Private hospitals take on public load during Covid 

Australia’s private hospitals stepped up during the COVID-19 pandemic, taking on almost a third more public hospital patients than 2019-20 to ease the burden on the public system, according to newly released data.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) ‘MyHospitals’ update releases data on hospital admissions in 2020 – 2021, the first of the COVID-19 pandemic data.

Australian Private Hospitals Association (APHA) CEO Michael Roff said the data shows the significant contribution of private hospitals to the pandemic response.

“We said at the time the private hospital viability guarantee was announced that private hospitals were ‘stepping up to the plate and doing whatever is required to help the country get through this pandemic’. And the data shows that’s exactly what we did.

“The number of public patients treated by private hospitals increased from 236,515 to 312,527. This amounts to private hospitals increasing public patient separations by 32 percent in 2020-21.

“In addition, private hospitals increased the number of patients they treated in intensive care units from 36,387 separations to 52,518 separations. Private hospitals provided one in three of all ICU separations, an increase of 44 percent, and 18 percent of all separations where patients required continuous ventilatory support, up from 16.5 percent.”

Mr Roff said the data does not separate COVID-19 ICU days from those occurring from other surgery, but says the significant increase shows the public system would not have coped without private hospital assistance.

“Despite private hospitals getting back to performing procedures as quickly as possible following restrictions on surgery, with surgical interventions up almost 15 percent, from 1,473,605 admissions in 2019-20 increasing to 1,691,215 in 2020-21, much of this progress has already been wiped out.

“Data released by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority last week showed more than 390,000anticipated private hospital admissions in the past two years did not occur. Over 100,000 of these “missing episodes’ were added in the first three months of 2022 alone, further increasing elective surgery wait times.

“All the gains made in reducing the elective surgery backlog in 2021 have been wiped out by surgery restrictions put in place during the Omicron wave. Now we must start again.

Mr Roff said the elective surgery backlog would continue to be a concern in both public and private hospitals for the foreseeable future with the issue exacerbated by critical health workforce shortages.

“Addressing health workforce shortages will be the first and most important issue we raise when we meet with incoming Health Minister, Mark Butler,” Mr Roff said.

Officer charged – Northern Region  

A serving police officer has been charged with property offences.

In July 2021, officers attached to the Newcastle City Police District commenced an investigation into an alleged incident where property was damaged.

Following extensive inquiries, a 38-year-old senior constable – attached to a command in the Northern Region – was issued a Court Attendance Notice for destroy or damage property

He is due to appear in Newcastle Local Court on Monday 11 July 2022.

Sydney Gateway flyover taking off next to Airport

The first four of 17 massive concrete headstocks, each weighing more than a full Boeing 737, have been installed at Mascot as part of the NSW Government’s $2.6 billion Sydney Gateway project.

The headstocks each stand at more than six metres tall and will support an 800-metre flyover road, connecting motorists to Sydney Airport with a toll-free connection.

Premier Dominic Perrottet said it was yet another milestone in the NSW Government’s $110 billion infrastructure pipeline. 

“This is a transformative project that will get people to and from Sydney Airport faster, supporting more than 4000 construction and manufacturing jobs, while modernising our road network,” Mr Perrottet said.

“This is yet another example of the NSW Government’s decade of delivery, which has transformed Greater Sydney and NSW while vastly improving quality of life for residents and businesses.

“It is because of our strong economic management that we are able to continue to deliver both the mega projects and the smaller scale community projects that make such a big difference to how people live their lives each day.”

Minister for Infrastructure, Cities and Active Transport Rob Stokes said 17 headstocks weighing more than 90 tonnes each would be installed to support the flyover road. 

“Businesses in Western Sydney and Regional NSW have been integral to this project, with the headstocks manufactured in Picton using steel made in Western Sydney, all to support 34-metre long steel and concrete girders made in Maitland,” Mr Stokes said.

“Sydney Gateway is great news for local residents also, giving them an additional three kilometres of new pedestrian and cycle paths along the Alexandra Canal.
“Over the past decade, NSW has gone from being laggards to leaders on infrastructure and Sydney Gateway is yet another example of how we’re delivering a brighter future for NSW families.”

Minister for Metropolitan Roads Natalie Ward said Sydney Gateway will have the capacity to carry 100,000 vehicles daily and slash travel times to and from the airport when it opens to traffic at the end of 2024.

“One of the key features of Sydney Gateway is the landmark Australian steel arch bridge connecting to the International Terminal, that will be wider than the Sydney Harbour Bridge,” Mrs Ward said. 

“This project will help slash travel times from Parramatta to Sydney Airport by up to 40 minutes in the morning peak, bypassing 26 sets of traffic lights.

“In addition to the travel time savings, the Sydney Gateway will also deliver stunning Indigenous artwork and designs on the flyover, walls, underpass and paths making for an iconic entrance to Australia’s largest airport for travellers and motorists.”

For more information visit

$18 million supercharge the great outdoors

Innovative plans to improve open spaces and boost outdoor recreation for all ages are set to come to fruition, thanks to more than $18 million in NSW Government funding.
Minister for Planning and Minister for Homes Anthony Roberts said the funding, delivered through the new Open Spaces and Metropolitan Greenspace Programs, will see more than 50 projects brought to life, with the aim of getting NSW residents outdoors to play, swim and roam.
“Enjoying and exploring the outdoors is a way of life throughout NSW and we are helping deliver greater access to well-designed open spaces, close to where people live,” Mr Roberts said.
“Whether it’s taking the kids for a swim in the Nepean River, exploring the tunnel at The Coal Loader, or spending some time in nature at the new inclusive playspaces in Kew, there are opportunities for everyone.”
The Open Spaces Program will fund 40 projects through three streams – Places to Roam, Places to Swim, and Places to Play – with an over $15 million investment in this inaugural round to deliver new swimming facilities, community gardens, regional walking and cycling trails, and adventure play areas.  It will also help councils speed up their delivery of homes and jobs over the next decade.
Mr Roberts said, additionally, through the latest round of the Metropolitan Greenspace Program, a total of $2.7 million has been allocated to 12 council-led projects, selected to improve access to open space across Greater Sydney and Central Coast.
“These projects will bring to life both new and improved outdoor areas within a 10-minute walk from more than 13,000 homes,” he said.
“It will also feed into our green grid strategy in the Inner West, which will support more than 80,000 homes with better access to a network of quality green spaces.
“The Metropolitan Greenspace Program has been running for almost 40 years, giving councils the autonomy and support to create spaces that people love, including the Great Blue Mountains Trail and Narrabeen Lagoon Boardwalk.”
For more information, visit Open Spaces Program and Metropolitan Greenspace Program.

New service helping victims recover from identity theft

It is now easier for victims of identity theft to take back control of compromised documents thanks to a new service launched by the NSW Government. 
ID Support NSW is a nation-leading service that acts as a one-stop-shop for victims of the crime to seek help and securely recover Government documents and private information, such as their driver’s licence and birth certificate.
Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government Victor Dominello said the service is about making the process for people to recover more efficient. 
“ID Support NSW takes the pressure away by bringing all the key call points into one location—NSW Police, Transport for NSW, Service NSW, The Office of the Children’s Guardian and Births Deaths and Marriages,” Mr Dominello said.
“Through the service, people can also access counselling services and even advice on how to protect themselves in the future.”
Minister for Seniors Mark Coure said this new service will be a great support to older Australians, who are disproportionately affected by the crime.
“It can be incredibly distressing having your identity stolen, especially for older Australians who represent 37 per cent of all reported cases,” Mr Coure said.
“Victims of the crime can lose an average of $4,000 and spend a total 34 hours talking to individual people to try to solve the problem.
“This service will help seniors have more of a fighting chance to recover their documents and information.”
ID Support NSW operates between 9am and 6pm from Monday to Friday via the toll-free number 1800 001 040. For more information on ID Support NSW, visit


On the recommendation of the Prime Minister, the Hon. Anthony Albanese MP, the Governor‑General today appointed Professor Glyn Davis AC as the new Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Professor Davis currently serves as CEO of the Paul Ramsay Foundation, Australia’s largest philanthropic trust. Professor Davis served on the panel led by David Thodey to review the Australian Public Service.

Professor Davis has had a long and distinguished career in both academia and public service, having served as Director-General of the Queensland Department of Premier and Cabinet from 1998 until 2002, before moving to Vice-Chancellor roles at both Griffith University and the University of Melbourne. He holds emeritus roles at universities around the world, and has served as Chair of the Group of Eight, Chair of Universities Australia and Chair of Universitas 21. In 2010, Professor Davis delivered the Boyer Lectures on the theme The Republic of Learning.

Prime Minister Albanese has welcomed the appointment of Professor Davis.

“Professor Davis will bring to the role of Secretary a deep understanding of public policy and will work with my Government in bringing about positive change for the Australian people,” he said.

The Prime Minister thanked Philip Gaetjens for his service to the Australian public, both as Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet since August 2019, and across a distinguished 45-year career of public service.

Professor Davis will commence his five-year appointment on 6 June 2022.

Legal First as Queensland Land Court travels to Gimuy (Cairns) to hear First Nations Cultural evidence given On-Country in historic case against Clive Palmer’s Waratah Coal

In a legal first, Traditional Owner Traditional Owner Jiritju Fourmile will give evidence to the Land Court of Queensland of Queensland on his Country tomorrow, 31 May 2022. Evidence will be given in accordance with First Nations protocols about speaking for Country, elders’ authority and revealing traditional knowledge. He will describe the impacts of climate change on his Gimuy Country. 

The Queensland Land Court will travel to Gimuy (Cairns) for the sixth week of Youth Verdict’s challenge to Palmer’s proposed Coal Project. Jiritju, a Gimuy Walubara man from the Yidinji Nation, will deliver cultural evidence about climate change impacts on his Country in combination with site visits where he will explain how climate change is already having impacts. 

Last week, the court travelled to Erub and Poruma on Zenadth Kes (the Torres Strait) and heard evidence from members of the community about how sea level rises due to climate change are impacting their culture and Country.

Represented by the Environmental Defenders Office, Youth Verdict is arguing that coal from Waratah’s proposed Galilee Coal Project will impair the human rights of First Nations Peoples, especially their cultural rights, by contributing to dangerous climate change. 

Youth Verdict’s First Nations-led argument is the first time in Australia a coal mine has been challenged on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural and human rights grounds. 

Youth Verdict and Bimblebox Alliance’s closing arguments are set to be heard 15th until 18th June. However due to illness, the applicant’s closing arguments will not be heard until the 20th and 21st of July. 

Murrawah Johnson, Co-Director and First Nations Campaign lead said:

“Youth Verdict is a small team led by our First Nations’ members fighting for climate justice grounded in respect for First Nations rights.

“First Nations peoples and our cultural rights must be prioritised in discussions around climate change solutions. The most important aspect of this case is making sure First Nations voices are front and centre in the conversation about the impacts of coal-fuelled climate change upon Country and culture.

“We know how to take care of Country. Our knowledge has been passed down for thousands of generations. It’s about time our voices are heard in decision making processes that allow others to harm our Country and our young people’s future.”

Serena Thompson, Gimuy (Cairns)-based Youth Verdict member said:

“I am a Waribarra Mamu woman from far north Queensland and my Country is around Millaa Millaa, up in the tableland region. I joined Youth Verdict because I refuse to sit idly by while the human rights of all First Nations people are being encroached upon.” 

“The changes that we are seeing to Country and Waters because of climate change are devastating and quickly becoming irreversible. For First Nations people, our ability to connect and physically be on Country is becoming more and more uncertain as climate change worsens. The only certainty in our future is that we must suffer the worst of the impacts before politicians will start to pay attention.

“First Nations people have been looking after Country for tens of thousands of years; in the last 234 years, colonisation has undone so much of that work. 

“Climate change fuelled by coal and gas mining is the violent legacy of colonisation. And while its impacts will reach far beyond just our First Nation communities, we will undoubtedly suffer the first and most extreme repercussions.

“We, as a whole Australian society, need to embody the ideology that has existed amongst blackfullas for thousands of generations: ‘when Country suffers, we suffer’.”

EDO Managing Lawyer Sean Ryan said:

“It’s of the utmost importance that those whose human rights are already being impacted by the effects of climate change, have a say over proposed fossil fuel projects which will make that climate change even worse. 

“This hearing puts the lived experience and knowledge of First Nations witnesses at the heart of our client’s arguments against this mine. We argue that this project will further impact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ ability to practice their culture and is therefore a limitation of their human rights under Queensland law. 

“From a legal perspective, this case is groundbreaking. Never before has the Land Court of Queensland, taken evidence on-Country from First Nations cultural witnesses in a mining objection hearing. We are looking forward to representing our clients and presenting these compelling stories to the court.” 

Rutherford Technology High Student named as ‘Young Archies’ Finalist 

TALENT OUTSHINES DISTANCE FOR HUNTER ‘YOUNG ARCHIES’ FINALIST To have your artwork hanging in the NSW Art Gallery before you finish high school is quite an achievement. For it to be there because you have been selected as one of 70 Young Archies finalists out of more than 2400 entries nationally is even more impressive. “I’m so honoured, I couldn’t wait for the day, I couldn’t wait to see it up on the website,” selected artist Juliette Kostalova said. “I’m yet to go see it at the gallery, I’m too far away.” The Year 12 student from Rutherford Technology High School, near Maitland in the Hunter Valley, is one of just three students from a regional public school to be named as a finalist for the prize. Her self-portrait Solus has been nominated among the 16-18-year-old category and was created specifically for the competition. Luella Chiswick, from Lisarow Public School on the Central Coast, and Freda Schaeffer, from Martins Gully Public School near Armidale, are among the five to eight-year-olds whose works Aerlie and Captain Bobbie were selected. A total of 25 students from NSW public students are finalists in the competition. Without question, the Archibald Prize for portraiture is the best-known art prize in Australia. A decade ago, the Young Archies were established and have been embraced by budding artists of all ages. “I’m so nervous, I do want to win but the entries this year are so good,” Juliette said. The winner of the Young Archies will be announced Saturday, 18th June 2022.


Cisco, one of the Australia’s leading IT and networking companies, has joined Lifeline in pushing for better Mental Health in the workplace. For the second year running, Cisco will take part in The Push-Up Challenge as it aspires to top the community fundraising chart.

Every year, about 1 in 5 Australians will experience a mental health condition of some form. The importance of workplace mental health is rapidly increasing in the post-pandemic environment and particularly within the IT workers due to the higher rates of depressionexperienced in the industry.

As ways of working have shifted with the pandemic and with demand for telecommunication resources ever growing, the sector has been confronted with the challenges of supporting their staff to be mentally healthy.

Following success of last year’s The Push Up Challenge, Cisco is now calling on the broader IT industry to join them and provide tech workers with an ‘antidote’ to feelings of ‘isolation’, all while enabling them to prioritise their physical and mental health.

The Push Up Challenge participants will take on 3,139 push ups across 24 days in June, putting a spotlight on the tragic number of lives lost to suicide in Australia in 2020.

Head of Small Businesses at Cisco, Karen Schuman, said The Push Up Challenge creates a safe and relaxed space to talk about mental health at work. By completing the challenge as a team, Karen and her colleagues are able to provide personal support to each other and foster better understanding of mental health.

“When working in a high-pressure industry, it is crucial to have conversations about mental health and suicide, and we need to see more workplaces making it a priority,” said Ms Schuman.

“May 2021, when I was first introduced to The Push Up Challenge, marked the 25th anniversary of my father’s death by suicide. The Challenge resonated with me instantly, both professionally, as a Cisco leader, and personally. For years after my father’s death, I couldn’t say the word ‘suicide’ without shame or hurt, so I knew it was the time to be vulnerable and have open conversations within the team.”

Ms Shuman believes that rallying a workplace to complete the Challenge can have a positive impact on teams’ mental and physical health. It also provides much needed financial support to Lifeline Australia, which is working to make sure no one is facing their darkest moments alone.

Colin Seery, CEO of Lifeline Australia said, “Just like Lifeline’s services, The Push Up Challenge is for everybody. The terrific thing about the Challenge is how it connects people through exercise, while empowering them with ways they can make a positive difference in other people’s lives.”

“More people than ever before are reaching out to Lifeline for help, and the money raised will support our services to be there for anyone, anytime, whatever the reason. We are delighted to have the Cisco team fundraising to back our crisis support services.” 

“When organisations take the lead like this, it helps encourage Australians to talk about their mental health, learn how to best support each other and recognise when they might need to put their own hand up for help.”

In 2021, over 174,000 participants completed 240 million push ups and raised $9 million for mental health programs and services.

Participants of all ages and abilities push-up while learning about mental health, with the number of daily push-ups changing to reflect a vital mental health fact.

Alternatively, participants can set their own push-up goal, which can also be done as sit-ups, squats or tailored exercises, with progress tracked through a dedicated app. 

You can register for The Push-Up Challenge as an individual, a team, or get your whole workplace, club, gym or school involved at

Van Gogh Alive to headline Newcastle’s 2022 New Annual festival

A multi-sensory experience that has attracted more than eight and a half million people across 75 cities around the world will be the centrepiece of City of Newcastle’s second New Annual festival in September.

Presented in a specially designed 2,300-square-metre gallery known as The Grand Pavilion, which will be set up at Newcastle’s premier major event space, Foreshore Park, Van Gogh Alive features more than 3,000 high-definition images of the artist’s work, projected at a scale that allows visitors to experience the paintings like never before.

Newcastle artist James Drinkwater, Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes, City Business Improvement Association Chairperson Kendall Brooks and City of Newcastle New Annual Senior Producer and Curator Adrian Burnett with some of the images visitors will experience as part of Van Gogh Alive.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said attracting Van Gogh Alive is a coup for Newcastle that will enhance the city’s reputation for hosting world-class events while boosting the local economy by attracting thousands of visitors.

“We’re excited to partner with Andrew Kay Management to bring the impressive Van Gogh Alive to a regional city for the first time in Australia as part of our New Annual festival,” Cr Nelmes said.

“Spanning across a ten-day period and featuring over 50 events across the city, New Annual will showcase local and visiting artists sharing music, dance, theatre, performance, and visual art in a celebration of creativity.

“The versatility of Foreshore Park ensures we’re able to attract major events such as this unique immersive experience in Newcastle, which will attract an influx of visitors to our city at a time when the local tourism industry needs it most and as local operators and businesses recover from the pandemic.”

Newcastle artist James Drinkwater described Van Gogh, who was his favourite painter as a child, as being “in the pantheon of the greats” and welcomed the opportunity to see this show in Newcastle. He said the city was “coming of age” culturally and believed an event such as this one would make art more accessible to the wider community.

“This event is a marker of the times and acts as a conduit between the wonderful and complex social spectrum of Newcastle,” James said.

Created and produced by Grande Experiences, Van Gogh Alive is co-produced by Andrew Kay in association with BBC and Alex Fane in the Grand Pavilion.

Bruce Peterson, owner of Grande Experiences, said “After mesmerising a global audience of over 8.5 million people and selling-out cities all over the world, including Rome, London and Beijing, we’re incredibly excited that Van Gogh Alive now comes to Newcastle. This is an unforgettable cultural experience for all the family.”

Andrew Kay of Andrew Kay Management, said “Van Gogh Alive has been an international hit, thrilling audiences across the globe since the first experience launched at the Art Science Museum in Singapore in 2011.”

Van Gogh Alive provides audiences with the opportunity to plunge themselves in the life and work of Dutch Post-Impressionist painter, Vincent van Gogh, through a vibrant symphony of light, colour and fragrance, set to an evocative classical soundtrack.

An interpretive area provides an educational introduction to some of Van Gogh’s most famous paintings, before the cutting-edge technology of the SENSORY4 TM Gallery transports visitors inside the artist’s greatest works, with images projected onto virtually every surface.

Newcastle will host Van Gogh Alive from 21 September until 23 October at Foreshore Park, while the New Annual program will run from 23 September to 2 October throughout the city.

Further information about City of Newcastle’s flagship cultural festival is available at

Ticket information for Van Gogh Alive is available at