State Matters - 2 May 2022
CEASE TO PUMP DECISION
A SIGNIFICANT first step to address draft water sharing plan concerns with Minister for Lands and Water Kevin Anderson exempting Lower Hunter irrigators from cease to pump rules.
The salinity-based rule was proposed in the Draft Hunter Unregulated and Alluvial Water Sharing Plan exhibited earlier this year.
I thank both irrigators who made submissions to the NSW Government and Minister Anderson for listening to the overwhelming community feedback which highlighted concerns with the proposal.
The cease to pump exemption covers the Hunter River Tidal Pool, Paterson River Tidal Pool and Wallis Creek Tidal Pool.
Cease to pump proposals for the remaining areas of the catchment are still under review.
FREE COVID TESTS FOR VULNERABLE
The NSW Government will provide free Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) to vulnerable people to support early identification and treatment for COVID-19.
People living with disability, children and young people in out-of-home care, Aboriginal and multicultural communities can access tests through their disability service provider or directly through statewide neighbourhood centres funded by the Department of Communities and Justice.
Vulnerable people who test positive for COVID-19 on a RAT are reminded to confirm the result with a PCR test to enable timely access to anti-viral medications and medical support, should it be required.
The free RATs are being progressively rolled out with up to 7.9 million RATs initially available over the next four months, with a review toward the end of winter to determine whether the program should be extended.
SCHOOL TERM TWO
The COVID-smart plan for keeping students learning at school during winter will continue the targeted approach taken so far this year.
In line with the updated rules for the general community, teachers and students who are household contacts, but do not have COVID-19 or any symptoms, can return to school.
All staff and students must notify the school that they are a household contact then for the next five school days do a daily Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) before school with all staff and secondary students to wear a face mask indoors.
Wearing a face mask indoors is strongly recommended for primary students.
Families and school staff can expect additional free RATs early this term to support compliance with the new settings.
Based on expert advice, the NSW Government has equipped schools with additional air quality measures, including providing air purifiers, installing mechanical ventilation, checking air conditioners and heaters and providing resources on recommended ventilation practices.
For NSW Education COVID-19 advice for families visit: www.education.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/advice-for-families
YOUTH ON TRACK CONTINUES
The highly successful Youth Justice NSW early intervention program, Youth on Track, will be extended with $9 million from the NSW Government.
Youth on Track provides support for 10 to 17-year-olds at risk of long-term involvement in the criminal justice system by giving young people who’ve had a brush with the law the tools to stop re-offending.
Since its inception in 2013, the program has supported more than 350 young offenders each year to reduce their risk of reoffending and halved their contact with police.
Youth on Track operates in the Hunter, Mid North Coast, New England, Central West, Blacktown and Riverina areas with referrals made by police, schools and a range of family support services, health and justice services providers.
PRIVATE FORESTRY CODES
New Farm Forestry Codes of Practice being introduced by the State Government will ensure long-term sustainability for the industry and provide robust environmental protections across the private forestry estate.
The new codes effective this week are the result of a rigorous review of Farm Forestry in NSW as well as advice from the Natural Resource Commission.
These new codes provide a consistent and sustainable approach to how farmers manage their farms and forests, are clear and easier to use, and meet the principles of ecologically sustainable forest management.
New changes for landowners under the codes include harvest and operating standards including pest, weed and fire management, a clear role for Local Land Services to engage with farmers, and environmental protections that are clearer for landholders.
More information at: www.lls.nsw.gov.au/help-and-advice/private-native-forestry
SAFEWORK ENFORCEMENT UNDERWAY
SafeWork NSW is cracking down on dangerous work practices during a targeted operation across the state.
Inspectors are currently on the lookout for unsafe concreting practices and taking a zero-tolerance approach to lives being placed at risk from formwork and concrete placing equipment activities.
During the three month enforcement inspectors will refer poor quality construction builds to the Office of the Building Commissioner and Fair Trading.
They will also issue on-the-spot fines of up to $3,600 for safety breaches and order work to stop on sites if businesses are not managing risks correctly.
For more safety resources including a video on formwork safety visit SafeWork NSW: www.safework.nsw.gov.au
NSW RECOGNISES INTERSTATE QUALIFICATIONS
Interstate tradespeople will find it easier to work in New South Wales with the welcome mat being rolled out to ease construction industry labour shortages.
From July, NSW will recognise a range of interstate building and construction qualifications and registrations, with certain tradespeople no longer needing to apply for a NSW licence, or pay additional registration or renewal fees.
The changes follow extensive public consultation and form part of a national move to make it easier for tradespeople to work across borders under the Automatic Mutual Recognition (AMR) scheme.
NSW, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory, and the Australian Capital Territory are participating in the AMR Scheme.
GRIEF AND BEREAVEMENT COUNSELLING
A telephone-based counselling service has received NSW Government support to assist people struggling to cope because of grief and bereavement.
The $1 million for Griefline, a registered charity with more than 30 years helping people to manage grief, will allow the state’s residents to access six free counselling sessions.
If you, or someone you know, is thinking about suicide or experiencing a personal crisis or distress, please seek help immediately by calling 000 or Griefline on 1300 845 745.
Assistance is also available from Lifeline on 13 11 14, the Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659467 and NSW Mental Health Line 1800 011511.
For information about the free counselling: https://griefline.org.au/get-help/integrating-grief-program