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  • Writer's pictureDave Layzell MP

State Matters - 22 August 2022


INQUIRY REPORT RELEASED


THE NSW Government has released and responded to the 28 recommendations of the independent Flood Inquiry, commissioned in response to the major floods earlier this year.


Six recommendations have been supported and 22 recommendations supported in principle with further detail on the implementation of all recommendations to be released later this year.


Key recommendations include reshaping Resilience NSW to Recovery NSW which will focus on the first 100 days post disaster; establishment of a NSW Reconstruction Authority and training for the community to assist with their ability to respond and recover from disasters.


The Inquiry recommends that government flood modelling be improved as a priority in all high-risk catchments and be extended as soon as possible to other high-risk catchments including the Hunter River.


To read the independent Flood Inquiry recommendations visit: www.nsw.gov.au/nsw-government/projects-and-initiatives/floodinquiry


VENTILATION AND COVID-19


As significant numbers of COVID-19 cases continue to be recorded, NSW Health urges residents to ensure homes are well ventilated in a bid to tackle the virus.


If you have people visit your home, air it for an extra hour after visitors leave to help remove virus particles that might still be in the air.


Good ventilation and other COVID safe behaviours such as washing your hands or using sanitiser, wearing masks and not visiting others if you aren’t feeling well, can help prevent you from getting and spreading viruses like COVID-19 and flu.


The latest NSW respiratory surveillance data for the week ending 13 August reported the Hunter New England Local Health District had 7,920 COVID-19 cases for the week taking the Year Total to 344,958 whilst there were just 91 Influenza cases taking the local total to 14,386 for the current flu season.


Read the NSW respiratory surveillance report at: www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/covid-19/Pages/weekly-reports.aspx


SENTENCING REFORMS


Offenders convicted of historical offences will be sentenced according to current sentencing patterns and practices under a bill introduced into the NSW Parliament.


The Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Amendment Bill 2022 will generally require NSW courts to apply current sentencing practices to perpetrators of all crimes, regardless of when those crimes were committed.


At present, courts must apply the sentencing patterns and practices that were in place at the time an offence was committed, instead of at the time of sentencing, except in cases of child sexual abuse.


The bill will also address a drafting gap in relation to Intensive Correction Orders, which had excluded certain child and adult sexual offences from Intensive Correction Orders, but not if they had occurred before 2000.


NAZI SYMBOLS DECISION


In a historic decision, a new law making it a criminal offence to knowingly display a Nazi symbol in public without a reasonable excuse, has passed the NSW Parliament.


The new offence in the Crimes Act 1900 will carry a maximum penalty of 12 months’ imprisonment or an $11,000 fine or both for an individual or a fine of $55,000 for a corporation.


The events that occurred under the Nazi regime represent one of the darkest periods of recorded human history and this new offence sends a clear message that the display of Nazi symbols, and the hatred and bigotry they represent will not, and should not, be tolerated.


The Bill contains broad exceptions to allow Nazi symbols to be displayed where it is in the public interest in good faith, including for an academic, artistic or educational purpose.


HAVE YOUR SAY


People with lived experience of mental illness and their carers can help shape the future of the Mental Health Line by sharing their experience with the NSW Government.


Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government, Victor Dominello said the 1800 011 511 NSW Mental Health Line was a free phone service which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, offering specialist advice, support and referral to specialist NSW Health mental health services.


In 2020-21 around 864,000 Australians accessed at least one digital service for their mental health, but it is understood this represents only one in ten of those who experienced mental health distress.


To Have Your Say on the future of the Mental Health Line by this Friday 26 August, please visit: www.nsw.gov.au/have-your-say


ROUCHEL ONLINE


Rouchel residents have been given a coverage boost with Optus switching on a new tower as part of the NSW Government’s $50 million Connecting Country Communities Fund.


The tower, located between Stoney Creek Road and Davis Creek Road, covers 197 square kilometres in surface area and 74 km in length of major roads.


The construction of the tower will allow local residents and workers to have higher quality calls and faster downloads in Rouchel and the Upper Hunter.


The investment in expanding Optus’ telecommunications infrastructure and mobile coverage was supported with a contribution of more than $375,000 from the Connecting Country Communities Fund.


FREE TRAINING CONTINUES


The early childhood workforce is set to benefit with the NSW Government’s commitment to 25,000 fee-free training places to bolster the pipeline of skilled and job-ready workers for the sector.


The courses will help people upskill by removing barriers to accessing quality vocational education and training, whilst also assisting people already working in the industry to strengthen their qualifications so they can take on new roles as early learning educators.


A wide range of full and part qualifications are available, including Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care and Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care.


The courses provide pathways to employment including early childhood educator and educator in before and after school care programs: https://skills.education.nsw.gov.au/initiatives/childcare


EV CHARGER GRANTS


Applications are open until 23 September for regional operators interested in hosting an electric vehicle charging site.


The NSW Government will provide co-funding toward the purchase and installation of EV chargers at eligible destinations.


Locations include the Mid-Coast, Dungog, Maitland, Liverpool Plains, Mid-Western Regional, Singleton, Muswellbrook and Upper Hunter council areas.


Register for an information webinar on Wednesday 24 August at 10 am or watch one of the previous webinars on how to apply, how to plan for your EV charger and to speak to suppliers at: www.energysaver.nsw.gov.au/getevcharging


ART FUNDING


Professional artists, arts organisations and local councils can apply for funding through the NSW Government’s $68 million Arts and Cultural Funding Program (ACFP).


The 2022-23 program will increase the access and availability of arts and cultural experiences no matter which corner of the State people are located in.


Small Project Grants offer from $500 to $5,000 towards projects with funding also available for Regional Arts Touring for tours of all artforms, including performing arts, music, visual arts, literature, history, museums and multi-arts.


Applications for Round One of the ACF program close on 29 August with more information available from Create NSW: www.create.nsw.gov.au


BOOK FOR WORKSHOPS


Teachers and staff are being offered suicide first aid training to support pupils in Hunter region schools.


The initiative is part of the NSW Government’s Mental Health Recovery Package which aims to support anyone whose mental health has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.


LivingWorks Australia is hosting the after school safeTALK workshops at Maitland on 1 September and 14 September, Cessnock on 7 September and Singleton on 15 September.


Teachers and school staff can book online via www.livingworks.com.au/NSW.

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