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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment

Environment Australia Displays Innovations at the Australian Science Festival

16 April 1997

Environment Australia is leading the way in Internet communications and environmental programs, four of which are being displayed at the Amazing World of Science Exhibition starting today at the National Convention Centre in Canberra.

The exhibition is part of the Australian Science Festival where Environment Australia has four of its programs participating, State of the Environment, Waterwatch, National Pollutant Inventory and EnviroNET Australia.

The State of the Environment (SoE) Unit has a 'hands-on' display at the exhibition, where environmental information will be presented on the state of Australia's environment. The display will feature interactive computer programs, and a poster series on the key findings of Australia: State of the Environment 1996: Students will be given the chance to win a copy of is Report and CD-ROM for their school.

Australia: State of the Environment 1996, represents the first ever independent national report to the Commonwealth Government on the status of Australia's environment. It draws on the knowledge and skills of more than 200 eminent scientists and other experts.

'Degradation of natural habitats, pollution, and loss of natural resources, all threaten our quality of life and the health of the planet. Science has a large role to play in addressing this urgent problem, particularly in the form of describing and assessing the state of the environment', said Federal Environment Minister, Senator Hill.

The 1996 Report also formed the basis for work currently under way to produce a set of scientifically credible environmental indicators for national state of the environment reporting, for the seven main themes covered in the Report: Human Settlements, Biodiversity, The Atmosphere, Land Resources, Inland Waters, Estuaries and the Sea, and Natural and Cultural Heritage.

Waterwatch Australia is a national community water quality monitoring program currently operating in every State and Territory throughout Australia. It is an environmental education and awareness program promoting water quality monitoring as a tool to involve the Australian community in land and water management at the local and catchment scales.

'Waterwatch seeks to create links within communities, between school children and their parents, landholders, local government, the business sector and, where possible, Landcare and other community organisations', said Senator Hill.

Currently through Waterwatch Australia, more than 40,000 people are monitoring water quality in over 150 catchments throughout the country. Waterwatch community activities are funded through the Federal Government's Natural Heritage Trust.

The National Pollutant Inventory (NPI) database will be on display at the Exhibition today on a trial basis.

Senator Hill says the National Pollutant Inventory will open new doors in science, providing the community, governments and industry with an understanding of the world around us.

'The NPI will provide the public with information on the types and quantities of identified pollutants released to the environment.'

'Australians are increasingly concerned about pollutant emissions entering the environment. The NPI will provide Australians with information on the levels of such pollutants in their communities', said Senator Hill.

The EnviroNET Australia Internet network provides information on environment solutions for industry, government and the community, both in Australia and overseas. The network has received several Internet awards during its first year, including Finalist in the AFR/Telstra Australian Internet Awards.

The network showcases solutions such as complex hazardous waste management technologies, ingenious low- cost waste-water treatment technologies and state of the art cleaner production strategies.

The EnviroNET Australia education courses database lists Australian tertiary environment courses. The database may be searched by criteria including subject, State, institution or key words.

For further information see attachments or visit the exhibition between 16 - 20 April 1997.

Media Inquiries: Matt Brown, 06 277 7640
Further Information: Jennifer Bray, 06 274 1049

Commonwealth of Australia