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  • Writer's pictureDave Layzell MP

State Matters - 17 July 2023


THOUSANDS of people have already signed the NSW Nationals online petition

to take a stand against the axing of the Regional Seniors Travel Card (RSTC).

The Minns Labor Government has completely underestimated how valuable the card is to seniors living in regional areas of the state.

Last week, I hosted NSW Nationals Leader Dugald Saunders, who told me that as he travels across the state seniors are worried the travel card will be cut.

It is more important than ever that everyone has their say by signing the petition to save the card which has over one million users and has been running successfully for three years.

To sign the petition go to:


Renters and landlords are being asked by the NSW Government for their views on critical changes to rental laws.

If you live in, own or manage a rental property, or are interested in renting rules you can provide input on changes to help give more stability for renters and certainty for landlords.

The changes include ending no grounds evictions, making it easier for renters to have pets and making it easier to transfer rental bonds from one property to another.

Input on the rental reforms closes August 11 with legislation expected to be introduced to parliament by the end of the year.

Get more information and Have Your Say at;


A Deputy Secretary for Regional Health has been appointed by the NSW Government.

The former Coordinator General, Regional Health Division at NSW Health, Luke Sloane has been elevated to the new role.

The Deputy Secretary will play an important role at the decision-making table as a strong advocate for resources and staffing.

Mr Sloane will be supported by the Regional Health Division, which was established in April last year, and is working to strengthen and promote regionally based, patient-centred approaches to the delivery of health services in regional NSW.

NSW Health Secretary Susan Pearce advises that the new Deputy Secretary will work closely with the Ministry of Health, regional local health districts and stakeholders to progress initiatives already underway.


NSW Health continues to recommend if you test positive to COVID-19 using a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) that you register the result with Service NSW.

Although this is no longer mandatory, it will help you access medical support including antiviral medicines, if you are eligible.

Registration of a positive COVID-19 result also helps NSW Health respond to the ongoing pandemic.

If you test positive to COVID-19 using a RAT in another state or territory and have returned home to NSW, it is also recommended that you register the result with Service NSW.

To help with early detection and treatment of COVID-19, free RATs are available at Service NSW service centres, mobile service centres and participating neighbourhood and community centres;


The grant programs are open to community groups, charities, not-for-profit organisations and sporting teams.

To be eligible the project and/or service must address community welfare or social services,

community development, or community health services or employment assistance activities.

Applications with Maitland City Council close on Monday 24 July, Singleton Returned Servicemen’s Club on Sunday 30 July and for Muswellbrook RSL Club, Muswellbrook and District Workers Club and Cessnock Leagues Club on Monday 31 July.

For more information on ClubGrants go to:


Creative women of the Dungog, Muswellbrook, Singleton and Upper Hunter council areas can currently express their interest in participating in the 'Work of Art' program.

An initiative of Regional Arts NSW funded by Women NSW, the program aims to support regional women to develop skills, strategies, and confidence helping to grow their creative enterprise.

The program commences next month and continues until the end of 2024 offering online training courses, workshops, industry visits and networking sessions - all at zero cost to you.

Expression of interest forms are to be completed by Monday 24 July with more details at:


Temporary accommodation will now be available for a longer period with the NSW Government expanding support for those seeking assistance.

The emergency housing support is provided to people experiencing homelessness including

women and children escaping domestic and family violence, disaster victim-survivors, rough sleepers and couch surfers.

People in need can now access an initial period of seven days temporary accommodation instead of the two days previously.

The Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) has revised eligibility requirements for people requesting temporary accommodation raising the asset cap to $5,000 instead of $1,000 and removing the requirement altogether for those fleeing domestic or family violence.

If you or someone you know is experiencing or at risk of homelessness, help is available 24 hours a day-7 days a week by calling Link2home on 1800 152152.


We may be midway through winter but NSW Health has issued a community reminder to only use a heater that is made for indoors.

Never use charcoal, barbecues or outdoor heaters inside your home because they make carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas you can’t see, taste or smell and it can kill without warning.

If you think you may have carbon monoxide poisoning, call the Poisons Information Centre on 131 126 or in an emergency, dial triple zero (000) for an ambulance.


A boost for Upper Hunter Country Tourism with this week’s opening of the new Muswellbrook Shire Visitor Information Centre.

The heritage-listed Weidmann Cottage in Bridge Street, next door to Muswellbrook Library, is the location of the new visitor drawcard.

Initial opening hours for visitors and locals to discover more about the tourism and event options available in Upper Hunter Country will be Monday to Wednesday, 10am-2pm.

Opening days will increase once more volunteers are recruited, so if you are interested contact Muswellbrook Shire Council’s Community Services Engagement Officer, Susanne, for more information.


Pounds in NSW are in the spotlight of an inquiry commenced by the Legislative Council's Portfolio Committee No. 8.

The upper house committee’s comprehensive examination will look at the adequacy of resourcing for pounds, as well as the state of buildings and facilities.

The relationship between pounds and animal rescue organisations will also be reviewed by the inquiry.

Interested individuals and organisations can complete an online questionnaire or make a written submission by Friday 18 August:


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