Restrictions to ease in LGAs of concern

Restrictions in local government areas of concern will start to align with other lockdown areas, as vaccination rates continue to rise in Sydney’s West and South-West.

From 12.01am Monday, 20 September, the following restrictions will ease for those who live in LGAs of concern:

  • No limit on the duration of outdoor exercise and recreation (previously a two-hour limit);
  • Outdoor gatherings of up to five fully vaccinated people (not including children aged 12 and under) will be allowed in a person’s LGA or within 5km of home (previously only fully vaccinated household members could gather outdoors, or up to two fully vaccinated people from different households);
  • Shopping, exercise and outdoor recreation can be done 5km from home or within your LGA (previously only 5km from home);
  • Attend a small wedding (maximum 11 people) in Greater Sydney as a guest (previously only allowed in their LGA); and
  • A person’s single’s bubble buddy can live in Greater Sydney (previously must have resided within 5km of a person’s home). A person from a LGA of concern can also now be a buddy for someone in Greater Sydney.

Nearly all restrictions in the LGAs of concern are now aligned with other lockdown areas, with the main differences being authorised worker conditions and travel permit requirements which remain in place in the LGAs of concern.

From 12.01am Monday, 27 September outdoor pools across NSW will be able to open, provided councils have a stringent COVID safety plan approved by NSW Health. Natural pools are already permitted to be open.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian thanked those in Sydney’s west and south west who have come forward and received their COVID-19 vaccine.

“We are so grateful to everyone who has come forward to get a jab, helping bring first dose vaccination rates in some LGAs up to 90 per cent,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“There’s still more work to do to push those vaccination rates higher and everyone must continue to follow the lockdown rules until we reach that 70 per cent double dose target when further restrictions can be eased for those who are fully vaccinated.”

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said that after all the hard work getting vaccinated and complying with lockdown requirements, it’s fantastic that some restrictions can now be relaxed.

“The NSW Government is determined to ensure everyone can benefit from increasing vaccination rates. Outdoor pools are part of Australian life, and enjoying a Summer splash no matter where you live is a big plus for families.”

If you have not booked in for a COVID-19 vaccine please book in as soon as possible, to protect not only yourself but also your family and friends.

For the latest information or to book a vaccination appointment visit nsw.gov.au/covid-19

World’s largest shark management program deployed to NSW beaches

The world’s largest suite of shark management tools and technologies will be deployed to NSW beaches after funding was nearly tripled to $21.4 million to expand the NSW Government’s Shark Management Program.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro said this increased funding would support the expansion of the effective, evidence-based shark management program already in place, with a host of successfully trialled technologies to be rolled out along the NSW coastline.

“The NSW Government has done the research and invested in new technologies to bring added protection to our beaches including SMART drumlines, VR4G listening stations and shark-spotting drones,” Mr Barilaro said.

“Over the coming weeks we will continue to work with coastal councils from Tweed to Bega Valley and everywhere in between to deliver the world’s largest shark management program to increase beachgoer safety.

“There is no other jurisdiction in Australia or across the globe which has done as much testing and trialling of technology and approaches to mitigate shark interactions.”

Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall said the NSW Government is committed to doing everything possible to keep swimmers and surfers safe while minimising the impact on marine life by using non-invasive technologies where possible.

“We have always said there is no silver bullet when it comes to protecting beachgoers from sharks in NSW,” Mr Marshall said.

“But the NSW Government will now be operating the world’s largest shark management program aiming to get the balance right, between keeping swimmers and surfers safe, and protecting our marine life.

“In partnership with Surf Life Saving NSW, we will deploying the world’s largest domestic fleet of drones to the state’s beaches thanks to an extra $3 million to scale up operations. This will mean more than 50 beaches will have a shark-spotting eye in the sky.

“This summer season, we will be deploying over 100 SMART drumlines in nearly every coastal council area starting with Kingscliff, Tuncurry and Coffs Harbour next month.

“We will also continue the deployment of shark nets as part of the Shark Meshing Program in the Greater Sydney Region while we measure the success of the expanded technology-led solutions.

“Finally, we will be blanketing our coast with 37 VR4G shark listening stations to make sure that when a tagged shark comes close to the coast, everyone using our SharkSmart app will know about it instantaneously, including SLS NSW and council lifeguards.”

The NSW Government encourages all beachgoers to be SharkSmart when entering the ocean or estuarine environments and download the SharkSmart app.

For more information on technologies used, visit www.sharksmart.nsw.gov.au.

In the coming weeks, the NSW Department of Primary Industries will be working with each council to determine the optimal location for SMART drumline and VR4G listening station deployments in their local area.

The 2021-2022 Shark Management Program includes:

Technology Current New Change
Drone surveillance 34 beaches 50 beaches +16
VR4G listening stations 21 stations 37 stations +16
SMART drumlines (SDLs) 35 SDLs 170 SDLs +135
Beach meshing 51 beaches No change
Shark tagging 926 996 +70*

*White, Tiger and Bull sharks, subject to environmental conditions.

Protecting children through innovation

At-risk children are being prevented from slipping through the cracks when their families move interstate with a new database helping child protection authorities access critical information from interstate agencies.

Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Alister Henskens said NSW child protection workers used the landmark digital platform, Connect for Safety, more than 800 times in the last month alone.

“The simple act of sharing information across borders could be the difference between preventing child abuse or neglect, and having it go undetected,” Mr Henskens said.

“This world-leading platform has been developed in NSW and is creating a stronger safety net for at-risk kids, by enabling the exchange of data quickly, easily and securely between state and territory child protection agencies.”

Prior to the pandemic, on average about 330,000 Australians moved interstate each year. Vulnerable children are often at heightened risk of harm if their background in a previous jurisdiction is unknown, or not easily accessible to child protection authorities.

All state and territory jurisdictions, except Tasmania, are currently sharing information on Connect for Safety, with Tasmania to come onboard later this year.

Under the roll out, every statutory child protection officer in Australia will have access to Connect for Safety by July 2022.

Federal Minster for Social Services Anne Ruston said the ground-breaking project is about preventing children falling through the cracks.

“This national approach will make it easier for child protection caseworkers to get clarity around a child’s life story and provide an effective response,” Ms Ruston said.

“Our aim is to improve outcomes for children no matter where they live, with inter-jurisdictional information exchange a vital part of keeping kids safe.”

Connect for Safety aligns with the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020 and goes towards addressing recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Sydney’s west to boom with $139 million in new infrastructure

A share of $139 million is up for grabs for eight Western Sydney councils as applications have opened for round two of the Accelerated Infrastructure Funding (AIF).

Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes said round two includes high-growth greenfield precincts in Blacktown, The Hills, Hawkesbury, Penrith, Liverpool, Camden, Campbelltown and Wollondilly local government areas (LGAs).

“We launched this funding to support our economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and in the first round more than $145 million was invested to deliver 14 projects,” Mr Stokes said.

“All of these projects are now underway and will support the development of up to 40,000 new homes, 115 hectares of employment land and create up to 1,000 new construction jobs.

“Delivering important infrastructure such as roads, stormwater drains and public space is key to our economic recovery and the second round of the AIF brings the NSW Government’s support to more than $210 million.”

Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said the AIF would also create thousands of jobs in the construction phase, helping to meet the future needs of Western Sydney.

“Western Sydney is ripe for growth and this funding will provide the necessary infrastructure to support an expected 20,000 plus new greenfield homes across these LGAs over the next five years,” Mr Ayres said.

“This is a great example of state and local government working together to accelerate projects that stimulate the economy and create jobs as we start to emerge from the pandemic.”

Councils will be allocated funding according to anticipated growth in each LGA, the amount of development the funding will support and the amount of co-funding that councils can provide. All projects must commence construction within two years to qualify for funding.

Project nominations are now open and councils will need to apply by 31 October 2021 to be considered.

For more information visit: www.https://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/accelerated-infrastructure-fund.

Female Teacher charged over alleged historical sexual abuse of three students

Detectives have charged a woman following an investigation into the alleged sexual abuse of three male students in Sydney’s east more than 40 years ago.

In May this year, detectives from Eastern Beaches Police Area Command established Strike Force Sportsground to investigate allegations of sexual abuse by a female teacher at a school in Sydney’s east in the 1970s and 1980s.

During the investigation, police received information that three boys – then aged 13, 14 and 15 – were sexually assaulted by a female teacher while at a school in Sydney’s east between 1977 and 1980.

Following extensive investigations, strike force detectives arrested a 67-year-old woman at a home at St Ives just before 8am today (Friday 17 September 2021).

The woman was taken to Hornsby Police Station and charged with 14 counts of indecent assault on male.

She was granted strict conditional bail to appear at Waverley Local Court on Wednesday 6 October 2021.

Investigations under Strike Force Sportsground are continuing.

$484 Million win for schools and boost for business

More than 250 schools across NSW will receive upgrades, including improvements to playgrounds, science facilities and canteens, providing hundreds of jobs for local businesses.

The $484 million Minor Capital Works program will upgrade and renew school facilities and security, as well as improve accessibility for students with additional needs.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro said more than half the schools to benefit are in regional and rural NSW.

“This government is investing record amounts into our schools to ensure that every child, no matter where they live, has access to excellent schools and education facilities,” Mr Barilaro said.

“This investment will also provide a welcome boost for regional economies, by creating jobs and providing work for local tradespeople at a time when it is needed most.”

Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell said the program will be a boost for businesses as NSW exits lockdown, with $76 million going directly to local businesses.

“The NSW Government is investing record amounts into our schools, and as we begin our journey back to normal life schools will be central to our recovery. I’m thrilled this investment is a boost for both students and businesses,” Ms Mitchell said.

“These school improvement projects can have an incredible impact on the look and feel of our schools and through this government’s investment in programs such as this as well as Cooler Classrooms, LED Lighting Upgrade, Regional and Metro Renewal and Roof Replacement, schools right across NSW are experiencing the benefits.”

The Department of Education has more than 2,200 NSW public schools and delivery of these projects ensures that schools across the state have access to modern facilities to support learning outcomes.

Projects funded as part of the Minor Capital Works Program include an admin and staff upgrade at Dee Why Public School, a toilet upgrade at Millfield Public School, a science lab upgrade at Deniliquin High School and an integration project of access works at Heathcote High School.

The NSW Government is investing $7.9 billion over the next four years, continuing its program to deliver 215 new and upgraded schools to support communities across NSW. This is the largest investment in public education infrastructure in the history of NSW.

Quality Time for Teaching

A new plan aimed at changing the way teachers work at school, giving them more quality time to spend preparing and teaching students, was released today.

Teachers and school staff are being called on to provide feedback on the NSW Government’s Quality Time Action Plan which sets an ambitious agenda for reducing duplicative, repetitive, and low-value administrative tasks in schools.

Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell said leveraging technology and digital tools to streamline teaching tasks is at the centre of the plan.

“We know that quality teachers have the biggest impact on student outcomes – by streamlining and simplifying the work done outside of the classroom we can enhance the experience and outcomes within the classroom,” Ms Mitchell said.

“The department needs to always support teachers to do their best work. This plan is about asking teachers to help shape the solutions they need from the system.

“While lesson planning, marking and reporting are core parts of the job, we can make these processes smarter, more intuitive and high-value rather than cumbersome, repetitive and wasteful.

“Not only will this give teachers back valuable time to focus on learning, it will enable us to scale best practice resources and teaching approaches in classrooms across NSW.”

Opportunities for reform identified in the Action Plan include an overhauled assessment system allowing teachers to generate individual student focused assessments in minutes; an online tool to allow teachers to easily store, find, share and tailor lesson plans and learning programs; and streamlined administration requirements for maintaining accreditation.

“The Action Plan represents the next phase of the work to create more time for teachers, which is a core component of the School Success Model. To date, this work has saved an estimated 105 hours per principal, 10 hours per teacher and 25 hours per school administration staff member each year,” said Ms Mitchell.

The Action Plan has been released for consultation and feedback from school staff and stakeholders, enabling schools to have direct input into the reform agenda.

Innovation at heart of NSW water strategy

The Berejiklian Government has today launched the NSW Water Strategy, a 20-year blueprint to deliver resilient and sustainable water resources to communities across the state ensuring NSW is leading the charge when it comes to innovation.

The strategy coincides with the launch of the Water Project Map, a new tool for people to access information about all water infrastructure projects across NSW.

Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey said the Strategy is NSW’s first-ever platform for the long-term management of water, which will guide future water planning and policy, and how, where and when water infrastructure investments are made.

“This strategy, underpinned by cutting-edge climate modelling, will help our state work towards becoming a world leader in water innovation and efficiency,” Mrs Pavey said.

“In the next 12 months we’ll refocus our efforts on water conservation and leakage reduction in our cities, towns and regional centers, and deliver a state-wide water efficiency framework.

“We’ll also look for opportunities to invest in research and development, and new technologies, including recycled water opportunities for industrial and agricultural uses.”

The Government will investigate and invest in supply options including stormwater harvesting and water re-use, and look at developing a consistent approach to water restrictions.

“We’re exploring a range of options, including boosting water recycling across communities for watering crops and gardens, fighting fires, flushing toilets and reducing pollution in our waterways,” Mrs Pavey said.

Already, about 70 percent of local water utilities recycle water. Treated stormwater is being used to provide up to 25 per cent of Orange’s supply.”

These initiatives and projects are key opportunities laid out in the NSW Water Strategy, as Government prepares for future challenges – including more demand for water and a more variable climate – and sets the strategic direction for the state’s water sector over the long term.

“People living in NSW make up more than a third of Australia’s population, and over the next 20 years, our state will grow by 2.8 million. We need the right infrastructure in place to enable this growth, knowing the challenges we face with a changing climate,” Mrs Pavey said.

“The recent drought was one of the worst and most extreme on record, and it hit our communities hard. Our water supplies were stretched to their limits..

“But the drought also brought about creative and innovative ideas about infrastructure investment, with many communities having to source different means of increasing their supply.

“While many of our dams are now full or starting to spill, we know drought will come again, so now is the time to make decisions to ensure our communities, industries and environment thrive, now and into the future.”

The NSW Water Strategy sets the overarching vision for 12 regional and two metropolitan water strategies also being developed, tailored to the individual needs of each region in the state.

In addition, the new online map shows where the record investment for critical water infrastructure projects are, details of the projects and how they are helping communities.

For more information and to read the NSW Water Strategy, visit here. To view the online map visit here.

NSW lifts curfew in LGAs of concern

Curfews in Sydney’s Local Government Areas (LGAs) of concern have now been lifted, as the state hits the milestone of 80 per cent of the adult population with one dose of the COVID vaccine.

Curfews have been lifted in the LGAs of concern:

  • Bayside
  • Blacktown
  • Burwood
  • Campbelltown
  • Canterbury-Bankstown
  • Cumberland
  • Fairfield
  • Georges River
  • Liverpool
  • Parramatta
  • Strathfield
  • Penrith for the following suburbs: Caddens, Claremont Meadows, Colyton, Erskine Park, Kemps Creek, Kingswood, Mount Vernon, North St Marys, Orchard Hills, Oxley Park, St Clair and St Marys.

This is a whole-of-government decision based on the advice of our health and police experts.

While the NSW community has achieved this fantastic milestone, it is critical that we do not let our guard down.

We continue to ask the community to follow the stay-at-home rules, limit their movement and do all they can to keep everyone safe.

NSW Health continues to urge everyone in these LGAs, and throughout NSW, to get vaccinated, get tested immediately if they have even the mildest of symptoms and isolate until they receive a negative result.

High rates of testing are critical to detecting transmission and preventing further spread of COVID-19 in the community.

For the latest information or to book a vaccination appointment visit nsw.gov.au/covid-19

COVID support payments expanded for workers and vulnerable communities across NSW

The NSW Government today announced an additional $287.5 million in COVID-19 financial support to assist workers and vulnerable communities in metropolitan, regional and rural NSW.

The additional funding will see the COVID-19 emergency hardship payments, test and isolate support payments and community empowerment grants expanded across all of NSW.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the funds will assist workers and vulnerable people under financial strain due to the COVID-19 restrictions across the State.

“The expansion and extension of the emergency hardship payment will provide assistance to people across all of NSW who are under severe financial strain but are not eligible for other support payments and grants,” Mr Barilaro said.

“The test and isolate payment will help people to test early and isolate if they have COVID symptoms. This payment will help take the pressure off if an individual does not have access to leave entitlements or other support payments.

“Grants for culturally and linguistically diverse groups have also been expanded to connect multicultural communities with essential services throughout the pandemic.”

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the new $287.5 million funding commitment is in addition to the NSW Government’s existing commitment of $7.7 billion in COVID-19 support measures.

“As lockdown continues, we want to make sure support is provided where it’s needed and no communities are forgotten,” Mr Perrottet said.

“We’re providing those under severe financial strainmoney in their bank accounts to help them through the lockdown and we’re supporting workers to test early and isolate so we can save lives and livelihoods across the State.

“We’re also supporting multicultural organisations which are best placed to connect migrant communities with vital health services to ensure our vaccination rate keeps climbing – as that’s really key to our State’s recovery.”

The NSW Government’s additional $287.5 million funding commitment includes;

  • The emergency hardship, one-off payment of $400 administered by the Red Cross which has been expanded to temporary visa/no visa holders in NSW who are facing severe financial hardship and are not eligible for other government income. To apply visit: https://www.redcross.org.au/get-help/help-for-migrants-in-transition/help-for-migrants-in-transition/nsw-relief
  • The test and isolate payment of $320 which has now been expanded state-wide. It is available for eligible workers aged 17 and over, who have symptoms of COVID-19, to get tested and isolate until a negative result is returned. The payment is available to NSW workers who do not have sick, carer’s or pandemic leave. To apply visit: https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/transaction/apply-test-and-isolate-support-payment
  • Community supports grants which have been expanded across NSW to help organisations deliver emergency food relief, promote vaccination and testing services, and provide culturally appropriate support and care to diverse communities.