Man dies following two-vehicle crash near Singleton

A man has died following a crash near Singleton.

About 1.45pm today (Sunday 28 February 2021), emergency services were called to Putty Road, Putty, after two cars crashed head-on.

The driver and sole occupant of one of the vehicles died at the scene. The man has not yet been formally identified.

The three occupants of the other car have been taken to hospital with non life-threatening injuries.

Officers from Hunter Valley Police District established a crime scene and are investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident.

A report will be prepared for the Coroner.

Find out when it’s your turn with new advertisements to inform Australians about the COVID-19 vaccination rollout

The next phase of the Australian Government’s $31 million public information campaign begins today to inform Australians, with the vaccination program underway.

At the end of Friday after four full days of operation and Monday as a setup day, almost 30,000 Australians had been vaccinated, including 8,110 aged care and disability residents throughout 117 care facilities.

Both the state and territory teams alongside the aged care in-reach teams are ramping up their operations, with more vaccines being distributed across the country in the next week.

The initial advertising campaign, which launched on 27 January 2021, focused on informing the Australian community about the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s world-leading independent approval process.

The second round builds on these safety messages and informs the community about Phase 1a of the vaccination program rollout, which prioritises those who are the most at risk of serious illness from the virus.

The advertising is important, so people understand how the vaccination program is operating, how they can find out when it will be their turn and answer any questions they have about the vaccines. They can go to Australia.gov.au and use the Vaccine Eligibility Checker to confirm which phase of the rollout they will be in.

The campaign will continue to run across a variety of channels, starting with television, and continuing on radio, press, digital, social, mobile, search and in medical settings and shopping centres including billboards and signs.

There are two advertisements, one which is animated, and a second which features a registered nurse, Melanie, who explains the rollout and the current priority groups.

Special committees representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, people with a disability and the multicultural communities are consulted regularly to ensure messaging is clear, appropriate and disseminated through the best communication channels to reach all people in Australia.

Firearm and drugs located after crash – Cardiff

A man has been charged with firearm and drug offences after a crash at Lake Macquarie overnight.

About 3:50am (Saturday 27 February 2021), police responded to reports that a silver Kia Cerato, travelling west along Lowry Street, Cardiff, had crashed into two parked cars.

The driver, a 30-year-old man, was prevented from leaving the scene by several bystanders until police arrived.

Officers from Lake Macquarie Police District attended and commenced an investigation.

Police were informed that immediately after the collision the driver was seen acting suspiciously near a tree. A search of this area located a home-made pistol and a bag of ammunition.

A further search of the man and his vehicle located a quantity of methyl-amphetamine and alprazolam as well as more than $14,000 cash.

The man was taken to Toronto Police Station and charged with the following:

  • Negligent driving
  • Possess unauthorised pistol
  • Possess unregistered firearm-pistol
  • Possess loaded firearm public place
  • Possess ammunition without holding licence/permit
  • Possess prohibited drug
  • Possess prescribed restricted substance
  • Deal with property proceeds of drive <$100,000

The Marmong Point man has been refused bail to appear at Newcastle Local Court tomorrow (Sunday 28 February 2021).

Generous Aussies gave life and sight in 2020

A 2020 report on organ and tissue donation and transplantation shows that despite the significant impact of COVID-19, around 4,000 Australians benefitted from the gift of organ, eye, and tissue donation from a deceased donor.

The Minister responsible for the Organ and Tissue Authority, Mark Coulton, said the 2020 Australian Donation and Transplantation Activity Report confirms Australian generosity and willingness to give complete strangers a second chance through organ and tissue donation.

“This report shows that even when the chips are down and a global pandemic interrupts the national transplant program, Australian generosity shines through.

“Last year, despite the pandemic, some 1,644 Australians’ death provided the gift of life and sight to another Australian,” Minister Coulton said.

“We are very grateful to these Australians and their families for making organ, eye, and tissue donations possible.”

The report, released today, shows 1,270 Australian lives were saved through an organ transplant in 2020, due to the generosity of 463 deceased organ donors and their families. The report also shows 2,277 Australians received corneal transplants in 2020 from 1,318 donors.

“A corneal transplant can make a remarkable difference to someone’s quality of life.

“More than 23,500 Australians have thankfully received the gift of sight since the national program began in 2009,” Minister Coulton said.

Minister Coulton said it is important to also recognise the great power of tissue donation.

“Whether they gave heart valves to repair genetic defects in young children or skin grafts to help treat infection and trauma, the 290 deceased tissue donors in 2020 made a great difference to many lives.

“Last year, 182 living donors improved the lives of another Australian; predominantly by donating kidneys and in one case, a partial liver.

“Living donors make an incredibly generous sacrifice to improve the life of someone else.

“Organ transplants are not without risk to those who donate, and their act of kindness mustn’t be understated,” Minister Coulton said.

Last year, just 29 kidney transplants took place in Australia from living donors through the Australia and New Zealand Paired Kidney Exchange Program. This figure represents a 42 per cent drop compared to 2019.

Organ and Tissue Authority CEO, Lucinda Barry, said 2020 outcomes were primarily impacted by the program’s suspension due to COVID-19 concerns in early-March, with the program gradually returning in earnest from September.

“The reality is there were 210 fewer kidney transplants across living and deceased transplant programs, mostly due to the impact of transplant program suspensions,” Ms Barry said.

“These suspensions were a responsible reaction to concerns within the health sector for hospital capacity and transplant patient welfare as the global pandemic took hold in Australia.”

Minister Coulton said the report once again demonstrates the need for more Australians to discuss donation with their friends and family and to register as a donor.

“We need all Australians to talk about organ and tissue donation, to understand what they and their loved ones wish, and to register to become a donor at donatelife.gov.au,” Mr Coulton said.

“It takes less than a minute.”

The 2020 Australia Donation and Transplantation Activity Report is available at:  donatelife.gov.au/outcomes.

QUEENSLAND OLYMPIC BID’S BIG STEP FORWARD IS GREAT NEWS

Federal Labor congratulates Queensland on its bid to host the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games being named as the International Olympic Committee’s preferred candidate.

The Queensland bid will now be the only one in targeted discussions with the IOC, making Australia a clear favourite to continue its proud history of successfully hosting major international sporting events.

From the 1956 Melbourne Olympics to Sydney 2000, five Commonwealth Games and numerous world championships, Australia has proven we know how to set the stage and deliver world-class sporting events on a global scale.

New International Olympic Committee (IOC) hosting guidelines mean prospective Games hosts can reduce costs and use existing infrastructure.

A Queensland Olympics would deliver jobs, accelerate infrastructure development, and provide a boost to a tourism, trade and the economy, which have been hit hard by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

If Queensland’s bid is successful, the 10-year lead-in to the 2032 Games would provide a great platform to engaging a generation of Australian kids in sport and help boost participation so more can enjoy the health benefits of an active lifestyle.

Federal Labor looks forward to continuing to work with the Queensland State Government, Council of Mayors South East Queensland, Australian Olympic Committee, Paralympics Australia, Federal Government, and other key stakeholders towards a successful bid and the benefits to be realised for sport, tourism, infrastructure, trade and the economy.

Rural health group providing expert advice on bush vaccine rollout

Rural and Indigenous health experts are meeting regularly to ensure rural communities continue to be central to the phased rollout of Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine.

The Remote Vaccine Working Group will provide advice to the Federal Government and identify issues as the rollout continues towards Phase 1B and beyond.

Federal Regional Health Minister, Mark Coulton said the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines to every corner of the country was complex and that was why the Federal Government had a plan and was listening to expert advice from rural health stakeholders.

“COVID-19 case numbers in rural and remote areas have been low, but the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine into regional, rural and remote communities is a vital part of the Government’s vaccine strategy to ensure everyone in Australia is protected,” Minister Coulton said.

“The TGA has found the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines to be safe, they are free, and you’ll be able to receive your vaccination near where you live.”

The vaccine demonstrates it will stop people becoming very sick – keeping them off ventilators and out of hospital.

Minister Coulton said the Working Group – made up of the Commonwealth Department of Health, the National Indigenous Australians Agency and state and territory agencies – draws on expertise from health representatives. Many of the health experts have also participated in Rural and Remote Health Roundtable chaired by the Minister since the start of the pandemic.

“The leadership and expertise of these professionals provide important voices to the Working Group to ensure the rollout is done in genuine partnership and enables all rural Australians to be vaccinated close to where they live.”

Minister Coulton said the rural health workforce and representative bodies had been integral in managing the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We commend the efforts of our doctors, nurses, midwives, pharmacists and allied health workers in rural and remote areas,” Minister Coulton said.

“We genuinely appreciate the ongoing leadership of the rural health sector, and we are in this enviable position because of the care and advice this sector has provided us over the past year.”

The Australian Government is working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Services, general practices, state and territory governments, Primary Health Networks, GP-led respiratory clinics and community pharmacies to ensure that Australians living in regional, rural and remote locations have access to a COVID-19 vaccination if they so choose.

Newcastle projects identified as nationally significant on Infrastructure Priority list

A project to allow direct flights between Newcastle and countries including the United States, China, Singapore, Russia, Japan and South Africa, as well as the transformation of Broadmeadow into a truly international sporting, residential and entertainment precinct, have been acknowledged as projects of national significance by the Federal Government’s infrastructure advisor.

Infrastructure Australia, the independent national authority on projects of national significance, has announced the Broadmeadow Precinct Regeneration and Newcastle Airport Capacity Expansion projects on its annual Infrastructure Priority List following City of Newcastle’s multi-year advocacy.

City of Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the Infrastructure Priority List is the authoritative reference for government and private investment and provides an indisputable statement of the immense potential the projects can deliver for Newcastle, NSW and Australia.

“Infrastructure, along with a skilled local population, is a critical catalyst for enabling economic opportunities for the city,” the Lord Mayor said.

“With today’s announcement, Newcastle’s status as one of Australia’s most important cities is confirmed. No other local government area dominates the IA priority list like Newcastle.

“Already the Port of Newcastle is on the list as the location of a deep water container port, as well as the John Hunter Health and Innovation Precinct, and the extension of the M1 to Raymond Terrace.

“Both the Newcastle Airport Precinct and Hunter Park have already been recognised as Catalyst Areas in the Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan and City of Newcastle’s new Economic Development Strategy.

“The independent advisor has now confirmed the importance of these infrastructure projects on a national scale.

“I invite both the State and Federal Governments to be investment partners in these initiatives in their upcoming budget announcements. The value of these projects to the local, regional and national economy is significant, and worth many billions of dollars.”

Newcastle Airport has been designated by the NSW Government as a Special Activation Precinct in recognition of its potential to stimulate economic activity and jobs.

Newcastle Airport CEO, Dr Peter Cock said the inclusion was the strongest possible affirmation that upgrading the airport to Code E status was a game changer for the region, the aviation industry, and more broadly for the nation.

“The inclusion on IA’s priority list, further demonstrates that this project is one of national significance with huge potential,” he said.

“It strongly reinforces the link between upgrading the Airport to international status and the global defence and aerospace precinct it sits in. The City of Newcastle’s advocacy has been a game changer for the Airport.”

The Broadmeadow Precinct regeneration is a once in a generation opportunity to transform a well-used and loved, but tired space into a contemporary community and mixed used precinct located at the heart of the Newcastle community and just five kilometres from the Newcastle CBD. The 63-hectare precinct has a variety of sporting facilities, as well as commercial uses.

The proposed regeneration offers the potential for international sports facilities, multi-purpose entertainment venues, green spaces for local amenity, residential and mixed-use development, and will generate up to 8,000 jobs; 1,000 of them ongoing.

The City of Newcastle is collaborating with Newcastle Airport, Venues NSW and HCCDC to support Stage 2 submissions to Infrastructure Australia.

$20 MILLION STIMULUS FOR NSW SHOWGROUNDS

The NSW Government has allocated a further $20 million for showground upgrades across the State to improve community infrastructure, support jobs and stimulate local economies in response to the pandemic.

Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey said this further funding injection brings the total to $55 million worth of investment in showgrounds as part of the COVID-19 stimulus program.

“This investment will improve the safety and quality of showground infrastructure while stimulating local economies by providing work for a host of local tradies and materials suppliers,” Mrs Pavey said.

“Showgrounds are incredibly valuable community infrastructure, whether it’s for events and shows or use as emergency centres during crisis events. This investment in Crown land ensures showgrounds can continue to serve communities throughout the State for many years to come, building a stronger and safer regional NSW.”

To date, improvement work has included the rebuilding of grandstands and pavilions, upgrades of kitchen and amenities blocks, lighting and electrical systems, water and sewerage networks and roads and fencing.

Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes said the further funding will boost jobs and contribute to local communities adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The NSW Government previously provided $35 million across the State to support 623 upgrade projects at 187 showgrounds, which has so far supported over 1,490 jobs, providing work for tradespeople, suppliers and fabricators”, Mr Stokes said.

“Now with the allocation of this further $20 million we will see another 172 upgrade projects at 73 showgrounds to support more improvements and jobs.

“Showgrounds are multi-use facilities at the heart of our communities and this continued funding comes at a critical time when COVID-19 has been disrupting annual shows and other activities that showgrounds rely on for their income.”

NEW POLICE RECRUITS HIT THE STREETS OF NSW

The NSW Police Force has welcomed 194 new police officers in the first graduation ceremony of 2021.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott joined NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller APM at an attestation ceremony at the NSW Police Academy in Goulburn today.

Mr Elliott congratulated the incoming officers and welcomed the return to a full ceremony after last year’s events were disrupted by COVID-19 restrictions.

“Over the course of last year, we have seen first-hand the crucial role our police officers play in protecting the community and we owe them a debt of gratitude for their efforts,” Mr Elliott said.

“I am pleased to personally welcome the latest recruits in Goulburn and offer my assurance that they have the full support of the NSW Government as they commence their law enforcement careers today. Their commitment and dedication to serve and protect the community will not go unnoticed.”

“These officers will join a NSW Police Force that has been strengthened by investment from the NSW Government, including the delivery of 1500 additional officers over four years and the commitment to a $60 million upgrade to Goulburn Police Academy.”

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller APM said the latest intake of probationary constables will hit the ground running.

“I welcome Class 345, and their families and friends who have been able to join us here today,” Commissioner Fuller said.

“I know from experience that this is a very significant moment in every officer’s career. As our newest police officers start at their new commands on Monday, they can be assured that this is the start of a memorable and rewarding career in law enforcement.”

Class 345 includes 139 men and 55 women. Some recruits entered the NSW Police Academy straight from school or university, while others left established professional careers and trades such as teachers, ambulance officers and a jockey.

MENTAL HEALTH AND SUICIDE PREVENTION INQUIRY CALLING FOR INPUT

A select committee on mental health and suicide prevention has been established to consider a range of strategic reviews of the current mental health system, and whether the recommendations are fit for purpose to address the fallout from bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Chair of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide PreventionDr Fiona Martin MP said, “While the bushfires were catastrophic, it was the emergence of COVID-19 that has changed everything.”

“Over the last year, COVID-19 has had a significant effect on the mental health of many Australians through increased isolation, job loss and financial stress. In addition, there has been a reduction in access to face-to-face mental health services, with many changing to telephone support models, while crisis organisations and suicide prevention services experience higher demand. However, it has also seen innovation prioritised and communities rally to support one another.”

The Committee will begin the inquiry by reviewing the findings of the Productivity Commission Inquiry Report into Mental Health, the Report of the National Suicide Prevention Officer, the Victorian Royal Commission and the National Mental Health Workforce Strategy. It will then turn its attention to the experiences and successes of mental health and suicide prevention stakeholders, from grassroots services through to international initiatives.

The Committee is accepting written submissions addressing one or more of the terms of reference and invites individuals and organisations to share their views with the Committee. The closing date for submissions is 24 March 2021. A guide to making a submission can be found on the website.

The Committee will also hold hearings as part of this inquiry so that it can hear from people who have relevant experience or expertise. The dates and locations for the Committee’s hearings will be published on the inquiry website.

The Committee is unable to intervene or provide advice in relation to individual circumstances. If you are in immediate danger, please contact 000. If you or someone you know needs help, please contact one of the services below:

Lifeline Australia 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back 1300 659 467
Kids Help Line 1800 551 800
BeyondBlue 1300 224 636
eheadspace 1800 650 890