NBN training for small businesses in Wollongong

Local businesses and not-for-profit organisations in the Illawarra will receive free expert advice on how to make the most of the National Broadband Network (NBN) at a forum to be held in Wollongong today. Minister for Regional Development and Regional Communications, Sharon Bird, said this was a great opportunity for local businesses and not-for-profits to embrace the future by learning more about the NBN. “Labor is building the NBN for all Australians. No matter where you live – in the cities or in regional Australia - you will have access to the NBN,” Ms Bird said.   “The NBN’s faster, more reliable and affordable broadband means reduced costs for businesses and local families, and the opportunity to improve productivity and create jobs locally. Continue reading

Rudd Government funds improve ABC services in Illawarra

Minister for Regional Communications, Sharon Bird and Member for Throsby, Stephen Jones today announced the launch of ABC NewsRadio in Illawarra, broadcast on 90.9FM. “The Government is proud to support ABC NewsRadio - Australia’s only national, continuous news network, delivering independent news coverage 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Ms Bird said. The new service will reach approximately 1.2 million people in the wider Illawarra region and is one of the largest single radio projects ever undertaken in Australia, with 71 new services launched since 2007. In addition, the ABC in Wollongong will also receive funding of $205,000 to improve the production of local news services. “ABC Wollongong will benefit from the $10 million ABC News Initiative announced in February 2013 with a new camera operator, new camera kits and live-linking equipment,” Ms Bird said. Continue reading

Wollongong to benefit from NBN-enabled council services

Families and businesses in Wollongong will be able to speak face-to-face with Council from their living room or office, thanks to a new online community engagement project to be delivered via the Rudd Government’s National Broadband Network. Wollongong City Council will receive $374,342 in Rudd Government funding to deliver this initiative, with Council contributing around $774,000. Minister for Regional Communications, Sharon Bird, today announced the project which is funded as part of the Rudd Government’s Digital Local Government program. “This means residents can interact with Wollongong Council’s customer services from one of seven local libraries, as well as their home or business via videoconferencing,” Ms Bird said. Continue reading

Catholic schools to benefit from Better Schools Plan

Catholic schools across the Illawarra and Southern Highlands will benefit from extra funding and more resources after the National Catholic Education Commission (NCEC) and the Australian Government reached an historic agreement on the Better Schools Plan. Federal Member for Throsby Stephen Jones welcomed the announcement that will see around $1.6 billion in additional funding flow through to Catholic systemic schools across Australia, including the 10 systemic schools in the Throsby electorate over six years. “This funding means that on average, every Catholic school in the region will receive an extra $1.5 million or $4,000 per student over six years to better resource teachers and help lift schooling standards”, said Jones. Continue reading

West Dapto housing project moving ahead with Federal funding

Federal Member for Throsby Stephen Jones welcomes progress made on the West Dapto housing development at Shone Avenue funded by $13.92 from the Australian Federal Government’s Building Better Regional Cities program. “Wollongong City Council received the largest amount of funding of any regional area in the program” said Jones. “It’s been crucial in providing road and bridge upgrades as well as pathways and landscaping for the new housing development area.” “Council appreciates the funding for this essential infrastructure in West Dapto and we especially thank the Federal Member Stephen Jones for his work in obtaining the funding”, said Wollongong City Lord Mayor, Councillor Gordon Bradbery. Stephen Jones said Dapto is one of the fastest growing suburbs in the Illawarra and this project will see about 6,676 housing lots built in the future, with a portion of these set aside for low income families. Continue reading

Local MPs urge support for constitutional recognition of local government

Member for Cunningham Sharon Bird and Member for Throsby Stephen Jones today addressed the Southern Councils Group Business Meeting in Wollongong calling for bipartisan support for constitutional recognition of local government at the upcoming referendum. “This year, Australians will be asked to vote to make sure the existing practice of Federal Government support for local governments is formally recognised in our constitution”, said Ms Bird. “Local councils take responsibility for much more than ‘roads, rates and rubbish’ and local communities rely on this high level of service being maintained.” Continue reading

New facility provides employment for people with disability

A brand new coffee packaging facility in Unanderra will provide supported employment to eight people with disability. Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers Amanda Rishworth today officially opened the Australian Disability Enterprise Flagstaff Group’s new facility, which is the organisation’s sixth sustainable business venture providing employment to people with disability. Ms Rishworth was joined at the official opening by Federal Member for Cunningham Sharon Bird and Federal Member for Throsby Stephen Jones, who both applauded Flagstaff Group on the opening of the new facility. “I know that Flagstaff Group has provided a range of employment opportunities for local people with disability for many years, and I congratulate all who have worked to make this latest enterprise a reality,” said Ms Bird. “This new coffee packaging facility will create additional supported employment opportunities for local people with disability in our community. Flagstaff Group is to be commended and I wish them every success for the new venture,” said Mr Jones. Continue reading

Update for locals on DisabilityCare at Dapto forum

Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers Amanda Rishworth and Federal Member for Throsby Stephen Jones today joined local people with disability, their families and carers as well as local service providers at a community forum in Dapto on DisabilityCare Australia, the national disability insurance scheme. 1 July saw the historic launch of DisabilityCare Australia, meaning Australians with significant and permanent disability in four launch sites around the country now for the first time have the power to choose the support they need and how that support is provided. When the full scheme is rolled out nationally by July 2019, about 460,000 Australians with disability will get the support they need and deserve. Mr Jones said the community forum provided an important opportunity for local people to learn more about this essential reform and its progress, and to have their questions answered. “DisabilityCare Australia will involve major changes in the way we work with local people with disability, their families, carers and service providers. Continue reading

Locals to benefit from change to carbon price

Federal Member for Throsby Stephen Jones says families in households across the Illawarra and Southern Highlands will benefit from a reduction in the cost of living worth around $380 after the nation moves to a floating price on carbon emissions from July 1 2014. “This change will ease cost-of-living pressure on families in the region by $7.20 per week, while ensuring Australia continues to play its part in reducing carbon pollution”, said Jones. “The impact will be greatest on electricity and gas bills.”The move is expected to save the average household around $3 a week, or over $150 in the year, on its electricity bills and around $1.10 per week, or $57 over the year, on gas bills.“More importantly, more than 11,500 households, 15,800 pensioners and 2,200 students in the region will continue to receive payments calculated on a higher carbon price and these benefits will be permanent”.“It will also be a positive move for businesses in the Illawarra and Southern Highlands,” said Jones. Continue reading

More financial counsellors to help problem gamblers and their families

Federal Member for Throsby Stephen Jones welcomes the new financial counselling positions created at Illawarra Legal Centre in Warrawong through a $135,629 investment over four years from the Federal Labor Government. “While many Australians enjoy gambling responsibly, for others it has a devastating impact on their lives and the lives of those around them,” Mr Jones said. “It’s something that affects up to five million Aussies and I know it’s something that affects a lot of locals, directly and indirectly.”   “Having additional financial counsellors on the ground in the region will make it easier to help more problem gamblers and their families overcome their addiction and rebuild their lives. The financial counsellors will work closely with the NSW Government funded gambling help services when they run community outreach, work with gaming venues and make referrals to existing services, including Emergency Relief and microfinance. Continue reading