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News and Reviews

SPIKE IN REPORTS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT

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NSW Northern Rivers Local News & Events

SPIKE IN REPORTS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT

Dedicated police and frontline support services are ready and willing to take your call: that’s the message from the NSW Government today as new statistics are released showing a recent spike in sexual assault reports.
Attorney General and Minister for Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence Mark Speakman acknowledged the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) brief issued today that reported a 61 per cent increase in sexual assault incidents reported to NSW Police in March 2021, compared with the monthly average over the previous year.
“I commend the extraordinary courage of all of the victim-survivors who’ve recently contacted police to report sexual assaults,” Mr Speakman said.
“While this spike comes off the back of intense media coverage and long overdue public discussion of sexual violence in our communities, it also demonstrates what we already knew, that these crimes are significantly underreported each day.
“Our message to victim-survivors is please know that you are not alone, and that help is available, whether that’s contacting the police or another support or counselling service.”
Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott said the NSW Police Force take reports of sexual violence very seriously.
“Although these figures are distressing, it is encouraging that there is an increased willingness to report sexual assaults and that is a testament to the strength of all victims who come forward, and to police for ensuring that victims know they will be supported and believed when they do,” Mr Elliott said.
State Crime Commander, Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith, said police are committed to preventing sexual assaults and supporting victims who come forward.
“It takes incredible courage to re-live trauma and come forward as a victim of sexual violence,” Assistant Commissioner Smith said.
“Since the launch of Operation Vest in March this year, there was a significant increase in the number of people in the community who came forward to report sexual violence.
“The courage and bravery displayed by those individuals has already led to significant law reform, with consent laws being strengthened and simplified across the state.
“NSW Police will always thoroughly investigate reports of sexual violence and it is important that as a community, we continue these conversations and keep encouraging people to come forward.”
If you or someone you know are in immediate danger, contact Triple Zero (000).
More information on how to report sexual offences to the NSW Police is available on their website, including the Sexual Assault Reporting Option (SARO).
The SARO is an online form that people can complete if they have decided not to make a formal report to police or have their matter investigated. This makes a record of what has occurred, while allowing the police to gather information on sexual offences and offending.
A number of other support services are also available to provide help:
1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) is a 24/7 national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service.
NSW Rape Crisis (1800 424 017) is a 24/7 phone counselling service for anyone who is experiencing, or has experienced sexual violence, and their supporters.
Kids Helpline (1800 551 800) is a 24/7 national phone counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25.

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Local News

Critical incident investigation underway following crash – Casino

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Critical incident investigation underway following crash – Casino

A critical incident investigation has been declared after a cyclist was struck by a vehicle in the state’s north.

About 9.40pm (Thursday 29 July 2021) officers attached to Richmond Police District were at an address on Churchill Crescent, Casino, for an unrelated matter when they noticed a cyclist riding without a helmet or lights on his bicycle.

Police requested the man stop; however, he continued riding and collided with a vehicle at the intersection of Churchill Crescent and Hotham Street.

He was treated by NSW Ambulance paramedics, however, died at the scene. The man is yet to be formally identified.

The driver of the vehicle, a 20-year-old Queensland man, was not injured and taken to Casino Hospital for mandatory testing.

The man’s four passengers were uninjured.

The Crash Investigation Unit (CIU) is attending the scene.

A critical incident team from Tweed-Byron Police District will now investigate all circumstances surrounding the incident.

That investigation will be subject to independent review.

No further details are available at this time.

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Health News

Two new services providing free confidential support for anxiety, stress and low mood

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Healthy North Coast
Healthy North Coast

Two new services providing free confidential support for anxiety, stress and low mood

HEALTHY North Coast, in partnership with Remedy Healthcare, is pleased to announce a new mental health service for the North Coast.

Healthy North Coast CEO Julie Sturgess said that access to free support services for people living with mild mental illness on the North Coast was a priority.

“For people needing support with managing stress or worry, it’s so important that we have services available to provide help when and where needed, so that support can be accessed early,” she said.

“After a competitive tender process, Remedy Healthcare has been contracted to deliver two new programs to support people over 16 to improve their mental and emotional wellbeing, especially people experiencing isolation, and those in rural and remote locations.

“The ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic has seen a rise in mental health concerns across the world. Now, more than ever, we have to encourage ourselves to seek help.”

Remedy Healthcare is launching the MindStepR and Healing Minds telephone and online services. Both are free, easily accessible, and do not require a referral by a GP or healthcare professional. Delivered by trained mental health coaches, the confidential services use evidence-based techniques that improve mental health and wellbeing.

Remedy Healthcare’s Executive General Manager, Mike Hutton Squire, said both services aimed to reduce psychological distress and improve quality of life by helping people self-manage their mental health and wellbeing.

“The free services offer one-on-one assessment, coaching and follow-up sessions. Use of the services is completely confidential and accessible to people living anywhere within the North Coast region in NSW.”

Member for Page Kevin Hogan said the new services would provide much needed and timely support for the people of northern NSW.

“Around one in five people have a mental health concern each year,” Mr Hogan said.

“Over a lifetime, around 50% of people are likely to experience mental health issues.”

This year’s Federal Budget directed $2.3 billion towards improving mental health and suicide prevention in communities across Australia.

MindStepR is an evidence-based, low-intensity, guided self-help service and is designed to run alongside any existing psychological care.

To access MindStepR, call 1800 322 278 or visit www.remedyhealthcare.com.au/mindstep-hnc

Healing Minds is a culturally sensitive adaptation of MindStep specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over 16. To access Healing Minds, call 1800 810 255 or visit www.remedyhealthcare.com.au/healing-minds-hnc

If you or someone you care for needs immediate support, please call 000 or:

Lifeline 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
NSW Mental Health Line 1800 011 511
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800
1800 Respect 1800 737 732
MensLine 1300 789 978
Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636

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Local News

Milestone reached for outgoing Mayor Robert Mustow

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Mayor Robert Mustow
Mayor Robert Mustow

Milestone reached for outgoing mayor

By Tonia Dynan

IN the time Mayor Robert Mustow has been on council, he has been waiting to see development applications for his region hit the 300 mark.

“There’s also been almost 350 applications lodged and that’s the first time that’s been over 300, so these figures they show this confidence in the Richmond Valley and council has encouraged many initiatives to achieve this and has worked with our community to have this outcome,” Richmond Valley Council’s Cr Mustow said.

“It’s not only a council win, but it’s also the community, and developers and people who want to build their first homes and it’s really, really good.

“I’m pleased to say that that has been achieved because to get 300 DAs to me has been a bit of a goal and we’ve always been touching on it, but now we’ve just really jumped over it, and that’s a great. Congratulations to everyone.”

The figures were revealed in a report about the six-monthly customer service feedback survey.

“You’ll see that the total dollar amount of development applications this year is over $65 million, and it’s never been over $50 million before,” Cr Mustow said.

“I think that’s a pretty substantial increase.”

More than 80 per cent of survey respondents said they were very satisfied or satisfied with the customer service received when dealing with Richmond Valley Council.

More than half of the respondents to the survey conducted in June contacted council for assistance with development or planning enquiries and their main area of concern related to the lag time of a follow up response to their initial enquiry.

Council has identified some room for improvement that will be the focus of the customer experience team in the coming months, including working closely with applicants lodging applications via the new e-planning portal, and more training and upskilling of newer, inexperienced staff.

Cr Mustow said customer service was a lot of work, but it was a positive report which was great to hear.

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