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  • Writer's pictureDave Layzell MP

State Matters - 13 March 2023


NINETEEN Upper Hunter electorate public schools have been selected to participate in the accelerated universal pre-Kindergarten program under a re-elected NSW Liberal and Nationals Government.

Bolwarra, Merriwa Central, Singleton Heights and Stroud public schools are part of the commitment to commence construction on the new facilities in the second half of this year, ensuring the first 500 facilities are complete within four years.

By 2030, every single child in NSW will have access to a full year of free, play-based learning in the year before school.

More than $15.9 billion is being investing in early childhood to deliver a brighter future for every child in NSW which includes the Brighter Beginnings initiatives, a workforce package for early childhood educators and the Affordable Preschool fee relief.


Hunter New England Local Health District has now recorded 10,339 COVID-19 cases less than three month into 2023.

The NSW Respiratory Surveillance Report for the week ending 4 March shows an increase in the number of people notified with COVID-19 and in hospital admissions with the increases likely to mark the beginning of a new wave of transmission.

Hunter New England had 848 of the 6,941 people diagnosed with COVID-19 in NSW for the week, including 17 of the 202 hospital admissions.

If you test positive to COVID-19 using a rapid antigen test, NSW Health recommends you register your result with Service NSW.

PCR testing continues to be available in NSW without GP referral at COVID-19 testing clinics:


The NSW Building Commissioner and NSW Fair Trading will have their powers bolstered from 1 July to better protect homeowners and workers.

The state government is standing firm on its commitment to make developers, designers and engineers lift their game and restore public confidence in the building industry, with the government’s landmark industry reforms set to be expanded to include more buildings.

The Design and Building Practitioners Act and Residential Apartment Buildings Act have ensured comprehensive oversight of design and building work in NSW, with strong powers to order rectification of substandard work

Consumers also have the power to check the trustworthiness of builders, developers, certifiers and consultants with an online independent construction industry ratings tool (iCIRT).

Find out more about the independent construction industry ratings tool at:


Did you know that Fire and Rescue NSW offer free Fire Safety Visits?

Everyone can benefit from a safety visit, however there are people within our communities that are statistically at higher risk of incidents occurring including over-65’s, those who live alone and residents who are supported by carers, family and friends.

Firefighters can visit your home and discuss safety measures as well as ensuring that smoke alarms are in good working order and that you have a fire escape plan.

To organise a visit, check the Fire and Rescue NSW website:


Students interested in pursuing a career in mental health support are being provided with valuable on the job experience through a $20 million NSW Government investment.

Delivered through headspace, more than 100 students studying psychology, social work and occupational therapy have been given the opportunity to gain work experience through a clinical placement program.

The program assists students to develop critical skills and knowledge in a clinical setting by giving hands-on, real-world experience as they work with young consumers seeking support through headspace.

The headspace Student Placement Program is being implemented until June next year supporting places for 350 students studying social work, occupational therapy, as well as psychology masters and doctorate candidates.


Parents will have more choice thanks to the NSW Government’s Active Kids and Creative Kids voucher swap initiative.

Families can use the two vouchers interchangeably from Term Two of the school year allowing kids to do more of what they love.

The voucher swap program will commence on 26 April and only apply to the $100 Active Kids voucher and the $100 Creative Kids voucher.

Families can download their child’s vouchers via the Service NSW app or website and by calling 13 77 88.


A landmark $36 million NSW Government package will aim at tackling youth crime and keeping at-risk youth on track.

The package, expected to assist 30,000 young people across the state, includes new Violence Reduction Units (VRUs) run by the Department of Community and Justice’s Youth Justice.

Eighteen VRUs currently operate in the United Kingdom and have played a crucial role in preventing youth crime there.

Also included in the package is $10.2 million over four years to continue the Youth Action Meeting (YAMs) and expand the program to nine other locations across the state,

$6.5 million over two years to expand four key PCYC programs across NSW and $13.6 million over two years to continue the Youth Justice program, Youth on Track, in seven locations.


A new report has revealed the NSW Government’s Faster Payment Terms policy has paid 97.6 per cent of invoices to small businesses within five days.

The review of the policy implemented in late 2018 found there were more than 6,600 businesses that invoiced government agencies for payment of $338 million in 2021-22.

The state government wants more of the 800,000 small businesses in NSW to have the opportunity to provide products and services to government agencies.

To further improve payment times, the review conducted by NSW Treasury has made 24 recommendations after consulted with small businesses and the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA).


Shooting clubs across the Upper Hunter electorate can apply for funding to improve the quality and safety of local shooting facilities.

The Safe Shooting Program provides grants of $10,000-$50,000 to improve storage, security and safety, as well as purchase new equipment such as electronic targets.

Shooting is a popular sport in NSW with the state producing several Olympic champions.

This funding will support shooting clubs to provide safe facilities and ensure NSW continues to produce competitors who excel on the world stage.

Applications close on April 14 with further information at:


Nightdrive for Learners would have to be one of the more unique experiences parents and supervising drivers can give a learner driver.

Run by the Australian Racing Drivers' Club and Driving Solutions monthly at Sydney Motorsport Park, the free program gives learner drivers the opportunity to build their confidence in driving without the pressures of other road users around the circuit.

The nights often feature additional insights and information from invited special guests including Police Road Safety Education personnel with Highway Patrol officers in pit lane to engage with the drivers and supervisors on breath and drug testing.

The program, which commenced in 2016, applies all standard Road Rules for Learner Drivers including a maximum speed of 80km/h.

Discover more at: or visit the NSW Police Traffic and Highway Patrol Command Facebook page:


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