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New South Wales News

GREATER FLEXIBILITY NEEDED FOR BASIN OUTCOMES

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GREATER FLEXIBILITY NEEDED FOR BASIN OUTCOMES

NSW will be reaffirming its position that more time and flexibility is needed to implement the remaining shared commitments under the Basin Plan, at the upcoming Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council meeting on 24 February 2023.

NSW Minister for Water Kevin Anderson said this meeting comes at a critical time as all Basin State and Territory Ministers must determine a new pathway for delivering water recovery targets ahead of the 30 June 2024 Basin Plan deadline .

“NSW has worked hard in consultation with Basin communities to bring forward constructive ideas for how the outcomes of the Basin Plan could be delivered without further impacting regional communities,” Mr Anderson said.

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“This includes providing for more time and flexibility for the remaining Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism (SDLAM) projects to be delivered, and allowing new projects that would enable equivalent environmental outcomes to be achieved without taking water from regional communities.

“The Better Baaka and Better Bidgee are examples of projects that should be supported, as they recognise water recovery alone will not deliver the environmental outcomes intended by the Basin Plan.

“Installing fishways, fencing off riverbanks, restoring riparian and instream habitat and addressing cold water pollution all go towards achieving environmental outcomes without undermining regional communities and their economies.”

Mr Anderson said NSW is calling on the Commonwealth and other Basin State Ministers to support projects like these.

“As the NSW Water Minister my priority is healthy rivers, healthy farms and healthy communities; not one or the other,” Mr Anderson said.

“Gaining support from other Basin Ministers for greater flexibility in delivering SDLAM projects will be essential, as without changes, several projects will be unable to be delivered, significantly increasing the amount of water recovery required.”

In relation to the target for up to 450 GL of additional water for the environment, Mr Anderson said NSW will not support any proposal to remove the socio-economic criteria that Ministerial Council agreed to in 2018 nor to meet this target through water buybacks.

“The NSW Liberal and Nationals Government knows too well the significant impact that buying back water will have on regional communities,” Mr Anderson said.

“Not only does it permanently reduce the amount of water available for regional communities in the long term, it increases the price of water for other users, and reduces agricultural productivity in regional areas.”

“There is no escaping the fact that buying this amount of water would devastate our agricultural sector and our regional communities at a time when food prices are skyrocketing. We have seen first-hand the impact that Commonwealth buyback programs have had before and will not stand by and watch this happen again.

“NSW will strongly argue that any further water recovery must be prioritised through investment in water infrastructure rather than buybacks and will be using the upcoming Ministerial Council meeting to fight for the interests of NSW communities.”

The NSW Government has published a position statement which outlines its position on key issues likely to be discussed at the upcoming meeting.

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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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