NSW URGED TO ‘GET READY’ FOR SUMMER

Prepare your bushfire survival plan, don’t drive through floodwater, swim between the flags, and make sure your home is fire safe this summer – these are some of the safety tips NSW emergency service agencies have shared ahead of the 2020 summer season.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott today joined emergency services leaders on Sydney Harbour to issue the timely reminder, as people begin decorating their homes for Christmas, planning holidays in regional NSW and enjoying warm days by the water.

“Aussie summers are iconic, but they can also be tragic. Last year, we had a horror bushfire season. This year, we’re expecting a wet and wild summer. But bushfires and storms are not the only threats we face,” Mr Elliott said.
“I urge you to use the start of summer as a start of a conversation with your friends and families about being prepared for seasonal hazards. Especially this year, as experts warn of a La Niña summer.”

NSW Police Force Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys said summer is a particularly busy time of year for all emergency services and urged the community to put safety first.

“Police will be out and about – on the streets, on our roads, in, on and around the water, and even in the air. If we all put safety first, our holidays will be remembered for all the right reasons,” Deputy Commissioner Worboys said.
NSW SES Commissioner Carlene York said there have been more than 500 rescue requests this year from people who have risked their lives by driving through floodwaters.

“You wouldn’t run into a bushfire, so never drive, walk or ride through flood water – it’s incredibly dangerous for both you and the volunteers rescuing you. It’s vital to know your flood risk and have an emergency plan in place,” Commissioner York said.

NSW RFS Commissioner Rob Rogers said last summer’s bushfire season was a stark reminder of the dangers of fire and the importance of early planning and preparation.

“Last summer’s bushfires destroyed 2,476 homes and claimed 26 lives in NSW. Every family should have a five-minute conversation about important decisions like when to leave and what to take if a fire threatens your home,” Commissioner Rogers said.

Fire and Rescue NSW Assistant Commissioner Paul McGuiggan said decorative lights and summer barbecues also pose a fire risk around the home.

“Make sure you have a sufficient number of working smoke alarms throughout your home that are tested regularly and are supported by a written home escape plan,” Assistant Commissioner McGuiggan said.

NSW Surf Life Saving CEO Steve Pearce reiterated the importance of water safety.

“Only swim at patrolled beaches, stay between the red and yellow flags, always check conditions before heading out, wear a life jacket when boating or rock fishing, and be sure to keep an eye on your mates,” Mr Pearce said.
Marine Rescue Commissioner Stacey Tannos said they’re ready for a record summer on the water as more people stay home instead of heading overseas on holidays.

“Boaters should always Log On with Marine Rescue when heading out and Log Off when they return on VHF Channel 16 or the free Marine Rescue App. It’s quick and simple and gives you the reassurance that our volunteers are watching out for your safe return,” Commissioner Tannos said.

Find out more about the steps you can take to Get Ready for summer at https://resilience.nsw.gov.au/prepare.html

HIRING BEGINS FOR FREE TUITION

Temporary and retired teachers can now apply for the NSW Government’s free tuition program announced this month in the state budget.

Already more than 8,000 people have expressed their interest to take part in the program.

Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell said the enthusiasm for the program was fantastic, and she was excited that people can now apply for roles.

“There have been steady expressions of interest in the program, and applications are now open for temporary and retired teachers with applications for university tutors and ITE students opening Monday,” Ms Mitchell said.

“Everyone who has expressed an interest will receive an email letting them know how to progress to the next step.

“Possible candidates have provided their postcodes, and we will work through the locations of the candidates and match them with local schools.

“We are also working on digital solutions to ensure that more remote schools can access free tuition.”

The $377 million program was announced this month in the NSW 2020-21 Budget, increasing the ongoing support for students’ education after a disruptive school year.

The NSW Government also created optional online reading and numeracy check-in assessments designed to assist teachers in the classroom to identify where students were up to in their learning.

The assessments cover similar aspects of literacy and numeracy as in NAPLAN reading and numeracy tests.

Ms Mitchell said the assessments were widely used at schools and that the feedback was very positive. 88 per cent of Year 3 students, 86 per cent of Year 5 students and 61 per cent of Year 9 students completed one or more of the check-in assessments.

“The assessments provided teachers with initial results within 48 hours, enabling them to address learning gaps quickly,” Ms Mitchell said.

The assessments show that students were able maintain their development during learning from home but did not progress at the same speed they would have if they were in the classroom.

“I believe that without the incredible efforts from everyone during the learning from home period and the support provided by schools, parents and the department these results would look very different,” Ms Mitchell said.

“Knowing where students are up to allows us to help them in the areas of their education where it is needed most.

“The results from the assessments came with targeted professional development for teachers, helping them to be as prepared as possible to explicitly address the challenges in their classrooms.”

Teachers who would like to register their interest in the tuition program should visit https://www.teach.nsw.edu.au/find-teaching-jobs/covid-learning-support-program

FUTURE FOR FRESHWATER FERRY SECURED

Ferry lovers will be able to enjoy Freshwater services on weekends after the NSW Government confirmed its plan to retain one of the four iconic vessels.

Minister for Transport Andrew Constance said the decision was about balancing the needs of customers and NSW taxpayers, while acknowledging the community’s strong attachment to the Freshwater class ferries.

“We are pressing ahead with upgrades to our ferry fleet to ensure the needs of our customers are met into the future,” Mr Constance said.

“However, like any good government should, we are willing to listen to the community and adapt our plans to get better outcomes for all. Our decision means customers can continue to get on board and ride a Freshwater over the next few years which is great news for the many people who hold them so dear.”

Of the four Freshwater vessels currently operating between Circular Quay and Manly, the Collaroy, which is the youngest in the fleet, will be kept on the Harbour until 2023.

Mr Constance said the retiring Freshwater ferries will be replaced with a new generation of Emerald class ferries which will better suit the needs of customers in the future.

“The Freshwater class hold a lot of fond memories for many but it’s important we keep pace with demand by continuing to modernise our fleet in line with many other leading ferry networks around the world.

“Operating Emerald class vessels will allow us to add more weekly services for customers on the F1 Manly route which is much needed considering it’s the busiest in the country.

“The new ferries also offer better value for money and will enable savings of around $6 million a year. They will also be fully accessible and more energy efficient,” Mr Constance said.

Planning is continuing into the future use of the remaining three vessels and at the appropriate time, the NSW Government will consult with private tourism and heritage operators, who are interested in operating and maintaining the Freshwater ferries.

HOT DEALS KEEP SENIORS COOL FOR CHRISTMAS

The countdown to Christmas is on and the gifts are rolling in for Seniors Card holders with fresh discounts on electricity, home and hardware, groceries, internet and more.

Acting Minister for Seniors Geoff Lee said keeping cool and connected will be at the top of the wish list for many people this Christmas.

“Many seniors are spending more time at home this year to protect their physical health during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr Lee said.

“Seniors have shown incredible resilience in a difficult year while still supporting their families and communities so it’s great to be able to team up with our Seniors Card partners to offer these super savings.”

Simply Energy is offering NSW Seniors Card holders 21% discount on electricity and 11% off their gas bills. Aussie Broadband and Pennytel have lined-up some terrific dollar dazzlers on NBN and mobile phone plans.

“Gas and electricity discounts really help cut the cost of using home cooling systems and will keep heating bills down next winter as well. Mobile and internet savings help unite people online and on the phone during this festive period,” Mr Lee said.

“Cost of living can be a challenge for older people and we want our 1.7 million NSW Seniors Card holders to get the best possible benefits with discounts and special offers from over 7000 businesses across NSW.”

Member for Oatley Mark Coure joined Mr Lee at Mitre 10 Peakhurst and said seniors can grab a five percent discount on gift cards across all Mitre 10 stores in NSW.

“Seniors are so important to our State and this discount gets them a deal on everything from home and garden to timber and hardware so older people can stay active while getting outside to create happier, safer living spaces,” Mr Coure said.

“Projects bring people together whether it’s a chat in the shed over construction or while enjoying green space in the garden. This interaction is so important.”

More info at: www.seniorscard.nsw.gov.au/discounts/homepageoffers/christmas-dazzlers

$75 MILLION REVAMP OF CONCORD OVAL BEGINS

Work has officially commenced on the $75 million redevelopment of Concord Oval which will transform the suburban oval into a world class sporting, recreation and community hub.

The Redevelopment of Concord Oval (ROCO) project is an initiative of the NSW and Federal Government in partnership with Canada Bay Council and Wests Tigers. It will create recreation spaces for the rapidly growing inner west population and include a Centre of Excellence for the Wests Tigers.

Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes said the project would improve quality of life for inner west families.

“I’m proud to say that we committed $42 million worth of funding to make this happen. Quality public spaces are vital for our well-being and this project reimagines space around the oval for the inner-west community to enjoy,” Mr Stokes said.

“As well, it will create 1000 jobs during construction and provide a major boost to the construction industry as we rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Minister for Transport and Roads Andrew Constance said the redevelopment was an initiative of the Parramatta Road Urban Amenity Improvement Program which invests in projects that revitalise the Parramatta Road corridor.

“The project delivers on the NSW Government’s commitment to improve open space and active transport links between the inner west and Parramatta,” Mr Constance said.

Acting Minister for Sport Geoff Lee said the sport precinct, inclusive of the Wests Tigers Centre of Excellence, would support community participation in sport and the development of promising young male and female players from the inner west and south-west Sydney.

“The Wests Tigers Centre of Excellence will feature high-performance training, education and administration facilities as well as dedicated multi-purpose community facilities to enable the club to expand its community programs,” Mr Lee said.

Member for Drummoyne John Sidoti said the redevelopment provided benefits for the entire community.

“The inner west is already the greatest place to live in Australia and the project will provide social and recreational benefits that will make the area an even better place to work, live and play,” Mr Sidoti said.

Federal Member for Reid Fiona Martin said in a multicultural seat like Reid, sport plays an important role in creating social cohesion within our diverse community, particularly among young people.

“The significant upgrade to Concord Oval will strengthen the Wests Tigers’ links to community members, while also strengthening our local economy by generating jobs and bringing spectators from all over Sydney to enjoy the facilities,” Dr Martin said.

Mayor of Canada Bay Council Councillor Angelo Tsirekas said the Concord Oval precinct will secure essential open community space for a growing population.

“This project will secure public access to the site and offer essential community facilities to residents and visitors including an outdoor basketball court, playground, café, community rooms for hire, all alongside exceptional public art paying homage to the site’s historical significance.”

Wests Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe said the project was a genuine alignment between an elite sporting facility and community engagement as the organisation looks to deliver further positive social outcomes.

“It will not only drive positive social value for our community but enable Wests Tigers to operate out of a facility that will be the envy of our competitors — creating a legacy piece for our club, players and staff as well as our Members and stakeholders.

The Redevelopment of Concord Oval is scheduled for completion in early 2022.

HOSPITALS TO CONDUCT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SCREENING

NSW has taken another step to improve women’s safety and wellbeing, launching a $1.8 million pilot program to screen for domestic violence in six hospital emergency departments.

The Domestic Violence Screening and Response in Emergency Departments pilot program has been funded by the Commonwealth Government under the national Health Innovation Fund.

Attorney General and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Mark Speakman said the program offers the widest scale of domestic violence screening of its kind in Australian emergency departments.

“This program will help identify domestic violence so that crucial steps can be taken to protect victim-survivors from harm. And we couldn’t launch it at a better time – as the 16 Days of Activism to help eradicate gender-based violence continues,” Mr Speakman said.

One in four women has experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner, and on average, one woman is killed in Australia every nine days by a current or former partner.

Domestic violence is more prevalent among emergency department users than in most other healthcare and community settings, as it’s a 24-hour service with relative anonymity.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said women who experienced domestic violence could be assured of the best possible care and discretion in emergency departments.

“Our emergency department staff are there to help so if a woman is identified as experiencing domestic violence, health workers will speak with her to better understand her needs and any concerns around wellbeing and safety,” Mr Hazzard said.

“Depending on her individual needs, she may also be provided with further support from NSW Health, or be referred to other support services that can help provide protection and break the cycle of violence.”

As part of the process, health workers will also ask about the safety and wellbeing of children and ensure that any risks are appropriately responded to in partnership with the woman.

Minister for Women Bronnie Taylor said the pilot project was a welcome addition to routine screening services already available in other areas including mental health, maternity, child and family health services.

“This ground-breaking pilot means we will be able identify more instances of domestic violence and intervene early to protect women and save lives,” Mrs Taylor said.

The pilot program will run for 12 months in six public hospital emergency departments – that cannot be identified for safety reasons – with a view to expanding it statewide, depending on the evaluation findings.

For more information on NSW Health services and programs that prevent and respond to violence, abuse and neglect, visit https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/covid-19/Pages/violence-abuse-neglect.aspx.

100 EXPERTS TO SHAPE DESIGN ACROSS NSW

A panel of 100 leading design experts will be charged with improving the quality of the built environment across NSW.

Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes said the new State Design Review Panel pool has been appointed to provide independent expert advice on State Significant development and infrastructure projects and precincts.

“Iconic buildings and structures like the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge put Sydney on the map and it’s so important that we maintain design excellence with our new projects,” Mr Stokes said.

“The new State Design Review Panel will build on the great work of the pilot program launched in 2018, which guided the development of more than 100 public and private projects worth almost $9 billion.

“A survey of participants in the pilot program found the Panel provided greater certainty, stronger design outcomes and in many cases sped up the process. This panel, alongside the soon-to-be-released Design and Place SEPP, will ensure strong design principles are considered every step of the way.

“NSW residents will also be relieved to note that the Treasurer Dom Perrottet has not been selected for the Design Review Panel.”

NSW Government Architect Abbie Galvin said the expanded panel will play a vital role in shaping the design of the State at a critical time.

“The unprecedented investment in infrastructure and the Government’s commitment to create greener places and great public spaces create an exciting climate for panel members to play a role,” Ms Galvin said.

“It’s fantastic to see such a diverse panel with a wide range of skills and expertise, including six Aboriginal design and cultural experts who will help ensure Aboriginal culture and heritage are integral to the design of places in NSW.”

The panel is made up of 88 independent members with expertise across a range of areas including architecture, landscape architecture, urban design,  Aboriginal and European heritage and sustainability, and 12 State Government design champions.

For more information visit www.governmentarchitect.nsw.gov.au

FREE GENERAL ADMISSION TO UPGRADED AUSTRALIAN MUSEUM

Visitors to the Australian Museum will soon be able to explore the $57.5 million renovation that has delivered an increase in floor space for exhibitions, the introduction of education facilities, a new museum shop open and a second café.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the NSW Government has made general admissions free to the public until 30 June 2021 to celebrate the reopening of the museum.

“The Australian Museum is the country’s oldest museum so it is only fitting this world class institution has an upgraded home in the heart of Sydney,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“We want everyone to have the opportunity to explore the natural wonders of the world, learn about our history and be inspired by our culture.”

The 15 month renovation, known as Project Discover, was delivered on time and on budget. It included repurposing back-of-house areas to more than 3,000sqm of new public space, which will allow the museum to host one major travelling international exhibition or two smaller exhibitions at the same time.

Minister for the Arts Don Harwin said the Australian Museum was an important cultural home for the people of NSW and all Australians.

“Our Cultural Institutions come alive when we immerse ourselves in them, and the renewed and expanded Australian Museum is for everyone to enjoy. People can meet and spend time together, escape to a space of natural discovery, and explore,” Mr Harwin said.

“The Museum’s transformation has put it firmly on the world stage, yet it remains a truly Australian museum and an iconic part of Sydney’s own backyard.”

The NSW Government contributed more than $50 million to the Project Discover renovation.

The Australian Museum will reopen with free general admission to the public on Saturday 28 November 2020. Visitors will be required to register their contact details on arrival for COVID-19 contact tracing purposes.

For more information on exhibitions at the Australian Museum visit: https://australian.museum/

RESTRICTIONS EASED IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS

More people will be allowed to gather both at home and in outdoor public spaces, and smaller hospitality venues can increase their capacity under a major easing of COVID-19 restrictions.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the people of NSW have demonstrated that by working together and following COVID-Safe protocols restrictions can safely be eased.

“The community has done an incredible job this year under trying circumstances,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“I hope these changes provide a boost to the hospitality industry and give people certainty in how they can celebrate safely with family, friends and colleagues over the Christmas and New Year period.”

From Tuesday, 1 December:

  • Up to 50 people (currently 20) can visit a residence as long as an outdoor space is being utilised, however, it’s recommended no more than 30 people gather if the residence has no outdoor area.
  • Up to 50 people can gather outdoors in a public space (currently 30).
  • Small hospitality venues (up to 200 square metres in size) will be allowed to have one person per two square metres indoors.

From Monday, 14 December:

  • The Public Health Order requiring employers to allow employees to work from home (where it is reasonably practicable to do so) will be repealed.

As employees return to the office, workplaces are encouraged to have COVID-Safe plans. Employers are encouraged to stagger staff starting and finishing times to reduce the impact on public transport. Customers using public transport are strongly encouraged to wear a mask.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the increased capacity at smaller hospitality venues would make a big difference to cafés and small restaurants across the State.

“We won’t let this be the COVID that stole Christmas. An increase for gatherings at home and a return of the 2m2 rule for smaller hospitality venues, I hope, will be welcome news across the State. We want the people of NSW to have a proper festive season, they deserve it,” Mr Barilaro said.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the NSW Government has worked closely with the experts at NSW Health to ease restrictions safely for end of year celebrations.

“It’s important we work together to keep the community safe; so where possible gather together outdoors, get tested if you have any symptoms and if you are elderly or have underlying health issues you should be particularly cautious,” Mr Hazzard said.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said as we head into the festive season there would be more people moving around the community, which means it is vital people continue to come forward for testing.

“More people will be hosting gatherings in their homes, going out for lunches and dinners and socialising – so if you have any COVID-19 symptoms, however mild, please come forward for testing,” Dr Chant said.

EXTRA SERVICES MAKE SUMMER TRAVEL A BREEZE

More than 1,200 extra services will help keep customers COVID safe across the Sydney transport network, as people continue to return to the CBD and move around this summer.

Minister for Transport and Roads Andrew Constance said the new summer timetable will kick off from December 1, and will allow more people to get to popular public places like shopping centres and beaches.

“More than 1,000 bus services will be added to the 3,300 extra services we added during the COVID pandemic, to help commuters enjoy all the city and surrounds have to offer this summer,” Mr Constance said.

“900 of the weekly services will be added on Friday and Saturday nights to help support Sydney’s night time economy, which is still recovering from the COVID crisis.

“An extra 236 weekend services will run to Bondi, Coogee and Manly beaches, while ferry frequency will also increase to meet current physical distancing requirements.”

Transport for NSW Chief Operations Officer Howard Collins said hundreds of extra staff will be retained for the summer to help customers move safely around the network.

“We are continuing to do everything we can to support customers travelling on the public transport network, with increased cleaning, green physical distancing dots, and additional staff all still in place,” Mr Collins said.

“I thank all the commuters and businesses who have worked with us from day one and continue to work with us to keep services safe and moving.”

Breakdown of the extra summer services:

  • 600 weekly night bus services between 9pm and 1am on Friday and Saturday.
  • 300 weekly Nightrider services from midnight to 4.30am on Friday and Saturday.
  • 236 extra weekend services will run to Bondi, Coogee and Manly beach.
  • 70 weekly light rail services on the L2 Randwick and L3 Kingsford Lines from 7pm on Wednesday to Sunday.
  • Manly Ferry Service uplifted from every 30 minutes to every 20 minutes during the day until 6pm.