ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE IN GUAM FOR EXERCISE COPE NORTH 22

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) will deploy aircraft and personnel to Guam and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, to conduct Exercise Cope North 22 with the United States Air Force (USAF) and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (Koku-Jieitai) from 2 to 18 February, 2022.

The trilateral exercise is focused on increased interoperability of the RAAF, USAF and Koku-Jieitai, through combined tactics, techniques and procedures for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations and Large Force Employment.

The RAAF Task Unit Commander, Group Captain Andrew McHugh, said Cope North 22 will be an excellent opportunity to further enhance interoperability between the tri-lateral forces.

“We are very pleased to be heading back to Guam for Cope North 22 which will provide invaluable experience for our personnel and enhances the effectiveness of the RAAF,” Group Captain McHugh said.

“Through Cope North 22, we are focused on deepening relationships and strengthening engagement with the USAF’s Pacific Air Force and the Koku-Jieitai, to contribute to our shared vision of an open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific.”

The RAAF will deploy the E-7A Wedgetail, C-27J Spartan, KC-30A multi role tanker transport and F-35A Lightning II, alongside a contingency response squadron focused on HADR training.

“Cope North 22 will enhance the tri-lateral forces’ capability for HADR in the Indo-Pacific, ensuring a highly effective and professional response, when needed,” Group Captain McHugh said.

“We are committed to developing an intelligent and skilled workforce with exercises such as Cope North providing the opportunity to operate as a combined force with the United States and the Japan, and ensure our people can deliver air power when required.”

Exercises remain critical to preparedness of the Australian Defence Force. RAAF personnel deploying for Exercise Cope North 22 have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 prior to their departure and will comply with all directions as required.

AUSTRALIA’S SUPPORT TO TONGA

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) is supporting the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)-led effort to support the Government of Tonga following the eruption of Tonga’s Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai underwater volcano on 15 January.

The ADF contribution, named Operation TONGA ASSIST 22, includes air reconnaissance using P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, airlift support using C-17A Globemaster III and C-130J Hercules transport aircraft, as well as the deployment of HMAS Adelaide with embarked supplies, helicopters and Army engineer contingent.

HMAS Adelaide docked today, 26 January 2022, in Nuku’alofa harbour to commence delivery of humanitarian assistance to Tonga, in a contactless and COVID-safe manner.

HMAS Adelaide’s Commanding Officer, and commander of the tri-service contingent on board, Captain Stuart Watters spoke about the effort to assist Tonga which can be viewed at the vision link below.

Man charged as investigations into armed robbery of Hunter hotel continue – Robbery and Serious Crime Squad

Robbery and Serious Crime Squad detectives have charged a man as part of ongoing investigations into the armed robbery of a hotel in the state’s Hunter region.

About 12.20am yesterday (Tuesday 25 January 2022), two masked men – one armed with a handgun and the other with a meat clever – entered a licensed premise on Main Road at Cardiff and threatened two employees, a man and woman aged 52 and 25, before taking a cash register and fleeing.

Police were told the duo left the location in a blue coloured Ford Falcon sedan, last seen heading east on Main Street.

Although shaken, the employees were not injured and contacted police.

Initial inquiries were conducted by officers attached to Lake Macquarie Police District, before the matter was referred to detectives from the State Crime Command’s Robbery and Serious Crime Squad under Strike Force Hawksview.

As part on ongoing investigations, strike force detectives – assisted by local police attached to Newcastle and Lake Macquarie Police Districts – executed three search warrants in Wallsend, Maryland and a New Lambton hotel room from 9pm last night (Tuesday 25 January 2022).

During subsequent searches, investigators seized a blue Ford Falcon, a motorcycle, ammunition, clothing, a firearm part, a small quantity of methylamphetamine, and other items relevant to the investigation.

All items seized will undergo forensic examination.

Following extensive inquiries, a 32-year-old man was arrested at the Wallsend address and taken to Newcastle Police Station.

He was charged with five offences, including robbery while armed with dangerous weapon, possess prohibited drug, acquire firearm part without authority to do so, drive motor vehicle during disqualification period, and possess or use a prohibited weapon without permit.

Police will allege in court that the man was one of two responsible for the armed robbery of the hotel in Cardiff.

He was refused bail and appeared at Newcastle Local Court earlier today (Wednesday 26 January 2022), where he was formally refused bail to appear at Toronto Local Court on Tuesday 1 February 2022.

Further arrests under Strike Force Hawksview are expected.

Labor’s Plan to Help Our Schoolkids Bounce Back

A Labor Government will deliver $440 million to schools for better ventilation, building upgrades, and mental health support, as part of a new plan to help Australian kids bounce back after COVID.

Labor’s plan including the Schools Upgrade Fund and Student Wellbeing Boost will make sure our schools are better prepared, not just for this term but for the future.

The Morrison-Joyce Government doesn’t have a plan for next week, let alone next year. Labor won’t make that mistake.

Schools will be able to access grants from a Schools Upgrade Fund to improve air quality with measures such as better ventilation, building more outdoor classrooms, replacing boarded-up windows and doors and buying air purifiers. Funding will be available for other much needed school upgrades as well.

Parents are worried sick about sending their kids back to school. Scott Morrison’s delays getting a COVID vaccine for young people means many students will be more exposed returning to class.

Because COVID is an airborne disease, experts say better ventilation and cleaner air will reduce transmission and prevent outbreaks. Labor’s plan for ventilation upgrades will help achieve that, protecting our kids, and school staff.

Funding will also be available for school upgrades including new and refurbished school buildings and trades training centres. Making sure our schoolkids have access to terrific facilities will help get their education back on track after all the COVID disruptions. We know it’s been hard for P&Cs to fundraise over the last two years, with the usual sausage sizzles, cakes stalls and fetes cancelled due to the pandemic.

Labor will also provide schools with extra funding to get children’s mental health and wellbeing back on track with a Student Wellbeing Boost. This will mean more school counsellors and psychologists, and extra funding for camps, excursions, as well as sporting and social activities that improve kids’ wellbeing. Labor will also have the education department conduct a rapid review of the impact of COVID on students with disability, so they get the support they need.

Every Australian school will benefit. Labor will work with state and territory governments and school systems to distribute the funding based on need. Schools will get a big say in how to use the extra money to best help their kids. Labor’s plan will also fund a free, expert developed, voluntary mental health check, that schools could choose to use to help quickly identify students who may need extra support.

The past two years have been hard for all Australians. But our kids have suffered a unique loss.

They’ve been robbed of some of the simple joys of growing up – school camps, team sports, playground friendships, and sleepovers.

Remote learning, exam chaos, and now the delays in supplying paediatric vaccines, have turned what should be some of the best years of their lives into a bit of a nightmare.

Many are struggling with their mental wellbeing.

Researchers at the Australian National University found more than 60 per cent of parents said their children’s mental health and wellbeing had gone downhill during COVID. A 2021 Mission Australia Youth Survey found more than 60 per cent of young people said their education had been negatively impacted by COVID.

Labor doesn’t want any Australian child held back because of the pandemic.

When you’re struggling with stress or anxiety, you’re missing out on learning.

Labor’s plan for extra mental health support will help lighten the load for schoolkids and their parents, and get kids’ wellbeing, learning, and development back on track.

We’ve heard nothing from Scott Morrison about a plan to keep our kids COVID-safe at school.

I suppose that shouldn’t surprise us.

This Prime Minister never shows leadership. Every problem is someone else’s fault.

But our kids are paying the price.

Parents know what a big toll COVID is taking on our kids. Labor’s plan is exactly what they need to help them bounce back, at school, and in life.

Today’s announcement builds on Labor’s other plans for education including 20,000 extra university places, 465,000 free TAFE places, and making early learning cheaper for working families.

Dylan Alcott OAM Athlete, paralympian, philanthropist, media commentator and advocate AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR 2022

As a teenager, Dylan Alcott hated being in a wheelchair because he didn’t see anyone like him in mainstream media. Then sport changed everything.

A gold medal at the Paralympic Games in wheelchair basketball preceded three more in Paralympic competition after a cross-code switch to tennis. Now, with 23 quad wheelchair Grand Slam titles and a Newcombe Medal, Dylan Alcott recently became the first male in history, in any form of tennis, to win the Golden Slam.

Amid his training and competition load as a world-class athlete, Dylan notes that his most profound impact has come from beyond the field of play. He founded the Dylan Alcott Foundation to provide scholarships and grant funding to marginalised Australians with a disability.

He also authored his best-selling autobiography, Able, and co-founded Get Skilled Access. Further, Dylan’s AbilityFest is Australia’s first and only inclusive, fully accessible music festival. In realising his childhood dream, Dylan holds several high-profile media roles spanning TV, radio and podcasting.

Emergency services recognised in Australia Day Honours

Twenty emergency services personnel have been acknowledged for their commitment and dedication to protecting the people of NSW, as part of today’s 2022 Australia Day Honours awards.

The Australian Fire Service Medal was awarded to eight members of the NSW Rural Fire Service and three Fire and Rescue NSW firefighters.

The Emergency Services Medal was awarded to nine people from NSW State Emergency Service, NSW Volunteer Rescue Association, Surf Life Saving NSW and Marine Rescue NSW.

Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience Steph Cooke congratulated the recipients for inspiring the next generation of emergency service workers and for their exemplary service.

“Over the past year our emergency services personnel have again faced challenging times and have worked hard to protect communities right across our State during incredibly trying conditions,” Ms Cooke said.

“Today is a wonderful opportunity to recognise those who have gone above and beyond, often putting their lives on the line to save others. They have responded to floods, fires, drownings, the COVID-19 response and more recently, the threat of tsunami.

“On behalf of the people of NSW, I’d like to thank our emergency services personnel for their ongoing service, and reinforce the Government’s commitment to providing our frontline agencies with the resources they need to keep our communities safe.”

Australian Fire Service Medal:
•         David Ian Bosworth, NSW Rural Fire Service
•         Group Captain Donald (Stuart) Farleigh, NSW Rural Fire Service
•         Jane Hollier, NSW Rural Fire Service
•         Group Captain Jennifer Joy Lawther, NSW Rural Fire Service
•         Captain Brian Edwin McKenzie, NSW Rural Fire Service
•         Group Captain Jonathon Stuart McKenzie, NSW Rural Fire Service
•         Group Captain Christopher Ronald Nolan, NSW Rural Fire Service
•         Group Captain Christopher Helmut Petrikas, NSW Rural Fire Service
•         Superintendent Peter Jacobs, Fire and Rescue NSW
•         Senior Firefighter Tara Lal, Fire and Rescue NSW
•         Captain David O’Donnell, Fire and Rescue NSW

Emergency Services Medal:
•         Sonya Marks, NSW State Emergency Service
•         Wayne Rizzi, NSW State Emergency Service
•         Mark Spencer, NSW Volunteer Rescue Association
•         John Keough, Surf Life Saving NSW
•         Garry Meredith, Surf Life Saving NSW
•         Anthony Rettke, Surf Life Saving NSW
•         Richard Lissenden, Surf Life Saving NSW
•         Stewart Bailey, Surf Life Saving NSW
•         William Blakeman, Marine Rescue NSW

Corrections staff honoured on Australia Day

The exceptional service of five Corrective Services NSW officers at Parramatta, Windsor, Cessnock, Sydney and Goulburn has been acknowledged in this year’s Australia Day Honours List.

Minister for Corrections Geoff Lee congratulated officers Sara Wilcher, John Harrison, Derek Brindle, Cathy Petrovski and Evan Dougall who were awarded the Australian Corrections Medal for their distinguished service and dedication to corrections.

“These officers have shown outstanding leadership and professionalism ensuring our correctional facilities are safe, efficient and committed to improving outcomes for offenders,” Mr Lee said.

“They should be very proud recipients of this prestigious honour; I thank them for their service to NSW and hope their dedication continues to encourage and inspire their colleagues.”

Corrective Services NSW Commissioner Kevin Corcoran PSM said the five officers contribute to corrections in a variety of ways, from providing security and training to helping rehabilitate offenders in custody and the community.

“Sara, John, Derek, Cathy and Evan demonstrate the very best qualities in corrections staff – they’re motivated, inspiring and committed to improving both our workplaces and the rehabilitation prospects for offenders,” Mr Corcoran said.

“Congratulations on this achievement; you have all earned this prestigious medal and we’re very proud to have you working for us.”

Sara Wilcher AMC, who is a highly experienced Unit Leader at the Parramatta Community Corrections office said she is thankful for the opportunities she has had in her career.

“To be nominated for the Australian Corrections Medal is just mind blowing. I am privileged to work in a Department filled with talented, dedicated and generous people,” Ms Wilcher said.

John Harrison, who is the General Manager of the Security Operations Group, said he was humbled by the accolade and credits his success to the support of his family and colleagues.

“I’m honoured to join past recipients, most of whom have been colleagues, all of whom have made important contributions to CSNSW,” John said.

The Australian Corrections Medal for distinguished service and leadership was introduced in 2018 and is awarded in the Australia Day and Queen’s Birthday Honours lists. The five recipients will be invested with their medals at NSW Government House at a later date.

Recipient pictures and biographies available to download here.

Congratulations to the NSW 2022 AOTY Winners

Two extraordinary NSW candidates have taken out top honours in the Australian of The Year Awards, with Dr Daniel Nour, founder of Street Side Medics named the 2022 Young Australian of the Year and Shanna Whan, founder of Sober in the Country named 2022 Australia’s Local Hero at a ceremony in Canberra.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet congratulated both NSW candidates, saying they had made the State of NSW immensely proud.

“These two remarkable NSW citizens have won the Awards due to their positive impact on society and making tangible differences to people’s lives, often tackling difficult issues to help others in need,” Mr Perrottet said.

“At the age of 26, Dr Nour’s mobile healthcare service has helped hundreds of vulnerable people, while Shanna has single-handedly created a life-changing campaign for rural Australia. They have demonstrated an outstanding spirit of service to our nation.

“The Australian of the Year Awards allow us to recognise and celebrate the achievements of remarkable Australians – making immense contributions to our society.

“I can’t think of better people to be bestowed the honour of Young Australian of the Year and Australian Local Hero. They embody the Australian spirit and despite life’s challenges, have led the way in founding these life-saving initiatives and improving the lives of others.”

Dr Nour identified a gap in healthcare for vulnerable people in NSW and as a result of his leadership, this not-for-profit GP-led mobile medical service for people experiencing homelessness has changed the lives of more than 300 patients. Its clinics treat many communicable and non-communicable illnesses and detect conditions that would otherwise go unnoticed.

Ms Whan, founder and CEO of Sober in the Country, is the Australian Local Hero. After almost losing her own life to alcohol addiction, Shanna established a one-woman grassroots campaign creating radical social impact and change around how people discuss and use alcohol in rural Australia. Shanna has dedicated her life since 2015 to saving lives, first as a volunteer to help others locally, and now as the founder of the national charity Sober in the Country.

“The resilience and determination of both Daniel and Shanna inspires us all and I wish them both all the best in the year ahead. I also extend my congratulations to all NSW finalists in this year’s awards for their efforts and contributions to making Australia a better place. Each of them has done our State proud,” Mr Perrottet said.

Multi-million dollar investment in emergency management centres

An additional $31 million is being invested by the NSW Government for the construction of three new co-located Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) and Fire Control Centres (FCC) at Moruya, Tumut and Hawkesbury.

Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience Steph Cooke said the RFS identified a number of existing FCCs as sub-standard and in need of an urgent upgrade, following recommendations in the NSW Bushfire Inquiry.

“The NSW Government is committed to ensuring our emergency services and local communities have the infrastructure and resources needed for future emergencies right across our State,” Ms Cooke said.

“We’re investing $15 million in a new hub at Moruya, and $8 million each in facilities at Tumut and Hawkesbury to ensure our emergency services have purpose-built infrastructure in place to respond to future major emergencies.

“As we have seen throughout the horrific 2019-20 bush fire season, recent floods and the COVID-19 pandemic, our emergency services personnel do a remarkable job responding to threats to the community’s safety and wellbeing.”

Moruya, Tumut and Hawkesbury were identified as the next priority projects by the RFS, after construction began on previously funded facilities at Armidale and Mudgee.

RFS Commissioner Rob Rogers welcomed the development of the three new facilities at Moruya, Tumut and Hawkesbury, which will drive efficiencies in the response to future emergencies.

“When a major disaster strikes, it is critical that all the relevant agencies can come together to coordinate their activities to protect and assist the community,” he said.

“Our existing Fire Control Centres at Moruya, Tumut and Hawkesbury are long past their use-by dates. The development of a new centre answers one of the vital priorities identified in the NSW Bushfire Inquiry.”

The NSW Government and RFS are in the process of finalising suitable locations for the Moruya and Hawkesbury facilities, and will update the community shortly. A location for the Tumut facility was announced in December 2021.

COVID-19 settings remain in place to maintain community safety

The NSW Government will extend current restrictions for another month as the State continues to take a measured response to managing COVID-19 with a focus on a safe return to school and restarting non-urgent elective surgery as soon as possible.

Current settings will continue from Thursday, 27 January 2022 until Sunday, 28 February 2022, including:

  • Hospitality venues, including pubs, clubs, restaurants and cafes, and nightclubs must follow the one person per two square metre rule indoors;
  • Masks are required in all indoor settings (except residences). Masks are strongly encouraged where you cannot maintain a safe distance from others;
  • QR code check-ins are compulsory at certain premises, including hospitality venues and retail shops;
  • Singing and dancing is not permitted in hospitality venues, entertainment facilities, nightclubs, indoor music festivals and indoor major recreation facilities (except for weddings, performers, instructors and students).

Premier Dominic Perrottet said rolling over these measures would continue to protect the community and our health system.

“We have always said we will respond to what is in front of us and tailor our approach as required and that is exactly what we are doing,” Mr Perrottet said.

“We are transitioning to living with COVID and we will need to continually update our approach to ensure we are keeping people safe and protecting our health system.

“It is vital people continue to come forward and get their booster shots to help keep themselves, their family and the community safe.”

As additional measures, people are encouraged to continue to work from home where possible and to reduce mingling when eating and drinking.

Minister for Health Brad Hazzard said there is plenty of availability and supply of boosters in the NSW Health vaccination clinics so those eligible for their booster shot should book as soon as possible.

“The gap between your second jab and your booster is now just three months, so don’t waste time – the sooner we all get our boosters the sooner we will overcome this Omicron wave,” Mr Hazzard said.

“The NSW community has put in an extraordinary effort to get the first two doses of the COVID vaccine, making us one of the most vaccinated populations worldwide. It’s now extremely important to back it in with your booster to lift your protection against the highly transmissible Omicron strain.”

People aged 18 years and older can receive their booster dose at three months after receiving their second dose of any of the COVID-19 vaccines. You can book your COVID-19 vaccine or your booster shot, via www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/vaccination/get-vaccinated.

More information is available at nsw.gov.au.