BUSHFIRE RESPONDERS AWARDED FOR HEROISM

The outstanding contribution of volunteers and service personnel during the 2019-2020 bushfires is being recognised with a new NSW Bushfire Emergency Citation.

More than 65,000 people involved across a broad spectrum of the firefight will receive a citation, certificate of recognition, commemorative cap and a letter from the Premier acknowledging their contribution and thanking them for their service.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said NSW faced an unprecedented bushfire season during 2019-2020 and this initiative recognises those who served both on the front line and behind the scenes.

“This citation is thoroughly deserved for the thousands of volunteers and emergency services personnel who put their safety on the line to protect lives and properties. Equally deserving are those recognised who provided critical behind the scenes support,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“In harrowing conditions, those recognised kept turning up to help their communities day after day, week after week, month after month. This citation serves as a reminder of their heroic dedication to the people of NSW in the most trying circumstances.”

Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott said it’s imperative we recognise the hard work and dedication of those who served their community during the ‘black summer’ bushfires.

“This is an opportunity for the people of NSW to show our brave emergency services personnel that we don’t consider them to be simply public servants in uniform. The unique nature of decorations and awards personify the bravery required and dedication to service.” Mr Elliott said.

The NSW Emergency Bushfire citations extend beyond NSW, with firefighters from interstate and overseas recognised. Thousands of Australians interstate will receive citations along with more than 300 people from overseas to thank them for their efforts in NSW’s biggest bushfire crisis in living memory.

Commissioner of Resilience NSW, Shane Fitzsimmons, joins the Premier as a signatory on the certificates of recognition.

“The NSW Bushfire Emergency Citation symbolises mateship, teamwork, volunteering and helping when times are tough,” the Commissioner said.

“They are a meaningful commemoration of a bushfire season we won’t forget and a symbol of the state’s gratitude.”

NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Rob Rogers said the entire emergency services family deserves to be honoured.

“It is a privilege to represent the hard working members of the NSW Rural Fire Service and I am especially proud of those members who put service above self during the last bush fire season,” Mr Rogers said.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE TRAINING FOR COMMUNITY AND RELIGIOUS LEADERS

Community and religious leaders will be empowered to respond to domestic and family violence through a new training program to begin next month.

Attorney General and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Mark Speakman said the accredited course, run by TAFE NSW, will give participants the tools and resources to help people who seek their guidance.

Mr Speakman said the training aimed to strengthen victim support while encouraging increased reporting across the state.

“Multicultural communities and those who’ve recently emigrated to NSW will often look to local community or religious leaders as a first point of contact about a range of issues, including potential domestic abuse,” Mr Speakman said.

“It’s hoped this training will make a significant difference for those who face many barriers to reporting violence in the home, or may even struggle to identify it in the first place.

“This is particularly important in the current COVID-19 climate where frontline domestic violence services have reported increases in the number of victims seeking support. Empowering leaders in the community means victim-survivors have more avenues for help.

“Educated with the right information and the skills to recognise abuse in different forms means leaders may be able to provide that vital support to survivors for the first time and, ultimately, help ensure that people get the crucial help they need in times of crisis.”

Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education and Acting Minister for Multiculturalism Geoff Lee said community and religious leaders are recognised and respected voices who will now be better equipped to support victims who seek their help.

“They can help promote healthy relationships and encourage perpetrators to change their behaviour and help victims seek the appropriate services and support,” Mr Lee said.

“The initial response when a disclosure is made can heavily affect the outcome for victims – so this training could very well save lives.”

Sikh community leader Harinder Kaur said community and religious leaders are an important part of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities’ and migrants’ lives, and community members trust them.

“If community and religious leaders educate themselves about the current complexities of domestic and family violence, they can give community members practical solutions and link them to the right services, while supporting them spiritually,” Ms Kaur said.

The sessions will cover topics including awareness training of what constitutes domestic violence, ‘accidental counselling’, managing vicarious trauma, child protection and reporting responsibilities, as well as safety assessment skills. Referral information and other resources will also be provided for ongoing practical support.

There will be four two-day courses (three in metropolitan areas and one in regional NSW) with a maximum of 25 leaders on each course.

The courses complement awareness training already delivered by the NSW Government’s Diversity Services team, which have reached 170 leaders between October 2018 and June this year. This new course is more detailed and rigorous, and participants will be presented with a certificate at completion.

The free ‘COVID-safe’ training is open to any recognised religious or community leader who works within NSW.

The first session will start on Wednesday, 7 October at the TAFE St George Campus, with the remaining sessions expected to run by July next year.

For more information, or to register interest contact diversity-services@justice.nsw.gov.au.

For confidential advice, support and referrals related to domestic and family violence, contact: 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732), The NSW Domestic Violence Line (1800 65 64 63) or Men’s Referral Service (1300 766 491).

MORE COUNSELLORS IN THE PIPELINE FOR NSW SCHOOLS

The NSW Government is building on its commitment to provide additional school counselling staff in public schools over the next three years.

Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell said NSW public schools will have a strong pipeline of trained and qualified school counsellors and school psychologists to draw on over the next few years.

“Through the NSW Government’s sponsorship and scholarship programs, we will be training up to 328 people to join the school counselling workforce between 2020 and 2023,” Ms Mitchell said.

“Given the tough year that has been 2020, with bushfires, drought, floods and of course COVID-19, it is more important than ever to enable highly skilled people to enter this important profession through various pathways, a mix of external recruitment and the sponsorship and scholarship pipeline.”

Ms Mitchell said that the pipeline of 328 professionals will be hired as part of the NSW Government’s election commitment to provide quality mental health support in schools.

“These new positions will bring the total number of graduate scholarships for psychology and teacher retraining to 566 since 2016 through the Supported Students Successful Students initiative,” she said.

“We’ve established a great relationship with several universities including Wollongong, Charles Sturt and Sydney to provide the training needed for our interested teachers and psychology graduates.

“The NSW Government is also on track to deliver the 100 additional school counsellor position as part of its $88.4 million student wellbeing election commitment.

“We have committed to employing both a full time psychologist or counsellor, and a student support officer, in every government high school.

“Of these 100 new positions, 25 counselling staff are on the job four months ahead of schedule.

“These trained specialists will support students who seek help from within the school gates.”

Schools have funding and flexibility to hire additional support staff if their community requires it.

There are currently more than 1000 school counselling positions in NSW public schools, with someone available for students to talk to in every high school.

TIME TO EXPLORE NSW – REBOOTING TOURISM IN 2020

The NSW Government is calling on all Sydneysiders and NSW residents to be a COVID safe tourist in their own backyard and support local businesses by booking tours and visiting attractions.

Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said NSW residents could help reboot the state’s visitor economy by hitting the road for a short-break, taking a Sydney ‘playcation’, or even making the most of a day trip.

“There’s something special about being a tourist and giving yourself permission to enjoy experiences that we usually reserve for holidays,” Minister Ayres said.

“Treat yourself to a ‘playcation’ around Sydney and NSW – take a guided tour, book a hotel stay, dine at a special restaurant, or visit a local attraction.

“We all want to make a difference by staying and spending locally, so let’s enjoy all corners of NSW and jam-pack our itineraries with NSW’s finest experiences.

“You’ll be rewarded with the diversity and beauty of our state and make a huge difference to our tourism businesses that are doing it tough.”

The NSW Government is releasing two new tools to inspire holidaymakers and help them ‘value-add’ to their stay:

  • An interactive ‘Love NSW’ map that allows travellers to search for and identify tourism experiences based on theme. Users can also find experiences within three hours’ drive of a selected location, or zoom in to street level to see links to even more tourism businesses (www.lovensw.com.au)
  • A series of new Sydney ‘playcation’ itineraries highlighting the luxury, family, outdoor adventure, foodie, culture, romance and wellness experiences on offer across the CBD and Greater Sydney (www.sydney.com)

Trends in holiday planning show that the top three types of holiday Australians will take in the next 12 months are a road trip (68%), a trip to visit friends and family (66%) and a trip to the countryside (65%).

“Recent research shows that, compared to pre-COVID, travellers are 76% more likely to support local businesses and communities, and 68% more likely to visit parts of Australia they haven’t been to before,” Mr Ayres said.

“We’ve all had our lives on hold for six months or more, now’s the time to get out there, enjoy our NSW stories, landscapes and experiences and turn 2020 around together.

“Now’s the time to support our local tourism operators but it’s not a time to be complacent.”

Visitors, locals and businesses are reminded to stay COVID safe during the school holidays by maintaining social distancing, good hygiene and staying home if unwell. Holidaymakers are encouraged to phone ahead to confirm bookings and check local conditions with business operators. For more information www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19

For travel inspiration: www.visitnsw.com and www.sydney.com

COMMUNITY URGED TO ‘GET READY’ FOR BUSHFIRE SEASON

Residents across NSW are being encouraged to get ready for the upcoming bushfire season and ensure their home is prepared and their bushfire plan is up to date.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the NSW Government has worked closely with the RFS and Resilience NSW to ensure the State is as prepared as it can be for the upcoming bushfire season.

“In May, we announced $45 million in additional funding for the RFS to fast-track hazard reduction, employ 100 new paid State Mitigation Crew positions and upgrade the firefighting fleet,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“We are as prepared as we can be, but it’s also important the community understands the important role they play in having a well-prepared property and fire plan.

“It takes five minutes to make or improve a plan that will give your property and your family the best chance of survival should you be threatened by a bushfire.”

Police and Emergency Services Minister David Elliott said Get Ready Weekend is a great opportunity for families to get to know their local firefighters and find out about the fire risk in their area.

“I encourage all residents to seek out and understand their bushfire risk, regardless of how your local Brigade is hosting their Get Ready Weekend activities,” Mr Elliott said.

“We saw last season how quickly fires can develop and threaten homes and lives, so now is the time to get ready.”

Commissioner Rob Rogers said recent wet conditions have seen an increase of vegetation growth west of the divide, bringing an unwelcome threat of grass fires.

“Grass fires can be especially dangerous because they start quickly and spread rapidly, destroying not only homes and stock but also lives and livelihoods,” Commissioner Rogers said.

“Last season was unprecedented, in terms of area burnt, lives lost and homes destroyed, but we cannot be complacent this season thinking that we won’t see fire activity again.”

The top four tips to getting ready for bushfire season are:

  • Discuss what to do if a bushfire threatens your home;
  • Prepare your home and get it ready for bushfire season;
  • Know the bushfire alert levels; and
  • Keep all the bushfire information numbers, websites and the Fires Near Me app handy.

Brigades have been taking part in more than 480 events this Get Ready Weekend, with a range of displays, demonstrations and online activities. Find out about local activities here.

To prepare your bushfire plan visit myfireplan.com.au/

SMALL BUSINESSES ENCOURAGED TO APPLY FOR SOUTHERN BORDER GRANT

Eligible NSW small businesses impacted by the closure of the NSW and Victorian border are now benefiting from the $45 million Southern Border Small Business Support Grant program.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the grant would help ease the pressures and costs of keeping businesses open by providing them with much-needed cash flow.

“The NSW Government is committed to supporting small businesses impacted by the border closures and keeping these communities open and operating,” Mr Perrottet said.

“This support will help keep businesses in business and people in jobs and ensure these communities continue to have access to local services and products.”

Minister for Finance and Small Business Damien Tudehope said the grant could be used to pay for immediate operating expenses such as utilities, as well as to develop marketing and communication materials.

“We want to help businesses like the local takeaway restaurant and corner shop to keep their lights on and doors open, which is why the grant has two tiers to provide the highest level of support possible,” Mr Tudehope said.

“The first tier is a $5,000 grant for eligible employing and non-employing small businesses, such as non-employing sole traders, that have suffered at least a 30 per cent decline in turnover as a result of the border closure.”

“Meanwhile the second tier is a $10,000 grant for eligible employing small businesses that have suffered at least a 75 per cent decline as a result of the closure.”

Member for Albury Justin Clancy said the grant was available to eligible small businesses in 13 NSW Local Government Areas along the southern border.

“Businesses along the border are doing it tough and communities are suffering from financial and emotional distress,” Mr Clancy said.

“Already more than 700 businesses have applied for the grants, at a value of over $5 million,” he said.
The Southern Border Small Business Support Grant opened on Tuesday, 8 September and will close Sunday, 18 October 2020.

The grant can only be used for eligible expenses incurred since the closure of the NSW and Victoria border on 8 July 2020 for which no other government support is available.

More information on the new grants is available at www.service.nsw.gov.au/southern-border-small-business-support-grant


BACKGROUND

Eligibility
Tier 1: Business and not-for-profits will be eligible for the $5,000 (tier one) grant if they:

  • Are a non-employing business or a business that employs fewer than 20 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff as at 8 July 2020
  • Have an Australian Business Number (ABN) as at 1 March 2020 registered in an eligible Local Government Area (LGA) – see list below
  • Have experienced a decline in turnover of at least 30 per cent since 8 July 2020 compared to a period of at least two weeks between 30 March 2020 – 7 July 2020 inclusive
  • Have total Australian wages below the NSW Government 2019-20 payroll tax threshold of $900,000 as at 1 March 2020
  • Have an annual turnover of more than $75,000 as at 1 March 2020
  • Have costs from 8 July 2020 associated with surviving or adapting to the new business environment, for which there is no other government support available.

Tier 2: Businesses and not-for profits will be eligible for the $10,000 (tier two) grant if they:

  • Meet all the eligibility criteria for the $5,000 (tier one) grant, except they must:
  • Be an employing small business with at least 0.5 FTE staff but fewer than 20 FTE staff as at 8 July 2020
  • Have experienced a decline in turnover of at least 75 per cent since 8 July 2020 compared to a period of at least two weeks between 30 March 2020 – 7 July 2020 inclusive. Applicants must submit evidence to show they have experienced a decline in turnover of at least 75 per cent.

Eligible LGAs are:

  1. Albury City Council
  2. Balranald Shire Council
  3. Berrigan Shire Council
  4. Bega Valley Shire Council
  5. Edward River Council
  6. Federation Council
  7. Greater Hume Council
  8. Hay Shire Council
  9. Murray River Council
  10. Murrumbidgee Council
  11. Snowy Monaro Regional Council
  12. Snowy Valleys Council
  13. Wentworth Shire Council

28 PINs issued following Bondi Junction house party

Police will issue 28 Penalty Infringement Notices (PINs) following a house party allegedly breaching the Public Health Order in Sydney’s east overnight.

About 1.20am (Saturday 19 September 2020), officers from Eastern Suburbs Police Area Command were called to a home on Oxford Street, near York Road, Bondi Junction, following noise complaints and reports of a party.

Police attended and observed a large group in the home.

After speaking with a 26-year-old man, it was established he was one of four occupants and there were 24 guests inside, which exceeded the allowable 20-person limit for private gatherings.

The guests were told to leave the premises and given a move on direction from the area.

Under recent changes to the Public Health Order, the occupants and attendees will all be issued $1000 PINs.

Anyone who has information regarding individuals or businesses in contravention of a COVID-19-related Public Health Order is urged to contact Crime Stoppers at https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au.

SUMMER SUMMIT PLANS TO BOOST FESTIVE SYDNEY

Sydney cafes, bars, restaurants and business operators are set for a summer revival with the NSW Government’s Summer Summit paving the way for business to capitalise on Sydney’s transformation into a COVID safe alfresco city.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet, Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes, Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello and Minister for Finance and Small Business Damien Tudehope hosted dozens of key business leaders and operators at the Museum of Contemporary Art, where a raft of ideas were discussed to re-ignite Sydney’s economy as the countdown to summer begins.

“We have heard loud and clear from those on the front lines about what is needed to restore public confidence and get the city buzzing again to ensure businesses have a bumper summer while keeping the people safe,” Mr Perrottet said.

“Our health response has been strong and that will allow us to have a strong economic response to ensure Sydney is ready for summer, which is just 73 days away.”

Mr Perrottet said the Government was already working with City of Sydney Council to ensure retailers, cafes, bars and restaurants had the best opportunities possible across the Christmas and summer trading period.

“We are exploring a range of options and ideas and are willing to invest in the right projects that support businesses and jobs.”

At the Summit the NSW Government and City of Sydney Council agreed to explore a range of possible measures, including:

  • Allowing more flexible outdoor dining and seating arrangements;
  • Establish outdoor entertainment stages throughout the CBD, in areas such as Martin Place;
  • Enhance promotion of cultural institutions and allow them to stay open later;
  • Increase promotion and advertising to attract people into the Sydney CBD;
  • Explore COVID safe creative ideas such as hosting outdoor cultural events;
  • Recruiting renowned local artists to perform in dining areas and entertainment precincts throughout the CBD;
  • Longer retail trading hours;
  • More flexible public transport options;

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said we must work together to get life back into our city centre while ensuring the safety of residents, workers and visitors.

“We need to allow and encourage businesses to operate outdoors, and we need to support our creative and cultural life to activate and draw people back to our city, safely,” the Lord Mayor said.

“We want to ensure our city businesses survive, and create new opportunities to thrive in the long term.”

Mr Stokes said people would be keen to get out and enjoy the harbour city with the return of warmer weather and daylight savings.

“As we strip off our winter layers, let’s look at how we can also strip away red tape and get this city sizzling,” Mr Stokes said.

“We’re going to look at how we can make it easier for local governments and businesses to use outdoor spaces.”

Mr Dominello said it was time to redouble our efforts and take advantage of Sydney’s summer climate.

“We want people to get out and enjoy everything our great city has to offer and to do that we need to make better use of the natural elements Sydney is blessed with,” Mr Dominello said.

“This week we established a special taskforce, declared red tape enemy number one, and are determined to get the Alfresco job done.”

Minister for Finance and Small Business Damien Tudehope said the NSW Government was keen to hear first-hand from those on the ground who could share ideas on how the city could be re-ignited.

“We want to do all we can to ensure Sydney’s small businesses prosper and thrive and this summit has uncovered a variety of suggestions and options on how that can best happen so our city can flourish once again,” Mr Tudehope said.

The relevant ideas, issues and options raised at the Summit today will help shape policy, inform the upcoming NSW State Budget and be channelled through to work already underway such as the outdoor dining taskforce headed by Minister Victor Dominello.

Leeton venue fined over breach of COVID-19 Public Health Orders

A licensed premises in Leeton has been issued a $5,000 fine following non-compliance with COVID-19 Public Health Orders.

About 11.30pm on Friday 30 August 2020, police conducted a business inspection at a licensed premises in Leeton.

Police observed that the front bar area was crowded and the layout of the room did not provide sufficient room for patrons to be physically distanced.

Police also observed a number of patrons standing and moving between tables, without physically distancing.

Licensing officers from Murrumbidgee Police District commenced inquiries into potential breaches of the current COVID-19 Public Health Orders.

As a result of inquiries, the 31-year-old female licensee was issued with a Penalty Infringement Notices for not comply with noticed direction re s 7/8/9 – COVID 19 – Corporation – $5,000.

Licencing police will continue to enforce compliance checks at licensed premises and other venues across the Murrumbidgee area, to ensure the Public Health Orders are being adhered to.

Anyone who has information regarding individuals or businesses in contravention of a COVID-19-related ministerial direction is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au.

Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report crime via NSW Police social media pages.

Operation Border Closure continues at NSW/Victoria border

A large-scale police operation is continuing along the NSW/Victoria border, with police facilitating the safe movement of more than two million vehicles into NSW.

Since midnight on Wednesday 8 July 2020, thousands of police officers from across the state have been deployed to support border crossings between NSW and Victoria.

The Public Health (COVID-19 Border Control) Amendment Order (No 6) 2020, under section 7 of the Public Health Act 2010, stipulates that border region residents can travel within the border region for any reason with a valid permit as of 12.01am yesterday (Thursday 17 September 2020).

The border resident permit now excludes the ‘permitted purpose’ clause, giving border residents the flexibility to move between border communities for any reason. Existing border region permits will remain the same and there is no need for residents to apply for a new permit.

The changes to the order also allows for recreational activities on the Murray River for border region residents with a current permit.

The Border Region has also been extended to approximately 50km on either side of the border. The new zone can be viewed online at https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/border-zone-address-check.

Operation Border Closure Forward Commander, Superintendent Paul Smith, said police will continue to work with local communities to keep both sides of the border safe.

“The changes to the orders are certainly good news for our border communities,” Supt Smith said.

“The aim of this operation has always been to keep NSW safe, while minimising disruptions to the daily lives of our border communities.

“Police will continue to enforce all ministerial directions in order to protect our health and wellbeing, but we do rely on community support and compliance.

“I would like to extend my thanks to our border communities for their patience and compliance during these times,” Supt Smith said.

For more information about exemptions or to apply for a permit, please visit: https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/transaction/apply-covid-19-nsw-border-entry-permit

Anyone who has information regarding individuals or businesses in contravention of a COVID-19-related ministerial direction is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report crime via NSW Police social media pages.