The Australian Science Media Centre (AusSMC) is an independent, not-for-profit service for the news media, giving journalists direct access to evidence-based science and expertise.

We aim to better inform public debate on the major issues of the day by improving links between the media and the scientific community.

BACKGROUND BRIEFING – Drugged and depressed: Mental health in country Australia


Rural Australians are far more likely to suffer from depression than those from metropolitan areas, and regional cities have much more trouble with drug abuse. With nearly a third of our population living outside our major cities, are we doing enough to help those in need? Join us for this online media briefing when experts will discuss why suicide and substance abuse is such problem in rural Australia, and what is being done to help those struggling with mental health and drug problems around the country. read more

EXPERT REACTION: NSW flooding and Jerrara Dam evacuation


The NSW State Emergency Services (SES) has issued an alert for Jerrara Dam suggesting dam failure is imminent. The NSW SES has directed local residents to evacuate.

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EXPERT REACTION: Vaccine for broad protection against influenza (Nature Medicine)*


The development of a universal flu vaccine that is effective against a range of influenza viruses may be a step closer after US and Japanese researchers developed a nanoparticle vaccine that targets a particular part of influenza viruses – the stem – which varies little between strains.
Seasonal influenza vaccines need to be continually updated in order to provide protection against an ever-changing virus, but this vaccine developed for one subtype of influenza, completely protected mice and partially protected ferrets against a different subtype. read more

EXPERT REACTION: Government rejects adding Meningococcal B vaccine to PBS


Parents will face a $500 bill to vaccinate their child against meningococcal B after the government’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) again rejected subsidising the vaccine on the PBS, late today. The recommendation is available here read more

EXPERT REACTION: Working long hours linked to higher risk of stroke (The Lancet)*


Working 55 hours or more per-week is linked to a 33 per cent greater risk of stroke and a more modest 13 per cent increased risk of developing coronary heart disease, compared with working a standard 35 to 40 hour week, according to an international study involving over 600,000 individuals.

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EXPERT REACTION: Cut fat not carbs to lose body fat (Cell Metabolism)*


A US study has found a low fat diet is better at reducing body fat than a low carb one, at least in the short term. The researchers confined 19 people to a metabolic ward and closely controlled what they ate – cutting either fats or carbohydrates for a 6 day period. The researchers found that carbohydrate restriction led to a loss of 53 grams per day of body fat, while fat restriction lead to 89 grams per day of fat loss. The authors caution against making sweeping conclusions on how to diet based on this study. read more

BRIEFING: Are we alone? The $100m question


Click here to follow a recording of the entire briefingIs there anybody out there, or are we alone in the Universe? It’s a question that’s fascinated humankind for centuries, and we may be about to find the answer. Celebrated cosmologist Stephen Hawking recently launched the biggest global hunt for alien life ever undertaken, a project funded by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner to the tune of $135 million. read more

EXPERT REACTION: Federal government announces carbon emission targets


After being delayed since July, the federal government announced at a press conference in Canberra today it plans to cut carbon emissions by between 26 and 28 per cent of 2005 levels by 2030. Experts respond below. read more

BRIEFING: The whole Universe is slowly dying


EMBARGO LIFTED 06.00 AEST Tue Aug 11 2015Click here to follow a recording of the entire briefing
NEWS BRIEFING – Friday August 7 2015 at 11:00 AEST online

The Universe is slowly dying folks. That’s the conclusion of researchers from the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) in Western Australia, who used seven of the world’s most powerful telescopes to observe 200,000 galaxies at 21 different wavelengths from the far ultraviolet to the far infrared. They measured the energy generated across those galaxies more precisely than ever before, and saw that it’s only half what it was 2 billion years ago and fading – in short, the Universe is in its death throes. read more

EXPERT REACTION: Blue Mountains winter bushfires – are they unusual?


Snow and then fires two weeks later? A bushfire that has been raging in the Blue Mountains outside of Sydney for several days has had many people wondering how a fire can become so dangerous in the middle of winter. Is it normal for the area to get the occasional out-of-control bushfire in winter or is this a sign of the times? Experts respond below. read more