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New South Wales News

Teacher shortages: Education union states case to Parliamentary Inquiry

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NSW Northern Rivers Breaking News

Teacher shortages: Education union states case to Parliamentary Inquiry

Today the Independent Education Union appeared before the NSW Parliament’s Inquiry into Teacher Shortages. The IEU represents the industrial and professional interests of 33,000 teachers and support staff in non-government schools in NSW and the ACT.

“This was a great opportunity to advocate on behalf of members and explain to the Inquiry what it’s like working in schools right now,” said IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Secretary Mark Northam.

“The teacher shortage has to be taken seriously. It’s about a better deal for teachers and support staff. It’s about the students and the future of education. It’s about more time for lesson planning, improved pay, and real strategies to address the teacher shortages.”

The Inquiry, chaired by One Nation’s Mark Latham and comprising members of the Labor opposition, the Greens, Liberals and Nationals, heard that COVID had not caused the current issues but it had exacerbated them.

“The IEU has been warning about impending staff shortages for many years due to a range of factors including an ageing workforce, mid-career teacher retention issues and dramatically decreasing enrolments in initial teacher education courses,” Northam said.

Data from the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership reveals:

  • 28 per cent of teachers say they will leave the profession within four years
  • 32 per cent of teachers say they will leave the profession before retirement
  • 12 per cent of teachers are over 60 years; and 37 per cent are over 50.

The IEU has had two stop works in six weeks – thousands of teachers and support staff from Catholic schools throughout NSW and the ACT rallied and marched at numerous locations.

“This is unheard of,” Northam said. “School staff are on their knees and schools are in crisis. They’ve been running on goodwill for too long but that goodwill is rapidly running out.”

Last week the IEU wrote to Catholic employers urging them to meet with the union and continue negotiations for a new enterprise agreement that began in January. “Our door is open,” Northam said. “Let’s sit down and fix these issues together.”

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New South Wales News

$300 MILLION TO HELP UNLOCK NEW HOMES ACROSS THE STATE

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$300 MILLION TO HELP UNLOCK NEW HOMES ACROSS THE STATE

The NSW Government has today revealed the details of a $300 million plan to fasttrack the delivery of essential infrastructure and unlock tens of thousands of homes across the State.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet announced 41 councils experiencing high growth will be able to apply for a share of the latest round of the Accelerated Infrastructure Fund (AIF).

“The NSW Government’s successful AIF program is being extended for a third round, to help councils roll out critical infrastructure projects that support the delivery of much needed new homes,” Mr Perrottet said.

“It’s about getting keys in doors and giving people the opportunity to own their own home. To be able to unlock land and increase supply, our State needs the vital infrastructure in place to allow community growth – this includes roads, sewerage systems, stormwater drains and parks.

”Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said 23 of the 41 eligible councils were in the regions, demonstrating the NSW Government’s commitment to helping eliminate housing pressures right across the state.

“When you build a house, you’ve got to lay the foundations first. This funding lays the foundations to unlock more land and build thousands of homes in the communities where they’re needed the most,” Mr Toole said.

“It builds on the investment we’re making right across regional NSW to help fast-track construction of new homes and ease housing pressures as communities grow.”

Treasurer and Minister for Energy Matt Kean said AIF round three will help support both immediate and anticipated population growth.

“This is a great program that has delivered excellent results to date, so I’m thrilled to see this package being extended,” Mr Kean said.

“Since 2020, the AIF program has supported 38 local infrastructure projects across eight Sydney councils, supporting more than 100,000 new homes and creating around 3,220 jobs.”

Minister for Planning and Minister for Homes Anthony Roberts said the investment is part of a suite of end-to-end measures aimed at putting downward pressure on house prices and making home ownership a reality for more people in NSW.

“This is a great example of State and Local Government working together to accelerate projects that stimulate the economy, fast-track new properties, and create jobs,” Mr Roberts said.

“Our $2.8 billion housing package announced in this year’s State Budget will help us pave the way for hundreds of thousands of new homes over the next four years.”

Minister for Local Government Wendy Tuckerman said councils were the engine room of these growing communities, and are best placed to work with the State Government in making them sustainable and affordable.

“Councils have the grassroots community knowledge needed to ensure our future homes, facilities and parks flourish. Partnering with councils for the Accelerated Infrastructure Fund is going to achieve targeted, local outcomes as a result.”

Twenty-three regional councils will be able to apply for a share of $120 million, and $180 million is available for 18 eligible metropolitan councils in Greater Sydney, Central Coast, Newcastle and Wollongong.

To learn more about AIF visit https://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/AcceleratedInfrastructure-Fund

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New South Wales News

HIGH TECH LIGHTS TO BOOST SAFETY AT LEVEL CROSSINGS

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HIGH TECH LIGHTS TO BOOST SAFETY AT LEVEL CROSSINGS

The NSW Government will trial new technology to reduce the risk of level crossing collisions between trains and vehicles in the bush.

Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government Victor Dominello said the government will fund trials of innovative signs with LED flashing lights at level crossings in Narromine and Bribbaree, to improve awareness and safety.

“There are more than 2700 road level crossings on the NSW rail network and we want to improve safety in country areas where there is less visibility,” Mr Dominello said.

“Contracts have been signed with ARCGS at Bribbaree and Sage Automation at Narromine to install new level crossing signs and the detailed design work is underway.

“Level crossing crashes devastate families and communities which is why we want to use innovation and technology to help save lives.”

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Sam Farraway said the government had listened to concerns raised through the community petition led by Maddie Bott.

“Sixty-eight per cent of public road crossings use only stop and give way signs to warn about the presence of a level crossing and the need to stop to look for trains,” Mr Farraway said.

“Transport for NSW has developed a new strategic direction to help fast track improvements at level crossings which will involve trialling the use of new technology.

“On top of this we have reduced speed limits to 80km per hour at more than 50 level crossings across regional NSW as part of the Level Crossing Speed Zone Reduction Program.

“We know a lot of crashes at level crossings occur where the road speed limit is 100km an hour or greater, so reducing the speed limit gives drivers more time to see the level crossing ahead and stop for oncoming trains.”

TrackSAFE Foundation’s Executive Director Heather Neil said TrackSAFE welcomed today’s announcement from the NSW Government.

“NSW has thousands of level crossings and new technology will play an important part in improving safety,” Ms Neil said.

“This week is Rail Safety Week, and we remind travellers, pedestrians, commuters and rail workers that they can all play an active role in rail safety. And we urge the Australian community to Stay Rail Safe.”

ARCS Commercial Director Phil Lock said they are very excited to be partnering with the NSW Government and delivering innovative technology to improve safety for regional communities.

“I’m looking forward to working with government to develop technology that could potentially save more lives in country communities,” Mr Lock said.
SAGE Automation Smart Cities Lead Ashby Martin echoed these sentiments.

“SAGE is passionate about developing new systems to improve road safety in partnership with Transport for NSW and the NSW Government,” Mr Martin said.

The trial is funded through the Digital Restart Fund and will commence later this year and the data collected will be used to determine the effectiveness of the new technology.

The trial will commence later this year and the data collected will be used to determine the effectiveness of the new technology.

The trial in Narromine will evaluate the effectiveness of a stop sign with LED warning lighting. The Bribbaree trial will also monitor the effectiveness of stop signs with LED warning lights and LED streetlights.

For more information on safety at level crossings, visit:
https://roadsafety.transport.nsw.gov.au/stayingsafe/level-crossings/index.html

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New South Wales News

EPA must issue correction as a matter of urgency. Giant trees- are they protected or not?

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NSW Northern Rivers Breaking News

EPA must issue correction as a matter of urgency.

Giant trees- are they protected or not?

The Environment Protection Authority must issue an immediate correction re its position on the legality of serious and flagrant breaches of the logging rules in Ellis State Forest, west of
Coffs Harbour.

Television footage on August 10, showed forest protectors measuring the stump of a Giant Brushbox Tree. It measured 150 cm diameter. Under the grossly inadequate rules that regulate this
destructive industry, Giant trees have to be greater than 140cm diameter to warrant protection. It can take slow growing trees hundreds of years to reach that size.

“The report quoted the EPA as saying that the tree didn’t “appear to meet the criteria of being a giant tree. And in this case can be legally logged.”

“The NCEC has written to senior executives of the EPA asking for an urgent response to what appears to be a serious breakdown in their chain of command.

“A spokesperson for the EPA cannot issue a statement saying there appears to be no breach and the Giant Tree was legally harvested, when the prima facie case, as evidenced with video footage, is that there has indeed been a breach and there is a giant stump as evidence,” said Environment Council spokesperson Susie Russell.

“Are there some rules that are policed and others not? Is there some secret further criteria we don’t know about?

“Does this decision making prior to any investigation apply to other aspects of the EPA’s work?

“The EPA needs to take it’s name seriously. What is happening in Ellis State Forest appears to be serial breaches by serial offenders. These large trees will not be replaced, not even in the lifetimes
of our great, great grandchildren.

“The Government and the logging industry moan about people protesting in forests as breaking the law, but it would seem they have no problems when their weak environmental protection laws are
broken.

“It is highly likely there are more breaches in the vicinity to be found, as the tree in question was part of a grove of old-growth trees and many other large, old trees are now on the ground.

“The EPA should issue an immediate Stop Work Area for this site and do a proper investigation,” Ms Russell said.

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