A recent article in the Forbes Phoenix regarding social housing in the new Goldridge Estate has Forbes Shire Mayor outraged.
“I’m very disappointed in the Forbes Phoenix in relation to the social housing article printed in last week’s paper,” said Forbes Shire Mayor Phyllis Miller OAM.
“The new Goldridge Estate has 223 housing blocks, not 400 and there is a caveat on the land that does not allow social housing. What it does allow however is the freeing up of housing within town for the State Government to invest in social housing.
“Social housing is not a local government issue. We can only lobby our State and Federal Governments to consider implementing more social housing for our region.
“I have chaired the Parkes/Forbes Community Housing Inc. tenancy scheme for 10 years in the past, and Councillor Graeme Miller has been a board member for over 10 years and still remains on the board today.
“We govern for all residents with complete social inclusion contrary to their resistance. Social housing has been neglected for many years and we have made representation to improve our situation in the Forbes Shire.
“Recently we have been working with CatholicCare Wilcania/Forbes and Generocity Church to provide facilities for the homeless for them to access kitchen facilities, bathroom and laundry services. We met with them only last week to finalise the details.
“Without industry, jobs and population growth we leave ourselves vulnerable to service losses and we definitely don’t want that,” Phyllis said.
Nurses in rural and remote locations in the Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) are benefiting from a new program designed to support them work at the highest level.
RG-NET, or the Rural Generalist Nurse Education Team, will work with hundreds of rural and remote nurses across the Central West, helping them refine and advance their clinical assessment and management skills.
WNSWLHD Northern Sector General Manager, Brian Bonham said, “Our rural and remote nurses are very skilled. They have a unique job to do and it’s becoming more specialised as the health needs, expectations and general health landscape changes.
“RG-NET aims to up-skill our nurses with theory and practical clinical skills to be able to perform a range of assessments when caring for patients in rural and remote sites.”
RG-NET works with nurses to provide theory and practical experience to refine their clinical skills in a number of different assessment areas including respiratory, abdominal, neurological, cardiovascular, obstetric and gynaecological, ENT and eye, mental health, drug and alcohol, geriatric nursing, palliative care, and simple acute wound closure and limb immobilisation.
“We recognise the important role our nurses play, especially in our rural and remote communities. The RG-NET program is designed to provide them with the support and clinical expertise they need.”
Better support and access to the latest information will enable the hardworking nurses of Forbes to continue to offer the best care possible to patients.
“We are extremely proud and excited to be rolling out this program across the WNSWLHD.
This will be a part of our WNSWLHD foot-print. It is also an exciting opportunity for our nurses in rural and remote locations providing a new form of professional development and mentoring,” Brian said.
The Forbes Heated Pool Committee has called an urgent meeting to be held at the Bowling Club at 6pm on Monday, 8 February to discuss plans for the rehabilitation of the structure and facilities around the pool, and all are invited to attend.
In November 2019, the committee received a $650,000 land grant and then a further $65,000 donation from the Forbes Aged People’s Association to go towards the refurbishment of the facility.
The heated pool services 700 people every month, including 300 children and adults who are learning to swim. The pool is utilised by the Forbes community, along with visitors from Grenfell, Condobolin, and Parkes.
“We want to make sure that no one in the community is disadvantaged,” said Dianne Decker, President of the Heated Pool Committee, “this pool is such an important facility in our community for learn to swim classes and rehabilitation, I wouldn’t be able to walk if not for the use of the pool in my rehabilitation and it is very frustrating that we are still waiting for the upgrades, more than 12 months after receiving the grants,” said Dianne. “We’ve been getting dozens of complaints from people asking why we haven’t fixed it up yet, but it is beyond our control.”
A spokesperson for the Forbes Shire Council said that Council put out a tender for the construction of the new structure and facilities, which close 11 February, and said that “The tender we have received so far have all come in above the amount we have, they don’t fit within the budget. Council is looking at ways to break the project up to lessen the cost in order to fit within the amount available for the refurbishment.”
CEO of Rural Aid, John Warlters, has encouraged locals to continue the spirit of Australia Day, to help out Aussie farmers. “We’re great at lending a hand to mates in need here in Australia, it’s one of the best parts of our nation,” John said.
“Right now, our farmers are in need of some ‘Mates Rates’. By donating a few dollars to Rural Aid, you’ll help a farming family and their community get back on their feet after years of drought and devastating bushfires.”
Last financial year, Rural Aid distributed more than $28 million worth of fodder, water, financial assistance and counselling to farmers and towns in need of a helping hand. Donations from the Mates Helping Mates campaign will contribute to Rural Aid’s Stronger Futures program, an initiative that helps rejuvenate towns and surrounding farms. The multi-pronged program provides the knowledge, resources, and the heavy lifters to ensure rural communities are maximizing their full potential.
The Mates Helping Mates campaign is a third of the way towards its target of $100,000. “These generous donations will help to change the lives of our farming mates,” John said. To make a donation visit www.ruralaid.org.au/mates-helping-mates.
The Australian Government is investing $10 million through the Climate Services for Agriculture Program to help farm businesses increase drought and climate resilience.
Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, David Littleproud, said the program was funded through the $5 billion Future Drought Fund and would provide farmers with access to trusted and relevant information on national and regional climate data.
“We are the first government to look to the future to prepare for the next drought which is why we have established the $5 billion Future Drought Fund,” David said.
“The Climate Services for Agriculture Program will complement seasonal forecasts and climate guides that are currently available through BOM by providing detailed regional information about future drought and climate risks and inform management actions to address vulnerabilities and prepare for future impacts.
“CSIRO and BOM will engage the agricultural sector to determine the type of climate information that is most useful to their businesses and test in four pilot regions to ensure the decision support tools to meet their needs.”
“The pilot regions will be identified in early 2021 and will include a range of climatic regions and agricultural sectors.”
The Climate Services for Agriculture Program is one of the foundational programs announced under the Australian Government’s $5 billion Future Drought Fund on 1 July 2020. The Australian Government continues to support farmers and regional businesses through tough times.
For more information go to: www.agriculture.gov.au/ag-farm-food/drought/future-drought-fund#climate-services-for-agriculture-program.
Birthing with the Lachlan Midwifery Group Practice (MGP) began booking in expectant mothers from 21 January 2021, with many mothers now able to choose to give birth at either Parkes or Forbes Hospitals under the care of a midwife.
Acting Lachlan Health Service Manager, Jenni McGee said, “Midwifery Group Practice provides a mother with a midwife who cares for them during pregnancy, birth journey and afterwards. The MGP midwives work together in a small group.
“MGP is for women with a low-risk pregnancy, and no medical conditions. Midwives are trained specialists in normal pregnancy, childbirth, and postnatal care. They also have support from specialist GP obstetricians if required during pregnancy.
“When pregnant women call the central intake line on 6861 2439, they will get to speak to our maternity team about the choices available, and which may be the right option for them. This is ultimately a decision based on both a risk assessment and the mother’s choice.
“Where the pregnancy is low risk, mums can now choose to birth at either Parkes or Forbes Hospital through the MGP. They will have a primary midwife working with them throughout their pregnancy which really helps develop understanding and trust,” Jenni said.
The Lachlan Maternity Service will also commence Maternity Antenatal/Postnatal Program (MAPP) clinics from 1 February 2021.
MAPP provides a mum with a midwife who cares for them before the birth and afterwards at home. The woman’s labour and birth may occur at Forbes, Orange, Dubbo or other hospitals depending on the woman and her baby’s needs.
“We are very excited for the women in Lachlan and the wider region because they will have a choice of several different models of care. We know the difference it will make for women to be able to give birth to their babies close to home”. Jenni said.
The Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) has showcased the Signs of Strangulation (SOS) Project at the National Stop Domestic Violence Conference. Danielle Allen and Julieanne Potts, presented their project, Improving Responses for Victims of Domestic Violence Presenting with Non-Fatal Strangulation at Orange Emergency Department. WNSWLHD Executive Director Integrated Care Julie Cooper said, “This project started as part of the Clinical Leadership Program but has turned into something so much bigger.” The project included the development of a vital medical alert resource card to provide to victims of DFV and SOS card.
“The SOS card is now being used by the majority of NSW Local Health District’s and other service providers including other government and non-government services who assist victims of Domestic and Family Violence,” Julie said. “I am extremely proud that we have turned this into a whole of Local Health District (LHD) response. The safety and health of our patients in every part of the WNSWLHD is important. The WNSWLHD stands against any form of domestic and family violence. “The commitment to creating positive change for our LHD by Danielle and Julieanne is inspiring,” Julie said.
Gum Swamp, usually a serene nature reserve, has been a hive of activity as work commences on the installation of three new bird hides.
Midpro have spent four months constructing the two-storey frames for the new hides off-site at their depot. Last Tuesday, the steel footings were driven into place near the water’s edge in preparation for the timber and steel structures to be transported out to site and assembled.
In addition to the construction of three new bird hides, the existing hide was recently refurbished as part of the Gum Swamp redevelopment project.
Built in 1992 with support from Dick Smith, Australian Geographic, and several local community groups, the ‘bunker’ was in dire need of a makeover.
Forbes Arts Society’s Chairperson, Dr Karen Ritchie said, “The existing bird hide has been a tremendous community and tourism asset for close to 30 years, so we are delighted to see it refurbished to be utilised for decades to come.”
While Gum Swamp is commonly known as a destination for bird watchers, this project will encourage residents and visitors to utilise the wetland sanctuary for other passive recreational activities.
“The landscape lends itself to a diverse range of opportunities. We hope that this redevelopment will attract new user groups, including photographers, artists, health and wellness enthusiasts, and those wishing to just immerse themselves in nature,” Karen said.
Work on the new bird hides is anticipated to be complete by April 2021. Construction of the new pathways, and installation of handrails, seating and wayfinding signage will commence thereafter.
The Gum Swamp redevelopment is part of the $7 million ‘Boosting the Lachlan Valley Economy Art Project’, proudly funded by the NSW Government’s Restart NSW program through the Regional Growth, Environment and Tourism Development Fund, the Forbes Arts Society, Forbes Shire Council, Lachlan Shire Councils and Evolution Mining.
Member for NSW Upper House, Sam Farraway MP said the redevelopment of the bird hides will boost tourism and improve the visitor experience. “This initiative is exactly what the Regional Growth, Environment and Tourism Development Fund is designed to deliver, and I am thrilled to see it becoming a reality,” Sam said.
While the Morrison Government is changing visa conditions to provide more workers to farmers struggling to find the extra hands during harvest season, some of the new conditions may undermine the basic principles of Australian democracy and cultural values by refusing to give a ‘fair go’ to those at risk of returning to countries with fatally failing healthcare systems.
Australia’s fruit picking sector has faced criticism over conditions and farms in and around the Central West are not exempt from reports of unscrupulous treatment of workers. In Queensland, Belgian backpacker Olivier Caramin died from heat stress while picking fruit, his employer was fined for breaking labour laws but avoided conviction.
According to Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Alex Hawke, under the changes, temporary visa holders are more likely to be granted the COVID-19 Pandemic Event visa, so long as they work in the agriculture sector.
While this incentive may deliver much needed workers out West, the coercive nature of this regulatory change, that makes temporary visa holders choose between the safety of the COVID-19 visa and another round of hard labour, is a concern which warrants further enquiries.