Adam Marshall’s Week that Was
Environment & Heritage Minister in the electorate
I was delighted to be joined by Environment & Heritage Minister Rob Stokes in Armidale yesterday to announce the State Heritage listing of Armidale’s St Mary and St Joseph Catholic Cathedral. It’s a landmark building for both the local community and for NSW as a whole and was considered to be the finest Catholic cathedral in Australia upon its completion in 1912.
The Catholic Diocese of Armidale was formed in 1869, one of the first established outside the major colonial posts of Sydney and Newcastle and the building of this magnificent cathedral was possible due to widespread support and generous financial contributions from the community. The inclusion the Cathedral on the State Heritage Register ensures the highest level of heritage protection for this historic precinct of buildings and ensures that its future management is supported with advice from the state’s leading heritage organisation, the Heritage Council of NSW.
While in Armidale the Minister and I attended a breakfast with key renewable energy stakeholders to discuss progress on Uralla’s ZNET project and also discuss the huge potential for renewables throughout the Northern Tablelands.
The Minister also addressed a University of New England forum about managing native vegetation and provided an update on the recently released biodiversity review and the next steps.
Funding announcements this week
Inverell’s Harmony Festival organisers have secured a $2,000 grant from the NSW Government Multicultural NSW Celebrations program to help stage their multicultural festival next month. The funding will allow the group to better advertise the festival and inform the community of the wonderful day they have planned.
Members of Guyra Men’s Shed can now go on a shopping spree for new tools and appliances after securing a $12,000 grant from the NSW Government’s Community Building Partnership fund.
Ashford Rugby League Football Club will soon begin an upgrade of the power supply to their canteen now they’ve secured a $5,500 grant from the NSW Government’s Community Building Partnership program.
Warialda Pony Club has received a $30,587 grant from the NSW Government’s Community Building Partnership program to build a new canteen at the Warialda showgrounds.
Guyra Preschool received a $5,000 grant from the NSW Government Community Building Partnership fund to purchase a Smart Board and shade cloth for the playground.
A $34,700 Community Building Partnership grant will allow the Uralla Shire Council to build a new canteen at Uralla Sports Ground and extend the power supply to the western side of Alma Park.
Arts North West has been successful in securing $79,500 in funding through the NSW Government’s Regional Partnership Grant. The grant will support a two-year partnership with Arts Northern Rivers and Accessible Arts delivering arts programs and creative opportunities for people with disabilities.
Bingara’s Touriandi Lodge aged care facility has gained $13,000 to construct a special shed to store biological waste products to make it easier for contractors and staff and to free up space in the facility.
Boosting organ donation rates
I’m urging local families across the region to discuss their wishes regarding organ donation and register to become donors to boost the State’s transplantation rate. The Organ and Tissue Authority (OTA) 2014 Performance Report – released yesterday – showed there were 92 organ donors in NSW in 2014, from whom 263 organs were retrieved and transplanted. The 92 donors in 2014 was the second highest number on record in NSW but down from the record 102 donors in 2013.
Too often, grieving families are faced with uncertainty around whether or not to donate their loved one’s organs at an already very difficult time. Studies show that the majority of families who did not consent for organ donation felt unprepared for the decision and did not know their loved one’s wishes. This highlights the importance of family discussion about organ donation decisions. For more information on organ donation, please visit www.donatelife.gov.au
Local students start lessons at State’s first online school
Over the past few weeks I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and welcoming three of the region’s students to the State’s new virtual high school, Aurora College. Bingara Central School Year 11 student Nikita Frazer and Glen Innes High School Year 7 students Jack Goldman and Bailey De-Jiong commenced their lessons earlier in the month together with 53 other students in the Year 7 selective stream, continuing Xsel students and Year 11 students in selected subjects. The college will provide further opportunities for academically gifted students in rural and remote NSW.
Warialda High School mathematics teacher Susan Leamon has also been engaged to work with students at the college which will work in partnership with 49 rural and remote schools, where the students are physically based. Specialist teachers have been handpicked for Aurora College and come from a further 30 schools across the State. Aurora College is one element of the NSW Government’s $80 million education package for rural and remote schools, announced in 2013. Other elements of the plan include $30 million to attract and retain quality teachers, and $4 million to strengthen early childhood education.
Government to expand Tech Savvy seniors program
I’m pleased to announce that if re-elected, the NSW Government will double the funding to the popular Tech Savvy Seniors program, which provides low cost or free training for seniors in using computers, tablets and smart phones. Last year I visited Inverell Library to talk with local seniors who took part in the program at the library. The feedback was incredibly positive; people I spoke with said they not only enjoyed the experience but the skills they learned allowed them to keep in touch with family and loved ones right across the world and generally made their lives a lot easier.
On top of this election commitment, the NSW Government has launched with telecommunications partner Telstra, an extension to the existing Tech Savvy Seniors program to now include training in seven different languages. For more information visit the website at: www.telstra.com.au/telstra-seniors
New $30,000 art & technology fellowship now open
I’d like to call on local artists to apply for a new $30,000 Art & Technology Fellowship the NSW Government is offering this year. It is now open to all NSW artists at any stage in their career and supports a self-directed program of professional development that might include travel, mentorships and internships with arts, technology or science practitioners, residencies, short-term courses and workshops, research, the creation of new work, and the cost of technological or other equipment to assist in the production of new work.
The winner of this Fellowship will also have the opportunity to develop a partnership with Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS) that could include a residency at one of the Museum’s sites for up to six months, access to research and technical assistance. Applications close on Wednesday, 25 March 2015. For more information, and to apply for the Fellowship visit www.arts.nsw.gov.au
Boost to IPTAAS welcomed
This week I welcomed a commitment made yesterday by Deputy Premier Troy Grant and Health Minister Jillian Skinner to enhance the Isolated Patient Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme (IPTAAS) if re-elected.Over the past 20 months I have met with and received letters from many people across the region about the IPTAAS service and improvements that should be made. I’m very pleased that the Minister has taken up the community’s suggestions and made some positive changes.
NSW Government’s enhancements to the IPTAAS scheme would include:
- An increase in the petrol subsidy from 19 cents to 22 cents per kilometre – a 15% increase;
- An increase in the commercial accommodation subsidy for eight to 14 night stays
– From $43 to $80 – an 86% boost (single room) per night
– From $60 to $105 – a 75% jump (double room) per night;
- An increase in the commercial accommodation subsidy for 15 night-plus stays
– From $43 to $105 – a 144% boost (single room) per night,
– From $60 to $120 – a 100% jump (double room) per night;
- A reduction in the patient co-payment from $40 to $30 – a 25% decrease;
- Claims for prosthetic services will be eligible; and
- Claims for some specialist allied health services will be eligible.
Today and the weekend
Today I will be in Inverell for a number of meetings and to attend official opening of the annual show. I’ll also be attending the opening night of the Inverell Art Gallery’s latest exhibition.
Tomorrow I will be heading to Moree to attend a Mayoral civic reception to begin the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Ride.
On Sunday I will attend the Armidale National Serviceman’s Association Sub Branch Memorial Day service in Central Park and then be in Uralla for the annual Thunderbolt Show, Shine and Swap.