City backs diverse events calendar

A historic rugby Test, an eclectic music festival and a legendary bikers’ charity ride are among a range of the events to be staged in Newcastle over the next 12 months with $180,000 funding support from the City.

The Wallaroos rugby team, which will play Japan at No.2 Sportsground in the national women’s first standalone match on Saturday 13 July, was among 17 recipients officially congratulated today for gaining support under City of Newcastle’s 2019/20 Event Sponsorship Program (ESP).

ESPgroupinside.jpgAll successful ESP recipients at City Hall this morning 


Newcastle Pride Festival celebrates sexuality and gender diversity in Newcastle and the Hunter

“I want to congratulate all of our successful events,” Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said at this morning’s presentation at City Hall.

“The quality and variety of this year’s applications was remarkable. I’m always impressed by the many fantastic events showcasing our city, big and small, and both new and well established.

“Over the next 12 months, we will welcome a range of major events kicking off with a celebration of women’s sport when we host the Wallaroos and Japan at No.2, which will hopefully be the first of annual Wallaroos fixtures here.

“It will be followed by the Newcastle Music Festival and Newcastle Pride festivals in August, with funding for both building on the back of their previous successes.”

KingofConcreteinside.jpgAngus and Max Owens will ride in the King of Concrete event in December

ESPWallaroosinside.jpgWallaroos winger Mahalia Murphy accepting Rugby Australia’s cheque from Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes 

Wallaroos winger Mahalia Murphy, a former sevens rugby specialist who was selected for next months’ Test on Friday, was all smiles collecting a $20,000 cheque on behalf of her teammates.

“It’s a great thrill to be in Newcastle to receive the funding from the City to raise the profile of women’s rugby here,” Murphy said, “and an even bigger thrill knowing I’ll be coming back in three weeks’ time to play a Test.”

ESP support was also extended to major cultural and charitable events.

More than 350 performers will play 34 gigs next month at multiple venues across the city as part of the fourth, annual Newcastle Music Festival, which received $10,000.

ESPNewcastleBikersforKidsinside.jpgDarren Young and Stephen Meeks representing Newcastle Bikers for Kids, which is in its 40th year of service

The same figure will aid the 40th return of the Newcastle Bikers for Kids convoy, which sees toy-toting motorcyclists snake their way from Stockton to Wickham, in support of the Salvation Army’s Christmas Appeal on 1 December.

Other ESP recipients to benefit from the $180,000 in funding include:

  • Jets W-League side – Newcastle’s colourful tourism logo will be emblazoned across the team’s jerseys for prospective visitors to see on TV and live at stadia in Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney ($20,000)
  • Newcastle Harbour Water Polo Festival – Three-day water polo event at Queens Wharf with men’s and women’s internationals between Australia and visiting Croatian and Hungarian teams 13-15 December 2019 ($20,000)
  • Oceania Para Triathlon – Olympic-selection paratriathlon and triathlons for the general public and corporate teams on Australia Day 2020 ($15,000)
  • Port to Port Mountain Bike Race – Four-day stage race attracting national and international riders from 21-24 May 2020 ($15,000)
  • Australian Bowl-riding Championships – National skateboard competition at Empire Park from 7-9 February 2020 (15,000)
  • Celebration of Cricket – Major junior cricket carnival in January 2019 ($10,000)
  • New Run – The popular festival, which offers runners a choice of marathon, 10km, 5km and 2kms, returns for the 14th consecutive year 5 April 2019 ($10,000)
  • Combined Schools ANZAC Service – A nationally unique combined-schools event to commemorating the ANZAC spirit on 10 April 2020 ($8,500)
  • Australia Day Cross Harbour Swim – classic event that sees locals roll the arms over during a pause in shipping ($6,000)
  • Water Industry Operators Conference – 600 delegates will converge on Newcastle for the NSW water industry’s annual conference 4 April 2020 ($5,000)
  • King of Concrete – a state and national level bowl-riding competition at Empire Park on 7 December 2019 ($5,000)
  • Newcastle Pride Festival – Celebration of sexuality and gender diversity in Newcastle and the Hunter from August 17-26 2019 ($4,500)
  • Unity in Diversity – annual festival last weekend in Hamilton celebrating Newcastle’s cultural diversity and spirit of inclusion ($3,000)
  • CN T20 Summer Bash – Elite T20 cricket competition at No.2 Sportsground from 15-23 February 2020 ($2,500)

More than 75,000 veterans using DVA online services

More than 75,000 veterans are now accessing assistance through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) online claiming platform, MyService.

The Department is currently undergoing the most significant reform in its history, to ensure veterans and their families have faster and easier access to the services they need, when they need them.

Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel, Darren Chester, said the Department’s transformation and initiatives like MyService are delivering real benefits for veterans and their families by reducing the red tape and making the claiming process simpler.

“MyService is a great example of how this Government is putting veterans and their families first, and moving forward to ensure they can access the support they need, with less paperwork and faster processing,” Mr Chester said.

“Moving to an online platform has allowed veterans to submit claims by answering as few as three to seven questions, compared to the 40 questions on some paper forms. In some cases, claims for common conditions are being approved almost instantly.

“The number of people using MyService continues to grow as more services become available on the platform. MyService now has more than 75,000 users managing their business with DVA online, who have submitted nearly 50,000 claims.

“Claims for treatment for mental health conditions are among those that are available for immediate approval.

“The Department is working closely with the veteran community to ensure that veterans and their families can connect with DVA and access services and support when, where and how they want.

“Significant improvements to the Department’s telephone system and face-to-face services have also been vital to support a holistic approach in delivering services to veterans and their families.

“The Government is committed to ensuring DVA continues to improve to better serve our veterans and their families. We are focused on putting veterans and their families first and have provided funding through to 2021 for the transformation program.”

To sign up to MyService visit the MyService website.

Ramsay Centre Approval by University of Wollongong ‘Outrageous’

Australian Greens Senator for NSW and Spokesperson for Education, Dr Mehreen Faruqi, has called today’s approval of the Ramsay Centre by the University of Wollongong ‘outrageous’ and a slap in the face for students and academics. The Univeristy has today bypassed its own academic senate and approved the centre. Senator Faruqi is a former academic.

Senator Faruqi said:

“This is an outrageous move by the university and a real slap in the face for students and academics who have real and legitimate concerns about the Ramsay Centre.

“The lengths the University of Wollongong will go to in order to bypass their academic review processes are quite extraordinary and deeply worrying. This sends a message that any organisation with a big enough cheque book can buy extraordinary influence over our universities.

“The Ramsay Centre wants nothing more than to churn out students with an uncritical view of Western Civilisation, and they’re willing to bribe our public universities with huge amounts money to make that happen,” she concluded.

Rural fire stations targeted in crime spree – Hunter Valley

Police are appealing for information following a spate of break and enters at several Hunter Valley rural fire service properties.

Sometime between Friday 21 June and Monday 24 June 2019, police have been told of separate break and enter offences at five New South Wales Rural Fire Service buildings.

Several pieces of equipment have been taken from the properties including chainsaws, axes and petrol pumps.

Police from Hunter Valley Police District have attended each location and launched an investigation.

Detectives are appealing for anyone with information to come forward.

Labor leadership needs to stick firm in tax cuts opposition

The Labor leadership needs to stick firm in its opposition to the Government’s tax cut package, despite the pressure it may be feeling from a handful of backbenchers, Leader of the Australian Greens Dr Richard Di Natale said.

“Labor said during the election that they wouldn’t back in the Government’s disastrous tax cuts and Anthony Albanese should stand firm, do the right thing for the country and continue to oppose these cuts,” Di Natale said.

“These tax cuts would do nothing to improve the economy and everything to lock in the growing inequality in our country over the long-term.

“No matter what Labor MPs like Peter Khalil in Wills may say, backing in these tax cuts is just more of the same failed trickle-down economics that Labor has been criticising for years.

“The lessons from the last election for Labor should be clear. People want them to stand up for what they believe in, not flip flop on important issues like economic inequality and climate change.”


The 2019-20 NSW Budget features significant investment in regional school infrastructure, with funding for 18 new and upgraded schools and hundreds of millions committed to clear the maintenance backlog in regional schools.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the NSW Government is continuing its record $6.7 billion investment in school infrastructure, with a total of 190 new and upgraded schools being rolled out across the State, with 40 projects currently underway in regional areas.

“Investment in education is a core priority for this Government, and I am very proud that we are also providing more pathways and opportunities for families and students in regional NSW,” Mr Perrottet said. “The 2019-20 Budget also allocates $917.4 million in funding for 40 new and upgraded schools the Liberals & Nationals Government committed to as part of the recent elections.

“Eighteen of these new and upgraded schools are in regional NSW, including two new high schools, a new primary school and upgrades to multiple schools across the State.”

There are a number of projects planned or currently underway across regional NSW, including:

  • New primary schools in Murrumbateman and Googong prioritised for planning in 2019;
  • Major upgrades underway at schools in Queanbeyan and at Karabar High School;
  • New high schools committed at Bungendore and Jerrabomberra;
  • Major upgrades to schools in Murwillumbah, Kingscliff, Tweed Heads, Lennox Head, Byron Bay and Pottsville; and
  • Upgrades to Bexhill Public School, Bangalow Public School and Teven-Tintenbar Public School.

The Government has invested a further $449 million to clear the school maintenance backlog in all public schools by July 2020 bringing the total maintenance investment to more than $1.3 billion over five years.

Ms Mitchell said that it will be the first time in the State’s history that the school maintenance backlog will be wiped to zero and that more than $300 million will be invested in regional school maintenance for the coming twelve months.

“Children in regional NSW deserve a great public school education – to be educated close to home, in top-quality facilities from early childhood to year 12, and I am thrilled this Government is delivering that,” Ms Mitchell said.

The NSW Government is investing $6.7 billion over the next four years to deliver 190 new and upgraded schools to support communities across NSW. In addition to this, more than $1.3 billion is being spent on school maintenance over five years, along with a record $500 million for the sustainable Cooler Classrooms program to provide air conditioning to schools announced as part of the 2018-19 Budget last year.

This is the largest investment in public education infrastructure in the history of NSW.


The $50 Opal weekly travel cap will take effect on Monday, saving tens of thousands of regular public transport users up to $686 a year.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the decision to slash the current cap by around 20 per cent will help to ease cost of living pressures for around 55,000 train, bus, ferry, metro and light rail customers.

“We want to make public transport more affordable and that is why we are lowering the cap,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“From Monday adults will pay no more than $50 a week and the concession cap will also be reduced from $31.60 to $25 a week.”

Regular customers on the new North West Metro will be among those to benefit from the lower cap, with an adult customer travelling to and from Tallawong Station and Central five days a week to save $563 a year.

Transport Minister Andrew Constance said the NSW Government has also rejected IPART’s recommendation to increase public transport fares by 4.2 per cent.

“Fares will only rise in line with inflation from Monday, meaning the rise will be 1.9 per cent or roughly 10 cents a week,” Mr Constance said.

“This means catching the train, bus, ferry, metro or light rail is still a much cheaper option than driving.”

Opal benefits already in place will remain, including the Weekly Travel Reward, the Opal Transfer Discount and the $2.50 daily cap for Gold Opal cards.

The NSW Liberals & Nationals Government has saved households more than $800 million over the last year through a raft of cost of living measures, including cheaper Green Slips, $100 Active and Creative Kids vouchers and Free Rego.

Example of yearly savings for regular commuters:

Weekly Cost Today From 24 June Yearly Saving
Tallawong to Central (Metro) $60.84 $50 $563
Penrith to Town Hall $60.84 $50 $563
Campbelltown to Town Hall $60.84 $50 $563
Engadine to North Sydney $60.84 $50 $563
Seven Hills to Wynyard $60.84 $50 $563
Panania to Chatswood $60.84 $50 $563
Tuggerah to Central $63.20 $50 $686
Kiama to Sutherland $63.20 $50 $686
Meadowbank to Barangaroo (Ferry) $63.20 $50 $686
Leppington to Blacktown $60.84 $50 $563

Carrington upgrade hailed in park celebration

City of Newcastle and the local community have celebrated the revitalisation of Carrington following a $3 million upgrade of its local centre.

Dramatic infrastructure improvements – to roads, pathways and parking – along Young Street and the addition of street trees, bike racks and bins will be followed by the installation of a smart bus shelter that will provide free Wi-Fi coverage.

The local centre overhaul was marked by the City staff and locals in Jubilee Park this morning.

Ribboncuttinginside.jpgThe Lord Mayor opening the upgraded Carrington Local Town Centre with the help of City staff, locals and students

Carringtonopeningsingersinside-(1).jpg(L-R) Laila Michelini, 6, and sister Allegra Michelini, 8, perform at this morning’s open day

“I’m proud to say that after more than 12 months of construction, Young Street is looking brand new and has been future proofed with new drainage and infrastructure to improve the amenity of the Carrington Local Centre,” Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

“The City continues to deliver on our vision for city-wide urban renewal, setting the direction for growth and revitalisation.

“We want our city’s local centres to reflect a sense of place and local character, and I’m particularly pleased with finishing touches like the stone inlays celebrating Carrington’s heritage.

“Planning for this project included extensive community consultation on all aspects of the upgrades, including the choice of Brushbox and Tuckeroo street trees and the provision of more designated on street car parking.”

“We have also chosen best practise drainage solutions tailored to the area, including permeable paving and rain gardens.”
MaxWeinholdinside.jpgMax Weinhold, 3, enjoying the jumping castle at Jubilee Park, Carrington

CarringtonYoungStreetinside.jpgPatrick Burgess, Sarah Horan and Chris Martin take a stroll across the revitalised Young Street

The City consulted with locals to hear their ideas and ensure their feedback was incorporated into the public domain plan for the area.

The Young St Carrington renewal project included:

• Drainage renewal
• Permeable paving to improve stormwater capacity
• Water sensitive urban design
• New site appropriate street trees
• Pedestrian-friendly street design
• Existing street furniture retained where possible, and new bike racks and bins
• New kerb, gutter and footpath
• Renewed road surface
• Road and pedestrian lighting upgrade
• Improved pedestrian crossings at both ends

Evocative snaps mark 30 years since quake

A doctor tending a man seriously wounded on Beaumont Street and a Council worker whose composure amid great adversity belied her young age feature among stirring images in a Newcaste Museum exhibition commemorating the 1989 earthquake.

The Earthquake Then and Now and Again Exhibition, curated in partnership with local designers Headjam, reflects on the 1989 natural disaster that claimed 13 lives and tested the resolve of so many Novocastrians.

Dr-Warner-inside-(1).jpgDr Garry Warner, 39 when disaster struck, was snapped by the Newcastle Herald that fateful December morning with two other men, desperately awaiting an ambulance, as they cared for a man hurt by the collapsed Kent Hotel awning visible in the background.

“I raced to Beaumont but the whole street was full of a cloud of dust which made everything difficult to see,” the Cardiologist recalls of his reaction from his Hamilton medical rooms, in a caption to a 2014 photo of himself and one of 25 newspaper pics.

“I saw the destruction and my medical training just clicked in. I was providing first aid to the injured man in the photograph who was struck by a piece of The Kent Hotel awning.”

City of Newcastle worker Melissa Dial, a 29-year-old special projects officer at the time, has only realised her own mettle in the decades since she spent two continuous months on the phone dealing with the quake’s aftermath.

She appears on one of those calls in a photograph flanked by policemen not long after the 5.5-degree tremor.

“When I look at this photo, I immediately feel stress and pressure,” she says of the then-and-now exhibit pic.

Melissa-Dial-inside-(1).jpg“At first we had a lot of phone calls about missing people … then the calls started to be about demolitions and building work … slowly the calls changed to people who were trying to cope with the trauma and stress of what had happened.

“I didn’t think about it at the time but I was pretty young to be coping with the stress.”

The exhibition, which gained national media attention when first held in 2014, marks the beginning of commemorations across the city for the quake’s 30th anniversary.

“This is a very personal exhibition with members of our city sharing their stories,” Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

“The 1989 Earthquake was a defining moment for our city – it shaped us as a resilient but caring city.”

Photo credit: Luke Kellett from Headjam

Ecosuburbia event for smart, liveable sustainable city

Laman Street behind Civic Park will come to life with eco-market stalls, a local food swap and a range of activities to get kids thinking about sustainability when Newcastle Library hosts the Ecosuburbia Fair Share event tomorrow, Saturday 22 June.

City of Newcastle is collaborating with Permaculture Hunter and Purple Pear Farm to showcase the fair and host an “Aussie Street” City Hall talk by permaculture co-originator David Holmgren tomorrow.

Author of RetroSuburbia, the downshifter’s guide to a resilient future, Holmgren espouses a way of life aligned with the City of Newcastle’s strategy to create a smart, liveable and sustainable global city.

“Our community collaborating to host the father of an internationally recognised social and environmental movement illustrates Newcastle’s commitment to living smarter and more sustainably,” Manager Libraries and Learning Suzie Gately said.

“His Aussie Street talk cleverly brings RetroSuburbia’s ideas into our everyday lives, using 100-plus photos and water-coloured illustrations and practical concepts from his exciting new book. Come along to be part of Holmgren’s remarkably insightful, thought-provoking vision for a resilient and sustainable future.”

Tickets for the Retrosuburbia ‘Aussie Street’ talk with David Holmgren sold out within 48 hours.

The Ecosuburbia Fair Share event from 10am is proudly delivered in collaboration with Newcastle Libraries, Hunter Permaculture and Purple Pear Farm. It will also host Slow Food Hunter Valley Soup Kitchen and live music by Newcastle Folk.

Ecosuburbia is part of the City’s embrace if the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, in particular Goal 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities and Goal 10 Reduced Inequalities, which are now part of the Newcastle 2030 Community Strategic Plan.