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  • Writer's pictureDave Layzell MP

State Matters - 22 May 2023


UPPER HUNTER Electorate communities are encouraged to participate in a NSW Government survey this week to help improve the Welcome Experience program and support regional essential services.

Muswellbrook is one of eight pilot locations for the Welcome Experience which was announced by the NSW Liberals and Nations Government in December last year.

Muswellbrook Shire Council will operate the local program designed to facilitate, attract, prepare and welcome essential workers including Education, Health, Police, Fire and Rescue and Communities and Justice employees to regional, rural and remote NSW.

The program matches and connects new essential workers with local people and resources to help them settle in and feel at home in their new community faster.

Share your contribution with the consultation until Sunday 28 May 2023 at;


I note the NSW Government has now met with the Chairs of the Royalties for Rejuvenation Expert Panels to discuss future opportunities for coal-mining regions.

Minister for Finance and Natural Resources Courtney Houssos met with the Expert Panels last week to talk about the challenges for local communities and opportunities to create new jobs, drive new investment and activate opportunities for future workers.

Minister Houssos advised the new state government is listening and committed to collaborating with local communities, industry and workers to develop bespoke plans for these regions including the Hunter Valley.

The NSW Government will also work with the federal government to coordinate with the recently announced Net Zero Authority.


New pathology testing arrangements are now in place with people having COVID-19 symptoms advised by NSW Health to do a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT).

RATs are available free at Service NSW service centres, mobile service centres, neighbourhood and community centres, if you are living with disability or are immunocompromised, a carer of someone with disability or who is immunocompromised or

a Commonwealth Concession Card holder.

If your doctor recommends a COVID-19 PCR test, they will give you a pathology referral form for a free COVID-19 PCR test.

I am aware one pathology firm continues to operate its Maitland drive-through facility seven days-a-week on a fee for service basis offering PCR tests combining Covid with ‘Flu and RSV.

According to the NSW Respiratory Surveillance Report for the week ending 13 May, Hunter New England Local Health District had 1,768 COVID notifications taking the Year-to-Date total to 22,597, which is the second highest in NSW.

By comparison, there were 95 Influenza notifications in Hunter New England for the week taking this year’s total notifications to 794.


Applications are open for NSW councils to participate in the state government’s Strong Start Cadetship.

A $25,000 grant is available for 64 applicants in regional and rural councils to fund one planning cadet’s tuition fees for an undergraduate certificate, graduate certificate, diploma, bachelor's degree or master's degree in planning at a NSW university.

The cadetship aims to cut down development application backlogs and speed-up planning assessment times in about half of NSW's local government areas.

Successful councils are also set to gain ongoing end-to-end support to make sure the program’s benefits are realised.

Applications close 9 June with more information on the NSW Planning website;


The NSW Government is moving to ban external gambling-related signs from pubs and clubs across the state by 1 September.

Names such as VIP Room/VIP Lounge, Golden Room/Lounge, Players’ Room/Lounge Prosperity Room/Lounge will be among names banned as well as images of dragons, coins or lightning motifs.

Venues will be formally notified that all external signs including fixed unilluminated awning signs to digital video displays, will need to be removed, altered, or concealed before September.

Where venues can demonstrate delays in removing their signage that are outside of their control, they will be afforded a further three months to comply.

Liquor & Gaming NSW has developed a position paper which outlines its enforcement approach and transition period.


Extra specialist support staff will be available to 284 NSW public schools from when Term 3 commences in mid-July.

The equivalent of 400 full-time extra administration staff or the offer more hours to existing staff will add to the 203 administration roles already in 128 schools as part of the School Administration Improvement Program introduced in Term 3 last year.

The tasks the new administration staff can assist teachers’ with include but are not limited to preparing excursions, inputting student performance data into spreadsheets, managing parental payments, updating communication to parents, filling out health plans for students and lesson timetabling.

The expansion of the program to around 20 per cent of all public schools will help identify the best way to scale-up the program for implementation across all 2200 schools next year.


Fire and Rescue NSW has developed a Winter Fire Safety Checklist to help keep you safer inside your home.

Each year, Fire and Rescue attends approximately 4,500 residential fires with more than 1,100 happening every winter from which around 100 fire-related injuries occur.

A fire can take hold in three minutes, yet it only takes seconds to prevent one.

To check the Winter Fire Safety Checklist which covers smoke alarms, escape plans, fireplaces and chimneys, heaters, electric blankets and wheat bags go to;


The Cancer Institute NSW wants community comment on the draft state Skin Cancer Prevention Strategy 2023-2030.

Public consultation earlier this year helped shape the draft plan now input is needed to refine and finalise the strategy.

You can share your feedback by viewing the draft strategy summary then answering the survey for the Cancer Institute.


Crime Stoppers has shared tips for parents and carers to help keep children safe with social media.

The advice includes keeping your child’s personal information including full name and age private.

Only share images of children with people you know and trust, ensure the background of photos or videos doesn’t give away your address or location and avoid posting photos in school uniform.

For community accounts, consider having a closed group with approved members and ensure you have strong privacy settings in place.


Investigations by Rural Crime Prevention Police from Strike Force Llangollan continue following two arrests last week.

Hunter Valley Police District and Orana Mid-Western Rural Crime officers charged a 30-year-old man as part of investigations into rural property crime throughout the Cassilis and Mudgee areas earlier this year.

The Gulgong man is now before court charged with 15 rural property crime offences.

A 31-year-old woman, was also arrested after a stolen motor vehicle was stopped at Kurri Kurri.

Anyone with information about rural property crime in the Cassilis-Mudgee area which can assist Strike Force investigators is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or


Homelessness will be in focus when the local Vinnies Community Sleepout is held at Muswellbrook Showground on Thursday 22 June from 6pm.

Members of the community and local business have pledged their support to sleepout and fundraise with all proceeds to be kept locally.

The $25 sleepout donation will help cover a soup kitchen, local entertainment and breakfast.

St Vincent de Paul will also run an online auction on its Facebook page with many businesses donating goods to be auctioned on the night.

Parliament will be sitting on that Thursday but I will think of those in my electorate prepared to swap their own bed on a winter night to help local people experiencing homelessness.


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