Community invited to farewell Jill Emberson at memorial service

City of Newcastle is inviting community to attend a public memorial service for Jill Emberson on Thursday 23 January at Newcastle City Hall.

The 10am service will celebrate the life of the prominent journalist, Pink Meets Teal founder and 2019 Newcastle Citizen of the Year, who passed in December after a long battle with ovarian cancer.

Jill was a fearless campaigner for ovarian cancer research and awareness and played a pivotal role in the Federal Government’s landmark $20 million research funding announcement in 2019.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said that while Jill’s life was cut short, her impact on this world and in the lives of others was immense and inspiring.

“Jill touched the lives of countless people in our community as a family member, friend, through her work as a journalist and as a tenacious campaigner for ovarian cancer research.

“It’s fitting that Jill’s life is celebrated by the community and that everyone has the opportunity to pay tribute to the wonderful contribution she made to our city.

“Jill was an exemplary Citizen of the Year for Newcastle. She was incredibly generous with her time, despite knowing her cancer was terminal. I was in awe of her willingness to work with the city and her determination to make a difference, every moment she could.

“We hope the public memorial will see the community come to together to celebrate Jill’s life, her achievements and her incredible legacy.”

At Jill’s request, memorial donations can be made to the Hunter Medical Research Institute: https://hmri.org.au/jill

Magic of theatre celebrated on big screen at Civic Playhouse

City of Newcastle is bringing the magic of cinema back to the city centre with the Civic Playhouse screening a selection of the most acclaimed productions from London’s National Theatre.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said locals can watch incredible international performances in all their theatrical glory thanks to an initiative known as National Theatre Live which broadcasts performances from London’s National Theatre.

“Cinema and theatre have a long and proud history in Newcastle’s CBD and we’re pleased to combine the two for the enjoyment of our community after the closure of the Tower Cinemas.

“A trial season at the Civic Playhouse has proven to be a massive hit and the City is now planning to continue this movie experience until Easter, and potentially beyond.”

While the new offering has been exceptionally popular with patrons of all walks of life, for those who can cast their memories back to before the mid-1970s, they know cinema viewing at the Civic Theatre was in fact a regular and much-loved pastime in Newcastle.

The Civic Theatre opened in 1929, and although designed as a live theatre, it was immediately leased as a cinema. Forty-five-years ago City of Newcastle decided to move towards more live productions and phased out cinema operations completely.

“The films have been really well received with lots of positive feedback from patrons who are eager for them to continue,” Civic Theatre Manager Leonie Wallace said.

“We have screened internationally acclaimed theatre shows like Arthur Miller’s All My Sons starring Sally Field and Bill Pullman and Shakespeare’s King Lear portrayed by Ian McKellen as well as the French comedy Slack Bay and foreign language film The Square.

“We’ve seen many of our patrons make repeat bookings. Our next step is to establish a pattern of regular screenings and to explore the possibility of programming children’s films during the school holidays.

“People love the fact we are revisiting something that historically occurred in the Civic Theatre. We have older Novocastrians who remember the past screenings fondly and are thrilled that the Playhouse is being used for movies.”

The initiative is part of the Civic’s Beyond the Stage program of cultural offerings beyond the traditional uses of the City’s jewels, Civic Theatre and City Hall. This has included the Civic Beats events at Civic Digest and lunchtime concerts at City Hall.

The Civic Theatre, City Hall, Playhouse and Wheeler Place are owned by the City of Newcastle for the people of Newcastle. They form a key destination where everyone is welcome and new connections and lifelong memories are formed.

For more information about the program of films and how to book tickets, visit https://civictheatrenewcastle.com.au/Whats-On/All-Shows/Civic-Cinema-in-the-Playhouse

NSW GOVERNMENT COORDINATES BUSH FIRE CLEAN-UP

The NSW Government will coordinate the clean-up of residential and commercial properties destroyed by bush fires this season, at no cost to residents, so they can start rebuilding and communities can begin healing.

Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for Disaster Recovery John Barilaro said work is already underway to clear insured and uninsured properties.

“The threat of bush fire is far from over this summer, but we need to help people across the State to rebuild and recover as quickly as possible,” Mr Barilaro said.

“The NSW Government will shortly appoint major contractors to do the clean-up, who will be encouraged to engage local contractors wherever possible.

“This work will include containment and removal of asbestos contaminated bush fire impacted materials, removal of all dangerous debris, including destroyed materials and hazardous trees and removal of concrete slab foundations.

“Cleaning up eligible destroyed properties will ensure that these costs are not deducted from funds available under residents’ insurance policies for rebuilding. For the uninsured, it’s one less thing to worry about.”
Clean-up arrangements coordinated by the NSW Government will include:

  • The appointment of contractors in the South and the North to clean-up bush fire impacted properties.
  • Costs for clean-up will be covered by the NSW Government in partnership with the Federal Government.
  • Where insurance companies have commenced clean-up works for safety reasons these will continue.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the NSW Government will work with insurance companies to ensure that any policy holders who have already had clean-up work completed will be at no disadvantage.

“I know people are anxious to have their properties cleared as soon as possible and with more than 2,200 homes destroyed it is a mammoth task, which is why the NSW Government has hit the ground running with the clean-up effort,” Mr Perrottet said.

“Impacted owners wanting their property cleared through this program need to call Service NSW on 13 77 88 to register their details and provide consent for access to their land.”

Details regarding the appointed contractors and clearing of commercial properties will be announced shortly.
Further information is available at: www.service.nsw.gov.au

NSW GOVERNMENT WEEKLY UPDATE – 18 JANUARY 2020

NSW BUSHFIRE RELATED UPDATES

PAYMENTS NOW AVAILABLE FOR RFS AND SES VOLUNTEERS WHO HAVE SPENT WEEKS KEEPING COMMUNITIES SAFE

  • NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) and NSW State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers who have spent more than ten days fighting fires and helping with the recovery effort can apply for loss of income payments from today.
  • Volunteers who have provided more than ten days service and are self-employed or employees of small or medium-sized businesses with a turnover of less than $50 million will be eligible for $200 per day up to a total of $6000 without evidence of income loss. A maximum payment of $300 per day will be provided with proof of income loss through pay slips or previous tax statements.
  • Payments to NSW volunteers will be administered by Service NSW through a convenient and secure process requiring a volunteer membership number and employer’s business name. Most applicants will receive their payment within five days of the application. For more information, visit a Service NSW Centre, go online to www.service.nsw.gov.au or call 13 77 88.

LIST YOUR HOLIDAY HOME TO HELP A NEIGHBOUR

  • People who own holiday homes in bushfire-affected communities are being encouraged to list them with local real estate agents for rent, to increase the supply of accommodation available for those who have lost everything.
  • The NSW Government can provide financial assistance through rental bond loans and advance rent payments to help get people into suitable accommodation.
  • People who are in need of housing assistance as a result of the bushfires can call the Disaster Welfare Assistance Line on 1800 018 444 or visit a local Department of Communities and Justice Housing office.

NSW GOVERNMENT COORDINATES BUSH FIRE CLEAN-UP

  • The NSW Government will coordinate the clean-up of residential and commercial properties destroyed by bush fires this season, at no cost to owners, so they can start rebuilding and communities can begin healing.
  • Costs for clean-up will be covered by the NSW Government in partnership with the Federal Government, irrespective of whether properties are insured or uninsured.
  • This means insured property owners will be able to use every dollar of their insurance policies towards rebuilding. For the uninsured, it’s one less thing to worry about.
  • Further information is available at: www.service.nsw.gov.au.

MORE ASSISTANCE FOR BUSHFIRE AFFECTED LANDHOLDERS AS STOCK LOSSES RISE

  • The NSW Government is ramping up its support for bushfire affected farmers in Southern NSW as the number of livestock confirmed to have perished across the State exceeds 13,000.
  • NSW Department of Primary Industries and Local Land Services staff are on the ground assisting fire-impacted landholders with livestock assessment and burial of dead animals.
  • Producers can report stock losses and infrastructure damage, or request animal assessment, or emergency fodder or water for stock by calling the Agricultural and Animal Services Hotline on 1800 814 647.

FIRE FIGHTING MISSION SAVES PREHISTORIC PINES

  • A specialist team of remote area firefighters have helped to save the prehistoric Wollemi Pines from this season’s bushfires.
  • The operation included large air tankers laying fire retardant and specialist firefighters being winched into the remote site from helicopters to set up an irrigation system in the gorge to increase moisture content of the ground fuels.

PREMIER APPOINTS MINISTER FOR DISASTER RECOVERY

  • The Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro will be the Minister responsible for disaster recovery, leading recovery efforts following the recent bushfires across NSW.
  • The unprecedented scale of the 2019/20 bushfire season requires additional arrangements to be put in place to ensure impacted communities recover and rebuild as quickly as possible.

SIGNIFICANT SCHOOL BUSHFIRE RECOVERY ON TRACK FOR DAY ONE

  • The NSW Government is undertaking unprecedented recovery work to ensure the 178 schools in bushfire affected communities are repaired and cleaned for staff and students for Day 1, Term 1.
  • Thanks to the efforts of department staff, emergency services, RFS and local tradies, it is expected that all schools be open for the first day of term.
  • For more information, visit the NSW Department of Education website: https://education.nsw.gov.au/public-schools/school-safety/.

OTHER NSW GOVERNMENT UPDATES

LOCKOUT LAWS REPEALED – GROWING SYDNEY’S NIGHT TIME ECONOMY

  • Sydney’s “lockout laws” have been repealed in the Sydney CBD Entertainment Precinct bringing in extended trading hours for venues and bottle shops and a relaxation of after-midnight drink rules, with existing arrangements maintained in the Kings Cross precinct.
  • Existing arrangements are being maintained in the Kings Cross precinct and will be reviewed next year along with the following changes which came into effect overnight:
    • Removal of 1.30am last entry for all venues in the Sydney CBD Entertainment Precinct, including those on Oxford Street.
    • Removal of restrictions on serving cocktails, shots and drinks in glass after midnight in this precinct.
    • Extending ‘last drinks’ at venues with good records in this precinct by 30 minutes.
    • Extending bottle shop opening hours across NSW until midnight from Monday to Saturday, with 11pm closing on Sunday.
    • Increasing small bar patron capacity from 100 to 120 across NSW.

COFFS TO PILOT REGIONAL SENIORS TRAVEL CARD

  • Up to 80 Coffs Harbour seniors will be the first to try out the NSW Government’s $250 Regional Seniors Travel Card from Thursday, 23 January ahead of applications opening statewide later this month.
  • The Coffs Harbor pilot would inform the statewide rollout of the card, with applications set to open from Wednesday, 29 January.
  • To be eligible to receive the $250 Regional Seniors Travel Card you must be an age pensioner with a valid Pensioner Concession Card or hold a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card issued by either the Department of Human Services or Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Seniors must also live in regional NSW outside Sydney, Newcastle or Wollongong City Council boundaries.

NOMINATIONS NOW OPEN FOR WOMEN IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT AWARDS

  • People across the State are encouraged to celebrate the contributions of inspirational women in NSW councils by making a nomination for the 2020 Ministers’ Awards for Women in Local Government.
  • Nominations will close on 12 February 2020. The awards will be presented at a ceremony at Parliament House in Sydney on 24 March 2020.
  • Full details of the categories and information on how to make a nomination can be found at www.olg.nsw.gov.au.

Man dies in crash – Hunter Region

A man has died in a single vehicle crash north of Raymond Terrace in the state’s Hunter Region.

About 1.50pm (Friday 17 January 2020), a Holden vehicle towing a box trailer was travelling north along The Buckets Way, at Twelve Mile Creek, when it left the roadway and crashed into a tree.

The driver and sole occupant, a 32-year-old man, was trapped in the vehicle.

NSW Ambulance paramedics attempted to revive the driver, but he died at the scene.

Officers from Port Stephens-Hunter Police District attended the scene and commenced an investigation.

A report will be prepared for the Coroner.

Police are appealing for any witnesses or motorists who were in the area at the time and may have dam footage to contact Raymond Terrace Police Station on 02 4983 7599.

Push for Senate to examine impact of fires on faunal extinction

Chair of the Senate’s Environment Committee Senator Sarah Hanson-Young has announced today she will move for the Faunal Extinction Inquiry to examine the impact of the catastrophic fires across the country on endangered wildlife and flora.

Senator Hanson-Young said the already-established Inquiry gave the Parliament an opportunity to immediately get on with what needs to be done to protect our native fauna and flora in the wake of the fires.

“Before the fires started, Australia already had one of the worst extinction rates in the world. Now more than a billion animals have been killed by fires across the country and thousands of hectares of habitat destroyed and we are only half way through summer – we don’t have time to waste,” Senator Hanson-Young said.

“The Faunal Extinction Inquiry can hit the ground running. The Committee can get out into the fire-ravaged areas so senators can see the extent of the devastation first hand, and bring together stakeholders and experts so recommendations can be made to the Parliament about what needs to be done to prevent further species’ extinction.

“Species like the Kangaroo Island dunnart and black glossy cockatoo, koalas, and even mainland quokkas in WA, have been killed, injured and suffered huge losses to their critical habitat.

“The Senate needs to do what it can to aid fire recovery and ensure adequate funding and plans are in place to protect our native species and the environment they live in.

“We cannot rely on the government to get this right, they haven’t committed anywhere near enough money for fire recovery. It’s going to take a lot more than petty cash from the government to really tackle this environmental crisis.”

Supporting families affected by bushfires

Children attending child care and students in bushfire-declared communities will receive additional mental health support.

Students from bushfire-declared communities will also receive special consideration to access scholarships for higher education.

Minister for Education Dan Tehan said child care centres, preschools, schools and universities are important community touchpoints that are helping families and children get back on their feet after the bushfires.

“Our Government is supporting child care centres, preschools, schools and universities in their important work, which is why I convened a meeting of education sector representatives this week,” Mr Tehan said.

“The message from that meeting was loud and clear: we need to focus on our young people’s mental health because these bushfires will impact communities long after the flames are extinguished.

“Our Government will provide an additional $8 million for mental health support through Beyond Blue to fund an extra 25 Beyond Blue liaison officers and supporting clinicians to work with local schools and early childhood services in bushfire-affected communities.

“We are offering extra funding for school chaplains which will be available to state and territory governments on request.

“Our Government will also re-prioritise funding within the Community Child Care Fund for bushfire-affected areas. This funding could help pay for temporary premises, replacement of damaged playground equipment, or wages for affected staff.”

Mr Tehan said the families of more than 90,000 children in bushfire-declared local government areas (LGAs) that might incur a Child Care Subsidy activity test debt for the 2019-20 financial year, would be exempt. This is similar to the exemption provided to Child Care Subsidy recipients in drought and flood-affected LGAs last year.

“Families can still claim the Child Care Subsidy even if their work, study or volunteering hours have been impacted by the bushfires.

“When it comes to rebuilding schools, funding is available through the jointly funded Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangement for the restoration of essential public assets, including public schools.

“Our Government is also providing an additional $400 (a total of $800) for each child that has qualified for the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment which will help families with education expenses.

“To help students from bushfire-affected communities to attend university we will give special consideration to their circumstances if they apply for one of more than 1,000 scholarships through the $58.1 million Rural and Regional Enterprise Scholarships program. Given the immediate needs of the situation, these scholarships have been brought forward and will open from Monday.

“Following our meeting this week with representatives from the education sector, our Government will also work with the sector to implement their suggestions about how to improve bushfire management and recovery.”

This includes:

  • Investigating ways to draw on the experience of retired teachers, principals and counsellors to support schools in disaster-affected areas.
  • Working with the states and territories to improve access to information for child care providers on what to do in a bushfire and resources on air quality and managing the impact of smoke.
  • Making available to children, students, educators and families the Emerging Minds material on fire trauma, smoke and general education support.
  • Sharing with families and educators research on the effects of bushfires on child wellbeing.
  • Investigating the inclusion of trauma informed learning as part of Initial Teacher Education courses.
  • Working with universities to utilise their psychology and counselling resources to support existing mental health initiatives.

Member for Lyne Dr David Gillespie said child care and school were critical considerations for families affected by bushfires.

“In my electorate we are already seeing the community beginning to get back on its feet, with rebuilding work under way,” Dr Gillespie said.

“We also need to focus on the mental wellbeing of our communities, especially our youngest members.

“Education is so important and our Government’s program will help ensure we mitigate the impact of these bushfires on our children and their education.”

For more information visit www.education.gov.au/support-bushfire-affected-communities.

COFFS TO PILOT REGIONAL SENIORS TRAVEL CARD

Up to 80 Coffs Harbour seniors will be the first to try out the NSW Government’s $250 Regional Seniors Travel Card from Thursday, 23 January ahead of applications opening statewide later this month.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the new card would ease the burden of travel costs for eligible seniors living in rural and regional parts of NSW.

“We are committed to improving connectivity in the bush, which is why we announced the $250 Regional Seniors Travel Card,” Mr Barilaro said.

“We are delivering on this commitment to help our seniors travel to and from essential services and make it easier and more affordable for them to remain connected with friends and family.”

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said the Coffs Harbor pilot would inform the statewide rollout of the card, with applications set to open from Wednesday, 29 January.

“We are running a three week pilot in Coffs Harbour to ensure every step of the process is a smooth and hassle-free experience for both seniors and retailers in the bush,” Mr Toole said.

“This pilot will allow us to test the card and work through any issues that may arise. Following a successful trial we anticipate the Regional Seniors Travel Card will start to reach eligible seniors from mid-late February.”

Eligible seniors will have a minimum of 12 months to use their card from the time of activation.

Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh said the pilot was great news for locals.

“I’m excited that a group of Coffs Harbour seniors will have the first opportunity to test the card. After they have applied through Service NSW, they will receive their card and can use it to purchase fuel, use taxi services or to book a NSW TrainLink fare,” Mr Singh said.

To be eligible to receive the $250 Regional Seniors Travel Card you must be an age pensioner with a valid Pensioner Concession Card or hold a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card issued by either the Department of Human Services or Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Seniors must also live in regional NSW outside Sydney, Newcastle or Wollongong City Council boundaries.

For more information go to service.nsw.gov.au, call 13 77 88 or visit a Service NSW Service Centre.

SIGNIFICANT SCHOOL BUSHFIRE RECOVERY ON TRACK FOR DAY ONE

The NSW Government is undertaking unprecedented recovery work to ensure the 178 schools in bushfire affected communities are repaired and cleaned for staff and students for Day 1, Term 1.

Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell said the work will be a mammoth task, with the repair bill sitting at approximately $20 million.

Ms Mitchell and Member for Myall Lakes, Stephen Bromhead, toured the reconstruction of Bobin Public School today which is on track to be ready for students on the first day of term.

“Communities in both Northern and Southern NSW have experienced an absolutely harrowing bushfire season, impacting many of our local schools,” Ms Mitchell said.

“We have seen school damage ranging from critical in the communities of Bobin and Wytaliba, to lost fences, burnt outdoor play equipment and contamination from ash and fire retardant across other parts of the State.”

“We know schools are at the heart of communities, and will play an important role in the recovery from these fires.”

“It’s crucial for students to be reconnected with friends, share stories and return to their school routine after what has been a traumatic time.”

“Thanks to the efforts of department staff, emergency services, RFS and local tradies we expect all schools to be open for the first day of term.”

Ms Mitchell also welcomed the announcement of additional funding from the Federal Government, and said the payments will mean families have one less thing to worry about as Term 1 approaches.

“This funding will ease the pressure on families when it comes to back-to-school preparations, with the payments helping out with school necessities like stationery, school shoes, uniforms and backpacks, all of which may have all been lost in the fires.”

The NSW Government will also be implementing a number of additional strategies to support staff and students as they return back to school.

“We are very aware of the emotional impacts these bushfires have had on students across the State, so we will be focusing heavily on ensuring appropriate mental health support is available at every affected school,” Ms Mitchell said.

“We’re also looking at support for Principals and teaching staff to ensure they are properly equipped with the knowledge and skills to deal with recovering school communities.”

For more information, visit the NSW Department of Education website.

Charges laid after 2019 public place shooting near Cessnock

Police have charged a man and a woman in relation to a public place shooting in the Hunter Valley in August last year.

About 7.30pm on Sunday 25 August 2019, a 23-year-old man was at a property on Cessnock Road, Neath, when he heard a loud bang.

The man saw a nearby Holden Commodore had smashed windows and what appeared to be bullet holes.

Officers from Hunter Valley Police District attended and established a crime scene.

Following inquiries, officers attended Macquarie Road in Cardiff yesterday (Thursday 16 January 2020) where they arrested a 21-year-old woman.

She was taken to Toronto Police Station and charged with fire firearm manner likely injure persons/property and possess shortened firearm without authority.

The woman was refused bail to appear at Toronto Local Court today (Friday 17 January 2020).

At 6pm today (Friday 17 January 2020), a second person was arrested in relation to the incident.

The man, aged 24, attended Cessnock Police Station where he was charged with supply prohibited firearm to unauthorised person, fire firearm in manner likely to injure person or property (joint criminal enterprise), possess shortened firearm and conceal a strictly indictable offence.

He was refused bail to appear at Newcastle Local Court tomorrow (Satuday 18 January 2020).