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  • Writer's pictureDave Layzell MP

State Matters - 24 April 2023


THE current testing arrangements for COVID-19 PCR testing will end on 13 May as New South Wales changes to a pathology referral model.

If you have symptoms the health advice is to use a Rapid Antigen Test, however, a PCR test is recommended if you are at higher risk from COVID-19.

The NSW Government will continue to provide free access to RATs distributed through health settings, non-government organisations, local councils and Service NSW centres.

PCR tests are more accurate and can help to quickly access antiviral medicines especially with the eligibility expanded this month to include people aged 60 to 69, who have only one risk factor for severe illness.

The NSW Respiratory Surveillance Report for the week ended 15 April showed 8,825 people diagnosed with COVID-19 including 1,053 in Hunter New England which takes the Local Health District year to date total to 16,309.

For the latest information about COVID-19 got to:


Gresford Show has ‘snagged’ a record again at the Sydney Royal Easter Show!

Dubbed ‘the biggest little show in Australia’ – Gresford sizzled its way to a new mark at the Sydney Royal’s Big Bush BBQ.

The pride of the Paterson Valley selling 1,134 sausage sandwiches to smoke their 2022 tally of 975 sangas and eclipse the 2021 sales figure of 836.

The well deserved reward for committee members and volunteers who ran the BBQ and promoted Gresford Show is that all funds raised go straight back to their regional community.


Transgrid’s aerial bushfire safety inspections for this year are now underway with specialist helicopter patrols checking transmission lines and infrastructure state-wide.

The helicopter will fly above transmission lines at about 50 kilometres per hour to check for vegetation encroachments along transmission line easements, identify potential bush fire risks and assess the condition of Transgrid towers and transmission lines.

The patrols in late-April will inspect transmission lines in or near Blandford, Broke, Castle Rock, Crawney, Denman, Glenbawn, Gundy, Gungal, Jerrys Plains, Liddell, Manobalai, McCullys Gap, Merriwa, Muscle Creek, Muswellbrook, Putty, Ravensworth, Rossgole, Rouchel, Sandy Creek, Scone, Scotts Creek, Segenhoe, Wingen and Wybong.

For more information, please contact Transgrid’s toll-free hotline on 1800 222 537 or view:


Applications have opened for appointment to the 2024 NSW Youth Advisory Council (YAC).

All young people aged 12 to 24 years may apply with applications sought from diverse locations, backgrounds and life experiences.

The 12 member YAC meets regularly throughout the year to provide a direct avenue of communication between young people, the relevant Minister and the NSW Advocate for Children and Young People, on issues, policies and laws that affect children and young people in NSW.

Information on membership is available until 21 May at; or contact;


The Service NSW Mobile Centre returns to the Upper Hunter Electorate during May.

Driver testing appointments are being taken for Stroud on Tuesday 9 May, 10am-3pm, when the Mobile Service Centre stops outside the Uniting Church in Cowper Street.

Clarence Town hosts Service NSW on Wednesday 17 May outside the School of Arts before heading to Duke Street Paterson on Thursday 18 May between 10am and 3pm on both days.

Murrurundi Visitor Information Centre in Mayne Street will be the Mobile Service Centre’s stopover on Wednesday 24 May, 9am to 3pm.

Driver testing appointment will also be available at Scone on Thursday 25 May, 9am-3pm, when Service NSW stops at the Upper Hunter Shire Council Offices in Liverpool Street.

For more on the services available:


The virtualKIDS Urgent Care Service trial involving Hunter New England Local Health District will be rolled out state-wide before the end of the year.

NSW Health invested over $4 million to set up, staff and operate the virtualKIDS pilot since August 2021 with the Urgent Care Service part of the program operating since December last year.

Two out of three children using the service received the care they needed without having to go to an emergency department.

The VirtualKIDS Urgent Care Service is currently accessible via HealthDirect for families within three local health districts with specialist paediatric hospitals – South Eastern Sydney, Western Sydney and Hunter New England Local Health Districts.

HealthDirect provides 24 hour health advice on 1800 022 222 or discover more at;


The NSW Rural Fire Service is asking the community to please report fire trails which are damaged or blocked by failing trees.

The strategic fire trail network across the state is a critical part of firefighting operations with the network around 50% larger than the entire road network looked after by Transport for NSW.

Damaged or blocked fire trails should be reported to with further information on fire trails available from the RFS website:

We are also encouraged when updating bush fire survival plans to be aware of the 30 Neighbourhood Safer Places in the Upper Hunter Electorate and know a few different ways to get there.

Neighbourhood Safer Places are a place of last resort during a bush fire emergency used when all other options in your survival plan can't be put into action safely.

Remember, leaving early is your safest option – find more information on Safer Places at:


One for the diary – set aside 17 May to celebrate our NSW SES volunteers on Wear Orange Wednesday (WOW Day)!

The annual celebration during National Volunteer Week acknowledges the contribution all SES volunteers across Australia make by generously giving their time to help communities during flood and storm emergencies.

NSW SES members worked tirelessly during the 2022-23 storm season by responding to 29,978 incidents from October to March including 14,171 storm-related incidents, 13,065 flood-related incidents and performing 916 flood rescues.

Thank you also to the families and employers of our SES members for their unwavering support in providing safety and assistance to those in need.

Everyone is encouraged to remain prepared and vigilant for storms, and to stay informed about potential risks and hazards in their area.

Visit the NSW SES website to learn how to prepare for storms:


Parents and carers wanting a comprehensive guide to keeping kids safe can now access the 2022-23 edition of the NSW Police Legacy Child Safety Handbook.

The handbook helps to raise awareness of child safety issues that all families face and what can be done to prevent these risks.

It will enable people of all ages to develop strategies to help them deal with difficult situations covering issues such as bullying at school, personal safety, safety in the home, first aid, safety online, fire prevention, road safety, safety outdoors, healthy living and drug and alcohol awareness.

There is also an emergency checklist containing information on preparing for floods, storms, and tsunamis to help keep your family safe during these natural disasters.

To download the updated Child Safety Handbook go to:


NSW Police Force Traffic and Highway Patrol Command is inviting motorcyclists to a Safe Riders Motorcycle Engagement Day.

Jerrys Cafe, Kulnura is the location on Saturday 6 May, 8:30am-2pm to meet representatives from Central Coast Highway Patrol supported by Police cyclists from the Traffic Support Group and the Motorcycle Accident Rehabilitation Initiative.

Officers look forward to seeing riders and answering any questions they may have or even just enjoy a coffee and chat to get to know your local representatives and Police better.

The address for Jerry's Café is 1154 George Downes Drive, Kulnura between Wollombi and Somersby.


The Centre for Volunteering is currently calling nominations for the 2023 Volunteer of the Year Awards.

Created as a way to celebrate volunteers for their commitment to community across the state, the awards are an excellent opportunity to give back and show gratitude for our invaluable neighbours, altruists, changemakers and more.

You can nominate your local volunteer or volunteer team for inclusion in the final judging for a Regional and State Volunteer of the Year Award.

Questions about the nomination process including requests for a bulk nomination form, please email:

Nomination close Friday 16 June at:


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