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  • Writer's pictureDave Layzell MP

State Matters - 5 September 2022


REGIONAL HEALTH RESPONSE


THE NSW Government has finalised its response to the Regional Health Inquiry reaffirming its commitment to improve health outcomes for all people living in rural, regional and remote NSW.


The Government supports or supports in principle 41 of the 44 recommendations, with work already underway to address many of the supported recommendations, and the remaining three recommendations are noted.


Since the Inquiry commenced, the NSW Government has committed significant funding to address the issues raised including $4.5 billion to employ a record 10,148 full-time equivalent staff with around 40 per cent of the workforce being for regional areas.


An investment of $883 million will be made over the next four years to attract and retain staff in rural and regional areas.



COVID-19 ASSISTANCE


Free Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) for pensioners and other concession card holders are now available from Service NSW Service Centres, Mobile Service Centre or Disaster Recovery Centres.


Eligible Commonwealth Concession Card holders include those with a Pensioner Concession card, Commonwealth Seniors Health Care card, Health Care Card (including Low Income Health Care card) and Department of Veterans’ Affairs Gold, White or Orange cards.


Eligible customers can also access up to 10 free RATs through existing distribution points at neighbourhood and community centres in Scone, Muswellbrook, Singleton, Dungog and Gloucester.


The program runs until the end of October with more information at;


PROJECT UPDATE


Pavement work is due to commence in the next month on the new eastbound carriageway of the New England Highway upgrade between Belford and the Golden Highway.


Transport for NSW advises that work onsite, east of Singleton, continues to progress well with the flyover bridge installed over the New England Highway in mid-July, rock cuttings now complete and drainage work underway.


Work is being carried out on the access road for adjacent properties on the Golden Highway and the new left turn lane for motorists travelling towards Singleton that will connect to a future roundabout on the Golden Highway.


Construction activities planned in the next two months include continuing work on the roundabout, the access road for the local abattoir and ongoing bridge construction.



NEW WARNING SYSTEM


The new national Fire Danger Rating System in now in use with the official Bush Fire Danger Period underway in much of the Upper Hunter Electorate.


The new system of ratings, developed using community research and updated fire behaviour science, has four levels Moderate; High; Extreme; and Catastrophic.


Liverpool Plains, MidCoast, Muswellbrook, Singleton and Upper Hunter are among the council areas which commenced the Bush Fire Danger Period from 1 September.


After continuous, heavy rainfall the NSW Rural Fire Service is particularly concerned about the likelihood of grass and crop fires as the state starts to dry out.


The National Parks and Wildlife Service reminds residents to be aware of fire danger ratings especially if planning on bush walking or camping in national parks and the Forestry Corporation asks visitors to remember during total fire bans that no flames are allowed in the state’s forests.


Information about fire permits, required notifications and hazard reduction burning is available at: www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/BFDP.


SHARE DROUGHT STORIES


The Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP) wants to hear from people impacted by the most recent drought.


Despite recent rain, unfortunately, drought is never far away and those who lived through the 2017-2019 dry spell can remember the devastation it brought.


If you were impacted, your photos and experiences could be included in a new book – My Drought Story - which aims to capture the resilience and strength of our communities during this tough time.


You are invited to share your experience for the My Drought Story project, via the project website by 18 September; https://www.ramhp.com.au/my-drought-story/


CLOSING THE GAP FUNDING


The NSW Government’s $30 million Community and Place Grants Program is funding Aboriginal Community-Controlled Organisations and Groups to meet Closing the Gap targets.


As part of the 2022-24 Implementation Plan, grants of up to $250,000 will be available to fund one-off projects including programs, equipment, vehicles and infrastructure to support Aboriginal Organisations and Groups to deliver immediate outcomes under Closing the Gap.

Applications for the Community and Place Grants Program 2022-23 will close on 30 September.

For more information, guidelines and to apply, visit the Aboriginal Affairs NSW website; www.aboriginalaffairs.nsw.gov.au/grants/.


SUSTAINABLE BUILDINGS


A new policy to help NSW reach net zero emission targets and deliver more comfortable and energy-efficient homes and buildings has been released.


The new Sustainable Buildings State Environmental Planning Policy sets new standards and is expected to reduce household energy bills, and ensure homes are naturally cooler in summer and warmer in winter.


The policy also introduces a new index within BASIX to measure the greenhouse gas emissions produced in manufacturing residential building materials.


Visit the NSW Department of Planning and Environment for more information; www.planning.nsw.gov.au/sustainable-buildings-sepp


LAND SEARCH


Work is underway for the NSW Government to identify Crown land that can be used to develop social and affordable housing in regional areas that are facing severe accommodation shortages.


In the meantime, the government is working to identify more sites in locations with low rental vacancy rates and areas with high demands for social or essential worker housing that can be ready to progress by the end of the year.


Crown Lands and the NSW Land and Housing Corporation have a Memorandum of Understanding to work together to identify and deliver suitable Crown land for residential development in priority areas facing housing stress.


Once finalised, the Crown Land’s Housing Strategy will include opportunities for funding and partnerships with other government agencies, community housing providers and other project partners to develop mixed tenure communities on Crown land.


MONEY FINDER


We are being encouraged to check if we have money owing to us with more than half-a-billion dollars currently sitting with Revenue NSW.


Anyone can search for unclaimed money on the Revenue NSW website with free service offered to get money back into the hands of its owners.


The unclaimed funding held by Revenue NSW includes share dividends, trust accounts, refunds, commissions, deceased estates and money from a range of other sources.


Learn more about the Revenue NSW process and search for unclaimed money at;


MORE TRAFFIC TIPS


MidCoast is the first Upper Hunter Electorate council to be added to an expanded Live Traffic NSW website and app to include real time information from regional Local Government Areas (LGAs).


The new information from these LGAs will be available on Live Traffic NSW and third-party apps from October with councils to provide real time road information especially during emergencies like bushfires or floods.


Community feedback and recommendations from the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements Report helped to develop a portal for councils to feed their data into Live Traffic NSW so local and state road disruptions are all in the one place.


The initial 22 LGAs were chosen in consultation with the NSW Police, RFS and SES with the view to have all 128 LGAs across the state on board by 2024.

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