City’s new Economic Development Strategy to play a critical role in COVID-19 recovery

City of Newcastle is developing a 10-year Economic Development Strategy, which will play a critical role in guiding the city’s COVID-19 economic recovery.

The community is invited to shape the Strategy, which will envision a future for the Newcastle economy and strive to empower, retain and attract people with skills of the future and create equal opportunity for all members of the community.

Young people will provide an important voice in the conversation, with the COVID-19 economic crisis disproportionately impacting 18-to-25-year-olds, driving the Hunter Region’s youth unemployment rate to 20.7 per cent.

City of Newcastle has partnered with TAFE NSW Newcastle, HunterNet and Hunter Young Professionals to directly engage with young people and facilitate discussion through multiple youth-specific workshops.

Economic-Development-Strategy-web-1.jpg(L-R): TAFE Services Manager Newcastle and Lake Macquarie, Adrian Collins; City of Newcastle’s Economic Strategy & Government Relations Manager, Simon Massey; Hunter Young Professionals President, Kate David; Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen; Hunter Young Professionals Vice-President, Danielle O’Neill; TAFE Regional General Manager, Jason Darney; and HunterNet COO, Nick Couper at Hamilton TAFE Campus.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said with a further almost one in 10 Novocastrians currently unemployed, it was more important than ever to identify future economic opportunities across the board.

“City of Newcastle’s Economic Development Strategy will focus on long-term actions to help create new jobs, drive investment and promote innovation,” Cr Nelmes said.

“When the pandemic first hit, City of Newcastle was one of the first Councils across Australia to act, adopting a $5.5 million Community and Economic Resilience Package with a range of programs to support community wellbeing and maximise cashflow. The Resilience Package was endorsed six days before the Federal Government announced the JobKeeper wage subsidy.”

Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen said the City had also provided collaborative leadership and advocacy through the facilitation of the City Taskforce.

“Now, we are turning our attention to creating new long-term opportunities for our city, and we are seeking the community’s input,” Cr Clausen said.

A range of programs will be explored under four key pillars: Enabling Skills, Enabling Innovation, City-Shaping Initiatives and Facilitating a Vibrant City.

Community members can have their say via City of Newcastle’s website until Monday 7 December. City of Newcastle will also conduct face-to-face and online workshops with stakeholders and its networks, including the City Taskforce and Strategy and Innovation Committee.

The draft Strategy will be presented to Council in the early new year for consideration to be placed on public exhibition.

Newcastle Libraries celebrate University of Third Age’s 30 years of lifelong learning

City of Newcastle is helping over 50s explore new technologies and interact with smart city innovations through a partnership with University of the Third Age (U3A) as part of their 30th anniversary celebrations.

To mark the occasion, a series of thought-provoking lectures presented by 17 guest lecturers will take place during the month that cover an array of topics including the prospects for finding life in the universe, Newcastle’s forgotten 1800s diva, the future of agriculture and a guide to 3D printing.

Newcastle U3A is a volunteer run community organisation with tutors who come from diverse backgrounds to freely share their knowledge and passion for continuous, lifelong learning.

A showcase celebration was launched at City of Newcastle’s new Digital Library at 12 Stewart Avenue today where participants explored the City’s newest community asset and were introduced to a range of state-of-the art digital technologies.

Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen said the University of the Third Age’s mantra of life-long learning aligns perfectly with City of Newcastle’s Libraries model.

“Embracing a culture of lifelong learning enhances every aspect of a person’s life and is known to be beneficial in many ways.

“It is fitting that City of Newcastle Libraries has partnered with Newcastle U3A to present this program as both organisations have a common vision.

“City of Newcastle’s Library Strategy 2019-2029 outlines the essential role that libraries play in actively supporting lifelong learning.

“We applaud the work of long-standing community groups such as U3A for their dedication and service to the community.”

Newcastle University of the Third Age Newcastle Acting President Jenny Williams said the local volunteer run organisation was delighted to partner with Newcastle Libraries to celebrate the 30-year achievement.

“Many people have experienced isolation and loneliness in 2020 due to the COVID restrictions. This program enables participants to meet online, learn new skills and make meaningful connections, as we transition back to a more normal face-to-face learning environment.

“The showcase is a tribute to the tutors’ dedication, perseverance, and commitment to the ideals of the U3A of providing ongoing education, for learning new skills, and fostering self-reliance and independence among members of the ‘third age’.

The community is invited to discover what the Newcastle U3A and the new digital library have to offer. For a full schedule of lectures, visit www.newcastle.nsw.gov.au/library

NSW BUDGET TO HELP HOUSE ROUGH SLEEPERS

Hundreds more people experiencing homelessness will be helped off the street and into secure housing with a $29 million expansion of the NSW Government’s Together Home project, as part of the 2020-21 NSW Budget.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the additional funding brings the NSW Government’s total investment in the Together Home project to $65 million.

“We are helping break the cycle of homelessness and the upcoming Budget will continue our investment in crucial programs to help get people back on their feet and transform the lives of some of the most vulnerable in our society,” Mr Perrottet said.

“The Together Home project is delivering great social outcomes by providing people a place to call home while also supporting jobs in the community services sector at a pivotal time in our economic recovery from COVID.”

The program involves securing homes from the private rental market and delivers intensive tailored supports to meet the complex needs of the people in the program. An additional 400 dwellings, with wraparound supports, will be secured as part of this investment.

Together Home provides support to maintain a tenancy and services like case management, drug and alcohol services and mental health support.

More than 645 people previously sleeping rough across the state have secured housing since April. This includes 274 who are already receiving housing and wrap around support through the Together Home initiative.

Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward said the support delivered would help put people on a pathway to housing independence.

“The needs of rough sleepers are often highly complex. This initiative is delivering life-changing outcomes by providing them with a roof over the head, combined with the wraparound support services to break the cycle of homelessness,” Mr Ward said.

“This initiative will address homelessness not only in the city, but right across our state, as we help people improve their health and wellbeing, and rebuild their lives.”

Together Home will be delivered in collaboration with community housing providers, specialist homelessness services and healthcare workers.

POWERING OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS INTO THE FUTURE

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell today announced that the NSW Government is committing more than $150 million to install LED lights in public schools over the next two years.

”Retrofitting schools with energy efficient lights in classrooms, libraries, halls and administration areas delivers great outcomes for our schools. This program will benefit the environment while saving on energy costs every year,” Mr Perrottet said.

“We will target schools in communities across NSW that are yet to benefit from an infrastructure project.

“Importantly, this program will help stimulate local economies, supporting hundreds of jobs and building on the NSW Government’s COVID-19 Recovery Plan.”

Today’s announcement also includes the launch of the NSW Government’s Schools Renewable Energy Infrastructure Pilot Project, demonstrating a commitment to making our schools even more sustainable. The pilot project will assess the benefits and costs of large scale implementation of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, batteries and demand response initiatives in NSW public schools.

“We are undertaking the single largest school building program with over $6.7 billion invested in 190 new and upgraded school projects. This announcement demonstrates our commitment to continuing to invest in our schools and make them even more sustainable,” Mr Perrottet said.

Minister Mitchell said the LED light replacement program and the solar PV pilot project will provide opportunities for local trades, job creation and support our schools to become more sustainable.

“We have already seen the success of these initiatives with a pilot at eight schools across regional and metropolitan areas delivering a reduction in energy bills,” Ms Mitchell said.

“Combined, these two significant initiatives further our commitment to exploring sustainable energy solutions for the future.

“Both of these programs will improve the sustainability of schools and take steps towards the NSW Government’s commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2050.”

Mr Perrottet and Ms Mitchell made the announcements at Croydon Public School, which is undergoing a $35 million upgrade with new classrooms and other facilities as part of the NSW Government’s record $6.7 billion investment.

Schools will be selected for the Schools Renewable Energy Infrastructure Pilot Project, as well as installation of LED lighting in schools, next year.

NEW GATEWAY TO SYDNEY ON ITS WAY

Thousands of jobs will be created as part of the toll-free Sydney Gateway motorway, with the NSW Government today announcing major milestones in the delivery of this vital connection to Sydney Airport, Port Botany and beyond.

Transport for NSW has awarded the design and construction contract to John Holland Seymour Whyte Joint Venture, while the project has also received planning approval from all levels of government.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said Sydney Gateway connects the WestConnex St Peters Interchange, where the M4 and M8 will meet, to the Airport and Port Botany Precinct with the capacity to carry 100,000 vehicles a day and will be a game changer.

“The NSW Government is investing up to $2.6 billion into this project, which is one of the missing pieces in Sydney’s motorway network,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“As well as providing safer and more reliable journeys, Sydney Gateway will also deliver a significant employment and economic boost, supporting 1,000 direct jobs and 3,000 indirect jobs.

“These have been very challenging times for the aviation industry but Sydney Gateway continues to be a priority infrastructure project.

“This project is an essential part of the plan to support the long-term economic growth of Sydney’s airport and port, reducing travel times and improving access to employment areas.”

NSW Minister for Roads Andrew Constance said early work is expected to start within months.

“The project, with the wider network, will allow motorists to bypass 26 sets of traffic lights between Parramatta and Sydney Airport’s Domestic terminal,” Mr Constance said.

“The direct, efficient and safe route means we are also expecting Sydney Gateway to be used by half of all trucks travelling to Port Botany by 2026, handing Mascot streets back to the local community.”

Sydney Gateway will deliver travel time savings and transform the airport precinct for future growth.
Supported by WestConnex, drivers using Sydney Gateway will save up to:

  • 30 minutes from the Inner West to the International Airport
  • 22 minutes from Bankstown to the Domestic Airport
  • 30 minutes from Silverwater to Port Botany
  • 40 minutes on a trip from Parramatta to the Domestic Airport

Sydney Airport Chief Executive Officer Geoff Culbert said in what has been the worst year ever for aviation, the progress on Sydney Gateway is a real positive.

“This visionary project will be a game-changer for access to the airport, will generate much-needed jobs and, importantly, will benefit our community by giving local roads back to local residents.”

Transport for NSW Deputy Secretary Greater Sydney Elizabeth Mildwater said one major change to the project after community engagement is a new shared cycling and pedestrian path linking Alexandra Canal and the domestic terminals.

“Around half of all feedback we’ve received from the community has been about better links for cyclists in particular, so it’s great to see a new walking and cycling path will be built to improve access to the domestic terminals,” Ms Mildwater said.

SERVICE NSW STAFF TO RECEIVE MENTAL HEALTH TRAINING

A 3,000-strong legion of Service NSW staff will be trained to respond to customers in distress as the impact of drought, bushfires and COVID-19 continue to take a heavy toll on communities.

Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor said the training program, which has been fast-tracked for Service NSW staff following the drought, bushfires and COVID-19, is part of a two-year investment of more than $1 million in suicide prevention training for staff working in systems outside of mental health.

“Service NSW has been at the forefront of the NSW Government’s response to COVID-19 and this training will help frontline staff to support people in distress in a compassionate and confident manner,” Mrs Taylor said.

“This is about building another layer of support outside of the health system by empowering frontline staff with the confidence and skills to reach out to people who are showing signs of distress as they go about their day-to-day lives.

“Like all frontline staff, the people at Service NSW have been doing an incredible job under pressure and this training will also help them recognise the importance of looking after their own mental health and learn ways to improve their mental fitness.”

Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello said this specialised suicide prevention will provide Service NSW team members with useful techniques in de-escalating an immediate situation and referral options for customers who may require more specialised support services.

“This year, Service NSW was enlisted to provide frontline support to citizens affected by the summer bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr Dominello said.

“Service NSW staff have demonstrated time and again their ability to show empathy to customers in their time of need. This training will empower the Service NSW team to know what to do and where to go for help when dealing with customers who show signs of anguish and distress.
“During these conversations, Service NSW staff may sense when someone might be under extraordinary emotional pressure or mental stress and, in that moment, are well-placed to gently suggest ways to seek support.”

Service NSW employee Courtney Wilks said this training has already made a difference to how she engages with customers.

“I feel more confident in managing customers who are angry, distressed or anxious because I know how to help them in that moment and to reassure them that they are not alone.”

The training initiative is part of Towards Zero Suicides, a Premier’s Priority that is delivering an $87 million investment over three years in new suicide prevention initiatives.

If you, or someone you know, is thinking about suicide or experiencing a personal crisis or distress, please seek help immediately by calling 000 or one of these services:

  • Lifeline 13 11 14
  • Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
  • NSW Mental Health Line 1800 011 511

Netball NSW CEO Carolyn Campbell to step down

The Netball NSW Board announces today the departure of longstanding Chief Executive Officer, Carolyn Campbell.

A trailblazer in the once male-dominated sports industry, Campbell joined Netball NSW as Game Development Manager in 2003 before being promoted to CEO in 2006.

In her time as CEO netball has seen exponential growth across the state and last year announced record registrations in excess of 115,000 members.

Perhaps her greatest achievement came in 2020 when she worked to navigate Netball NSW through the challenges which arose as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Campbell was front and centre of a campaign which looked to provide clear guidelines for a return-to- play path for not just netball, but all of community sport.

In recent years Campbell oversaw the planning, construction and subsequent relocation of the organisation’s headquarters to the purpose-built Netball Central in Sydney Olympic Park. As well as hosting many of Netball NSW’s top competitions, the venue has also been used to host high-profile international events including the 2015 Netball World Cup.

At elite level Campbell is the only CEO to have overseen championship success in all three eras of Australia’s National Netball League with the Swifts winning five Premierships in that time, most recently in 2019. She also played a key role in the formation of GIANTS Netball – a strategic partnership with AFL side GWS GIANTS – who reached a Grand Final in their inaugural season.

In addition, Campbell was instrumental in the securing of $50m in funding for a new roof on Ken Rosewall Arena in Sydney Olympic Park’s Tennis Centre, which will double as a 10,000-seat home venue for both the Swifts and the GIANTS.

Netball NSW President Louise Sullivan expressed her thanks to Campbell on behalf of the Board:

“Carolyn has made an outstanding contribution as CEO over nearly 15 years and leaves netball in a very strong position from grassroots right through to the elite, “ she said.

“During 2020 in particular she provided strong leadership through a very intense and challenging period for all sport as we navigated the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Netball NSW acknowledges Carolyn on her many significant achievements for netball during a time of immense change and growth of women’s sport.”

“The Netball NSW Board accepts Carolyn’s decision to step away at this time to have a well-earned break before taking on her next opportunity. We wish her all the very best for the future.”

Netball NSW will shortly commence an external recruitment process for a new Chief Executive Officer while Campbell will continue to work with the organisation until the end of November.

Queensland Election sees the ‘Green Wave’ continue

Leader of the Australian Greens, Adam Bandt MP, and Greens Senate Leader and Queensland Senator, Larissa Waters, have said the success of the Queensland Greens at last night’s election showed the increasing momentum for progressive change, following on from major gains in the ACT last month, putting the party in strong contention for further Senate and lower house seats at the next Federal election.

“The Green wave surges once more, with the Queensland Greens securing at least one more lower house seat, double digit swings and setting up a new base for progressives in Brisbane,” Mr Bandt said.

“This is an incredible victory for the Queensland Greens, and for every volunteer who spent countless hours fighting for a fairer Queensland.

“The Greens have surged in the ACT and now in Queensland, showing that people are demanding the big corporations pay their fair share of tax to fund a green recovery, with action on the climate, jobs and inequality crises.

“Young people are seeing their futures sold off to bolster fossil fuel profits and they’re sick of seeing our mining companies shipping wealth offshore.

“The establishment parties are now on notice.

“Amy MacMahon roared home to victory with a 9.4% swing, showing that voters will reward a party that genuinely believes in a transition away from dirty coal, oil, and gas towards a 100% renewable future.

“With many votes still to be counted in Cooper, there’s also a chance Amy MacMahon and Michael Berkman may have yet another colleague in parliament.

“Katinka Winston-Allom earned a 10% increase in the Greens primary vote in Cooper, and Michael Berkman’s 14% increase in primary vote shows that when Greens win seats, we make for good local members.

“Looking at these numbers, you’d imagine that Brisbane-based establishment party Federal MPs are growing increasingly concerned about the rising Greens vote. They should be. This puts the Greens in a very strong position for the next federal election.

“This incredible campaign has cemented the Greens as the highly competitive third force in Queensland politics. There’s a large swathe of Brisbane electorates where we’re now polling in the high 20’s, setting up a good foundation for major gains at the next state and federal elections.

“Double digit swings to the Greens across a number of vital seats didn’t come easy. It came as the result of a massive people-powered campaign with thousands of volunteers and tens of thousands of doors knocked.

“These massive swings to the Greens, coupled with the complete collapse of One Nation, show that Queensland’s status as a so-called conservative heartland is utter crap. By advancing a strong, progressive agenda, the Greens have now overtaken One Nation as the third force in Queensland politics.

Greens Senator for Queensland Larissa Waters said:

“The Queensland Greens ran the biggest statewide campaign we have ever run, we were deluged with new volunteers to support our brilliant candidates and our platform gave people hope for a democracy that works for ordinary Queenslanders not corporate donors,” Senator Waters said.

“We have doubled our numbers and we are in a strong position to win a second Senate seat and at least one federal lower house seat at the next federal election.

“People want jobs, fully funded schools and hospitals, and a strong manufacturing industry powered by 100% publicly owned renewables, not secret deals to increase the profits of huge international mining companies.

“This was a campaign defined by a simple premise – that the mining companies making super-profits off Queensland’s mineral resources should pay a bit more to ensure that people have fully funded essential services.

“People aren’t feeling heard by the major parties. For years, they’ve been asking for change and haven’t been getting it. Now, they’ve voting with their feet.”

Record childhood vaccination rates through COVID-19

More Australian families are vaccinating their children, with new figures showing four quarters of growth in all childhood coverage rates to September 2020, the highest on record.

Each year, the Morrison Government invests more than $400 million in the National Immunisation Program to protect young and vulnerable Australians.

The highest rates of vaccination are among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children at five years, at more than 97 per cent.

The coverage rate for all five-year-olds continues to grow towards the aspirational 95 per cent target. In the year to September 2020, it reached 94.9 per cent.

Among all two-year-old children, the coverage rate has risen to almost 92.4 per cent, which is the first time it has climbed above 92 per cent since 2014. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander two-year-old vaccination rate has also risen to almost 91.2 per cent in the current quarter.

The overall vaccination rate for one-year-olds has also increased in the last twelve months, reaching 94.7 per cent, while Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander one-year-old vaccination rate increased to 93.5 per cent.

The positive results are a clear indication that the Morrison Government’s Childhood Immunisation Education Campaign is getting results. The most recent phase of the campaign specifically target parents of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0-5 years.

As we remain focused on COVID-19, it’s important that we don’t lose sight of the other preventable diseases with which Australian families must contend.

Our vaccines in the National Immunisation Program are safe, effective and provide a key national response to save and protect young lives.

More information is available on the Department of Health website.

Australian Immunisation rates – June 2020 to September 2020

June 2020 September 2020
General one-year-old 94.60 94.72
General two-year-old 91.68 92.36
General five-year-old 94.77 94.90
Indigenous one-year-old 93.40 93.46
Indigenous two-year-old 90.03 91.16
Indigenous five-year-old 96.90 97.03

How’s Your Head Today? campaign launched to support mental health across Australia

The Australian Government will roll out a COVID-19 mental health campaign How’s your head today? to urge people to prioritise their mental health, raise awareness about how to identify when something is wrong, and encourage people to seek help.

The campaign will be launched on TV, radio, in shopping centres and venues, online and through social media from Sunday and will continue through to next year.

How’s your head today? encourages all Australians to check in with how they are feeling. Through animated characters, the campaign recognises the emotions many people are feeling and illustrates the actions they can take to help themselves feel better.

The campaign will be provided in 15 languages across radio and print including Vietnamese, Arabic, Mandarin, Cantonese, Greek, Italian, Korean, Spanish, Punjabi, Hindi, Khmer, Thai, Turkish, Persian and Macedonian.

COVID-19 has had a significant effect on the mental health and wellbeing of many people across the country. Victorians in particular have had it tough.

The pandemic has caused isolation, job losses and financial stress for many families, with crisis organisations and suicide prevention services experiencing higher demand.

Lifeline and Beyond Blue are reporting a significant increase in the number of people seeking help, and for more complex issues. The mental health impact of the pandemic is also borne out by Medicare statistics, which show a significant uptake of mental health telehealth services.

Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, said, “Through this campaign, Australians are encouraged to make their mental health and wellbeing a priority. We want them to know support is available, when and where they need it.”

“I encourage all Australians to seek help if experiencing mental ill-health. Talk to your GP, reach out to Beyond Blue or Lifeline, or visit the Headtohealth.gov.au,” Minister Hunt said.

“Ten additional Medicare subsidised psychological therapy sessions are available for people subjected to further restrictions in areas impacted by the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Victorians can also access free-of-charge 15 HeadtoHelp centres across the state, or visit Headtohelp.org.au.”

National Mental Health Commission CEO, Christine Morgan encouraged Australians to stay connected, and “walk together, side by side over the coming months.”

“Everyone has and may continue to have their mental health and wellbeing impacted by the pandemic. Whether you have an existing mental illness or have had your mental health challenged, it is important to seek support and treatment as a priority for your overall wellbeing – the support and treatment is available,” Ms Morgan said.

“Staying connected to your loved ones and your community is fundamental to your mental health and wellbeing at the moment. It is one of the proactive tasks that is important for all of us to do each and every day.

“If you notice that someone has disconnected, reach out and ask them how they are doing as we walk together, side by side over the coming months.”

The Head to Health website has information, advice and links to free and low cost phone and online mental health services from some of Australia’s most trusted mental health organisations.

Head to Health has been an important resource supporting Australians especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, and significant increased traffic has continued since March when a dedicated COVID area was introduced.

Between 20 March when the COVID-19 Support page went live and 26 October, there were 380,308 unique page views of the COVID-19 support pages on Head to Health.

On 26 October 2020, for example, there were 2,873 total sessions on HeadtoHealth, well above the average sessions of around 1,200 a day. Of these, 460 (16%) were unique page views of the COVID-19 support pages.

The Australian Government has allocated $10 million to support the How’s your head today? campaign, and will continue to prioritise mental health and suicide prevention services.

Since March 2020, the Government has made available more than $500 million in funding for direct supports to respond to the mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, with $10 million allocated to this national mental health communications campaign.

For information, advice and support services visit headtohealth.gov.au