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  • Writer's pictureDave Layzell MP

State Matters - 10 June 2024


THE UPPER HUNTER Electorate should be very proud of its 2024 King’s Birthday Honours Award recipients.

Two women, two men and a senior public servant acknowledged for their contributions to the community.


Lorraine Bruce of Wards River recognised with the Australian Fire Service Medal for service to the Mid Coast Rural Fire District for more than 40 years and Limeburners Creek’s Madeline Allen honoured with an OAM for decades of contribution to netball.


Scone has a pair of Order of Australia Medallists (OAM) with John Brooks recognised for his involvement with Legacy amongst a long list of local organisations and Charlie Cooke awarded for service to the Scottish community including the Aberdeen Highland Games.


Muswellbrook Shire Council’s director of Environment and Planning, Sharon Pope, receives a Public Service Medal for outstanding urban and regional planning in Muswellbrook and the surrounding region.


Thank you, to all the organisations that submitted applications for the 2023 NSW Government Community Building Partnership (CBP) grants program.


Scores of good projects were considered but a budget of $300,000 made it difficult to assist all applicants on this occasion.


The latest allocation is being shared across the Upper Hunter Electorate with Gloucester, Dungog, Clarence Town, Paterson, Maitland, the Upper Hunter Shire, Denman, Muswellbrook, Singleton and Branxton among the recipients.


The grassroots funding will directly help create a more vibrant and inclusive local community with positive social, environmental and recreational outcomes.


Denman Sandy Hollow Junior Rugby League Club can upgrade Denman Oval’s spectator facilities, Rural Fire Brigades at Bunnan, Bureen and Bolwarra Largs have received assistance and Gloucester’s Bucketts Radio 104.1 FM can now plan outside broadcasts.


For more information, visit the Community Building Partnership website:


COVID-19 activity has rapidly increased over the past week with Hunter New England Local Health District having the highest reported cases numbers in almost 12 months.


The NSW Respiratory Surveillance Report for the week ending 1 June saw the Local Health District with 481 COVID cases, 265 Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) infections and 236 patients with influenza.


NSW Health’s COVID-19 activity monitoring uses Public Health, Rapid, Emergency and Syndromic Surveillance (PHREDSS) data, the COVID-19 sewage surveillance program, whole genome sequencing (WGS) data and sentinel laboratory respiratory virus test results.


Tips to protect yourself and others include staying home if you have cold or flu symptoms and wearing a mask if you need to leave home plus taking a rapid antigen test (RAT) before visiting people at higher risk of severe illness.


Learn how to keep yourself and others COVID-safe:



They have been the subject of some suspicion for the last 12 months and now another Machine Learning Camera is located in the Upper Hunter Electorate.


The big black boxes are world-first technology being trialled in NSW to analyse freight vehicles to help reduce congestion and ensure goods are delivered sooner and more efficiently.


The solar-powered, artificial intelligence-enabled technology designed and built in Australia, is the first iteration of world-leading software developed by Transport for NSW.


The cameras are not used for enforcement, they are not speed cameras nor are they mobile phone detection cameras.


Bengalla Road, Bengalla is the new camera location with other Machine Learning Cameras located at Cockfighters Bridge Warkworth, Thomas Mitchell Drive Muswellbrook,

Golden Highway Whittingham and Denman, and the New England Highway Liddell.




Firefighters are urging residents across the Upper Hunter to make sure they have working smoke alarms fitted in their homes now that winter is here.


New Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) figures released to launch the annual Winter Fire Safety Campaign reveal that last winter, nearly half of the 1080 homes that were impacted by fire did not have a working smoke alarm, or any alarm, in place.


A particular concern is the number of kitchen fires which accounted for 44 per cent of cases last winter.


Firefighters’ advice is to keep a fire blanket near the kitchen to smother flames – ensure we keep looking while cooking – don’t get distracted and if a fire breaks out, don’t throw water onto it because the flames will flare up dramatically.


FRNSW does conduct community outreach programs and encourages residents to book a home fire safety visit with further advice on the FRNSW website:


The call is going out for student nurses and midwives to get ready to apply for graduate position with NSW Health.


Applications open on 18 Jun​e with prospective candidates having until 1 July to express their interest.


NSW Health offers you the opportunity to choose your ideal work location, including picturesque rural or regional areas.


The Metro Rural Exchange allows you to spend six months in regional and six months in metro areas, with support towards relocation expenses.


New graduates will be offered meaningful and ongoing professional development and may be eligible for scholarships, relocation support and clinical placement support.


Get details on how to apply for the NSW Health 2025 GradStart program at:



NSW continues to be the only state or territory to regularly report on First Nations expenditure.


The 2023-24 NSW Indigenous Expenditure Report (IER) has been released fulfilling the state government’s commitments under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap to review and classify government expenditure on First Nations people.


NSW is home to 34.5 per cent of Australian First Nations people, at around 340,000 people, which is approximately 4.2 per cent of the state’s population.


In 2023-24, the NSW Government budgeted $1.2 billion for First Nations specific programs and services including $301.8 million for housing and community amenities, $237.8 million for education and $226.3 million for social protection.


For more information on the NSW Indigenous Expenditure Report go to:


A plan to boost wine exports and create new jobs and opportunities has been unveiled by the state government.  


Investment NSW next month kicks off a targeted 12-month program to bring international buyers to the state and make it easier for local winemakers to take their products to markets around the world.


The program will be available to producers of NSW’s wine exports looking to re-enter the newly reopened Chinese market but will also support exporters in key emerging markets including India, Japan and Vietnam. 


To find out more about exporting from NSW and the support available visit:



Spontaneous volunteers who turn up to help in times of crisis will be better trained, equipped and coordinated through a new $5 million grants program.

The Spontaneous Volunteer Support (SVS) Program is designed to ensure where people decide to spontaneously or informally help during emergencies, organisations are better placed to coordinate this support to complement trained volunteers and emergency service efforts.

The SVS Program is one of the outcomes of a NSW Government review to help develop a longer-term vision for emergency volunteering to ensure its continued sustainability into the future.

A competitive SVS grant program will fund councils, non-government-organisations and community groups to prepare for future natural disasters.

People who want to make a contribution are encouraged to visit the emergency volunteering hub and have a look at opportunities available:



Nominations are now open for Blue Plaques to celebrate the people, groups and events which have contributed to the rich heritage of NSW.


More than a dozen recipients will be chosen from these submissions - whether it’s an unsung hero, group or landmark event, for recognition by this popular Heritage NSW program.


This round will celebrate the diversity of our community, with nominations falling into themes including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, environment and sustainability, sport, social justice and advocacy, war-time stories, the elderly, disability, LGBTQIA+ and more.


Nominations for a blue plaque can be done online with eligibility criteria including they must

relate to a person, people or event that has made a lasting impact on a community in NSW or NSW as a whole.


Heritage NSW and independent historians will evaluate nominations based on the eligibility criteria.


Nominate or cast a vote by Sunday 30 June at:



Cost of living is still a real issue for many people, so if you are looking at vehicle running expenses real time advice is at your fingertips before leaving home.

Next time you need to fill-up check the NSW FuelCheck app first to find the best deal around your community or on your journey.

The app is free, easy to use and displays real-time fuel prices at thousands of service stations across NSW.

You can even search by the fuel type you need, at the best price closest to you, and get notifications when your favourite service stations drop their prices.

Join the 677,000-plus monthly users who know the best pump price by going to:


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