Street parties and dining pump new life into NSW

Streets and public spaces across NSW are booming thanks to a $66 million Liberals and Nationals Government investment to kickstart the hospitality and events sector during and after the pandemic. 
The programs spanned a range of initiatives including the Alfresco Restart Package, the Streets as Shared Spaces program, Your High Street and a range of other pop-up events and legislative changes to encourage events and activations on NSW streets. 
A report assessing the impact of the measures found they led to more than 13,500 jobs including 2,800 hospitality workers and more than 530,000 attendees at pop-up and street activations spread across 300 events in 112 local government areas.  
Minister for Cities Rob Stokes said temporary and permanent measures introduced since 2020 have transformed the way we use our streets and public spaces, breathing new life into our cities and town centres. 
“The pandemic accelerated global trends that were already happening and we had to change too, transforming our Central Business Districts into Central Social Districts that encourage people to stay longer, and spend local,” Mr Stokes said. 
“That’s why we threw out the rule book, closing off NSW streets to cars and opening them up to people, creating thousands of jobs for the hospitality industry and bringing joy to millions who attended events or enjoyed a meal or a drink outside.”
“A good city is like a good party, the better it is the longer people want to stay which is why we’ve made many of the changes permanent, and why we’re today announcing the permanent pedestrianisation of George Street at The Rocks.” 
Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello said while the economic impacts were profound, the measures also helped make NSW cities and streets more vibrant. 
“We made these changes to support businesses during the darkest times, and we’re keeping them because they’ve made life better for many people,” Mr Dominello said. 
“We demonstrated a better way to do regulation, resulting in over 200 venues across the State getting outdoor dining approval in a matter of days. What used to take up to 50 days, was cut to 3 days so both businesses and customers can take advantage of enjoying a meal and a drink on the street.”
Foot traffic in The Rocks is now at 90 per cent of pre-covid levels despite fewer international tourists, and business turnover is tracking above pre-covid levels (2019) by more than 15 per cent.
Ahead of the pedestrianisation of George Street The Rocks becoming permanent, Placemaking NSW will run a design competition to respect the heritage significance of the streetscape.
It follows permanent works to improve streets and town centres across NSW cities and regions as part of the Your High Street program, including; Drummoyne,  Dulwich Hill, Fairfield, Gilgandra, Griffith, Hay, Hornsby, Kingswood, Lakemba, Lennox Head, Maitland, Maroubra, Moree, Murwillumbah, Nowra, Parramatta, Trundle, Queanbeyan and Wagga Wagga.

$6.7 million investment into the NSW coast

More than $6.7 million is being invested in restoring and preserving the NSW coastline, thanks to the Liberal and National Governments budget boost in the Coastal and Estuary Grants Program.
Minister for Local Government Wendy Tuckerman said that a key focus of the grants was future-proofing communities and ecosystems for climate change.
“Seven Coastal councils have successfully received funding for 13 different projects to better manage coastal erosion, protect wetlands and manage local estuaries,” Mrs Tuckerman said.
“A significant project identified for funding in this round includes a $2.3 million investment in structures at Stockton Beach to address immediate erosion risk as part of the certified Coastal Management Program,” she said.
“Other grants will help ensure that the ecological values of NSW coastal, wetland and littoral rainforest areas are protected, while accommodating public access, amenity and recreation where appropriate.”
“Projects include stabilising and revegetating dunes in the Shoalhaven area, shore bank stabilisation along the Georges River at Deepwater Park, and improving water quality and ecosystem health in the Manning River estuary.”
Successful Councils include: 

  • Bega Valley Shire Council
  • Canterbury-Bankstown Council
  • Lake Macquarie Council
  • Mid-Coast Council 
  • City of Newcastle 
  • Council of the City of Ryde
  • Shoalhaven City Council

The Department of Planning and Environment administers one contestable funding round for implementation grants per year. Further information regarding coastal and estuary grants is available here.

Appeal to locate missing teenage girl – Karuah 

Police are appealing for public assistance to locate a teenage girl missing from the Hunter Region.

Patrice O’Keefe, aged 13, was last seen Karuah about 10am on Tuesday (27 December 2022).

When she could not be contacted by family and friends, officers attached to Port Stephens-Hunter Police District were notified yesterday (Thursday 29 December 2022) and immediately commenced inquiries into her whereabouts.

Police and family hold concerns for her welfare due to her young age.

Patrice is described as being of Caucasian appearance, about 175cm tall, of medium build with long brown hair.

She was last seen wearing a black singlet top and blue/orange pants.

Inquiries have established that she may have been in the Newcastle area about 11pm last night (Thursday 29 December 2022).

Anyone with information into her whereabouts is urged to call Raymond Terrace Police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Police appeal to locate boy missing from Rutherford 

Police are appealing for public assistance to locate a boy missing from the state’s Hunter region.

Robert ‘Alex’ Campbell, aged 15, was last seen on Alexandra Avenue, Rutherford, about 10.30am on Sunday (25 December 2022).

When he did not return home and could not be contacted, officers from Port Stephens Hunter Police District were notified late yesterday (Thursday 29 December 2022) and commenced inquiries to locate him.

Family and police hold concerns for his welfare due to his age.

Robert is described as being of Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander appearance, between 165-175cm tall, of thin build, with dark brown hair and brown eyes. 

He is known to frequent the Rutherford, Tenambit, Muswellbrook, Singleton, and Campbelltown areas.

Anyone with information about Robert’s whereabouts is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.


A First Nations man collapsed and died at Greenough Regional Prison on Tuesday afternoon, the second death of an Aboriginal person in custodial care in less than a week. 

This death follows that of a First Nations woman at Wandoo Rehabilitation Prison who had a “medical event” on December 21 and was on life support until Christmas Eve.

In the year leading up to the end of September, 106 people died in custody and 27 per cent were First Nations people.

WA Greens Senator and Yamatji-Noongar woman, Dorinda Cox said:

“First Nations communities across WA are in distress over yet another death in custody. 

“The final months of 2022 have brought so much grief and sorrow to families who’ve lost loved ones so tragically.

“Following the violent attacks on Cassius Turvey and Diane Miller, our community is now dealing with two deaths in custody over Christmas – when loved ones should be enjoying time with their families.

“We cannot continue to accept First Nations deaths in custody as unavoidable. We need to ensure that everyone in custodial care receives adequate health and mental health care, and access to support services including visits by the community when needed.

“The Commonwealth and State governments have the solutions to change these dire outcomes – they’ve had them for over thirty years.

“I call on state governments to implement all of the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody report handed down in 1991, and the Commonwealth to urgently fund and implement the United Nation’s Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) which was ratified in 2017. 

“We cannot keep turning a blind eye and accepting these devastating outcomes for First Nations people and their families.”

WA Greens MLC, Dr Brad Pettitt said:

“These two tragic deaths in custody in short succession around Christmas time are undoubtedly devastating for the families of these relatively young people.  

“WA continues to have the highest rate of incarceration in the nation and it is time that earnest steps were taken to implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission and to do more to ensure these tragedies are not repeated.”

Appeal following a serious boat crash – Lake Macquarie

Detectives from the Marine Area Command are appealing for information following a fail-to-stop boating crash on Lake Macquarie earlier this year.

About 4am on Wednesday 16 October 2022, a vessel collided at speed with another vessel – that had two fishermen on board – just off Wangi Wangi Point.

When the vessel drove away; the voices of a man and a woman could be heard onboard.

Officers were notified, and the two fishermen, aged 36 and 41, were taken to the John Hunter Hospital with serious neck, spine, ribs and shoulder blade fractures as well as serious head lacerations. The men have since been discharged.

Officers from the Marine Area Command formed Strike Force Twelfth to investigate the crash. 

The damaged fishermen’s boat was seized and forensically examined, with the results indicating that the other vessel was made of aluminium and had a blue coloured hull.

Subsequent inquiries revealed the vessel was towed by a white four-door utility, that drove along Cams Boulevard in Summerland Point, about 4.35am the same day of the incident.

As inquiries continue, detectives have released CCTV footage of a vehicle whose occupants may be able to assist with inquiries.

Marine Area Command Crime Manager, Detective Acting Inspector Mick O’Keefe said someone in the community may have the final piece of information that is key in assisting detectives with solving this case.

“Through traditional detective work, investigators have established that they are looking for a male and female who were in a white Toyota Hilux, towing a blue bottomed aluminium boat. We believe some children may have been on their boat at the time of the incident and we hope no one was injured like the fishermen were,” Det A/Insp O’Keefe said. 

“This is an opportunity for those involved to turn themselves in to police, or expect a visit from detectives soon enough, it’s just a matter of time.

“If members of the public have any information which might assist detectives, I urge them to call Crime Stoppers or their local police station. Just like on the road, there are rules that need to be obeyed on the water to avoid reckless incidents like this.”

NSW Government funding for Stockton protection structure

City of Newcastle (CN) welcomes the $2.3 million in funding from the NSW Government’s 2021-22 Coastal and Estuary Grants Program for the first of three protection structures to address immediate erosion risk at Stockton Beach.

This grant will be boosted by further funding from CN for the first protection structure to be delivered as part of the Stockton Coastal Management Program (CMP) 2020. This will see CN’s investment at Stockton since the adoption of the Coastal Management Program in 2020 increase to $9.5 million. Council has already committed $27.5 million to protecting Stockton Beach.

The first protection structure will be located at the southern end of the existing Mitchell Street seawall (just south of Pembroke Street) in Stockton.

CN has completed the design of the protection structure and has recently awarded the tender for the work and this funding will enable construction on the first protection structure to commence in the first half of 2023. CN will continue to work with Stockton Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Group to ensure works respect the significance of the Stockton coastline to the Worimi people and protects their heritage.

The design of the structure considers its ability to address erosion from storm events, as well as long-term beach recession. It also considers the requirement to protect public assets at high-risk.

The beach protection structures, and the emergency works undertaken at Stockton Beach, complement the NSW Government’s proposed mass sand nourishment on the beach.

Fatal shooting near Cessnock 

An investigation is underway following the fatal shooting of a man in the state’s Hunter Region overnight.

Shortly before 11pm (Tuesday 27 December 2022), emergency services responded to reports of a man being shot at a home on Traders Way, Heddon Greta, approximately 20km east of Cessnock.

NSW Ambulance paramedics treated the man, but he died at the scene. He is yet to be formally identified but is believed to be aged 25.

Officers from Hunter Valley Police District established a crime scene, which will be examined by specialist forensic police.

Detectives have commenced an investigation into the incident under Strike Force Roslyn.

Illawarra to become a renewable energy powerhouse

The Illawarra is set to become a renewable energy and clean manufacturing powerhouse, following the release of the draft declaration of the Illawarra Renewable Energy Zone (REZ).

The NSW Government is leading the transformation of our energy system by building five massive REZs across the State. The development of the REZs under the NSW Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap are critical to deliver cheap, reliable and clean electricity to homes and businesses in NSW as coal-fired power stations progressively close over the next 10 to 15 years.

Energy Minister Matt Kean said the Illawarra REZ draft declaration sets out additional transmission network capacity and the geographical area that will make up the Illawarra REZ.

“The Illawarra is well placed to become a renewable energy powerhouse, thanks to its existing energy, port and transport infrastructure, its highly skilled workforce and strong demand from existing industries to decarbonise,” Mr Kean said.

“The Illawarra REZ registration of interest attracted a significant response with 44 renewable generation and storage projects registering, representing more than 17 gigawatts of new projects which could unlock around $43 billion in potential investment.”

Parliamentary Secretary for Wollongong and the Illawarra Peter Poulos said once the REZ has been formally declared, we will begin the next phase of development, including engaging closely with the local community, industry, councils and other stakeholders.

“This REZ will ensure the Illawarra plays a central role in our renewable energy future, powering existing and emerging industries, including in offshore wind, green hydrogen and green steel production,” Mr Poulos said.

The draft declaration is now on public exhibition for six weeks until mid-February 2023 and can be viewed online at the link below. To provide feedback or to contact EnergyCo, please email
For more information visit

Redeem your Creative Kids Voucher before it expires on 31 December

Parents are being reminded to make the most of the NSW Government’s $100 Creative Kids Voucher scheme, with plenty of school holiday programs, classes and other eligible experiences available to redeem the vouchersbefore the 31 December deadline. 
Minister for the Arts Ben Franklin said 1.7 million vouchers have been redeemed since the program was launched by the Liberal and Nationals Government four years ago, saving families $170 million and making it easier for school-aged children to participate in creative arts and cultural activities.
“The overwhelming enthusiasm for the scheme is a testament to the importance parents place on giving children enriching arts and cultural experiences and their appreciation for the cost-of-living supports offered by the Liberals and Nationals,” Mr Franklin said.
“The summer school holidays can put a lot of pressure on family budgets, so this is a timely reminder for parents to use the $100 vouchers to book experiences including school holiday workshops like dance, drama, music, art or coding classes before they expire on 31 December.”
Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government Victor Dominello said the success of the program is reflected in the strong up take.
“Parents love the Creative Kids voucher and have been downloading and redeeming them since it launched, giving the voucher experience 99 per cent thumbs up,” Mr Dominello said.
“The voucher gives kids the opportunity to continue to develop and nurture their creative abilities over the summer holidays.”
Current vouchers will expire on 31 December 2022, however, under the rules of the program they may be used to enrol in classes taking place in early 2023.
The vouchers enable parents, guardians and carers to claim a $100 rebate per child to put towards the cost of eligible creative arts and cultural programs. 
More than 4,200 providers are participating in the program, including artists, cultural practitioners, arts, screen, and creative organisations across NSW. Eligible programs include creative workshops, music tutorials, art classes, dramatic and performing arts classes and coding. Consumables such as art and craft supplies are not eligible under the initiative. 
The Creative Kids Voucher is one of four vouchers NSW families can access to help with household budgets and cost of living pressures.
Between Creative and Active Kids, Before and After School Care and the Premier’s Back to School vouchers, parents and carers can access around $850 in savings per child through the MyServiceNSW account or via the Service NSW app.
NSW families can access further savings through the NSW Savings Finder and the FuelCheck app to help with travel costs on the road this summer.
For more information including details on how to apply for a 2022 Creative Kids voucher before the 31 December deadline, visit
For more information on the NSW Savings Finder, visit For more information on NSW FuelCheck, go to