Project to Boost Temora Youth Wellbeing

A Hip-Hop music program to be delivered through Temora Shire Council is among the latest projects to be announced under the NSW Government’s Children and Young People Wellbeing Recovery initiative.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said the Temora Youth Go UP&UP project will support recovery and boost resilience for young people in the region following the social impact of Covid-19.

“I’m delighted this opportunity will provide a positive and healthy way for young people in the Temora area to reconnect,” Ms Cooke said.

“This project is a great example of how we can help young people build resilience and improve wellbeing by providing them with the tools and experiences they need to become the best version of themselves.”

Minister for Regional Youth Ben Franklin said the $10.3 million Children and Young People Wellbeing Recovery Initiative offers large grants between $10,000 and $50,000 and small grants for up to $10,000.

“The large grants fund projects such as community events, peer support groups, cultural connection or partnership programs, while small grants are to enable initiatives like sporting programs and barbecues,” Mr Franklin said.

“Our Regional Youth Community Coordinators will help connect young people with the projects that best support their wellbeing and recovery and foster resilience and connection.”

The Children and Young People Wellbeing Recovery Initiative is funded through the NSW COVID-19 Economic Recovery Initiative and the co-funded NSW and Australian Governments’ Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.

Eligible applicants are encouraged to apply for funding for wellbeing programs, events and resources as part of the initiative. Applications for both large and smaller grants are open now and close on 31 December 2022, or when fully allocated.

For program and eligibility guidelines, visit

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

Record Stocking Season Bolsters Local Fish Populations

The NSW Government’s Narrandera Fisheries Centre has played a vital role in freshwater fish breeding and stocking across the State.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said more than 5.3 million fish have been released in NSW in 2021-22, including a record 1.26 million Murray cod.

“The Murray cod fingerlings are part of the State’s largest-ever breeding program, aimed at sustaining populations in NSW lakes and rivers following years of drought,” Ms Cooke said.

“In addition to Murray cod, there are also golden perch, silver perch and endangered trout cod bred at the Centre and stocked throughout NSW.”

The Narrandera hatchery is currently undergoing a major upgrade to increase production capacity for native sportfish and threatened species.

The upgrade, which includes a new hatchery building fitted with state-of-the-art fish breeding technology, is part of a $6 million grant from the NSW Government.

The NSW Government is committed to breeding millions of native fish each year to keep our lakes and rivers well stocked.

Local and visiting recreational fishers will also benefit from hundreds of thousands of native sportfish stocked into local waterways.

Last season, 125,000 Murray cod were released into Wyangala Dam as well as 10,652 Golden perch and 2,955 Murray cod released into local waterways by the Jugiong and Narrandera Fishing Clubs, as part of the Dollar-for-Dollar program, supported by the Recreational Fishing Trusts.

These ongoing stocking events not only maintain and enhance recreational fisheries, but also benefit our local communities through tourism and economic opportunities.

The 2022-23 season has already commenced with broodstock collection and stocking already underway and this year’s season is expected to be one of the biggest yet.

For more information about fish stocking in NSW, visit

Accelerating Success for Innovators

Entrepreneurs in new and emerging industries in regional NSW will be supported to grow their business, revenues, raise funds and create local jobs through the NSW Government’s $2 million Accelerating Regional Innovation Fund.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said this is an opportunity for growth in both business and sustainable practices.

“Businesses across our region are known for adapting to hurdles presented to them,” Ms Cooke said.

“The Covid-19 pandemic is a perfect example where we saw local businesses implement new ways of supporting the region and this fund will only encourage further such innovation.”

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said regional entrepreneurs face additional challenges to their metropolitan counterparts, including ready access to supply chains, partners, funding, and even customers.

“We know our regional and rural areas are places where you can turn a dream into reality, and I’m so pleased this fund is helping these pipeline ideas come to life,” Mr Toole said.

“This new fund will assist businesses access the right expertise to improve their capability and competitiveness, drive economic growth and will equip regional entrepreneurs with the skills they need to lead change.”

The Accelerating Regional Innovation Fund will provide grants of between $300,000 and $700,000 to accelerator and incubator programs in regional NSW, Newcastle and Wollongong that support regional entrepreneuers and start-ups in emerging sectors and future industries. 

The Accelerating Regional Innovation Fund supports the 20-year Economic Vision for Regional NSW and the NSW Government’s priorities and plans to achieve
long-term economic success for regional NSW communities.

Applications open on 4 August 2022 and close on 30 September 2022 at 2pm.

For further information about the Accelerating Regional Innovation Fund, including program guidelines and eligibility criteria, go to:

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

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

Stronger Together Project Grants Now Open

Local community organisations planning events which foster community harmony are encouraged to apply for the next round of Multicultural NSW’s Stronger Together Program.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said the NSW Government is committed to supporting eligible grassroots organisations with projects designed to celebrate our cultural diversity. 

“Multicultural events and festivals are a great way to recognise the cultural diversity in our communities and bring people together in family-friendly environments,” Ms Cooke said. 

“While bringing people together they will also help break down barriers between cultures and build mutual understanding and respect of each other.” 

Funding of between $20,000 and $40,000 is now available to groups wanting to develop projects that help drive social cohesion in their local area. 

Funding will be available for projects to be delivered between 1 January 2023 and 31 December 2023.  

Applications for these grants opened on Monday, 1 August and will close at 5pm Friday, 26 August.  

More information about the grants can be found at  

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

More Mobile Support to Combat Homelessness

More than 3,500 people across the region will have greater access to housing supports and services following the launch of a new mobile outreach program to assist people into stable accommodation.

Member for Cootamundra, Steph Cooke said the mobile outreach teams are expected to be travelling to West Wyalong, Temora, Young, Cootamundra, Junee and Narrandera throughout October.

“It is important for individuals and families in our smaller communities to have direct access to wrap-around support, with this program designed to help anyone at risk of being homeless engage with DCJ staff face-to-face,” Ms Cooke said.

Minister for Families and Communities and Minister for Disability Services Natasha Maclaren-Jones said the program would ensure regional communities, from Broken Hill to Leeton, are supported into stable accommodation. 

“This funding will ensure there are dedicated staff on the ground ready to help people living in regional communities to apply for housing,” Mrs Maclaren-Jones said.

“Housing stability plays a significant role in keeping families together and these regional outreach teams will provide people with the tools to make decisions which will ensure they have a better future.”

“By intervening early and providing people with the support they need, we can engage them with the right services to significantly reduce their risk of homelessness.”

The outreach patrol program will be launched in the Murrumbidgee, Far West and Western NSW regions and is expected to reach 35-50 people in each town.

It will serve as a mobile office travelling through regional areas and bringing with it information on services such as Rent Choice and Bond Loans, as well as access to housing supports.

The mobile patrol will also connect with existing service providers in those areas, such as specialist homelessness services, to build stronger relationships.

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.

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 (