• Dave Layzell MP

State Matters - 31 January 2022


COVID-SMART SCHOOLS

THE 2022 school year commences this week with schools using a number of COVID-smart measures developed with NSW Health.


The NSW government is distributing more than 12 million Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) to over 3,150 government and non-government schools, and early childhood centres, to assist with surveillance testing of staff and students.


Every student and teacher is receiving RAT kits for twice weekly testing for the first four weeks of term one.


Other COVID-smart measures include limited visitors attending schools, maximised indoor ventilation, mandatory masks for all staff and high school students whilst masks are encouraged for children in primary schools.


More information on the return to school settings for NSW public schools is available at https://education.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/advice-for-families


BUSINESS ASSISTANCE UPDATE

The NSW Government has announced new programs, grants and rebates to support business recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.


The new 2022 Small Business Support Program will help businesses survive the immediate impact of the Omicron outbreak.


Eligible businesses that experienced a minimum 40 per cent decline in turnover in January 2022 and the first fortnight of February can apply for support.


The Small Business Support Program is for the month of February only with applications through Service NSW from mid-February.


Expanded small business fees and charges rebates are available for eligible small businesses for the period 1 March 2021 to 30 June 2022.


The existing rebate will increase from $2000 to $3000 in late March with eligible employing small businesses able to use the rebate against the cost of Rapid Antigen Tests.


Additionally, Revenue NSW will offer help with payroll tax support until 28 February, the Commercial Landlord Hardship Grant is extended until 13 March and Create NSW will extend the Performing Arts Relaunch Package until 30 April.


Further details at https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/business/financial-support/grants-and-loans


SPECIAL DISASTER GRANTS

Small businesses and not-for-profits can now apply for grants of up to $50,000 to help recover from severe storm and flooding events during November and December 2021.


The Special Disaster Grants are available to 59 council areas for weather damage from 9 November 2021 onwards including Liverpool Plains, Upper Hunter, Mid-Western, Muswellbrook and Singleton council areas.


The NSW and Australian governments are offering the first $10,000 of the grant up-front to help with initial recovery costs and a further $40,000 to continue repairing the damage.


To be eligible primary producers must derive 50 per cent of their income from primary production.


Producers are encouraged not to self-assess and to apply for the scheme so the NSW Rural Assistance Authority (RAA) can determine eligibility.


Applications can be made through the RAA, by calling 1800 678 593 or online at www.raa.nsw.gov.au.


OLYMPIC PARK, SCORES AGAIN!

Congratulations to Muswellbrook Shire Council and the Olympic Park user groups on the latest funding received to upgrade playing surfaces at the facility.


Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole was at the ground last week to announce council’s application to the Regional Sport Facility Fund round two has attracted $1 million.


It brings the total contribution from the NSW Government for Olympic Park to more than $2.6 million.


Round one of the fund provided $1 million with rounds three and four of the Stronger Country Communities Fund delivering $611,305 for better lighting and female changeroom facilities.


Details of the Regional Sport Facility Fund round two projects can be viewed at https://www.sport.nsw.gov.au/regional-sport-facility-fund/regional-sport-facility-fund-2021-22-recipients


ENROLLED NURSE SCHOLARSHIPS

Aspiring nurses are encouraged to apply for the new round of nursing scholarships currently available from the NSW Government.


The 2022 NSW Health Enrolled Nurse Scholarships cover the cost of course fees for the Diploma of Nursing and a guaranteed position as an enrolled nurse upon completion of the Diploma.


The scholarships are part of NSW Health’s larger mission to recruit over 5000 additional nurses and midwives over the next four years.


Applications close on 10 February with scholarship details available at

https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/nursing/scholarship/Pages/enrolled-nurse-scholarships.aspx


ACTIVE & CREATIVE KIDS

As parents start planning their children’s activities for this year they are encouraged to make use of the Active Kids and Creative Kids programs.


Active Kids provides two $100 vouchers from 1 January and 1 July for parents and carers of children enrolled in school to use towards sport and recreation costs each year.


Vouchers can be used to cover costs related to registration, membership and participation in swimming lessons.


Additionally, the First Lap program provides a $100 voucher for parents and carers of eligible children aged three to six to use on learn to swim classes until 30 June.


Creative Kids is a one-off voucher payment to eligible parents and carers of up to $100 per calendar year.


The voucher can be used with a registered provider to pay for activities such as creative arts, drama and dance, digital design and coding and music lessons.


Discover more at https://www.nsw.gov.au/life-events/schooling/starting-primary-school/get-help-costs/voucher-programs