New Library at Young High School Reaches New Heights

An official ceremony has been conducted at Young High School to mark the completion of the highest point of the new joint-use library facility as well as the official handover of the school’s new canteen, student toilets and staff hub.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said she was looking forward to watching the new library take shape in the coming months.

“It is fantastic to celebrate this milestone for a project which will allow the school and local community to share and benefit from wonderful new facilities,” Ms Cooke said.

Located on the Young High School grounds, the new two and-a-half storey library will include learning spaces, video conferencing and multimedia facilities, children’s activity area, coffee bar and the Wiradjuri learning and cultural centre.

The design has been developed in close consultation with heritage consultants GML Heritage & Lantern Heritage to acknowledge the cultural significance of the site.

Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell said she was proud the NSW Government and the Hilltops Council were working together to deliver such an important project for the people of Young.

“We are committed to strengthening education infrastructure in regional areas to support the future of all children in NSW. This joint-use project also presents an opportunity to deliver new library facilities and high-quality resources to the wider Young community.”

The NSW Government is investing $8.6 billion in school infrastructure over the next four years, continuing its program to deliver 160 new and upgraded schools to support communities across NSW. This builds on the more than $9.1 billion invested in projects delivered since 2017, a program of $17.7 billion in public education infrastructure.

Apprenticeship and Traineeship Number Continue to Rise

The number of apprentices and trainees in jobs across the state increased 11 per cent in the year to December 2021, off the back of the NSW Government’s unprecedented investment in fee-free training.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said the National Centre for Vocational Education and Research (NCVER) report shows NSW continues to lead the nation, with more apprentices and trainees than any other state or territory.

“The NSW Government is investing in fee-free apprenticeships and traineeships to create a pipeline of skilled workers for jobs in industries that are experiencing high demand for employees,” Ms Cooke said.

“It’s great to see the number of apprentices and trainees continuing to grow in NSW, but we want more people to make the most of free training so that they can get a first job, a new job or a better job.”

The report shows that 106,445 apprentices and trainees were in training at the end of 2021, with both commencements and completions up overall on the year before.

The number of women undertaking apprenticeships and traineeships in NSW continues to surge, with a 21 per cent increase in 2021 compared with the year before.

Minister for Skills and Training Alister Henskens said the NSW Government is removing barriers to vocational education and training and creating more opportunities than ever before for people to get skilled or upskill.

“The NSW Government’s push to turbocharge the take-up of vocational education and training is securing a brighter future for NSW, with more people getting skilled, finding jobs and growing the economy,” Mr Henskens said.

“Our record skills investment is helping people boost their budget through free training, allowing them to find in-demand jobs and contribute to historically low unemployment rates in NSW.”

More information about the report is available here: Apprentices and trainees 2021: December quarter (ncver.edu.au)

Educators from Junee and Gundagai Receive Scholarship

More than 400 aspiring early childhood teachers have been awarded scholarships to complete their studies thanks to the NSW Government’s 2022-23 Early Childhood Education Scholarships Program.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke has congratulated Tiffany Piffero of Junee and Ashleigh Armour of South Gundagai, two of four local scholarship recipients already employed in the early childhood sector.

“I am so pleased for Tiffany and Ashleigh who, with the support of these scholarships, will have the opportunity to boost their skills as degree qualified early childhood teachers,” Ms Cooke said.

“Not only will the scholarships be of immense benefit to each of them professionally, but this investment is all about us growing our own, supporting the early childhood workforce and nurturing a sustainable pipeline of future early childhood teachers.

“This is also exciting news for the centres where Tiffany and Ashleigh are employed, as well as the little learners who are in their care on a daily basis.”

Educator Tiffany Priffero has been with Inspire Early Childhood Services said this scholarship allows her flourish in what she loves to do.

“Success is no accident, it is hard work, perseverance and learning, and most of all love of what you are doing or learning to do,” Ms Priffero said.

Ashleigh Armour who works at Gumnut Childcare Centre Gundagai said she is passionate to learn about young children aged zero to five years.

“It makes me feel excited, elated and full of pride that what we do at this young age, prepares them for learning later in life,” Ms Amour said.

Minister for Early Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell said one third of all successful scholars live and work in regional and remote areas across the state.

“With submissions from hundreds of talented applicants, many already working in community preschools and long day care services, it’s great to support these applicants to retrain or start their early childhood career,” Ms Mitchell said.

“These scholarships will support recipients to deepen their understanding of early childhood environments and gain additional skills and capabilities which will be passed on to the children they teach.

“I congratulate the scholars on their commitment to education and I wish them every success in their studies and future careers as qualified early childhood teachers.” More information can be found on the Department’s website: https://education.nsw.gov.au/early-childhood-education/working-in-early-childhood-education/professional-development-and-scholarships

Educators from Cowra and Grenfell Receive Scholarship

More than 400 aspiring early childhood teachers have been awarded scholarships to complete their studies thanks to the NSW Government’s 2022-23 Early Childhood Education Scholarships Program.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke has congratulated Hayley Amos of Cowra and Kyrstye Henry of Grenfell, two of four local scholarship recipients already employed in the early childhood sector.

“I am so pleased for Hayley and Kyrstye who, with the support of these scholarships, will have the opportunity to boost their skills as degree qualified early childhood teachers,” Ms Cooke said.

“Not only will the scholarships be of immense benefit to each of them professionally, but this investment is all about us growing our own, supporting the early childhood workforce and nurturing a sustainable pipeline of future early childhood teachers.

“This is also exciting news for the centres where Hayley and Kyrstye are employed, as well as the little learners who are in their care on a daily basis.”

Educator Hayley Amos has been with Cowra Early Childhood Services for two years and said this scholarship opportunity is life changing.

“I am so grateful, especially as I will finish my degree in December 2024,” Ms Amos said.

Kyrstye Henry has been with Grenfell Preschool and Long Day Centre for two years and said she is delighted to have been awarded this scholarship.

“I am excited to bring the knowledge I gain to the Grenfell Preschool community,” Ms Henry said.

Minister for Early Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell said one third of all successful scholars live and work in regional and remote areas across the state.

“With submissions from hundreds of talented applicants, many already working in community preschools and long day care services, it’s great to support these applicants to retrain or start their early childhood career,” Ms Mitchell said.

“These scholarships will support recipients to deepen their understanding of early childhood environments and gain additional skills and capabilities which will be passed on to the children they teach.

“I congratulate the scholars on their commitment to education and I wish them every success in their studies and future careers as qualified early childhood teachers.”

More information can be found on the Department’s website: https://education.nsw.gov.au/early-childhood-education/working-in-early-childhood-education/professional-development-and-scholarships

A Brighter Beginning For Children in the Cootamundra Electorate

A life-changing package for children and families in the Cootamundra electorate has been announced by the NSW Government with a $376.5 million investment over four years for child development and family support.

The 2022-23 NSW Budget is investing in an evidence-based, multi-agency initiative called Brighter Beginnings, a partnership that will give every NSW child the best start in life.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said the NSW Government’s Brighter Beginnings initiative will make those first 2,000 days easier for parents by providing wrap-around supports throughout pregnancy and after birth, and by incorporating an expanded suite of evidence based development checks into early childhood learning

“This Brighter Beginnings initiative will allow families in the Cootamundra electorate to have the best possible early years support for themselves and their children, giving them the best start to life,” Ms Cooke said.

“This is a long-term investment which will reap benefits for children, families and the economy both today, and for generations to come.

“It will also make a huge different to outcomes at school, from behaviour to academic results.”

Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell said it’s clear that getting it right early in a child’s life has lifelong benefits for their future.

“Almost half of all 4-year-old children do not get their recommended health and development checks, so making these available in every NSW early childhood service will open the door to brighter futures for thousands of children,” Ms Mitchell said.  

Alongside the NSW Government’s Affordable Preschool Program, the Brighter Beginnings package includes:  

  • $111.2 million to bring health and development checks to all children in NSW preschool settings in partnership with health professionals;
  • $98.7 million to continue and expand the number of Aboriginal Child and Family Centres across the state;
  • $70.9 million to expand the transformational Sustaining NSW Families clinical nurse home visiting program;
  • $57.2 million to develop the clinical interface of the Digital Baby Book; and
  • $38.6 million to make Pregnancy Family Conferencing available to more parents across NSW. 

Landmark Commitment for our Youngest Learners

The NSW Government has committed to one of the biggest education reforms in a generation, announcing the introduction of a universal pre-Kindergarten year of education. 

More than $5.8 billion in the 2022/23 NSW Budget has been allocated to begin the delivery of a universal pre-Kindergarten year for all children in NSW by 2030.  

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said this is a landmark investment for NSW families and of a scale that has not been seen before in the southern hemisphere.  

“We are helping our youngest of learners to thrive, taking pressure off parents and boosting family budgets by introducing a year of free education before kindergarten,” Ms Cooke said.  

“This NSW Government will introduce this incredible reform that will deliver educational benefits for our children and ensure they can have brighter futures. 

“This investment is delivering the foundations for a long term, early learning revolution that will make NSW one of the best places in the world to live, work and raise a family.”  

Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell said the evidence is clear that providing the best education starts in the early years.  

“Universal pre-Kindergarten will give every child in NSW access to a specialised year of play based learning, smoothing their transition to school and solidifying their path to a brighter future,” Ms Mitchell said.  

“Universal pre-Kindergarten is something I have been working hard to bring to NSW, having seen the benefits of it for children and families in countries like Canada. It is so exciting to know that in NSW we will soon be unleashing the power of universal pre-Kindergarten.” 

This transformational new year of preschool education will change and improve, with the help of parents, educators, services and stakeholders, how children enter and prepare for school. 

The universal pre-Kindergarten year of education builds on the $1.4 billion already announced to continue and extend affordable preschool to all NSW families. 

In addition, the $281 million to boost the early childhood workforce and increase the number of early childhood services across NSW will support families both now, and along the way as the state sets up a universal pre-Kindergarten year of education.   

Affordable Preschool Locked In the Cootamundra Electorate’s Youngest Learners

The NSW Government is making preschool more affordable for more families, with preschool fee relief locked in for the next four years through a more than $1.4 billion investment in a new Affordable Preschool Program.

The Affordable Preschool Program will ease the cost of living pressure for families and ensure more children receive high-quality education in the crucial year before school.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said this investment would support families in the electorate to have access to quality preschool programs, no matter their circumstances or where they live.

“The NSW Liberals and Nationals Government is delivering for our young families in providing continued – and expanded – affordable preschool for the next four years,” Ms Cooke said.

“I know that families in the Cootamundra electorate will benefit greatly from this four-year investment.

“Not only is this benefiting the youngest of learners, it also enables families to get back into the workforce.”

Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell said that one of the biggest impacts we can have on educational outcomes at school is to improve early childhood education. 

“A significant body of research shows that children who participate in quality preschool programs have improved lifelong educational, social and economic outcomes,” Ms Mitchell said.   

“That’s why I’m delighted to be continuing our support for community and mobile preschools. Families using these services are not eligible for the Child Care Subsidy, so NSW’s commitment to long-term funding relief is significant and genuinely needed.

“We are also extending support to NSW families whose children attend preschool in a long day care setting, because at the end of the day what’s important is our littlest learners having access to great quality preschool programs.”

The current Start Strong Free Pre-school Program is already providing $150 million in fee relief for children enrolled in community and mobile preschools across NSW in 2022.

Student from Cowra Celebrated at NSW Training Awards

The region’s most outstanding apprentices, trainees, students and teachers were recognised at the Western NSW 2022 NSW Training Awards held last week in Mudgee.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke has congratulated Cowra local Emily Reynolds who took out the Trainee of the Year Award at the regional ceremony.

“Emily shows initiative and creativity well beyond her years. A key area of ingenuity that Emily has demonstrated is through the development of a digitised enrolment application for Cowra Early Childhood Services customers,” Ms Cooke said.

“Her well-organised approach to getting work done means she can be relied upon for other activities, and I congratulate her on this well-deserved honour.”

The NSW Training Awards are held annually to recognise outstanding achievement in the vocational education and training sector.

Minister for Skills and Training Alister Henskens said the enormous breadth of talent amongst this year’s finalists and winners demonstrates the opportunities available for rewarding careers available through vocational education and training.

“Vocational education and training delivers real life skills for people to help them get the jobs they want and it’s great to see so many passionate and enthusiastic young people receiving awards locally,” Mr Henskens said.

“The NSW Government is delivering a range of fee-free and low-fee training to help people get a first job, a new job or a better job, and these awards are a great way to highlight the career opportunities that are available right here in NSW.” 

For more information, visit https://www.training.nsw.gov.au/training_awards.

Unlocking More Opportunities for People to Get Skilled for Work

Local people are being encouraged to explore opportunities to get a first job, a new job or a better job as part of National Careers Week (16-22 May).

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said the NSW Government is funding a range of fee-free and low-fee training courses to help people get the skills they need for the jobs they want.

“We want to turbocharge the take-up of vocational education and training by slashing the cost of courses and helping people get skilled for jobs,” Ms Cooke said.

“The NSW Government’s record infrastructure investment is creating jobs and driving demand for skilled workers in everything from traditional trades to new and emerging industries.

“There are so many incredible opportunities in NSW and National Careers Week is the perfect time for people to explore what’s out there.”

Minister for Skills and Training Alister Henskens said the NSW Government is also offering free career guidance, information and advice through Careers NSW.

“Careers NSW is a whole-of-life, one-stop-shop for everyone in the state to help people unlock their potential by empowering them to make informed decisions about their career path,” Mr Henskens said.

“There has never been a better time to explore your future and Careers NSW can provide information on everything from traditional trades to new and emerging industries.”

People are also encouraged to visit the Skills NSW website and explore short courses and training opportunities available to help people up-skill or re-skill.


The website also allows people to explore industries and potential job opportunities, and find out the skills and training they need for employment.

Cootamundra Electorate Schools Benefit from Regional Renewal Package

The NSW Government’s Regional Renewal Program is delivering improvements to schools with 45 projects across the Cootamundra electorate.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said it is great to see local schools benefiting from the NSW Government’s historic investment in public education infrastructure.

“This program has supported upgrades to local schools from every corner of the electorate no matter how big or small, including Wombat Public School and West Wyalong High School,” Ms Cooke said.

“Since its launch in 2020, 39 schools have benefited from these investments which are delivering new and improved facilities including car park and kitchen upgrades, the construction of COLA’s.”

Successful projects announced under Round 1, 2 and 4:

  • Ardlethan Central School, Shade Structures & Walkways
  • Barellan Central School, COLA, Shade Structures & Walkways
  • Beckom Public School, Playground Upgrade
  • Caragabal Public School, Toilet Upgrade
  • Coolamon Central School, Toilet Upgrade
  • Cootamundra High School, Hall, MPC, Gym & Communal Space Upgrade
  • Cootamundra Public School, Playground Upgrade
  • Cowra High School, Admin & Staff Upgrade
  • Cowra Public School, Cricket Nets, Kitchen & Window Upgrades
  • E A Southee Public School, Sports Court Upgrade & Shade Structure
  • Eurongilly Public School, Admin & Staff Upgrade
  • Gooloogong Public School, Admin & Staff Upgrade
  • Grenfell Public School, Upgrade Basketball Courts
  • Gundagai High School, Performance Unit Upgrade
  • Gundagai Public School, Carpark & Transport
  • Gundagai South Public School, Admin & Staff Upgrade
  • Holman Place School, Landscaping & Shade Structure
  • Illabo Public School, COLA, Shade Structures & Walkways
  • Junee High School, Welding Bay Upgrade & Playground Equipment Replacement
  • Junee Public School, Playground Upgrade
  • Matong Public School, Sporting Facilities
  • Mulyan Public School, Relocation of Kitchen
  • Murringo Public School, Admin & Staff Upgrade
  • Murrumburrah High School, Replacement of Doors, Roofing Upgrade, Install Automatic Doors at Front Entrance
  • Murrumburrah Public School, Structural, Fabric & Building Upgrade
  • Nangus Public School, Sporting Facilities
  • Narrandera Public School, COLA, Shade Structures & Walkways
  • Quandialla Public School, Playground Upgrade
  • Temora High School, Admin and TAS Shed Upgrades
  • Temora West Public School, Toilet Upgrade
  • The Henry Lawson High School, Sporting Facilities
  • Weethalle Public School, Toilet Upgrade
  • West Wyalong High School, Toilet Upgrade
  • West Wyalong Public School, Toilet Upgrade
  • Wombat Public School, COLA & Covered Walkways
  • Woodstock Public School, COLA, Shade Structures & Walkways
  • Wyalong Public School, Playground Upgrade
  • Young North Public School, Storage Facilities
  • Young Public School, Upgrade PAA Areas

Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell said the Regional Renewal Program is driven by what school communities want and includes work such as upgrades to school playgrounds, sport courts and libraries.

“I’m thrilled that regional projects are being delivered for our school communities,” Ms Mitchell said.

“This $120 million investment from government, combined with contributions from local school communities, is delivering for our regional schools providing students with engaging and modern learning spaces.”

The program is supporting more than 1,300 jobs across regional NSW, and wherever possible, local contractors and suppliers have been engaged ensuring the positive impacts of this stimulus are felt as far and wide as possible.

The NSW Government is investing $7.9 billion over the next four years, continuing its program to deliver 215 new and upgraded schools to support communities across NSW. This is the largest investment in public education infrastructure in the history of NSW.