Delay to live export review welcome: Greens

Australian Greens Animal Welfare spokesperson Senator Mehreen Faruqi has welcomed the Department of Agriculture’s decision to extend consultation and delay the final report of the Review of live sheep exports by sea to, or through, the Middle East during the Northern Hemisphere summer.

Senator Faruqi said:

“The government has proposed a substantial weakening of the Northern Summer prohibition. It will put thousands more sheep at risk of mortality and heat stress every year.

“Even the Department’s own draft report acknowledged the inadequate quantity and quality of available data to properly review the Northern Summer prohibition. They need to go back to the drawing board.

“A short, abrupt consultation over the holiday period was never going to provide a meaningful opportunity for the Department to hear from everyone concerned about the proposed changes.

“The Department must listen to expert animal welfare organisations and scientists, and expand, rather than weaken, the prohibition.

“The Northern Summer prohibition should be extended to cover May through to October. And ultimately, live export must be banned.

“Live export is inherently cruel and the Australian government should be developing plans to shut it down, not expand it further.”

Australia-Nauru cooperation on critical transport infrastructure

Today the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women, Senator the Hon Marise Payne and the President of Nauru Lionel Rouwen Aingimea met in Sydney to discuss further steps to deepen the close and enduring bilateral partnership between our two countries, and our shared commitment to strong and unified regional institutions.

Both leaders committed to working together to upgrade Nauru’s international airport, to strengthen Nauru’s connectivity, safety and security.

Minister Payne announced Australia would provide a $40 million grant finance package, including $30 million through the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific (AIFFP). This investment is a practical demonstration of Australia’s commitment to supporting critical infrastructure in our region, in response to the priorities of Australia’s Pacific partners.

Australia’s funding will support the re-surfacing of Nauru’s runway and the provision of vital air traffic equipment to enable critical air transport services for decades to come. The funding will also enable climate-resilient upgrades to sections of the Nauru ring road. The project will employ Nauruan workers and use local materials where possible, to help stimulate Nauru’s economy.

Today’s commitment builds on the joint announcement on 12 December 2021 of the partnership between Nauru, Kiribati, Federated States of Micronesia, Australia, Japan and the United States to build the East Micronesia Cable, which will provide Nauru with internet connectivity through a submarine cable for the first time.

President Aingimea and Minister Payne discussed Australia’s support for Nauru’s COVID-19 response. They shared concerns about enduring and emerging international security threats, including deep concerns about Russia’s unprovoked and unacceptable aggression towards Ukraine. They reaffirmed both countries’ support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Minister Payne also extended congratulations to President Aingimea in advance of the formal opening of the new Nauru High Commission in Canberra.

Aged care reform delivered a year after Aged Care Royal Commission

One year since the final report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, the Morrison Government has achieved significant reform across the five pillars of its five year plan to deliver respect, care and dignity for every senior Australian.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, and Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck, said the Government called the Royal Commission because it recognised change was needed.

“We responded to the recommendations and are now implementing this once-in-a-generation reform that puts senior Australians first,” Minister Hunt said. 

“Our financial commitment is now more than $18.3 billion to fund this agenda for change across home care, residential care, quality and safety, workforce and governance.”

The Government’s comprehensive response to all 148 recommendations outlines a five-year plan to reinforce the quality of care for senior Australians.

Minister Hunt said the establishment of the National Aged Care Advisory Group and the Council of Elders was another important step to ensure tangible outcomes and support for the implementation of the reforms.

“The continued implementation of the reforms are now guided by these two important groups of representatives to ensure each measure that is introduced continues to meet the needs and expectations of senior Australians, families, carers and the wider community,” Minister Hunt said.

“To make access to aged care services easier to navigate, we have begun rolling out in-person help at many Services Australia centres, local care finders, a regional network pilot, and aligned with a program to better connect culturally and linguistically diverse seniors, families and carers.”

More than 33,000 extra training places have been created for people who want to work in aged care, and 191 registered nurses have joined the new Aged Care Transition to Practice Program.

The Government has also awarded 115 scholarships to increase the knowledge and skills of nurses working in aged care.

To encourage registered nurses to stay in aged car, we’ve introduced the Aged Care Registered Nurses’ Payment, and nurses in rural and remote areas will receive an additional annual payment.

Minister Colbeck said a key priority in the first year of reform had been to boost home care packages.

“We recognise that most Australians want to stay in their own home as they get older, and home care packages make that possible,” Minister Colbeck said.

“At the end of 2021, 217,724 senior Australians had access to a home care package – that’s up 25 per cent since the end of 2020, thanks to the rollout of the first of the 80,000 packages announced in response to the Royal Commission. 

“In the same period, the priority waiting list has come down by 29 per cent and for those assessed as a high priority receiving a package within a month.

“There is greater transparency in home care funding, with the Government paying providers monthly which means the maximum amount of package funds go towards a person’s support.

“Residential aged care providers are also receiving extra funding of $10 per resident per day to improve care and services, especially food and nutrition, and must report care staffing minutes to make sure senior Australians get appropriate care.”

To ensure the safety of senior Australians, we introduced the Serious Incident Reporting Scheme, electronic medication charts, improved quality indicators, and ensured that restrictive practices can only be used as a last resort.

Our Government has also established a new Workforce Advisory Service to support providers, which provides free, independent and confidential help with workforce planning.

We’ve also provided more than $100 million in funding to support nearly 200 residential aged care providers to improve their financial viability through the Business Improvement Fund.

Further measures to support the sustainability of the sector currently before Parliament (The Aged Care and Other Legislation Amendment Royal Commission Response Bill.2) include:

  • The introduction of the funding model for aged care, the Australian National Aged Care Classification (AN-ACC) will be introduced from October 1, 2022 and will deliver a funding boost to increase the amount of front line care to residents.   The AN ACC will deliver more than $3.9 billion in increased funding to rural and remote residential aged care services, as well as specialised homeless and remote Indigenous services, to reflect the increased costs of delivering care in these services;
  • A registration scheme which will provide a nationally consistent pre-employment screening for aged care workers of approved providers to replace existing police checking obligations; and
  • An expansion of the Serious Incident Response Scheme to home and flexible care from July 1, 2022.

The expanded Independent Hospital Pricing Authority has also commenced work on aged care pricing, and will consider the delivery of high quality care as a central pillar of its work, with recommendations to be made to Government for the 2023-24 Budget.

Change of this magnitude needs diverse input and collaboration across the aged care sector and the community, so a big thanks is owed to all who have engaged with us so far

More than 4000 people have engaged on reforms such as quality improvements, star ratings and the new support at home program, and more than 18,000 people have participated in webinars.

The next stage of the reforms is underway including the draft legislation of a new Aged Care Act; quality of life indicators; the new support at home program; innovative, dementia-friendly accommodation design; and dementia education and training.

For more information and to engage in the design of upcoming changes, visit the Aged Care Engagement Hub at or call 1800 200 422.

Australian Government backs Swimming Australia on Russian boycott

The Morrison Government supports a decision by Swimming Australia to boycott world championship swimming events scheduled in Russia.

Minister for Sport, Richard Colbeck said every single measure taken to reinforce the condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was important.

The FINA World Junior Swimming Championships were scheduled for August 23 to 28 this year while the World Short Course Championships due to be staged from December 17-22.

“Swimming Australia’s decision to boycott Russian-hosted events is the right one,” Minister Colbeck said.

“It follows similar decisions by international federations to cancel sport events in Russia, including Formula 1, FIFA and the International Ski Federation.

“While I welcome the overnight decision by FINA to cancel the World Junior Swimming Championships, I urge FINA to also move the World Short Course Championships.”

Minister Colbeck also welcomed the call from the International Olympic Committee for international sporting federations to cancel or relocate all international sporting engagements in Russia and Belarus.

“The invasion of Ukraine is the most egregious breach of international law and while governments will do what they can through co-ordinated sanctions, sporting bodies across the globe also share a responsibility to keep athletes safe.

“As Prime Minister Scott Morrison has already said, all international sporting events in Russia should now have their authorisations withdrawn.”

Minister Colbeck said all Australian athletes and support staff traveling to nations in the vicinity of Ukraine should also pay very careful attention to DFAT travel advice which is regularly updated.

Latest travel advice can be found here.

New headspace opens in Cowra

Young people in Cowra and surrounds will now have easier access to mental services with the opening of a new headspace satellite service this week.

The new service, announced as part of the Morrison Government’s $111.3 million funding commitment to establish 30 new headspace services, will open today at its permanent new location at 118 Kendal Street, Cowra.

The service has been commissioned by the Western New South Wales Primary Health Network (PHN) to meet the needs of young people in the community. This will provide a permanent home for the interim service currently operating in Cowra. 

The headspace network is at the heart of the Morrison Government’s vision for youth primary mental health services. This service will allow young people in the Cowra region to access vital mental health services.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said young people have been affected significantly by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and access to mental health services and support was more important than ever.

“We know that the pandemic and the measures taken to contain it have been incredibly difficult and stressful for many Australians, and particularly younger Australians,” Minister Hunt said.

“That is why we are prioritising mental health support, ensuring that young people have access to care to help them recover and reach their full potential as we continue to reopen the country.”

“Over the next four years, our Government is investing $873.2 million in headspace, bolstering capacity to reduce wait times and undertaking the single largest expansion of the network to deliver 164 services by 2025-26.”

Member for Riverina, Michael McCormack, welcomed the announcement and said the Federal Government was continuing its support for youth mental health, particularly in regional and rural areas.

“The Cowra community has been calling for this service and I am proud to be a part of a Government which is delivering these services where they are needed,” Mr McCormack said.

“I was delighted to visit the building site of the Cowra headspace in December and look forward to seeing it fully operational and supporting our community for years to come.

“headspace is recognised by young people, their families and communities as a trusted source of care and has played a vital role in ensuring young Australians are supported and continue to receive support during these challenging times.”

headspace offers early intervention services across four key areas—mental health, related physical health, social and vocational support, and alcohol and other drug use.

Services are co-designed with young people to ensure they are relevant, accessible and highly effective.

Since March 2020, the Morrison Government has made available more than $1 billion in funding to respond to the mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, including a substantial investment in telehealth services.

The Morrison Government has also invested a historic $2.3 billion in the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan through the 2020-21 Budget to deliver significant reform of the mental health system and ensure that all Australians have access to high quality, person-centred care as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.

This brings the health portfolio expenditure in mental health and suicide prevention services and supports in 2021–22 to a record high of $6.5 billion.

Young Australians needing support can access free services through their local headspace or online through eheadspace (

Australians looking for support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic can access the Beyond Blue Coronavirus Wellbeing Support Service any time via telephone at 1800 512 348 or online at

Anyone experiencing distress can seek immediate advice and support through Lifeline (13 11 14), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), or the Government’s digital mental health gateway, Head to Health (

People seeking help in NSW can also call the dedicated Head to Health number (1800 595 212), talk to a mental health professional and be triaged through this service and directed to the most appropriate care according to their individual needs.

New Adult Mental Health and Wellbeing Centre to open in Midland

People living in the Midland area will have access to free mental health and wellbeing services with the opening of a new Head to Health centre, thanks to the Morrison Government.

Located at z, the centre will start delivering quality support to the people of Midland on 1 March, as part of a major national rollout of mental health services.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, David Coleman, and Federal Member for Hasluck, Ken Wyatt, welcomed the opening of Perth’s Head to Health centre.

“More Australians are reaching out for help when it comes to mental health issues, ending decades of stigmatisation on the issue,” Minister Hunt said.

“The Midland Head to Health centre is among the first in a network of community mental health centres that will ensure all Australians have access to high quality, person-centred care.

“The Head to Health centres provide a welcoming, stigma free, ‘no wrong door’ entry point for adults to access mental health information, services and supports.”

Assistant Minister Coleman said the centre would provide a safe place for people experiencing high levels of distress, or who are at heightened risk of suicide.

“The Australian Government is committed to working towards zero suicides and transforming the mental health system so that all Australians can access the right care and essential services, when and where they need them,” Mr Coleman said.

“Accessibility is what the Midland Head to Health Centre is all about, providing support over extended hours, without a prior appointment and at no cost.

“So if you’re suffering high levels of distress, please reach out for the support that’s now available – don’t suffer in silence.”

Federal Member for Hasluck, Ken Wyatt, said the new Head to Health Centre would help the people of Midland and surrounding suburbs to get the support they need, when they need it.

“One in every 5 Australians — about 4 million people — suffer from a mental illness in any given year, and almost half the population experience a mental disorder at some time in their life,” Minister Wyatt said.

“This facility, and others like it across the nation, will help the people of Hasluck and all Australians to have access to help.”

“Through our Government’s $2.3 billion investment in the 2021-22 Budget, Australia is transforming the mental health system to ensure that all Australians can access, high-quality, person-centred care when and where it is needed.”

As part of the 2019–20 Budget, the Government committed $114.5 million to fund the trial of eight ‘Head to Health’ Adult Mental Health Centres, with one centre to be established in each state and territory.

This network is being expanded by 32 new sites through a further $487.2 million investment that is part of the record $2.3 billion National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan announced in the 2021–22 Budget.

The expansion will add a further eight Centres and 24 satellites to start establishment across 2021-22 and 2022-23.

“Head to Health Centres will integrate with other services in the local region to offer seamless care pathways, ensuring carers and people who need support do not have to retell their story,” Mr Coleman said.

The service has been commissioned by the Perth North Primary Health Network and will be operated by St John of God.

Australians needing support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic can access the Beyond Blue Coronavirus Wellbeing Support Service any time via telephone at 1800 512 348 or online at 

Anyone experiencing distress can also seek immediate advice and support through Lifeline (13 11 14), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), or the Government’s digital mental health gateway, Head to Health.

If you are concerned about suicide, living with someone who is considering suicide, or bereaved by suicide, the Suicide Call Back Service is available at 1300 659 467 or

Economic measures against Russia and lethal military equipment for Ukraine

The Australian Government is deeply concerned at Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, which is a gross violation of international law and the United Nations Charter. We will continue to coordinate closely with our partners – including the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, NATO and the EU – to impose a high cost on Russia.

We are holding Russian President Vladimir Putin to account for his egregious unjustified war against Ukraine. From midnight last night, Australian targeted financial sanctions and travel bans came into effect on the Russian President and remaining permanent members of Russia’s Security Council: Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, and Internal Affairs Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev.

President Putin, Foreign Minister Lavrov and Defence Minister Shoigu are directly responsible for Russia’s unprovoked and unlawful further invasion of Ukraine. It is exceedingly rare to designate a head of state, and reflects the depth of our concerns. President Putin joins a very small group that includes Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Muammar Gaddafi of Libya and Bashar al-Assad of Syria.

Australia will work with NATO and our other partners to provide lethal as well as non-lethal military equipment, medical supplies, and financial assistance to support the people of Ukraine. As an immediate measure, Australia will contribute US$3 million to NATO’s Trust Fund for Ukraine to support non-lethal military equipment and medical supplies. Details of Australia’s contribution of lethal military equipment are being worked through with our partners and will be announced soon.

Australia will continue to work with allies and like-minded countries to impose further economic sanctions on Russia, building on the raft of travel bans and asset freezes implemented in recent days against Russia’s most influential political and military actors. So far Australia has sanctioned more than 350 Russian individuals, including corrupt oligarchs, MPs, and military commanders who are facilitating Putin’s illegal and violent ambitions. Moreover, we have sanctioned 13 Belarusian individuals and entities, including Belarusian Minister of Defence Viktor Khrenin, who has aided and abetted Putin’s aggression by allowing Russia to launch attacks from Belarus.

The Australian Government strongly supports the announcements by the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States on further restrictive economic measures against key Russian banks, institutions and individuals.

These measures include:

  • removal of selected Russian banks from the SWIFT global payments messaging system
  • restrictive measures to prevent the Russian Central Bank from using its international reserves in a way that undermines sanctions
  • limiting so-called golden passports for wealthy Russians connected to the Russian government
  • a trans-Atlantic task force to identify and freeze the assets of sanctioned individuals and companies that exist within their jurisdictions.

Together, these measures will impose severe costs on the Russian economy by disconnecting its key banks from the international financial system and disrupting Russian trade and investment flows. They will also paralyse Russia’s foreign reserves and prevent Russian officials and elites from accessing key financial systems.

While we expect that the SWIFT measures as announced will be implemented at a global level, we will take complementary steps as required.

The Australian Government reiterates our staunch support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and for the people of Ukraine.

New treatment for Australians with rare blood disease

Australians with paroxysmal nocturnal haemoglobinuria (PNH)—a condition that produces defective blood cells—will have access to a new treatment through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

PNH is a rare, potentially life-threatening condition in which red blood cells break apart prematurely. Symptoms occur because of the production of defective blood cells and because the bone marrow does not produce enough blood cells.

The specific symptoms and progression of the disorder vary greatly and some individuals may have mild symptoms, which remain stable for many years; while others may have serious symptoms, which can progress to cause life-threatening complications. Blood clots are a very serious complication of PNH.

From March 1, Ultomiris® (ravulizumab) will be listed for the first time for patients with PNH.

Ultomiris ® protects the red blood cells from damage and destruction by blocking the body’s inflammatory response.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said around 160 Australians each year will benefit from the listing of Ultomiris ® on the PBS.

“Without subsidy, Australians would pay around $550,000 per year for treatment, instead from March 1, they’ll pay $42.50 per script, or just $6.80 with a concession card,” Minister Hunt said.

“Since 2013, the Coalition Government had approved more than 2,800 new or amended listings on the PBS. This represents an average of around 30 listings or amendments per month – or one each day – at an overall investment by the Government of $14.3 billion.”

At the same time, Soliris® (eculizumab), which has been available through the Life Savings Drug Program for the treatment of PNH, will move to the PBS.

This PBS listing has been recommended by the independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee.

The Morrison Government’s commitment to ensuring Australians can access affordable medicines, when they need them, remains rock solid.

This is a strong contrast to Albanese and Labor, who when last in Government stopped listing essential medicines and treatments on the PBS.

Commonwealth financial assistance for Queensland flood victims

Queenslanders in communities impacted by the unfolding flooding disaster across the state’s South East can apply for Commonwealth financial support from Monday 28 February.

The Morrison Government has activated the Disaster Recovery Payment (AGDRP) of $1000 per eligible adult and $400 per eligible child to support people impacted by the South East Queensland flooding event that began on 22 February.

The Disaster Recovery Payment is a one-off, non-means tested payment and is available to eligible people in those affected local government areas who have suffered a significant loss, including a severely damaged or destroyed home or serious injury.

Eligible Queenslanders in the local government areas of Gympie and North Burnett can claim support via myGov or by calling Services Australia on 180 22 66 from 1pm Queensland time tomorrow (28 February).

We are closely monitoring the flood emergency and we expect further Commonwealth assistance to be extended to other impacted regions and local government areas as the flood impact is known.

Australian Defence Force personnel continue to support the emergency response efforts and will do more once the water recedes and the recovery effort starts.

The Disaster Recovery Allowance (DRA) will also be provided into the affected local government areas in Gympie and north Burnett, with further flood affected local government areas expected to be added in coming days, as the damage becomes clear.

The DRA assists employees, small business persons and farmers who experience a loss of income as a direct result of a major disaster. You might be eligible for a maximum of 13 weeks payment from the date you have or will have a loss of income as a direct result of a disaster. The DRA is taxable.

Since 2019-20 the Federal Government has provided $17 billion in disaster relief.

Services Australia’s Disaster Assistance phone line (180 22 66) is available for those who are unable to claim online from 1pm Queensland time tomorrow, Monday 28 February. For more information on support available, visit

Multimillion dollar Blackbutt Village upgrade ready to commence

A $3.7 million upgrade of Blackbutt Village on Orchardtown Road is set to commence next month, delivering a safer, more attractive place to shop for New Lambton residents.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said after previously engaging with the community on their ideas for this popular area, it will be wonderful to see this long-awaited upgrade get underway.

An artist's impression of the upgrade of Blackbutt Village on Orchardtown Road, New Lambton.

“Early in this project the community highlighted concerns about safety, and in particular safety when crossing the busy Orchardtown Road,” Cr Nelmes said.

“Our team have been busy developing a design that both improves safety and encourages pedestrians and cyclists to the area, as well as making it a safer place to park your car and visit the local shops.”

The upgrade will include an off-road shared pedestrian and cycle path, a new pedestrian crossing, improved footpath connections to Blackbutt Reserve, as well as introduction of a 40km per hour High Pedestrian Activity Area.

Ward 3 Councillor and Chair of the Infrastructure Advisory Committee, Peta Winney-Baartz said the upgrade will see the entire public domain of the popular local centre renewed for the local community and visitors, with a focus on place activation and improving public spaces to further promote local businesses.

“Wider footpaths and new plazas will improve outdoor dining and promote activation of the area, while its look and feel will be improved with renewed drainage, kerbs, gutters, road surfaces, footpaths, lighting, street furniture, tree planting and landscaping,” Cr Winney-Baartz said.

“As a part of our ongoing engagement with the community, we will also invite local residents and businesses to let us know their ideas for the best use and activation ideas for the new public open spaces later in the year.”

Traffic and Transport Manager Ryan Tranter said that City of Newcastle will continue to involve the community and local businesses in discussions about the introduction of timed parking in the local area.

“Parking safety and turnover issues have been strongly identified throughout community consultation to date, and we’ll continue to speak with local businesses and residents to ensure ease of access to the upgraded Local Centre for locals, customers and visitors,” Mr Tranter said.

“We hope that through the improvements we are delivering, the community will enjoy even greater connections in this area and benefit from its links to our expanded pedestrian and cycleway network.”

Following a workshop with business owners in the area, the broader community will be invited to provide feedback on options for timed parking in the coming months.

Construction is estimated to be complete by early 2024. The upgrade has been supported with a $591,677 grant from the NSW Government under Round Seven of the Resources for Regions program.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said the NSW Government’s Resources for Regions funding is stimulating local economies and supporting the ongoing prosperity of mining towns.

“This project represents the NSW Government’s commitment to providing continued support to mining reliant towns,” Mr Toole said.

“Projects like the Blackbutt Village upgrades will go a long way to help revitalising this area in Newcastle and provide long term benefits for this great mining community.”

The project being delivered as part of City of Newcastle’s Local Centres program and follows similar upgrades at Carrington, Beresfield, Joslin Street in Kotara, Llewellyn Street in Merewether, James Street Plaza in Hamilton, and the upgrades currently under construction in Stockton and Shortland.