New South Wales

Upgraded Redfern parks help Sydney community connect to Country

REDFERN’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage will be at the heart of plans to upgrade three parks in one of Sydney’s most important growing communities.

More than 4,500 square metres (sqm) of parks will be upgraded at Redfern Community Centre open space, Yellomundee Park and Hugo Street Reserve.

Informed by extensive community consultation, the project scope will see greener, cooler parks with native trees and plants making for safer and more welcoming spaces, according to the council.

“As our city grows and more areas are developed, creating inviting places where the local community can come together and socialise is even more important,” Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore said. 

“The area is experiencing major changes with increased development around Redfern station and more to come as the metro station at Waterloo gets closer to becoming operational.

“The Block is so important for local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and is an area where the local community has shaped its neighbourhood. This is why we’ve really listened to what they want for the future of the area and in particular these local parks.

“The residents who live near these parks share a strong sense of community and they’ve told us they want them to be friendly and inviting places where children can play safely. Our upgrades will improve spaces for sport and recreation while creating new playgrounds for families to come together and enjoy.”

The proposal for the Redfern Community Centre open space includes: a larger playground catering to several ages; greater lawn area suitable for events, pop-up attractions and free play; a new shaded barbecue and seating area; an activated Redfern terrace that has the capacity to tell local stories through a ‘living museum’, as outlined in the Eora Journey: Recognition in the public domain vision; low wall seating around the park and more bins, bubblers and lighting.

The proposal for Yellomundee Park includes: a new gathering space in the centre of the park; improved lawn areas and potential community garden plots; a new path through the park; and more accessible seating, bins and bubblers with improved lighting. 

The proposal for Hugo Street Reserve includes: an upgraded basketball court with improved noise minimising treatments such as sound absorbing surfaces and backboards; an improved off-leash dog area to the south; upgraded lawn and garden area to the north; and new seating, bins and bubblers with improved lighting.

These upgrades will increase native greening in the area and provide opportunities for residents to connect to Country, according to Lord Mayor Moore.

Once the project scope is endorsed by the council, a multi-disciplinary design team, including an Aboriginal cultural specialist, will help design the project with the local community. The City of Sydney will also look to provide opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander owned and operated businesses, as well as workers, to be employed on the projects through design and construction.

A tender process will appoint a head contractor ahead of detailed design.


Unit construction in NSW collapses under tax burden for foreign investors

THE HOUSING Industry Association of Australia (HIA) has warned that residential unit construction has fallen by half in New South Wales since 2017, when new ‘foreign investor surcharge’ taxes were introduced by the State Government.

“Since the introduction of additional taxes in 2017, the number of units commencing construction in NSW has fallen by 50 percent,” HIA chief economist, Tim Reardon said.

“The number of apartments starting construction in NSW has fallen back to levels last seen in 2012, when the population of NSW was 1 million people fewer and migration was just one third the volume of 2023,” Mr Reardon said.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) corroborated this in the release of its building activity data for the December Quarter 2023. This data provides estimates of the value of building work and number of dwellings commenced, completed and under construction across Australia and its states and territories. 
“The more governments tax homes, the fewer homes will be built and the faster rents will increase,” Mr Reardon said.
“The Australian Government has stated a goal of building 1.2 million new homes. This ambitious target requires all states and territories to work toward this common goal.
“Making homes more expensive is not an effective policy response to achieve a slowing in migration to NSW.
“It will however lead to a more inequitable housing market with renters bearing the highest burden.
“There were only 23,653 multi-units that commenced construction in New South Wales in 2023, following just 21,652 in 2022. These were the two weakest years of apartment commencements since 2012,” Mr Reardon said
“The last two years of multi-units activity in NSW are less than half the 47,757 multi-units the state commenced in 2016.
“NSW introduced additional stamp duty and land tax surcharges on foreign investors from 2017. These taxes are in addition to those taxes, fees and charges imposed on foreign investors by the Australian Government.
“The result was an exodus of foreign investors and a dramatic decline in higher density home building. A similar outcome can be observed across the country, especially in the capital cities, where similar taxes have been imposed.
“Foreign investors are a crucial component to building new housing in Australia, especially the higher density living that is particularly important in periods of rapid migration.

“Foreign investors don’t live in these homes, and they cannot take them overseas and they are penalised if these homes are left vacant.
“The rapid population growth in NSW will not be slowed by increasing the taxes on home building,” he said
“Australian based institutional investors, who received a tax concession in the 2023 Federal Budget to invest in residential housing, are not filling the gap left by the withdrawal of overseas investors.
“At a time of record population growth and acute shortages of housing, NSW needs more of all types of homes with the support of investment from first home buyers, owner occupiers, government housing, domestic and foreign investors,” Mr Reardon said.

Check the HIA Stamp Duty Watch Report for more details.


Coles Nurture Fund backs Addison Road Community Centre efforts

THE ADDISON ROAD Community Centre in Sydney’s inner west will be one of the first charities in Australia to establish a ‘zero waste, zero emissions’ kitchen for rescued food thanks to a grant from the Coles Nurture Fund. 

Located in Marrickville, the new commercial kitchen will run entirely on solar energy and close the loop on rescued food by making ready-to-eat meals from food donated by SecondBite and Coles. The meals will then be distributed to disadvantaged people in Sydney's inner west.

Addison Road Community Organisation CEO Rosanna Barbero welcomed the $165,000 grant from Coles to fit out the new commercial kitchen and install solar panels for her organisation.  

“With the support of Coles, the Addison Road Community organisation will achieve a zero waste, zero emissions food rescue program," Ms Barbero said. "The winners are the people and the planet. We will show Australia and beyond that it can be done, creating jobs and training opportunities, one community at a time." 

Addison Road is an independent, community-based charity that has been operating since 1976, providing food and services for disadvantaged people in Sydney's inner west and beyond. Through Coles’ partnership with national food rescue organisation SecondBite, Addison Road Community Organisation receives and redistributes unsold food donations from local Coles stores to help feed those in need.

Coles state general manager for New South Wales, Ivan Slunjski said he was delighted to see the Nurture Fund award support great sustainability initiatives for small organisations like Addison Road.

“The Coles Nurture Fund was set up to support new, innovative practices, processes and technologies and we’ve been delighted with the calibre of recent applications,"  Mr Slunjski said. "At a time when providing food to people in need across Australia is so important due to the flow-on effect of COVID-19, we’re delighted to support Addison Road Community Centre.

“At Coles, we want to win together with Australian communities to be the most sustainable supermarket in Australia. By helping to fund initiatives which increase local production and enhance the environment, we aim to drive generational sustainability in Australia.”

Federal Member for Grayndler and Federal Labor Party Leader, Anthony Albanese, welcomed the investment to his local community.

“Thank you to Coles for the great initiative that is ‘The Coles Nurture Fund’.  Addison Road Community Centre is the ideal recipient for this award,” Mr Albanese said.

“Addison Road, under the leadership of CEO Rosanna Barbero, continues to lead the way in ensuring that genuine community needs are met whilst considering the effect on the planet and the future.  I am always inspired by the spirit and energy that drives so many good results for the most disadvantaged in our society.  This is a great project.”

Since it was established in 2015, the Coles Nurture Fund has provided financial support to over 60 Australian businesses to help them introduce innovative technology, improve sustainability, establish new products and drive productivity.



Caption: Celebrating the new Coles initiatives supporting the Addison Road Community Centre's work are (from left) Coles Marrickville store manager Chris Cauchi, Coles Regional Manager NSW Sheraz Rasool, Addison Road Community Centre Organisation CEO Rosanna Barbero, Federal Member for Grayndler NSW and Leader of the Opposition Anthony Albanese, SecondBite chairman Julian Martin and Coles state manager for NSW Ivan Slunjski.

Forum for Accelerating Research and Innovation in NSW draws enthusiastic support

WESTERN SYDNEY University today hosted, in partnership with NSW State Member for Vaucluse Gabrielle Upton, the industry forum, Accelerating Research and Innovation in NSW, at its Parramatta City campus.

The forum is part of a collaborative campaign to drive innovation and research commercialisation in New South Wales.

With rates of disruption and change accelerated by the shift to digital and the post-pandemic economy, the NSW Premier launched in January 2021, the NSW Action Plan for Accelerating Research and Development (R&D).

The plan was guided by an Advisory Council, chaired by David Gonski AC, with membership drawn from the business, investment, startup and tertiary education sectors.  

The Plan’s five Priority Actions are to: Launch a Small Business Innovation Research program; boost ‘open data’ from government so businesses can make better decisions; turbocharge precincts to attract technology industries and investment; target strategic support for NSW universities; and establish an R&D matchmaking platform. 

Western Sydney University’s vice-chancellor and president, Barney Glover, joined a panel of experts chaired by NUW Alliance chief operating officer, Jane Reynaud. The panel also included Sarah Hill (CEO of Western Sydney Parkland Authority), Emma Johnston (dean of science at UNSW) and Rebecca Pham (accelerator manager, Launch Pad at Western Sydney University).

“NSW is emerging strongly from the pandemic, and is in a prime position to invest in translating innovations into practical solutions that address collaboratively identified challenges," Professor Glover said.

“This plan is an excellent platform on which to capitalise on that opportunity.”

Ms Upton, who apart from being the State Member for Vaucluse, is the Parliament Secretary to the Premier, led the development of the Action Plan and shared her vision for turning the plan’s priorities into commercialised products and services that benefit the people of NSW.

“On 1 June 2021 we launched the Action Plan’s first priority – the $24 million Small Business Innovation Research Program calling on SMEs to bring forward innovative ideas to solve discrete government agency problems. This is just the start of the rollout of the Plan’s priorities”, Ms Upton said. 

To find out more, visit the Accelerating R&D in NSW Action Plan website.



Ceramisphere technology goes global

By Mike Sullivan >>

CAN CERAMIC micro-encapsulation technology – a new materials process originally developed by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation – change the world for the better?

Not only can it happen but New South Wales company Ceramisphere has been established to make it happen.

Ceramisphere has developed two quite different product lines that utilise ceramic micro-encapsulation technology.

Ceramisphere itself manufactures green, smart additives for paints and coatings that provide unrivalled corrosion protection. Ceramisphere Health – an offshoot company that operates specifically in the health and medical sector – is developing a new type of transdermal patch for pain relief and wound healing. Trials so far have given the company great confidence in the ability of this technology to have a successful impact on post shingles pain treatment and help fighting the opioid crisis. 

The year ahead is expected to be a busy, fruitful one of commercialisation and stepping up sales for Ceramisphere smart pigments, according to CEO and founder, Chris Barbé, although there are certainly major challenges to be met.

“Our target for Ceramisphere in 2019 is to increase the market penetration for our smart anticorrosion pigments (known by the registered trademark, Inhibispheres) in North America and Europe,” Dr Barbé said.

“We will try to capitalise on the momentum created by our first sale in the USA and keep growing our pipeline through our network of nine distributors. We have more than 100 companies currently testing our products worldwide.”

At the same time, Ceramisphere Health is looking to raise capital and conduct clinical trials with a view to fast-track progress through the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“For Ceramisphere Health, we are looking to raise capital to take our ground breaking zero-waste nanocomposite patch technology through clinical trials,” Dr Barbé said. “We should benefit from an accelerated pathway through the FDA and potentially reach commercialisation as early as 2023, which is extremely rapid for Healthcare. 

“This makes it a very attractive proposition for potential investors.”


Investors looking at Ceramisphere are likely to be heartened by the company’s strong innovation pedigree and the way the company’s teams ‘keep finding a way’ to commercialise. 

Dr Barbé likes to quote from inventor and electricity entrepreneur Thomas Edison, whenever the going gets tough: “Nearly every man who develops an idea works it up to the point where it looks impossible, and then he gets discouraged. That’s not the place to become discouraged.”

Ceramisphere was created in 2007 as a fully owned subsidiary of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), as a vehicle to spin-off ANSTO’s novel ceramic micro-encapsulation technology. This first step to commercialisation was achieved in early 2010.

“Originally, we positioned ourselves as a micro-encapsulation company, with a service business model where the client brings a substance to encapsulate and we would develop the encapsulation process for them,” Dr Barbé said. The initial plan was for Ceramisphere to license the technology back to the client to manufacture – or contract the manufacturing of – the final product.

“We worked with a wide range of companies, all around the world, for various applications ranging from the encapsulation of flavours for chewing gum, to enzyme for washing powder, biocide for aquaculture all the way to RNA (ribonucleic acid) therapy.”

Dr Barbé founded Ceramisphere in 2007, working as the company’s technical director, and he became increasingly concerned by the slow commercial take-up of the technology, wondering if another business model should be explored.

“The development of smart additives for paints and coatings started in 2007 as a collaboration with (aircraft manufacturer) Airbus,” Dr Barbé said. “They were interested in developing a replacement for the toxic chromium primers currently used in aerospace to prevent corrosion. 

“After several years, we realised that our microencapsulation business model was not applicable to the paint industry. Paint manufacturers, being formulators, were interested in buying microencapsulated additives but not volunteering substances to be encapsulated. Like good cooks, they want to buy their ingredients not grow them …

“So, we changed our business model and became a smart additive manufacturer. This entailed building a manufacturing facility in Mt Kuringai, north of Sydney, and setting up a sales and distribution network in Europe and North America.”

“In 2014, when I took over as CEO we decided, being an SME with limited resources, to focus on two key areas where our patented technology presented some unique key competitive advantages: smart additives for paints and drug delivery for healthcare,” he said.

“On the healthcare side, after a number of collaboration projects with large pharmaceutical companies, technically successful but which did not progress commercially, we decided to take our destiny in our own hands,” Dr Barbé said.  “We chose to push through the clinic a ground breaking transdermal patch technology that we have developed in collaboration with a small company in the Czech Republic.

“The preclinical data is extremely positive with 30 times more efficient patches, with no residual waste – in contrast to 50-95 percent of the drug typically remaining inside current commercial patches when you discard them. We are currently developing a pipeline of three patch products: One, an extended release lidocaine patch for post-shingles pain; two, a new fentanyl patch for post-surgical and cancer pain’; and three, a bioactive wound healing dressing with faster and better healing properties.

“To better focus our effort, we have recently spun off the new company, Ceramisphere Health, which is solely dedicated to developing those novel nano-solutions for skin delivery.”


Two breakthroughs over the past year have been milestones for Ceramisphere.

The company made the first sale of its ground breaking Inhibispheres anticorrosion technology in North America in 2018. At Ceramisphere Health, positive preclinical data of the lidocaine patch confirmed superior efficiency and ease of disposal. 

“We are constantly expanding a modifying our range of Inhibispheres products to better address our customer’s needs,” Dr Barbé said. “In response to some specific demand from customers working in aerospace applications, we have developed two new products which are being evaluated in Europe and the US.

“The Inhibispheres technology is a rupture technology for the paint and coating industry. This patented technology is unique and offers significant increases in efficiency, with 30 times less chemical used for a better corrosion protection.”

Sustainability is part of Ceramisphere’s DNA, Dr Barbé said. The Inhibispheres products are a natural extension of that philosophy, finding a more sustainable way to manufacture anticorrosion pigments. They provided a novel, eco-friendly alternative to toxic chemicals, such as Chromium VI and other metals, currently used for corrosion protection.

And there has been significant commercial progress across North American and European markets with the establishment in 2018 of nine distributors.

“These distributors are acting as our sales forces and will enable us to penetrate these markets more quickly,” Dr Barbé said. “Our sales cycle is around 24 months. Lesson to be learned: patience … and the necessity to keep growing our pipeline.”

Ceramisphere is also learning that even a new, sustainable – and in many ways revolutionary – product must keep ‘showing up’ and weave its way through to industry acceptance.

“The paint and coating industry is a crowded place with a lot of consolidation occurring both for paint manufacturers but also distributors and suppliers,” Dr Barbé said.  “This makes it harder for a small entrepreneurial company based in Australia to enter the global market.

“Large companies tend to be benchmarking new technologies rather than adopting them. We rely on early adopters, to demonstrate the commercial potential of this novel technology and with this concentration happening throughout the industry, their numbers are dwindling.” 

Nevertheless, recognition is coming Ceramisphere’s way and sectors of the industry are taking note. For example, Ceramisphere received early acclaim from the Scandinavian Paint Association in Copenhagen, being named the Most Innovative Technology of 2018.

That sort of notice is appreciated by the hard-working teams at Ceramisphere who believe their products in development can genuinely change industry for the better.

“Our success is the result of close team work,” Dr Barbé said. “Every member of the team from the junior chemist to the business development manager contributes to the success of the company.

“We have had a slow and gradual increase of staff numbers over the past year. As a mature start-up, our policy is always to ‘hire slowly’. We are cautious but we are forging ahead.

“Our plan is to increase our sales into Europe and North America. Once we will have established our beachheads in these two markets, we will turn our eyes to Asia, which represents both a substantial opportunity – as the highest growth region for the paint industry – and a significant challenge both commercially and from an IP protection perspective.” 

While he admits the challenges are big for a small Aussie company, he believes the capability and the determination are there to see Ceramisphere succeed and become another great global company from Australia.

“To quote Thomas Edison again, ‘The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are: Hard Work, Stick-to-itiveness, and Common Sense’,” Dr Barbé said.

“Our teams at Ceramisphere and Ceramisphere Health know all about vital ingredients – and they certainly have those three, in spades.”

Ceramisphere Pty Ltd and Ceramisphere Health Pty Ltd

Best-known brands: Ceramisphere® Inhibispheres ®

Started in 2007 as an offshoot company of ANSTO, Ceramisphere companies operate in the ‘paints and coatings’, manufacturing and healthcare (human and animal) sectors. The businesses are led by founder and former technical director Chris Barbé – who became the CEO in 2014 – Ceramisphere today is what he refers to as a ‘mature start-up’ with a permanent staff of 12 people and a turnover of more than $600,000. The leadership team is CEO Chris Barbé, Chief Scientific Officer Dr Aparajita Khatri for Ceramisphere Health, and Business Development Manager Ron Cozijnsen for Ceramisphere .


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