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Matters of State

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Small communities consistently punch above their weight. My tour of the electorate continued this week with a visit to the vibrant communities of Wongarbon, Ballimore, Yeoval, Garema and Corinella. Enormous pride exists within many of these small communities. That pride can be attributed to the collective attitude of its residents whose sense of ownership over their village's future direction and prosperity is a privilege to witness. I had the opportunity to catch up with the locals in these communities, finding out what issues matter to them most and be updated on progress with work to a number of projects that received funding under the State Government's Community Building Partnership Program such as the Wongarbon Hall upgrade and Ballimore amenities development. Small communities should not be apologetic about their size. I commend the residents of Wongarbon, Ballimore, Yeoval, Garema, Corinella and all small communities in my electorate for their dedication to pursuing excellence.

While on the subject of small communities now would be the ideal time to consider nominating a local for the NSW/ACT Regional Achievement & Community Awards. There are many worthy businesses, organisations and individuals within the Dubbo electorate so I encourage you to nominate. Winners could see themselves $5,000 richer. Categories range from community of the year, business development, events and tourism, environment and employment regional service. Visit www.awardsaustralia.com to nominate.

Working through your way through the maze of planning instruments can be a developer's nightmare. That's why I welcome the NSW Government’s bold vision for a more transparent, effective, and efficient planning system on the back of Planning Minister Brad Hazzard's visit to Dubbo last week. The Minister's visit could not have been more timely given the release of the Green Paper – A New Planning System for NSW. The paper reinforces the NSW Government’s vision to give communities a greater say in planning for their future growth and development within their local area.

I was pleased to announce that Parkes Swimming Pool will get a two million dollar upgrade thanks to a generous loan subsidy from the NSW Government’s Local Infrastructure Renewal Scheme. The $70 million scheme provides councils with a four per cent interest subsidy over 10 years on loans to allow infrastructure projects to go ahead. The Parkes project included upgrading the 50m and other pools, a revamp for the concourse, shade areas, tiered concrete seating and a supplementary plant room. As part of the scheme, North Dubbo's struggling stormwater infrastructure will get $1.5 million boost. The local project will provide trunk drainage infrastructure in North Dubbo which will support other drainage initiatives such as improving kerbs and guttering so that stormwater can be discharged to receiving areas. Yeoval will also receive funding for a sewerage project.

Last year I attended the Rural Women's Gathering in Gloucester which enables opportunities for rural women to come together to network, share experiences, support each other and gain access to information, decision-makers and service providers. This year the event is in Parkes on October 12-14th and registrations are now open by visiting www.parkesruralwomensgathering.wordpress.com. The Parkes Committee has developed a weekend program to reflect the unique culture, industry, tourism and environment of Parkes.

I was encouraged to learn that the Central West region contributed $798 million to the State’s visitor economy in 2011-12. It's clear that many tourists choose this part of the state to spend their holidays. I was pleased to welcome an initiative that aims to boost tourism figures further, grow confidence in the sector and create jobs. The 'Make Some Our Time' campaign aims at enticing potential visitors to the regions with the offer of $1 million worth of $200 discount accommodation vouchers. Shoppers over 18 years of age, who purchase items valued at $30 or more have the chance to win a $200 discount accommodation voucher towards accommodation for a short break in regional NSW.



Corinella Public School

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The small country school is a largely unheralded education gem.

Towards the end of last year I was invited to attend with my daughter Taylor, a "Mad Hatters" Tea Party at Corinella Public School near Forbes.

Affectionately referred to as "the school in the paddock", Corinella is a small, somewhat isolated rural school with farming paddocks serving as its nearest neighbours.

For many years there has been a school of thought within education circles arguing that "bigger is always better".  Corinella provides a fine example of how a small school can defy the odds.

There is enormous pride within this school and much of that can be attributed to the collective attitude of its students, parents, teachers and administrators whose sense of ownership over the school's future direction and prosperity is a privilege to witness.

The intimacy afforded residents of Corinella by the size of its school would be lost in a larger setting.  I believe I have within my electorate one of the best little schools in NSW.

At Corinella, my daughter and I were made to feel part of that special community as we were served high tea consisting of homemade cupcakes by nine happy and content students.

The experience served as a reminder, not that it was really needed, that small communities offer a warm and hospitable setting in which to educate children.

Small towns often develop a spiritual heart or centre.  In Corinella's case it has been its school which has provided the opportunity through which the community concentrates its energies on providing activities for their young people.

Far from inhibiting personal interaction within the school community, Corinella Public School has if anything promoted it.

 Small schools typically serve a community need.  This provokes a high level of interest from parents and community members and leads to closer working relationships among school staff. 

In Corinella's case, it is not unusual for the teachers, administrators and school board members to know each other very well.  This has no doubt enabled new ideas to be embraced in a friendly, congenial atmosphere, building upon their already strong sense of identification and belonging.    

Small schools should not be apologetic about their size.  At Corinella, I tapped into a community spirit that is notably absent from other schools.

I commend the students, staff and parents for their dedication to pursuing education in an environment that clearly encapsulates all the advantages of doing so in a small setting. 

Corinella is a school that provides a meaningful education closely entwined with a community spirit that is second to none.        


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