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  • Writer's pictureDave Layzell MP

State Matters - 13 February 2023


RELOCATION ASSISTANCE


REGIONAL businesses wanting to attract employees from metropolitan parts of the state can get assistance from the NSW Government’s Regional Skills Relocation Grant program.


Eligible businesses will be reimbursed up to $12,500 to assist with recruitment services and relocation costs of eligible skilled workers they employ.


Whether you’re a regional employer looking for skilled staff, or a business owner looking to relocate, the Regional Skills Relocation Grant program can assist in making regional NSW a home for you, your family, your staff, and your business.


For more information, including program guidelines, visit: www.nsw.gov.au/grants-and-funding/regional-skills-relocation-grant-0.


BE COVID SAFE


NSW Health continues to urge caution when visiting hospitals and aged care facilities if you feel unwell or have cold or flu symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat, cough or fever.


With COVID-19 an ongoing a global health emergency, the department recommends a PCR test as soon as symptoms develop because Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) may not pick up or detect the disease early in the infection.


The NSW Respiratory Surveillance Report for the week ending 4 February shows whilst community transmission appears to be stabilising at low levels, Hunter New England has had 6,714 reported cases for the first five weeks of this year with 214 hospitalisations and 68 deaths.


Meantime, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has updated its recommendations on COVID-19 vaccine booster doses with further details at: www.health.gov.au/news/atagi-2023-booster-advice


FORECAST PROVES CORRECT


It may have seemed out of sequence when the NSW Rural Fire Service issued its seasonal bushfire forecast during the floods late last year – but the warning has proven accurate.


After the rain and heat, there has been grass growth and subsequent browning of the landscape plus we have seen bush burn in the Upper Hunter this summer.


So here are the RFS’s tips to prepare for bush and grass fires starting with home and property preparations and learning what the new Fire Danger Ratings Alert Levels mean.


Importantly, have a fire action plan which you can discuss with your family and household so everyone knows what to do if threatened by fire: www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/plan-and-prepare


SEAFOOD PROMOTION


Seafood businesses across NSW will be given a helping hand to promote their businesses and get more local seafood on plates, with a grassroots campaign from the state government.


The Eat More Seafood program gives fish shops and co-ops the opportunity to reel in grants of up to $100,000 to increase community awareness of the benefits of buying seafood locally.


Applicants can use the funding to organise events, run marketing campaigns or just increase their advertising capabilities – anything that helps promote the state’s world-class seafood.


For more information or to apply before 17 March, visit Eat More NSW Seafood Program 2023 at: www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/commercial/consultation/Eat-More-NSW-Seafood-Program.


PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITIES


The NSW Police Force is encouraging parents to start the conversation with their children about alcohol and it has online resources to support the discussion.


Police believe it is never too early, or too late, to talk with your child about alcohol and that by being open and honest is your best chance to influence their decision-making.


It is against the law to buy or supply liquor to anyone under the age of 18 with penalties including on the spot fines, court imposed fines and/or 12 months imprisonment.


No amount of alcohol is safe for under-18s, so start the conversation by explaining the risks: www.police.nsw.gov.au/crime/drugs_and_alcohol/alcohol


STAFFING IN FOCUS


When I mentioned recently that there is plenty happening at our public schools as we begin 2023 – staffing is another focus area for the NSW Government.


Expressions of interest are now open for the Support for Rural Beginners program being piloted for teachers moving or have recently moved to live in a new community and start work in an eligible rural, remote or regional school.


The Grow Your Own Teacher Training program for School Learning Support Officers to upskill and study teaching degrees while working in local schools will now double to 200 participants this year, with another 300 set to commence in 2024 and 2025.


And, more than 200 new administration roles have been introduced into NSW public schools in the first stage of a plan to lighten teacher workload with the findings to help determine how effective additional support roles in schools are in freeing up time for teachers.


LOCAL MEDIA SUPPORT


A new fund is set to bring to life projects to help regional media outlets tell stories in new ways and ensure regional communities have access to trusted news sources covering the stories that matter to them.

The NSW Government’s Regional Media Fund would help strengthen the regional news landscape by investing $3 million to help news outlets drive innovation, tell stories in new ways and provide more people in regional NSW with access to the news that matters to them.


The new funding will help established mastheads to drive new ideas and encourage newer regional media start-ups to put down roots and grow.


Applications for the Regional Media Fund are now open with all regional media organisations welcome to apply: www.nsw.gov.au/regional-nsw/programs-and-grants/regional-growth-fund/regional-media-fund.


BUSINESS BOOMING!


The state government’s Aboriginal Procurement Policy is paying dividends for Aboriginal businesses with an increase in the value of contracts in two years.


Aboriginal businesses received $92 million in direct government contracts in 2019-20, which has soared to almost $480 million in 2021-22.


The NSW Aboriginal Procurement Policy came into effect in January 2021 with the aim for Aboriginal-owned businesses to be awarded at least 3 per cent of the total number of domestic contracts for goods and services issued by NSW Government agencies.


Aboriginal businesses and communities can provide feedback on the Aboriginal Procurement Policy through the Have Your Say consultation until 28 February: www.haveyoursay.nsw.gov.au/aboriginal-procurement


NEW VACCINATION TOOL


Parents have access to a new tool to help them stay on top of their child’s school vaccinations as the new academic year commences.


NSW Health has launched a convenient new online portal for parents to consent to their child being vaccinated in the free school vaccination program.


The new online portal will help NSW Health to streamline registrations for all school-based vaccinations by removing any chance of parental consent forms getting lost or damaged in school bags or forgotten.

NSW Health Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant urges parents to use the portal to ensure their kids are up to date with their school vaccinations to help keep them safe.


GOLDEN YEARS


A new Ageing Well in NSW Action Plan has been launched by the NSW Government as part of continued efforts to ensure a focus on helping seniors live happy, health and fulfilling lives.


The new 2023-24 plan has an increased focus on seniors in harder-to-reach communities, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people from diverse backgrounds, people living in rural, remote, and regional areas, and LGBTIQ+ communities.


Focus areas of the plan include living in age-friendly environments, participating in inclusive communities, being resilient and informed.


The Ministerial Advisory Council on Ageing (MACA) chaired by Kathryn Greiner AO was among many organisations, stakeholders and peak bodies included in the consultation.



CENTRAL IDEAS


Public feedback is now open on plans for the Sydney Terminal Building revitalisation at Central Train Station.


The environmental impact statement (EIS) for Sydney’s gateway to the regions details the proposal for customer and community experience improvements, heritage restoration and new retail, dining and events spaces.


The revitalisation will also prioritise new and improved pedestrian connections including new lifts, stairs and escalators to provide convenient and direct pedestrian connectivity.


Subject to approval, construction could start this year and would take around three years to complete, with feedback to close on 8 March: www.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/major-projects/projects/sydney-terminal-building-revitalisation

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