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News and Reviews

Council meeting capacity reduced due to restrictions Option for residents to watch via livestream

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Council meeting capacity reduced due to restrictions Option for residents to watch via livestream

Members of the public are being encouraged to watch this week’s Planning and Council meetings online, via a livestream.

Taking place on Thursday (1 July) at Council’s Tweed Heads Administration Office, the meetings remain open to the public following the announcement of COVID-19 restrictions. However, capacity has been reduced to adhere to the one person per 4m² rule.

Those wanting to attend are required to pre-register, check in via the Service NSW QR code system (or written form) on arrival and wear a face mask. There are currently only a very limited number of spaces left for members of the public to attend in person.

Anyone who is not feeling well is asked to remain at home.

Residents can watch the meetings live from the comfort of their own home, beginning at 5:30 pm. The meetings will be livestreamed at: https://primetime.bluejeans.com/a2m/live-event/sjwffybs

It is also possible to watch the meeting via a mobile device and to listen to audio of the meeting.

For more information, and to pre-register attendance (if spaces are still available), visit Council’s website at www.tweed.nsw.gov.au/CouncilMeetings.

Public attendance at Council meetings is always subject to changes through Public Health Orders or legislative changes by the NSW Government.

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News and Reviews

How to broach the sensitive question of COVID vaccination status

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How to broach the sensitive question of COVID vaccination status

Over the next couple of months, there will be a need to navigate conversations and questions that we have probably never thought about before – about someone’s COVID vaccination status.

While the numbers of those fully vaccinated continue to rise around Australia, a sizeable proportion of the population still remain unvaccinated. Children 12 and over can now get the jab, but kids under 12 remain unvaccinated for now.

It’s reassuring to know that children appear to be less likely to be hospitalised with COVID compared to adults, but children are getting COVID – often due to transmission in the household, from an infected adult.

Researchers say the best way to protect younger kids, and adults, from COVID is to ensure as many adults as possible are fully vaccinated.

Dr Ashneeta Prasad, a clinical psychology registrar from UNSW’s School of Psychology, says for many families, knowing the parents of their child’s friends are vaccinated may provide them with some sense of peace. But the choice to ask another person about their vaccination status is ultimately up to the parent/adult. “Over the last few months, it appears we as a country have been shifting our approach from eliminating cases to learning to live with COVID-19 as vaccination rates increase,” Dr Prasad says. “During this transition, some families may view asking about vaccination status as a useful way to manage their residual concerns about COVID-19 circulating within the community as we learn to navigate the post-lockdown world.”

Infectious disease social scientist from UNSW’s School of Population Health, Associate Professor Holly Seale is a parent of two children under the age of 10 years. She says it’s important to have these discussions with adults before catching up with them, or parents prior to having a playdate. “I have never previously asked a parent about whether their children are vaccinated prior to playdates,” she says. “I do make some assumptions that those within my close network have vaccinated their children. Sometimes this is easy to work out due to the child’s attendance at childcare which requires vaccination. I have also been in situations where parents have told me their children are unvaccinated unprompted, to allow me the opportunity to navigate whether I want our children to play together.”

Dr Prasad says before approaching conversations about vaccination status with other parents/caregivers or adults, it’s helpful to first consider what boundaries you are wanting to uphold. She says some things to
consider would be: whether you require one or both (if applicable) parents/caregivers to be vaccinated;; and whether your boundaries vary depending on the setting, duration, or type of activity.
A/Prof Seale agrees with this approach. “If the family has a child over the age of 12 that has not received their vaccine, will you proceed with catching up?,” she says. “Perhaps you may be more comfortable sticking to outdoor activities.”

Dr Prasad says when initiating a conversation about vaccination status, it can be useful to frame the question within the broader context of why it is being asked. “This could begin with expressing relief that some gatherings are now possible and mentioning how you have been looking forward to socialising in person,” she says. “Then you could disclose that you may still have lingering concerns about COVID-19 circulating within the community and to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy, you are trying to ensure that the people you are meeting up with in person are vaccinated. Providing this bigger picture before explicitly asking someone if they are vaccinated can help ease them into the conversation and promote more open and respectful communication.”

A/Prof. Seale points to a recent piece in The Conversation which highlights that offering your own vaccine status first may help break the ice. “This is a logical step as it supports setting the social norm,” she says. “As part of this process, you can acknowledge that it is a strange or difficult time. It’s important to be clear and transparent about why you are asking and be open to finding alternative options or delaying the catch up until later in the year.”

But what if some people decline to answer? “It is important that we don’t assume that they are vaccine refusers but instead may have a health condition that means they are unable to get vaccinated or they are still trying to navigate their decision around the vaccine,” A/Prof Seale says.

If the answer is no, it is helpful to be honest and transparent about your views while remaining respectful, Dr Prasad says. “You could begin with describing the situation and respectfully acknowledging that there appears to be a difference in both parties are managing their approaches to COVID-19,” she says. “You could then follow up by calmly reinforcing your preferences in this situation. Try your best to use ‘I’ statements that frame your decision to delay or abstain from in person meetings as a personal choice made for yourself, rather than a consequence of the other person’s vaccination status”.

It is possible that these conversations could elicit feelings of rejection or embarrassment, so it can be helpful to remain sensitive to their feelings, she says. “If possible, acknowledge and validate their feelings: for example, “I understand if this is upsetting or frustrating for you”, and avoid using blaming or accusatory language which can cause tensions to escalate further.”

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News and Reviews

Supercharged $14.1M program to support nation’s vegetable growers

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Supercharged $14.1M program to support nation’s vegetable growers

Supercharged $14.1M program to support nation’s vegetable growers

Vegetable growers across Australia are set to benefit from the next generation of a national extension program aimed to boost productivity and deliver the latest research and development on-farm.
The new $14.1M VegNET 3.0 program is being delivered through Hort Innovation using vegetable industry levies and funds from the Australian Government, and led by Australia’s peak vegetable industry body AUSVEG.

Hort Innovation Chief Executive Matt Brand said the initiative represents the single largest research and development investment in the vegetable growing sector’s history, and it’s anchored on best-practice and what the industry has identified as priorities.

“This supercharged 5-year extension initiative takes a collaborative, local focus, with Development Officers based in 10 growing regions across the country. Each region will receive tailored support that meets local challenges,” he said.

“This network of experienced professionals will provide evidence-based tools and information in vital areas such as biosecurity, pest and disease management, soil and water management, the supply chain and protected cropping.”

Mr Brand said the VegNET initiative complements Hort Innovation’s dedicated extension arm which was created in 2019. He said it also builds on the foundation and momentum generated through previous VegNET programs.

AUSVEG CEO Michael Coote said that having a nationally-coordinated VegNET program will help ensure that growers all around Australia will have access to a consistent, industry-focused extension program that will put their needs first in their efforts to be productive, profitable and more competitive in an ever-increasingly global marketplace.

“VegNET is an important program for our industry,” he said. “Australian vegetable growers are world-leaders in the production of high-quality, healthy vegetables and are constantly looking for new ways to innovate and grow more sustainably and develop their businesses”.
“AUSVEG is well-placed to work with well-trained regional development officers, who are strongly supported, to deliver a high-performing, consistent and efficient VegNET program that will meet vegetable growers’ needs.”

Mr Coote said a strong extension network that connects growers with local, regional and international experts will be an important element to the industry’s future success.

“While growers are facing significant issues with labour shortages, rising input costs and an increasingly volatile climate, the industry is well-placed to overcome these challenges and take advantage of the research and services on offer in Australia to improve its productivity and increase its value to help the agriculture sector meet its goal of $100 billion by 2030,” he said.

The VegNET regional development officers will be based in the following locations:
· New South Wales through the Local Land Services NSW
· Northern Territory through NT Farmers
· Queensland (Bowen-Gumlu and Far North Queensland) through Bowen-Gumlu Growers Association
· Queensland (Bundaberg) through Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers
· Queensland (SEQ including Lockyer Valley, Granite Belt and Darling Downs) through Lockyer Valley Growers
· South Australia through AUSVEG SA
· Tasmania through RM Consulting Group
· Victoria (Gippsland) through Food and Fibre Gippsland
· Victoria (Northern, Southern and Western) through AUSVEG
· Western Australia through vegetables WA

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Health News

Aussie-invented NeedleCalmTM wins International Good Design Award

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Aussie-invented NeedleCalmTM
Aussie-invented NeedleCalmTM

Aussie-invented NeedleCalmTM wins International Good Design Award

Australia’s world-leading medical invention helping reduce pain and fear around needle procedures, including the Covid19 vaccine, NeedleCalmTM, was announced today as a winner of Australia’s peak international design awards during the 2021 Good Design Awards Week.
NeedleCalmTM’s ‘Needle Desensitising Device’ received a prestigious Good Design Award Winner Accolade in the Product Design category in recognition for outstanding design and innovation.
The Good Design Awards are the highest honour for design and innovation in the country and reward projects across 12 design disciplines and 30 subcategories.
The Good Design Awards Jury commented: “Given about 1 in 10 people are afraid of needles, this is a positive approach to overcoming a common problem. The discreet aesthetics of the device and its similarity to a sticky plaster may assist in uptake and the technique of activating alternate pain receptor pathways is clever too.”
Melbourne-headquartered NeedleCalmTM earlier this year launched their breakthrough Australian medical device assisting with the reduction of needle-associated pain with injection, immunisation, venepuncture and catheterisation procedures often associated with vaccinations, blood donations and tests, and cancer treatment.
This includes helping treat Trypanophobia – the fear of needles – as defined by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders[i] in the Blood Injury and Injections (BII) category.
Lauren Barber, CEO and Founder of NeedleCalmTM, said receiving such a prestigious award showed Australian medical technology could cut it with the rest of the world in terms of innovation, ingenuity, and quality.
“It’s exciting to have the opportunity to help Australia close the gate on Covid19, particularly with the prospect of helping vaccinating children in safer, faster and less stressful way for kids, parents and medical practioners alike,” Ms Barber said.
“However, Covid19 is just one minor part of the potential to improve healthcare take up and efficiency long-term, with NeedleCalmTM able to be used in an estimated 60% – or 76 million – needle procedures in Australia each year.
“Awards like Good Design Australia are essential because they help increase medical and public confidence in not only our product, but also the quality of the growing revolution of Australian-made and invented medical devices.”
Dr. Brandon Gien, CEO of Good Design Australia said: “Receiving an Australian Good Design Award is testament to embedding design excellence at the heart of a product, service, place or experience. Although 2021 continues to be another challenging year, it is incredibly inspiring to see designers and businesses working together to find innovative, customer-centric design solutions to local and global challenges and to see them recognised and rewarded for their efforts through these prestigious Awards.”
“The importance of embracing good design principles is now more important than ever as many businesses around the world have had to completely re-think their business strategies to remain competitive. The standard of design excellence represented in this year’s Awards is the best I’ve ever seen in my 25 years of running these Awards, an encouraging sign that the design sector is flourishing,” Dr. Gien went on to say.
NeedleCalmTM is a Class 1 medical device approved by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and was developed in part with support from the NSW Government’s Minimum Viable Product Grant program and Federal Government’s Industry Growth Centres Initiative (MTPConnect)[ii].
NeedleCalmTM is Australian-owned and manufactured and can be used in over 60 per cent of Australia’s approximately 128 million needle procedures carried out annually. It can be used at various injection sites across the body, including, but not limited to, arms, abdomens, buttocks and thighs.
For interviews with NeedleCalmTM Founder Lauren Barber or other enquiries, please contact: Troy Bilsborough (Provocate): 0427 063 150, +61 7 3058 0033 or troy.bilsborough@provocate.com.au

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