 0.2 percentage points to 64.2 per cent and the participation rate decreased 0.1 percentage point to 66.7 per cent.

Even with these falls, both indicators were still well above pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels and close to their historical highs in 2022,” Mr Jarvis said.

Hours worked

Seasonally adjusted monthly hours worked increased by 2.6 per cent in April.

This was because fewer people than usual worked reduced hours over the Easter period,” Mr Jarvis said.

The last time Easter and the survey period aligned like this was in 2015, when around 60 per cent of employed people worked fewer hours than usual. This Easter it was only around 55 per cent of employed people.

This may reflect more people taking their leave earlier or later than usual, or that some people were unable to, given the high number of vacancies that we’re still seeing employers reporting….

Underemployment and underutilisation

The underemployment rate fell 0.1 percentage point to 6.1 per cent (seasonally adjusted), following a 0.4 percentage point increase in March.

"The underemployment rate is still low in historic terms, around 2.6 percentage points lower than before the pandemic, and underpinned by faster growth in hours worked than employment," Mr Jarvis said.

The underutilisation rate, which combines the unemployment and underemployment rates, rose slightly to 9.8 per cent, and remained 4.2 percentage points lower than in March 2020.


The April survey reference period was from 2 April to 15 April 2023.

The May survey reference period is from 30 April to 13 May 2023.

Tweet of the Week


Friday 19 May 2023

World Meteorological Organization predicts one year in the next five will almost certainly be the hottest on record and there’s a 66% chance a single year will cross the crucial 1.5℃ global warming threshold

….So what is driving the bleak outlook for the next five years? An expected El Niño, on top of the overall global warming trend, will likely push the global temperature to record levels. Has the Paris Agreement already failed if the global average temperature exceeds the 1.5℃ threshold in one of the next five years? No, but it will be a stark warning of what’s in store if we don’t quickly reduce emissions to net zero.” [Dr Andrew King, Climate Extremes Research Fellow, School of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Melbourne, writing in The Conversation on 17 May 2023]

World Meteorological Organization (WMO), media release, 17 May 2023:

Global temperatures set to reach new records in next five years

Geneva, 17 May 2023 (WMO) – Global temperatures are likely to surge to record levels in the next five years, fuelled by heat-trapping greenhouse gases and a naturally occurring El Niño event, according to a new update issued by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

There is a 66% likelihood that the annual average near-surface global temperature between 2023 and 2027 will be more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels for at least one year. There is a 98% likelihood that at least one of the next five years, and the five-year period as a whole, will be the warmest on record.

This report does not mean that we will permanently exceed the 1.5°C level specified in the Paris Agreement which refers to long-term warming over many years. However, WMO is sounding the alarm that we will breach the 1.5°C level on a temporary basis with increasing frequency,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas.

A warming El Niño is expected to develop in the coming months and this will combine with human-induced climate change to push global temperatures into uncharted territory,” he said. “This will have far-reaching repercussions for health, food security, water management and the environment. We need to be prepared,” said Prof. Taalas.

There is only a 32% chance that the five-year mean will exceed the 1.5°C threshold, according to the Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update produced by the United Kingdom’s Met Office, the WMO lead centre for such predictions.

The chance of temporarily exceeding 1.5°C has risen steadily since 2015, when it was close to zero. For the years between 2017 and 2021, there was a 10% chance of exceedance.

Global mean temperatures are predicted to continue increasing, moving us away further and further away from the climate we are used to,” said Dr Leon Hermanson, a Met Office expert scientist who led the report.

Key points

> The average global temperature in 2022 was about 1.15°C above the 1850-1900 average. The cooling influence of La Niña conditions over much of the past three years temporarily reined in the longer-term warming trend. But La Niña ended in March 2023 and an El Niño is forecast to develop in the coming months. Typically, El Niño increases global temperatures in the year after it develops – in this case this would be 2024.

> The annual mean global near-surface temperature for each year between 2023 and 2027 is predicted to be between 1.1°C and 1.8°C higher than the 1850-1900 average. This is used as a baseline because it was before the emission of greenhouse gases from human and industrial activities.

> There is a 98% chance of at least one in the next five years beating the temperature record set in 2016, when there was an exceptionally strong El Niño.

> The chance of the five-year mean for 2023-2027 being higher than the last five years is also 98%.

> Arctic warming is disproportionately high. Compared to the 1991-2020 average, the temperature anomaly is predicted to be more than three times as large as the global mean anomaly when averaged over the next five northern hemisphere extended winters.

> Predicted precipitation patterns for the May to September 2023-2027 average, compared to the 1991-2020 average, suggest increased rainfall in the Sahel, northern Europe, Alaska and northern Siberia, and reduced rainfall for this season over the Amazon and parts of Australia.

Paris Agreement

In addition to increasing global temperatures, human-induced greenhouse gases are leading to more ocean heating and acidification, sea ice and glacier melt, sea level rise and more extreme weather.

The Paris Agreement sets long-term goals to guide all nations to substantially reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to limit the global temperature increase in this century to 2 °C while pursuing efforts to limit the increase even further to 1.5 °C, to avoid or reduce adverse impacts and related losses and damages.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that climate-related risks for natural and human systems are higher for global warming of 1.5 °C than at present, but lower than at 2 °C.

The new report was released ahead of the World Meteorological Congress (22 May to 2 June) which will discuss how to strengthen weather and climate services to support climate change adaptation. Priorities for discussion at Congress include the ongoing Early Warnings for All initiative to protect people from increasingly extreme weather and a new Greenhouse Gas Monitoring Infrastructure to inform climate mitigation.

Ensemble mean forecast 2023-2027

Notes For Editors:

The Global Annual to Decadal Update is one of a suite of WMO climate products, including the flagship State of the Global Climate, which seek to inform policy-makers. WMO will release its provisional statement on the State of the Global Climate in 2023 at the UN Climate Change Conference, COP28, in December.

The UK’s Met Office acts as the WMO Lead Centre for Annual to DecadalClimate Prediction. This year there are 145 ensemble members contributed by 11 different institutes to the predictions, which start at the end of 2022. Retrospective forecasts, or hindcasts, covering the period 1960-2018 are used to estimate forecast skill.

Confidence in forecasts of global mean temperature is high since hindcasts show very high skill in all measures.

The forecasts shown here are intended as guidance for Regional Climate Centres (RCCs), Regional Climate Outlook Forums (RCOFs) and National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs). It does not constitute an official forecast for any region or nation, but RCCs, RCOFs and NMHSs are encouraged to appropriately interpret and develop value-added forecasts from this Climate Update.

The World Meteorological Organization is the United Nations System’s authoritative voice on Weather, Climate and Water


Excerpts from WMO Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update: Target years: 2023 and 2023-2027 specifically mentioning Australia:

  • Predicted precipitation patterns for the May to September 2023-2027 average, relative to

the 1991-2020 average, suggest an increased chance of above average rainfall in the Sahel, northern Europe, Alaska and northern Siberia, and reduced rainfall for this season over the Amazon and parts of Australia.

Near-surface temperatures in 2023 are likely to be higher than the 1991-2020 average in almost all regions except for Alaska, South Africa, South Asia and parts of Australia (Figure 7). Parts of the South Pacific Ocean are likely to be cooler than average. Skill is estimated from hindcasts to be medium or high in most regions (Figure 8) giving medium to high confidence in the forecast…..

This section shows predictions for the average of the next five extended seasons for May to September and November to March.

For the May to September average, predicted temperature patterns over the years 2023-2027 show a high probability of temperatures above the 1991-2020 average almost everywhere, with enhanced warming over land (Figure 9). Skill is very high in most regions, giving high confidence in this prediction (Figure 10). For the same season, sea-level pressure is predicted to be anomalously low over the Mediterranean and surrounding countries, and high over the maritime continent and surrounding countries.

There is medium skill for most of these regions, giving medium confidence.

Predictions of precipitation show wet anomalies in the Sahel, northern Europe, Alaska and northern Siberia, and dry anomalies for this season over the Amazon and western Australia. Skill is low to medium for these regions, giving low to medium confidence.

For the November to March average over the years 2023/24-2027/28 (Figure 11), the predictions show warm anomalies are likely almost everywhere, with land temperatures showing larger anomalies than those over the ocean. The Arctic (north of 60°N) near-surface temperature anomaly is more than three times as large as the global mean anomaly. The North Atlantic subpolar gyre shows negative anomalies, the so-called warming hole, which has been liked to a reduction in the AMOC. Skill is high in most regions apart from parts of the North Pacific, some areas in Asia, Australia, and the Southern Ocean (Figure 12), giving medium to high confidence…..

NOTE: My yellow highlighting throughout this post

Thursday 18 May 2023

Yamba NSW 2023: is anybody listening?


The road into Yamba, Clarence Valley NSW, 4 March 2022
Credit: Clarence Valley Council via Storyful in Yahoo!

To put it frankly Yamba township’s flood resilience is a shambles.

Surrounded on all compass points by river, lake or ocean, much of the urban footprint of the town is built on degraded sand hills and reclaimed marshland or swamp across 16.92 sq km of coastal land.

The natural fingers of the Clarence River estuary which intrude into residential streets are now exacerbated by a fringe of canal estates which bring tidal riverwater right up to the artificial soft shore boundary edges of the backyards, side yards or front yards of so many homes and make it possible for riverine flooding to enter more streets than it once did.

Ocean storm surges occurring during destructive East Coast Low storm events are something that are considered almost in passing when it comes to resilience planning and flood risk management. Even though authorities are aware that days of heavy rainfall leading to soil saturation accompanied by strong seas result in est. 1 in 1,000 chance that land slippage will affect sections of Yamba Hill & environs public and private property – including residential dwellings. Such an event can coincide with riverine and stormwater flooding in wider Yamba.

The Lower Clarence River floodplain spans 500km2. That is a substantial floodplain and climate change modelling in BMT Lower Clarence Flood Model Update 2013 indicates that all along the lower river peak flood levels are expected to increase in 1% AEP events.

The natural protection of Yamba’s 690ha natural flood storage area has over time been eaten away by extensive landfill earthworks being created in preparation for housing another 2,000-2,500 people in West Yamba. While completed large scale earthworks elsewhere in Yamba are contributing to increased stormwater flooding adding to the volume of flood water flowing in from the Clarence River and into internal waterways and floodways of a town whose current population is 6,388 men women and children living in a density of 377.6 persons per sq km.

Coping with the town’s street plan and road surface heights which lead to predictable internal road closures during major flooding. These closures will inevitably occur ahead of any official advice to immediately evacuate during a Lower Clarence River flood. Currently it appears such emergency advice is not planned to be given until flood height reaches 2.1m at Maclean – at which point Yamba’s only evacuation route is highly likely to be closed in both directions.

In 2022 any evacuation by vehicle ahead of a flood front was calculated to take a minimum of one hour for the journey to Maclean via Yamba Road and the Pacific Highway to be completed. A journey that in good conditions might take twenty minutes. [C. Landers, Clarence Valley Council correspondence, dated 30 June 2022]

When it comes to Yamba residents and visitors; state & local government along with emergence services have placed the primary emphasis on “self-help" when coping with rising floodwaters or a need to evacuate, due to limited SES resources being spread across the valley.

Added to this is the fact that Yamba's flood heights expected ahead of active flood fronts and actual flood front heights as they reach the town are broad estimations. Because the town has to rely on the Maclean flood gauge further inland due to the strong tidal movement at the river mouth which is said to distort any flood calculations derived from the Yamba tidal gauge situated in the vicinity of the start of the southern breakwater wall.

Yamba is an accident waiting to happen and, it does not inspire confidence, when reading between the lines of the following newspaper article it seems that Clarence Valley Council administration is reluctant to obtain a written record of the lived experience of the wider population in Yamba over the last three decades. Something that would complement the data contained in the anticipated report by BMT WBM Pty Ltd.

Clarence Valley Independent, 17 May 2023:

The Yamba Community Action Network Yamba CAN Inc is urging Clarence Valley Council to conduct a flood survey of all residents on the Yamba floodplain so it can be incorporated in the updated Clarence River Flood Study and Flood Model which are currently being prepared.

Consideration of the impacts of the devastating floods in February and March 2022 will be factored into council’s new Flood Study and Flood Model, and Yamba CAN Inc believes the studies would be better informed if a survey was done to understand the impacts on individual residences.

When Yamba CAN recently discovered a flood study being conducted by Coffs Harbour City Council of residents in the Moonee Creek catchment area, members questioned why CVC couldn’t do the same.

Flooding impacts areas of Yamba differently, so to get a comprehensive picture of how the entire Yamba floodplain is affected, Yamba CAN Inc suggests CVC adopt a similar model to Coffs Harbour City Council, by asking each household to describe how they were impacted.

Questions in the Moonee Creek flood survey include: how long have you lived in the region; have you experienced flooding within the Moonee Creek catchment; have you experienced any other flooding event; please provide a short description of any flooding you have experienced; whether your home/business, garage, yard was flooded; were you able to drive your vehicle to safety; what areas of the community are most at risk of flooding; have you noticed any changes in the frequency or severity of flooding in your area and to provide photos and depths of the flooding.

From answers to these questions, Yamba CAN Inc asserts CVC could develop a comprehensive flood model of how individual residences are impacted in times of flood.

The important information obtained from the survey would assist with any upgrading of west Yamba’s stormwater drainage system.

Yamba CAN Inc sent a letter to CVC General Manager Laura Black, and all Clarence Valley Councillors calling for a flood survey of residents living on the Yamba floodplain to be included in the updated Flood Study and Flood Model.

It has come to Yamba CAN Inc’s attention of another flood study being undertaken by Coffs Harbour City Council in the Moonee Creek Catchment area,” the letter states.

This flood study includes gathering information from all residents in the Catchment area by means of a survey.

A similar survey of residents living on the Yamba floodplain is of paramount importance to be included in the current Flood Study and Model, particularly not only in relation to riverine flooding but stormwater flooding during February/March 2022 which occurred two days prior to the Clarence River flood crest reaching Yamba.

Yamba CAN Inc requests CVC undertake such a survey and the results be considered in the formulation of the current Flood Study and Model.”

A Clarence Valley Council spokesperson said council engaged BMT to undertake flood modelling using the latest available property and event data for the local government area to inform Floodplain Risk Management Plans.

The plan will be presented to the Council for exhibition, providing opportunity for the community to comment and provide feedback,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said council doesn’t plan to do a survey of impacted residents in Yamba.

Council does not intend to survey individual households in relation to this matter,” the spokesperson said.

However, we will be undertaking a Yamba Urban Drainage Survey to capture residents experiences in recent events, as we are currently doing for Iluka.”