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Local News

Long awaited good news on the Ag Visa

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Agriculture Minister David Littleproud

Long awaited good news on the Ag Visa

AUSVEG, the peak industry body for the Australian vegetable industry, has welcomed the announcement that the Federal Government will make a new agriculture work visa available to all 10 countries across South-East Asia.

The new visa would provide a wider pool of workers available to Australian agriculture from the UK and the ten ASEAN countries and will help to meet ongoing seasonal workforce gaps that continue through the pandemic.

According to the announcement from Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, the new seasonal agricultural worker visa would mirror the existing Seasonal Worker Programme and will add to the pool of workers available to work on Australian farms.

“The horticulture industry has been calling for a dedicated and productive workforce for many years and this morning’s announcement is great news for the sector,” said AUSVEG National Manager – Public Affairs Tyson Cattle.

“Growers require access to a productive, reliable and competent workforce and while Working Holiday Makers will always have a role to play within our industry, giving growers and workers a pathway to primarily work on-farm should be seen as a major step froward for the development of the horticulture sector.”

“The ASEAN countries are some of our closest trading partners, so extending the Agriculture Visa to these countries makes economic sense and demonstrates our commitment in helping our regional neighbours.”

“What we need now is timely action to get this visa class up and running so that we can start bringing in workers as soon as possible when borders open up and international workers are able to enter the country.”

“While we await more details around the visa arrangements for this visa class, we understand the new visa will build on the successful Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme visas that have proved invaluable to the agriculture sector over the past 12 months.”

“This announcement is a positive development in our industry’s calls for a dedicated labour source to harvest and package fruits and vegetables.”

“We look forward to working with the Federal Government to ensure that the agriculture-specific visa meets the needs of growing businesses around the country and provides an effective solution to the industry’s growing labour shortages.”

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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