- One of Australia’s first crowd-funded scientific expeditions may have uncovered several new species of mammal in Papua New Guinea.
- Japanese scientists have unveiled what they say is the world’s first news-reading android, eerily lifelike and possessing a sense of humour to match her perfect language skills.
- The peak body for the mental health sector has called for “radical reform” of services across the country, saying only significant change will deliver results for those in need.
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 26th June 2014. Read by Rebecca Foster.
One of Australia’s first crowd-funded scientific expeditions may have uncovered several new species of mammal in Papua New Guinea.
An ecologist from Melbourne raised $20,000 to document rare animals in the Torricelli mountain range in the remote north-west of PNG.
The money bought camera traps and it was hoped these devices might capture the first images of critically endangered tree kangaroos in the wild.
But they have also snapped up to three new species of previously unidentified mammals.
The director of the Tenkile Conservation Alliance, Jim Thomas, says tree kangaroos are the biggest native mammal in PNG so they are highly sought-after.
Mr Thomas and his wife Jean have spent more than a decade working with villagers to protect the tree kangaroos and their habitat through education, alternative food sources and water programs.
“Once people had tangible benefits in their villages and realised that we’re here to help them,” he said.
“That was the reminder not to kill these tree kangaroos, because they were hanging on by a thread when we first got in. The tenkile was maybe at 100 animals.”
Until recently, there has been little scientific proof of just how successful their work has been.
Deakin University ecologist Euan Ritchie used crowd-funding to raise $20,000 to partner with the Conservation Alliance, buy 40 camera traps and travel to the Torricelli mountains to record what was there – …
Mr Ritchie says the discoveries show PNG has incredibly valuable forests and habitats and the region is a global biodiversity hotspot.
“There’s a whole range, probably hundreds and hundreds of species, not just in mammals but the birds, the insects, all sorts of species that are probably unknown to western science,” he said.
“We’ve really got to preserve those habitats because they’re really valuable.”
The Tenkile Conservation Alliance has about 50 villages signed up to its hunting moratorium.
Mr Thomas says the group is now working with the PNG government to legislate to have the area protected from logging and mining.
Japanese scientists have unveiled what they say is the world’s first news-reading android, eerily lifelike and possessing a sense of humour to match her perfect language skills.
The adolescent-looking ‘Kodomoroid’, an amalgamation of the Japanese word ‘kodomo’ (child) and ‘android’, delivered news of an earthquake and an FBI raid to amazed reporters in Tokyo.
She even poked fun at her creator, telling leading robotics professor Hiroshi Ishiguro “You’re starting to look like a robot!”.
The pitch-perfect Kodomoroid was flanked by a grown-up fellow robot, who caught stage fright and fluffed her lines when asked to introduce herself.
‘Otonaroid’ – ‘otona’ meaning adult – excused herself after a quick reboot, saying “I’m a little bit nervous”.
Both androids will work at Tokyo’s National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, interacting with visitors to collect data for Mr Ishiguro’s studies into human reactions to the machines.
“We will have more and more robots in our lives in the future,” he said.
“You can take my androids on planes – the torso in the suitcase and the head in carry-on.”
Mr Ishiguro has a humanoid version of himself which he sends overseas to give lectures.
“It cuts down on my business trips,” he said.
“Technical advances mean robots look and act more human, and that makes us think about our worth.”
Otonaroid looked as if she could need rewiring before beginning her new role as the museum’s science communicator, her lips out of sync and her neck movements symptomatic of a bad night’s sleep.
But Mr Ishiguro insisted both would prove invaluable to his continued research as museum visitors get to have conversations with the androids and operate them as extensions of their own body.
The peak body for the mental health sector has called for “radical reform” of services across the country, saying only significant change will deliver results for those in need.
The ABC has obtained a copy of the Mental Health Council of Australia’s (MHCA) submission to the National Mental Health Commission’s review of Australia’s mental health services.
THE Mental Health Council of Australia (MHCA) RECENTLY MADE A submission to the National Mental Health Commission’s review of Australia’s mental health services.
The Mental Health Council of Australia is the peak, national, non-government organisation representing and promoting the interests of the Australian mental health sector.
MHCA submission suggestions INCLUDE:
Moving patients from treatment in hospitals to the community
Catering better to the episodic nature of mental illness
More electronic mental health schemes
Getting rid of duplication of services
The Federal Government has asked the National Mental Health Commission to conduct a review of mental health services and programs.
It will look at existing mental health services and programs across all levels of government, as well as the private and non-government sectors.
It will examine the efficiency and effectiveness of programs and services in supporting individuals experiencing mental illness and their families and other support people to lead a contributing life and to engage productively in the community.
The final report will be provided to the Government by November 30.
This has been the news on Health Professional Radio. For more information on today’s items head to hpr.fm/news and subscribe to our podcast on itunes.