Support for senior Australians as COVID-19 restrictions continue

Senior Australians affected by ongoing lockdowns can access vital support services to ensure they stay socially connected and maintain their health.
Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck, said it was important older Australians and their families – particularly those living across hardest-hit local government areas in New South Wales and South East Queensland – understood what was available.
“Challenges remain for senior and vulnerable Australians as we continue to navigate the impact of the pandemic, particularly the effect of the Delta strain,” Minister Colbeck said.
“Staying connected and healthy has never been more important.
“Aged care services remain open and available to those who need them, especially for isolated Australians.”
The Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line (1800 171 866) is an important first step for any older Australians who need support or assistance.
Additionally, Australian Government has provided the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) with $4.3 million to help deliver education, information and advocacy services for senior Australians and their families.
This extends to making information accessible for residential aged care residents and their families in areas most affected by lockdowns.
OPAN also offers a Wellbeing Check service to ensure the provision of emotional or social support, particularly for those people who have reduced or cancelled home care services due to pandemic concerns.
It is available to both Home Care Package or Commonwealth Home Support program recipients.
“We know due to concerns about COVID-19, some senior Australians have reduced or cancelled their in-home aged care services,” Minister Colbeck said.
“We want to ensure people have the best information when making these decisions, as reduction of services may negatively impact health and wellbeing.”
Minister Colbeck said vaccination remained the key defence against COVID-19.
Almost 80 per cent of senior Australians aged 70 years and over have received a first dose COVID-19 vaccine, which demonstrates strong demand.
In addition, more than 86 per cent of people of any age in residential aged care have received their first dose and 83 per cent are fully vaccinated.
“Vaccination is the best protection against hospitalisation and death due to COVID-19,” Minister Colbeck said.  “Jabs can now be arranged through your GP, Commonwealth vaccination clinic or state and territory run vaccination clinics.”
For senior Australians with mobility issues, it is encouraged that you contact your GP to discuss the possibility of a home visit to receive your vaccination.
The Government continues to strongly encourage all in‑home and community aged care workers to get vaccinated.
Senior Australian COVID-19 support numbers and advocacy supports

  • Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line – 1800 171 866
  • Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement – 1800 22 22 00
  • My Aged Care Contact Centre – 1800 200 422
  • Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) – 1800 700 600

A translation and interpreter service is available to access the above numbers (131 450). Senior Australians who require an interpreter can call this number select the language they speak and provide one of the COVID-19 support numbers to access the information in their own language.
Mental health services are also available for COVID-19 support:

Decade of discoveries as Newcastle Museum notches up 10 years at Honeysuckle

It’s welcomed almost 1.5 million visitors, won 20 state and national awards, displayed 71 exhibitions and held thousands of special events – but after a decade at Honeysuckle there’s still more to discover at Newcastle Museum.
Today marks the 10th anniversary since the Museum opened its doors at Honeysuckle after transforming the former Railway Workshops into a state-of-the-art cultural facility.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said Newcastle Museum is one of the jewels in the city’s cultural crown.
“Newcastle Museum plays a key role in the rich diversity of experiences that help attract visitors to our city,” Cr Nelmes said.
“The award-winning Museum is on the cutting edge of contemporary museum practice and has been nationally recognised for its innovative exhibitions, which create insightful and immersive ways to interpret and preserve our city’s fascinating history.
“Upgrading and expanding this critical facility through its move to Honeysuckle saw the Museum become a cornerstone of the wider Civic cultural precinct.
“I’m proud to see how much it has achieved during the past 10 years and I can’t wait to experience what else it has in store during the next decade and beyond.”
Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes (middle) and Newcastle Museum Director Julie Baird (right) celebrate the 10th anniversary milestone with long-time Museum visitors Sasha Pyatetskaya and her sons Brooklyn and Sebastian Skrynnik.
Newcastle Museum Director Julie Baird said it had been amazing to see the transformation both within the Museum’s Heritage-listed buildings and in the surrounding landscape over the years.
“The Museum’s transformation will continue following the mass planting of various native tree species in four sections of Museum Park yesterday as part of the Museum’s Living Labels project, Ms Baird said.
“The trees and shrubs planted relate directly to objects within the Museum’s collection and offer a new way to interpret and understand Newcastle’s geography and history, providing a living connection between the natural landscape and the stories of our past.
“We plan to celebrate the Museum’s significant milestone with activities across the next 12 months, kicking off with a 10th anniversary exhibition showcasing specially commissioned works by much-loved local artist Trevor Dickinson, whose colourful, larger-than-life murals including the Newcastle Museum Photowall have formed such an intrinsic part of the Museum and its surrounds.
“Newcastle Museum is a celebration of our city and we are a significant element of the lives and identity of Newcastle’s people.
“Newcastle Museum is committed to telling the stories of both ordinary and extraordinary Novocastrians through our collections, exhibitions, and audience engagement – this is who we are, where we’ve come from and where we’re going.
“This facility plays a major role in Newcastle, not just as a tourist attraction but as an inclusive and accessible space that educates, entertains and benefits the community in so many ways.”
Among those who have benefitted from the Museum since it moved to Honeysuckle is 10-year-old Sebastian Skrynnik, whose parents immigrated to Newcastle from Russia and have been taking him to the Museum since he was a baby.
“We’ve shared a lot of great memories inside these walls,” Sebastian said.
“It’s where I came a few times a week as we couldn’t afford to go to preschool or playgroups – but the museum gave me a place that had everything I needed. I remember playing here with so many different kids, exploring and learning.
“My parents came to Australia to give me a better life, and what they found for us was a new family and a community that’s part of my life now.”
The Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm. Current exhibitions include the self-curated The Castanet Club: an exhibition you can dance to! and a travelling exhibition from the Monash Gallery of Art showcasing the work of John Gollings, Australia’s pre-eminent photographer of the built environmentCoincidentally, Gollings was commissioned to photograph the Museum when it was first opened at Honeysuckle.
Newcastle Museum Fast Facts

  • Newcastle Museum was established in 1988 in the restored former Castlemaine Brewery in Newcastle West as a major Bicentennial project.
  • It temporarily closed in 2008 to allow for its shift to the former Honeysuckle Railways Workshops, which were the original preferred site for the Museum.
  • The relocation involved the major refurbishment of the three existing Heritage-listed railway buildings. The Locomotive Boiler Shop is now home to Supernova, the New Erecting Shop is home to Fire and Earth, and the Blacksmith’s and Wheel Shop now house enclosed exhibition spaces and the theatrette. A new Link Building was constructed to form a connection between these spaces and contains the main public foyer and orientation spaces.
  • The Museum re-opened on 4 August 2011. In the first six months it welcomed 100,000 visitors through the doors to explore the innovative and interactive new displays including the drama of the Fire and Earth show, which interprets the excitement, colour and noise of the steel making process and remains the Museum’s most popular permanent exhibit today.
  • In the past 10 years, Newcastle Museum has welcomed 1,423,972 visitors, accepted 2,615 object donations, won 20 state and national awards including the 2021 Museums and Galleries National Award and displayed 71 exhibitions across a diverse range of topic areas.
  • The Museum welcomed its one millionth visitor to the Honeysuckle site in October 2017.

NSW leads the nation in apprenticeships and traineeships

NSW has recorded the highest number of apprentices and trainees in training of any state or territory in Australia with a 15 per cent increase in commencements in 2020 despite the COVID pandemic.
Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education Geoff Lee said recently released data from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) shows NSW represents 30 per cent of the national total of commencements for apprenticeships and traineeships in 2020.
“The NCVER report shows NSW has the highest number of apprentices and trainees in training of any state or territory in Australia with an increase in commencements of 15 per cent compared to 10.6 per cent nationally during 2020,” Mr Lee said.
“This is a fantastic result, particularly considering the impacts of drought, bushfires and COVID-19 that have affected NSW in the last year.
“The Federal and NSW Government funded JobTrainer skills package and the Commonwealth Government’s Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements initiative, both announced in the second half of last year, are doing their job in bolstering apprenticeship and traineeship approvals in the last quarter of 2020 and into 2021.
“The impressive numbers are also a testament to NSW employers for keeping their young apprentices on board during COVID-19, and to our Training Providers for finding new and innovative ways to maintain training.”
The Apprentice Employment Network Executive Officer Jason Sultana said the increase in numbers was a reflection of just how important VET industries were to the State’s prosperity and economic recovery.
“Government initiatives to bolster apprenticeships has given employers the confidence to invest in the next generation of young workers,” Mr Sultana said.
“Investing in skilling tradespeople is also an investment in the State’s future and it’s great to see the Government backing our apprentices and training organisations.”
Key findings of the NCVER report include:

  • Apprenticeship and traineeship commencement numbers show an increase of 15 per cent for NSW compared to 10.6 per cent nationally during 2020 with the NSW total of 50,345 representing 30 per cent of the national total.
  • Apprentices and trainees currently in training in NSW in 2020 show an increase of 13.6 per cent compared to 2019.
  • NSW has more than 93,880 apprentices and trainees in training, representing 32 per cent of Australia’s total of 297,920.


Man charged following attempted armed robbery – Port Stephens-Hunter PD

A man will face court today after an alleged armed robbery attempt in the state’s Hunter Region.
About 4pm yesterday (Tuesday 3 August 2021), police responded to a report of an attempted armed robbery at a convenience store in Anderson Drive, Tarro.
Officers from Port Stephens-Hunter Police District attended, secured a crime scene and commenced an investigation.
Police were informed by the 42-year-old male shop owner that a man allegedly entered the store with a large knife demanding cash and cigarettes. The owner challenged the man who fled the store without any property. No injuries were sustained to the shop owner.
About 6.50pm a 21-year-old man attended Maitland Police Station where he was arrested.
The man was charged with one count of attempted robbery armed with offensive weapon.
He was bail refused to appear in Maitland Local Court later today (Wednesday 4 August 2021).

Charges laid after Newcastle fatal shooting – Homicide Squad

Homicide Squad detectives have charged a man with murder following an investigation into the fatal shooting of another man at Newcastle last month.
About 12.45pm on Thursday 22 July 2021, emergency services were called to a unit at Darby St, Cooks Hill, following reports of shots fired.
Upon arrival, police located a 40-year-old man inside the unit with a gunshot wound to the chest.
Despite the efforts of emergency services, he died at the scene.
The man has been formally identified as Wesley ‘Wes’ Prentice from Rutherford.
Officers from Newcastle City Police District commenced inquiries, before detectives from the State Crime Command’s Homicide Squad took carriage of the investigation under Strike Force Hibbard.
Following extensive investigations, Homicide Squad detectives , with assistance from officers from Newcastle City Police District, Tactical Operations Regional Support (TORS), Police Negotiators, Mid North Coast Police District and the Dog Unit, arrested a 35-year-old man near a caravan park at Bonny Hills about 5.45pm on Sunday (1 August 2021).
During a search of the man’s belonging, officers located a loaded firearm and cash. They were seized for forensic examination.
He was taken to Port Macquarie Police Station, where he was charged with murder, possess loaded firearm in public place, possess shortened firearm (not pistol) without authority and possess unregistered firearm in public place.
The Woodrising man was refused bail and appeared at Wauchope Local Court on Monday (2 August 2021), where he was formally refused bail to appear at Port Macquarie Local Court today (Wednesday August 2021).
As part of ongoing inquiries, Strike Force Hibbard detectives executed two search warrants at Bonny Hills and Windale.
During the searches, number of items were seized by police for forensic examination.
Investigations are continuing.

Police compliance activities – mask exemptions

NSW Police will continue to reinforce the importance of complying with the requirements of the Public Health Order, with a focus on abiding by mask wearing rules.
Rules for wearing fitted face coverings include:
• You must wear a face mask at indoor non-residential premises in NSW
• You must wear a face mask when using public transport
• You must wear a face mask in a major recreation facility
• You must carry a face mask with you at all times if you are in the local government areas of Greater Sydney including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour.
• You must wear a face mask if you go outside in a public area in the Blacktown, Campbelltown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Georges River, Liverpool or Parramatta local government areas.
• You must wear a face mask when travelling in a vehicle with a person you do not live with
• You must wear a face mask in Greater Sydney residential building common areas.
Deputy Commissioner Metropolitan Field Operations, Malcolm Lanyon, explained that there have been various iterations of the public health orders and commended the community for being adaptable to the changes to requirements.
“The mask wearing requirements have evolved over time to match the changing settings as the Government has responded to the escalating COVID-19 Delta variant case numbers,” Deputy Commissioner Lanyon said.
“Clearly the rules now state that people need to abide by the mask wearing requirements of the Public Health Orders unless they have an exemption. That exemption can be in the form of either a medical certificate or people are able to carry a statutory declaration.”
“If police ask to see the exemption people are required to present that documentation, and we will investigate all exemptions.
“Make no mistake, police are investigators by trade. If we have any reasonable doubt that a document may be false, we can and will investigate these matters thoroughly to bring people before the courts,” he said.
Anyone found guilty of making a false declaration under The Oaths Act, 1900 risks being found guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for 5 years.
Further advice about the Public Health Orders can be found at
Anyone who has information regarding individuals or businesses in contravention of a COVID-19-related ministerial direction is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report crime via NSW Police social media pages.

Taylor tries dodgy ARENA move again, Greens table disallowance again

The Government’s latest attempt to turn the Australian Renewable Energy Agency into a fossil fuel bank will be met once again by the Greens who say their disallowance motion still has the constitution and the Senate on its side.
The Greens will move to disallow those parts of the regulations that seek to turn ARENA into a fossil-fuel funder.
Previously, Angus Taylor’s ARENA regulations were described by a Liberal Party-headed committee as possibly illegal. The regulations were defeated in the Senate. 3rd parties have also made it clear that even if the laws were to make it through the parliament, they would be contested in the courts. The same applies to these new regulations.
Greens Leader Adam Bandt said:
“Angus Taylor’s crusade to spend more public dollars on coal and gas is as shambolic as it is reckless.”
“ARENA was created as part of the Greens-Labor Agreement and has been a shining light of job-creating, clean and cheap energy production.”
“ARENA creates such animosity amongst the coal-hugging Coalition because it’s been such a success. Fossil fuels are now begging for public handouts to stay afloat, but public money should go to renewables instead.”
“The only way to stop this government from trying to pour more tax dollars into propping up a dying industry is to kick the Liberals out and have the Greens in balance of power after next election.”

Childcare debts must be waived

Australian Greens Education spokesperson Senator Mehreen Faruqi has expressed alarm at reports that the Commonwealth is chasing Child Care Subsidy recipients for debts going back several years.
Senator Faruqi said:
“We are in the middle of a pandemic outbreak with millions of people in lockdown and out of work. The least the government can do is show a little humanity and waive these debts.
“Families are already paying through the nose for what should be – and briefly was – considered an essential service. Chasing families for debts just adds insult to injury.
“People are doing it really tough at the moment, and not just in lockdown areas.
“The child care subsidy system is inflexible, complicated, and still leaves families paying expensive gap fees. It’s time the government bit the bullet and made early learning and care universal and free.”

Personal Protective Equipment for Primary Health Networks in Queensland

The Australian Government has today announced significant quantities of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will be made available for GPs, community pharmacies and other healthcare providers across south east Queensland who need to see their patients within their practices.
This decision follows the lockdown of the City of Brisbane, Moreton Bay Region, Redland City, Logan City, City of Ipswich, Shire of Noosa, City of Gold Coast, Lockyer Valley Region, Scenic Rim Region, Somerset Region and Sunshine Coast Region Local Government Areas.
Health professionals in these areas are able to request a package of PPE from the National Medical Stockpile (NMS) through their local Primary Health Network (PHN) from an initial allocation of up to:

  • 725,000 surgical masks;
  • 725,000 N95 masks;
  • 175,000 pairs of gloves;
  • 175,000 gowns; and
  • 175,000 goggles.

These items will be made available through the five PHNs relevant to the Commonwealth hotspot, namely:

  • Brisbane North;
  • Brisbane South;
  • Darling Downs and West Moreton;
  • Central Queensland, Wide Bay, Sunshine Coast; and
  • Gold Coast.

These packages will assist to further supress the COVID-19 infection rate occurring across Queensland and builds on the recent commitment to support New South Wales and Victoria as announced on 12 July 2021 and 19 July 2021 respectively.
The Australian Government is committed to ensuring that healthcare professionals have access to the critical PPE supplies they require to continue to safely see their patients during this COVID-19 outbreak.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Australian Government has deployed more than 92 million masks, 6 million gowns, 14 million gloves and 5 million goggles and face shields from the National Medical Stockpile.

Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine approved for at risk children aged 12-15 years

From Monday 9 August, children aged between 12 to 15 years old with either specific medical conditions, who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander or live in a remote community will be able to receive a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
This follows a review of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use in children aged 12-15 by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), which has recommended its use for children at a higher risk of severe illness if they contract COVID-19.
The Australian Government has accepted ATAGI’s updated recommendations, which include the following groups of children aged 12 to 15 be prioritised for the Pfizer vaccine:

  • children with specified medical conditions that increase their risk of severe COVID-19, including severe asthma, diabetes, obesity, cardiac and circulatory congenital anomalies, neuro developmental disorders, epilepsy, immuno-compromised and trisomy 21
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children
  • all children aged 12–15 years in remote communities, as part of broader community outreach vaccination programs that provide vaccines for all ages (≥12 years).

This means that around 220,000 children aged between 12 to 15 years old will become eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Minister for Health and Aged Care, Minister Hunt, said the Government expected further recommendations regarding the use Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for the remainder of children aged 12 to 15 in the coming months.
“I would encourage all parents who have a child with a medical condition or are immuno-compromised to bring them forward for vaccination. We want to ensure all Australians are protected from COVID-19, including the most vulnerable in our community,” Minister Hunt said.
“To date, we’ve administered more than 12.3 million vaccines across Australia and I want to thank everyone who has come forward so far to receive their first and second doses, you’re doing an incredible job.”
ATAGI has reviewed available data on the safety and efficacy of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in children aged 12 to 15, the risk of COVID-19 in this age group, and evidence of wider benefits and risks of vaccinating children.
This review follows the decision of the Therapeutics Goods Administration, who have extended its provisional registration of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine from people aged 16 years and over to include children aged 12 to 15.
The National Cabinet has agreed in-principle to an updated four-step National Plan to transition Australia’s National COVID-19 Response (National Plan) taking into account the Doherty Institute COVID-19 modelling and the Commonwealth Department of Treasury economic analysis. This national plan is based on vaccination rates for people 16 years and above in line with the expert medical advice of the Doherty Institute.
Parents should check the COVID-19 eligibility checker from 9 August to book in their child’s vaccination. Children in remote indigenous communities will be able to receive the vaccine prior to the 9 of August in areas where in reach vaccination is occurring this week.
The Australian Government has secured more than 280 million COVID-19 vaccines, including 125 million Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines.