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  • Writer's pictureDave Layzell MP

State Matters - 28 February 2022


COVID Smart settings in NSW schools have been revised and begin to take effect from this week.

Core COVID Smart measures will remain in place, including enhanced cleaning and maximising natural and mechanical ventilation in line with health advice.

From this week, students can engage and interact more freely across classes and year groups, more visitors are welcome onto school grounds, assemblies and school camps resume and mask requirements are lifted for high school students and staff.

From next week, mask requirements are lifted for primary school and early education staff.

COVID Smart settings will continue to be reviewed and updated, as necessary, on health advice.


The NSW Government will continue supporting face-to-face learning aligning schools with community settings for ‘symptomatic testing.’

Eight rapid antigen test (RAT) kits per student and staff member will be distributed for use at their discretion, for example, when a student or staff member is feeling unwell with a sore throat or cough or if family members are sick.

Staff in Schools for Specific Purposes (SSPs) or support classes receive 20 tests per student and early childhood staff will also receive additional RAT kits to be used when necessary.

The latest COVID-19 advice for families is available at;


More than 1,200 accommodation providers are now registered across the State but it is not too late for Upper Hunter Electorate premises to get on board as Stay NSW businesses.

Participating businesses can redeem Stay NSW vouchers seven days a week, including public holidays, until 9 October.

Applications for the $50 accommodation vouchers will be made available by Local Government Area in a staggered approach with every community having access by 3 March.

Customers search for places to stay using the program’s business finder and can pool the $50 Stay NSW vouchers with relatives or mates, with no redemption limit.

Apply via the Service NSW mobile app and website or call 13 77 88 – discover more at;


An extra 5,000 fee-free Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) courses are now open to workers and jobseekers to help ease hospitality staffing shortages.

The RSA courses available through TAFE NSW and other registered training organisations can be completed in less than a day either online or face-to-face.

Former hospitality workers are also encouraged to return to the sector – anyone whose RSA competency card has expired within the past two years, or will expire before 30 June, can complete a free RSA refresher course.

Whether you are a school-leaver or looking for a career change, now is the perfect time to gain your free qualification to enter the dynamic hospitality industry.

Fee-free course information is available at;


Seniors who make the Upper Hunter Electorate a great place to live can be recognised for their efforts with nominations open for the 2022 NSW Seniors Festival Local Achievement Awards.

The awards celebrate the work and achievements of seniors in the community as volunteers, carers and role models during the Seniors Festival which runs from 25 March – 3 April.

If you know a senior who helps make our community diverse, inspiring and active, then you are encouraged to nominate them for acknowledgement of their contribution.

Email nominations to outlining the nominees contribution to your local community.


NSW Women’s Week is a chance for women and girls across the state to come together to support one another, share information and celebrate women’s achievements.

The 2022 NSW Women's Week is being held 7-13 March to coincide with International Women’s Day on 8 March and the NSW Women of the Year Awards presentation on 9 March.

To celebrate the diverse contributions of women from all walks of life, NSW Women’s Week supports women’s education, employment, and wellbeing as well as promoting gender equality and increasing women’s participation in sport.

See what’s happening during Women’s Week;


The NSW Premier's Reading Challenge (PRC) for 2022 commences this week.

Each year around 425,000 Kindergarten-to-Year 9 students participate in the challenge which aims to encourage a love of reading for leisure and pleasure in school students, and enables them to experience quality literature.

This year the PRC encourages students to read, to read more and read more widely.

The first new challenge booklist update for 2022 is available, with 230 new titles added and listed at

Across the state students read over 8,500,000 books as part of the challenge with student entries closing on 19 August.

For more on the challenge visit;


NSW’s largest waste handling initiative Return and Earn has reached a significant milestone following its 2017 launch.

In over four years, 78% of the state’s adults participated in Return and Earn, hauling in 7 billion cans and bottles for recycling and pocketing more than $700 million for their efforts.

Other benefits of the initiative included more than $30 million raised for NSW charities and a 52% reduction in the volume of drink container litter.

Thousands of schools, community groups, charities, and sporting clubs are making Return and Earn the new ‘sausage sizzle,’ helping raise much needed funds for their own projects and causes.

To find your nearest return point in the Upper Hunter Electorate visit;


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