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  • Writer's pictureDave Layzell MP

State Matters - 7 November 2022


IPTAAS DEMAND


INCREASED financial assistance has prompted 4,572 new patients, who need to travel long distances to receive specialist care, to take advantage of a NSW Government program available to people in regional communities.


From 1 August to 30 October, 1153 new patients who lodged claims under the Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme (IPTAAS) were from the Hunter New England Local Health District.


The subsidy for people requiring accommodation has almost doubled since August 1, when the government’s funding boost took effect, as well as almost doubling the private vehicle subsidy rate to 40 cents per kilometre for patients who travel more than 100 kilometres for care.


In addition to receiving more money back, more patients are now eligible including those attending non-commercial clinical trials, high risk foot clinics, highly specialised publicly funded dental health clinics and ocularists.


COVID-19 LATEST


NSW Health is warning COVID-19 cases could rise in the coming weeks based on local information and what is happening overseas.


An increase in cases and changes in the variants circulating in NSW have prompted the advice that we are entering a new phase of COVID-19.


People most vulnerable will continue to be supported in protecting themselves against the virus with the NSW Government extending free access to rapid antigen tests (RATs).


Eligible Commonwealth Concession Card holders in NSW can access a further 10 RATs until 31 January 2023 with tests available through neighbourhood and community centres, and Service NSW centres.


To find your nearest supplier visit; www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/testing/free-rat-tests.


SPORT’S FLOOD SUPPORT


Community sport flood funding is now available for council areas impacted by the February-March and June-July floods.


MidCoast, Dungog, Singleton, Muswellbrook, Upper Hunter and Mid-Western councils are among the eligible applicants following Australian Government natural disaster declarations.

The $43 million Essential Community Sport Assets Program includes two funding steams with Stream One offering grants of $150,000 up to $1 million and Stream Two provides sporting organisations and organisations that deliver sports programs grants of $15,000 to $500,000.


Applications for the Essential Community Sport Assets Program close on 9 December with information on the Office of Sport website; www.sport.nsw.gov.au/grants/sport-infrastructure-recovery-fund.


RESIDENTIAL TENANCY REVIEW


The real estate industry, tenants and housing groups can have input on two NSW Government public consultations relating to residential tenancy laws and whether improvements should be made for people living in rental properties.


The first request is for feedback on changes to 2019 laws which allow people to terminate residential leases to escape violent relationships.


The government is also seeking input from landlords and tenants on the rules about keeping pets in rental homes to ensure they remain fit-for-purpose.


You can have your say by answering a quick poll, completing a survey or writing a submission until 2 December at; www.nsw.gov.au/have-your-say.


For more information or to seek help on ending a tenancy due to domestic violence go to the Department of Fair Trading website; www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/housing-and-property/renting/during-a-tenancy/domestic-violence-in-a-rented-property.


HSC, DONE!


The 2022 Higher School Certificate (HSC) exams are officially over after Design and Technology students completed the final exam.


Over the past four weeks, Upper Hunter electorate students have been among more than 75,000 participants involved in almost 400,000 unique exam sessions at 780 exam venues across the state.


After two years of COVID, the exams returned to normal this year, despite some disruptions due to floods.


Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell has thanked principals, schools, exam staff and families for their unwavering support in making the exams such a success.


HSC marking is underway with results to be delivered via SMS and email on Thursday 15 December 2022. 


FIND YOUR PATH


Destination NSW and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) have launched their first ever joint tourism campaign encouraging Australians to ‘find your path’ in the state’s magnificent natural landscapes.


The advertising campaign showcases some of the most diverse national parks on the planet from Tomaree National Park to the Warrumbungles and beyond.


You will find Upper Hunter electorate jewels like Towarri, Goulburn River, Barrington Tops, Yengo, Mount Royal, Woko and Copeland national parks plus the Seaham Swamp Nature Reserve included.


Our state’s national parks support 74,000 jobs and contribute $18 billion in visitor expenditure to our economy annually, with 75 per cent of the economic benefits delivered in rural and regional NSW.


Learn more at National Parks & Wildlife on the visitnsw.com website www.visitnsw.com/things-to-do/nature-and-parks/national-parks.


POLICE PAY DEAL


NSW Police Force reforms including flexible work options, development opportunities and a capability uplift will deliver the state’s sworn officers a further 0.5 per cent wage increase from July next year.


The NSW Police Force was the first to identify productivity enhancing reforms under the NSW Government’s revised public sector wages policy announced in June.


Officers have already benefitted from the new public sector wages policy which delivered a 3.0 per cent remuneration increase in 2022-23 and 2023-24.

The state government will also make its biggest ever investment in the physical and mental wellbeing of police officers as part of reforms designed to help recruit, retain and better take care of the 22,000 members of the NSW Police Force throughout their career.


TEACHER EXCELLENCE PROPOSAL


Options for rewarding excellent teachers with higher pay and enhanced status have been unveiled in a new state government discussion paper.


Under options released for consultation, classroom teachers who are assessed as ‘expert teachers’ under the Rewarding Excellence in Teaching program could attract salaries of up to $147,000 a year, or beyond, in recognition of their skills and impact.


The Options Paper proposes the creation of new teaching roles across schools with salaries ranging from $117,000 to $147,000, depending on the proportion of mentoring and collaboration time the teacher undertakes.


The Rewarding Excellence in Teaching program is expected to start next year and scale up across the education system over time.

Consultation is open until 25 November with the policy options paper and consultation survey on the NSW Education website; https://education.nsw.gov.au/public-schools/rewarding-excellence-in-teaching.


CYBER SECURITY OPPORTUNITIES


Two NSW Government initiatives aim to increase the number of women working in leading roles as the state continues to increase its uplift in cyber security.

It includes providing 11 new sponsorships for women across the state government to increase their cyber security skills.


Cyber Security NSW will also sponsor the Australian Women in Security Network, a not-for-profit dedicated to supporting and growing the number of women in the security community.


The NSW Cyber Security Strategy has forecast that almost 17,000 new cyber security jobs will be needed by 2026 with more information at; www.digital.nsw.gov.au/policy/cyber-security.

KOKODA COMMEMORATION


The NSW Government has designated 3 November as NSW Kokoda Day to officially acknowledge the Kokoda campaign of World War II.


On 2 November 1942, Australian troops reclaimed the Kokoda village after four months of brutal jungle warfare - the following day, the Australian flag was raised.


NSW Kokoda Day will last as a yearly acknowledgement of the bravery and efforts made by Australian men and women of the Kokoda Track and acknowledge the sacrifices of their families.


With the number of Australians who served in the Second World War sadly dwindling, it is important that NSW residents have memorials that can continue to educate the younger generation on significant events in Australia’s history, like the Kokoda Track campaign.

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