100,000 Seniors Now Using Digital Seniors Card

Seniors in the region are continuing to embrace digital with more than 100,000 people across the state now taking advantage of the digital Seniors Card.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said while there would always be a non-digital version, it was great to see so many seniors taking advantage of the digital option to access discounts and benefits on dining out, entertainment and travel.

“This milestone shows the seniors of regional and rural areas are confidently using digital products and demonstrates the real impact and benefits these solutions can have in all age groups,” Ms Cooke said.

“The Seniors Card has come a long way since it was first introduced in 1992, it is now the largest program of its kind in Australia.”

“After a successful pilot in March involving 4,000 people, we are currently seeing more than 30,000 people across the state getting their digital Seniors Card each month.

“It is great to see 100,000 people take up the digital option in just a few months.”

For 30 years, it has been helping ease the cost of living for card holders by providing access to discounts and rebates at shops, travel, entertainment, and professional services providers.

“There are more than 6,500 businesses and service providers across NSW with discounts, and I encourage more to follow.”

To find instructions on how to add a digital Seniors or Senior Savers Card to the Service NSW app, or to learn more visit service.nsw.gov.au/campaign/nsw-seniors-card-program.

Temora to Reconnect Thanks to Event Funding

Temora Shire Council has secured $239,651 in funding through the NSW Government’s $25 million Reconnecting Regional NSW – Community Events Program.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said the funding will support Council to deliver a range of local events, which will see the community come together and reconnect.

“The planned events are a terrific opportunity to promote greater social cohesion as well as provide an economic boost locally following the COVID-19 lockdowns,” Ms Cooke said.

Temora Shire Mayor Cr Rick Firman said they are delighted to be showcasing a diverse range of events for everyone in the region to enjoy.

“The community will look forward to sporting days, art exhibitions, community fairs, art workshops. You name it, it will be on in Temora,” Cr Firman said.

There will be a total of eight events on offer by local community groups, with the first, T-Light at Lake Centenary, to be held on Saturday August 27th, 2022.

Temora Shire Council will be running a further 11 events later in the year, with more information to be made available at https://temora.com.au/events

The $25 million Reconnecting Regional NSW – Community Events Program is part of the $200 million Regional Recovery Package, designed to support economic and social recovery across regional NSW that will create new jobs and support community events, shows and festivals to boost tourism.

For further information on the NSW Government Community Events go to: Reconnecting Regional NSW – Community Events Program | NSW Government

Supporting Households to Bust their Energy Bills

Applications for the NSW Government’s Energy Bill Buster program to help households slash their power bills by up to $600 a year opened this week.

The 2022-23 NSW Budget included $128 million to help up to an initial 30,000 eligible households install solar or replace appliances with more energy efficient ones.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke has welcomed the NSW Government’s announcement of the program and encouraged eligible households to apply.

“The NSW Government is committed to supporting families with the cost of living and help them reduce their energy bills across the region,” Ms Cooke said.

“This program is designed to help take the pressure off families and put more money back into household budgets.”

The Energy Bill Buster program provides eligible households with more choice on how they manage their energy bills. 

The program enables households to make decisions that will deliver long term savings on their energy bills while making clean energy improvements to their homes.

Those renting or living in apartments who are unable to have solar installed may be eligible to swap their current annual rebate for a suite of energy efficient upgrades, helping to reduce demand on the grid and lower power prices for everyone.

Appliances available in the package include energy efficient fridges, dryers, air-conditioners, and hot water systems as well as upgrades such as window shading and draught sealing valued at up to $4000.

The benefits are not just for private homeowners and tenants. The solar swap will also be offered to eligible land and housing corporation tenants later this year.

Eligible households include pensioners and Department of Veterans Affairs Gold Card holders receiving the Low-Income Household Rebate who can receive ten years’ worth of rebates upfront to put towards solar or appliance upgrades.

Households can check their Bill Buster eligibility and apply from Monday, 1 August, 2022 at www.energysaver.nsw.gov.au/rebate-swap

The Show Goes on in Junee and Illabo

Junee and Illabo shows are set to return stronger than ever, with Illabo Show able to finally celebrate its centenary this year thanks to NSW Government Country Shows Support Package.

Member for Cootamundra, Steph Cooke said the ongoing support from the Country Shows Support Package, which has already delivered funds to many of the small country shows held across the Cootamundra electorate, has now seen both Junee and Illabo shows successful in their applications to receive $15,000 each to support the delivery of their 2022 shows.

“These grants will provide certainty to show organisers to lock in suppliers, hire equipment and purchase goods, which is also great news for local businesses,” Ms Cooke said.

“Our local shows are a fantastic tradition and this grant will ensure they continue to delight people and be a part of our history for many generations to come.”

“I encourage everyone to get behind their local show and see all the amazing things they have to offer,”

“From best grown flowers, to wood chopping, petting zoos and rides for children of all sizes, there is something for everyone at our country and agricultural shows and it is something the whole family can enjoy together.”

Gerard Ryan, Treasurer of the Illabo Show Society said that this support from the government means that this year’s centenary show can be made that extra bit special.

“After Covid-19 and delays and disruptions, to be finally able to come together to celebrate 100 years of the Illabo show is incredible. Amongst our usual attractions such as the Prime Lamb Sections, Young Auctioneers, Yard Dog Trials and pavilion displays, we are hoping to have live entertainment and even a fireworks display on offer this year as part of our schedule.”

The $5 million Country Shows Support Package is part of the NSW Government’s $200 million Regional Recovery Package, which will deliver long term support and certainty for the regions as the state reopens.

Support for Country Shows in the Temora Region

Temora and Ariah Park shows are hoping to come back stronger than ever, thanks to NSW Government Country Shows Support Package.

Member for Cootamundra, Steph Cooke said the Country Shows Support Package, has seen another two local country shows successful in their applications. Ariah Park show is set to receive $5,863 while Temora Show Society is set to receive $15,000 to support the delivery of their 2022 show.

“These grants will provide certainty to show organisers to lock in suppliers, hire equipment and purchase goods, which is also great news for local businesses,” Ms Cooke said.

“Our local shows are a fantastic tradition and this grant will ensure they continue to delight people and be a part of our history for many generations to come.”

“I encourage everyone to get behind their local show and see all the amazing things they have to offer,”

“From the demolition derby and tractor pull, to the quick-sheep-shear and working dog display, there is something for everyone to enjoy and experience at our country and agricultural shows.”

Frances Dwyer, Secretary of the Ariah Park Show Society said that the society was very appreciative and grateful for the funds after a difficult couple of years.

“This money will go a long way towards supporting this great country show of ours and in turn will support our local economy. We are looking forward to being able to come back in 2022 stronger than ever.”

The $5 million Country Shows Support Package is part of the NSW Government’s $200 million Regional Recovery Package, which will deliver long term support and certainty for the regions as the state reopens.

$160 Million to help make Our Region Stronger

Applications will soon open for the fifth round of the NSW Government’s Stronger Country Communities Fund, which will see further investment in local community infrastructure and programs that will make a big difference to our region.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said the latest round was a great opportunity for councils and community groups to seek funding for projects that improve the quality of life in smaller communities.

“I am very pleased the NSW Government is delivering on its commitment of supporting investment in regional and rural communities, making our region an even better place to live and visit,” Ms Cooke said.

“We have seen a great number of local projects delivered through this program, and I encourage eligible organisations with a great project in mind to make the most of this opportunity and submit an application.”

Over $44 million for 227 projects across the nine local government areas of the Cootamundra electorate has been secured through the program to date.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said the latest round of the Stronger Country Communities Fund builds on the previous rounds and continues to provide important infrastructure and programs for regional towns.

“The Stronger Country Communities Fund is continuing to make a real difference to the lives of people right across regional NSW, with $500 million invested over the past four rounds delivering more than 2,000 local projects in regional NSW,” Mr Toole said.

“Everywhere I go, people tell me about the positive difference that Stronger Country Communities Fund projects make to their everyday life, whether it’s a new skate park that kids of all ages love, new lighting for sports grounds or programs that support and inspire young people living in the bush.

“The NSW Government is investing record amounts to deliver the big picture infrastructure needed to stimulate regional economies, but we’re also backing community projects that make a big positive difference to everyday life.”

The $660 million Stronger Country Communities Fund is part of the NSW Government’s $3.3 billion Regional Growth Fund, which is being invested in local projects that improve the lives of people living in regional NSW.

Applications for Round Five of the Stronger Country Communities Fund open on Friday, 5 August 2022.

For more information, visit: www.nsw.gov.au/sccf

Cowra Civic Centre gets Major Upgrade

The Cowra Civic Centre will offer higher standards of comfort and better views of the stage thanks to $1.5 million from the NSW Government’s Creative Capital program.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said the NSW Government’s investment is about supporting quality arts venues, boosting tourism and the local economy.

“This project will build on the amazing work that has been achieved at the Centre in recent years, delivering an internal fit-out which will provide a better experience for local audiences and visitors to enjoy,” Ms Cooke said.

“It is very welcome investment for a much-loved venue, home to many local events, such as the Cowra Eisteddfod, as well as touring productions.”

Minister for the Arts Ben Franklin said this funding would make significant improvements to the centre by enhancing audience experiences.

“This funding will replace the old single seats that sit flat on the floor of the main auditorium with retractable raked seating which will provide comfortable, quality tiered seating offering premium views at for all patrons,” Mr Franklin said.

“Improved access is at the heart of this project, and the upgrade will also enable clear pathways into the auditorium by refurbishing the floor, removing steps and providing a level access path.”

“This will extend the performing space, giving greater flexibility and a wider variety of higher quality performances and events to patrons and visitors.

“This is an important upgrade for Cowra Civic Centre that will shape its future as a destination for arts and culture and enhance experiences for audiences and visitors alike.” Further details on the Creative Capital program are available on the Create NSW website at www.create.nsw.gov.au.

Nurse Louise McCabe Officially Recognised

Tallimba nurse Louise McCabe has been presented with a NSW Government Community Service Award, in recognition of her outstanding efforts in response to a challenging medical emergency.

On Saturday 9 April, Ms McCabe was attending a rugby union fixture between West Wyalong Redbacks and Boorowa Goldies when a player suffered a critical injury.

The Registered Nurse was amongst the first responders, providing CPR immediately following the incident which ultimately saved his life.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke has congratulated Ms McCabe, presenting her with an official award in recognition of her heroic actions.

“It is an honour to recognise Louise, having gone above and beyond what would reasonably be expected of her as she went about her business that day,” Ms Cooke said.

“Moreover, Louise has taken this difficult situation as an opportunity to spread the importance of first aid. This is an invaluable message to promote, because how we respond can make all the difference to someone experiencing a medical emergency.”

Speaking to Steph, Ms McCabe has said it is one thing to use your medical training in a work environment but another when off-duty, in the middle of a rugby field.

“This is beyond anything I could imagine, saving someone’s life with CPR,” Ms McCabe said.

“It was a team effort and I feel privileged that I was there at the right time to assist with the skills I have as a nurse.”

The NSW Government Community Service Award recognises individuals in NSW who have substantially helped to improve the quality of life of members of their community.

For more information about the Award, please visit www.dpc.nsw.gov.au

Criminalising Coercive Control One Step Closer

Thursday, 21 July 2022

Coercive control is one step closer to being criminalised with the NSW Government taking the significant step of releasing a draft bill for public comment ahead of introduction to Parliament.

Coercive control is a form of domestic abuse that involves patterns of behaviour which have the cumulative effect of denying victim-survivors their autonomy and independence. This abuse can involve physical, sexual, psychological or financial abuse.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said the NSW Government is consulting on a public exposure draft bill to outlaw coercive control in intimate partner relationships, as part of its ongoing response to the Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Coercive Control.

“It’s important that people have their say on these landmark reforms,” Ms Cooke said.

“Coercive control is complex, is insidious and causes untold harm for its victims.”

Attorney General Mark Speakman said the draft Crimes Legislation Amendment (Coercive Control) Bill 2022 would provide further protections for victim-survivors of domestic and family violence.

“Creating a stand-alone offence will strengthen our criminal justice system’s responses to abuse, but consultation is critical to ensure these reforms only capture very serious incidences of abuse, avoid overreach and do not unintentionally endanger those in our community we are seeking to help,” Mr Speakman said.

“The new law will create an offence to carry out repeated abusive behaviours to a current or former intimate partner and will carry a sentence of up to seven years in jail.” 

Minister for Women’s Safety and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence Natalie Ward, who chaired the Joint Select Committee on Coercive Control, said the Exposure Draft Bill also introduces a definition of ‘domestic abuse’ to the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007.

“These are landmark reforms that recognise that domestic abuse isn’t just about physical violence, it can and very often does include physical, sexual, psychological and financial abuse to hurt and control someone,” Mrs Ward said.

“These reforms are crucial to ensuring that we recognise in law a pattern of behaviour which is identified as a precursor to domestic violence deaths.”

Coercive control is a significant ‘red flag’ for intimate partner homicide. The Domestic Violence Death Review Team (Report 2017-2019) noted that in 111 of the 112 (99%) intimate partner domestic violence homicides that occurred in NSW between 10 March 2008 and 30 June 2016 that it reviewed, the relationship was characterised by the abuser’s use of coercive and controlling behaviours toward the victim.

Submissions on the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Coercive Control) Bill 2022 can be made via the NSW Government’s ‘Have Your Say’ website at https://www.nsw.gov.au/have-your-say. Consultation closes 31 August 2022.

The NSW Government provided an earlier draft to restricted legal stakeholders and NSW Police to identify and address any technical legal matters, prior to releasing an exposure draft for broader consultation. 

The NSW Government is well-advanced to introduce a final Bill to Parliament in Spring 2022.

Release of the exposure draft bill follows the NSW Government’s announcement in June 2022 that more women and children experiencing domestic and family violence will be supported by $69.6 million in new funding in the 2022-23 Budget, including an initial down-payment of $0.7 million over two years to support the NSW Government’s commitment to outlaw coercive control.

This builds on the NSW Government’s landmark $484.3 million investment in housing and related services as part of the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Strategy.

If you or someone you know are in immediate danger, call the Police on Triple Zero (000). For confidential advice, support and referrals, contact 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732.

A Guided Tour at Grenfell Guide Hall

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke has visited the Grenfell Girl Guides for an update on their bathroom renovation project, funded under the latest round of the NSW Government’s Stronger Country Communities Fund.

“It was a pleasure to meet such a lovely group of girls, who are developing their skills and confidence for everyday life, paving the way for them to be our future leaders,” Ms Cooke said.

“During my visit, it was also great to hear how plans to renovate the bathroom are progressing, which will certainly make the meeting place much more comfortable for all involved.”

Grenfell District Manager for Girl Guides Glenda Howell said they are grateful for the funding provided and appreciate the support from Ms Cooke.

“We are all very much looking forward to the updated bathroom, with building works expected to commence very soon,” Ms Howell said.

The Grenfell Girl Guides bathroom renovation project received $50,974 in funding in the fourth round of the NSW Government’s Stronger Country Communities Fund.

Through rounds one to four of the program, over $3.7 million in funding has been secured in support of 18 projects across Weddin Shire.

As part of her visit, Ms Cooke has also encouraged girls aged five to 17, and their parents, to learn more about guiding and to get involved with their local group.

“Guiding is such a fantastic way to nurture and empower our young women. I highly recommend taking the opportunity to be involved in the program locally.”

For more information about Girl Guides NSW, please visit www.girlguides-nswactnt.org.au