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COVID-19 Northern Rivers News

Boating is the antidote to pandemic blues

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Boating is the antidote to pandemic blues

Boating is the antidote to pandemic blues

by Darren Vaux, BIA President

Being in, on or around water is good for the mind and good for the body. Wallace J Nicholl’s best-selling book, Blue Mind, explored the measurable effects of proximity to, and activities involving, water on the human body and confirmed what all boaters intrinsically know. Boating reduces stress and invokes a sense of wellbeing. In creates connections between people and encourages immersion in nature. Boating is good for you.

We need access to boating now more than ever. The restrictions and stress associated with the pandemic over the last 18 months have created social isolation and frustration. We all need a relief valve but understandably governments around Australia, and the world, have had to take drastic action to limit the spread of the virus and save lives. Coupled with this heavy burden is the fundamental responsibility, in free societies, to minimise the nature and duration of restrictions to personal freedoms. As such, they also have a responsibility to permit activities that do not contribute to the transmission of the disease. This is fundamental to mental health and preservation of individual rights. Lockdowns can’t last forever, and it is now very clear that as the Covid-19 virus mutates, elimination is not an option for the foreseeable future.

We will all have to live with restrictions and Covid Safe practices and actions that limit the spread of the virus. We need Covid Safe activities that restore our sense and rights of freedom and in that regard, boating is the standout choice and, on the water, the safest place to be.

Boating… paddleboards, kayaks, small sailing craft, tinnies, runabouts, fishing boats, yachts, tow-sports and cruisers, large and small. There is a boat for all ages and all budgets, and boating alone or with your immediate family is the very definition of social distancing. With the implementation of Covid Safe practices at the beach, the boat ramp or marina, families and friends can get out on the water, engage their Blue Mind and enjoy the magnificent waterways that Australia has to offer.

This is what the community wants and demands. With industry turnover up 11% and industry employment up 9% on last year the boating industry saw an increase in boat registrations to some 18,500 last year with many first-time boat owners. Over 2.5 million people in Australia now hold a boat licence and 20% of the population go boating each year. People have bought boats to escape the pandemic blues. The community want to go boating and boating must be one of the first activities that provides relief from any current or future lockdowns. In doing so, it will also provide a number of other benefits:

· It will relieve the pressure of overcrowding of greenspaces and beaches enabling people to access our magnificent and extensive blue spaces;
· It can be conducted safely on our waterways without unnecessary LGA or short distance limitations from home. Once you are on the water you are socially distanced and should be allowed the freedom to explore and find uncrowded blue spaces;
· It can be managed with clear and consistent guidelines about guests onboard and limits and rules relating to raft ups or landing at beaches or jetties;
· It is a safe and enjoyable activity for many people in the broader Australian community; and
· It’s a clear step toward feeling normal again.

It is imperative that boating be included in any initial easing of current and any future restrictions in jurisdictions across Australia. There are significant physical, mental and community benefits to be gained from encouraging people to responsibly go boating in all its forms as the antidote to pandemic blues.

With spring upon us and daylight saving just around the corner in many States, it is time for restrictions to be eased and for governments to take the proactive action to encourage people to go boating.

The 2021 BIA industry report infographic is at https://www.bia.org.au/documents/item/1576

The BIA Discover Boating website is at https://discoverboating.com.au/

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2022 Floods

Housing demand creates planning challenges

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Housing demand creates planning challenges

The current lack of affordable and diverse housing for buyers and renters is a crisis which is confronting all levels of government.

A move to regional areas, limited government investment in social housing, a boom in short terms rentals, COVID-19, the recent floods and inflation have put great pressures on the property market.

While housing is primarily the responsibility of federal and state governments, Tweed Shire Council plays a key role as a determining authority/regulator for housing and planning law.

 

Council acts on unauthorised dwellings. Over the last 2 years, Council has contributed to an increased supply of affordable housing by encouraging diverse and affordable housing through the approval of more than 130 DAs involving secondary dwelling (granny flats) development controls, in addition to established dual occupancy controls.

In recognising the housing crisis, Council has worked collectively through the Northern Rivers Joint Organisation (NRJO) and Local Government NSW, to be an advocate for action on new social housing supply and affordability policies.

Over the last 2 years, Council has contributed to an increased supply of affordable housing by encouraging diverse and affordable housing through the approval of more than 130 DAs involving secondary dwelling (granny flats) development controls, in addition to established dual occupancy controls.

Attached dual occupancy dwellings are also possible in many rural areas, in addition to established urban areas.

More information can be found at tweed.nsw.gov.au/granny-flats-secondary dwellings

Additional dual occupancy information can also be found at tweed.nsw.gov.au/dual-occupancy

While Council provides a supportive approach to people affected by the housing crisis, it also has an important statutory responsibility to ensure that any land uses or building works provide a safe and secure housing.

Council recently resolved at its 7 July 2022 meeting to reinforce its role in undertaking compliance action on unauthorised dwellings.

General Manager Troy Green said Council had rescinded the resolution at Item 21.1 of the 2 June 2022 Confidential Council Meeting. The resolution sought to extend an initial moratorium from its 4 November 2021 meeting on taking compliance action on unauthorised dwellings up until 30 September 2022.

“After attending a workshop and gaining additional advice from staff, Councillors acknowledged there may be significant risks for Council to extend the earlier moratorium,” Mr Green said.

“In response to the potential risk and liability identified, it was agreed that a late report be submitted to the Extraordinary Council Meeting of 7 July 2022, seeking to rescind Council’s resolution from the 2 June 2022 meeting.

“Council also resolved that any new compliance matters would be subject to the current requirements of Council’s adopted Compliance Policy.”

Unauthorised building works carried out without required formal approval and certification can pose significant risk to life and property.

In other scenarios, unauthorised building works could also be poorly located on sites which are flood prone, bushfire prone, contaminated or landslip areas and thereby present similar life-threatening, public health and environmental hazards.

Council encourages people to undertake their land use activities with proper consent and approvals to avoid causing a nuisance or acting in breach of legislation.

Council has a compliance policy which guides the approach and response to a range of compliance issues.

However we also rely on the community to report unauthorised work and provide evidence to assist Council in taking action.

Compliance officers use their discretion when dealing with such matters, taking into account the evidence, cost to the community of any action, details of the case, public policy and legal precedent.

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COVID-19 Northern Rivers News

PEOPLE WITH DISABILITY URGED TO GET BOOSTER

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PEOPLE WITH DISABILITY URGED TO GET BOOSTER

PEOPLE WITH DISABILITY URGED TO GET BOOSTER

With a new wave of COVID-19 cases continuing to increase across the state, people with disability are encouraged to get the latest COVID-19 vaccine booster dose.
Minister for Families and Communities and Minister for Disability Services Natasha Maclaren-Jones said people with disability can be more vulnerable to the harmful effects of COVID-19.
“Protecting people with disability is vital as they can be at greater risk of developing serious illness if they become infected,” Mrs Maclaren-Jones said.
“Vaccination is readily available at GPs and pharmacies and we are urging everyone to book in without delay.”
COVID-19 booster doses are recommended for anyone 16 years and older who had their last dose of a primary course at least three months ago.
The COVID-19 vaccine can be taken at the same time as the influenza vaccine, which people with disability are also being urged to take.
While the free flu vaccination program in NSW ends on 17 July 2022, those considered to be at higher risk of severe illness from influenza remain eligible for a FREE flu vaccine beyond this date, under the National Immunisation program. This includes:
• Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from six months of age
• Children from six months to under five years of age
• People with serious health conditions (including severe asthma, diabetes, cancer, immune disorders, obesity, kidney, heart, lung or liver disease)
• Pregnant women
• People aged 65 and over.
The NSW Government is also providing up to 7.9 million rapid antigen tests (RATs) to people with disability and other vulnerable community members with the program recently expanded to 31 October 2022.
To find your nearest vaccination clinic, visit nsw.gov.au.

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COVID-19 Northern Rivers News

Royal Australian College of GPs COVID-19 antiviral treatment

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NSW-Northern-Rivers-Breaking-News

Royal Australian College of GPs

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has welcomed the expansion of COVID-19 antiviral treatment access.

It follows federal Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler announcing that eligibility for lifesaving COVID-19 antiviral treatments will be widened. From today, access will be expanded under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme to the following patients who test positive to COVID-19:

  • all those aged over 70
  • people aged over 50 with two or more risk factors for severe disease
  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people aged over 30 with two or more risk factors for severe disease
  • immunocompromised people over 18 may also be eligible.

RACGP Vice President Dr Bruce Willett welcomed the expansion.

“This is a sound and timely decision that will make a real difference for many patients across Australia,” he said.

“In communities everywhere, we have high rates of community transmission of COVID-19, and we know that some patients are particularly vulnerable to severe effects. By expanding access to the antivirals, we can help keep people out of hospital, relieve pressure on the entire health system and save lives.”

Dr Willett said that once again GPs and general practice teams will be front and centre.

“General practice is the backbone of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, and we play an essential role getting people timely access to these potentially lifesaving antivirals,” he said.

“GPs are the key to safely prescribing these treatments. We have a strong and, in many cases, long-standing connection with our patients and understand their life circumstances including existing health conditions or other factors such as plans to become pregnant. We also have a comprehensive understanding of how these antivirals interact with other drugs and established systems such as telehealth, so GPs can speak with COVID-19-positive patients safely and prescribe the right antiviral without delay.”

The RACGP Vice President said that that more must be done to fight complacency and contain the harm caused by COVID-19.

“Expanding eligibility is vital; however, we must also enhance community awareness around antivirals and ensure that those patient groups most vulnerable to severe effects from the virus access these drugs. They can save your life if taken early enough,” he said.

“People who believe they are eligible for an antiviral should make an appointment with their GP now to plan how they can receive the drugs if they test positive. Because the drugs are listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, a GP will not be able to prescribe an antiviral until the patient actually has COVID-19. So, for those eligible – as soon as you get a positive rapid antigen test or a positive PCR test, call your GP and, if you can’t talk to them, leave a phone message to say you have tested positive and you need a prescription.

“The reason this is so important is that with these treatments we must act quickly. The antivirals have to be given within five days, and they become less effective as you get closer to day five. So, getting that message out there is essential, and I encourage everyone to have conversations with people in their life about these treatments.”

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