Emergency services recognised in Australia Day Honours

Twenty emergency services personnel have been acknowledged for their commitment and dedication to protecting the people of NSW, as part of today’s 2022 Australia Day Honours awards.

The Australian Fire Service Medal was awarded to eight members of the NSW Rural Fire Service and three Fire and Rescue NSW firefighters.

The Emergency Services Medal was awarded to nine people from NSW State Emergency Service, NSW Volunteer Rescue Association, Surf Life Saving NSW and Marine Rescue NSW.

Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience Steph Cooke congratulated the recipients for inspiring the next generation of emergency service workers and for their exemplary service.

“Over the past year our emergency services personnel have again faced challenging times and have worked hard to protect communities right across our State during incredibly trying conditions,” Ms Cooke said.

“Today is a wonderful opportunity to recognise those who have gone above and beyond, often putting their lives on the line to save others. They have responded to floods, fires, drownings, the COVID-19 response and more recently, the threat of tsunami.

“On behalf of the people of NSW, I’d like to thank our emergency services personnel for their ongoing service, and reinforce the Government’s commitment to providing our frontline agencies with the resources they need to keep our communities safe.”

Australian Fire Service Medal:
•         David Ian Bosworth, NSW Rural Fire Service
•         Group Captain Donald (Stuart) Farleigh, NSW Rural Fire Service
•         Jane Hollier, NSW Rural Fire Service
•         Group Captain Jennifer Joy Lawther, NSW Rural Fire Service
•         Captain Brian Edwin McKenzie, NSW Rural Fire Service
•         Group Captain Jonathon Stuart McKenzie, NSW Rural Fire Service
•         Group Captain Christopher Ronald Nolan, NSW Rural Fire Service
•         Group Captain Christopher Helmut Petrikas, NSW Rural Fire Service
•         Superintendent Peter Jacobs, Fire and Rescue NSW
•         Senior Firefighter Tara Lal, Fire and Rescue NSW
•         Captain David O’Donnell, Fire and Rescue NSW

Emergency Services Medal:
•         Sonya Marks, NSW State Emergency Service
•         Wayne Rizzi, NSW State Emergency Service
•         Mark Spencer, NSW Volunteer Rescue Association
•         John Keough, Surf Life Saving NSW
•         Garry Meredith, Surf Life Saving NSW
•         Anthony Rettke, Surf Life Saving NSW
•         Richard Lissenden, Surf Life Saving NSW
•         Stewart Bailey, Surf Life Saving NSW
•         William Blakeman, Marine Rescue NSW

Corrections staff honoured on Australia Day

The exceptional service of five Corrective Services NSW officers at Parramatta, Windsor, Cessnock, Sydney and Goulburn has been acknowledged in this year’s Australia Day Honours List.

Minister for Corrections Geoff Lee congratulated officers Sara Wilcher, John Harrison, Derek Brindle, Cathy Petrovski and Evan Dougall who were awarded the Australian Corrections Medal for their distinguished service and dedication to corrections.

“These officers have shown outstanding leadership and professionalism ensuring our correctional facilities are safe, efficient and committed to improving outcomes for offenders,” Mr Lee said.

“They should be very proud recipients of this prestigious honour; I thank them for their service to NSW and hope their dedication continues to encourage and inspire their colleagues.”

Corrective Services NSW Commissioner Kevin Corcoran PSM said the five officers contribute to corrections in a variety of ways, from providing security and training to helping rehabilitate offenders in custody and the community.

“Sara, John, Derek, Cathy and Evan demonstrate the very best qualities in corrections staff – they’re motivated, inspiring and committed to improving both our workplaces and the rehabilitation prospects for offenders,” Mr Corcoran said.

“Congratulations on this achievement; you have all earned this prestigious medal and we’re very proud to have you working for us.”

Sara Wilcher AMC, who is a highly experienced Unit Leader at the Parramatta Community Corrections office said she is thankful for the opportunities she has had in her career.

“To be nominated for the Australian Corrections Medal is just mind blowing. I am privileged to work in a Department filled with talented, dedicated and generous people,” Ms Wilcher said.

John Harrison, who is the General Manager of the Security Operations Group, said he was humbled by the accolade and credits his success to the support of his family and colleagues.

“I’m honoured to join past recipients, most of whom have been colleagues, all of whom have made important contributions to CSNSW,” John said.

The Australian Corrections Medal for distinguished service and leadership was introduced in 2018 and is awarded in the Australia Day and Queen’s Birthday Honours lists. The five recipients will be invested with their medals at NSW Government House at a later date.

Recipient pictures and biographies available to download here.

Congratulations to the NSW 2022 AOTY Winners

Two extraordinary NSW candidates have taken out top honours in the Australian of The Year Awards, with Dr Daniel Nour, founder of Street Side Medics named the 2022 Young Australian of the Year and Shanna Whan, founder of Sober in the Country named 2022 Australia’s Local Hero at a ceremony in Canberra.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet congratulated both NSW candidates, saying they had made the State of NSW immensely proud.

“These two remarkable NSW citizens have won the Awards due to their positive impact on society and making tangible differences to people’s lives, often tackling difficult issues to help others in need,” Mr Perrottet said.

“At the age of 26, Dr Nour’s mobile healthcare service has helped hundreds of vulnerable people, while Shanna has single-handedly created a life-changing campaign for rural Australia. They have demonstrated an outstanding spirit of service to our nation.

“The Australian of the Year Awards allow us to recognise and celebrate the achievements of remarkable Australians – making immense contributions to our society.

“I can’t think of better people to be bestowed the honour of Young Australian of the Year and Australian Local Hero. They embody the Australian spirit and despite life’s challenges, have led the way in founding these life-saving initiatives and improving the lives of others.”

Dr Nour identified a gap in healthcare for vulnerable people in NSW and as a result of his leadership, this not-for-profit GP-led mobile medical service for people experiencing homelessness has changed the lives of more than 300 patients. Its clinics treat many communicable and non-communicable illnesses and detect conditions that would otherwise go unnoticed.

Ms Whan, founder and CEO of Sober in the Country, is the Australian Local Hero. After almost losing her own life to alcohol addiction, Shanna established a one-woman grassroots campaign creating radical social impact and change around how people discuss and use alcohol in rural Australia. Shanna has dedicated her life since 2015 to saving lives, first as a volunteer to help others locally, and now as the founder of the national charity Sober in the Country.

“The resilience and determination of both Daniel and Shanna inspires us all and I wish them both all the best in the year ahead. I also extend my congratulations to all NSW finalists in this year’s awards for their efforts and contributions to making Australia a better place. Each of them has done our State proud,” Mr Perrottet said.

Multi-million dollar investment in emergency management centres

An additional $31 million is being invested by the NSW Government for the construction of three new co-located Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) and Fire Control Centres (FCC) at Moruya, Tumut and Hawkesbury.

Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience Steph Cooke said the RFS identified a number of existing FCCs as sub-standard and in need of an urgent upgrade, following recommendations in the NSW Bushfire Inquiry.

“The NSW Government is committed to ensuring our emergency services and local communities have the infrastructure and resources needed for future emergencies right across our State,” Ms Cooke said.

“We’re investing $15 million in a new hub at Moruya, and $8 million each in facilities at Tumut and Hawkesbury to ensure our emergency services have purpose-built infrastructure in place to respond to future major emergencies.

“As we have seen throughout the horrific 2019-20 bush fire season, recent floods and the COVID-19 pandemic, our emergency services personnel do a remarkable job responding to threats to the community’s safety and wellbeing.”

Moruya, Tumut and Hawkesbury were identified as the next priority projects by the RFS, after construction began on previously funded facilities at Armidale and Mudgee.

RFS Commissioner Rob Rogers welcomed the development of the three new facilities at Moruya, Tumut and Hawkesbury, which will drive efficiencies in the response to future emergencies.

“When a major disaster strikes, it is critical that all the relevant agencies can come together to coordinate their activities to protect and assist the community,” he said.

“Our existing Fire Control Centres at Moruya, Tumut and Hawkesbury are long past their use-by dates. The development of a new centre answers one of the vital priorities identified in the NSW Bushfire Inquiry.”

The NSW Government and RFS are in the process of finalising suitable locations for the Moruya and Hawkesbury facilities, and will update the community shortly. A location for the Tumut facility was announced in December 2021.

COVID-19 settings remain in place to maintain community safety

The NSW Government will extend current restrictions for another month as the State continues to take a measured response to managing COVID-19 with a focus on a safe return to school and restarting non-urgent elective surgery as soon as possible.

Current settings will continue from Thursday, 27 January 2022 until Sunday, 28 February 2022, including:

  • Hospitality venues, including pubs, clubs, restaurants and cafes, and nightclubs must follow the one person per two square metre rule indoors;
  • Masks are required in all indoor settings (except residences). Masks are strongly encouraged where you cannot maintain a safe distance from others;
  • QR code check-ins are compulsory at certain premises, including hospitality venues and retail shops;
  • Singing and dancing is not permitted in hospitality venues, entertainment facilities, nightclubs, indoor music festivals and indoor major recreation facilities (except for weddings, performers, instructors and students).

Premier Dominic Perrottet said rolling over these measures would continue to protect the community and our health system.

“We have always said we will respond to what is in front of us and tailor our approach as required and that is exactly what we are doing,” Mr Perrottet said.

“We are transitioning to living with COVID and we will need to continually update our approach to ensure we are keeping people safe and protecting our health system.

“It is vital people continue to come forward and get their booster shots to help keep themselves, their family and the community safe.”

As additional measures, people are encouraged to continue to work from home where possible and to reduce mingling when eating and drinking.

Minister for Health Brad Hazzard said there is plenty of availability and supply of boosters in the NSW Health vaccination clinics so those eligible for their booster shot should book as soon as possible.

“The gap between your second jab and your booster is now just three months, so don’t waste time – the sooner we all get our boosters the sooner we will overcome this Omicron wave,” Mr Hazzard said.

“The NSW community has put in an extraordinary effort to get the first two doses of the COVID vaccine, making us one of the most vaccinated populations worldwide. It’s now extremely important to back it in with your booster to lift your protection against the highly transmissible Omicron strain.”

People aged 18 years and older can receive their booster dose at three months after receiving their second dose of any of the COVID-19 vaccines. You can book your COVID-19 vaccine or your booster shot, via www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/vaccination/get-vaccinated.

More information is available at nsw.gov.au.

Netball wins big double at 2021 NSW Sports Awards

There was a double success for Netball NSW at the 2021 NSW Sports Awards last night with the organisation taking home two major awards from CommBank Stadium in Parramatta.

Nominated in five categories, Netball NSW took out the Event of the Year Award for the organisation’s celebration of Reconciliation Week, while the NSW Swifts were named the state’s Sports Team of the Year for 2021, the second time in three years they have won the honour.

Netball NSW was also nominated for Organisation of the Year, while Swifts coach Briony Akle was nominated for Coach of the Year with former EGM of Community & Pathways Darren Simpson up for Administrator of the Year.

Sport NSW has hosted the prestigious NSW Sports Awards program since its inception in 1994. The Sports Awards serve to celebrate outstanding achievements and excellence in NSW sport across various categories, including athletes, teams, coaches, officials, administrators, events and organisations on an annual basis.

Tokyo Olympic Games golden girls Jessica Fox and Cate Campbell were crowned joint 2021 Athletes of the Year winners and Tokyo Paralympic Games swimming gold medallist Matthew Levy was named 2021 Athlete of the Year with a Disability.

There was further success for swimming with Timothy Hodge named Young Athlete of the Year with a Disability while Tokyo Olympic diver Sam Fricker was announced Young Athlete of the Year and Rugby Union referee Amy Perrett was voted as Official of the Year.

Archer Elizabeth Hole was acknowledged as Masters Athlete of the Year for a second time, Wheelchair Sports CEO Mick Garnett was named Administrator of the Year, Basketball NSW was awarded Organisation of the Year and the NSW Gladiators Wheelchair Rugby team claimed the Team of the Year with a Disability title.

Netball NSW would like to extend special congratulations to the NSW Community Team who delivered a fantastic celebration of Reconciliation Week, alongside the NSW Swifts and GIANTS Netball, and recognise the Swifts for another proud State honour.

Supporting our small businesses and NFPs through tough times

Mogo small businesses will get government recovery support, through the new Storm & Flood Small Business Disaster Recovery Grant, which will allow them to apply for up to $50,000 to help pay for clean-up and reinstatement of operations.

Liberal candidates for Bega and Gilmore, Dr Fiona Kotvojs and Andrew Constance, welcomed support for local businesses that have been doing it tough after a series of natural disasters while also dealing with the impact of the COVID pandemic.

Andrew Constance said that local small business owners have been hit by one disaster after another.
“No one can imagine the pain these businesses have suffered after fire, pandemic and flood,” Mr Constance said. “It has been unbearable and I hope that today’s announcement goes some way to helping them through this dark time.”

Dr Fiona Kotvojs thanked the local businesses for their advice and guidance, in support of the advocacy to the state and federal governments.

“Andrew and I want to thank Naomi LaFranchi for her advocacy and representation on behalf of local businesses doing it tough,” said Dr Kotvojs. “Between natural disasters and COVID keeping many tourists away, this community hasn’t had much of a break.”

“These businesses are the backbone of the Mogo community, and helping them makes it a bit easier for the whole community to recover.”

Minister for Emergency Management and National Recovery and Resilience, Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie, said it was vital to provide support to help small business bounce back as quickly as possible.

“The Australian and NSW Governments are focused on giving small businesses and not-forprofits the tools they need to clean-up, rebuild and keep operating,” Senator McKenzie said. “We will continue to work with the NSW Government to roll out targeted support for communities impacted by these devastating storms and floods.”

New South Wales Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional New South Wales Paul Toole said the Australian and NSW Governments are standing by the people of the regions.

“We know that small businesses are the lifeblood of regional communities and have borne the brunt of recent natural disasters,” Mr Toole said.

“We will continue to support them for as long as it takes to bounce back.”

New South Wales Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience Steph Cooke urged communities to utilise the available support.

“These new grants of up to $50,000 complement a number of existing flood recovery supports for individuals, primary producers and local councils,” Ms Cooke said.

“Storm season will continue until March, so I am encouraging communities across our State to be vigilant to the ongoing threats in the short-term, and continue working with us in the long-term to build a more resilient NSW.”

New South Wales Minister for Small Business Eleni Petinos said the Government was committed to working closely with small businesses in their recovery.

“This immediate support will help to protect local economies while communities recover, keeping businesses open and people in jobs,” Ms Petinos said.

To register interest for the grant and be notified when applications become available, visit www.service.nsw.gov.au or call 13 77 88.

Helping those that help our community – supporting the volunteers

The NSW Government is delivering hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of new equipment and facility upgrades for rescue and emergency crews across the region, to help support their essential work.

Liberal candidate for Bega, Dr Fiona Kotvojs, welcomed the Government’s $2 million investment in local Rural Fire Service (RFS) brigades and Marine Rescue and State Emergency Service (SES) units, ensuring that they are better equipped to face emergencies.

“After a decade as an RFS volunteer, I know that having good equipment and facilities makes all the difference in the world,” said Dr Kotvojs. “After having to respond to the floods, bushfires and numerous other emergencies our community has gone through, it’s great to see this level of support for our volunteers from the NSW Government.”

The State Emergency Service’s Moruya Unit is receiving a new General-Purpose Vehicle and a specially-equipped Light Storm Trailer worth $157,000.

The Marine Rescue NSW Batemans Bay Unit has had a $529,000 facilities upgrade. For the first time, Marine Rescue NSW volunteers with a disability will also be able to access the meeting and operational areas of their headquarters, thanks to the installation of a lift.

Eight new appliances have also been handed over to Rural Fire Service volunteers on the Far South Coast. Members of the Tuross Head, Deua River, Moruya, Batemans Bay, Long Beach, Bodalla and Narooma Brigades will benefit from a large-scale tanker and six smaller appliances, as well as a Senior Field Commander vehicle based at the Moruya Fire Control Centre.

Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience Steph Cooke said the resources and facilities are an investment in the safety of local volunteers and the communities they serve.

“Communities up and down the South Coast have faced some of the worst fires, floods, storms and other emergencies this State has ever seen,” Ms Cooke said.

“We rely on our wonderful volunteers to protect us and that’s why the NSW Government is dedicated to providing our emergency services with safe, reliable and modern resources and facilities.”

Covid-Smart plan to start 2022 school year

Students will return to school under COVID-smart settings that will minimise the risk of the virus and allow teachers and pupils to return safely to the classroom.

As part of the new measures, every student and teacher in NSW government and non-government schools will be able to receive rapid antigen test (RAT) kits before school returns on February 1.

The COVID-Smart Plan to keep schools open and students safe includes:

  • Twice a week surveillance testing for primary and high school students, school staff and early childhood staff. Surveillance testing will be undertaken for the first four weeks of term, with two weeks of supply distributed before term starts
  • Mandatory mask wearing for all staff and high school students, with masks encouraged for children in primary schools
  • Limiting interaction between year groups
  • Limiting visitors to those providing essential curriculum and wellbeing support
  • COVID-safe settings in place for music, sport and excursions
  • Maximising natural and mechanical ventilation, with air purifiers dispatched to where they are needed
  • Contingency plans in place to manage any disruptions to the workforce

Premier Dominic Perrottet said supporting students to return safely to the classroom is vital after two years of disruption to their education.

“Students learn best at school, some students have spent a quarter of their schooling at home. We’re committed to bringing students back safely,” Mr Perrottet said.

“New COVID-smart measures will help make this happen, including surveillance testing both students and staff twice weekly with RATs.

“What is most important about this approach is that it allows students to enjoy all aspects of their schooling in a safe and sensible way.

“The government is distributing more than 12 million RATs to over 3150 government, non-government schools and early childhood centres to assist with surveillance testing of staff and students.”

Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell said testing complements other COVID smart measures in schools, including mandatory vaccination for staff, increased vaccination coverage for students , mask-wearing, cleaning, cohorting and limited visitors on-site.

“We have worked closely with the Victorian Government to create plans that achieve the same important goals of seeing our students learning in their classrooms safely and with minimal disruption,” Ms Mitchell said.

“Activities students love, such as music, school sport and assemblies, will continue with settings in place similar to late last year.”

A number of staffing contingencies are in place including utilising retired and studying teachers.

The Association of Independent Schools of New South Wales Dr Geoff Newcombe AM said all three school sectors worked closely together to develop the back to school arrangements.

“School communities should feel confident about returning for Term 1 under these arrangements, which allow a wide range of activities to proceed with appropriate risk-assessment and planning,” Dr Newcombe said.

Catholic Schools NSW Chief Executive Officer Dallas McInerney said it is imperative that we have schools that are safe and that remain open.

“We need to keep our students, teachers and families safe and also provide stability. We know that our kids learn best when they’re in the classroom with their teacher and peers,” Mr McInerney said.

Families will be notified by their schools on how and when to collect the RAT kits for their children.

In the 12 to 15-year-old age group, more than 80 per cent of children have had their
first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 78 per cent are double-dosed. In the 5 to 11-year-old age group, more than 24 per cent of children have had their first dose.

Clinical evidence suggests the Omicron variant is milder and less likely to result in serious illness, particularly amongst children, and that vaccines, especially boosters, are effective in protecting the community. More information on the return to school settings for NSW public schools is available at https://education.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/advice-for-families

$20 million health win for Batemans Bay

The community of Batemans Bay will benefit from a new $20 million HealthOne facility as part of the NSW Government’s record investment of $500 million to ensure that more health services and infrastructure are delivered to rural and regional NSW.

Minister for Health, Brad Hazzard, said Batemans Bay HealthOne has been undergoing planning for the past six months, and will be a one-stop, unique model of integrated care for the community.

“The NSW Liberals and Nationals Government has consistently worked to deliver health upgrades to rural communities, so that people can access high quality health services in contemporary, purpose built facilities close to home,” Mr Hazzard said.

The model brings together Commonwealth-funded general practice and state-funded primary and community healthcare services, including dental, pharmacy and allied health professionals, to create a healthcare hub in one convenient location.

“While Commonwealth and State Governments have different areas of responsibility in delivering health services, the community just wants an effective, seamless system that works for them,” Mr Hazzard said.

“HealthOnes are particularly beneficial for people who have complex health needs, and are a proven successful model that bridges the gap between private providers and Commonwealth and State delivered health services.”

The new $20 million HealthOne at Batemans Bay complements the NSW Government’s $260 million investment in a new Eurobodalla Regional Hospital which will be built at Moruya.

Since coming into Government, the Liberals and Nationals have delivered more than 110 health capital projects across rural and regional NSW with more than 70 additional projects currently underway.