State Matters - 13 June 2022
COST pressures impacting households are firmly on the NSW Government’s agenda with several initiatives recently announced to assist with energy bills.
The Energy Accounts Payment Assistance (EAPA) program for households experiencing short-term financial hardship with their electricity and gas bills has had its limit increased from $300 to $400, up to a maximum of $1,600 a year.
Eligible households can also apply to Service NSW for different rebates including the Low Income Household Rebate, Gas Rebate, Family Energy Rebate, and Seniors Energy Rebate.
And, thousands of families will soon be able to cut their energy bills with solar and home appliance upgrades from the $128 million Energy Bill Buster program.
Energy Bill Buster allows eligible households to receive the equivalent of up to 10 years worth of rebates in an upfront lump sum contribution towards a free solar system or home appliance upgrade.
NSW BUDGET NEXT WEEK
The NSW Budget will be delivered by the Treasurer Matt Kean next Tuesday and these are just some the programs to be funded.
A record $163.9 million to better protect against growing biosecurity threats with investment in active surveillance, rapid diagnostics and effective traceability systems to monitor, track and respond to any threats.
Women returning to work will be supported with grants of up to $5,000 to fund a new work wardrobe, technology, training and tailored support from a Return to Work Coordinator to help them back into the workforce.
The new Return to Work Toolkit is available on the NSW Government website to provide additional employment resources and information for women: www.nsw.gov.au/women-nsw/toolkits-and-resources/return-to-work-toolkit
ARE YOU CHECKING?
New figures reveal there have been two million downloads of the State Government’s FuelCheck app so motorists can find the cheapest fuel before reaching the bowser.
It’s free, easy to use and gives you real-time petrol price information wherever you are across NSW.
The app includes a Favourite Stations function to save your favourite petrol stations, a Trends page showing the cheapest day of the week to fill up and the day’s price range.
Try FuelCheck at: www.fuelcheck.nsw.gov.au/app
COVID-19 RULES UPDATE
COVID-19 regulations were updated last week but face masks continue to be required in some settings.
COVID Safe check-ins are now no longer required at nightclubs, strip clubs, sex on premises venues and large indoor music festivals, however, businesses and organisations may continue to use them at their own discretion.
You are no longer required to wear a mask or be vaccinated in order to attend a large indoor music festival.
It is recommended to wear a face mask when you can’t physically distance from others.
Mandatory face mask wearing continues at public hospitals and private health facilities,
residential care facilities and hostels, on public transport and public transport waiting areas including in taxis and rideshare services, at a cruise terminal and in airports and on a domestic commercial aircraft.
To stay COVID Safe this winter visit: www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19
SOCIAL HOUSING AMNESTY
People living in social housing have an opportunity to disclose changes in their circumstances without fear of penalties during the NSW Government’s fourth Tenant Amnesty.
Until Sunday 17 July, Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) Housing and Aboriginal Housing residents are requested to advise of changes in their Centrelink support, wages, shares or assets, as well as having unauthorised occupants in social housing.
Tenants who declare changes in their circumstances during the amnesty period will not have to pay back rent or face prosecution.
Members of the public can also contact DCJ 24 hours, seven days a week to report any concerns in confidence by calling 1800 422 322. For more on the Tenant Amnesty: www.facs.nsw.gov.au/housing/living/rights-responsibilities/tenant-amnesty
INDUSTRIAL PLANT REGISTRATION
Businesses needing to register industrial plant items with SafeWork NSW can now do so faster than ever with a new simplified digital process slashing weeks off the average registration time.
The Service NSW website has the new digital registration form to register plant items such as cranes, lifts, escalators, boilers, pressure vessels and some amusement devices.
Businesses can now complete all parts of new plant item registrations online including payment with the new digital form.
A MyServiceNSW account is required to register which can be created via the ServiceNSW mobile app or website. See more at: www.safework.nsw.gov.au/licences-and-registrations/plant-registrations and https://my.licence.nsw.gov.au/plant/
Changes to workers compensation and motor accidents legislation that will provide greater support to volunteers, children of those involved in fatal workplace accidents and road users have been approved by the NSW Parliament.
The Motor Accidents and Workers Compensation Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 amends the workers compensation and motor accidents legislation, as well as the State Insurance and Care Governance Act 2015, the Workers Compensation (Bush Fire, Emergency and Rescue Services) Act 1987 and the Personal Injury Commission Act 2020.
The changes also extend to SES volunteers, Volunteer Rescue Association members, surf lifesavers and marine rescue.
The new laws support the children of people killed in workplace accidents, who will now receive compensation to cover the costs of the NSW Trustee and Guardian managing their lump sum payment until they turn 18.
GRANTS REVIEW ACCEPTED
The NSW Government will support or support in principle all recommendations of the Grants Administration Review to ensure any public money invested in grants programs is spent fairly, effectively, and transparently.
The review delivered 19 recommendations that, when put in place, are designed to deliver value for money by ensuring that the administration, assessment, and assurance of State grants programs is in line with best practice.
The NSW Government typically spends around $4 billion every year on grants, which has increased significantly in response to support people through bushfires, the COVID-19 pandemic, droughts and floods.
Read the government’s Grants Administration Review response at:
HAVE YOUR SAY
Digital Inclusion is currently in the spotlight as the NSW Government tries to make it easier to open a bank account, buy a mobile phone, prove your age or enrol to study.
If you claimed a Dine & Discover NSW voucher, have a digital driver licence, or a fishing or boating licence through your Service NSW app, you are one of millions of people in NSW who have used their digital credentials and digital identity.
Your digital identity allows you to prove who you are online in a safe, secure and convenient way.
Participation in the Digital Inclusion survey until 30 June will help identify areas for improving digital inclusion and prioritise the initiatives that will ensure digital identity and verifiable credentials are inclusive and easily accessible to everyone.
Have your say at: www.haveyoursay.nsw.gov.au/digital_identity_inclusion
NOMINATE CROWN RESERVE VOLUNTEERS
Volunteers who make an outstanding contribution managing Crown reserves now have the chance to shine at the Community Achievement awards.
People who help manage reserves that support communities with everything from green open space to sporting venues, public halls, showgrounds and caravan parks can be nominated.
The NSW Government is sponsoring three categories including the Individual Excellence in Crown Land Management Award, Crown Land Management Excellence Award and the Council Crown Land Management Excellence Award.
Nominations close Tuesday 23 August at: www.awardsaustralia.com/community-achievement-awards/nsw/