Library fines amnesty supports local families this Christmas

City of Newcastle’s Libraries are offering library members the opportunity to clear unpaid fines by donating non-perishable food and toiletry items in an annual initiative designed to support local families.

All items collected under Newcastle Libraries Christmas Giving Amnesty will be donated to local emergency relief organisations OzHarvest, Got Your Back Sista and Baptist Care, who will package up the goods for needy families in the lead-up to the festive season.

ChristmasTree-1.jpgCity of Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said she hoped the initiative encourages people to return to the library after this year’s pandemic as well as embrace the opportunity to help others.

“It’s the perfect chance to get fines reduced, do some good for the community and check out the library’s fantastic new resources and programs that cater for everyone in the family.

“The local emergency relief organisations Got Your Back Sista, OzHarvest and Baptist Care do an incredible job all year round supporting vulnerable people in our community.

“We’re proud to contribute to their good work at a time of year when many people are doing it tough.

“Even if people don’t have overdue fines, they can choose to donate to the cause as a way of paying it forward.”

Since the City started the scheme four years ago more than 8,000 items of food and toiletries have been donated and distributed to the three local charities.  Each year, an average of $10,000 in fines is cleared, resulting in donations of 1400 food items and 1320 toiletry items for community distribution.

Members can donate non-perishable food or toiletries instead of paying their fines with each item donated equating to five dollars. For example, two donated items will clear a $10 fine.

There is no limit to the amount in fines or charges that can be paid off with donations. This year donations can also be used to pay for lost and damaged items that have been owed for five or more years. As a response to COVID-19 Newcastle remains fine free until 30 June 2021.

The Newcastle Libraries Christmas Giving Amnesty runs until Friday, 18 December 2020. Donations can be made at all Newcastle Library branches including the Digital Library at 12 Stewart Avenue, Newcastle West.

Appeal for missing Hunter teen

Police are asking for public assistance to help locate a missing teenage girl from the Hunter region.

Sharday Safavizad, aged 15, was last seen at a bus stop on Aberglasslyn Road near Rutherford about 12.30pm on Saturday 14 November 2020.

She was reported missing to Port Stephens-Hunter Police District on Monday 16 November and police commenced inquiries into her whereabouts.

Sharday is described as being of Middle Eastern/Mediterranean appearance, with long brown hair and brown eyes.

She’s understood to frequent the Hunter and South-Western Sydney areas, including Liverpool.

Police are urging anyone with information, or who may know of her whereabouts, to contact police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000

New $1.2m inclusive playground at Stevenson Park delivered in partnership with community

Mayfield West is home to the city’s newest all-abilities playground with the opening of a $1.2 million active space at Stevenson Park.

The project was delivered by City of Newcastle as part of a major renewal of the 13-hectare community and sporting precinct, which is used year-round by sporting groups and is a highly valued open space for local residents.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said considerable time was spent engaging with the community to develop an agreed vision for the park and playground.

“It’s fantastic to see this new public space open and being used by families and children of all ages and abilities following what has been a stellar example of community consultation,” the Lord Mayor said.

“Working with the local community has given Mayfield West locals real ownership of this project and future upgrades that will flow from the Stevenson Park Masterplan.

“The project has greatly benefited from strong advocacy from the community, particularly through the Friends of Stevenson Park.

“This playground and the masterplan as a whole will deliver on our shared vision of Stevenson Park as a welcoming and inclusive community meeting place that offers quality sports facilities within a parkland setting.”

Vicki McCarter from Friends of Stevenson Park welcomed the opening of the new playground and said that the Stevenson Park Masterplan has given the community a new focus.

“It’s been a pleasure to be involved in this project which has provided our community a way forward through the green heart of our community – Stevenson Park.

“I, along with my fellow Friends of Stevenson Park members, am extremely pleased with the engagement process which has resulted in an amazing all abilities playground, safe pathway and new BBQ and shelter area which is perfect for neighbourhood get togethers.

“Stevenson Park is no longer just home to sporting fields, but is now a vibrant hub for our community to enjoy.”

The Stevenson Park Masterplan was developed to activate the park and create a vibrant and inclusive space for residents and visitors. Over time this will provide more car parking, fenced off-leash area for dogs, new footpath connections and upgrades to existing sporting infrastructure.

Stage one involved replacing an existing playground with a larger, upgraded all-abilities space, which was positioned in the most suitable section of the park with greater shade coverage.

The playground features a variety of equipment such as swings and birds nest basket, climbing apparatus, inground trampoline, slide, basketball hoop and handball court; while the upgrade also included the installation of shade shelters, seating, a drinking fountain and barbecue.

The Stevenson Park playground was completed under City of Newcastle’s annual asset renewal program, with support from the NSW Government’s Everyone Can Play Grant Program. City of Newcastle’s annual asset renewal program has delivered approximately $6.5 million in new and upgraded playgrounds across the city and suburbs during the past five years.

Up to four of Newcastle’s 117 playgrounds are replaced each year under the program. Work scheduled for 2020/21 also includes playgrounds at Novocastrian Park in New Lambton, Gross Street Reserve at Tighes Hill, King Edward Park in The Hill and Dangar Park in Mayfield, while a new active hub is also being planned in Wallsend.

Child attacked by family dog – Lake Macquarie

A boy is expected to undergo surgery after being attacked by the family dog at a home in Lake Macquarie yesterday.

Officers from Lake Macquarie Police District have been told the five-year-old boy was bitten on the left side of his neck by the family dog at their home on Sunshine Parade at Sunshine shortly before 4.30pm (Sunday 29 November 2020).

The child was treated at the scene before being airlifted to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

Police have been told the two-year-old dog – described as a Rottweiler-type breed – is to be euthanised.

Inquiries are continuing.

Fatal crash – Lake Macquarie

Police are at the scene of a fatal crash at Lake Macquarie.

Emergency services were called to Wakefield Road, Ryhope, just before 7.30am today (Sunday 29 November 2020), after reports a Toyota and a Hyundai had collided head-on, trapping both drivers.

The male driver and sole occupant of the Hyundai, died at the scene

The male driver and sole occupant of the Toyota was freed and taken to John Hunter Hospital suffering leg injuries. He will also undergo mandatory testing.

Officers from Lake Macquarie Police District have established a crime scene with officers from the Crash Investigation Unit attending to assist.

Wakefield Road will remain closed between Archery Road and Cessnock Road for some time and motorists are advised to avoid the area.

Woman charged over alleged bushfire and COVID-19 assistance fraud – Hunter Valley

A woman will face court today after being charged with alleged fraud regarding bushfire and COVID-19 support recovery grants.

Strike Force Roche was established by several police districts within the Northern Region to investigate alleged fraudulent claims for bushfire disaster relief and small business grants through government agencies.

Police will allege in court that, between Thursday 12 March and Sunday 13 September 2020, a woman, aged 31, fraudulently applied for 34 combined Bushfire and COVID-19 Government Grants. A total of 11 were granted and the woman received $104,000.

Police will also allege the woman attempted to obtain a further $258,000 in grants which she was not entitled to.

Following extensive inquiries, police attended a home in Aberdare about 1.20pm yesterday (Friday 27 November 2020), where they arrested the woman.

She was taken to Cessnock Police Station and charged with dishonestly obtain financial benefit by deception (x16).

She was refused bail and will appear in Newcastle Local Court today (Saturday 28 November 2020).

Investigations under the strike force are ongoing across multiple police districts in the Northern Region.

Newcastle Art Gallery celebrates the bliss of domestic life

Newcastle Art Gallery is encouraging audiences to view everyday household items in a whole new light with the launch of its exhibition, DOMESTIC BLISS: functional works from the collection.

Drawn exclusively from its nationally significant ceramics collection, the Gallery will display works of art from Australian and international practitioners.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said with so much time spent at home during COVID-19, now was the perfect time to remind people of the beauty and traditions associated with objects usually found in the home.

“Newcastle is fortunate to have such an extensive and diverse art collection to draw on for its self-curated exhibitions,” Cr Nelmes said.

“During the seventies and eighties, the Gallery played a leading role in establishing Newcastle as a centre of national significance in ceramics, and our collection now features more than 900 ceramic works by Australian and international artists.

“Notably, the Gallery has the largest collection of Sodeisha ware in the Southern hemisphere, which was donated to Newcastle in 1981 in recognition of the Gallery’s commitment to Japanese ceramics.

“DOMESTIC BLISS provides an opportunity to showcase a small portion of this wonderful collection, highlighting the beauty of what is normally considered a humble household item.”

Newcastle Art Gallery Director Lauretta Morton said the free exhibition features renowned ceramic artists who adeptly play with the conventions of functional ware, displayed alongside a new generation of contemporary practitioners.

“Domestic and functional wares represent many aspects of life; the flower vase for ceremony and remembrance, the platter shared in celebration, and tea bowls representing culturally diverse tradition and customs,” Ms Morton said.

“DOMESTIC BLISS elevates everyday ceramics as works of art and reveals the artists’ transnational stories of place and identity.

“Honor Freeman creates deceptive works that mimic 1960s Tupperware and Gwyn Hanssen Pigott’s (1935 – 2013) still life takes cues from artists such as Giorgio Morandi and Chinese masters.

“The skill of the Hermannsburg potters transform jars into expansive desert landscapes and a new acquisition to the Newcastle Art Gallery’s collection by Tony Albert marks the problematic 250th anniversary of Captain Cook.”

DOMESTIC BLISS: functional works from the collection will be on display from 28 November 2020 to 31 January 2021.

$1 million boost for City of Newcastle projects

An active sports hub in Wallsend and the long-awaited upgrade of the local centre at Blackbutt Village in New Lambton, have jointly received a $1 million boost from the NSW Government’s Resources for Regions program.

City of Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes has today welcomed the funding announcement by the NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro of support for community projects that will provide much-needed recreational facilities within the western corridor of Newcastle.

“The funding announced today by NSW Deputy Premier adds to the multi-million-dollar investment that City of Newcastle has previously committed towards realising these fantastic projects for Wallsend and New Lambton,” Cr Nelmes said.

“$500,000 for the Wallsend Active Hub expands on the $1 million already committed to the project by City of Newcastle, while $591,677 for the Blackbutt Village renewal will ensure the timely delivery of a much-needed upgrade at Orchardtown Road, which we have allocated more than $4 million towards.

“The Wallsend Active Hub will be a drawcard for the suburb, attracting families from outside the area to enjoy the multi-purpose space in the same way the hugely popular Stockton Active Hub does.

“A concept plan for the project, which is still in the initial planning stages and will be put forward for community consultation, includes a range of potential facilities such as basketball and multipurpose courts, a bike track, fitness facilities, play equipment and shade structures.”

Cr Nelmes said the upgrade to Blackbutt Village at Orchardtown Road, New Lambton would improve the look and feel of the popular shopping strip while making the space safer and more accessible for pedestrians.

“The revitalisation of Blackbutt Village will improve safety and enhance the look and feel of the area to boost visitation and support local businesses,” Cr Nelmes said.

“Key features include an off-road shared pedestrian and cycle path, new pedestrian crossing and footpath connections to Blackbutt Reserve and Richley Reserve, as well as wider footpaths to improve outdoor dining and promote activation of the centre.

“The project will also involve the renewal of drainage, kerb, gutter, road, footpaths, lighting and street furniture, as well as tree planting and landscaping.

“Following the adoption of the Blackbutt Village Public Domain Plan at the September Council meeting, the project has progressed into the detailed design phase, with construction expected to start next financial year.”

City of Newcastle was among 24 Local Government Areas to share in funding under round seven of the Resources for Regions program, which aims to support mining-impacted communities in regional NSW by providing economic opportunities, improved amenity and positive social outcomes.

Greater Bank celebrations gifts trees to the City of Newcastle

Newcastle has been home for Greater Bank for 75 years and now the city will be the major beneficiary of its anniversary celebrations, receiving more than 20,000 native trees and shrubs to be planted at sites across the area.

Greater Bank announced in August that it was planting 75,000 trees in the areas it calls home across regional NSW to mark 75 years of growing greater together.

Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Cr Nuatali Nelmes, along with Greater Bank Chairman, Wayne Russell, and Chief Executive Officer, Scott Morgan, swapped their corporate attire for gardening gear to launch the Newcastle planting program today at King Edward Park. They were joined by Greater Bank employees and members of the community to plant the first of 4,000 trees earmarked for the site.

Taking place on the iconic park’s sea cliffs and coastal headlands, the planting will enhance a protected and endangered ecological community known as Themeda grassland and also re-establish habitat for local wildlife, including birds, small marsupials, insects and reptiles.

Over the coming weeks and months, the program will also see plantings undertaken at Bull & Tourle Street Reserve, Mayfield West, Heaton Park and Maclure Reserve, Jesmond; a unique and important freshwater wetland in Wallsend; Wallsend Park and Ironbark Creek, Wallsend.

A mix of seedlings and more established plants that are native to the region have been selected to complement the flora already on these sites.

Launching the planting project, Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said City of Newcastle was committed to creating a greener local government area and thanked the Greater Bank for its support.

“Thanks to support from Greater Bank, we’ve been able to significantly add to our bushland, watercourse, street and park tree planting programs to ensure our community continues to benefit from our urban forest,” Cr Nelmes said.

“This partnership is another example of the City’s commitment to becoming an ICLEI City with Nature, recognising and enhancing the value of our natural surrounds, as well as our efforts to be a global local government leader in sustainability.

“The greening of our urban landscape has a positive impact for Newcastle and our community. Enhancing our natural areas, planting in streets and parks create spaces where people can relax and be more active.

“Green spaces are cooler and improve liveability while providing environmental improvements such as air quality, protecting and filtering our water, and also providing natural habitat, food and shelter for native wildlife.”

Greater Bank CEO, Scott Morgan, who said the tree planting projects are symbolic of the role Greater Bank has played in growing together with its communities over the past 75 years.

“As we reach our 75th year of operation, we’re proudly celebrating the role we have played in helping this region we call home,” Mr Morgan said.

“Greater Bank was established in Hamilton in 1945 and we are still headquartered there today. While our operations have grown significantly over the past 75 years, well beyond our traditional boundaries, the Hunter remains the heart of our operations and customer base.

“It’s important for us, that in celebrating the milestone, we give back to a community that has given us so much and in doing so contribute to a cause that is important to our customers.

“The need to protect and nurture the environment was a consistent message delivered by customers across all our areas of operation, which is why we’ve committed to planting 75,000 trees throughout regional NSW.

“The trees will not only provide these communities with an ongoing legacy to mark this milestone, but as they grow, they will provide an enduring symbol of our commitment to social responsibility and sustained support of local communities,” Mr Morgan said.

“We have been working closely with the City of Newcastle to select these sites and they have also provided valuable direction as to the types and species of plants to ensure they complement and support the local habitats,” Mr Morgan said.

Once completed, the project will have a significant impact on local environments. Beyond the flora regeneration of the respective sites across regional NSW, collectively, the 75,000 trees will have the capacity to absorb 1,650,000kgs of carbon dioxide each year. That offsets 97 people per year and emissions from 600 cars.

Man charged over alleged shooting in Scone

A man will face court today charged over an alleged shooting in the Hunter Valley earlier this week.

Just after 4am on Tuesday (24 November 2020), a 43-year-old man presented to Scone Hospital with gunshot wounds to his leg and ankle – he remains in a stable condition in John Hunter Hospital.

Officers from Hunter Valley Police District commenced an investigation into the circumstances surrounding how the man sustained his injuries.

Following further inquiries, police executed a crime scene warrant at a home on Barton Street, Scone, yesterday (Wednesday 25 November 2020), where they arrested a 51-year-old man.

During the warrant, police located two firearms and a hydroponic setup. Police remain at the scene this morning (Thursday 26 November 2020).

The man was taken to Scone Police Station, where he was charged with eight offences;

  • Discharge firearm intend cause grievous bodily harm
  • Possess unregistered firearm-not prohibited firearm/pistol (x2)
  • Not keep firearm safely-not prohibited firearm/pistol (x2)
  • Cultivate prohibited plant commercial quantity-cannabis
  • Possess unauthorised firearm (x2)

He was refused bail to appear at Muswellbrook Local Court today (Thursday 26 November 2020).

Police will allege in court the 43-year-old attended the Scone property shortly before 4am on Tuesday (24 November 2020), where he spoke with the older man at the premises.

It will be further alleged the pair became involved in an altercation before the older man shot the younger man.

The younger man left the scene and drove to a nearby premises before attending Scone Hospital for treatment.

Initial investigations suggest the incident was targeted.

Investigations are continuing.