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Matters of State - Carers

Friday, June 15, 2012

Looking after someone's every need, usually unpaid, probably on duty around the clock, surely attracts only saints to apply for the job. Yet it is fact that three in five of us will be a carer at some point in our lives. Carers put their lives on hold to support some of the most vulnerable people in our community and they do it because they care.  Visiting the Orana Early Childhood Centre in Dubbo recently gave me reason to reflect upon the role of carers and how much poorer society would be in their absence. While participating in a sing along with the children, staff and parents at the centre I caught a glimpse of what life must be like for a great many families in our community who cope with the additional challenges posed with caring for special needs children. Of course caring can take a number of forms with childcare and disability care among the most common. However it is the care provided to the aged and those suffering with a mental illness that perhaps brings with it the greater burden of responsibility. For instance the personal cost of caring for a loved one with mental illness was highlighted in a new study of 1000 carers by Wesley Mission released recently. It surprised me to learn that almost 90 per cent of the carers report a harmful effect on their own physical and mental health and three in four report adverse effects on relationships with family and friends. Almost 60 per cent said their employment and financial situation had deteriorated. These statistics highlight to me that carers must be acknowledged, supported and appreciated for their work. Working with people with a mental illness and supporting their families and carers is pivotal to achieving strong outcomes in mental health care. Research shows supporting carers benefits consumers, including enhancing the effectiveness of service delivery, decreasing hospital admissions and reducing relapse rates. Last year the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government delivered the largest increase in funding for mental health in the state’s history. The NSW Government spent $1.34 billion on mental health services in 2011-12, an increase of $109 million - or 8.8 per cent - on the previous year.  One way of acknowledging this important role is the public recognition provided to those many unsung heroes in the community, through the NSW Carers Awards. The hard work of carers often goes unnoticed, but this is one way for the community to recognise the incredible sacrifices they make. The categories for the awards include Individual carer; Carer support group; Supporting Working Carers – Government sector; Supporting Working Carers – Non-government organisation; Supporting Working Carers – Private sector; Supporting Young Carers – Primary/secondary school; Supporting Young Carers – Tertiary education provider; Supporting Young Carers – Non-government organisation and Supporting Young Carers – Government agency. Nominations can be made online at until Friday 15 July 2012.  Carer's awards will be presented announced during NSW Carers Week on Sunday 14 October to Saturday 20 October. A special event will be held on Monday, 15 October at NSW Parliament for the major recipients.



The Tattoo Parlours Bill 2012

Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Banning bikies from running tattoo parlours is an important step towards eliminating criminal activity.  Recently I spoke in support of the Tattoo Parlours Bill 2012 which ensures that legitimate business operators only, continue to work in these businesses. 

Once upon a time tattooing was frowned upon by the wider society and very few people people would acquire tattoos other than sailors or military personnel or those who used tattooing for tribal and heritage reasons. There are a far greater number of tattoo parlours in existence today making it far more accessible for a wider group of people to obtain their tattoo of choice, particularly our sporting stars. I have no prejudice against tattoo's or a personal choice to acquire one. Unfortunately however, over time, one of the changes in the industry has been that the criminal element has become involved.

After 22 years experience in the NSW Police Force, I know that tattoo parlours are commonly places heavily associated with organised crime and in particular outlaw motorcycle gangs. They are frequently, and too often, the target of violent attacks, including drive-by shootings, fire-bombings and arson. Business owners attempting to operate a tattoo parlour without affiliation with organised crime have been subjected to extortion attempts and violence. This needs to stop and regulation of the industry is the way forward. The community is sick and tired of violent attacks, fire bombings and arson. It is sick and tired of outlaw motorcycle gangs showing contempt for the law, police and bystanders.

The Tattoo Parlours Bill 2012 creates two classes of licence: an operator licence, authorising the licensee to carry on a body art tattooing business at a specific premises; and a tattooist licence, authorising the licensee to perform body art tattooing procedures. It creates new offences carrying penalties of 100 penalty units for operating a tattoo business without an operator licence and 50 penalty units for being an employed tattooist without a tattooist licence. Sole traders will require an operator's licence and under the new licensing scheme, with the Department of Fair Trading and the Commissioner of Police, local government will have more confidence approving development applications for tattoo parlours. 

It's our duty to support the police and this bill is another rung in the ladder to make criminal activities more difficult and this legislation empowers law enforcement agencies and the Government with the ability to protect our communities. The legislation allows legitimate and committed small business people to move on with their job. It is a step in the right direction enabling the Police Force to crack down on outlaw motorcycle gangs and to inhibit their involvement in the tattoo industry. 

Dubbo: No longer out of sight or out of mind

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Long recognised as the geographical heart of New South Wales, Dubbo is fast establishing a reputation for itself as the preferred location for staging Ministerial events and announcements. In recent months Dubbo has played host to 13 Ministers who have chosen this electorate to spend time outlining important initiatives within their respective portfolios. Whether it is to announce the arrival of more doctors and nurses or the delivery of new services to the community Dubbo has been blessed with choice when it comes to Ministerial announcements. It can no longer be said that Dubbo does not appear on the Government's radar. Long gone are the days under Labor when the Government of the day paid lip service to the interests of this community. The NSW Liberal/Nationals are serious about delivering better outcomes for the people of the Dubbo electorate. I share a long standing passion with many other local citizens in wishing to see Dubbo and the surrounding region realise its full potential and cement its reputation as the true regional capital of this state.

The process starts in earnest this week while we play host to the Ministers for Sport and Recreation, Aboriginal Affairs, Health and Mental Health. Minister Graham Annesley was in the electorate on Tuesday to meet and offer his congratulations to touch football stalwart Neil Webster, a recent recipient of Dubbo's 2012 Service to Sport Award. The Minister was impressed by the high standard of facilities on offer in Dubbo no doubt contributing to its success in hosting the NSW Touch Country Championships for the past 21 years. On the same day Aboriginal Affairs Minister Victor Dominello was in town to convene a meeting that gave local residents a say in the new Aboriginal affairs strategy for NSW. This formed part of the NSW Government’s Ministerial Taskforce on Aboriginal Affairs. On Thursday both Jillian Skinner and Kevin Humphries will be on hand to chair the Rural Health Forum, established to tap into local suggestions, ideas and innovations that will improve health services and patient care in Western NSW. To top it all off it was my great privilege to chair meetings in Dubbo and Forbes as part of the NSW Governments community consultation process in response to the draft Murray Darling Basin Plan. These meetings followed those I attended in Finley and Leeton last week, with further meetings scheduled to take place in Narrabri and Moree.

No one should underestimate the magnitude of the task ahead turning around this state's finances. The legacy we inherited from Labor means that we will not be able to proceed as quickly with funding as many of the worthwhile infrastructure projects the community has long wished for. However the undertaking given upon our election that our commitments will be honoured in their entirety remains in place.

I look forward to working closely with Ministerial colleagues and local stakeholders to help realise this Governments vision for our community.


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