Community Unites to Preserve Undeveloped Bushland Corridor Next to Toohey Forest

The 26-acre property adjacent to Toohey Forest in Upper Mount Gravatt is an unassuming patch of land. To the untrained eye, it’s just another overgrown lot dotted with relics of its farming heritage. But to environmental experts, it represents something far more significant – a rare opportunity to expand critical habitat for Brisbane’s native flora and fauna.

Read: Koala’s Nighttime Adventure in Upper Mt Gravatt Captivates Southside Brisbane

The potential sale of the parcel of land, located at 139 Klumpp Road in Upper Mount Gravatt, represents a unique chance to safeguard and grow the habitat for native plants and animals, according to Michael Fox, co-President of the Mt Gravatt Environment Group (MGEG). 

Mr Fox notes that since 2007, the group has documented an impressive 280 different species of native plants thriving in the area. Living nearby, Mr Fox is intimately familiar with the forest’s wildlife, including two families of squirrel gliders and a population of koalas that call Toohey Forest their home. 

Photo credit: Michael Fox/Mt Gravatt Environment Group

Dr Carla Catterall, Emeritus Professor of Environmental Sciences at Griffith University, noted in a letter to Brisbane City Council that securing the land comes with several benefits, including avoiding compromising the longer-term ecological integrity, flora and fauna of Toohey forest; and enabling preservation and enhancement of the riparian and aquatic habitats, and water quality, in Mimosa Creek.

Photo credit: Michael Fox/Mt Gravatt Environment Group

Dr Catterall and local environmental groups like MGEG are urging Council to seize this chance to purchase and restore the Klumpp Road site through an online petition, transforming it into a strategic wildlife corridor linking Toohey Forest to the nearby Roly Chapman Bushland Reserve.

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“If the council purchases this land they could build a koala-safe fence. Volunteers from schools and community groups could assist with planting native plants and trees, including suitable koala food sources. The reserve is home to over a hundred species of birds as well as koalas, wallabies and echidnas. It is worth investing in,” the petition reads.

Toohey Forest
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Their calls come amidst growing concerns over the relentless destruction of koala habitat across southeast Queensland, prompting the Australian government to recently reclassify the iconic marsupial as an endangered species.

Read: Griffith University Secures Funding to Expand AI Koala Tracking System

The land is believed to have once been owned by the Williams family – among Brisbane’s pioneering settler families. The Williams are said to have introduced irrigation techniques to grow pineapples, lettuce and celery to the region, cementing their legacy as farming trailblazers. 

Whilst the e-petition has already ended earlier this month, the race is still on for Council to submit an expression of interest for the coveted Klumpp Road property before 30 March 2024, securing the critical biodiversity corridor before developers potentially move in.

Published 12-March-2024

Griffith University Secures Funding to Expand AI Koala Tracking System

Researchers at Griffith University in Mt Gravatt have received continued funding for their AI-powered ‘facial recognition’ camera system to monitor koala crossings in South East Queensland.

Read: Griffith University Housing Complex Ditched Despite $2-Million Preparatory Construction

The project, now in its third year, uses cameras with artificial intelligence software to identify individual koalas using wildlife crossings. The data provides insights into koala movement to support conservation efforts for the vulnerable species.

Led by Professor Jun Zhou from Griffith’s School of Information and Communication Technology, the project recently received a $100,000 grant from the Queensland Government’s Department of Environment and Science. This follows previous funding of $90,000 in 2021 and $100,000 last June.

Photo credit: Griffith University

“This project extends our innovative AI-powered koala monitoring system to cover wider areas of koala habitat in South East Queensland, and engage with 14 local community groups across 10 local government areas to facilitate the installation and maintenance of the camera network,” Professor Zhou said.

Since 2021, the team has set up cameras at 24 locations in Redland City. The AI analyses the footage to recognise individual koalas and track their crossing activity.

Frank Mikula from Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary said the technology is valuable for koala conservation.

Photo credit: Griffith University

“We’re all about sharing information and it’s really good to be able to put people in contact and create that conduit between researchers so that everyone can get to the same goal faster,” Mikula said.

“The technology does the heavy lifting for us, and that’s really important moving forward.

“With increased knowledge about how koalas are crossing roads, we can better inform mitigation and management so that we can ensure a better long-term future for koalas.”

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The project engages with 14 community groups across 10 local council areas. The aim is to facilitate data-driven planning to protect declining koala populations in the region.

Published 28-September-2023

Griffith University Housing Complex Ditched Despite $2-Million Preparatory Construction

In a surprising turn of events, the plan to convert an unused student housing complex at Griffith University in Mt Gravatt into crisis accommodations has been abandoned.

Despite spending $2 million for its preparatory works, concerns have been raised about the area’s fire safety standards because it is close to bushland, hence the decision to discontinue the project.

The abandoned initiative at Griffith University was part of the government’s efforts to address the state’s pressing crisis. However, detailed assessments revealed that significant renovations would be necessary to bring the vacant student accommodation up to current fire safety standards. With this in mind, the decision was made to explore alternative options.

Instead, Deputy Premier and Planning Minister Steven Miles confirmed that the State Government secured a deal to purchase 64 properties across the state, which will be transformed into housing. 

“After consulting with Queensland’s leading housing advocacy group, QShelter, we’ve made the decision to purchase homes directly on the private market to get more people into accommodation quicker,” Mr Miles said.

“We haven’t taken this decision lightly. Many Queenslanders who have never experienced housing stress before are struggling, and we are committed to doing as much as we can,” he added.

The Queensland Government plans to invest $25 million to acquire existing houses and units from various locations throughout the state.

By utilising funds originally earmarked for repurposing the disused student accommodation, the government aims to expedite the process of providing housing for vulnerable individuals and families.

“The allocation of funding to purchase housing directly makes more sense given the challenges presented by the Mt Gravatt site,” Fiona Caniglia, the Executive Director of QShelter, expressed support for the shift in strategy. 

“We support any action which achieves homes for Queenslanders faster. In the longer term, this funding will go further and achieve sustainable housing outcomes for as long as people need them. QShelter will be working with the government to ensure that not-for-profit community housing providers assist in any way possible to implement this plan.”

The Department of Communities, Housing, and Digital Economy is already in the process of progressing property purchases in several suburbs across Queensland, including Acacia Ridge, Annerley, Atherton, Bucasia, Cloncurry, Cooran, Eagleby, Emerald, Gladstone Central, Gleneagle, Gordonvale, Griffin, Kawungan, Mount Low, Ormeau, Pimpama, Rural View, Smithfield, Tully, and Urangan.

Published 22-June-2023

Construction Ongoing to Convert Vacant Student Rooms at Griffith University into a Housing Complex

Work has begun on the transformation of vacant student rooms at Griffith University in Mt Gravatt into a housing complex, with more than 200 beds set to be repurposed as small living areas for short-term stay.

With shared kitchen and bathroom facilities, the former student rooms will provide a safe and suitable temporary home for Queenslanders still looking for private rental accommodation. 

The Department of Communities and Housing is in talks with potential service providers to run the operations of the housing complex once the construction is completed in mid-2023. 

“This facility will provide a buffer for Queenslanders doing it tough in the current housing crisis before they can get back into the rental market,” Deputy Premier Steven Miles said.

“It will mean a roof over the heads of more Queenslanders when they need it most. The plan to repurpose unused student beds came out of our housing roundtable, showing what can be achieved by working together.”

“This facility is another example of our commitment to work across government and the private sector to house more vulnerable Queenslanders sooner,” Minister for Communities and Housing Leeanne Enoch said.

“Once complete, the complex will provide vital short-term housing for adults as they are supported into longer-term, more secure accommodation.”

Queenslanders who plan to avail of this assistance may phone Homeless Hotline on 1800 474 753 or their local Housing Service Centre to enquire.

Disused Student Accommodations at Griffith University to be Used for Homeless Families

A disused student accommodation block at Griffith University will be converted into crisis accommodation for people in need.

In what was described as a step forward in addressing housing challenges, the State announced in the last quarter of 2022 that the disused student accommodation block at Griffith University will be refurbished and used as crisis accommodation for homeless families. 

There are 200 vacant beds at the university’s Mount Gravatt campus that were identified for potential conversion into emergency accommodation, following a housing roundtable discussion.

THe move “will increase crisis accommodation available for people in need and help solve one of the multiple housing issues.” The state government encouraged other organisations to follow the school’s lead.

In November 2022, however, concerns were raised about the facility still yet to see initial refurbishment works done. The state commitment was to deliver it within six months but no word has come out yet as to the timeline of the project and when the homeless families could expect to move in.

The state government did confirm, however, that the project is in the planning stages and that there are major modifications that would need to be made so the facility could be suitable for its intended purpose.

In early December 2022, the Queensland Housing Summit Outcomes report was released following the summit held last October. It identifies the measures that the state government will implement to tackle the housing crisis including a $56 million investment in new housing supply and support initiatives.

The state government will also continue its audit of state-owned land and buildings to identify opportunities for residential use as well as a $1 billion boost to the Housing Investment Fund to $2 billion.

Meanwhile, a total of $48.5 will go towards housing support which includes expansion of tenancy sustainment responses, delivery of more temporary emergency housing with onsite support, additional support for after-hours outreach service, and cost of living relief including emergency and food relief.

Griffith University Embarks on New Way to Detect Early Stage of Cancer

A team of researchers from Griffith University has developed a new way to detect cancer and eventually help diagnose the disease in its early stages.

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Professor Bernd Rehm, Director of the Centre for Cell Factories and Biopolymers at the Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery took the lead along with Queensland Micro and Nanotechnology Centre Associate Professor Muhammad Shiddiky.

The team used a new class of superparamagnetic nanomaterials to detect ovarian cancer and other diseases in an expensive and sensitive way. 

The process involves bioengineering cell factories to assemble nanobeads with magnetic properties that bind to specific target antibodies. Then the magnetised nanobeads were added to ovarian cancer cells to capture methylated DNA and exosomes (cells) to detect cancer.

“The two-step strategy uses nanobeads to magnetically isolate the cancer biomarkers, such as methylated DNA or exosomes, from blood or tissue samples collected from cancer patients,” Professor Shiddiky said. 

According to Professor Rehm, the demand for point-of-care diagnostics and monitoring was rapidly increasing with the increase in the prevalence of chronic diseases, healthcare costs and unmet healthcare needs.

“Huge research efforts have been devoted towards the development of technologies that can detect cancer at early stages,’’ he said.

Professor Rehm said these nanomaterials could provide a way to overcome some of the challenges in many health systems, such as looking for a method that is cheap, rapid and accurate.

“Early diagnosis of cancer is critical for more effective treatment strongly improving prognosis of patients so it is important to develop versatile diagnostic platform technologies that are specific and sensitive to detect cancer,” Professor Rehm said.

Griffith University Bans Smoking and Vaping On Campus Grounds

There is an increasing number of Queensland universities that are banning smoking or vaping within their campuses. The most recent one to join the ban is Griffith University, which will prohibit smoking or vaping on all its campuses, including its Mt Gravatt campus.

The no smoking initiative was approved by the University Council on 26 March 2018 and took full effect on 31 May 2018.

The ban is in line with the university’s obligation to provide staff and students with a safe and healthy environment. It is based it on evidence that smoke-free environments increase the rate of quitting and reduce the number of people taking up smoking.

Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services Steven Miles said that the smoking ban in universities can protect the health of over 400,000 students and staff.

“Queensland has a strong track record in creating smoke-free public places, and new voluntary smoke-free policies are an important next step,” Minister Miles said.

Smoke-Free Campus

Students in Griffith University who have not quit smoking will have to go off-campus if they wish to smoke. The university is also reminding smokers that if they smoke off-campus, they should stay in remote areas to protect others from inhaling second-hand smoke.

The smoking initiative is being implemented throughout the campus via signages, posters and postcards, social media, emails, university events, and it is also communicated via orientation and induction programs.