Budget delivers strong investment in TAFE

TAFE NSW will benefit from a more than $2 billion investment in the 2021-2022 State Budget to bolster skills training and deliver a strong workforce.

There are currently around 102,000 apprentices and trainees in training in NSW, a 19.8 per cent increase from 2020.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the pandemic has demonstrated now more than ever the need for a flexible workforce.

“This investment in TAFE will help equip people with the skills they will need now and into the future,” Mr Perrottet said.

“The recently released NSW Productivity Commission White Paper highlighted the need to ensure our workforce has the skills needed to adapt to the challenges and opportunities that will emerge in a post-pandemic world.

“Today’s announcement underscores our ongoing commitment to creating jobs and cementing NSW as the best to place to live, work and raise a family.”

To help meet the booming demand, the investment will include nearly $6 million for 16 undercover training facilities for trades across the State including in Broken Hill, Kingscliff, Moruya and Western Sydney and $19 million invested in information and communication technology and other assets at campuses across the State.

Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education Geoff Lee said students are at the centre of the NSW Government’s more than $2 billion investment, and would benefit from continued subsidised courses, improved training facilities and an ever-expanding training footprint.

There will also be $11.4 million to continue or complete construction of Connected Learning Centres in Bateman’s Bay, Cobar, Jindabyne, Hay, Tomaree, Nambucca Heads and Byron Bay.

“TAFE is an economic engine room for the State’s skills-led recovery, training nearly 80 per cent of all NSW apprentices and hundreds and thousands of students in a broad range of courses,” Mr Lee said.

“The NSW Government’s investment in TAFE is producing highly skilled workers that will help deliver the record pipeline of infrastructure projects across the state and futureproof the workforce.”

“A strong TAFE means a strong economy and the NSW Government is backing it all the way.”

$196-million to reform NSW curriculum

The NSW Government has announced almost $200-million to supercharge a major overhaul of the NSW curriculum will be included in the 2021-22 Budget.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the $196.6 million package over four years represented the first major rewrite of the school curriculum in thirty years.

“Education is key to giving our children the brightest futures and this government is investing in education like never before, improving schools inside and outside the classroom, helping our young people reach their potential through a world class education,” Mr Perrottet said.

“Under this reform, the curriculum will be updated and streamlined by more than 200 syllabus experts to ensure it provides a strong foundation in literacy and mathematics, and clearer post-school pathways, linking learning to future employment or study.”

The new NSW Curriculum will be delivered on a new interactive digital portal to support teachers deliver the curriculum in the classroom, a first for NSW.

Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell said the new curriculum portal is a critical part of the most significant curriculum reform in a generation.

“The NSW Curriculum reform is about delivering the knowledge and skills students need to succeed, and it is all backed up by evidence,” Ms Mitchell said.

“The new portal will help teachers integrate syllabus materials and deliver lessons driven by the latest research and resources, meeting the needs of our students in a way we have never been able to do before.

“The new curriculum and the portal will save time for teachers, improve clarity and make the implementation of the syllabuses even easier. The investment will allow teachers to unlock the curriculum’s potential while arming them with the best resources, multiplying the positive impacts of the reform.”

The new platform is under development, with the goal of going live in Term 4, 2021 with the new K-2 English and Mathematics syllabuses.

Greater Sydney to get greener with 45,000 trees

More than 25,000 free trees will be given to households across Greater Sydney and another 20,000 trees planted by councils as part of a program to make our cities, towns and suburbs greener and more beautiful places to live.

Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes has launched a partnership with Bunnings at its Narellan store to give away 26,500 free trees to Greater Sydney households.

“Our Free Tree Giveaway with Bunnings is open to all 33 local government areas across Greater Sydney, giving 10,500 eligible households a tree to plant in their yard,” Mr Stokes said.

“Trees make a huge difference to our lives; they improve air quality, create habitats for our beautiful wildlife and are the best way to manage the urban heat island effect which we know is a particular problem in Western Sydney.”

Member for Camden Peter Sidgreaves said that the free tree giveaway was a great opportunity for the community to get planting while the time is right.

“This is a great partnership where people can simply order w tree online and go and pick it up at their local Bunnings,” Mr Sidgreaves said.

“The varieties available will change every month, so keep an eye out for native trees, flowering trees and even some fruit trees.”

Mr Stokes also announced a $9.9 million in grants as part of the Greening our City program for 20,000 trees to be planted in 23 council areas.

“Greening our City is a wonderful program to increase our tree canopy. It was first launched in 2018 and has since delivered more than $15 million to local councils for planting 66,000 trees,” he said.

“We’re already more than halfway to meeting the Premier’s Priority to plant one million trees by 2022 and every tree planted from each of these programs gets us one step closer.”

Applications for a free tree can be made online and the local Bunnings store will be in contact when the trees are ready to be collected and planted. A variety of seasonal trees will be available between June and October.

For a list of eligible suburbs and participating Bunnings Warehouse stores for the Free Tree Giveaway visit: www.dpie.nsw.gov.au/free-tree

For a list of successful Greening our City applicants visit: www.dpie.nsw.gov.au/greeningourcitygrants

$200m for global events in NSW and a world-class stage to transform Sydney

The NSW Government is giving the State’s visitor economy a $200 million boost to turbocharge recovery by securing global events for Sydney and regional NSW.

The new $200 million State Significant Event Fund – delivered over four years – will put NSW in pole position to secure major events that attract visitors to the State.

Meanwhile, this summer the Cahill Expressway will be temporarily transformed into a world-class stage.

Road traffic will make way for foot traffic on the Cahill Expressway from 31 December 2021 (for New Year’s Eve) to 6 January 2022 with markets, performances and big screens during the day, then headline acts and pop-up food and bar experiences into the night.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said both initiatives were part of the NSW Government’s plan to support the recovery and growth of the visitor and 24-hour economies, activate public spaces and showcase the State and Harbour City to the world.

“As we push through the pandemic, we are working to make sure Sydney and NSW continue to shine, businesses stay in business, and people return to our amazing Harbour City to support the rebounding economy,” Mr Perrottet said.

“An innovative activation on the Cahill Expressway is one of the recommendations from businesses that we heard during the CBD Summits, and it will attract people into the city, during the key summer trading period.”

Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said the creation of the State Significant Event Fund would extend the opportunities for NSW in terms of visitation and global profile.

“Getting more visitors to Sydney and regional NSW, giving them high quality experiences and offering a smorgasbord of events to include in their itinerary will propel us toward our goal of being the premier visitor economy and events capital of the Asia Pacific by 2030,” Mr Ayres said.

“This is about letting the world know that we are open, our State is thriving, and there is nowhere better to visit right now.

“We know visitors are looking for unforgettable experiences so we want to secure blockbuster international concerts for Sydney and regional NSW venues, exhibitions direct form the world’s top galleries, high profile international sporting code events and events celebrating fashion and design, popular culture, and creativity and innovation.”

The Cahill Expressway will be closed to traffic from Friday 31 December 2021 to Thursday 6 January 2022, with public transport and alternate routes available for visitors and residents.

For more information about what’s on in Sydney and NSW, go to www.sydney.com and www.visitnsw.com.

192 new recruits welcomed to the police force

The NSW Police Force has welcomed 192 police recruits after they were sworn in as probationary constables at a ceremony in Goulburn today.

The new probationary constables have been assigned to police area commands and police districts across the state.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott congratulated the new recruits who bring a fresh boost to the Force.

“Congratulations to the men and women of class 347, who graduate today and will join the NSW Police Force at its strongest and most efficient,” Mr Elliott said.

“After eight months of world-class training, the attesting officers will join their stations next Monday and invigorate the policing capabilities of this state.”

The NSW Government has committed to invest $583 million to introduce 1500 extra police over four years to enhance community safety across NSW and is investing $60 million over four years to upgrade the Goulburn Police Academy.

Police Commissioner Mick Fuller APM welcomed the latest intake of probationary constables.

“Today is a significant day for each of the attesting recruits. Policing is a job like no other and as the probationary constables of Class 347 start their duties next week, I congratulate them on the hard work and diligence which allows them to attest today.” Commissioner Fuller said.

“They have sworn their oath of office and will now embark on a rewarding career in policing.”

Class 347 includes 137 men and 55 women. Twenty-one recruits were born overseas in countries including Jamaica, the Philippines and China. Many are from non-English speaking backgrounds, with seven recruits fluent in a second language including Arabic, Chinese and German.

Seven recruits are Indigenous with 1 recruit coming through the Indigenous Police Recruitment Our Way Delivery (IPROWD) program.

Energy deals help seniors stay warm this winter

The weather is getting cooler but NSW Seniors Card deals are warming up with savings available on energy costs this winter.

Minister for Seniors Natalie Ward said an exclusive EnergyAustralia deal will help ensure seniors have more money left over for doing the things they love.

“NSW Seniors Card and NSW Senior Savers Card members who sign up for EnergyAustralia’s ‘Total Plan’, receive 27 per cent off electricity, 25 per cent off gas and up to a $100 energy credit,” Mrs Ward said.

“Saving on basic living costs leaves more in the wallet for things that stave off social isolation, such as catching the train to see friends, groceries for a family dinner or buying a four-legged companion.”

Member for Oatley Mark Coure said this deal is a way to thank our seniors for their invaluable contributions to society.

“People aged over 60 are respected members of our communities and deals like this are a thank you for their lifelong contribution,” Mr Coure said.
Mark Brownfield, EnergyAustralia Residential Executive, said seniors can also call for a free ‘Energy Health Check’.
“We’ll review your current energy bills to ensure you’re getting a fair price and see if you’ll be better off with our exclusive offer,” Mr Brownfield said.

“We understand getting value for money matters, so we’re pleased to give seniors this great discount and up-front credit on their gas and electricity.”

EnergyAustralia is among more than 7,500 NSW businesses offering deals for seniors. Other offers include half-price RSPCA senior pet adoptions and 50 per cent off metro to regional NSW TrainLink fares and five per cent off IGA gift cards.

For NSW Senior’s Card discounts plus terms and conditions, visit: www.seniorscard.nsw.gov.au/discounts/discount-directory

NSW Joint Counter Terrorism Team arrests Sydney man

A Sydney man who allegedly supports the Islamic State terrorist organisation has been arrested after a NSW Joint Counter Terrorism Team (JCTT) investigation.

Police executed search warrants in Chester Hill and Sefton, NSW, yesterday (Friday, 18 June 2021) and arrested a 24-year-old Chester Hill man.

The man has been charged with membership of a terrorist organisation, namely Islamic State, and is expected to face Parramatta Local Court today (19 June 2021).

Yesterday’s arrest follows a seven-month investigation by the NSW JCTT into the man, whom police will allege had pledged allegiance to Islamic State.

Police will further allege the man’s rhetoric online was escalating, that he had collected a large amount of extremist material and he was in possession of several improvised explosive recipes.

Australian Federal Police Commander Counter Terrorism Investigations Stephen Dametto said the priority of the NSW JCTT investigators was to prevent any harm to the community.

“The actions of this man do not represent the Islamic faith. His actions are criminal and they represent hatred and terror,” Commander Dametto said.

“We will allege in court that this man was a member of ISIS and it shows there are still those in the community that seek to do us harm. The items found show that this individual posed a significant risk to the Australian community and we will act early to ensure safety of the Australian people”.

“This investigation shows that the influence of IS remains an enduring threat and it maintains the ability to inspire and radicalise individuals in Australia”

“The actions taken yesterday highlight the great partnership and commitment of the NSW Police, the AFP, NSW Crime Commission and ASIO in working together to keep the NSW and Australian community safe.”

NSWPF Counter Terrorism and Special Tactics Commander, Acting Assistant Commissioner Michael McLean, commended the dedication of NSW JCTT investigators to the safety of the people of NSW.

“Yesterday’s arrest is a great example of the strength of the partnerships and collaboration in Australia’s counter terrorism framework,” Acting Assistant Commissioner McLean said.

“The NSW JCTT works cooperatively and diligently to act in response to those who choose to follow an extremist ideology that is not compatible with the diverse, inclusive values of the community.

“Our greatest asset in combating terrorism is our community. You are our eyes and ears and we need you to continue to work with us to help us to keep everyone safe.”

The man has been charged with membership of a terrorist organisation, 102.3(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth), punishable by imprisonment for 10 years.

The NSW JCTT is comprised of members from the Australian Federal Police, NSW Police Force, Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the NSW Crime Commission.

Anyone with information about extremist activity or possible threats to the community should come forward, no matter how small or insignificant you may think the information may be. The National Security Hotline is 1800 123 400.

There is no ongoing threat to the community relating to this investigation.

Drugs and $240,000 cash seized; man charged with 80 offences – Hunter Region Enforcement Squad

A man has been charged with 80 offences as part of an investigation into the supply of prohibited drugs in the state’s Hunter region.

In February 2021, officers from Hunter Region Enforcement Squad established Strike Force Hanging to investigate the supply of methylamphetamine throughout the Newcastle and Port Stephens regions.

As part of investigations, a search warrant was executed at a house on Honeysuckle Drive, Newcastle, on Tuesday 13 April 2021.

Police seized more than $240,000 cash that was found in a handbag and book safe, and 14grams of methylamphetamine hidden in a microwave.

A 34-year-old woman who was home at the time of the search was arrested and charged with supply prohibited drug and two counts of deal with proceeds of crime. She remains before the courts.

Following inquiries, a 36-year-old man was arrested at Maitland Police Station yesterday (Friday 18 June 2021).

He was charged with 80 offences including supply prohibited drug, supply prohibited drugs on an ongoing basis, possess prohibited drug and deal with property proceeds of crime.

The Newcastle man was refused bail and appeared before Maitland Local Court yesterday, where he was formally refused bail to reappear before the same court on Thursday 24 June 2021.

Hunter Homeless Connect benefits from Lord Mayor’s prayer breakfast support

A local organisation that provides vital support to people who are experiencing homelessness or doing it tough is the beneficiary of the 2021 Annual Lord Mayor Prayer Breakfast.

Hunter Homeless received a cheque for $15,155 from Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes on Thursday after Newcastle’s church and businesses community united at the annual early-morning fundraiser at NEX Newcastle.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said she was thrilled to present the funds to such a worthy organisation that contributes immensely to improving the lives of people every day.

Hunter Homeless Connect does invaluable work connecting vulnerable people in our community with vital services and support.

“The funds raised will go towards the Community Services Directory and “Connecting the Hunter” program to allow Hunter Homeless Connect to continue to deliver on its mission during the pandemic and in the face of the current housing crisis.

The Annual Lord Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast brings together more than 400 like-minded people and organisations to celebrate shared values that benefit our community.

These values unite us and help all Newcastle residents, irrespective of their background.

By joining together in compassion, respect, tolerance, justice and equity we can achieve great things for our city.

“I thank Pastor Rick Prosser and Maria Thomas from Kingdomworks, and the many others who made this year’s event such a success.

Chair of the Hunter Homeless Connect Jenn O’Sullivan said the financial boost will allow the local organisation to maintain its highly valued welfare programs and will provide opportunities to expand.

“We are so grateful to receive such incredible support from the Newcastle community through the Lord Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast.

“Hunter Homeless Connect provides a dignified and practical way for people experiencing homelessness, to identify inclusive and welcoming environments, have access to services and connection to members of the community without judgment.

From humble beginnings in 2009, the annual Hunter Homeless Connect Day has gone from strength to strength, providing direct, on-the-ground resources and support to those doing it tough such as food, clothing, bedding, phone cards, free haircuts and health services and much more.

“The Homeless Connect Directory helps people find community and government services, accommodation providers, food banks, emergency relief and financial assistance.

“Without the support of this event and the Newcastle community, Hunter Homeless Connect would not be able to be there for those most vulnerable in our community.

The Annual Lord Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast is a gathering of churches, charities, businesses and community leaders. Since the event began in 2009, more than $100,000 has been raised for local charities.

Vice Regal visit to mark completion of Newcastle City Hall restoration

Australia’s Head of State will next week join City of Newcastle officials, key project stakeholders and esteemed guests in marking the completion of the exterior restoration works to Newcastle City Hall.

His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (RETD), Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, and Her Excellency Mrs Linda Hurley will travel to Newcastle on Friday morning for a civic ceremony, which will include a commemorative plaque unveiling and performances by the Australian Army Band Newcastle, the Marching Koalas youth marching band and the University of Newcastle Choir.


City of Newcastle has invested $20 million in the project, completed in stages under the Newcastle City Hall Conservation Management Plan adopted by Council in 2008, including works to the clock tower and the building’s iconic sandstone façade to preserve this important piece of history for many more years to come.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said it would be an historic moment to welcome Their Excellencies to Newcastle to formally recognise the project’s completion.

“Originally opened in 1929, Newcastle City Hall is a rich part of our City’s history and is one of our most unique and prestigious buildings, setting the scene for many special events such as weddings and school formals, as well as holding the former Council chambers where historic decisions have been made,” Cr Nelmes said.

“In 1977, under the leadership of the City’s first female Lord Mayor Joy Cummings, Newcastle City Hall became the first civic building in Australia to fly the Aboriginal flag, and last month the Torres Strait Islander flag was raised atop City Hall for the first time alongside the Australian, Aboriginal, United Nations, New South Wales, and City of Newcastle flags.

“It is wonderful to join with the Governor-General and Mrs Hurley to celebrate the next milestone in Newcastle City Hall’s history.”

His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley said he was delighted to accept the Lord Mayor’s invitation to officially reopen City Hall.

“It is a pleasure to return to Newcastle after a warm reception in 2018, when myself, as the then Governor of New South Wales, and Linda visited Newcastle City Hall for the Australian Croquet Championships and Inter State Shield,” His Excellency said.

“Congratulations to the City of Newcastle and all organisations involved in the successful refurbishment of this state heritage-listed building, in which the form, detail and appearance of its iconic façade have importantly been retained.”

City of Newcastle worked closely with the NSW Government Architect’s Office and specialist heritage engineers and stonemasons to investigate the façade’s condition and explore repair options.

The project was completed in three stages following a successful early trial restoration to the eastern façade in 2009-2010, which provided critical information for the overall restoration about the original construction methods and techniques.

The ‘yellowblock’ sandstone used in the original construction of City Hall is understood to have originated from a quarry in Sydney’s North Bondi, now closed.

There have been several repairs to the façade over the years, including during the 1980s and structural strengthening of the clock tower following the devastating 1989 Newcastle earthquake, as well as interior refurbishments.

Fast Facts

  • Newcastle City Hall was opened in 1929 and has undergone several interior and exterior refurbishments to preserve its rich history.
  • City of Newcastle has invested $20 million in the project, which was completed in three stages following a trial area restoration from 2009-2010:
    • Stage 1: Clock Tower construction – 2014 to 2016
    • Stage 2: South and East façades construction, including the main balcony, porte cochere and vehicle ramps – 2016 to 2019
    • Stage 3: North and West façades construction – 2019 to 2021. ​
  • The overall scope of works across all stages includes:
    • Replacement of deteriorated stones that could not be retained
    • Repair of original stones
    • Repair of original timber doors
    • Replacement of exterior lighting
    • Reconstruction of vehicle ramps
    • Structural repairs to reinforced concrete floor and roof slabs
    • Replacement of flagpoles, including installation of two additional poles
    • Repairs to the clock mechanism and clock faces
    • Repairs to the copper pyramid and urn atop the tower.
  • Newcastle City Hall, along with the Civic Theatre, was listed on the State Heritage Register in September 2012.