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$15M bill sees Tomerong Quarry saga return to council

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Shoalhaven ratepayers could be left to foot an estimated $15 million bill to remediate the Tomerong Quarry site.

It's the latest twist in a saga that started in 2009 when the quarry's former operators applied to use part of it as a tip.

Cr John Levett says after the tip was rejected, community members started looking into the quarry's operation and allegedly found lots of non-compliance issues that they raised with Shoalhaven City Council.

Of key concerns was the quarry selling topsoil, or overburden, which was not part of its licence or development approval.

Cr Levett said the amount sold was "approximately 850,000 tonnes of this product, which was not the property of the quarry operators".

He said the sale continued even after council formally told the operators to stop.

"In 2012 the then-director Robert Russell issued an order on the quarry operators to desist from selling overburden." Cr Levett said.

"They ignored the order, and continued selling it and even advertised it on their website - overburden that didn't belong to them, overburden for which they had no DA approval to export, and council actually bought some of the stuff."

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While Cr Levett said the quarry operators were paid about $8 million for the overburden, resident complaints to council about the quarry allegedly breaching regulations resulted in council staff imposing a fine of just $114,000 without the issue ever going before full council.

Cr Levett said the fine was inadequate and well below community expectations.

"This decision to fine the quarry $114,000 was made under delegated authority by staff - it was effectively decided by a handful of administrative officers in council, and presented to council as a fait accompli," he said.

Since then there have been lots of twists and turns including the elected councillors deciding to hold an inquiry into the council's handling of the matter, only to rescind the decision at the next meeting.

While there has been no quarrying at the site since the fine was imposed in 2017, the latest concern surrounds remediation of the site, which Cr Levett said would cost in the vicinity of $15 million.

He asked who was going to foot the bill - the quarry operators who were no longer in the area, the land owner In-Ja-Ghoondji Land Incorporated, or the community through council.

The issue is due back before Shoalhaven Council next week.

Images: Justin Field MLC, John Levett

 

A purrfect surprise as cat returns after a year

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A beloved family cat has been returned to a grateful family a year after it went missing.

Mandy Lawson of Worrigee says Mr Lulu went missing soon after the family moved house from South Nowra to Worrigee, and she and her daughters spent weeks driving around trying to find him.

After about six months they assumed Mr Lulu was dead, until the Shoalhaven Animal Shelter called on Tuesday to say Mr Lulu had been handed in.

Ms Lawson said she was shocked the receive the call, and particularly after seeing Mr Lulu looked well cared for.

"He was in perfect condition, and was pretty fat," she said.

She took him home to surprise her daughters Lacey and Bella.

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"The girls were at school at that point in time, and when they got home I got them to close their eyes and hold out their hands, and put Mr Lulu in their arms and mr eldest daughter, she just broke down in tears and cried," Ms Lawson said.

However the girls did not immediately recognise the cat they had not seen for so long.

"It was a bit of a surprise actually and my kids kind of looked at me and we like 'Do we have another cat?' then they've kind of looked again and we like 'Oh my God it's Mr Lulu'," Ms Lawson recalled.

"My daughter was quite emotional about it, she cried for probably five minutes, and just squeezed the crap out of the poor cat."

Ms Lawson thanked whoever handed in Mr Lulu in to the Shoalhaven Animals Shelter this week, and whoever had clearly been feeding him.

Images: Mandy Lawson

Amanda Findley returned as Shoalhaven Mayor

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Amanda Findley has been returned as Shoalhaven Mayor.

The result of the December 4 council election was finally announced today, although it will be another two days before the full make-up of councillors is confirmed.

However Greens supporters still claimed they had made history, predicting seven members from the progressive or left-wing side of politics will be elected - six of the 12 councillors along with the mayor.

Cr Findley said she was relieved the results were finally settled, and it was time to get back to work.

 "The tree policy is a big thing - there's been a lot of trees cut down in the Shoalhaven over the years and if we're going to tackle climate change we have to not only look after our trees but also drive down our carbon, so one of the things we talked about was trying to get a second solar farm up and running," Cr Findley said.

"Everyone knows that I've been campaigning really, really hard for affordable housing, and to continue that journey with the state government to make sure that's delivered."

She said she was looking forward to a big shift in balance at council.

"For the first time ever the majority of people on Shoalhaven City Council would consider themselves to be on the progressive side of politics and not on the conservative side of politics, with four Greens and three Labor Party members," Cr Findley said.

"It's a very slim majority, but it's a major none the less, and we did make a commitment to have a bit of an alliance during this term of council to try and get some really positive stuff done.

"It doesn't mean we will all vote the same way all the time, but what it does mean is that there are things we are aligned on that we can work to make it better for the community."

The election has been welcomed by Shoalhaven City Council CEO, Stephen Dunshea.

“Mayor Findley has served the community through bushfire, flood, and a pandemic and I know she can be relied upon to lead the Council well in its engagement with the Shoalhaven community,” Mr Dunshea said.  

“I look forward to working with Shoalhaven Mayor, Amanda Findley over this term of council as we continue to serve our community to deliver important projects and services now and into the future.”   

Cr Findley was elected to council in September 2008, re-elected in September 2012 and elected mayor in September 2016. 

The first ordinary meeting for the new council will be held on Tuesday, January 25, in the council chambers and can be live-streamed throughCouncil’s website

Image: Glenn Ellard

Another two COVID-19 venues of concern listed in the Shoalhaven

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NSW Health has named another two Coronavirus venues of concern in the Shoalhaven.

PETstock South Nowra at 2/142 Princes Highway is listed.

If you were at this venue on Wednesday, September 15 2021 between 9 am and 9.35 am then you should get tested immediately.

NSW Health advises you should self-isolate until you get a negative result.

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Australia Post at Shop 20, 73 Meroo Street Bomaderry has also been listed as a Coronavirus venue of concern.

If you were at this location on Monday, September 20 2021 between 1 pm and 1.30 pm you should get tested immediately.

NSW Health advises you should also self-isolate until you get a negative result.

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Visit the NSW Health website for other venues of concern notifications and further advice on COVID-19 precautions and testing sites.

Images: NSW Health

 

Art hits the streets of Nowra and Bomaderry

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While COVID restrictions have kept many people from visiting art galleries, a Nowra project has taken art out into the open and back to the people in an unexpected way.

An art walk has been created featuring the work of internationally renowned photographer Tamara Dean of Cambewarra, which has been turned into 13 large sticker decals and placed on footpaths and buildings along the walk between the Bomaderry Train Station and Nowra's Jellybean Park.

Shoalhaven Council's arts and culture manager Bronwyn Coulston said the images transformed the walk into a beautiful and unconventional gallery.

"They're a really exquisite series of photographs that encourage us to think about our relationship with nature, and encourage us to think about the natural environment that exists under and around all of these built forms that these photographs are stuck on," Ms Coulston said.

She said many people had used the lockdown to better explore areas close to them, and Ms Dean was no exception.

"Tamara has spent a lot of time re-exploring her relationship to the environment around her - to her home, to the Shoalhaven and the South Coast,  and these photos that are in the art walk are part of that exploration," Ms Coulston said.

 

Ms Dean notes that the photos reflect on the "opportunities to turn our focus closer to home and connect with the more immediate environment and to the beauty in our local area".

The photographs capture simple, personal interactions with nature and the environment, and encourage viewers to reflect on the natural landscape covered by footpaths and buildings.   

The art walk is a temporary art installation funded by the State Government, through its Streets as Shared Spaces Program. 

 

The images are expected to be in place for about six months.

Image: Shoalhaven City Council

Aunty Violet calls Shoalhaven indigenous community to action over COVID

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Aboriginal social worker, Aunty Violet Green, has spent a long time working in and around health services.

And as part of her continued involvement in health issues, the Walbunga woman of the Yuin nation has issued a plea for members of the Shoalhaven's Indigenous community to take all possible precautions to protect themselves against COVID.

In a video posted to social media, Aunty Violet appears with South Coast Police District Commander Greg Moore to ask people to alter their behaviour.

"Take the opportunity to get the vaccine," Aunty Violet said.

"It saves people's lives, and you don't know whose life it could be saving - it could be your family, it could be your mob, the people you work with, it could be your best friend.

"Our mob's important, and we also know that we spread the virus by moving around unnecessarily, so please, I just ask you to stay home and please get vaccinated and if you're unwell please get tested."

 

Berry shop fire extinguished before it could spread

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A fire in a Berry takeaway shop on Friday night was extinguished before it managed to spread to adjoining buildings.

Fire and Rescue crews from Berry and Nowra were called to the shop in Queen Street and were faced with a building filled with smoke and flames that were spilling out the roof.

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While fire fighters managed to extinguish the blaze and keep it to one shop, the takeaway was one of four adjoining shops which shared a common roof space, so it had to potential to be much worse.

The blaze was the Berry brigade's second commercial shop fire in six months.

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Its fire fighters have been praised for the dedication and professionalism they continue to shown, and the timely responses to these incidents that have prevented serious structural damage to both properties.

images: berry fire and rescue

 

Cambewarra walk raises valuable funds to help hearts

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Rachael Hall was once known as the pink postie, but on Sunday she was the lady in red leading a group of about 30 supporters in a SCADaddle walk around Cambewarra.

In the process she raised about $1000 for research into spontaneous coronary artery dissection, or SCAD, that nearly ended her life a year earlier.

Rachael said she was grateful for the level of support she had been offered by Cambewarra's community.

"The turn-out was incredible - feeling so much love, so much support," she said.

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"The money containers were full, and it was a beautiful day for it."

But the community showed its support though more than just fellow walkers and donations.

"Some of my beautiful people actually painted some rocks, and while we were out on the walk we actually found dome of those rocks that had the SCAD on them and hearts and pink postie, so that was quite fun as well," she said.

The walk was also aimed at increasing awareness of SCAD, that most often affects fit and healthy women under the age of 50.

Images: Glenn Ellard

Candidate calls for more support for Shoalhaven businesses

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Shoalhaven Council candidate Serena Copley is calling on council to do more to support local businesses through difficult financial times.

She has released a five-point business support plan that includes rent relief to tenants of council-owned buildings, waiving a range of fees and interest on outstanding business rates, and a parking fine freeze to encourage people to shop for longer.

She says it’s time for council to get behind businesses.

“We really believe that all levels of government should contribute to helping small business, and I’m not seeing much come from Shoalhaven City Council, so we would like to see them commit to a support package,” Ms Copley said.

She said other councils in the region, including Wollongong City Council, were actively promoting their funding assistance packages, but Shoalhaven Council's support for local businesses during the latest lockdown had been disappointing.

"Local businesses are on their knees, with the latest lockdown seeing business income plummet or reduced to nothing," Ms Copley said.

"Our council should be leading the way in supporting our local small businesses, who are the lifeblood of our towns and villages.

"Wollongong City Council has a multifaceted support package, promoting local small businesses and shop local programs as well as providing financial support, including outdoor dining fee waivers and rate relief. 

"It is disappointing Shoalhaven City Council is yet to develop a similar package to support the thousands of businesses operating right across the region.”

Ms Copley has called on council to immediately implement a five point financial support package that:

1. Provides rent relief to tenants in council-owned premises. 

2. Waives all outdoor dining application and ongoing fees and charges for the 2021-22 financial year as well as other annual inspection fees, and annual licensing fees. 

3. Commits to a parking fine freeze for the remainder of 2021 to encourage shop local initiatives.

4. Commits to waiving interest on outstanding business rates and commits to charge 0% interest for the 2021-22 financial year; and

5. Establishes an extensive advertising campaign to support local businesses.

She argued council should be in the financial position to afford the initiatives.

“We’ve recently heard from a number of Greens councillors that Shoalhaven City is doing inordinately well financially, to justify a proposed wage increase for the Mayor, so I would say I would prefer to see that money spent to assist our local small businesses, and in turn supporting wages and jobs in our community,” Ms Copley said.

image: glenn ellard

COVID fears lift alert status at Shoalhaven hospitals

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The Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District has escalated the COVID-19 transmission risk to Red as case numbers continue to grow across the region.

"The decision is in response to the evolving situation across NSW and the increasing levels of community transmission," the LHD said.

There's been 97 new COVID cases in the Illawarra Shoalhaven this week.

The move effects visitation at all of the district's hospitals with visitors only allowed for certain circumstances.

The LHD said one partner / support person may support mothers during labour and birth.

"The same partner / support person may visit after birth in the post-natal ward for unrestricted periods between 8am-8pm," the LHD said.

Effective immediately, one parent of a child admitted under Paedatrics services is allow to visit while for end-of-life patients, visitors are only limited to the extent necessary to minimise risk.

"All of the allowed visitors must be fully vaccinated and wear a mask at all times," the LHD said.

Staff will continue to use Personal Protective Equipment as set out in the Red Alert protocol while there is no change to the current operations for elective surgery, inpatient and outpatient services, cancer screening services, mental health and other clinical services.

Image: Peter Andrea

Dealing with rubbish delights little Leo during visit to Nowra depot

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Little Leo Seeland is one of those children who just loves the rubbish trucks.

Mum Jessica said as soon as Leo heard the garbage trucks in streets near their South Nowra home he ran outside to wait for them.

The truck drivers have come to know him well , and have shared a number of gifts with the four-year-old.

"He's been given - I think he's got two shirts now, and he's got a hat, he got a garbage truck toy," Jessica said.

And last week they took it a step further, giving Leo a chance behind the wheel as the dual-control truck drove around the Suez depot in South Nowra.

A delighted Leo even had a chance to pick up some rubbish bins set up at the depot.

Leo is the latest in a line of children, often with special needs, given tours of the Suez facilities.

Nowra garbage truck drivers Wayne Jones and Charlie Schusser have spent years delighting the youngsters who love watching the rubbish being collected.

Calling themselves The Garbo and The Mechanic, they've given out toy trucks, shirts, hats and have even given children turns behind the extra steering wheel in the truck.

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Mr Jones said challenges the children might face in the outside world did not impact on their time in the garbage trucks as, "In the cabin we're all the same."

Suez regional manager Daniel Jeffcott said the pair were a credit to the company.

"They're handing out T-shirts and toys to kids to get them engaged in the dirty side of the waste and recycling processes," he said.

"Kids love it, and it's really good to have that community engagement with our drivers."

While the two truck drivers have been handing out toys and gifts to children, it is not all one way.

Leo was born with a rare metabolic disorder which makes it difficult to use his body fat stores for energy, which means any minor illness can put him into a metabolic crisis and result in him becoming severely unwell.

As a result he has had many hospital admissions during his four years.

Earlier this year Leo chosen to be one of the faces of the Jeans for Genes campaign for the Children's Medical Research Institute, and made sure he shared a poster with his garbage truck drivers.

Images: Glenn Ellard

 

 

Everything you need to know ahead of council election day in the Shoalhaven, Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama

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With a re-emergence of COVID-19 cases across the Illawarra and Shoalhaven this week, the NSW Electoral Commission has a range of COVID safety measures in place for tomorrow's local government elections.

Cameron Whalan from the NSW Electoral Commission said there's a number of requirements voters must follow.

"That includes mandatory mask wearing, bringing your own pen from home or using one of the single use pens provided.

"Physical distancing when you're in polling places and lines to get in there as well and also checking in and out upon arrival and departure," he said.

Whalan said pre-polling will continue across Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama today.

"It's not too late to pre-poll.

"This morning you can look your address up (HERE).

"You'll find all of your closest pre-polling places but you can also plan ahead for the day following, for election day and find your closest polling locations too," he said.

Fines will apply for those who fail to vote.

Whalan said there are options if you can't physically get to a polling place.

"If you're outside of your local government area or council ward you might be eligible for i-Vote which is online or telephone voting but I would say that if you're unable to make it you will be issued with a failure to vote fine which is $55 but you will also have recourse, so you'll be given the chance to provide sufficient reason," Whalan said.

Image: NSW Electoral Commission

Finlay finds success in surveying his career options

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Vocational choices can be difficult when you are young, but after finding inspiration on the TAFE NSW website, Sanctuary Point's Finlay Hegarty is on the way to carving out a successful career in surveying.

Finlay said he was struggling to find a career path during his final year of high school, until he saw details about surveying and the idea of contributing to the design of the region appealed to him.

Mr Hegarty successfully applied for a surveying traineeship at Shoalhaven City Council through the HVTC Shoalhaven apprenticeship centre which organised his training with TAFE NSW, and it wasn’t long before he experienced the benefits of hands-on learning.

“I liked that my training was both practical and theoretical.," he said.

"We learned in an office setting as well as outside, so it was just like being on the job, this is something TAFE NSW does well.

“Another bonus was the experience of the teachers. I don’t think I had a teacher with less than 20 years’ experience in the industry.

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"They had been through every situation and since there are plenty of things that don’t go to plan out in the field, they had lots of tips to share that you won’t find in textbooks. I don’t think I’d be where I am without the skills they taught me,” he said.

Mr Hegarty's passion for the job soon became evident, and even before completing his Certificate III in Surveying he enrolled in Certificate IV and after graduating went on to complete the TAFE NSW Diploma in Surveying.

TAFE NSW Surveying teacher Russell Douthat said surveying and mapping services offered a satisfying career in a growing and ever-changing industry.

He also said one of the aspects that attracted Mr Hegarty to the industry was true of many surveyors. 

“As older surveyors retire, we’re seeing increased demand for more people willing to learn these skills.

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"The appeal of variety in the workplace does draw people into surveying. It offers a good mix of indoor and outdoor work, plus they get to see the countryside,” Mr Douthat said.

Like many industries, technology is reshaping parts of how surveyors go about their work and the tools they use.

“Our students work through a mix of theory and practical coursework with industry qualified teachers using industry-standard equipment and technology. This means a student with a TAFE NSW qualification can move easily into the workplace with practical abilities using the latest equipment and techniques,” Mr Douthat said.

For more information about TAFE NSW surveying courses, please visit www.tafensw.com.au or call 131 601.

The website now offers a Study Seeker tool designed to help people find a course that suits them.

Images: TAFE NSW

Fire decimates Jervis Bay Stock Feeds

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Years of hard work went up in smoke tonight as the well respected family business, Jervis Bay Stock Feeds in Falls Creek, was gutted by fire.

The blaze started about 7pm, and was attended by several Rural Fire Service crews along with NSW Fire and rescue.

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Investigators are on their way to the scene to look into the cause of the fire, and fire fighters were tonight donning breathing apparatus as they prepared to enter what was left of the main building.

Investigations are also expected to look into whether there was asbestos in the building.

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Earlier as the fire was taking hold, a man rushed into the building and through the smoke to rescue a dog inside.

The fire cut power to several nearby homes.

images: Glenn Ellard

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Fishing fees help fund Shoalhaven improvements

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Shoalhaven City Council has been given more than $264,000 to improve the region's fishing facilities.

South Coast MP Shelley Hancock announced the money from the Recreational Fishing Trust will allow for a new fishing projects in the region.

The bulk of council's funding will be directed to improving facilities at St Georges Basin, including upgrading a fishing jetty located off Island Point Road, renewing the fishing jetty at the end of The Basin Road,  providing a fish cleaning table and rod holders, and upgrading the Sanctuary Point  and Erowal Bay jetties.

There will also be work to provide safer access to existing fish cleaning tables located on intertidal rock platforms at Bendalong and Kioloa, and build a fish friendly boardwalk and fishing platforms on the Currambene Creek/ Myola training wall.

An extra $43,200 will be given to Newcastle University to measure recreational fishery enhancement resulting from substantial habitat repair in Burrill Lake.

Mrs Hancock said the projects were part of a record 94 grants funded this year through the Recreational Fishing Trust to improve and promote recreational fishing in local areas.

“This is fantastic news to see projects on the South Coast be rewarded and receive funding to support locals with their passion for fishing,” Mrs Hancock said.

“This funding will see fishing access improvements in St Georges Basin, Jervis Bay, Bendalong and Kioloa.

“The best thing about Recreational Fishing Trust grants is they are fishers’ licence fees being reinvested back into local projects which benefit the South Coast region.

“Each year we put out the call for applications and every year we see unique, positive projects. Through this round of funding, our passionate fishos have truly outdone themselves.”

Mrs Hancock said a new round of applications had opened and NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) would accept applications until October 15.

“This is your licence fees at work, so if you’ve got an idea then please, get your application in and take advantage of this available funding,” Mrs Hancock said.

image: supplied

Former world champion Burridge to guide young girl surfers

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As a pioneer in the world of women's surfing, former World Champion Pam Burridge has inspired many young women to take to the waves and water.

And as part of the Her Wave Get her Onboard program, Burridge aims to help more promising young female surfers take the next step into surfing competitions.

Her Mollymook Beach surf school is one of 20 across the state chosen to take part in the program, and Burridge said each one would have a slightly different focus.

"My one is to get recreational surfers into a little bit of competing, so they get some goal setting and that rewarding feeling of really focusing on improving your surfing - not that we're trying to train up world champions or anything, we're just trying to transition to the idea of competing at a recreational level," she said.

And the lessons learnt will have a wider benefit.

"In competition surfing, wave selection and positioning and time management and what you do on those waves are so important, so it's the whole idea of how that looks and so it helps you in your peak position and your wave selection in your every day surfing as well - or it can," Burridge said.

The program was built on the back of stage one of the Roxy and Her Wave “Get Her Onboard” campaign earlier this year, which resulted in 1100 women joining the Roxy and Her Wave community, which included being offered discounted learn to surf lessons through their local participating surf school.

All recipients are female-specific, diverse in design, delivered and driven by passionate nominated leaders within a local Surf School or Boardrider Club.

"We would like to thank all applicants for the time and effort invested in submitting an application under the grants program," said Surfing NSW Programs Manager Claire Ellem.
 
At its essence, Her Wave aims to empower all females through surfing.

It is committed to supporting gender equity, making surfing more inclusive and accessible to all women and girls of all ages and abilities in NSW and works to build a more joyful experience for everyone.
 
A key objective of Her Wave is to grow and nurture female participation in the sport as a collective.

Image: Hannah Jessup, Surfing NSW

 

Greens get ready for tilt at Shoalhaven Council

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A presidential-style launch on Saturday signalled the start of the Greens campaign to win positions on Shoalhaven Council, spearheaded by  incumbent Mayor Amanda Findley and her efforts to be re-elected.

There was music, energy, a bit of hype and plenty of support at the launch, with every sentence she uttered being greeted with rapturous applause.

But some of the loudest applause was reserved for when Cr Findley took aim at rival mayoral candidates Greg Watson and others from the Shoalhaven Independent Group.

"It is time to kick Greg Watson to the kerb, and it is also time to get rid of the Shoalhaven Independents full stop," she said.

"Their bad policy, their bad decision making, and their constant wearing down of the Shoalhaven has to stop."

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Cr Findley labelled the Shoalhaven Independents as "yesterday's people with yesterday's thoughts".

"We live in a gorgeous place, we don't want it to be ruined by these fools that have no idea of the gem they have sitting before them," she said.

"We don't want their 1950s attitudes destroying what we need to leave for our children."

But the launch was more focused on objectives for the next council term, despite it lasting only two years and nine months.

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"Going forward, what do we want to do?" Cr Findley said.

"We want more renewables in this area, we want disability access for people who have different abilities to us, we want to have something for our kids - recreational buildings, sports parks, playgrounds, skateparks - they need that, and we need it because we're a disadvantaged area in so many ways, we need to keep our kids engaged and out of the drug houses that exist in this area.

"We also need to continue to plant some trees," she said.

"Trees are falling everywhere across the Shoalhaven because the chainsaw mob at the Shoalhaven Independents have created a policy where you can take trees away without even asking, and that is almost criminal; in fact I'm calling it criminal, and we need to change that right now."

While Cr Findley had plenty to say during he launch, there was also much said about her by NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge who praised her energy, commitment, compassion and integrity shown during a difficult time for the Shoalhaven that included the Black Sur bushfires, floods and the pandemic.

Images: Glenn Ellard

Jervis Bay Stock Feeds rises from the ashes

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After fire destroyed Jervis Bay Stock Feeds’ main building on Tuesday night, owner Kim Trevyaud was back at work yesterday morning, setting up to work out of the two adjoining storage sheds.

While dealing with the charred remains of the shop, including a 10-thousand-dollar freezer bought just a few months ago, is hard, Kim said she and husband Darren had been uplifted by the community’s support.

That includes more than 300 messages from people offering support and comfort.

“We have had so much support,” she said.

“You just don’t realise until something like this happens how loved we are.

“The messages that I’ve been getting have just brought tears to my eyes, how much love people have for us and how much they care, it’s just been beautiful.”

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Kim was supported by family members, friends and customers as she sifted through charred remains and  set up in the storage sheds, getting a generator from a neighbour to power up her fridges while waiting on power to be reconnected.

She said her customers were the best anyone could hope for, and their support was a timely reminder of how fortunate she was.

“We could have been injured, we could have lost a family member, you cab replace things but you cannot replace people,” Kim said.

“And I’m so glad nobody was hurt, not even the fireys – I think there was one firey who got a burnt leg but they just wrapped it up and he was back to it.”

Kim said there had been fantastic support from customers.

She usually served 170 customers a day, and by lunchtime she had already served about 50 despite the damage to the main building.

Police are appealing for information about the fire that extensively damaged the iconic Falls Creek business.

Emergency services were called to the business on the Princes Highway just before 7pm, before the fire destroyed the main building.

Two adjacent buildings suffered minor damage.

Anyone who saw the fire or has dashcam or CCTV footage is asked to contact Nowra Police on 4421 9699 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

images: Glenn Ellard

Kangaroo Valley students stage climate protest

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Children chanted slogans and carried signs outside Kangaroo Valley Public School on Friday morning, calling for the government to move faster to tackle climate change.

They gathered with parents to support the School Strikes for Climate movement, adding their voices to others across the nation.

Gabrielle Halcrow said children spent days painting signs calling for the Federal Government to take more urgent action to address climate change.

"Basically the call is that we need the government to go faster," she said.

"We've got lots of signs saying 'Too slow ScoMo, we need climate action now - we need to save our planet' so they're really concerned about how slow the government is going because it's their future.

"There's lots of different perspectives, but they're all calling for more climate action from their government, from their leaders, from their grown-ups," Ms Halcrow said.

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Her words were echoed by some of the children taking part in the protest, such as Kozi Castillo-Rodriguez.

"If we want to keep the world going and the human species alive then we have to change the way we live, and it we do that then we could save the world," the nine-year-old said.

Fellow nine-year-old Elsie Moffat said she had been inspired by a book on young climate activist Greta Thunberg.

"I just think that every kid should not like climate change and should just keep pushing so that they can change something," she said.

The protest seemed to generate plenty of support within the community, and many passing motorists following the advice of one sign asking them to honk for the climate.

Images: Peter Andrea

Learning library connects the southern Shoalhaven community

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Community Connect Southern Shoalhaven is putting together an online learning library to help volunteers and community organisations be more effective and efficient.

Chairman Matt Dell said many community organisations suffer because people are uncertain of their roles, or are reluctant to join committees as they don't know what to do.

He said the learning portal helped overcome that, with instruction about a range of topics.

"Community volunteers or community groups can access the portal, and there's a wealth of resources there in regards to ways to do volunteering better - in terms of governance, board toles, constitutions - and then some practical; things around like how to write grant applications,  and all sorts of resources that anyone who's in a volunteer or community-type role will be able to make use of," Mr Dell said.

He said it was all about building community capacity, after a survey of community groups showed many wanted more information about things such as governance and management, to prevent the problems of people being stuck in the same roles for years because there's no succession planning.

"The learning library is trying to address a lot of those structural issues and information issues that we feel are stopping people from joining volunteer organisations and stopping organisations from growing, and just making people's lives harder, really," Mr Dell said.

He said the learning portal was  constantly being updated with information and a range of learning tools things such as live webinars on applying for bushfire funding.

image: glenn ellard

Lower opening triggers bring relief for Lake Conjola residents

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There's relief for people living around Lake Conjola as Shoalhaven Council has been given a licence to mechanically open the lake's entrance in periods of emergency at lower the previous trigger requirements.

Council's City Development director Phil Costello said the licence would allow council to mechanically open the entrance when severe weather impacted on the Lake Conjola community.

The licence covers the next five years and is great news for council and the community which has been arguing for changes to the lake openings for several years, according to council's Mr Costello.

He said council applied for the lower trigger levels in response to community consultation.

"This is great news for council and the community who have advocated for trigger levels to be lowered for many years”, Mr Costello said.  

Lake Conjola is currently open to the sea and has been since February 2020. However, the entrance was impacted by significant sand build-up due to the recent East Coast Low weather event.   

Council has undertaken extensive community consultation in relation to the Lake Conjola Coastal Management Program which is currently in the process of being formulated.

The issue of lake entrance management is a consideration in the formulation of this program, which is also collecting scientific information to inform the forecasting of requirements and to alter the licence in the future, if required. 

To stay up to date on Lake Conjola - Coastal Management Program subscribe to Council's Get Involved page.    

Image: Shoalhaven City Council

Milton youngster faces her second battle with leukaemia

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Little Kyesha-Lee Minuti has already proven her fighting abilities.

And the four-year-old from Milton is going to need all of them as she faces a second battle with leukaemia.

Mum Terri Lang said Kyesha-Lee was diagnosed with leukaemia at the age of just 22 months, starting a two-year process of chemotherapy and treatment before she was finally given a clean bill of health.

But a blood test just three months later showed the leukaemia had returned, prompting a return to the Sydney Children's Hospital for more treatment.

It will culminate in coming weeks transplant of bone marrow coming from her five-year-old brother Dylan.

"On the 1st of December she gets admitted for the chemo and the transplant, and then she's going to be in isolation of hospital for two or three months," Ms Lang said.

"She's had three months of chemo now, and then she'll have another really hard week from the 1st to the 8th of chemo to wipe her system totally for the bone marrow to go on the 8th, which her big brother is the donor which is really good.

"It's sort of mixed emotions - it's really good that he's going to be a donor, but there's going to be two of my babies in hospital at the same time having operations. It's going to be a hard day."

Ms Lang will be joining Kyesha-Lee in isolation following the bone marrow transplant, taking all necessary precautions "to keep her safe".

"We've got to get through the next few months of her having no immune system," she said.

"It's going to be a hard road but I've got to do what I've got to do as a mum and get her better."

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Ms Lang said watching the youngest of her six children battling through not only the illness but also the debilitating impacts of treatment had been tough.

But she is no stranger to difficult times, having already gone through more emotional pain than many people could imagine.

"I've been through hell and back already," she said.

It peaked when Ms Lang lost her second child, son Kyle, to pneumococcal meningitis when he was just eight weeks old back in 2004.

It took just days for Kyle to go from being a healthy, normal baby to needing on life support machines.

"He was healthy and we thought he had just stomach issues, then all of a sudden it was pneumococcal meningitis," she said.

"They did the scans and it'd attacked his brain stem so they practically told me he was going to be a vegetable or we needed to turn the machines off, so I had to make that horrible choice, but I had to do what was best for him not best for me.

"As much as I wanted to keep him here and be a mother, it just wasn't the right situation - even the doctor said it's cruel."

Ms Lang said making the decision to turn off the life support was "so hard".

"It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do in my life," she said.

However she has a community rallying around her to help ensure a better outcome with this health battle as Kyesha-Lee fights to overcome leukaemia.

Friends and family members are organising a fundraising raffle to help with the costs of Ms Lang staying in Sydney with Kyesha-Lee while the rest of her family is in the Shoalhaven, and there is also a Go Fund Me page set up called Kyesha-Lee's Journey with Leukaemia.

Images: Terri Lang

 

 

More COVID cases in Nowra and Kiama

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Two new COVID cases in the Shoalhaven are being investigated to find out how the people became infected.

However two new infections in Kiama are linked to known cases.

The cases are among 17 in the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District reported in this morning's daily COVID update, including nine in Wollongong and four in Shellharbour.

There are now five active cases in the Kiama local government area, and 23 in the Shoalhaven.

Meanwhile Coles Supermarket in Nowra has been identified as a potential COVID exposure site.

Coles has been advised that a person who later tested positive for COVID-19 visited the store between 10.13 and 10.20am on Thursday, September 9th.

The supermarket has since undergone a deep clean, but people who were in the supermarket at the time have been asked to monitor for symptoms, and undertake a COVID test if any develop.

New hope for extra doctors in Shoalhaven

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Hopes of attracting more doctors to the Shoalhaven under Distribution Priority Area changes have been boosted through personal contact from former Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis.

Shoalhaven Family Medical Centres practice principal Annette Pham said her practices had been unable to replace 12 doctors they had lost in the past two years, and mentioned this to Mrs Sudmalis while giving her a COVID vaccine.

It turned out Mrs Sudmalis was a close friend of the new Regional Health Minister David Gillespie, and she wrote to the minister including a copy of the latest approach by Mrs Pham.

She said Dr Gillespie's response was quick and positive.

"Last night I got a letter back from Dr David Gillespie, who's the minister for regional health, and he's just recently been appointed to that position, so we have fresh eyes, and it was a very positive letter," Mrs Pham said.

It included an assurance Dr Gillespie that he wanted the Distribution Priority Area criteria reviewed and reassessed.

"I have asked that the review be ambitious in its intent, open to innovative think and broadly consultative to ensure that concerns are addressed," Dr Gillespie wrote.

He expected the report to be finalised before the end of the year and, "I will move quickly to address any recommendations."

"He indicates that he's going to review the DPA system to consider our situation here in the Shoalhaven, but not just in the Shoalhaven, this will be a country-wide review and comes at the same time as the Senate inquiry into GP shortages," Mrs Pham said.

Several Shoalhaven medical centres have spoken about problems they face employing doctors under DPA restrictions, with one medical centre in the Bay and Basin area being on the verge of shutting its doors.

A petition organised by Gilmore MP Fiona Phillips recently helped secure a Senate inquiry into doctor shortages in rural and regional areas.

image: glenn ellard

 

 

 

Nowra Bypass plans gain momentum

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The push to build a new Nowra Bypass seems to be gaining momentum, with Gilmore MP Fiona Phillips and now Kiama MP Gareth Ward both launching petitions in an effort to get work started.

Mrs Philips raised the bypass in Federal Parliament earlier this week, and on Wednesday morning Mr Ward announced he was also launching an online petition as part of his Back the Bypass campaign.

And Shoalhaven Council candidate Paul Ell pledged to raise the bypass at the first council meeting if elected.

Mrs Phillips told Parliament she had a petition on her website calling on the State and Federal Governments to get on with pre-planning for the Bypass.

"Unless the government looks to the future and gets on with the preplanning for the Nowra bypass it will be another 30 years," she said.

"Don't we owe it to our children, their children and everyone in the Nowra-Bomaderry area, and along the New South Wales South Coast, to ensure that people have safe passage through and into Nowra—that the town of Nowra can flourish, helping businesses, workers and jobs?"

Mr Ward said securing a commitment for the Nowra Bypass was his next major focus.

“My message to all levels of government is simple - don’t pass the buck, back the bypass,” he said.

"Since becoming your local MP, I have secured record funds for the region's roads.

"Never would I ever have thought we would secure the Gerringong Upgrade, the Berry Bypass, the Albion Park Rail Bypass, the South Nowra Upgrade, the Berry to Bomaderry upgrade, the Shoalhaven River Replacement Bridge and the Jervis Bay Road interchange.

"This represents more than $2 billion in State Government investment," Mr Ward said.

"I am proud of these achievements that have made a huge difference. But there is one project that now needs a focus.

"Nowra is a huge traffic bottleneck, in part due to poor management of developing the local road network by Shoalhaven City Council.  Doing nothing will mean things get worse."

Mr Ward said he would launch an on-line petition to give the community an avenue to support the call following his statements in Parliament in support of a Nowra Bypass.

And Shoalhaven City Council candidate Paul Ell pledged to move a Notice of Motion committing a future council to being part of a back the bypass campaign, should he be elected on the weekend.

“Whilst I acknowledge this isn’t a council issue, a Nowra Bypass would make a significant difference for the Shoalhaven community and I want to work with Gareth Ward and our local community to back the bypass,” Mr Ell said.

"This is all about people's lives.

"We want to return the roads, return the highway back to the community, and also create jobs at the same time, so there's no greater priority for me, there should be no greater priority for any level of government than getting the Nowra Bypass done," he said.

Image: Glenn Ellard

Nowra in the fast lane to foodie festivities

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Shoalhaven Council candidates Serena Copley and Paul Ell have launched a plan to help turn Nowra into a foodie destination by activating laneways in the town's CBD.

They said areas like Egans Lane and Emporium Lane were perfect for on-street dining and entertainment, as Nowra had many interesting laneways - some with fantastic views of incredible artworks.

“Too many of Nowra’s laneways are underutilised, however they provide an exciting opportunity for local residents and visitors to enjoy the offerings of our local businesses,” Ms Copley said.

“Across the world, so many cities and towns utilise laneways for evening, on-street dining, providing locals with an opportunity to enjoy a meal and a drink outside in a different environment.”

“So whether it’s for dinner or just a drink after work, we want to see our streets full or people supporting local businesses and enjoying a nightlife Nowra has not seen before,” Ms Copley said.

They argued it was time to provide businesses with the opportunity to fill laneways with tables ahead of summer and a busy tourist season.

"In the post COVID lockdown period plainly we need to do things differently, we need a different approach when it come to supporting business, and this is an example of how we can revitalise and activate spaces - whether it's in Nowra, Ulladulla, right across the city," Mr Ell said.

“To ensure the long term viability of Nowra CBD businesses, we need to transform Nowra into a destination worth getting off the beaten track for. so to speak.

"We believe this initiative will help put Nowra on the map as a foodie destination with local artists and entertainers also central to our vision of transforming the CBD in to an exciting and revitalised space," he said.

The idea appealed to chef Jack Katon, who with sister Samatha is setting up the Greenhouse Eatery in Nowra's Morrison Arcade, and is eyeing off the potential to use outdoor areas to extend the dining footprint.

He is even looking at possible uses of the Jellybean Park area as a potential location for live music and outdoor dining.

"Me and my sister were saying that exact thing - I'd love to be able to set up some nice tables out here on a Friday or Saturday night and do some alfresco dining outdoors," he said.

"You've got a cafe here, you've got a cafe there, you've got a restaurant that could be going in there, we've got all the restaurants down there, I don't see why we couldn't be doing some kind of food festival, set things up and have a few people from the local areas come down, set up your stalls, sell this, sell that."

Mr Katon said he knew one person in the local area growing artisan mushrooms, and there were many others were producing amazing food and products.

"Why can't we get people coming down here, set that up on Friday or Saturday night or the same as the Berry Market, something similar to that?" he said.

Image: Glenn Ellard

Nowra man refused bail over stabbing death

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A Nowra man has been refused bail in Nowra Local Court after being charged with the stabbing murder of David McArthur at a Sanctuary Point caravan park on July 25.

Raymond Allan, 39, did not apply for bail and it was formally refused during a brief appearance via video link yesterday.

He was arrested earlier in the day when homicide squad detectives visited the Silverwater Jail.

He's due back in court in December15.

His arrest came just eight days after Mr McArthur's parents made an emotional plea for public assistance to help solve their son's killing.

Investigations under Strike Force Frawley continue.

Image: NSW Police

Nowra man's lucky escape as fire engulfs camper trailer

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A Nowra man had a lucky escape when his camper trailer was engulfed by flames at the Nowra Showground this morning.

John Goodsell had just been shopping when he pulled up at a spot at the showground.

But when he lit his gas stove the fire erupted, possibly through spilled chemicals or petrol, and within seconds engulfed the trailer.

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He said his immediate reaction was to put water on the flames, but that just made the situation worse.

"It was stupid, you can't put water on a petrol fire," he said later.

The fire sent a thick plume of black smoke into the air as several small explosions were heard from inside the flames.

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Mr Goodsell feared they might have come from three gas cylinders stored in the trailer along with all his possessions, but the cylinders were later found intact once fire fighters extinguished the flames.

However the fire spread to the back of the car towing the trailer, where a plastic container of petrol was stored.

The fire left the trailer as just a shell, and severely damaged the car.

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Mr Goodsell was not injured in the incident, but was checked over by ambulance officers.

Despite the loss Mr Goodsell was counting his blessings.

He said as he was driving into the showgrounds this morning he was thinking how well his life was turning out.

However he said the fire gave him a chance to make a fresh start, and he was looking forward to possibly getting a pop-top caravan to continue his travels.

Images: Glenn Ellard

 

Nowra police officers in isolation after COVID exposure

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Several Nowra police officers are isolating after coming in contact with a man who later tested positive to COVID.

The 36-year-old Shoalhaven man was arrested on July 29th and taken to the cells at the Nowra Police Station before being transferred to Silverwater Remand Centre, where he tested positive to coronavirus.

The police station has undergone a deep clean and a Sate Government source has confirmed to 2ST the officers who dealt with the man have been placed in isolation.

Shoalhaven Police say the station is operating as normal, and officers are still at work protecting the community.

South Coast Police Commander, Superintendent Greg Moore said officers were well prepared for the possible risks COVID-19 poses.

"Our officers have been well trained in the procedures that need to be followed," he said.

"They act professionally. This is something we have been trained in and prepared for since March last year."

Mr Moore said the Nowra Police Station underwent regular cleaning.

image: Glenn Ellard

Nowra students rise to the challenge of reusing clothes and protecting dignity

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Nowra Public School students have shown they can think outside the box, and their creative minds have earned them a place in the state finals of the Game Changer Challenge.

The school's Eco Minions team was challenged to transform discarded items into something useful, and came up with the idea of turning used clothes into feeding bibs for the elderly and people with disabilities.

Team member Blake Holbrow said using recycled clothes helped people retain their dignity.

"It was for the disabled and the elderly, just to cover them up because the business name that we came up with was covered apparel, and we used old clothing to create these bibs so that if they spill food or drink it wouldn't ruin their clothes and they wouldn't have to walk around with food all over them," he said.

"We got an old button-up shirt, and we decided to cut the back out of it so you could slip your two arms through the arm holes, then we had a velcro collar around the back so you could just stick it on, sticks it off  - so if you were sitting in front of them it just looked like they were wearing that button-up shirt."

After the students made a prototype and had Blake model it, the idea was enough to have the team of five students crowned champions of the Regional South area virtual heat.

Now the students will tackle a sustainability challenge in December in the Game Changer ultimate final.

Teacher Bec Christensen said she was proud of the students and their efforts to reach the final eight out of the 396 entries submitted.

"They're amazing," she said.

"I'm super proud of them, it's massive for them and it's a nice thing for our local school and local area to be recognised across the state."

Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said The Game Changer Challenge encouraged students to develop critical and reflective thinking skills while collaborating in a team. 

“This challenge is all about design thinking and future-focused skills that will push students to become creative problem solvers,” Ms Mitchell said.   

“Students will learn empathy while understanding how to find solutions for problems that can help change the world in big and small ways.” 

Image: Nowra Public School

Nowra TAFE and Oolong House show art's healing power

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A new program at TAFE NSW Nowra is helping residents of Oolong House find a creative way forward on their journey out of addiction.

The Aboriginal Cultural Art micro skills course was customised for Oolong House to supplement therapeutic rehabilitation programs for residents. Oolong House provides residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation for men.

This year, TAFE NSW Nowra is providing skills in Aboriginal Cultural Art while connecting the men of Oolong House with vocational education.

TAFE NSW Nowra Aboriginal Engagement Coordinator Mark King said this was a unique example of how education could play an influential role in people’s lives.

“Rehabilitation is the primary goal for this group, but this course supplements that process. Our agreement with Oolong House shows how TAFE NSW can customise training for local businesses and organisations.”

He said the course had helped many participants understand a few pf the options available to them.

"At first some of hem might have been a bit scared, and we had some comments from people saying, 'I've never been to TAFE before', and 'No, I'm not going to do that, I'll never study , and thenb some people started coming around and saying, 'Hey, this is really good, I'm really enjoying it'," Mr King said.

"We're giving them an experience at TAFE so that thery can say, 'Yeah, that's not a bad place, and when I get out of rehab that could be part of my future journey towards employment or more study'."

Oolong House resident Travis Willmott said while he “wasn’t keen on learning art at first, now I love it”.

“I never thought I’d end up at TAFE. This has opened my eyes to other courses I can do. I’ve been thinking about becoming a community worker. I can study a TAFE course for that and then I’d be able to give back to people. I want to be there for people, to give them the help I’ve experienced in rehab.”

Fellow Oolong House resident Stuart Taylor has been with the program for two months and said his time spent learning art techniques one day a week helps with his recovery by clearing his mind.

“Instead of worrying about what’s going on in my life, my time at TAFE NSW gives me a chance to zone in and focus on making something special for my loved ones. I’m making a painting for my young son. I’ve never done painting before and now I’m getting right into it,” Mr Taylor said.

“People in recovery need to find good activities to try, things that make them feel proud. When I’m at TAFE working on my painting my focus is on something other than using.

“When you start making good changes, good things start happening to you. Others will see it and they’ll comment. Sometimes it’s not until other people say it that you realise that positive change is happening.

“A year ago, I never would have walked into an art class or TAFE NSW, but this is all part of change for the better. If I can do it anyone can do it.”

Oolong House Nowra Group Worker Dan Jausovec said while the residents tended to start off hesitant, teacher Glenn Duffield was able to spark their interest.

He said the classes add to the recovery process. “It’s something the residents are in control of, and they put everything into it. It’s also an opportunity for them to relax, be creative, and learn some things along the way,” he said.

“This is giving these guys a good experience at TAFE NSW and opens the door to return to education.”

image: supplied

Nowra training course to help motorcycle riders

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Motorcyclists are more likely to be killed or injured if they are involved in a crash on the Shoalhaven's roads.

To help cut the motorcyclist toll Shoalhaven Council is subsidising the cost of a motorcycle accident management training course it's running in conjunction with Transport for NSW and First Aid for Motorcyclists as part of Motorcycle Awarness Month in October.

Shoalhaven Mayor Amanda Findley says the interactive course is developed specifically for motorcyclists, providing vital skills needed to provide effective accident scene management and immediate roadside first aid assistance until emergency services arrive.  

She encouraged all road users to enrol in the session on Sunday, October 9..  

“The course is delivered by highly qualified and experienced first aid instructors who ride,” Cr Findley said.  

“The course is practical and offers a hands on approach so you can learn how to safely manage an accident scene, when and how to move a casualty in danger or perform emergency helmet removal, provide effective CPR, treat a rider with serious traumatic injuries, and steps to prevent accidents occurring in the first place,” Cr Findley said.  

For Motorcycle Awareness Month, Council has reduced the cost from $95 to $47.50 to provide greater access to the training course. 

The course is beneficial for all road users, and each session is limited to 20 participants.  

For further information on the practice sessions, visit the First Aid for Motorcyclists website.

image: Shoalhaven City Council

Nowra's Homeless Hub in danger of losing its home

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Nowra's Homeless Hub is in danger of joining the ranks of the homeless that it helps every day.

The Supported Accommodation and Homelessness Services Shoalhaven Illawarra (SAHSSI) has been running the drop-in service out of a house on the edge of Nowra's CBD for the past 20 years, but the service was told this week the tenancy will end on January 26.

SAHSSI's Shoalhaven services manager Lesley Labka said there was no way the service could afford commercial rents elsewhere under its current funding structure, but she said the organisation would be doing all it could to find another home.

However, Ms Labka stressed it would not be easy, as there were a number of factors to consider.

"Trying to find something that's affordable, that's available within the timeframe, and that's within an area that's accessible to our homeless community is going to be our three challenges," she said.

Ms Labka said the organisation would look at options to co-locate with other services, operating from a private residence or low-cost commercial property - in fact any and all options would be considered.

Real estate agencies have been contacted, as have staff within Shoalhaven Council.

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Ms Labka said the service was seeing about 20 people a day, and the community could lose out if the service is forced to close.

"Many of the clients who use our service do so because they are in temporary accommodation and they need assistance to maintain he temporary accommodation and look for properties - that service would not be available," she said.

"It's a walk-in centre where people can have a shower, wash their clothes - that would not be available.

"It's a walk-in centre where people can use computers, access phones, set up what can sometime be quite complicated online application forms and processes - that would not be available.

"We have trauma-informed, educated and experienced case managers on site to assist people in crisis - that would not be available.

"So the community would lose all of those services."

Ms Labka had no criticism of the landlord who had asked for the property back to carry out renovations.

"We've been very fortunate, our landlord has given us a very reasonable rent, but that's not going to be the case going forward," she said.

Images: Glenn Ellard

Police officer charged after allegedly filming a child in a shower

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A former police officer has appeared in court charged after allegedly filming an 11-year-old girl in a shower at a South Coast home on September 8th.

Officers attached to the Professional Standards Command investigated the alleged incident and charged a 47-year-old former Nowra Police officer, with aggravated filming a person in a private act without consent.

He resigned from the police force later that day.

The former officer appeared before Port Kembla Local Court and was granted bail.

He is due to appear before the same court on November 4th.

Image: Dave Clark

 

Secret Santa brightens Christmas for many in Ulladulla

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Ulladulla has its own Secret Santa Claus, who this week spent $2000 paying off Ulladulla Toyworld laybys for people who are struggling.

Store owner Alison Murray said she knew nothing about the man other than he said he realised life was short and he needed to give back after going through the bushfires.

The money paid off 15 layby orders, along with a few bikes set aside for people who hadn't managed to make any payments.

"They were a layby, but they hadn't paid anything on them, so we paid that off for them," Ms Murray said.

"He just wanted us to select randomly, he didn't care who it went on to he said to just select randomly, which is what we did.

"The other option that we had was a few of the people who we knew were doing it a little bit harder, we tried to make sure that those people got the benefits."

 She said the man's generosity prompted tears among staff when the donation was made, and from the people arriving at the store to find their laybys had been paid for.

"The people that he's done it for have obviously cried and it was just lovely, and in the environment that we're in at the moment it just makes you feel that there's some nice people out there," Ms Murray said.

"It makes you feel a lot better about the world."

And many of the beneficiaries had pledged to continue the generosity and pay it forward.

Little is known about the man responsible for the incredible gesture of generosity

"He wouldn't let me take his name, he wasn't keen to do anything like that," Ms Murray said.

"I'd say he was probably a grandfather, going by the age of the gentleman."

Image: Karolina Grabowska / Pexels

Senate inquiry to look at Shoalhaven doctor shortage

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The doctor shortage across the Gilmore electorate will be examined in a senate inquiry.

Federal Member for Gilmore, Fiona Phillips, was front and centre in Labor’s backing for the inquiry.

“We need practical, positive solutions to make sure Australians have access to quality health care regardless of where they live,” she argued.

“The GP shortage issue in my electorate is at crisis point.

“In the Bay and Basin area alone, we have seen seven doctors retire, with the one remaining doctor at the Sanctuary Point Medical Centre also retiring soon and no replacement in sight,” Mrs Phillips said.

“The shortage of GPs is certainly not limited to the Bay and Basin area, definitely throughout the Shoalhaven, particularly around Nowra and Worrigee there are increasing demands given the elderly population.”

“A lack of doctors and other medical professionals across Australia is not a new problem, but a series of government decisions and the pandemic means it really is time to spotlight this critical issue before people are left with no healthcare options in their community.

“We’ve seen, for example, one practice where they had 13 GPs go down to five, so this is a really huge issue, particularly with the elderly population that we have an of course the COVID pandemic as well,” Mrs Phillips said.

When medical centres in the Bay and Basin area were in danger of closing because they could not attract doctors, much of the discussion centred on priority distribution area declarations that could make it easier to attract new doctors.

Mrs Phillips said changes to the priority distribution area system were needed.

“The issue with the formula that they use is it doesn’t really take into account the demographics of the area, whether there’s public transport and things like that,” she said.

Submissions to the inquiry into the provision of GP services within regional, rural, and outer metropolitan areas are now open.

The inquiry will examine policies such as the Rural Health Strategy, reforms to distribution priority areas and the Modified Monash Model geographical classification system.

To make a submission visit: www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Community_Affairs/PrimaryHealthServices

image: supplied

Shoalhaven Council investigates vandal attack on trees

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Shoalhaven Council is investigating ongoing tree and vegetation vandalism at Collingwood Beach.

Council’s Director of City Development, Phil Costello, said tree and vegetation vandalism had a significant impact on the local environment and went against community values.

And it showed people did not understand the important role vegetation played on the coast, he said.

“Vegetation growing on dune systems protects nearby infrastructure from erosion and provides crucial habitat for many endemic animal species," Mr Costello said.

Coastal dunes provide very important protection against coastal hazards such as wind erosion, excessive wave action and tidal overruns during storm events."

Mr Costello said that “any assistance from members of the public would be greatly appreciated and rewards are on offer where the information provided may lead to the identification of the individuals responsible”. 

Council is encouraging residents to take an active approach in understanding the need for coastal areas to remain in a natural vegetated condition and assist us to protect not only the natural environment, but in the longer-term people’s homes and properties. 

Image: Shoalhaven City Council

Shoalhaven expected to stay in lock down

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South Coast MP Shelley Hancock thinks the Shoalhaven should be excluded from the lockdown this week, but doesn't believe it will be.

The State Government is expected to announce today the future of the lockdown , and whether some regional areas can be excluded.

Mrs Hancock said while she had been pushing for restrictions to be eased in the Shoalhaven, she was not optimistic given the number of COVID cases in the area, which yesterday grew to 14.

Although she argued the area's COVID case number was still low, and virtually all were connected.

"Last week or the week before we had zero cases, and had zero cases for a long time despite the trickling down of truck drivers and essential workers coming from Sydney or Wollongong to deliver the essential goods that people expect to be on the shelves," she said.

She called on people in the Shoalhaven to not panic, despite the number of local COVID cases growing 

Mrs Hancock said contract tracers were hard at work contacting people who had potentially been exposed to the virus, with many of the cases linked to an infected worker at Bunnings in South Nowra.

She said no other venues of concern had been identified as posing a threat to the community, after COVID had arrived in the Shoalhaven through someone travelling legally.

"I would be telling you right now if there was another venue of concern," she said.

"There are no other significant venues of concern otherwise we'd know about it.

"Bunnings was the only one because it was quite a long period of time, but that case has been linked to another couple of cases, or three or four cases, and so I think we're okay," Mrs Hancock said.

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Shoalhaven Gallery reopens with prestigious exhibition

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The Shoalhaven Regional Gallery in Nowra has re-opened its doors, offering the chance for fully vaccinated people to see the 2020 Archibald Prize exhibition.

The Prize, an Art Gallery of New South Wales Touring Exhibition, has a long history in Australian culture and a vital contemporary presence.

Its focus on people has special relevance at a time when catastrophic bushfires and the global pandemic have caused loss and isolation, while underlining the value of care and human connection.

The 2020 prize reflects the breadth of national creativity, from major cities to remote communities.  

Portraits of performers, artists, activists and politicians reveal some of the voices who are defining the richness of contemporary Australia and, in this challenging year, there are also stories of vulnerability and resilience. 

Alongside the Archibald Prize 2020 exhibition, the Gallery is displaying a local Young Archie Competition including more than 30 portraits from artists aged five to 18 years.

These portraits are of people who are special to them - someone who plays a significant role in their life. Make sure you read the artwork labels for some incredible stories of the people who inspire our young artists. 

Shoalhaven Mayor Amanda Findley is thrilled to see the prestigious exhibition return to the region after nearly a decade.  

"I’m pleased the Shoalhaven Regional Art Gallery will be able to welcome fully vaccinated visitors to view the 2020 Archibald Exhibition in person," Cr Findley said.  

"We are fortunate here in the Shoalhaven to host such a prestigious exhibition and I encourage our community to come along to take a look over the next month."

COVID safe measures remain in place, visitors must be able to provide proof they fully vaccinated against COVID, wear a mask indoors and check in using the Service NSW App. Some exemptions apply.  

The exhibition will be on display until Saturday 6 November 2021.

Entry is free and be sure to bring along your phone and headphones to access a free mobile guide to each of the works. 

Image: Shoalhaven City Council

Shoalhaven goes solar to power wastewater treatment

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Shoalhaven Council has installed 445 more solar panels to slash its carbon emissions and cut running costs of wastewater treatment plants at Nowra, Bomaderry and Culburra.

The solar systems are expected to generate around 250,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by around 200 tonnes per year.  

Shoalhaven Water’s Executive Manager, Robert Horner, said council’s most recent solar panel installation at Nowra Wastewater Treatment Plant demonstrated council’s commitment to investing in sustainable energy solutions that would help it achieve a net zero greenhouse gas emissions target by 2050.  

"The solar PV systems supply cost-effective renewable electricity during the daytime to offset some of the plant’s grid electricity needs," he said.

"The solar systems are installed ‘behind-the-meter’, which also avoids costly electricity network charges as the power is generated onsite.

"By mid-2022, council is on track to have solar PV installed at 11 of our 13 wastewater treatment plants, along with renewable energy generation at three of our water treatment plants," Mr Horner said. 

Council has adopted a corporate net zero greenhouse gas emissions target by 2050, with interim emissions reduction targets of 25 per cent by 2025 and 50 per cent by 2030.  

The electricity needed to operate council's corporate and community facilities accounts for almost half its total carbon emissions.

To reduce these emissions, council is investigating a long-term renewable power purchase agreement to secure its future electricity needs, reach its sustainability targets and achieve cost savings.  

Local renewable energy generation from solar farms, biogas and landfill gas plants might also contribute to council’s future energy needs, as they offer economic, social and environmental outcomes to the region. 

Image: Shoalhaven City Council

Shoalhaven Mayor crowned National Climate Change Ambassador of the Year

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Shoalhaven Mayor Amanda Findley took out top honours for her work on the climate change frontline at the national Cities Power Partnership Awards.

The Cities Power Partnership Awards recognise the work of climate heroes in local governments across the country who are transforming Australia’s energy landscape.

Mayor Findley was this year’s Climate Ambassador award winner in recognition of her leadership driving climate action and keeping climate on the national agenda in the wake of the Black Summer bushfires.

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Robert Horner, Shoalhaven Water Executive Manager said "Mayor Amanda Findley has been a strong advocate for a number of sustainable energy projects led by Shoalhaven City Council, the local community, and businesses."

Mr Horner said “She has been instrumental in guiding Shoalhaven Council’s sustainable energy and climate change policy initiatives, such as driving a fully electric vehicle and establishing a Revolving Energy Fund.

"Mayor Findley is also an active participant in the Recovery into Resilience bushfire recovery project meetings to fit out 19 community village halls as Local Information Hubs with secondary power sources, solar PV, battery and satellite communications during natural disasters,” he said.

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The Director of the Cities Power Partnership Dr Portia Odell, congratulated Mayor Findley on her award, noting that the Shoalhaven Mayor shone in a competitive field of entrants

 “It is hard to imagine a more committed, consistent, and passionate climate ambassador than Mayor Findley. She was an early champion of climate change, and has continued to make tremendous inroads elevating climate change as a priority on a local, national and global scale,” Dr Odell said.

Images: Cities Power Partnership

 

 

 

 

 

Shoalhaven mayoral candidate accused of breaking the law

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Unvaccinated Shoalhaven Mayoral candidate Nina Digiglio has been accused of breaking the law by ignoring QR codes and health restrictions when walking onto the site of a public forum at Bomaderry on Saturday morning.

The community consultative group Bomaderry Pride held the forum to allow residents to question Ward One candidates for the December 4 election.

Secretary Terry Barratt said he wrote to all candidates before the forum to say only people who were fully vaccinated would be allowed onto the gathering's site at Waratah Park.

This message was reiterated as people started to arrive for the forum.

People were told anyone unvaccinated could still take part, but due to government health regulations would have to stand on the adjacent footpath.

However Cr Digiglio ignored the requirements and regulations to walk onto the site, bypassing the QR registration areas.

"She didn't sign on, and anyway she couldn't sign on, it would have been a lie if she'd signed on and said she had been vaccinated," Mr Barratt said.

"As far as I'm concerned she was in breach of the rules."

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After walking onto the site Cr Digiglio stood near the microphone for a while, before addressing the crowd.

It came as anti vaxxers hijacked the community meeting, making up a large section of about 40 people who attended and disrupting proceedings with a stream of accusations, anger and aggression.

Mr Barratt said he was forced to shut down the meeting early because of the behaviour of people attending.

Most of the items that were due to be discussed as pertinent to the Bomaderry community could not be raised with the four ward one candidates who attended - two from the Green and one each from Labor and the Shoalhaven independents.

Images: Glenn Ellard

Shoalhaven medical practices face major vaccine shortage

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The latest health advice states teenagers can now be vaccinated to protect them from COVID-19.

But local medical practices are asking when the Pfizer vaccines are coming to cater for the large number of teenagers wanting the jab, particularly before they go back to school in October.

Greg Davis from the Shoalhaven Family Medical Centres said his practices were already booked out for Pfizer vaccinations until the end of November, and without extra allocations there was no way to also immunise teenagers.

"We're booked out until November, almost December with our current supplies, and if the government wants to get children vaccinated quickly, and they want general practice to carry some of that burden, they're really going to have to supplement or inject more Pfizer into the general practice system," Mr Davis said.

"I know we're going to have some very upset parents when they ring up and say that their child's entitled to a vaccine, and whilst we agree and want to do it, we simply don't have the allocations to do it."

Deputy NSW Premier John Barilaro admitted supplies of the Pfizer vaccine remained low, but said they were controlled by the Federal Government.

And with the Feds announcing new health advice allowing children as young as 12 to be vaccinated, Mr Barilaro expected Pfizer supplies to increase in September and October.

"We have limited supplies of Pfizer, we've got to wait for the Federal Government," he said.

"We believe that now that they've made this announcement there was some additional supply.

"We know we don't have that at the moment, so it's sort of awaiting the Federal Government to announce if it has additional supply off the back of that announcement."

Mr Barilaro said the plan to have students return to school from October 25th did not rely on students having COVID vaccinations, and the return to school timeframe was put in place before the Federal Government announced its changed health advice.

"Our current arrangement for schools returning on the 25th is teachers getting vaccinated, COVID-safe plans in return to school and a staged approach in returning certain ages and cohorts," he said.

 image: supplied

Shoalhaven's furry friends benefit from community generosity

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The spirit of giving has been extended to our furry friends, with the Shoalhaven animal shelter receiving a swag of gifts in the lead up to Christmas.

Manager Jodie Parnell said some had even made it easier for people to adopt animals.

"Amanda from All Natural Homemade Dog Treats donated $200 towards every single dog and reduced their adoption fees," she said.

"We've also had a young girl who saved her money from working two jobs to adopt one of our cats, and while she was here she paid nearly all of the adoption fee for Miles (one of the shelter's dogs)."

She said the shelters donations also covered everything the animals could possibly need.

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"We had some lovely boxes from some lovely people yesterday who through their work have been saving their cans and bottles, and what they've made from that they've donated towards gifts for the shelter animals," Ms Parnell said.

People had given everything from food and toys to leads and coats.

"We're so lucky, we've got such a wonderful community," Ms Parnell said.

While Shoalhaven Council supplied good quality food for all the shelter's animals, Ms Parnell said donations helped free up her budget enough to take extra care of the animals' medical or other needs, making them more comfortable while in the shelter and more adoptable.

Images: Shoalhaven Animal Shelter, Glenn Ellard

Sky's the limit for Shoalhaven Community Solar Farm

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Five years of planning and work is about to come to fruition with the Shoalhaven Community Solar Farm at Nowra Hill soon to be switched on.

Boasting nearly 8000 solar panels, the three-megawatt system is the brainchild of Repower Shoalhaven working in conjunction with Shoalhaven Council which provided land and plenty of expertise.

Walter Moore from Repower Shoalhaven said the project needed money, and the local community was quick to come to the party.

"We did some community fundraising, we had a target of $500,000, we achieved that in just a couple of days and we not have 23 shareholders," Mr Moore said.

In fact the appeal for public funding was so successful it was over-subscribed, he said.

Repower also went looking for government grants, which Mr Moore thought would be available for the as the first solar farm on the NSW South Coast, only to find there were none available for projects producing renewable energy.

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Instead the local group partnered with commercial organisation Flow Power, which helped develop the solar farm earlier than expected, and is now going to market to try and sell the power it will soon be producing.

"We couldn't have done it without Flow Power," Mr Moore said.

Sydney City Council was quick to sign up, agreeing to take 30 per cent of the power the solar farm generates as party of its commitment to being carbon neutral and running on 100 per cent renewable energy.

While the City of Sydney's commitment underpinned the project, other business customers are also being sought.

"So we are looking for middle to large size businesses, because we're working through Flow Power which is our partner, so we're trying to engage with different businesses and we've got a couple that are interested," Mr Moore said.

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This farm will produce enough electricity to power about 2500 homes, and while the focus of the first farm is on business customers, Mr Moore said that could change with future projects.

"In the future I think we'll look at projects that involved houses directly," he said.

"I think the next site will probably be at North Nowra, at the old tip site there off Illaroo Road.

"We looked at that originally but there were issues with ownership of the land at the time that needed to be resolved, and that has been now, so we'll probably do a similar project there," Mr Moore said.

Repower is also looking at whether it can get funding for a storage battery at the Nowra Hill facility, to make it easier to supply electricity when its customers want power.

Mr Moore said the group is also looking at the potential for installations at retirement homes because "The cheapest way to get electricity is to generate your own."

Images: Glenn Ellard

Staff threatened at knifepoint during armed holdup at St Georges Basin

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Police have arrested a suspect after an alleged armed holdup in the Shoalhaven.

Officers attended the IGA supermarket in Island Point Road, St Georges Basin on Friday night at about 6 pm after reports a man had threatened staff with a knife before running from the scene with an amount of cash.

The man was chased by several witnesses to the backyard of a house in St Georges Road.

The Dog Squad arrested a 19-year-old man at the scene, and he is assisting police with inquiries.

Detective from South Coast Police District have commenced an investigation.

Image: Peter Andrea

 

 

State of the art medical services planned for Shoalhaven Hospital

 

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The redeveloped Shoalhaven Hospital will include a new acute care building connected to the existing hospital, according to the masterplan for the $438 million upgrade.

South Coast MP Shelley Hancock said the upgrade would provide a significantly larger hospital precinct with new facilities including cardiology, mental health and aged care wards, more operating theatres and a new emergency department.

The Master Plan for the redevelopment has been released, giving the community its first look at the state-of the-art health services it can look forward to accessing close to home.

"Shoalhaven residents will have a significantly larger hospital precinct with enhanced health services close to home so they won’t have to leave the region for the majority of their treatment and care," Mrs Hancock said.

"In addition to fantastic new facilities such as cardiology, mental health and aged care wards, more operating theatres and a new emergency department, there will also be greater access to more specialised staff, equipment and technology."

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said bringing the next generation of world-class health care services to regional communities like Shoalhaven to improve health outcomes was a key focus for the NSW Government.

"This $438 million Shoalhaven Hospital redevelopment will provide enormous benefits to locals who will have easy access to some of the best health services and specialists in the state," Mr Hazzard said.

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The master plan will guide the final design of the hospital and the scope of the new and expanded services including:

* a new cardiology inpatient ward, close observation unit and cardiac catheterisation laboratory

* a new emergency department to increase emergency care capacity

* a new intensive care unit and state-of-the-art ward

* MRI service, nuclear medicine department and interventional radiology 

* two new medical wards and expanded outpatient clinics

* additional operating theatres, new overnight surgical ward, and a dedicated day surgery zone

* a new acute mental health ward 

* a new maternity clinic and Midwifery Group Practice

* a new paediatric unit 

* aged care ward with more beds and expanded outpatient clinics.

The existing hospital will also undergo refurbishments to allow for new and expanded services.

As part of the master plan the southern end of Nowra Park will be retained as greenspace for everyone to enjoy, including the large blackbutt tree, which is proposed to become a key feature due to its significance to the community. 0

Health Infrastructure and Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District are on track to commence work on the project early next year.

Yesterday’s announcement will be followed by a comprehensive planning and design process that will include representation from staff and the community.

For more information visit www.ISLHD.health.nsw.gov.au

images: NSW Health

Storm wipes out beach at Shoalhaven Heads

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Last week's storm has left the beach at Shoalhaven Heads with the worst erosion in decades as four-metre cliffs stand between the surf club and the water as thousands of tonnes of sand was washed away.

Shoalhaven Heads Surf Club past president Karl Poulton said the erosion had exposed rocks put in front of the surf club for the first time since the 1990s.

He said the rocks were put in front of the surf club in the 1970s.

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And with surf club patrols due to start in just a few weeks, Mr Poulton questioned how the patrols would be able to protect swimmers and surfers as members would not be able to get equipment into the water.

"We can set our patrol operations up from the sand dunes, but the biggest problems we're going to face is getting our rescue equipment, and mainly our boat, onto the beach.

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"At the moment we can't there's just no way to get our rescue equipment on or off the beach."

Mr Poulton said the sand would return at some stage over summer, but until then patrols would be difficult.

"I'm assuming we'll open, but it'll be a surveillance patrol," he said.

"We are meeting with council and their engineers this week to try and work through a couple of solutions, so hopefully there's something there that we can do to try and access the beach properly," he said.

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Yet the erosion and warning about unstable cliff edges did not stop adults, children and even dogs enjoying the steep and slippery slopes on the weekend.

images: glenn ellard

Study reveals the high human toll of bushfires

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While the affect on homes and properties is well known, the Black Summer bushfires also had a huge impact on the people who fought the flames, according to a new Edith Cowan University study.

About 65,000 first responders tackled the fire - and about 50,000 of those were volunteers.

And the study showed all of the volunteer first responders said the experience had affected their wellbeing.

In the year after the fires nearly half experienced post-traumatic stress symptoms, 11 per cent were diagnosed with PTSD, and more than 5 per cent said they had made suicide plans as they struggled to come to grips with the horrific conditions they faced and the traumatic events they saw unfold.

Yet less than half of them had received any form of mental health assistance.

Fortem Australia Managing Director John Bale said more needed to be done to support first responders, especially the volunteers.

"Thousands of Australians – people who willingly volunteer their time to serve their communities – are still trying to deal with the trauma they experienced after they answered a call-out that summer." he said.

"This is unacceptable. We cannot continue to turn away from the calls for help that the research and the lived experiences of first responders continue to highlight.

"Importantly, we can’t always expect that those who are struggling can put their hands up and ask for help. Illnesses such as PTSD and depression make it very challenging to reach out," Mr Bale said.

"As we head into another summer, we must acknowledge that our volunteers are still dealing with the impacts of previous fire seasons. They are struggling, and they need us.

"We need to reach in."

* Anyone struggling to deal with their feelings about the Black Summer bushfires, or any other issue in their life, is urged to contact Lifeline on 131114.

Image: 2ST News

System crashes and anti-vaxxers at Nowra pre-poll

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The anti-vaccination crowd that hijacked Saturday's meet the ward one candidates meeting in Bomaderry also gate crashed the pre-poll voting at Nowra's Wesley Centre on Monday morning.

Cr John Wells was there at the time and said they pushed the anti-vaccination message.

"There was another party here, and that was Cr Digiglio's group, whatever their name is, and I understand that they were handing out some anti-vax brochures of some description that apparently was reported at the time, so I don't know where that's going to go," he said.

The group's decision to hand out brochures flew in the face of COVID regulations that prevented candidates handing out how to vote information to people approaching the polling station.

Several candidates feared the lack of how to vote cards might cause an increase in informal votes - particularly in the wards were people had the option of voting either above or below the line.

"I think there will be a few more informal votes because people don't have that default piece of paper in their hands when they're actually standing in a booth, and some people may misunderstand it - instead of just pitting one above the line they might go and also number below the line," said candidate Serena Copley.

Mayoral candidate Paul Green had similar concerns.

"People are coming up to me and saying, 'Paul Green, where's your how to vote?' and of course we don't have one and that's really harder for the older generation that have had generations of get my how to vote, work it out,  and go and vote," he said.

"So it's been really, I think, difficult for the older generation."

However Greens candidates had laminated how to vote information and invited people to photograph information to take into the polling station.

"The way we're doing things now is a good example of how we're going to do things in the future - no paper, able to just take a photo and go in from there," said candidate Bradley Stanton.

"I think this is a great idea and something that should go past COVID."

There was additional turmoil hitting the first day of pre-poll voting due to the Elections NSW computer systems crashing.

People wanting to check candidate details ahead of attending a pre-polling place to cast a vote were left facing a screen saying the site was undergoing maintenance, while there were also delays for people casting votes.

Pre-poll voting continues until December 3.

Image: Glenn Ellard

The Christmas spirit takes over Nowra's CBD

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Junction Court in Nowra's central business district has been turned into a Christmas wonderland with decorations, twinkling trees and more.

It's the Shine Bright Christmas Wonderland, which has been launched on Thursday night by the Nowra CBD Revitalisation Committee to help draw people out after a difficult year.

Children and families used the launch and decorations to grab some great festive photographs with giant presents, sitting on a sleigh or even of the lap of the man of the hour, Santa Claus.

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Thursday's launch also featured plenty of music and movement, adding an energy and vitality to the area.

Business operator and committee member Annie Aldous said the promotion was aimed at reminding people about all the good things Nowra had to offer.

She said the decorations were amazing.

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"We're just blessed to have it here," Mrs Aldous said.

"The revitalisation committee has been working very hard to get the Christmas festivities to happen after such a tough year for all the retailers."

She said the decorations and the atmosphere they created "helps bring the heart back into the CBD, because it's been a really rough year in that sense, and if we can get the shoppers back in the area because they can see how great it is and how happy it is, then it'll come back," Mrs Aldous said.

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"It's all about shopping locally and shopping in the Nowra CBD, and we're trying to get as much of the young people and families back into the CBD after the virus made people hesitant to come into town, so we're hoping it will bring the people back."

Images: Glenn Ellard

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The Men's Table comes to Kangaroo Valley

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Men in Kangaroo Valley will tonight have a chance to meet and talk openly and honestly, connecting with others without fear of being judged.

That's the aim of the Men's Table, which is coming to the Valley with an introductory meeting, called an entree, at the Friendly Inn tonight.

Regional host for the men's table in NSW, and Berry table member, Michael Collins, said the entree meeting will focus on the organisation's guiding principles, called the fundamentals.

"The fundamentals are meeting principles on how to have geed conversations, and also to deal with tricky stuff as well when men gather, so that we can actually share what's really going on for ourselves - the highs and lows of what's going on in our lives," he said.

Mr Collins said that was a different experience for some men, but it was all about having conversations with more substance, and establishing deeper connections, than men often have.

"The superficial conversations that we have with a lot of our mates can actually be the conversations that  we really want to have - not going past sharing our feelings, sharing the highs, the good stuff and the bad stuff, maybe even being vulnerable about what's going on in our lives and just being listened to," he said.

Being listened to and being heard was a key component of the meetings, Mr Collins said.

"We have a rule about not fixing each other - one of the favourite rules, I think 98 per cent of men quote that as their favourite rule," he said.

"Guys tend to want to turn up and if you've got a problem it's like 'You're just having a whinge,' and then some guy will come up with a story about how he's going to fix you because guys just tend to do that stuff.

"But that's not really what helps good listening, and it's not necessarily what men need.

"They don't want to be fixed by someone else, they possibly just want to turn up and get the stuff that's in their head, out of their head and onto the table."

Anyone interested in attending tonight's meeting in Kangaroo Valley, or future meetings of Men's Tables in other areas, can contact Mr Collins on 0450 612 358.

Third person arrested over Sanctuary Point murder

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A third man has been charged over the murder of Sanctuary Point man David McArthur.

Emergency services were called to a caravan park in Ethel Street, Sanctuary Point, about 8pm on July 25 following reports of a stabbing.

They found 49-year-old Mr McArthur on the floor of his cabin near the doorway, suffering a single stab wound to his chest.

Officers attempted CPR, but Mr McArthur could not be revived and died at the scene.

After detectives from the State Crime Command’s Homicide Squad took charge of the investigation under Strike Force Frawley, two men were charged over their alleged involvement in the murder and remain before the courts.

Following further inquiries, a 42-year-old man was arrested in Nowra about 7.30am Tuesday.

He was taken to Nowra Police Station and charged with concealing a serious indictable offence.

Police allege the man attended the caravan park with two other men on the night of the alleged murder, and subsequently failed to assist investigators looking into the 49-year-old man’s death.

The Nowra man has been refused bail to appear at Nowra Local Court today.

Image: NSW Police

Too soon to talk of extra freedoms for Shoalhaven - Barilaro

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While the Shoalhaven and Far South Coast have remained COVID free throughout the latest health crisis, NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro said it was too soon to say whether extra freedoms will be introduced to the region following the scheduled end of current stay-at-home orders for all of regional NSW.

He said he supported restrictions being eased in COVID-free regions of NSW, but said final decisions on that would have to wait for next week.

"We'll get to about Wednesday next week, we'll be evaluating the data, health will give us some advice based on that, we'll put to crisis committee the health advice, the wheel of what we think if possibly there is an opportunity to open up parts of rural and regional NSW, but we're nowhere near it at the moment to make that decision," Mr Barilaro said.

However he said the Shoalhaven, Eurobodalla and Bega Valley were in the best possible position for restrictions to be eased. come September 10th. 

"You are in an area from the Shoalhaven down though the South Coast where it has remained clean and clear of any cases," Mr Barilaro said.

"I'm always confident when there's no cases that we can lift some restrictions, I've said that consistently, but I have to be led by the health advice."

 

image: supplied

Transport told to start again on Milton Ulladulla Bypass plans

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Transport planners are being sent back to the drawing board after community representatives rejected all Transport for NSW plans for the Milton-Ulladulla bypass southern connection.

And the option of the bypass going west of the Burrill Lake waterway is firmly back on the agenda, despite it being rejected by Transport officials.

The community had been pushing for the bypass to go west of the lake and reconnect with the Princes Highway further south, while Transport wanted the bypass to reconnect via Canberra Crescent, resulting in dozens of Burrill Lake homes being demolished.

The stalemate resulted in many community representatives to a co-design committee quitting, saying Transport was not interested in listening to the community's ideas or perspectives.

South Coast MP Shelley Hancock has responded by saying the process will have to be rebooted.

"We have to go back and start this again," she said.

"Clearly the co-design committee feel that they haven't been consulted or they weren't listened to, and that's really dreadful.

"This is something that's going to affect their homes, their lives, their properties and their highway, so we've got to get it right and we've got to start again."

That included ensuring the western route was properly considered and assessed, Mrs Hancock said.

 

"We're going to have to, otherwise it'll be an imposed route by the RMS, and I don't think that will go down to well with the community in the south because they don't like things imposed on them," she said.

"They've mounted an enormous campaign - I went to one of the rallies, it was enormous - and if they all feel that their representatives on the co-design committee have walked out because they haven't been consulted with or listened to, then it's very disappointing and we have to start the process again."

Mrs Hancock said she and Bega MP Andrew Constance would discuss the issue with Regional Roads Minister Paul Toole 

 

"It's about starting again, perhaps in a better way, in a more meaningful way, in a way that the community consider they've been included in," she said.

And with Milton and Ulladulla already struggling with traffic congestion weeks before the start of the school holidays, "We've got to make a very firm decision on this and do it quickly," Mrs Hancock said.

Image: Glenn Ellard

Travel bans a factor in more drownings on South Coast beaches

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International travel restrictions have been linked to an increase in drowning deaths on local beaches.

Surf Life Saving NSW Operations manager Brent Manieri said travel restrictions resulted in "a significant increase in drowning deaths" as more people explored different parts of Australia, and unfortunately many encountered problems when visiting unfamiliar and unpatrolled beaches.

The problem is illustrated in the National Drowning Report that shows 136 people died on Australia's beaches during the past year, including 12 on the South Coast.
Surf Life Saving NSW branches from the Illawarra to the Far South Coast also performed more than 700 rescues during the year, according to Mr Manieri.

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"The last 12 months has been incredibly busy for Surf Life Saving services, and as always we are encouraging members of the community to recreate at those patrolled locations to assist us in managing and reducing that rescue total," he said.

The report shows males are more at risk of drowning than females, with the most at-risk age groups being 25 to 34, and 65 to 69.

Mr Manieri said the report highlighted the need for people to be careful when visiting the beach, to swim at patrolled beaches and to swim between the flags.

He said finding a patrolled beach was easy.

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"The best way to find a patrolled location is by downloading Surf Life Saving's BeachSafe app, which'll provide information on when services are in  place, and what locations are patrolled along the coastline," he said.

There was also a large number of drownings among people going in to help someone in trouble.

Mr Manieri said the best course of action if someone got into trouble in the water was to immediately call emergency services for assistance, then take some sort of floatation device or equipment into the water to keep you both afloat and alive until professional help arrived.

The report also showed the importance of people knowing their limitations, he added.

images: supplied 

Tributes as Shelley Hancock announces plans to quit politics

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Tributes are being paid to South Coast MP Shelley Hancock following her decision on the weekend to stand down as Local Government Minister, ahead of quitting Parliament at the next election in March 2023.

By then she will have served 20 years in State Parliament, which followed 17 years on Shoalhaven City Council 

Local Government NSW President Darriea Turley said Mrs Hancock's experiences was shown in her "deep understanding of the role councils play as the closest level of government to the community".

Cr Turley said Mrs Hancock played a key role in supporting and reforming the local government sector over the past three years.

“Minister Hancock’s capacity and commitment to working collaboratively with the sector was particularly critical in helping to support our communities through the immense challenges of recent times, and she was a key driver behind significant funding support for councils and their communities," Cr Turley said.

She said Mrs Hancock had been particularly active in breaking down the barriers to women serving in all government levels.

"When she became Local Government Minister she continued to break down many of the barriers that can deter women from public life, including long-overdue superannuation for councillors, in line with the rest of the state’s workforce, and access to childcare to enable attendance at council meetings," Cr Turley said.

"She has been tireless in her campaign to increase the number of women in elected roles, even seizing the opportunity of her resignation to call for a better gender balance in Premier Dominic Perrottet’s new cabinet."

In her announcement on the weekend Mrs Hancock said, "Now is the opportunity for the Premier to deliver a new team to take to the March 2023 State Election and it is important that women are central to the new Cabinet.

"It is often difficult being the only woman in the room, or one of a handful, therefore it is essential that women make up a larger part of the Cabinet to provide our views and perspectives - we do after all make up more than 50 per cent of the population."

Mrs Hancock also spoke of her "challenging family circumstances" impacting on her ability to commit the time and energy needed to continue serving as a minister.

"Also, a significant challenge for me has been the departure of Gladys Berejiklian," Mrs Hancock said.

"Gladys’ resignation is a loss for New South Wales and a personal loss for me, and something that I have found difficult to move past."

Ms Berejiklian's replacement, Premier Dominic Perrottet, paid tribute to Mrs Hancock's work and achievements.

“Mrs Hancock has been a strong leader in the NSW parliament, serving as the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly prior to being appointed the Minister for Local Government, where she provided valuable service ensuring the continuation of the critical role of local councils during the pandemic and that local government elections proceeded this year," Mr Perrottet said.

However a far more personal tribute came from Kiama MP Gareth Ward.

"Next to my own mum, Shelley Hancock is the most incredible and extraordinary woman I know," Mr Ward said.

"She is one of the very few people who I have met on my journey in politics who I love, respect and admire."

On the same day as Mrs Hancock announced her plans to leave State Parliament at the next election, Arts Minister and former Shoalhaven-based MLC Don Harwin said he would also be vacating the Ministry and stepping down from Parliament at the next election.

Image: Glenn Ellard

Two COVID-19 cases confirmed in the Shoalhaven

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The Shoalhaven has recorded its first two cases of COVID-19.

Deputy NSW Premier John Barliaro said there were two Shoalhaven cases among the Illawarra's figures during this morning's COVID-19 update.

Dr Marianne Gayle from NSW Health again urged people in Bomaderry to come forward for testing after COVID virus fragments were found in the sewage.

Illawarra Shoalhaven Health District said the two cases are residents of Shoalhaven LGA.

It said case investigations are ongoing.

South Coast MP Shelley Hancock confirmed both cases were from the Nowra area.

Shoalhaven Mayor Amanda Findley said the local cases were inevitable but still shocking.

She said the Shoalhaven Council Emergency management committee had convened to discuss today's announcement.

Image: Supplied 

Work begins on Nowra Veterans Wellness Centre

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Nowra's strong military connection is being recognised through the town getting one of Australia's first permanent Veterans Wellbeing Centres.

After a temporary centre was established in Nowra last year, the first sod was turned yesterday on a new permanent building in Wallace Street.

Construction work will start next week, with the $5 million centre expected to be completed by the middle of the year.

Veterans Affairs Minister Andrew Gee said the centre would be a hub and "an ecosystem of services" for veterans and defence personnel and their families.

"It will provide, for example, health and wellbeing support for veterans, so there will be health services available here, there'll be support for veterans with Veterans Affairs issues such as veterans claims, there'll be opportunities to socialise here there'll be a coffee shop, a meeting space so veterans and their families can meet."

Mr Gee says the new centre would also focus on helping to deal with the social and mental health issues so prevalent in the veteran community.

"It's part of the solution in terms of providing the best possible care our country can give our veterans and their families - it's all part of that," he said.

"If you look at the history of the Australian armed services - veteran care and welfare is something that the country has tried to get on top of, but I don't think we've ever really got there, but we are on the road.

"There's much greater awareness now of veterans issue and the importance of veterans care and welfare, and I think these centres are all part of that," Mr Gee said.

He described the sod turning as "a momentous day for the defence and veteran community here in Nowra and the surrounding region”.

“RSL LifeCare, with the support of RSL NSW, has been doing a great job running the Nowra Wellbeing Centre out of their temporary premises and has already made a real difference in the lives of current ADF members, ex-service personnel, and their families," Mr Gee said.

“This new, permanent home will take those services to the next level. It will be a place of healing and connection, and a hub for accessing health, education and employment support.

“The facility has been carefully designed with a mix of communal, recreational and clinical spaces to meet the needs of veterans and their families."

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Senator for New South Wales and former Major General in the Royal Australian Army, Jim Molan said the new centre was a much needed addition to the region.

“The Nowra Wellbeing Centre will provide critical services to more than 7,000 local veterans and their families in the Shoalhaven and neighbouring local government areas, as well as personnel from nearby HMAS Albatross and HMAS Creswell,” Senator Molan said.

“Being in the military is tough, and life after the military can be difficult to navigate.

"Having local support networks and a place where you can come together with others who are in a similar position is just so important," he said.

RSL LifeCare Board Member and Navy veteran Trevor Robertson said the centre was the result of significant planning and consultation with local ex-service organisations and the veteran community to deliver a one-stop shop that was veteran-centric and community driven.

“The Nowra Veteran Wellbeing Centre will provide critical services to over 7,000 veterans and their families in the Shoalhaven and neighbouring local government areas, including education, health and ADF transition support and it will be an essential resource for the community for generations to come,” Mr Robertson said.

NSW RSL President Ray James said the league had seen an increased need for support services this year and he expected that continue with the pressure of COVID-19 restrictions, the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide, and the ADF’s withdrawal from the conflict in Afghanistan last year.

“I take this opportunity to reassure veterans and their families across the Shoalhaven that local support and services are available to them at the Nowra Veteran Wellbeing Centre," he said.

Images: Glenn Ellard

 

Your chance to have a say on the Shoalhaven's future

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Shoalhaven Council is reaching out to community members to find out what improvements they want to see  by 2032.

Council wants to know what people love about the Shoalhaven, and what its key challenges are as it prepares the Community Strategic Plan Review.  

The plan is a long-term strategy that captures the community's vision and identifies the community's main priorities and aspirations for the future.  

Some people might recall answering similar questions regarding the future of the Shoalhaven in 2017, when council carried out an extensive engagement process that involved over 1,600 community members and resulted in the development of the Shoalhaven 2027 Community Strategic Plan that is now under review. 

However city performance director Kevin Veogt said the plan had to be reviewed at the start of each council term, and a new term would begin straight after the December 4 election.

“Whilst the current plan isn’t too far off the mark, it’s a worthwhile exercise to revisit it to ensure it’s still relevant and captures the aspirations of the whole community," Mr Voegt said.

“The plan is our guide that tells us what we are striving to achieve, the strategies we will use to get there, and an annual review process will keep us on track and ensure  we have reached our goals.”

“I encourage anyone with an interest in our city’s future to take a moment to contribute to the review by filling out the online survey, answering the questions we pose on Facebook, or getting their kids to imagine their future through the drawing exercise,” Mr Voegt said.   

You can find out more and also provide input via council’s Community Strategic Plan Review Get Involved webpage. 

Image: Shoalhaven City Council