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Local News

Local Councils Disability Inclusion Action Plan

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Local Councils Disability Inclusion Action Plan

Local Councils Disability Inclusion Action Plan

PEOPLE with disability are enjoying more opportunities for social and economic participation as councils continue to deliver projects and initiatives to create more inclusive and accessible communities.

Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Alister Henskens said the 2019-20 Local Councils Disability Inclusion Action Plan (DIAP) Progress Report highlights how NSW Government legislation is driving positive change across the state.

“Living with a disability should not be a barrier to living a full and active life. The projects highlighted in this report are great examples of the work being done across NSW to enhance inclusion and accessibility,” Mr Henskens said.

“All levels of government have a responsibility to improve access in all aspects of society. This report is about providing a snapshot of how our councils are tracking in line with their Disability Inclusion Action Plan.”

Each council has too many points to list, so here are a few highlights on what our local councils are doing:

Ballina Shire Council
• An Access Reference Group meets bi-monthly and provides advice to council on disability access issues.
• Upgraded the Alstonville Aquatic Centre’s amenities block to include compliant accessible change rooms including the provision of an accessible transfer hoist.
• Shared pathway from Ballina CBD to Lennox Head was completed in October 2020.
• Footpath inspections carried out via mobility scooter to identify hazards and access issues.
• Auslan interpreter at council meetings and community consultations as requested.

Byron Shire Council
• Delivered mental health first aid training to 30 council staff members.
• Created a staff working group to support delivery of DIAP actions.
• Partnered with Vision Australia to deliver staff training on Creating Accessible Documents.
• Repaired 77 footpaths and upgraded 22 ramps throughout the shire. Upgraded 14 bus stops under the Bus Stop Accessible Improvement Program accessibility requirements.
• Installed a Hearing Loop in Council Chambers to improve sound quality for people with hearing impairment.

Clarence Valley Council
• Council has an Access Committee that meets once a month.
• Environment, Development & Strategic Planning, Access Committee and Community Development Staff went out to businesses about revitalising the main street scape by ensuring accessibility for all
• The gallery is proactive in presenting and supporting program opportunities for people with disability and the gallery is wheelchair accessible. All our libraries are wheelchair accessible and our programs and events are presented and developed with inclusion and access for all in mind.
• Pippi Beach and Wooli Beach have improved all access areas • MLAK keys given to residents free of charge
• Council is continuing the process of expanding the shared pathway network
• Council will redevelop the main office building in 2020/2021 which will be all accessible for the whole of community. The new design will include a lift.

Kyogle Council
• Included representative imagery of people with disability in Council’s publications.
• Recognised and incorporated disability inclusion requirements as part of Council’s contractor procurement processes through distribution of “The tradies guide to good access”.
• Developed public messages and campaigns highlighting disability inclusion requirements and benefits to the community through the outdoor gym project and pool upgrades.
• In partnership with the Transport Working Group identified options and implemented strategies to improve bus transport services within Kyogle Council area such as putting in new bus shelters in locations identified by the local community.
• Hearing Loop facilities are provided during formal Council Meetings.

Lismore City Council
• Waiving of fees for development applications for accessibility improvements.
• Bi-monthly meetings of the Access and Inclusion Advisory Group to provide advice to Council on disability access and inclusion.
• Continued provision of a hearing loop in the Council Chambers and live-streaming of Council’s ordinary meetings and events. Provision of funding for AUSLAN interpreters for meetings.
• Free hire of an all-terrain beach wheelchair. This wheelchair is available year-round and can be used on all patrolled beaches or suitable walking tracks and can be folded for transportation in any medium-sized vehicle.
• A beachfront entrance and handrail at the Goonellabah Sports & Aquatic Centre for accessibility and an automatic wheelchair hoist. There is also lift access to the SWITCH 24-hour gym and a hoist at the Lismore Memorial Baths.

Richmond Valley Council
• Accessible elements included in playground upgrades
• Continuous accessible paths of travel included in new master planning exercises and continue to increase in regular maintenance of current paths
• Further improvements to council’s website to standardise access
• Council also works with ON-Q which is a not for profit organisation, providing Disability Employment Support to enable people to realise their full potential through meaningful employment, with one candidate achieving permanent employment in 2019/2020.
• Council also continued upgrades of the Stan Payne Oval playground area ($80,000) in Evans Head with a new toilet, footpath network, barbecue and picnic shelters, and a disability access ramp to connect the site with the Evan Head Aquatic Centre carpark. Upgrades were carried out to the Stan Payne Oval playground in Evans Head. The works included approximately 60m of replacement footpath linking the nearby sealed carpark with the playground, three new picnic tables, a bench, barbecue area and a new disability access ramp from the carpark.

Local News

Veteran nurse debunks claims Tweed Hospital is ‘Falling over in a screaming heap.’

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Veteran nurse debunks claims Tweed Hospital is ‘Falling over in a screaming heap.’

Veteran nurse debunks claims Tweed Hospital is ‘Falling over in a screaming heap.’

Speaking to The Northern Rivers Times on the condition of anonymity, an experienced nurse at Tweed Hospital has moved to counter some media claims the hospital is falling apart.

The nurse said the belief “Tweed Hospital has no Covid diagnosis equipment” is simply not true with Rapid Antigen Tests continuing this week for patients.  Hospital staff were also being tested at Tweed hospital.

“They still do ‘rapids’, definitely, and the results are back in half an hour,” the nurse said.

The nurse was concerned media hype did not tell the everyday story of life on hospital wards, which the nurse said were generally well-staffed and if quiet, saw some nurses redeployed to other wards.  The nurse said it was not unusual to have staff shortages anyway at this time of year or staff doing paid overtime.

“Hospital administration is still allowing people to go on annual leave, if it was in dire straits, why aren’t all the hierarchy back, they would be back if it was so bad.”

“A & E (Accident and Emergency) is certainly stretched with Covid admissions who should be staying home .. but it certainly isn’t falling apart.”

The nurse said managers and nurse unions have had ‘plenty of time’ to prepare for covid emergencies like now, including ensuring fit-testing of N95 or P2 respirators, mandatory for all frontline staff and an area lagging at Tweed Hospital.

“They could’ve planned better for this,” the nurse observed, “ .. it should’ve been done earlier.”

The experienced nurse was quick to add that negative commentary was not helpful for staff morale at a time like this.

“What we need to do is boost people up, encourage them to keep going, that we will get through this.  It’s all too easy to criticise,” the veteran nurse said.

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Business News NSW Northern Rivers

RENT RELIEF CONTINUES FOR SMALL BUSINESSES IMPACTED BY COVID-19

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RENT RELIEF CONTINUES FOR SMALL BUSINESSES IMPACTED BY COVID-19

RENT RELIEF CONTINUES FOR SMALL BUSINESSES IMPACTED BY COVID-19

Small businesses who are still doing it tough across the State will continue to benefit from rent relief until 13 January 2022, ensuring ongoing support for small businesses over the Christmas and New Year’s Period.
Treasurer Matt Kean said as the economic recovery continues, many small businesses are still not back at their pre-COVID turnover and rent is still one of their biggest fixed costs.

“Small business is the engine room of our economy and as we recover from the pandemic we need to make sure we leave no one behind and support impacted businesses as they continue to recover,” Mr Kean said.
“Continuing rent relief measures for impacted small businesses will provide a necessary buffer to allow businesses time to get back on their feet and begin to thrive again.”

The Retail and Other Commercial Leases (COVID-19) Regulation 2021 rent relief provisions will continue for eligible businesses with a turnover of less than $5 million, a more targeted level of support from the previous turnover threshold of $50 million.
Minister for Finance and Small Business Damien Tudehope said landlords will still be required to negotiate rent relief with eligible commercial and retail tenants that are experiencing a turnover decline of 30 per cent or more.

“Lockdown may be over but there are still small businesses, particularly in our CBDs, that are facing a slower recovery and are continuing to do it tough,” Mr Tudehope said.

“As the State continues to transition out of lockdown, 97 per cent of NSW businesses will retain access to COVID-19 rent relief provisions if they continue to experience a significant decline in turnover.”

Small commercial and retail tenants that would have continued to meet the eligibility criteria for JobSaver or the Micro-business Grant, after ending on 30 November, will remain eligible for rent relief negotiations with their landlords.
Under the Regulation, landlords are required to negotiate rent relief having regard to National Cabinet’s Code of Conduct. As a starting point, rent relief should be proportionate with eligible tenant’s decline in turnover, with at least 50 per cent in the form a waiver, and the balance a deferral.
Landlords can access the Commercial Landlord Hardship Fund, which currently provides small commercial or retail landlords with a monthly grant up to the value of any rental relief provided, to a maximum of $3,000 per month per property.
Alternatively, land tax relief is available for eligible commercial landowners who have reduced their tenants’ rent due to COVID-19, between 1 July 2021 and 31 December 2021. The reduction in land tax payable is the lesser of:

  • the amount of rent reduction provided to an eligible tenant for any period between 1 July 2021 and 31 December 2021, or
  • 100 per cent of the land tax attributable to the parcel of land leased to that tenant.

For more information on rent relief visit: Commercial leases https://www.smallbusiness.nsw.gov.au/get-help/covid-19/commercial-leases-and-covid-19-faqs
For more information on COVID-19 assistance for commercial and residential landlords visit: https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/campaign/covid-19-help-businesses/covid-19-assistance-commercial-and-residential-landlords

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Health News

Pharmacists ready with Moderna boosters but services must be sustainable

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The Northern Rivers own newspaper

Pharmacists ready with Moderna boosters but services must be sustainable

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) welcomes the announcement that Moderna’s SPIKEVAX vaccine has been provisionally approved as a booster dose for Australians aged 18 years and above.

Yesterday, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) confirmed that a second vaccine will be available for the National Booster Program.

PSA National President, A/Prof Chris Freeman, acknowledged further enablement of the pharmacist workforce.

“With the National Booster Program well underway, this move is timely – one that provides Australians with greater vaccine choice in the lead up to early 2022 when the majority of the population becomes eligible for their booster dose.

“This announcement, coupled with Monday’s provisional approval of Pfizer for Australians aged 5-11 years, marks a week of significant progress in the pandemic response and PSA commends the Government’s approach to making these decisions.

“This development now means that the potential number of pharmacists offering booster vaccinations across Australia has more than doubled, accounting for those already participating in the Moderna program.

“However, it is imperative that pharmacists are paid fairly, and at least equally to other providers, otherwise the provision of this critical service is not sustainable. With 2.3 million children becoming eligible for vaccination, extra consultation time will be required to undertake appropriate assessment and consenting, placing further strain on service sustainability.

“Pharmacists have already administered over 2.5 million vaccinations to Australians, and as mass vaccination hubs continue to downscale their operations over the coming months, pharmacists will become an even more critical part of the vaccination strategy,” he said.

PSA is dedicated to supporting Australian pharmacist immunisers through the National Booster Program and will continue to work closely with the TGA and ATAGI to ensure pharmacists are equipped with the most up-to-date advice regarding vaccine safety and effectiveness.

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