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New South Wales News

Fire and Rescue NSW to assist the flood relief in Broome

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Fire and Rescue NSW to assist the flood relief in Broome

Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) has sent a team of eight specialist firefighters to Broome to assist with Western Australia’s flood crisis.

The team will support WA Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES), providing advice and assistance as the region recovers from one of the worst disasters ever seen in Western Australia.

The Fitzroy River has burst its banks, leading to one of the highest flow rates ever recorded in an Australian river, threatening local communities.

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Broome and surrounding towns are still recovering after being cut off from the rest of the state.

This is the second FRNSW group to head over in recent weeks, with crews based both in Broome and Fitzroy Crossing, where some of the worst flood damage has occurred.

The FRNSW unit is part of a New South Wales multi-agency team that includes members of the State Emergency Service and Rural Fire Service, providing guidance in areas such as logistics, safety and resource management.

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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.

 

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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.

 

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Cameras to enforce seatbelt law across NSW from July 1

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Cameras to enforce seatbelt law across NSW from July 1

 

WEARING a seatbelt will be enforced by existing mobile phone detection cameras from July 1 as the NSW Labor Government bolsters efforts to counter the rising number of road fatalities across the state.

The simple act of correctly wearing a seatbelt while in a moving vehicle has been a legal requirement in NSW for more than 50 years, but data shows 150 people died while not wearing one in the five years between 2019 and 2023.

On average, 15 per cent of deaths on NSW roads every year still involve seatbelt non-usage, with 36 people tragically lost last year.

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The enhancement of the state’s world-first mobile phone detection camera network will allow for a July 1 start date to the cameras also enforcing the seatbelt laws for the first time, the NSW Government confirms today.

Unlike when other new enforcement technologies have come into effect, there will be no grace period of warning letters after the NSW Parliament voted against starting seatbelt detection cameras in warning mode when enabling legislation was passed last year.

Photos released from testing of the cameras show a small but persistent percentage of drivers and some passengers continue to flout the law and wear their seatbelt incorrectly, including with the sash below the arm.

Every dollar raised by seatbelt cameras will go back into road safety.

Quotes attributable to State Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin:

“The key here is personal, family and community safety. This is the best position from which to start.

“Our government wants to keep us safe. Our government has a duty to keep us safe. And at times that calls for some tough love.

“If drivers are failing in your obligation to keep yourself, your passengers and your fellow citizens, we shall slug you hard.

“I cannot believe that in 2024 some people are driving without putting their seatbelts on. They are putting themselves and everyone they come into contact with at risk.

“The message is clear; belt up, buckle up or pay the price.”

As of midnight Thursday 2 May 2024, 124 lives have been lost on NSW roads, which is 16 more than the same time last in 2023.

The NSW Labor Government has introduced a number of measures to counter the rising number of road fatalities, including:

  • The demerit point trial to encourage motorists who maintain a spotless record over 12 months to have a demerit point removed from their record
  • Hosting the state’s first Road Safety Forum of international and local experts
  • Last month we signed the National Road Safety Data Sharing Agreement to help support analysis of driver behaviour, and help the various state and federal governments work together to understand where the funding needs to go
  • Removing a loophole to force all motorists driving on a foreign licence to convert to a NSW licence within six months
  • Doubling roadside enforcement sites used for mobile speed cameras, with the addition of 2700 new locations where a camera can be deployed. Enforcement hours will remain the same.

Today marks the start of National Road Safety Week, an annual initiative of the Safer Australian Roads and Highways (SARAH) Group, which aims to highlight the impact of road trauma and ways to reduce it.

The theme for 2024 is All road safety is local – Drive So Others Survive. For more information on National Road Safety Week visit here.

 

For more New South Whales news, click here.

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