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New South Wales News

Council donates to vital community rescue helicopter service

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Council donates to vital community rescue helicopter service

Mayor delivers annual funding to community service

Mayor Chris Cherry and Council’s Community Disaster Resilience Officer Zoe Fobian meet with Westpac Rescue Helicopter crewman Tommy Lee Lewes on the helipad at their Lismore base.

Tweed Shire Council has again thrown its support behind the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service, donating more than $16,800 to the vital aero medical service.

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Mayor of Tweed Shire Chris Cherry visited the service’s Lismore base recently to present the funding to the only dedicated medical rescue helicopter service in northern NSW.

“We are so grateful for the incredible service the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service team provides to the residents of the Tweed,” Cr Cherry said.

“From winching people out of floodwaters, to flying road crash victims to emergency hospital care, to conducting vital search and rescue operations, the service is often the difference between life and death for so many in our community.

“We are very pleased to be able to provide what support we can to this incredible service and thank them for all their hard work over the past year – particularly during the major flood event, which saw the service operate continually across the region despite being inundated themselves.”

Councillors agreed earlier this year to continue the Tweed’s annual support of the vital service, approving a donation of $16,859 to be funded from Council’s 2022/23 Budget.

Funds donated to the service are used for the upkeep and maintenance of their rescue helicopter, fuel, training for staff and more. Last year’s Tweed donation went towards building a storage facility at the hangar.

Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service Major Gifts & Donors Manager Zeke Huish thanked the Tweed for its support.

“Tweed Shire Council’s support is very significant and is something we do not take for granted,” Mr Huish said.

“As a local charity we can’t thank Council and the residents of the Tweed Shire enough for their continued support to help us save lives throughout the region.”

In 2021/22, the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service completed 1,494 missions across Northern NSW from its bases in Newcastle, Tamworth, and Lismore. In all, 413 of these missions were performed from their Lismore base which services the region from Nambucca through to the Queensland border and west to Tenterfield.

Their missions cover a wide variety of medical emergencies, including search and rescue operations, injuries from motor vehicles and motorcycle accidents, medical conditions, industrial and sporting injuries, burns, drownings and falls, as well as inter-hospital transfers.

The Northern Rivers-based service has been in operation since 1982 and has grown to become a vital 24-7 aeromedical operation. It is reliant upon community fundraising and strong partnerships such as that with Tweed Shire Council to ensure its quality, reliability, and sustainability.

The Westpac Rescue Helicopter on standby at the service’s Lismore base.

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Strengthening the justice system to better protect domestic and family violence victim survivors

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Strengthening the justice system to better protect domestic and family violence victim survivors

 

The NSW Government is implementing significant legal reforms aimed at bolstering the protection of domestic and family violence victim survivors. These reforms, spearheaded by Premier Chris Minns and Attorney General Michael Daley, reflect a commitment to prioritising the safety of individuals impacted by domestic violence.

Key reforms include:

  1. Reversing the presumption of bail: For serious domestic violence offences, such as sexual assault, strangulation, and kidnapping, alleged offenders will now be required to demonstrate why they should be granted bail. This shift places the burden on the accused to justify their release, enhancing the scrutiny applied to bail decisions.
  2. Electronic monitoring: Individuals charged with serious domestic violence offences and granted bail will be subject to electronic monitoring, ensuring closer supervision and accountability while awaiting trial.
  3. Expanded grounds for bail decisions to be ‘stayed’: Prosecutors will have the ability to challenge bail decisions in the Supreme Court, thereby preventing the release of potentially dangerous domestic violence offenders.
  4. Consideration of domestic abuse risk factors: Bail decision-makers will be required to take into account various indicators of domestic abuse, including physical violence, stalking, and intimidation, when assessing bail applications for domestic violence-related offences.
  5. Victim perspectives: The views of victims and their families will be considered in bail decisions, providing an additional layer of protection and acknowledging the importance of victim input in ensuring safety.
  6. Prosecution of perpetrators using tracking devices: Measures will be introduced to facilitate the prosecution of perpetrators who employ tracking and surveillance devices to exert control over their victims.

Furthermore, the NSW Government has allocated $230 million to enhance the response to domestic and family violence, encompassing primary prevention, early intervention, and crisis response initiatives. Additionally, NSW has secured a share of $1 billion in federal funding for emergency accommodation for domestic violence survivors.

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Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Jodie Harrison, underscores the collaborative approach taken in developing these reforms, which involved extensive consultation with legal experts and stakeholders. Together, these measures represent a concerted effort to strengthen the justice system’s response to domestic and family violence, safeguarding the well-being of women and children across NSW.

 

For more New South Whales news, click here.

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Child Protection Workers Strike in New England Over Safety Concerns

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Child Protection Workers Strike in New England Over Safety Concerns

 

May 8th,  child protection caseworkers staged a walkout and gather for a protest outside the Community Services Centre in Tamworth, highlighting a severe staffing crisis and its impact on child safety in New England.

The workers, supported by the Public Service Association of NSW (PSA), are voicing urgent concerns over the handling of child protection cases in the region. According to internal data, last year saw 18,582 children reported as at risk of serious harm (ROSH) across New England, Mid North Coast, and Northern NSW, yet only 15% received visits from caseworkers—marking the lowest response rate in the state.

Chronic understaffing is a critical issue, with more than 20% of child protection positions currently unfilled in these districts, occasionally reaching 25%. This dire shortage contributes to high turnover rates, with 50% of caseworkers leaving within their first two years of service.

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Stewart Little, General Secretary of PSA, expressed deep concerns about the ongoing crisis: “Our most vulnerable children are being put at greater risk due to the lack of sufficient staff and the overwhelming exhaustion faced by the current workforce,” he said. Little highlighted that the strike is part of a broader strategy to press the government for significant reforms, including the recruitment of 500 new caseworkers, substantial pay raises for current staff, and a move to de-privatise foster care services.

The PSA warns that today’s protest is just the beginning, with plans for an escalating series of rallies across the state if the demands are not met. They assure the public that urgent child protection responses will not be affected during the protest, with skeleton staffing maintained throughout.

Child protection workers urge Premier Chris Minns and Minister Kate Washington to take immediate action to resolve the staffing crisis and improve the system, emphasising that while the current NSW government did not create the problem, it is their responsibility to solve it.

 

For more New South Whales news, click here.

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Marine Rescue NSW Wraps Up Second Busiest Season with Over 3,200 Missions

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Marine Rescue NSW Wraps Up Second Busiest Season with Over 3,200 Missions

 

Marine Rescue NSW has recently concluded its second busiest boating season to date, undertaking 3,242 search and rescue missions, including 921 emergencies from October 1, 2023, to ANZAC Day 2024. This year’s operations nearly matched the record-setting 3,251 missions of the 2022/23 season, according to Commissioner Alex Barrell.

The organisations 3,400 volunteers played a crucial role in ensuring the safety of 7,535 boaters across the state’s waters, returning them safely to shore. Commissioner Barrell highlighted a significant challenge this season: “Over 40% of our emergency responses were due to mechanical failures, particularly engine issues. We strongly encourage boaters to thoroughly check their equipment before setting out to prevent such avoidable situations.”

Marine Rescue Lake Macquarie reported the highest activity with 441 missions. Remarkably, the regions of Mid North Coast, Illawarra, and Monaro also experienced their busiest seasons on record. The Monaro region’s eight units saw a 16% increase in operations, Mid North Coast responses rose by 11%, and Illawarra units handled a 7% uptick in demand.

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Throughout the season, the service managed 144,806 radio communications, with many being coordinated through the Marine Rescue Sydney State Communications Centre at Belrose. Among these, there were 69 MAYDAY calls signalling imminent danger and 42 PAN PAN calls from boaters facing urgent but non-life-threatening issues.

Commissioner Barrell expressed his gratitude towards the volunteers: “I want to commend all our volunteers for their relentless dedication to maintaining safety on our waterways.” He also reminded boaters to stay vigilant year-round, emphasizing the importance of proper preparation and safety measures, especially during the colder months. “Ensure you log on with your local Marine Rescue NSW base and always wear appropriate safety gear, including lifejackets and warm clothing during winter outings,” he advised.

This season also saw a steady number of boaters using the free Marine Rescue app or VHF channel 16 to log their voyages, aiding in efficient monitoring and quicker response times in emergencies. With 44% of the season’s missions involving boating or fishing activities, and 125 incidents of capsized vessels, the importance of staying with the vessel and wearing lifejackets was particularly underscored by the Commissioner.

 

For more New South Whales news, click here.

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