More rough sleepers into secure homes

More than 500 people who were previously sleeping rough now have a safe place to call home, one year on from the establishment of the NSW Government’s landmark Together Home program.
Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Alister Henskens said the program was supporting some of the most vulnerable people in the community to access housing and specialist support to rebuild their lives.
“The past 12 months have been incredibly challenging, but the success of this program demonstrates that we can support people to break the cycle of homelessness,” Mr Henskens said.
“Together Home is not just about putting a roof over their head, but instead addressing the complex needs of individuals, to ensure they get the support they need to improve their health and wellbeing.”
Together Home is being delivered in partnership with community housing providers, specialist homelessness services and healthcare agencies.
It involves securing housing for rough sleepers from the private rental market and connecting them to tailored support services to address their individual needs.
The NSW Government has invested a total of $122.1 million in the program, which is expected to help 1,050 people off the street and into housing.
“Together Home has already had a profound impact for the hundreds of people housed and I would like to thank all of the organisations that are working collaboratively with us to change lives for the better,” Mr Henskens said.
Together Home is a key contributor towards achieving the Premier’s Priority of halving street sleeping across NSW by 2025.
Anyone who is homeless or is at risk of homelessness can call Link2home on 1800 152 152 for information and referrals to services, including temporary accommodation.

NSW Government retrains timber mill workers

Around 50 timber mill workers in Wagga Wagga who were set to lose their jobs with the relocation of the Big River timber mill have received free training and a personal skills matching service, thanks to the NSW Government’s JobTrainer program.
The workers, some of whom have been employed at the mill for more than 30 years, are ready to re-enter the Wagga Wagga workforce, following Big River’s consolidation of its operations in northern NSW.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro said Big River Industries had received $10 million as part of the NSW Government’s Bushfire Industry Recovery Package in the aftermath of the 2019/20 bushfires.
“Following the devastating 2019/20 bushfires, these funds helped Big River relocate and expand its existing operations in Grafton,” Mr Barilaro said.
“Now, through the NSW Government’s JobTrainer program, we are retraining those who didn’t take part in the company’s move north, to support local industries in need of skilled workers.
“People in our regions have been severely impacted by not only the bushfires, but the pandemic that has followed, and the NSW Government is ensuring no worker is left behind.”
Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education Geoff Lee said the work to prepare employees for the mill’s closure will help reduce the economic hit usually linked to a company closing its doors.
“Training Services NSW has worked with Big River to support each worker who did not relocate north with the company to identify ways that they can upskill and retrain to help find other work,” Mr Lee said.
“The bushfires impacted so many of our regional businesses and industries, and I am committed to ensuring workers have the support to upskill for a new job or better job.”
Maintenance Manager at Big River, Damien Periera, said it was a bittersweet time for workers.
“Ultimately the log supply was in danger and there was not enough to make the mill viable, but Training Services NSW has been invaluable in making sure our staff are matched to other jobs,” Mr Periera said.
“That is a big relief for any business going through a similar situation in these circumstances. It’s great to know there is NSW Government support available to help people land on their feet.”
For more information on free JobTrainer Courses and for full eligibility criteria, visit: https://education.nsw.gov.au/campaigns/jobtrainer

Friends bubble created for children to allow home visits in time for school holidays

Children and teenagers aged 18 years and under will be able to create a ‘friends bubble’ to allow home visits provided the adults in their homes are fully vaccinated, under an easing of restrictions for school holidays.
From 12 noon today, 21 September, people aged 18 years and under who live in stay-at-home areas and areas of concern across NSW will be able to create a bubble of three friends and visit each other’s homes for play and activity, subject to the following conditions:

  • Each child is allowed to have two designated friends come to their house. These two friends must always be the same, creating a three-person “friends bubble”;
  • All people older than 18 years in all the households must be fully vaccinated;
  • The friends must reside within 5km of each other or in the same LGA; and
  • If parents/carers are dropping children off, they must not stay to interact with other parents or carers.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said our strong vaccination rate has allowed us to make this change to support the wellbeing of young people.
“Parents and children have had a difficult few months, trying to balance both work, often from home, as well as home schooling,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“This change will hopefully make a big difference for families during the school holidays and allow young children and teenagers to catch up and reconnect with their friends.”
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said at all times, the government has tried to strike a balance between the best possible health outcomes, whilst easing the pressures on families and individuals living in lockdown.
“These latest changes are aimed at giving children more opportunities to be together and balances COVID safety with their mental health and wellbeing,” Mr Hazzard said.
Minister for Education and Early Childhood Sarah Mitchell said this change would also benefit older students, allowing them to create a study bubble ahead of the HSC.
“Year 12 students have had a stressful few months, and with the HSC approaching, a study bubble is a great idea to help students maintain motivation, receive support from a classmate and continue their preparation for the upcoming exams,” Ms Mitchell said.
If you have not booked in for a COVID-19 vaccine please book in as soon as possible.
For the latest information or to book a vaccination appointment visit nsw.gov.au/covid-19

$4 million for more green spaces in Sydney

A new urban forest, the upgrading of a significant indigenous site and a waterside boardwalk are part of a $4 million program for new and improved public space projects coming to Greater Sydney.
Minister for Planning and Public Space Rob Stokes today announced the latest recipients of the NSW Government’s Metropolitan Greenspace Program (MGP).
“These are 13 brilliant projects across 12 local government areas which will create and improve sustainable and accessible green spaces for the community to enjoy,” Mr Stokes said.
“This program  recognises the value of our city’s parks and public spaces while giving councils the autonomy to create outdoor venues and attractions that suit the unique communities that use them every day.”
The successful councils are Blacktown City, City of Canada Bay, City of Canterbury Bankstown, Georges River, The Hills Shire, Hornsby Shire, Inner West, Lane Cove, Liverpool City, Northern Beaches, Strathfield and Woollahra.
Mr Stokes said the projects align with the Greater Sydney Green Grid initiative, a network of walking tracks throughout the city’s green spaces.
“Throughout COVID-19 lockdowns, we’ve seen just how important community greenspaces are to our mental health and well-being,” he said.
“The Metro Greenspace Program is the longest running open space grants program in NSW. It started  in 1983 and more than $45 million in funding has  delivered aprroximately  600 green spaces.”
Projects funded under the 2021 MGP  include:

  • A new 1.8 hectare parkland with an urban forest at Strathfield;
  • Development of a masterplan to protect and recognise a significant indigenous site at Liverpool;
  • Construction of a waterside boardwalk along the Canada Bay mangroves;
  • Upgraded pedestrian and bush paths at Pennant Hills Park and Lane Cove National Park;
  • New accessible pathways between Charlie Bali Reserve and Blacktown International Sports Park;
  • Installation of wayfinding signage along the Lane Cove Loop;
  • Final stage of the Gannons Park upgrade in Peaklhurst; and
  • Upgrades to North Harbour Reserve, a key stopping point on the Manly to Spit Bridge Walk.

The successful councils are required to plant at least one tree for every $2,500 received and match the grant funding dollar-for-dollar.
The MGP is aligned with the Premier’s Priority – Greening our City – to have  one million trees planted across Greater Sydney by mid-2022. So far, more than 600,000 have been planted.
A full list of successful MGP applicants is available at: https://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/metropolitan-greenspace-program.

Mayors and council staff unite to max the vax

Mayors and council workers are united in one voice to urge the state’s local government workforce to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock said mayors are taking part in a social media video while council workers are featuring in case studies to encourage other local government workers to get the jab.
“There are more than 48,000 people employed by our state’s 128 local councils and they are vital to keeping our local communities ticking, particularly during challenging times,” Mrs Hancock said.
“These council workers are at the frontline of our communities keeping our streets clean, bins emptied and parks maintained, and we are urging them to get vaccinated so everyone can be and feels safe.
“I am delighted that mayors and council workers are united in their call for the NSW’s local government workforce to roll up their sleeve and protect their colleagues, communities and families from COVID-19.
“Mayors from Greater Hume, Hay, Hornsby, Parramatta and Tamworth feature in a video to spread the message to other mayors, councillors and staff to get vaccinated.
“Council staff from Ballina, Bayside and Gilgandra councils are profiled in case studies to spread the word to other local government workers.”
The promotional materials form part of a campaign launched by the NSW Government last month to encourage the state’s local government workforce to get the jab.
To book a COVID-19 vaccination, visit www.nsw.gov.au.

Further charge for woman over alleged Public Health Order Breaches – Tweed/Byron PD

A woman has been charged with an additional offence over alleged breaches of the Public Health Orders in the state’s north.
Officers from Tweed/Byron Police District commenced inquiries yesterday (Tuesday 21 September 2021), after receiving information a woman from Greater Sydney had travelled to the area and since tested positive for COVID-19.
Inquiries revealed the 31-year-old woman had been granted an exemption to travel to the area for work-related purposes only.
She allegedly attended several businesses and venues in Byron Bay and Kingscliff over the weekend, which was in breach of the conditions of her exemption.
Further, she failed to check-in at those locations using the QR codes.
The Rushcutters Bay woman was issued with a Court Attendance notice today (Wednesday 22 September 2021), for five counts of fail to comply with electronic registration directive.
Following further inquiries, the woman was charged with an additional offence for person relying on permit not comply with permit conditions.
She is due to appear before Tweed Heads Local Court on Monday 8 November 2021.

New $5 billion WestInvest fund to rejuvenate western Sydney Communities and boost jobs

A new $5 billion investment by the NSW Government will help secure a brighter future for western and south-western Sydney families and residents, helping build new and improved facilities and local infrastructure to help communities hit hard by COVID-19.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the new WestInvest Fund would focus on projects that make a real difference to quality of life, help create jobs in the process, and change the face of Western Sydney for the better.
“The future of Western Sydney is bright and this announcement is a major first step along the road to recovery after a challenging year,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“This is about helping to rejuvenate local communities with improved parks, better open spaces, giving town centres a boost and providing opportunities to grow.”
The unprecedented boost was made possible by the State’s strong financial management and asset recycling strategy, with the NSW Government today announcing the sale of its residual 49 per cent stake in WestConnex for $11.1 billion.
The new WestInvest Fund will allocate $3 billion for future projects across six areas:

  • Parks, urban spaces and green space;
  • Enhancing community infrastructure such as local sporting grounds;
  • Modernising local schools;
  • Creating and enhancing arts and cultural facilities;
  • Revitalising high-streets;
  • Clearing local traffic.

The remaining $2 billion will be reserved for high priority projects to be developed in consultation with local communities.
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the local infrastructure and facilities drive would create jobs at a critical time, as NSW begins its economic recovery from the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Western and south-western Sydney is an economic powerhouse, but first and foremost there must be places where families can have a great quality of life – that’s what this investment will achieve,” Mr Perrottet said.
“No matter where you live, we want people to love living locally, and this investment will deliver better local facilities, open spaces and convenient services all close to home.
“This investment is just the first stage of our economic recovery strategy which the Government is currently developing for release in October.”
Minister for Jobs, Investment and Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said the funding injection would be a game-changer and a catalyst for growth.
“The pandemic has hit Western Sydney hard, and highlighted important opportunities to deliver new facilities and amenities that will make life better for locals now and into the future,” Mr Ayres said.
“Sydney’s West is a rich mix of new and old, with a huge cross-section of cultures and people from all walks of life and this funding will help provide a big kick start as the region recovers.
“From school upgrades to sporting fields, and clearing traffic to making town-centres shine, we want to revitalise and renew the region for the benefit of everyone who calls it home.”

Moore parkland for people as cars moved off the grass

Car parking will be moved off the grass and underground at Moore Park, creating more open space for the community, following the announcement of a new village precinct and carpark adjacent to the Sydney Football Stadium (SFS) redevelopment.
Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes said the proposed carpark will ensure works to improve ‘Upper Kippax’ can begin immediately, transforming the damaged field into a community green with a central sports field, shaded walkways and picnic amenities.
“We’ve seen how important green open space is to people during the pandemic and at Moore Park alone, there has been a 20 per cent increase in patronage in the last 12 months,” Mr Stokes said.
“Increasing and improving public space such as Moore Park is part of the NSW Government’s vision to create a city within a park. This is why the upcoming Greater Sydney Parklands Trust Exposure Bill will also legislate additional protections for Moore Park by making it an offence to park on this section of the grass.
“It’s also a huge day for the tireless advocacy of Saving Moore Park, and demonstrates the ability of Greater Sydney Parklands to deliver the parklands our community needs.”
Minister for Sport Natalie Ward said the development will deliver new open spaces for the community and stadium visitors, as well as a children’s play area and a new cafe and restaurant. It will also include a new partially underground 1500-vehicle car park.
“The NSW Government will turn what was a bitumen car park into a revitalised green space for nearby residents, as well as the millions of people who will visit the area each year for sporting and entertainment events,” Mrs Ward said.
“Moving vehicles off the grass near Kippax Lake and into a purpose-built underground car park is a win for locals and visitors.
“It means a sea of cars will be replaced by inviting open parkland for community recreation and sport, making it a great setting for our new world-class stadium.”
The precinct project, which will be funded by Venues NSW, will be delivered in two stages, with the first stage to be operational by the end of next year. The second stage will be complete in 2023.
Once the car park is fully operational, all remaining on-grass parking will be removed from Moore Park.

WestConnex sale generates more than $11 billion for NSW

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet today announced the transaction of the State’s remaining 49 per cent stake in WestConnex has been finalised.
The Government announced Sydney Transport Partners (STP) was the successful bidder with $11.1 billion in sale proceeds for the two 24.5 per cent stakes in WestConnex.
The Government has now received $20.4 billion from the sale of the entire WestConnex project.
“This transaction continues our successful asset recycling strategy, which has been the cornerstone of our record $108.5 billion infrastructure pipeline that has built and upgraded schools, hospitals, road and rail across the State,” Mr Perrottet said.
“This sale is part of our prudent, long-term strategy to bolster the State’s finances, while also supporting the NSW economy by investing in job creating projects that will drive our COVID economic recovery.”
The Government launched the sale process for its remaining 49 per cent stake in WestConnex in November 2020.
The sale was structured as a two-tranche process to maximise competition and achieve the best result for the people of NSW.
Net proceeds from the sale will be invested in the NSW Generations Fund (NGF) – the State’s sovereign wealth fund – as required by legislation – before being used to retire an equivalent amount of debt.
WestConnex is Australia’s largest toll road project and when complete will enable motorists to travel over 50 kilometres from Penrith to the city without hitting a single traffic light. Before the road was constructed motorists could face a trip of up to two hours from Penrith to the Sydney CBD.
In 2018 STP purchased a 51 per cent stake in WestConnex for $9.26 billion.
This money was used to fund the vital M4-M5 Link – the final stage of WestConnex as well as other infrastructure throughout Western Sydney.
“Labor opposed building WestConnex but we have already seen this vital artery slash travel times for tens of thousands of motorists,” Mr Perrottet said.
“Additionally the project has created tens of thousands of jobs while transforming Sydney’s road network and through our asset recycling approach has allowed us to invest billions back into the State’s future.”
Key WestConnex highlights include:

  • Around 40 minutes cut from an average peak journey between Parramatta and Sydney Airport;
  • Around 20 minutes cut from a peak hour trip between Burwood and Sydney Airport;
  • Bypassing 52 sets of traffic lights, including an uninterrupted journey between the Blue Mountains and Rozelle;
  • The estimated construction cost to complete WestConnex is $16.8 billion with the final section due to open in late 2023.

Restrictions to ease in LGAs of concern

Restrictions in local government areas of concern will start to align with other lockdown areas, as vaccination rates continue to rise in Sydney’s West and South-West.
From 12.01am Monday, 20 September, the following restrictions will ease for those who live in LGAs of concern:

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

Nearly all restrictions in the LGAs of concern are now aligned with other lockdown areas, with the main differences being authorised worker conditions and travel permit requirements which remain in place in the LGAs of concern.
From 12.01am Monday, 27 September outdoor pools across NSW will be able to open, provided councils have a stringent COVID safety plan approved by NSW Health. Natural pools are already permitted to be open.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian thanked those in Sydney’s west and south west who have come forward and received their COVID-19 vaccine.
“We are so grateful to everyone who has come forward to get a jab, helping bring first dose vaccination rates in some LGAs up to 90 per cent,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“There’s still more work to do to push those vaccination rates higher and everyone must continue to follow the lockdown rules until we reach that 70 per cent double dose target when further restrictions can be eased for those who are fully vaccinated.”
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said that after all the hard work getting vaccinated and complying with lockdown requirements, it’s fantastic that some restrictions can now be relaxed.
“The NSW Government is determined to ensure everyone can benefit from increasing vaccination rates. Outdoor pools are part of Australian life, and enjoying a Summer splash no matter where you live is a big plus for families.”
If you have not booked in for a COVID-19 vaccine please book in as soon as possible, to protect not only yourself but also your family and friends.
For the latest information or to book a vaccination appointment visit nsw.gov.au/covid-19