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Grafton News

NEW INVESTMENT IN CLARENCE AND RICHMOND VALLEY YOUNG PEOPLE

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NEW INVESTMENT IN CLARENCE AND RICHMOND VALLEY YOUNG PEOPLE

Local organisations representing the interests of young people now have access to a new $40 million ‘Nationals in NSW Government Our Region, Our Voice’ program, with grants of up to $3 million for targeted local initiatives to help regional youth reach their full potential, Clarence Nationals MP Chris Gulaptis has announced.

“Partnerships between Clarence and Richmond Valley youth groups and the NSW Government had grown in recent years, delivering great community benefits,” Mr Gulaptis said.

“Young people struggled more than most with COVID lockdowns, and then we had the floods, so this massive new Nationals in Government investment in regional youth could not come at a better time.”

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said the record investment has been shaped by youth for youth.

“We’ve engaged with 2000 young people in regional communities across our state to understand what matters to them and to ensure this investment will meet the needs of the next generation, now and into the future,” Mr Toole said.

Minister for Regional Youth Ben Franklin said the funding will be allocated across nine areas identified as high priorities by the Regional Youth Taskforce and Regional Youth Insights – the largest regional youth research project ever commissioned by the NSW Government.

“From more mental health support and improved career pathways to greater recreational activities and reliable public transport, this research told us exactly what our regional youth want and need,” Mr Franklin said.

Youth Community Coordinator for the North Coast Giane Smajstr said the new program would provide significant benefits for youth in the Clarence and Richmond Valley communities.

“The future of our regional communities relies on prioritising young people. Through this program communities can provide localised solutions and resources for young people to thrive,” Ms Smajstr said.

“This fantastic opportunity provides an amazing springboard from which regional youth might leap forward into successful adulthoods.”

The ‘Our Region, Our Voice’ has funding available for projects to:
• Enhance high school engagement and retention
• Develop work ready skills, knowledge and networks
• Increase access and quality of health services including provision of youth services
• Improve access to public and private transport
• Better access to digital technology and digital skills
• Deliver more community youth projects
• Support at risk-youth
• Assist young people to secure affordable housing

The priority for the North Coast is to improve access to mental health services. 65 per cent of young people listed better mental health support as an initiative that would support young people living healthier lives.

The second priority for the region is to improve belonging through the provision of additional recreational activities and events. 54 per cent of young people in the North Coast region noted that an increase in fun and interesting things to do would make life in their town and surrounding areas better.

The $40 million package is part of the NSW Government’s record investment in regional youth through the 2022-23 NSW Budget.

Applications for the Regional Youth Investment Program are now open and will close at 10am, October 4, 2022.

For further information on the ‘Our Region, Our Voice’ Regional Youth Investment Program, visit www.nsw.gov.au/regionalyouthinvestmentprogram

Grafton News

Big River Group Completes $22 Million Upgrade to Grafton Timber Factory

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John Lorente, CEO of Big River Group

Big River Group Completes $22 Million Upgrade to Grafton Timber Factory

 

Big River Group, a renowned figure in the diversified manufacturing and distribution of timber and building products, proudly announces the completion of a significant upgrade to its Grafton timber factory. This $22 million project, bolstered by support from the Australian and New South Wales (NSW) Governments under the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund, marks a significant stride in the sustainable manufacturing of specialty technical timber products, thereby enhancing supply to the construction industry across NSW.

With roots dating back over a century in Grafton, Big River Group has traversed through three generations of the Pidcock family’s ownership before transitioning into a public entity listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX:BRI) in May 2017. This transition symbolises a century-long dedication and expansion within the region, now spanning operations across 26 sites in Australia and New Zealand.

The official opening of the Grafton operation today underscores the pivotal role of regional development and sustainable practices within the industry. It underscores the government’s steadfast commitment to bolstering industries crucial for recovery and growth in areas affected by bushfires, while promoting advancements in sustainable timber manufacturing and supply.

The upgrade, featuring the installation of state-of-the-art machinery, is poised to significantly augment Big River’s output. This enhancement equips Big River to supply an unprecedented volume of timber products throughout NSW each year, fostering growth in local and regional economies.

John Lorente, CEO of Big River Group, expresses his enthusiasm for the project’s culmination, stating, “This upgrade signifies not merely an expansion of our operational capacity, but a commitment to innovation, sustainability, and the future of the timber industry in NSW. With the backing of the Forestry Recovery Development Fund Program, we are positioned to make a profound impact on the availability of high-quality timber products, while also securing and creating jobs locally, regionally, and nationally.”

The upgrade is expected to generate 20 new jobs in Grafton, supplementing Big River’s existing local workforce and its 610 employees nationwide. This development underscores Big River’s enduring commitment to nurturing local talent through trainee and apprenticeship programs, and bolstering local businesses financially through logistics, warehousing, engineering supplies, and contracting services.

Federal Minister for Emergency Management, Murray Watt, emphasises the government’s role in facilitating these critical developments, noting, “Big River Group’s Wagga Wagga plantation bore the brunt of the Black Summer Bushfires, but with substantial investment from both levels of Government, new machinery and equipment have been installed in the factory in Grafton, delivering a significant boost to the local community.”

Minister for Regional NSW, Tara Moriarty, echoes this sentiment, highlighting the project’s significance for local and regional communities. “Big River Group’s Grafton timber factory is experiencing robust growth, and it’s gratifying to see these upgrades support them in delivering high-quality timber products to the construction industry for years to come.”

Beyond supplying essential building products for the construction industry, Big River’s operations offer an array of decorative and architectural products, many of which are proudly manufactured in Grafton. This fusion of functionality and aesthetics, supported by a century-long legacy and a forward-looking ethos, positions Big River as a cornerstone in sustaining the architectural integrity and development of NSW, Australia, and New Zealand.

“As we unveil the latest upgrade to our Grafton facility, we perpetuate a tradition of excellence established over 100 years ago,” asserts John Lorente. “This project epitomizes more than just an expansion; it’s a tangible manifestation of our dedication to innovation, sustainability, and investment in the growth of our workforce. By augmenting our capacity to supply high-value timber products and investing in our team’s development, we uphold our century-long legacy and reinforce our commitment to ensuring a sustainable future for the timber industry in Australia.”

“We are immensely grateful for the support extended by both the Australian and NSW State Governments through the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund,” John From Big River Group concludes, expressing profound gratitude for the government’s invaluable support.

 

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Grafton News

Westlawn Finance lending a hand to Our Kids in Grafton

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Westlawn Finance lending a hand to Our Kids in Grafton

Westlawn Finance lending a hand to Our Kids in Grafton

 

The Westlawn Finance and Insurance Charity Golf Day, held recently in Grafton, has raised $18,000 to help purchase a Telehealth Enable Cart and a portable Nitrous Oxide Machine for the Children’s Ward at Grafton Base Hospital.

Telehealth Enable Carts give doctors and nurses a fully mobile, ultra-high quality and secure telehealth solution that can be wheeled to any bed in the children’s ward, nursery or emergency department.

A Portable Nitrous Oxide Machine assists with light sedation when a medical procedure is required for our paediatric patients.

Our Kids is a self-funded trust whose auspice is the Northern NSW Local Health District. Our Kids aims to improve the health services for children in the Northern Rivers area.

Our Kids raises awareness and vital funds through local events and donations. With the funds raised, Our Kids works with the local medical team to purchase lifesaving medical equipment for children receiving care in hospitals in the Northern Rivers. This can include the Children’s Wards, Special Care Nursery and emergency departments in local hospitals.

Westlawn Finance lending a hand to Our Kids in Grafton

Dr Andrew Terrey, Geoff Scofield, Amanda Fryer and Mark Dougherty

Our Kids also issues annual Community Grants for families or organisations caring for children with special needs. These grants can be used to purchase equipment, medicine, and therapeutic items to help the children in their care.

Thanks to the generosity of local bequests, Our Kids has been able to set up educational funds for Continuous Education Scholarships for midwives, paediatric nurses, and allied health staff who work in our local hospitals.

“Thank you to Geoff Schofield, Mark Dougherty and the Westlawn Finance and Insurance team for organising such a magnificent day for Grafton and Our Kids,” Rebekka Battista, Our Kids Fundraising Coordinator, said.

“The telehealth enable cart and portable nitrous oxide machine will be a great addition to Grafton Base Hospital.”

If you would like to help Grafton Base Hospital, Children’s Ward and Special Care Nursery, please get in touch with Our Kids on info@ourkids.org.au.

 

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Clarence Valley News

Queens of Song

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Queens of Song - Melissa Buchholz (piano) and Meg Kiddle (vocals)

Queens of Song

 

Queens of Song is a nostalgic and highly entertaining show coming to the Saraton Theatre on Sunday 7th April at 2pm. Melissa Buchholz (piano) and Meg Kiddle (vocals) are former Grafton girls and they attended South Grafton High School together. They have both established successful careers as individual musicians and reunited after many years to form this duo that has toured across Queensland and NSW. Melissa has achieved many pinnacles and awards during her career including a Fellowship with Trinity College London, and she is now an Examiner with Trinity College London. Meg is a very successful touring performer and holds a Bachelor of Music (classical voice) and her Masters in Vocal Pedagogy.

Queens of Song - Melissa Buchholz (piano) and Meg Kiddle (vocals)

Melissa Buchholz (piano) and Meg Kiddle (vocals)

The show is a celebration of the golden voices of the past, that are no longer with us. People such as Mama Cass, Karen Carpenter, Helen Reddy, Freddie Mercury, Peter Allen and more. It is a walk down memory lane for audiences as they reminisce about a time when life was simpler and the music was timeless. The show features anecdotes and trivia about the artists, as well as personal insights into each musician and an AV presentation that runs for the entirety of the show. The sparkling vocals from Meg seem to adapt seamlessly between the genres, while Melissa provides stunning pianistic work and cleverly crafted backing tracks that she has produced. Audiences have given rave reviews for the show which starts in 1968 and travels through the decades to the 1990’s.

Meg and Mel are very excited to be returning to their hometown for this very special show. The Saraton Theatre is an iconic venue that they both performed in while still at school, and they feel privileged to be returning to this stage as professional musicians.

Get your tickets now from here

 

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