Community digs deep to create habitat on National Tree Day

Local residents, students and City of Newcastle (CN) staff this week dug deep to plant more than 8,000 native trees, shrubs and grasses as part of National Tree Day celebrations.

Around 120 students from Wallsend and Wallsend South Public Schools pulled on their gardening gloves to revitalise and restore an area alongside Ironbark Creek during Schools Tree Day on 28 July before members of the wider community took part in a planting event at the Wallsend site today.


The community efforts provided the finishing touches to the latest stage of CN’s ongoing Ironbark Creek Rehabilitation Program.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said connecting with local school students and residents to plant trees and learn about Newcastle’s largest tidal creek was a special way to mark the national event.

“I was delighted to see such a large turnout today and I want to thank everyone who came down to join us. The response from the community highlights how important natural areas like Ironbark Creek are to Newcastle,” Cr Nelmes said.

“Over the last decade CN has worked tirelessly to improve creek stability and enhance water quality along Ironbark Creek.

“We’ve invested more than $8 million into this multi-stage, award-winning rehabilitation program. During the past 12 years, CN has delivered more than 3,000m of rehabilitated creek lines within the catchment and revegetated previously weedy and eroding creek banks with hundreds of thousands of native shrubs and grasses to reinstate native wildlife corridors.

“By involving residents and students in the work being done at Ironbark Creek we hope to encourage a strong and lasting connection between the community and this important ecosystem.”

National Tree Day is just one of the initiatives supported by CN under its Natural Connections program, which is designed to increase Newcastle’s urban forest, mitigate urban heat, connect our communities to their local natural places and create pockets of habitat for native fauna.

During the last financial year, more than 74,000 native plants were established across the city as part of our revegetation efforts, while suburbs across Newcastle benefitted from the addition of almost 2,000 new street trees as part of a $1.5 million investment by CN.

CN recently awarded a tender for $1.2 million for an expansive natural area’s rehabilitation program in 2023/24, which will see around 170 hectares of bushland regenerated.

Work will include around 70,000 sqm of riverbank revegetation, the planting 150,000 native tubestock plants along riparian zones, coastal dune systems and bushland sites, and the establishment and maintenance of new and existing revegetation works. Coastal stabilisation and dune rehabilitation works, fire access trail maintenance, the installation of 500 metres of wind protection fencing and the maintenance of 40 devices to improve the quality of stormwater will also be completed during the next 12 months.

Cr Nelmes said CN was committed to caring for Newcastle’s natural areas and was currently seeking public feedback on its Draft Environment Strategy.

“We want Newcastle to be an even more sustainable city, where we value our natural environment and continue to take decisive action at the local level to respond to challenges like climate change, biodiversity loss, and the overuse of resources,” Cr Nelmes said.

“The Newcastle Environment Strategy is our definitive roadmap for achieving our progressive environmental ambitions. Through this strategy, we are sending a signal to the community that we are strongly committed to protecting and enhancing Newcastle’s natural environment today and for future generations of Novocastrians.”

Community members can provide feedback on the strategy until 24 August 2023 by visiting the Have Your Say page on CN’s website.

National Tree Day is an initiative organised by Planet Ark in partnership with major sponsor Toyota Australia and its dealer network. The community day was supported by Local Land Services, the Department of Planning and Environment and Newcastle Landcare.

City of Newcastle switches on safety improvements at notorious intersection

Navigating a notorious Islington intersection has become easier and safer for cyclists, students and pedestrians following an $800,000 upgrade by City of Newcastle (CN).

New traffic signals installed at the intersection of Chinchen and Clyde streets were officially switched on last night, signalling completion of the latest stage of work by CN to improve traffic movements and safety in the area.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes and Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen with City of Newcastle Project Managers Grant Mansfield and Alex Dunn utilising the new traffic signals at the intersection of Clyde and Chinchen streets in Islington, which became operational last night.

The intersection sits at the entrance to the Tighes Hill campus of TAFE NSW and the junction of two key cycling routes, and was considered a high priority for improved pedestrian, cyclist and road user safety.

The traffic signals will also assist in the management of traffic at the level crossing on Clyde Street, allowing safe passage through the intersection.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said it was pleasing to see this long-awaited upgrade delivering improved outcomes for the community.

“City of Newcastle is committed to ensuring community members are able to safely and easily navigate our footpaths, cycleways and road networks,” Cr Nelmes said.

“This Islington intersection is heavily utilised by pedestrians and cyclists accessing Newcastle TAFE and Islington Public School, and we are pleased to have been able to work with the community to improve safety and traffic flows in this area.”

The project, which was funded through the Federal Government’s Local Roads and Community Infrastructure grant program, also included the installation of new kerb and guttering as well as extended shared footpath links along Clyde and Chinchen streets.

Newcastle Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen said the installation of the traffic signals was essential ahead of an important future stage of the project, which would create a separated cycleway in this area.

“This intersection is at the juncture of two major cycling routes, which provide connections from the University of Newcastle into the city centre as well as a key north-south link from the regional route at Griffiths Road,” Cr Clausen said.

“Heavy volumes of traffic flowing through this area necessitated the installation of these traffic signals, and I am pleased to see them become operational for the benefit of all the community.

“The signals will also pave the way for a future stage of this project, which would replace the existing on-road cycle lane with a separated cycleway in this area.

“We continue to work closely with Minister Tim Crakanthorp and the NSW Government to deliver this $950,000 separated cycleway project.”

NSW students log in to future with historic curriculum update

Students in NSW will soon be equipped for the digital and IT jobs of the future, as the first update to the state’s Computing and Technology curriculum in two decades is rolled out under the Minns Government.

The new Computing and Technology syllabuses will be the most significant overhaul to the NSW computing curriculum since 2003, empowering students with the skills they need to thrive as advancements in technology continue to transform the way we work and live.

Students from Blakehurst High School in Sydney’s south have become early adopters of the new courses, taking part in a pilot program this year ahead of the broader rollout.

The new and improved Computing and Technology syllabus for Years 7 to 10 and Software Engineering, Computing Technology Life Skills and Enterprise Computing for Years 11 and 12, will be rolled out across NSW high schools in 2024, giving students the opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills needed for jobs of the future.  

The updated syllabuses include user experience design, mechatronics, data analysis and visualisation and object-oriented programming as well as machine learning, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and virtual and augmented reality.

The new syllabuses will encourage students to think innovatively by engaging in hands-on projects and real-world, problem-solving scenarios, giving them practical skills and experience building on their digital literacy. 

It’s hoped the new syllabuses will attract more students to computing subjects after a decade of falling numbers, with the NSW Department of Education also launching a campaign to encourage more high school students to enrol in the courses. 

It is also hoped the overhaul will attract more Technological and Applied Studies (TAS) teachers to the profession. 

Deputy Premier of NSW and Minister for Education and Early Learning Prue Car said:

“I am so excited to be rolling out the state’s new Computing and Technology courses for NSW high school students to get a head start on future careers in these fields.

“These are vital skills for tomorrow’s leaders to develop, and in a rapidly-changing field it’s well past time for a proper update to the curriculum.

“Our teachers will now be able to draw from up-to-date content, so they can focus on getting the best outcomes for students, not spending unnecessary hours reworking old syllabuses.

“I look forward to seeing NSW students embrace this opportunity to develop skills, knowledge and ways of thinking that will set them on track for future careers in technology and other fields.”

Blakehurst High School Principal Sophie Kapsimalis said:

“The students love the new Computing and Technology courses. It not only helps students to develop transferable skills that are applicable to many different industries, but also to develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity.

“By choosing Computing and Technology subjects, students gain a competitive edge and position themselves for wide range of career opportunities.”

Blakehurst High School student Diana Sheptitskaya said:

“I really like the idea of designing my own projects. It’s made me more interested in design and technology, making me want to grow my knowledge in these subjects.”

$200,000 grants to keep NSW seniors connected

Grants of up to $10,000 are available to fund programs focused on getting older people out and about during the 2024 NSW Seniors Festival. 

Minister for Seniors Jodie Harrison said the $200,000 NSW Seniors Festival Grants Program helps organisations deliver engaging activities for people aged 60 and over to keep them active and connected to their communities.

“We would love to see as many organisations and local councils as possible apply for these grants and plan exciting events for seniors to enjoy across the state,” Minister Harrison said.

“The Seniors Festival is a wonderful time of the year, and we want to make sure older people are treated to a diverse selection of activities such as art, sport, music, technology, travel, recreation, and health.

“We know connection is so important as we age, and the NSW Seniors Festival is a great way to encourage seniors to get out and meet like-minded friends in their communities, while participating in the various activities on offer.”

Previous grant recipients delivered a wide range of activities from dance classes to modified sports, computer classes and gardening workshops.

“The Seniors Festival celebrates the valuable contribution seniors make to families and our community as volunteers, role models and carers,” Minister Harrison added.

The Seniors Festival will run from Monday 11 March to Sunday 24 March 2024.

Applications for grants are open from 31 July to 28 August 2023. Apply at NSW Seniors Festival Grant Program 2024launch.

Virtual fracture clinic trial launched at Broken Hill

Communities across far western NSW are set to benefit from the start of a new virtual fracture clinic trial for uncomplicated fractures.

The virtual fracture clinic went live throughout the Far Western NSW Local Health District on 26 April and is running in partnership with Sydney LHD to allow patients to receive follow-up care for their injury at home, at work or school, without having to travel to a hospital or wait in a busy clinic.

Broken Hill Health Service physiotherapy staff are supporting and facilitating the implementation of the project, in partnership with RPA Virtual Hospital (rpavirtual) service.

NSW Regional Health Minister Ryan Park said the virtual fracture clinic means patients in remote and regional areas can access treatment without having to travel long distances.

“It’s all about making sure that people can have confidence in virtual medical care right across NSW,” Mr Park said.

“What we’re doing is combining the very best in medical staff and care with virtual services which mean our patients can get their treatment closer to home.

“That’s good for the system, that’s good for the community and it’s good for people who live outside our major centres.”

Project Lead and rpavirtual Physiotherapist, Min Jiat Teng, said the partnership is ensuring eligible patients receive quality care regardless of where they live.

“Virtual fracture clinic patients at Sydney LHD have reported excellent experiences and access to care,” Mr Teng said.

FWLHD Senior Physiotherapist Brianna Turley said the new service will reduce time spent on case managing patients with simple fractures through a more streamlined process.
“Min Jiat and the rpavirtual team have done an amazing job at providing easy to understand resources that detail the patient’s journey with their fracture,” Ms Turley said.

Patients with specific uncomplicated fractures seen at the Broken Hill Health Service Emergency Department can be referred to rpavirtual’s Virtual Fracture Clinic by their treating ED clinician for the follow-up care of their injury.

The rpavirtual physiotherapist contacts the patient at home to provide support and a suitable management plan.

In most cases, the patient does not need to return to the health service to be seen by local clinicians.

More complicated fractures needing a cast are still referred through usual channels and seen by the physiotherapists at Broken Hill Health Service.

Minns and NSW Labor are failing Western Sydney

As the NSW Labor Government heads to Penrith today for a Cabinet meeting, Leader of the Opposition Mark Speakman has called on Premier Chris Minns to stay true to his word and deliver on his promises to Western Sydney.

“Rolling into Penrith can’t disguise the fact looks like being a do-nothing Premier with no plans other than cutting vital infrastructure and slashing essential cost of living relief programs,” Mr Speakman said.

“Labor’s broken election commitments are a betrayal of Western Sydney, and locals in Penrith deserve honesty from the Premier and his Ministers.”

Labor’s decision to limit energy relief and other cost of living relief programs including Active Kids will impact more than 15,000 families in the Penrith electorate.

“Chris Minns went to the election saying he would ‘roll over Active Kids’, and now he’s slashed the program,” Mr Speakman said.

“Chris Minns went to the election saying he would build vital infrastructure including Sydney Metro West, and now he’s looking to delay or cancel the project.”

“The Premier said one thing to win votes before the election, but is now breaking promises.”

The NSW Opposition is renewing calls for the NSW Labor Government to put families and households ahead of their union mates and immediately deliver additional cost of living relief.

“Families, households, and businesses are struggling through Labor’s cost of living crisis, with record inflation and rising interest rates. Chris Minns could show that he’s on the side of hard working locals by extending energy bill relief to all households, restoring Active Kids vouchers and committing to infrastructure that will support the growth and prosperity of Western Sydney.”

“It’s time the Premier put people before unions and delivered on his promises.”

World Day against Trafficking in Persons

Today, on World Day against Trafficking in Persons, we reaffirm the Australian Government’s commitment to tackling these abhorrent crimes.

This year’s global theme is to ‘reach every victim of trafficking, leave no one behind’.

The Government is committed to bolstering our efforts to counter human trafficking and all forms of modern slavery, working with partners at home and abroad to disrupt these global crimes and enhance support for victims and survivors.

To mark this day, the Attorney General’s Department alongside the Australian Federal Police and civil society partners is delivering a national social media awareness campaign to encourage us all to ‘Look a little deeper. Human trafficking happens in Australia’.

The campaign will be translated into multiple languages to boost its reach. In particular, it aims to raise awareness of the false promises used by perpetrators to deceive and recruit victims into modern slavery.

The Albanese Government is delivering an ambitious policy program to address the insidious scourge of human trafficking and modern slavery. This includes:

  • $24.3 million boost to the Support for Trafficked People Program over the next four years;
  • $8 million over four years to establish Australia’s first federal Anti-Slavery Commissioner;
  • $2.73 million over the next two years through the Modern Slavery Grants program;
  • $1 million to United Nations trusts supporting victims of trafficking rehabilitate and recover;
  • Up to $24 million of Official Development Assistance over the past financial year; and
  • Support for the first facility dedicated to combatting trafficking in persons in Southeast Asia.

Our efforts have been recognised globally, with Australia maintaining a Tier One ranking in the US Government’s 2023 Trafficking in Persons Report for 20 years in a row.

Australia continues to speak out on the issue in global forums, including as a co-chair of the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime.

City of Newcastle delivers million-dollar sports and recreation hub for community

City of Newcastle (CN) has transformed Adamstown’s Myers Park into a multi-use sporting hub, with improved playing surfaces and new recreation facilities catering for both clubs and community members.

The $1.25 million project was delivered by CN in collaboration with Broadmeadow Magic Youth Football Club, which successfully secured a $1 million grant from the NSW Government under the Greater Cities and Regional Sport Facility Fund.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes, Councillor Carol Duncan and representatives from the Broadmeadow Magic Youth Football Club, Macedonian Community Newcastle, Newcastle Suns Football Club, Newcastle Football, Adamstown Cricket Club and City of Newcastle celebrate the official opening of the upgrade at Myers Park in Adamstown.

The improvements at Myers Park have enhanced the active recreation options in Newcastle’s eastern suburbs, with a basketball half-court, a bat ball court, fitness stations, a 3m wide running and walking pathway, covered tiered seating, perimeter fencing and improved playing surface and lighting layout for football and cricket.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the project was delivered under stage one of the Adamstown Park Masterplan, reinforcing City of Newcastle’s commitment to delivering enriched neighbourhoods with spaces that bring people together for active living and social connection.

“We know how much our community values open spaces and their local sportsgrounds, which is why it is vital we continue to deliver important projects such as Myers Park and ensure everyone has sufficient and equal opportunities to access a variety of sport and recreation facilities now and into the future,” Cr Nelmes said.

“We’re very proud to have worked closely with the community, in particular Broadmeadow Magic Youth Football Club, to deliver this fantastic $1.25 million update at Myers Park.”

The Myers Park project supports a key action in CN’s Strategic Sports Plan (2020) to renew and upgrade existing sportsgrounds to improve their functionality, with the project delivering improved field layout, drainage, irrigation and lighting layout.

President of the Macedonian Community Newcastle, Sash Stojcevski said Myers Park has been a cherished space for football enthusiasts and the broader community for decades.

“We aimed to create a permanent home for our senior community football club, the Newcastle Suns, while also supporting our long-term primary users being our junior teams from the Broadmeadow Magic Youth Football Club,” Mr Stojcevski said.

President of the Newcastle Suns Football Club, Tony Velovski said the transformation has provided an enhanced facility for their community football operations.

“This fantastic facility now meets our Zone Premier League home game requirements and allows our club to host together with the junior base a venue for the final series and other regional tournaments for many years to come,” Mr Velovski said.

President of the Broadmeadow Magic Youth Football Club, Joseph Lyovic emphasised the community-driven aspect of the project, with facilities catering to cricket, running clubs, and various passive recreational activities.

“The redevelopment of Myers Park was always about activating the park and creating a sports and community active hub in a more structured environment,” Mr Lyovic said.

“The redeveloped Park will be a thriving community gathering spot, fostering a sense of unity and providing ample opportunities for physical activity, social interaction, and leisure. The official opening was a joyous celebration of community spirit and the successful collaboration between the Macedonian Community Newcastle and the City of Newcastle.”

Australia’s largest firefighting helicopter lands in NSW

Rural Fire Service (RFS) aerial firefighting capabilities received a significant boost today with the arrival of a $9 million high-capacity waterbombing helicopter at Richmond.

The new helicopter will allow for aerial firefighting at night and expand on existing air capabilities.

Minister for Emergency Services Jihad Dib was joined by Commonwealth Member for Macquarie Susan Templeman and Commissioner of the RFS Rob Rogers, to welcome the CH-47 Chinook at RAAF Base Richmond.

The impressive aircraft will carry up to 11,000L of water or retardant — a payload comparable to that of a Large Air Tanker — and will soon have the capability to support firefighting operations at night.

In its first year of operations, the Chinook will assist firefighters on the ground using a bucket of up to 10,000L. An 11,000L internal tank will be installed during the winter of 2024, which will allow it to commence night-time aerial firefighting.

The arrival of the aircraft comes ahead of the start of the Bush Fire Danger Periodlaunch in six local government areas (Armidale Regional, Walcha, Uralla, Glen Innes Severn, Inverell and Tenterfield) on 1 August, and with fire conditions expected to return across NSW after three years of wet weather.

Minister for Emergency Services Jihad Dib said:

“The RFS Chinook will be the first helicopter of its kind to be permanently based in Australia. This helicopter will be a valuable asset and is one of a number of proactive steps we are taking to ensure we are prepared for bushfires in the summer ahead.”  

“The helicopter brings a new capability to the RFS, including the future ability to use it at night which means we can directly attack fires at times when weather conditions are more favourable and fire activity is typically lower.” 

“The NSW Government is providing the resources and facilities to protect people across the state. The helicopter will be based in Richmond but can be moved around the state depending on the fire risk.”

Commissioner of the RFS, Rob Rogers said:

“The Chinook carries a similar load to a 737 Large Air Tanker but can fill up and turn around faster, protecting people and homes from fires.”

“We’re very grateful to the Royal Australian Air Force, with which the RFS has had a strong working relationship for over a decade, for its assistance in delivering this helicopter in time for the coming fire season.”

Ready, Set, Boat: Swansea Channel dredging begins

Work has started as the NSW Government prepares to dredge the Swansea Channel for the summer boating season.

Dredging will extend from the Pelican Foreshore in the south, including the channels south-west and east of Elizabeth Island. 

The dredge is being assembled at Rathmines Boat Ramp before it is towed into Swan Bay.

Work will then begin to remove up to 30,000 cubic metres of sand from the Swansea Channel bed via two dredging campaigns to create a safe, navigable 30-metre wide channel for boats. 

Measures will be put in place to protect environmentally sensitive areas including buffer areas to prevent disturbance of seagrass and daily water quality monitoring.

A Shorebird Management Plan has been developed that specifically addresses the protection and habitat creation for the Pied Oystercatcher.

GPM Marine have been appointed to carry out the dredging.

Site establishment and preparation works now under way mark the start of the dredging project and sand pumping will begin in August.

Minister for Transport Jo Haylen said:

“This much needed dredging work will get Swansea and the Lake Macquarie Region ready for the summer ahead.”

“Removing years of build-up from the Swansea Channel will make it safer and easier for boat users in the region.” 

Our aim is to get the first round of work done by the end of November, so everyone in and around Swansea and the broader Lake Macquarie region can make the most of the summer boating season.

Member for Swansea Yasmin Catley said:

“The community has been crying out for Swansea Channel to be dredged for too long and I am thrilled that this important work has now begun.  

“This work will seriously improve the channel’s boating capacity and it recognises the importance of our local waterways as an environmental, social and economic asset.

“The previous Government allowed the dredging backlog to build up over 12 years, so now we are fixing the issues we inherited and fulfilling an election commitment to dredge Swansea Channel.”