Keeping Australia Beautiful

KAB 2Last week, 14 Oxford University Press staff members volunteered to be part of Keep Australia Beautiful Week (24–30 August), arming themselves with heavy-duty gloves, rubbish bags and hi-vis vests to clean up litter in the neighbourhood. Joined by members of the City of Port Phillip Sustainable Programs team, the KAB volunteers fanned out along Sandridge Trail near the Montague Street light rail station in South Melbourne, braving the wet and wild weather to do their bit for the environment.


Before the litter pick-up, the Port Phillip Sustainable Programs team briefed staff on safety precautions, including the responsible handling of sharps, syringes and other hazardous materials. The volunteers then set off in pairs to begin the clean-up.

What did the KAB volunteers find? Cigarette butts. Lots of glass bottles. Plastic supermarket shopping bags. Tuna cans. Drink cans. Plastic bottles. Did we mention cigarette butts? Cigarette butts are one of the biggest litter problems in the world – it is estimated that 4.5 trillion butts are littered every year! (Source: Clean Up Australia)


Litter is a serious threat to our beautiful environment. Because of the area’s close proximity to Port Phillip Bay, it is easy for rubbish to get washed out to sea, causing a lot of damage to the marine ecosystem and its animal inhabitants. It is estimated that over 8 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the world’s oceans every year (Source: National Geographic); litter that will takes hundreds of years to degrade. Over 100 000 sea creatures and 1 million sea birds die every year from plastic strangulation, toxicity or entrapment.

But there are ways that you can help. Apart from not littering, using less plastic and non-recyclable materials will help reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in the waste system. If each Australian family used one less plastic bag a week, that would result in 253 million fewer plastic bags being used per year! (Source: Ocean Crusaders)


The team ended up collecting 9.215kg of landfill and 3.43kg of recycling. Not bad for a lunchtime’s worth of work! After this year’s successful event, Oxford University Press and the City of Port Phillip are keen to join forces again in future (perhaps in warmer and drier weather!). A huge thank you to the Port Phillip Sustainable Programs team and Oxford University Press staff who did their part to Keep Australia Beautiful.

KAB volunteers

About the authors: Ross and Alicia are members of the Oxford Australia Green Committee. The Green Committee is dedicated to implementing Green ideas around the office and raising awareness on issues to do with sustainability and the environment.

Puppy Academy or Dr Kittycat?

Here at Oxford we share a love for many things – books, baking, cheese and our beloved pets. Many desks are decorated with pictures of our furry best friends, and in honour of two new series from our Children’s division, we asked the staff a very important question:

Are you team Puppy Academy or team Dr Kittycat?

How would you vote? Click on the pictures to learn more about the pets at Oxford.
Puppy Academy: Star on Stormy Mountain



Dr Kittycat is ready to rescue Daisy the kitten

Communication skills: tips for working in groups

Most university courses incorporate teamwork projects as part of their students’ learning process. Teamwork projects have dual aims: (1) for a team of students to complete a piece of work that could not be done in the time by an individual working alone, and (2) for individual students to learn and practise the skills of working with others in an organised cooperative process that is essential for many tasks in business and research. Here are 5 tips for working in a group and making sure your team is effective:

  1. Get acquainted. Take some time to get to know each other. At your first meeting, introduce yourselves, talk about the task, have coffee together, and discuss your feelings about teamwork and the project you are working on. Make sure that everyone has a list of names, contact phone numbers, and appropriate contact times for every member of the team.
  1. Allocate roles. Allocate roles to different group members at your first or second meeting. At the very least you will need a chairperson to direct your meetings and a note-taker who will record decisions made and tasks to be done along with their deadlines. Other roles may include: a progress-chaser, an investigator and an evaluator.
  1. Organise your time. Organise your time right from the beginning. Have regular structured meetings, set deadlines for stages of your project and set up a timetable for the whole project.
  1. Problems with working in teams. You will probably encounter a number of problems working on any team project. A common problem and suggested solution is outlined here. Problem: individuals may not do their assigned part of the work. Solution: you must be prepared to confront the individual and have firm rules in place (e.g. have a written statement of each person’s tasks and check on individuals’ progress at each meeting).
  1. Making a team presentation. Sit down as a team, review the material and plan what to say and how to say it. Decide who will speak. You can divide up the presentation among the group members, or, if one of your members is a talented speaker, ask him or her to carry the main responsibility.

communication-skills-guidebookThis extract is taken from the Communication Skills Guidebook. This book is designed to equip students with the essential communications skills they need to succeed at university, including: essay writing, researching, referencing your work, public speaking and exam techniques. It is easy to navigate, with lots of tips and examples, and will be students’ trusted resource throughout their entire degree.
9780190302450 | AU$39.95

Father’s Day Gift Guide From Oxford

Looking for the perfect gift for dad this Father’s Day? We’ve put together a list of some of our favourites that we think your dad will love, whether he’s a history buff, beer drinker or simply enjoys a good laugh. To celebrate all the dads out there, we have a special offer below.

Oxford Companion, Beer, father's day, gift for dadThe Oxford Companion to Beer
Does your dad love beer? If the answer is yes, then we recommend the most comprehensive reference book ever published on the most popular drink in the world (after water and tea). From the brewing process to beer history, from beer styles, food paring, this book will satisfy dad whether he is a brewer, food and beverage professional, or just an enthusiast.
ISBN 9780195367133 | AU$78.95

humourous books, Oxford, brief history of swearingHoly Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing
This book tells the history of two kinds of swearing – the kind that’s rude, and the kind that’s legally binding. A gem of lexicography and cultural history, it is a serious exploration of obscenity – and might just expand your dads’ repertoire of words to choose from the next time he slams his finger in the car door.
ISBN 9780199742677 | AU$29.95

9780199644872 Gallipoli
Is your dad a history buff? Shaped initially by the imperatives of war-time, and the needs of the grief-stricken and the bereft, the memory of the Gallipoli campaign has been re-made time and again over the last century. This book tells us how the campaign has been remembered, from the immediate aftermath to the present day.
ISBN 9780199644872 | AU$38.95

Oxford Companion to Food, foodies, quizThe Oxford Companion to Food
If your dad is a foodie, this Companion maintains its place as the foremost food reference resource for study and home use. It combines an exhaustive catalogue of foods, with a richly allusive commentary on the culture of food.
ISBN 9780199677337 | AU$81.95

9780199654505Little Oxford Dictionary of Quotations
This dictionary is the perfect gift for every occasion. From Shakespeare and Mark Twain to Albert Einstein and Kate Moss, this dictionary features 4,000 of the best and most popular quotations of past and present. Packed with quotable quotes on over 300 themes from Parties to Punctuality, this is the ideal tool for dad to find exactly the right words to express himself in any situation.
ISBN 9780199654505 | AU$18.95

Father’s Day special offer:
Visit the Oxford University Press website and enter the code DAD15 at the checkout to receive 20% off and free delivery* on the titles above.

* This offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other discounts or offers. Offer ends Sunday 13 September 2015.

Super Happy Magic Forest: a review


Super Happy Magic Forest Cover Spread

This month we are anticipating the release of an exciting and epic adventure in the Super Happy Magic Forest. To celebrate this super happy magic release,  Stephanie, age 6, reviewed the book and told us about her favourite characters.
SMHF Review_Stephanie6_Page_1_cropped

  1. What score would you give this book out of 5?
    1 = throw it away
    2 = it was ok
    3 = I might read it again if bored
    4 = I liked it a lot
    5 = it’s awesome and I want to read it again 
  2. Who was your favourite character?
    Trevor and denise*.
  3. Why were they your favourite?
    I like trevor because he is funny. I like Denise* because she is pretty.
  4. Can you draw a picture of your favourite character? SMHF Review_Stephanie6_Page_2_croppedSMHF Review_Stephanie6_Page_3_cropped
  5. What was your favourite part of the story?
    When oldoak gets put in a place where evryone there is evil it is a fair place for him.
  6. Do you have a favourite illustration?
    I liked the SUPER CREEPY haunted forest because when I look at it, it makes me feel brave.SMHF Review_Stephanie6_Page_4_cropped
  7. Is there a part of the story you don’t like?
  8. Would you like to read another epic adventure with these characters?

*Denise is called Dennis in the book.

9780192742957Super Happy Magic Forest

Oxford Word of the Month – August: Tip turkey

tip turkey – noun: the white ibis, Threskiornis moluccus, often regarded as a pest in urban areas because of its scavenging at tips, etc.

The Australian white ibis, Threskiornis moluccus, is widespread across Australia, and naturally inhabits wetlands where it feeds on small invertebrates, especially crustaceans. As part of the ibis family the white ibis has a characteristic long downward-curved bill. Since the 1970s the bird has increasingly been found in urban centres, largely as a result of the decline in the bird’s natural habitat due to intensive farming, urban sprawl, and periods of drought. It has successfully adapted to the urban environment by scavenging on the food refuse of the human population. This scavenging habit has seen numbers increase in many city centres including Sydney’s:

‘The species is a wetland forager’, wildlife officer John Martin, from the Royal Botanic Gardens, says. ‘Now it forages in inland parks and landfill’. During the peak of its spring breeding season, more than 9000 of the birds call Sydney home. (Sydney Morning Herald, 27 April 2013)

The interaction between humans and white ibises in urban areas in recent years has led to an increasingly disparaging view of this bird with a correspondingly negative vocabulary to describe it. Tip turkey is just one of a number of terms now used to describe the Australian white ibis. Others include bin chicken, dump chook, dumpster diver, and flying rat. Tip turkey, like bin chicken and dump chook, associates the ibis with stupidity, as well as with garbage and refuse.

The unflattering description of the ibis as a tip turkey is a relatively recent appellation, but one that has grown in frequency since the first evidence for the term in 2009. This has perhaps matched the growing presence of the birds and their scavenging habits:

Known as the tip turkey, the bird’s reputation for ferreting through inner-city bins and scavenging street garbage has not endeared it to the public. (Sydney Morning Herald, 27 April 2013)

But no matter how much these birds have been denigrated in recent times they now occupy a permanent place in the Australian urban landscape:

They’re the bird Sydneysiders love to hate, but the native white ibis, or tip turkey as they’re sometimes known, are true city slickers. (Sydney Sun-Herald, 20 October 2013)

In March 2015, artist Robert Hains won second place in Brisbane City Council’s Recycling Art competition with a kinetic sculpture inspired by the white ibis and built out of items found at the tip. He gave his creation the name Tip Turkey.

 Tip turkey will be included in the second edition of the Australian National Dictionary.