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Local News

Program Artwork for the now-cancelled 2021 Byron Writers Festival



Byron Writers Festival cancelled


The 2021 Byron Writers Festival has been cancelled in light of Sydney’s unpredictable COVID-19 outbreak.
Devastated organisers made the announcement this morning after an emergency meeting of the Byron Writers Festival board.
“It is with a heavy heart we have made the decision to cancel Byron Writers Festival 2021, which was scheduled to run from 6-8 August. We have come to this extremely difficult decision in light of the developing Covid-19 situation in NSW as well as border and travel restrictions,” an official statement from Edwina Johnson Festival Director and the team at Byron Writers Festival read.
Escalating case numbers, the virulence of the Delta strain and Byron Bay’s popularity as a destination for metro visitors were all factors considered in the decision.
“We have been following Covid developments in Greater Sydney and nationally very closely over the last few days. As positive cases continue to emerge and borders are closed to NSW, it has become clear that the current restrictions will push too close to the festival to make it feasible to proceed in early August. Especially given a large portion of participating writers are located in either Greater Sydney or interstate and are subject to travel restrictions. In addition, of course, is growing community hesitancy to travel in such volatile circumstances,” the statement added.
“Our primary and abiding concern is, as ever, the health of everyone involved in the Festival – presenters, attendees, volunteers, staff and of course the safety of the wider Northern Rivers community .. we believe cancellation is the only responsible course of action.”
In what was meant to be its 25th anniversary year of the festival, more than 150 authors, commentators, entertainers and powerful new voices were scheduled to appear at the 2021 Byron Writers Festival across 115 panels during the three day event.
According to the 2021 program, at the core of the festival is,
‘ .. the belief in the power of story as a means to connect, heal and make change,’ it read.
The 2021 Byron Writers may reschedule programming for later in the year, a decision is still pending.
Anyone with a ticket to Byron Writers Festival 2021 will automatically receive a refund within the next 14 days. Tickets to satellite events or festival workshops are asked for patience as refund arrangements are worked through with event partners and venues.
“We offer our sincere thanks for your support and please, stay safe.” Edwina Johnson Festival Director said.
It is the second time in two years Byron Writers Festival has been forced to cancel due to risks from Covid-19.
Photo: writers cancelled program
Caption: Program Artwork for the now-cancelled 2021 Byron Writers Festival
The cancellation of Writers Festival comes as Regional NSW recorded its first case of COVID-19 in Goulburn in the Southern Tablelands, after a construction worker travelled from Sydney to work in a regional hospital.
The male worker was deemed an ‘essential’ worker permitting him to travel to the region.
NSW Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant, said Sydney workers can’t be complacent when working in regional areas and reminded all workers of the requirement to return to their accommodation straight after work,
“You can’t go to pubs, clubs, hospitality, anything else, you can only go there and do your essential work and get your essential food and groceries, the restrictions in greater Sydney apply to you.” Dr Chant said.

Local News

Critical incident investigation underway following crash – Casino




Critical incident investigation underway following crash – Casino

A critical incident investigation has been declared after a cyclist was struck by a vehicle in the state’s north.

About 9.40pm (Thursday 29 July 2021) officers attached to Richmond Police District were at an address on Churchill Crescent, Casino, for an unrelated matter when they noticed a cyclist riding without a helmet or lights on his bicycle.

Police requested the man stop; however, he continued riding and collided with a vehicle at the intersection of Churchill Crescent and Hotham Street.

He was treated by NSW Ambulance paramedics, however, died at the scene. The man is yet to be formally identified.

The driver of the vehicle, a 20-year-old Queensland man, was not injured and taken to Casino Hospital for mandatory testing.

The man’s four passengers were uninjured.

The Crash Investigation Unit (CIU) is attending the scene.

A critical incident team from Tweed-Byron Police District will now investigate all circumstances surrounding the incident.

That investigation will be subject to independent review.

No further details are available at this time.

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Health News

Two new services providing free confidential support for anxiety, stress and low mood




Healthy North Coast
Healthy North Coast

Two new services providing free confidential support for anxiety, stress and low mood

HEALTHY North Coast, in partnership with Remedy Healthcare, is pleased to announce a new mental health service for the North Coast.

Healthy North Coast CEO Julie Sturgess said that access to free support services for people living with mild mental illness on the North Coast was a priority.

“For people needing support with managing stress or worry, it’s so important that we have services available to provide help when and where needed, so that support can be accessed early,” she said.

“After a competitive tender process, Remedy Healthcare has been contracted to deliver two new programs to support people over 16 to improve their mental and emotional wellbeing, especially people experiencing isolation, and those in rural and remote locations.

“The ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic has seen a rise in mental health concerns across the world. Now, more than ever, we have to encourage ourselves to seek help.”

Remedy Healthcare is launching the MindStepR and Healing Minds telephone and online services. Both are free, easily accessible, and do not require a referral by a GP or healthcare professional. Delivered by trained mental health coaches, the confidential services use evidence-based techniques that improve mental health and wellbeing.

Remedy Healthcare’s Executive General Manager, Mike Hutton Squire, said both services aimed to reduce psychological distress and improve quality of life by helping people self-manage their mental health and wellbeing.

“The free services offer one-on-one assessment, coaching and follow-up sessions. Use of the services is completely confidential and accessible to people living anywhere within the North Coast region in NSW.”

Member for Page Kevin Hogan said the new services would provide much needed and timely support for the people of northern NSW.

“Around one in five people have a mental health concern each year,” Mr Hogan said.

“Over a lifetime, around 50% of people are likely to experience mental health issues.”

This year’s Federal Budget directed $2.3 billion towards improving mental health and suicide prevention in communities across Australia.

MindStepR is an evidence-based, low-intensity, guided self-help service and is designed to run alongside any existing psychological care.

To access MindStepR, call 1800 322 278 or visit

Healing Minds is a culturally sensitive adaptation of MindStep specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over 16. To access Healing Minds, call 1800 810 255 or visit

If you or someone you care for needs immediate support, please call 000 or:

Lifeline 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
NSW Mental Health Line 1800 011 511
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800
1800 Respect 1800 737 732
MensLine 1300 789 978
Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636

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Local News

Milestone reached for outgoing Mayor Robert Mustow




Mayor Robert Mustow
Mayor Robert Mustow

Milestone reached for outgoing mayor

By Tonia Dynan

IN the time Mayor Robert Mustow has been on council, he has been waiting to see development applications for his region hit the 300 mark.

“There’s also been almost 350 applications lodged and that’s the first time that’s been over 300, so these figures they show this confidence in the Richmond Valley and council has encouraged many initiatives to achieve this and has worked with our community to have this outcome,” Richmond Valley Council’s Cr Mustow said.

“It’s not only a council win, but it’s also the community, and developers and people who want to build their first homes and it’s really, really good.

“I’m pleased to say that that has been achieved because to get 300 DAs to me has been a bit of a goal and we’ve always been touching on it, but now we’ve just really jumped over it, and that’s a great. Congratulations to everyone.”

The figures were revealed in a report about the six-monthly customer service feedback survey.

“You’ll see that the total dollar amount of development applications this year is over $65 million, and it’s never been over $50 million before,” Cr Mustow said.

“I think that’s a pretty substantial increase.”

More than 80 per cent of survey respondents said they were very satisfied or satisfied with the customer service received when dealing with Richmond Valley Council.

More than half of the respondents to the survey conducted in June contacted council for assistance with development or planning enquiries and their main area of concern related to the lag time of a follow up response to their initial enquiry.

Council has identified some room for improvement that will be the focus of the customer experience team in the coming months, including working closely with applicants lodging applications via the new e-planning portal, and more training and upskilling of newer, inexperienced staff.

Cr Mustow said customer service was a lot of work, but it was a positive report which was great to hear.

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