Dementia care at a snail’s pace

By Melissa Keogh

Snails are often considered as either a garden pest or a French delicacy.

But volunteers from a free range snail farm in South Australia’s Murray Mallee say the small creatures are helping to provide hope for people with intellectual disabilities and dementia.

Volunteer-run organisation, Careship Coorong, attracts about 10 people to its snail farm in Coonalpyn every week to help breed, feed and harvest the small gastropods.

Many of the farm helpers have intellectual disabilities but from August, dementia patients from Alzheimer’s Australia SA will visit the remote farm once a fortnight.

The country town care farm is the first of its kind in Australia, but the concept is popular in Europe and the US.

Careship Coorong is home to 10,000 snails.

Careship Coorong is home to 10,000 snails.

Care farms provide an alternative to traditional aged care homes, allowing people living with dementia to be outdoors, interact with others in a relaxed environment and engage with their senses.

People living with dementia often experience memory loss, social withdrawal and can lose the ability to perform everyday tasks.

Careship Coorong co-ordinator Claudia Ait-Touati first learnt of the concept when her father was diagnosed with dementia and attended a care farm in the Netherlands.

Volunteers and farm helpers tend to plants –the perfect feeding ground for snails.

Volunteers and farm helpers tend to plants – the perfect feeding ground for snails.

She says care farms help boost self esteem and confidence.

“We have seen massive improvements in happiness and they are proud of what they achieve on the farm and it gives them more confidence,” Claudia says.

Careship Coorong helpers tend to the snails across four fields and carry out “odd jobs” such as weeding and making sure the slow creatures don’t escape their garden beds.

The organisation launched in 2011, and three years later Careship Coorong snagged Alzheimer’s Australia’s SA Excellence in Dementia Care Community Award.

Garden beds feature leafy greens such as cabbage and broccoli.

Garden beds feature leafy greens such as cabbage and broccoli.

The farm is run by a handful of volunteers and one part-time employee.

It is home to about 10,000 snails which feed on leafy greens such as cabbages or broccoli, but hibernate in summer and winter.

While Careship Coorong does not yet sell its snails, Claudia says she hoped to soon tap into the gourmet food market by launching the first line of snail pâté in 2018.

Snails – or escargot – are a delicacy in many countries, particularly France.

“Snails are calming, quite easy to care for and just beautiful to watch,” Claudia says.

“People say it’s very relaxing.”

Need to talk to someone about dementia? Call the National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500.

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SAHMRI 2 to bring new hope for cancer patients

By Melissa Keogh

It’s no secret that the architecturally renowned South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) is one of the most eye-catching buildings in the State.

However, a second one is on its way.

SAHMRI 2, to be located alongside the first institute on North Terrace, will house hundreds more medical researchers and the Southern Hemisphere’s first proton-therapy research centre.

SAHMRI 2 is expected to open by the end of 2020.

The proton therapy unit, spread over three floors in SAHMRI 2, is expected to make a world of difference for about 700 children with cancer and people with inoperable tumours every year.

An artist's impression of what the new SAHMRI building could look like alongside the first SAHMRI, pictured right, on North Terrace.

An artist’s impression of the new SAHMRI building, left, alongside the first SAHMRI on North Terrace.

The cutting-edge treatment delivers precise radiation to tumours with less risk of affecting surrounding tissues and organs.

The technology is currently unavailable anywhere in the southern hemisphere, so patients must travel to the US or Europe to receive treatment.

Watch the video below to hear South Australian woman Carol Coombs’ story.

Carol was forced to travel to the US to receive expensive proton therapy treatment after being diagnosed in 2010 with a tumour close to her brain stem.

SAHMRI executive director Professor Steve Wesselingh says the proton therapy unit will “put us on the world stage”.

“Proton therapy is a form of radiotherapy, but much more precise,” he says.

“It doesn’t kill surrounding tissue.”

Proton therapy also treats cancers in children, whose development can be affected by exposure to typical radiation therapy.

The State Government recently announced a $44m contribution to SAHMRI 2, following $68m in Commonwealth funding.

The overall SAHMRI 2 will cost $273m and is expected to create 250 jobs in construction and 340 ongoing jobs.

The SAHMRI 1 building is renowned for its unique design.

The SAHMRI 1 building is renowned for its unique design.

So, will the design of the SAHMRI 2 be as unique as the first?

“We always want SAHMRI 1 to be the iconic stand-out on the strip,” Prof. Wesselingh says.

“We think the architects Woods Bagot will come up with concept designs (for SAHMRI 2) that synergise with SAHMRI 1 but won’t overwhelm SAHMRI 1.”

Curious about SAHMRI? Tours run every Friday. Click here for more details or contact India Wallace at

iNnovation hits the airwaves

By Melissa Keogh

Tune those dials to Radio Adelaide 101.5 FM on Monday morning, when a new show dedicated to uncovering emerging technologies and innovative businesses hits the airwaves.

Coinciding with Entrepreneurs Week (July 3-7) is the launch of the iN Show – the only weekly radio segment committed to innovation across all industries.

From 6-6.30am every Monday, co-presenters David Grice and Troy Sincock will chat to business founders and entrepreneurs and provide local and international insight into various industries.

The duo will also explore the challenges and emerging trends among the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

David, who has a background in the music and entertainment industry, says the iN Show will allow thinkers and entrepreneurs to have a space for ideas and to share their offerings.

David Grice. above, will co-present the iN Show with Troy Sincock.

David Grice, above, will co-present the iN Show with Troy Sincock.

“I noticed there was a bit of a gap in the market locally for start-ups to spriuk their wares and tell people about their products and services,” he says.

“We want to build a community for start-ups and emerging businesses and give them a platform to share what they are doing, and to promote events locally and nationally.”

Various industries – from biotechnology to IoT (Internet of Things) – will be explored in a bid to build confidence and inspiration among the start-up community.

“What we are trying to promote is that entrepreneurialism isn’t something that is reserved for the elite,” David says.

“We will look at small businesses and how they can grow globally, we need to give people a voice.”

Blog770pxThe iN Show Image 1

Journalist Claire Murphy will present ‘iN the news’ and share the hottest events each week.

Other segments will include ‘iNnovator of the week’ with SA business Augment Space on the July 3 show.

Listeners can also expect to hear from start up mentor Paul Daly, the ‘iNfluencer of the week’.

“We are looking forward to sharing some great stories and helping build a strong community,” David says.

“We are already getting inundated with businesses who want to have their stories told.”

The iN Show launches on Monday, July 3, from 6am on Radio Adelaide.

Spread the love by jumping on the iN Show’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

Entrepreneurs Week is a collaboration between Brand SA, the Adelaide Entrepreneurship Forum, Adelaide City Council, the State Government and other stakeholders, and is supported by News Corp Australia. Check out the full program here.

Two SA women to set sail on Antarctic voyage

By Melissa Keogh

Two South Australian women will join an all-female expedition to the edge of the earth – Antarctica – in 2018.

Laura Trotta of Roxby Downs and Dr Elizabeth Schmidt of the Adelaide Hills will swap South Australian heatwaves for subzero temperatures during the three-week voyage to the icy continent next February.

The two women were chosen to join a group of 80 female explorers from across the world as part of the 12-month Homeward Bound program.

The first Homeward Bound Antarctic expedition was in 2016.

The first Homeward Bound Antarctic expedition was in 2016.

Homeward Bound is a global movement raising awareness for the low representation of female leaders in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM).

Throughout the three-week Antarctic trip, the women will withstand temperatures of about -15C and will battle inevitable seasickness through the notoriously rough waters of Drake’s Passage between Cape Horn and South Shetland Islands.

They will use the opportunity to develop leadership capabilities, networking skills, and showing that female researchers and environmentalists can also influence significant issues such as climate change.

Laura has spent more than a decade working as an environmental professional and now runs a successful eco-consulting businesses from Roxby Downs, helping people live more sustainable and lifestyles.

Roxby Downs mother-of-two Laura Trotta will head to Antarctica in February.

Roxby Downs mother-of-two Laura Trotta will head to Antarctica in February.

“It’s not just about going to Antarctica, it’s about a 12-month leadership program to really give this group of women the skills and confidence to raise their scientific voices collaboratively on a global scale against climate change,” Laura says.

Dr Schmidt comes from a research background and is currently working in business development for scientific research organisation, CSIRO.

The news of the Antarctic voyage came out of the blue, she says.

“I was really surprised and incredibly delighted,” Dr Schmidt says.

“I think it’s a wonderful thing to learn skills and help younger women coming through in science and technology areas.

Dr Elizabeth Schmidt will also embark on the trip to the white continent.

Dr Elizabeth Schmidt will also embark on the trip to the white continent.

Both women must raise funds to support their trip and book a berth on the ship.

Got a spare penny? Make a donation to Laura via her website and to Dr Schmidt, who can be contacted on

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Green is key for new Royal Adelaide Hospital

By Melissa Keogh

The highly-anticipated new Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) has been designed to aid patient comfort with two of life’s simplest pleasures – sunlight and fresh air.

Aside from high quality facilities and state-of-the-art medical equipment, the new hospital is set to show off green spaces which will assist in patient recovery and staff wellbeing.

The new RAH, expected to open in September, has 3.8ha of green space, including 70 courtyards and terraces, and an Aboriginal garden.

Each single inpatient room has an open window allowing access to natural light and fresh air and a wetland is also located at the western end of the site.

Each single inpatient room has an open window.

Windows in inpatient rooms allow access to natural light and fresh air.

Elke Kropf, director of commissioning for the new RAH, says the use of these elements would have a “significant” impact on patients’ wellbeing.

“Our bodies respond better to natural light and air,” she says.

“(They) reflect the way you feel mentally and have a significant impact on physical recovery.

“To be in a confined space and being able to get out and feel fresh air makes people feel better.”


Elke, who has a background in nursing and hospital development, has been liaising with existing RAH staff and a design team over the new hospital’s layout since 2008.

She says although the old RAH benefits from its proximity to the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, it is a “concrete jungle”.

The new RAH’s green spaces were inspired by Scandinavian research and hospital designs, such as St Olavs Hospital in Norway, Elke says.

St Olavs is renowned for its link between nature and patient and staff wellbeing.

Also incorporated in the new RAH is an Aboriginal garden featuring native plant species and bordered by Corten steel panels featuring designs from Indigenous artists.

The Aboriginal garden at the new RAH.

The Aboriginal garden at the new RAH.

The garden will be accessed by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Unit and will provide a peaceful and culturally respectful area for healing and mourning.

Aside from improving patient wellbeing, the green spaces are also set to benefit staff.

“Mental health and physical (working) conditions are very closely linked and transfer into staff satisfaction at work,” Elke says.

“Even our departments in the basement (loading dock, mortuary, and waste management) have access to a courtyard and garden.”


Health Minister Jack Snelling says the benefits to patient recovery will be “enormous”.

“Simple things like being able to feel the breeze and warmth of the sun can help make a huge difference in both the speed of recovery and also in terms of mental health,” he says.

Digging up history in the Flinders Ranges

By Melissa Keogh

Visiting the historic copper town of Blinman in the Far North is almost like stepping back in time.

Blinman is not part of a local council area, has no petrol station or mobile phone reception, instead relying on satellite services.

But with its humble population of just 20 people, the small outback town in the Flinders Ranges thrives off a rich mining history and lures thousands of visitors every year.

Blinman is home to an underground copper mine which is now a popular tourist attraction.

The Blinman Progress Association runs underground mine tours, providing visitors with a snapshot of what a miner’s life was like more than 100 years ago.

The tours launched in 2011 after a decade of planning, works and fundraising.

The underground Blinman mine tours attract thousands of visitors every year.

The underground Heritage Blinman Mine Tours attract thousands of visitors every year.

Mine tour manager Susan Pearl says tunnels were dug to allow access into the heart of the mine, while light and sound shows were installed to “recreate the ambience of the 1860s”.

“It was really so we could keep the town alive,” she says.

“Now there’s a flow on effect in the town, people speak very highly of Blinman and many people visit just for the mine.”

The mine operated from 1862 – 1907 and at its peak employed 1500 people.

It yielded 200,000 tonne of rock containing 10,000 tonne of ore.

Susan says a miner’s life was tough.

“Boys would start work at 14, barrow boys they would call them,” she says.

“Women’s lives were difficult too because they had to walk a good mile to get water and collect firewood.

“Diets were meagre – root vegetables like parsnips and swedes, kangaroo meat, and Cornish pasties.”

The Blinman Mine employed 1500 people at its peak.

Blinman Mine employed 1500 people at its peak.

Blinman’s other claim to fame is being South Australia’s highest surveyed town, sitting 616m above sea level.

Susan says Blinman’s lure is its history and the guarantee of a smile from a local.

“Everybody talks to each other and everybody waves,” she says.

“It’s got a certain charm about it.”

Other Blinman attractions include art show A Brush with Art (September-October) and equestrian event the Blinman Gymkhana (October), which raises money for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Six Heritage Blinman Mine Tours run per day, seven days a week.

For more information visit the website.

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South Aussies are butting out

By Melissa Keogh

South Australian youth are shunning cigarettes at never-seen-before rates, according to recent figures by the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI).

Institute data shows that more young people are choosing to not light up, with the number of South Australian smokers aged 15-29 dropping from 17% in 2015 to 12.3% in 2016.

SAHMRI says this rate, along with a 15% rate of ‘adult’ smokers aged 15 years and over, is the lowest “ever recorded” in South Australia.

Dr Caroline Miller, SAHMRI’s Population Health director, says the all time low is a result of anti-smoking media campaigns and tax hikes on cigarettes.

Heavy health warnings and smoke-free public areas have also caused the dip, she says.

“Tobacco is a deadly product which kills two in three long-term users,” Dr Miller says.

“By staying focused on driving down smoking rates, encouraging quitting and preventing young people from starting, we are reducing the enormous preventable burdens of heart disease and cancer, saving thousands of lives in South Australia.”


Adelaide woman Sue Scott, 55, has been smoke-free for almost 12 months, after a 30-year affair with cigarettes.

Sue says she used to puff on an average of 25 smokes per day out of habit and boredom.

With help from her GP and a switch up of her daily routine, she has quit for good.

“I had a cup of coffee and did a crossword on my iPad in the morning instead of having a cigarette,” Sue says.

Her advice for teens and young adults?

“If you don’t smoke, don’t start,” Sue says.

Substance Abuse Minister Leesa Vlahos says more than 1100 South Australians die of smoking-related causes every year.

“This latest data show excellent progress and our efforts to reduce smoking are continuing to work, as more people heed the message to quit smoking for good,” she says.

“There is still more work we can do and we will do.”

Want to butt out? Call Quitline on 137 848 or head here.

Willunga wedding guru among Pitchfest finalists

By Melissa Keogh

Taking the stress out of a bride and groom’s big day is no easy feat, but one Fleurieu woman is hoping to ease the process before it begins.

Willunga’s Melissa Little is launching an online event planning tool, VENYU, which will help brides carry out the most expensive part of wedding planning – selecting a venue.


The online decision-making tool, which allows loved up couples to search for available wedding venues across the Fleurieu and Kangaroo Island, has received the nod from the 2017 Australia Post Regional Pitchfest.

Regional Pitchfest seeks the country’s top innovators and entrepreneurs and will award the winners with cash prizes to help launch their ventures.

Melissa is one of five South Australian finalists who will head to the State finals in McLaren Vale on July 28.

If successful, she will head to the nationals in Wagga Wagga in August.

The expert event planner says she is “really proud” to be recognised among the cohort of regional thinkers and innovators.

Willunga's Melissa Little is a Regional Pitchfest finalist.

Willunga’s Melissa Little is a Regional Pitchfest finalist.

The idea of VENYU sparked two years ago when Melissa’s sister was forced to find an alternate wedding venue after being double booked three weeks before the big day.

“We rang 90-odd venues … nothing was suitable,” Melissa says.

“It highlighted to me that it would be so simple to just jump online.”

From the dilemma sprouted the start-up venture, which Melissa says will allow users to shortlist suitable venues using search refinements “not currently offered by any other site”.

The VENYU concept is similar to property and accommodation sites and Airbnb and will officially launch by the end of July.

“Usually 50% of a wedding budget is spent on the venue – it’s the most expensive component and the first decision made,” Melissa says.

“Some venues are booked out two years in advance (and) small venues don’t often market themselves.

“There are some beautiful small venues out there.”

South Australian landscapes offer the best wedding spaces.

South Australian landscapes offer the best wedding spaces.

Melissa’s advice for the bride-to-be is to look for unique and unsuspecting locations.

“It’s all about having it somewhere that your friends haven’t seen before,” she says.

Check out the other Regional Pitchfest South Australian finalists here.

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German pub of champions

By Melissa Keogh

From sausages to sauerkraut and authentic brews, the Hahndorf Inn has dished up traditional German fare to scores of visitors and locals for decades.

Now the popular Hahndorf establishment can add another feather to its cap after being named the South Australian Tourism Commission’s latest Tourism Champion.

Tourism Champions is a series of videos and case studies of the top operators, businesses and events around the State.

With a new inductee every month, the campaign aims to build the profile of South Australia’s tourism industry – something the Hahndorf Inn has been striving for in recent years.

The 154-year-old hotel, owned by Andrew Holmes and his family, attracts up to 260,000 visitors every year.

“It’s terrific to be recognised as a tourism champion,” Andrew says.

“We essentially provide unique experiences that talk to the history and culture of Hahndorf.”


Andrew says employment at the inn has more than doubled in the past four years to 80 staff, while 85% of employees are local.

With the help of Chinese liaison and marketing officer, Jack Chen, the business has also experienced a 35% growth in sales from the Chinese market since 2015.

Andrew says people’s attraction to not only the Hahndorf Inn but elsewhere along the popular tourism strip was the display of history and mixture of offerings.

“It’s quite unique in that it’s the oldest surviving German settlement in Australia,” he says.

“In autumn Hahndorf is full of European species trees, warm log fires and great comfort food.”

Check out other Tourism Champions here.

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