MORE MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT FOR REGIONAL STUDENTS

A fly-in fly-out psychology and telepsychology service of sixteen permanent senior psychologists will be introduced to support students in regional and remote parts of NSW with mental health.

This is part of the NSW Government’s $88.4 million mental health spend that also includes a commitment to provide every public high school with one full-time counsellor or psychologist and one student support officer.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the NSW Government had run a successful trial of fly-in fly-out psychologists and the service will be permanent from 2021.

“Students across NSW have shown incredible courage and resilience having been impacted by COVID-19, bushfires and drought,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“It is incredibly important students have access to mental health support in a timely manner. This will expand the pool of psychologists in locations where there is a limited supply of casual or temporary school counselling staff.”

Deputy Premier John Barilaro said this will enable psychologists to provide counselling to ensure students are getting the support they need to deal with anxiety, stress and other difficult issues.

“Mental health is one of the major issues affecting regional communities and this is particularly true for our young people,” Mr Barilaro said.

“Drought, bushfires and now COVID have caused a lot of stress for students this year so this is a very timely announcement. Providing them with access to professional support during this time is crucial.”

Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said there were currently 1108 full time equivalent school counselling positions in NSW.

“It is incredibly important that we continue to support our schools when it comes to the mental health and wellbeing of our students in NSW,” Ms Mitchell said.

“As a regional parent I am proud of today’s announcement because it means students in regional and rural NSW, including primary and central schools, will have ongoing access to a permanent team of specialist psychologists.”

Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor said the new service would ensure students will have greater access to help and support.

“This means students in remote communities will now be able to get tailored face-to-face specialist support to complement the existing local, virtual and community-based services.”

The Royal Far West has provided this service to schools like Canowindra Public School, Eugowra Public School, Goologong Public School, Grenfell Public School, Koorawatha Public School, Naradhan Public School, Rankins Springs School, Weethalle Public School, West Wyalong High School, West Wyalong Public School and Wyalong Public School.

Services undertaken by the psychologists include assessments for learning and or emotional difficulties, therapeutic interventions, consultations with school staff, local counselling for staff and parents and carers, as well as delivery of whole staff professional learning.

If you or anyone you know is experiencing emotional distress and needs support please call Kids Help Line on 1800 55 1800 and Lifeline on 13 11 14

PREVENTING YOUTH HOMELESSNESS IN SCHOOLS

Young people at risk of homelessness or disengagement from high school are being supported as part of a new program underway in Western Sydney.

Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward said the Universal Screening and Supports program identifies students in need of additional help.

“It takes a village to raise a child, and this evidence-based initiative shows how families, schools and the community can work together to make a real difference to the lives of young people,” Mr Ward said.

“Experiencing homelessness as a young person can often lead to chronic long-term homelessness in adulthood. By intervening early we can help break the cycle of disadvantage to keep young people at home and in school.”

A trial of the program at Chifley College Dunheved Campus is being delivered by Barnardos, and will be followed by a progressive rollout at three other Chifley College campuses in Western Sydney.

Students are screened using the Australian Index of Adolescent Development survey, which covers their living situation, family structure, cultural background, as well as physical and mental health.

Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell said schools play a vital role in supporting disadvantaged young people, and this program helps identify issues early so that students can focus on their education and reach their full potential.

“If a student is identified as being at risk, they are contacted by staff and asked to attend a follow up screening where they receive tailored support,” Ms Mitchell said.

“That typically includes case management, counselling, family support, education and training programs and mentoring, as well as specialist support for mental health and drug and alcohol services.”

The initiative is based on the Community of Schools and Services (COSS) model, which is underpinned by a diverse and robust body of research.

An evaluation of the program in Geelong, Victoria found students who received support were more likely to remain at home and stay engaged in education.

Barnardos CEO Deirdre Cheers said caseworkers would work intensively with young people at-risk of homelessness or disengagement.

“Our organisation has decades of experience working with vulnerable children and families and we are excited to be involved in this project which we hope will deliver great outcomes for young people in Western Sydney,” Ms Cheers said.

The NSW Government is investing $4.7 million to deliver the Universal Screening and Supports program in Western Sydney and Albury under its Homelessness Strategy.

INNOVATIVE TECH TO KEEP WOMEN SAFE AFTER DARK

Transport for NSW will trial innovative data and technology ideas to improve safety for women travelling on transport at night in Greater Sydney, following the announcement of the winners of the Safety After Dark Innovation Challenge.

The projects include artificial intelligence in CCTV to automate the detection of threatening behaviours, using datasets and algorithms to create routing that prioritises safety, and a new platform for public safety and assistance.

Minister for Transport Andrew Constance said the ideas would be developed and trialled over the next six months.

“We want all our customers to feel safe on the network and it is not good enough that 9 out of 10 Australian women experience harassment on the street and modify their behaviour in response,” Mr Constance said.

“We’re excited to be working with entrepreneurs and universities to implement innovative technology solutions to keep women safe.”

The winners are from the University of Wollongong, data sharing platform She’s a Crowd, safety technology experts Guardian LifeStream and Cardno/UNSW.

Transport for NSW received 44 applications for the Safety After Dark Innovation Challenge and the winners were selected by an expert panel after a virtual pitch event.

“The winners were chosen for their potential to meaningfully address real safety issues, and their ability to use creative and sophisticated new technologies to make a real difference,” Mr Constance said.

The Innovation Challenge is part of Transport for NSW’s commitment to a new Women’s Safety Charter, co-designed in collaboration with the Greater Sydney Commission and Committee for Sydney.

A VIBRANT AND GREEN FUTURE SECURED FOR ST LEONARDS AND CROWS NEST IN 2036 PLAN

New parks and public spaces, better pedestrian access and more employment space are set to enhance the heart of Crows Nest and St Leonards, with the NSW Government today releasing the final 2036 Plan.

Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes said the plan will guide the delivery of a greener, better connected and vibrant Crows Nest and St Leonards.

“The community told us they wanted more green space that enhanced local neighbourhoods, and a plan that provided certainty on what future development will look like and where it will be,” Mr Stokes said.

“We have listened, with significant changes made to the final plan to ensure St Leonards and Crows Nest will be a greener, thriving employment hub with better transport and pedestrian connections for local residents, workers and visitors to enjoy for generations to come.”

Member for North Shore Felicity Wilson said the plan includes the forward funding from the NSW Government for the delivery of a new park in partnership with North Sydney Council. The existing carpark on Holtermann Street will be moved underground to make way for a vibrant green core in the centre of Crows Nest.

“We have secured a massive $78 million for new and improved public spaces across St Leonards and Crows Nest, including the new park on Holtermann Street for our community that will be delivered ahead of Metro development,” Ms Wilson said.

“From the village feel of Willoughby Rd and Crows Nest, to the bustling commercial centre around St Leonards, we wanted to reflect the community’s call for a final plan that protected and enhanced the unique character of our local area and delivered the community infrastructure that makes for great places to live – this plan delivers that and more.”

Key changes to the final plan following community consultation, include:

  • A 10 per cent reduction in new dwellings;
  • More than $78 million secured from developer contributions for new parks and public spaces (an increase of $20 million);
  • Planting of more than 2,000 new trees;
  • Doubling the employment space, with an extra 119,979sqm of commercial floor space to support more than 16,500 jobs; and
  • $20 million secured from developer contributions for new education facilities.

North Sydney Mayor Jilly Gibson welcomed the plan and said more green space would help to maintain the village feel that we all love.

“I would like to thank the Minister Rob Stokes, local member for North Shore Felicity Wilson and the Department for including a new park at Holtermann Street in the plans. With the support of the State, design of the park will commence at the beginning of 2021, at the same time Council commences construction of the new Hume Street Plaza,” Ms Gibson said.

The final plan will see more than $116 million captured in Special Infrastructure Contributions from developers to support the delivery of critical infrastructure such as road upgrades, education facilities and active transport links across St Leonards and Crows Nest.

The plan will also be supported with new transport links, with the NSW Government also approving the Crows Nest Metro rezoning. The community will get to have its say on the Crows Nest Metro State significant concept development application when it is re-exhibited in mid-September.

For more information, and to view the final plan visit: www.planning.nsw.gov.au/stleonardscrowsnest

Man charged after drugs located in vehicle at border checkpoint

A man has faced court today charged after police at a border checkpoint near Albury seized prohibited drugs in a vehicle.

NSW Police were manning a checkpoint at the Spirit of Progress Bridge located on The Hume Highway, south of Albury, when they stopped a Toyota Camry about 5.30pm yesterday (Saturday 29 August 2020).

The driver, a 27-year-old woman, and a male passenger, aged 44, produced valid permits required to travel to NSW via aircraft through Sydney and self-isolate.

Following inquiries, officers conducted a search of the man and allegedly located methylamphetamine in his socks and 94g of methylamphetamine under the passenger seat cover, during a search of the vehicle, along with cash.

The items were seized and will undergo forensic testing.

The man was arrested and taken to Albury Police Station where he was charged with possess prohibited drug, supply prohibited drug – indictable quantity, goods in personal custody suspected being stolen, and deal with proceeds of crime, money/property.

He appeared in Wagga Wagga Local Court today (Sunday 30 August 2020), where he was formally refused bail to reappear at Albury Local Court tomorrow (Monday 31 August 2020).

The woman was refused entry and directed to return to Victoria.

Inquiries continue.

City of Newcastle’s flash flood alert service provides early warning to residents

City of Newcastle is encouraging residents to register for its free flash flood alert service after July brought record-breaking rainfall and severe East Coast Lows.

July’s wet weather saw residents flock to the service to receive up-to-the-minute information, with a 41% increase in subscriptions between 25 July – the day before an East Coast Low dumped 107.6mm of rain at Nobbys weather station in three days – and mid-August. Subscriptions spiked from 3,337 to 4,711 across the eight zones.

The late July weather event triggered moderate flood warnings to be issued across four zones, encompassing suburbs such as Wickham, Hamilton, New Lambton, Jesmond and Stockton. Around 2,000 emails and text messages were sent to residents, as well as 474 pre-recorded messages to landlines.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said it was the largest-scale alert distribution since the service was successfully trialled in Wallsend in 2017 and rolled out across the LGA in 2018.

“Due to our city’s topography, heavy rainfall can cause flash flooding in low-lying areas extremely quickly,” the Lord Mayor said.

“This is why our flash flood alert service is an important tool to help residents avoid hazardous areas and remind them to never walk or drive through fast-moving and unpredictable floodwaters, potentially preventing serious injury or worse.

“Anyone can register for free, but those who would most benefit include those who live, work, visit or own a business in Newcastle.”

The eight zones covered by the flash flood alert service are:

  • Wallsend and Elermore Vale vicinity
  • Jesmond, Birmingham Gardens and Callaghan
  • Kotara and New Lambton vicinity
  • Lambton, Hamilton, Islington, Broadmeadow and Mayfield
  • Merewether, Junction, Cooks Hill and Newcastle West
  • Carrington, Stockton, Maryville and Wickham
  • Beresfield, Tarro, Hexham and Sandgate
  • Stockton, Kooragang, Carrington and Wickham

You can register to receive alerts for multiple zones. Alerts are sent by SMS, email or recorded voice message to landline, and there are three levels: minor, moderate and major flood warning.

The alerts are activated through the Early Warning Network (EWN), which continuously monitors local rainfall gauges and records intensity and duration.

For more information, including how to register, visit newcastle.nsw.gov.au/floodalert

Landmark Legislation for Australia’s Waste

The Morrison Government this week introduces landmark legislation that sees Australia take responsibility for its waste and establishes a national industry framework for recycling.

The Recycling and Waste Reduction Bill 2020 will phase in the end of the 645,000 tonnes of unprocessed plastic, paper, glass and tyres that Australia ships overseas each year.

At the same time the reforms to the regulation of product stewardship will incentivise companies to take greater environmental responsibility for the products they manufacture and what happens to those products and materials at the end of their life.

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said the Bill will see the implementation of the export ban on waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres agreed by Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments in March this year.

“This is about tackling a national environmental issue that has been buried in landfill or shipped offshore for far too long,” Minister Ley said.

“That is why the Morrison Government is the first federal government to place waste firmly on the national agenda.

“This is a once in a generation opportunity to remodel waste management, reduce pressure on our environment and create economic opportunity as we move to a circular economy with a strong market for recycled materials.

“Our $190 million Recycling Modernisation Fund and our actions under the National Waste Policy Action Plan will create 10,000 new jobs over the next 10 years – that is a 32 per cent increase in jobs in the Australian waste and recycling sector.

“We are introducing legislation; we are driving a billion-dollar transformation of Australia’s waste and recycling capacity and we are investing in new technologies and new ideas to transform recycling and reprocessing.”

Assistant Minister Evans said the legislation will improve the existing framework for product stewardship by encouraging companies to take greater responsibility for the waste they generate through the products they design, manufacture or distribute.

“We are making it easier for industry to set up and join in product stewardship schemes. Yet where voluntary product stewardship schemes are not effective, or where they are not created in priority areas, the government will have new tools to intervene and regulate,” Assistant Minister Evans said.

“Our legislative changes will transform our waste industry, meaning increased recycling and remanufacturing of waste materials which will create new industry and generate more jobs.”

Australian Council of Recycling CEO Pete Shmigel said: “Taken together with other reforms, this unprecedented legislation marks a new era of environmental and economic achievement in recycling through Government leadership and industry partnership and innovation. The Government deserves full credit for its proactive, positive and purposeful agenda, and industry looks forward to its full implementation.”

Australian Food and Grocery Council Acting CEO Dr Geoffrey Annison said: “Our sector welcomes this Bill as a significant leap in the right direction to reduce waste and increase access to high quality packaging with high levels of recycled content for Australia’s manufacturers. The Bill balances the needs and responsibilities of all industry sectors to collaborate and improve their management of end-of-life material recovery and recycling.”

The Government will continue to consult with industry as we develop rules for each material under the waste export ban, and ensure businesses understand their obligations and how to meet them.

Adani bullies community leader as it loses another court case

The Greens condemn Adani’s attempts to silence Galilee Blockade leader, Ben Pennings, by seeking to  bankrupt his family with legal action and secretly applying to the Supreme Court to raid his home.

Senator for Queensland and Greens spokesperson for mining and resources, Senator Larissa Waters, said:

“We live in a broken democracy where big companies will do whatever they can to silence opposition.

“The fact that a multinational coal mining giant twice sought the Queensland Supreme Court’s permission to have its private investigators raid the home of a protestor just shows how terrified they are of public scrutiny.

“This is not the first time that Adani have tried to sick their “trained attack dogs” on everyday people trying to stand up to them.

“And all this from a company convicted of breaching environmental conditions, and just this week for unconscionable conduct and dishonest behaviour.

“The big parties may be dancing to the tune of their coal donors, but the Greens will continue to stand with communities across the country standing against Adani’s destructive path.

“Queenslanders want a safe climate, cheap clean power and real, lasting jobs for coal communities as we transition to a clean economy.

“People, like Ben Pennings, will rally in force to stop Adani – and the Greens will be right there with them.”

Appeal to find man missing from Lake Macquarie area

Police are appealing for public assistance to locate a man missing from his home in the Lake Macquarie area.

Mr Patrick Thaidy, aged 60, was last seen about 2.40pm today (Friday 28 August 2020), at his home in Macquarie Hills and has not been seen since.

He is described as being of Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander appearance, about 180cm tall, with curly greying/black hair. At the time he was wearing black track pants, a grey hoodie and black shoes.

Mr Thaidy has a serious medical condition and requires regular medication so may appear confused or disoriented.

Officers attached to Lake Macquarie Police District are now searching for Mr Thaidy, assisted by family members, volunteers and the Westpac helicopter.

Police have been told Mr Thaidy may travel to the Sydney area and are working with public transport authorities. Mr Thaidy has also strong links to Unanderra and has travelled to the South Coast previously.

They are appealing for anyone with information about his whereabouts, or who may have seen Mr Thaidy earlier today, to call Belmont Police Station on 02 4922 8899 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 immediately.