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Byron Bay News

Alarming Surge in Homelessness: Byron Shire Leads NSW According to 2024 Street Count

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Alarming Surge in Homelessness: Byron Shire Leads NSW According to 2024 Street Count

 

The recent release of data from the NSW Government’s 2024 Street Count has shed light on a concerning reality for homelessness in Byron Bay, now home to the largest number of rough sleepers in NSW. With 2,037 individuals counted sleeping rough in 2023 compared to 1,623 the previous year, there has been a notable increase, with 348 individuals identified in Byron Bay alone.

This uptick, approximately 16% in Byron Bay, sharply contrasts with a more modest 1% rise in the City of Sydney. These figures underscore the escalating crisis in regional areas, placing the Byron Shire at the forefront of homelessness and rough sleeping challenges.

Fletcher Street Cottage, Byron’s primary homeless support hub, stands as a frontline resource in addressing the mounting homelessness crisis. Established in 2022, the hub has become a vital lifeline, offering essential services and support to those in need. Over the past two years, it has served over 21,000 breakfasts, provided 9,200 showers and laundry services, and facilitated access to health and social services for numerous individuals.

Lindy Swain, Manager of Fletcher Street Cottage, emphasises the urgency of the situation: “The 2024 Street Count only provides a snapshot of rough sleepers in Byron Bay and does not capture the many hidden homeless – those sleeping in cars, tents, and couch surfing. We urgently require social housing in our region. Fletcher Street Cottage remains dedicated to extending a helping hand to those impacted by this crisis. The support we offer is more crucial now than ever, and we are in dire need of funding to sustain our efforts.”

Various factors such as rising interest rates, cost of living pressures, a local rental crisis, and inadequate social housing contribute to the surge in homelessness in Byron Bay. While these challenges are not new, their impacts are becoming increasingly severe, especially evident in the growing number of women seeking support at Fletcher Street Cottage, reflecting broader societal pressures.

The Byron Community Centre, supporting local rough sleepers since the early 2000s, highlights the importance of sustained community collaboration and generosity in addressing this crisis. Fletcher Street Cottage collaborates with multiple service providers to offer comprehensive support to those in need.

Louise O’Connell, General Manager of Byron Community Centre, expresses gratitude for the community’s support: “As Fletcher Street Cottage celebrates its two-year anniversary, community support is more crucial than ever in these challenging times. We extend our deepest gratitude to our dedicated staff, volunteers, donors, and partners, whose support is instrumental in addressing this escalating crisis. Our team works tirelessly to secure the necessary funding to sustain Fletcher Street Cottage and continue providing essential services to locals in need.”

For more information about Fletcher Street Cottage and to contribute, visit here. The 2024 street count, conducted between February 1 and March 1, 2024, is published annually. Visit here for further details.

 

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Byron Shire Council Unveils Inaugural Furry Friends Festival

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Byron Shire Council Unveils Inaugural Furry Friends Festival

 

Byron Shire Council is thrilled to introduce the Furry Friends Festival, a vibrant community event celebrating pets and their owners. Scheduled for Saturday, June 15th, at the Bangalow Showgrounds, this inaugural festival promises a delightful array of activities, expert advice on pet care, and opportunities for socializing—all while promoting responsible pet ownership and environmental stewardship.

Byron Shire Council is delighted to announce the launch of its inaugural Furry Friends Festival, set to take place on Saturday, June 15th, at the picturesque Bangalow Showgrounds. From 9am to 12pm, pet lovers and their furry companions are invited to join in the festivities and partake in a day of fun, learning, and camaraderie.

“This is a fun community event to celebrate the Byron Shire’s furry friends and their owners while providing some practical advice and assistance with pet ownership,” remarked Ms. Sarah Nagel, Council’s Manager of Public & Environmental Services, highlighting the festival’s dual focus on enjoyment and education.

The Furry Friends Festival boasts an exciting lineup of attractions, including complimentary face painting for children, enticing giveaways and stalls, a mouthwatering sausage sizzle, and a captivating photo booth for capturing cherished moments with pets. Attendees can also avail themselves of nail clipping services for their furry companions and engage with local veterinarians for expert advice.

Moreover, the festival offers a unique opportunity for pet owners to learn from experienced dog trainers, with informative talks scheduled throughout the morning. “Bring your furry friends along for some nail clipping, talk to our local vets and sit in on dog trainer talks happening throughout the morning,” encouraged Ms. Nagel.

As a ‘dog on lead’ event, the Furry Friends Festival prioritizes the safety and well-being of all attendees. “Having all our pets on leads will help everyone enjoy a safe space and the morning’s activities,” emphasized Ms. Nagel, underscoring the importance of responsible pet ownership.

In alignment with Council’s commitment to environmental conservation, the festival also aims to raise awareness of the Dogs in Public Places Strategy. “We’ll also be promoting our Dogs in Public Places Strategy, reminding people how to find information on dog areas and why it’s important to stick to the rules to avoid fines, but most importantly, to protect our beautiful environment and wildlife,” Ms. Nagel affirmed.

In essence, the Furry Friends Festival promises to be a delightful celebration of the bond between pets and their owners, fostering a sense of community spirit and promoting responsible pet ownership and environmental stewardship.

 

For more Byron Bay news, click here.

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14 projects share in $300,000 Community Building Partnership pool

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14 projects share in $300,000 Community Building Partnership pool

 

STATE Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin today (Friday, 7 June) announced that 14 projects had been successful under the NSW Government’s Community Building Partnership program for 2023.

Ms Saffin congratulated this round’s recipients and encouraged local organisations developing worthwhile projects to applicants to sign up for alerts about the CBP program so they are notified when information about the next round is confirmed.

“Remember that there is only $300,000 to be spread across the entire electorate each year so please be realistic with the amount of funding sought,” Ms Saffin says.

“The Premier’s Department has introduced strict probity measures around this grant program, including the overlay of independent assessment.”

Recipients of CBP funding for this 2023 round include:   

Lismore City LGA:

The Lismore Soup Kitchen Incorporated – towards improving amenities for volunteers and the hundreds of customers of The Good Pantry Lismore – new cool storage will be purchased and installed. — $33,350.

Lismore Memorial Amateur Swimming Club Incorporated – towards capacity building of competitive swimming in Lismore – $19,353.

Northern NSW Helicopter Rescue Service Limited – acquisition of night vision goggles (NVG) for its Lismore base – $18,970.

RSL LifeCare Limited – towards commissioning a local artist to install a mural as a war memorial/commemorative space at Chauvel Village Goonellabah, honouring Sir Harry Chauvel, of the Australian Lighthorse. — $5,000.

Tenterfield Shire LGA:

Tenterfield Chamber of Tourism Industry & Business Incorporated – new Tenterfield Visitors Information Centre – shopfront fitout, purchasing and installing free-standing equipment in a newly-leased building – $30,000.

Mingoola Hall Management Committee Incorporated – towards enhancing facilities at Mingoola Hall (fire exit side access to toilets to building code, installing a water tank) — $29,439.

Kyogle LGA:

Kyogle PA&H Society (Kyogle Show) – towards repairing the showground’s three arena surfaces to make them safe for competitors and exhibitors as the ground has become uneven and sloping. – $30,000.

Bonalbo and District Community Hall Association Incorporated – towards removal of ceiling tiles which pose a risk to volunteers and hall users, replacing them with new ones – $16,000.

Country Women’s Association of NSW – Tabulam Branch – towards supplying and installing a 4.5 kw grid connect solar system including panels, inverter, mounting rail and balance of system — $7,700.

The Girl Guides Association of NSW – Kyogle Girl Guide Hall kitchen upgrade (purchase stainless steel materials to replace a kitchen which was destroyed by flood – $5,500.

Tweed Shire LGA:

Uki Sporting Horse Association – towards all weather multi-purpose sand arena (to resurface arena with long-lasting road base and sand, providing a flood-free, safe, all-weather, multi-purpose facility – $30,000.

Coolangatta-Wollumbin (Mount Warning) Dragon Boat Club Incorporated – Wollumbin Transport Vehicle (purchase a vehicle for towing dragon boats to training and regattas. Current 4WD vehicle is old and near the end of its life – $29,000.

Tweed Regional Museum – towards accessible drinking water for Tweed Regional Museum (provision of two accessible drinking fountains, indoor and outdoor, for visitors to the museum – $11,175.

Byron Shire LGA hinterland:

Federal Community Children’s Centre Incorporated – outdoor blind installation and soft fall repair and extension – $34,513.

Electorate-wide total — $300,000.

 

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HOW TAFE NSW BALLINA IS HELPING FUTURE PROOF NORTHERN RIVERS NURSING WORKFORCE

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HOW TAFE NSW BALLINA IS HELPING FUTURE PROOF NORTHERN RIVERS NURSING WORKFORCE

 

The national peak body for nurses has highlighted the important role TAFE NSW Ballina is playing to address a skills shortage in the Northern Rivers region and helping future-proof the local nursing workforce.

The Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA) said there was never a more important time to invest in the future of nursing, saying training providers like TAFE NSW were critical.

Research by Health Workforce Australia found that due to an ageing workforce and growing population, there could be a national shortfall of 100,000 nurses by 2025.

APNA CEO Ken Griffith described TAFE NSW Ballina’s role in training the next generation as a “positive sign for Australia’s health”.

“It’s essential that nurses entering the health system are trained well and can have the opportunity to develop their skills where we need them most, particularly in primary health care and in rural and remote settings,” Mr Griffin said.

“The increased interest in studying nursing at TAFE NSW is a positive sign for Australia’s health.

“We know that nursing is a fulfilling career. The role that Enrolled Nurses play in the health care system is vital and this will only grow over the coming years.”

The NSW Government is investing $3 million over the next three years to upgrade nurse training facilities at TAFE NSW campuses across the state.

Brett Swalling is one of many TAFE NSW Ballina graduates armed with the practical skills and work experience to make a running start into his nursing career. Brett graduated with a Diploma of Nursing in 2023 and now works as an enrolled nurse at Lismore Base Hospital, one of only 10% of Australian men in enrolled nursing. He is advocating for more young men to choose a career in health.

“Nursing is a great lifelong career that can take you anywhere and you meet so many new people. TAFE NSW offers practical, hands-on learning, and the teachers are so supportive. I want to help remove the stigma for men in nursing and I encourage more men to consider it as an incredibly rewarding career path.

“Through my placements during the course, about the complex issues faced by our ageing population and the practical skills to help me hit the ground running. Since graduating, I’m continuing to learn so much now working in orthopedics and acting as a leader and a mentor to other graduates coming through.

“There’s many opportunities for future leaders – like many industries, nursing is about knowing your personal strengths and finding a pathway that will fulfil your skills,” Brett said.

Data from Economy ID reveals the Health Care and Social Assistance workforce is the largest industry by employment in the Ballina Shire, generating over 4,000 jobs in 2022/2023.

TAFE NSW Nursing Lead Dr Zach Byfield said TAFE NSW worked closely with health providers and organisations such as APRA to help ensure TAFE NSW was keeping pace with workforce needs.

“We meet regularly with all our industry partners to come up with new and innovative ways to keep learners in communities and create a constant pipeline of new nurses,” Dr Byfield said.

“Nurses are an indispensable part of the healthcare system, as was again highlighted during the pandemic and TAFE NSW is committed to continue training the nursing workforce of the future.”

 

For more local Ballina news, click here.

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