$50 MILLION FOR REGIONAL YOUTH PROGRAMS AND INFRASTRUCTURE

The NSW Government is delivering on its commitment to prioritise the welfare and needs of young people living in regional NSW with $50 million dedicated to youth programs and infrastructure in the 2019-20 NSW Budget.

Minister for Regional Youth Bronnie Taylor said the funding allocated through the NSW Government’s Stronger Country Communities Fund will enhance regional youth programs and build or upgrade infrastructure.

“We know regional NSW is a fantastic place to grow up but there’s more we can do. We want to improve the overall wellbeing of young people and make sure they are connected, job ready and have things to do,” Mrs Taylor said.

“Whether it be supporting sports programs, social inclusion programs, youth centre upgrades, technology training or job skills mentoring, having a proportion of the Stronger Country Communities fund solely for regional youth will allow local areas to address local issues.”

Mrs Taylor said the NSW Government has already delivered on its promise to establish an Office of Regional Youth, which is now working alongside a vast regional network of representatives to develop the Regional Youth Strategy and Regional Youth Taskforce.

“We’re building the NSW Government’s first ever Regional Youth Strategy, which will focus on youth unemployment, skills and education, transport, access to services, recreation and mental health, to ensure our young people’s wellbeing remains a top priority,” Mrs Taylor said.

“The Regional Youth Taskforce will provide us with ongoing advice about the issues affecting young people across regional NSW and ensure their voices are central to the actions of this Government.”

These initiatives will strengthen the NSW Government’s existing youth programs, which include 100,000 fee free apprenticeships and Regional Industry Education Partnership officers that work with local schools and industries to provide employment opportunities for young people in the regions.

“The NSW Government will continue to put country and coastal communities at the top of our agenda so that everyone has the opportunity to live, work, play and thrive in regional NSW,” Mrs Taylor said.

“Whether they ask for more recreational spaces, better job pathways or greater access to mental health services, this Government has proved it will listen.”

RECORD $19.7 MILLION FOR SUICIDE PREVENTION AND EXPANDED MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES

The State’s highest ever investment in suicide prevention and mental health services will help vulnerable members of our community as a result of the 2019-2020 NSW Budget.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor today announced the NSW Government will invest $19.7 million in the first stage of a three-year, record $90 million commitment to improve mental health services.

Mr Perrottet said this funding comes on top of a record investment of $2.1 billion in mental health services and infrastructure funding in the 2018 Budget, as well as the announcement of a $700 million State Wide Mental Health Infrastructure Program.

“Suicide prevention is everybody’s business, and our vision is that everyone in NSW lives with hope, wellbeing and good health, with far fewer lives lost to suicide. We expect this investment to have the biggest impact on suicide prevention that NSW has ever seen,” Mr Perrottet said.

Mrs Taylor said an additional $23 million will also expand the capacity of Lifeline and Kids Helpline over four years.

“This Budget will support a range of initiatives targeted at providing communities with the most effective tools so they have the strength, resilience and capacity to prevent and respond to members of our community struggling with mental health issues,”

Mrs Taylor said. “The $700 million investment in mental health infrastructure across the State will deliver more specialist beds for children, mothers and their babies and older persons and up to 230 new community-based beds to help people who experience mental illness live independently.

“Increasing the capacity of the mental health workforce also remains a priority for the NSW Government,” Mrs Taylor said.

The NSW Government’s commitment of $9.4 million over four years will hire extra mental health nurses for specialist mental health units and more mental health workers to improve access to psychological help for drought sufferers and victims / survivors of domestic violence in rural and regional areas of NSW.

The Government is building specialised beds for mothers and their babies at Westmead and Royal Prince Alfred hospitals, allowing new mothers who need a hospital admission for mental health issues to stay with their baby. In addition, a child and adolescent mental health unit will be built at Nepean Hospital.

RECORD HEALTH BUDGET HELPS REGIONAL FAMILIES

Families in rural and regional NSW will benefit from a record health Budget, with new hospitals and health facilities and thousands more frontline doctors, nurses and other health workers.

The NSW Government will spend a record $26.7 billion in the 2019-20 NSW Budget ($24.0 billion recurrent expenses, $2.7 billion capital expenditure), which will see major improvements to community health services, including dental treatment, preventative measures and health protection services including immunisation and influenza prevention campaigns.

Minister for Health and Medical Research Brad Hazzard said $2.8 billion is being invested to recruit 8,300 extra frontline staff over the next four years.

Almost half of these staff (45 per cent) will go to the regions. “The NSW Government is committed to building healthy and resilient regional and rural communities,” Mr Hazzard said.

“We are making record investments in health in every corner of the state – building new hospitals, upgrading existing health facilities and expanding community health services.

“When it comes to rural health care, we are continuing our record health infrastructure program – we are focused on getting it done.”

Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women Bronwyn Taylor said providing world-class health care for people in regional NSW is a priority.

“The health and wellbeing of young people in rural and regional NSW will continue to be a focus with the investment of $4.2 million over four years into the school nurse coordinator program, as well as $11 million for Getting on Track In Time – got It! which is a state-wide school based early intervention program to support social and emotional learning for children,” Mrs Taylor said.

“We have also enhanced crisis support services by expanding capacity at Kids Helpline by $5 million to answer an extra 18,400 calls per year. We are also trialing a crisis sms service to reach young people in their language and this is all in addition to the $8.27 million the NSW Government has today announced for drought related mental health initiatives over the next year.”

BUILDING STRONGER, MORE RESILIENT AGRICULTURAL SECTOR

The NSW Government will invest $1.7 billion in the 2019-20 NSW Budget to build stronger, sustainable and productive regional industries across the State, including $355 million to extend critical drought assistance measures for farmers and rural communities.

Minister for Agriculture and Western NSW Adam Marshall said the cornerstone of the Budget was $170 million for the Drought Stimulus Package and $185 million in on-farm Emergency Drought Relief measures including continuing transport cost rebates and waiving annual land rates, on top of an additional $350 million towards the Farm Innovation Fund, which will provide concessional loans to farmers to improve on-farm infrastructure.

“This drought has been far more prolonged and severe than anyone could ever have imagined and that’s why we’re delivering more than $700 million in the Budget to help our primary producers with on-farm measures through the drought,” Mr Marshall said.

“This Budget supports regional industries and communities with a key aim of assisting farmers during the present drought crisis.”

Primary producers will also benefit from a $3.4 million investment to start the process of extending the Wild Dog Exclusion Fence as well as $24.4 million towards delivering three new Doppler radars in Western NSW.

The extension of the Wild Dog Fence will help prevent wild dogs from entering NSW and disrupting farming operations while the Doppler radars will provide real time rainfall data and wind observations to 34 Local Government areas.

Mr Marshall said the Budget was also focused on strengthening primary industries into the future through research and development partnerships aimed at enhancing the sector’s productivity and profitability.

“We have the very best primary producers here in NSW but I want to ensure we retain our competitive edge when it comes to innovation, profitability and productivity,” Mr Marshall said.

“That’s why the NSW Government will invest more than $15 million to build on partnerships with groups like GRDC, CSIRO and the University of New England to develop new R&D capacity and help keep our primary producers world leading.

“This Budget is all about supporting our primary producers through drought and ensuring they are in a position to bounce back and thrive when it inevitably breaks.”

REGIONAL NSW SET FOR INFRASTRUCTURE TRANSFORMATION

Regional communities and drought-stricken farmers are at the heart of the 2019-20 NSW Budget with the NSW Government expanding emergency drought support measures, increasing funding for regional roads and water security, and investing record amounts in mobile and data connectivity.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro said that this Budget commits $355 million for drought assistance, which includes $170 million for a Drought Stimulus Package and $185 million to continue existing on-farm support to boost economic resilience in the face of current severe drought conditions.

Mr Barilaro said today’s Budget delivers on the NSW Government’s regional election commitments, including funding to kick start the 5-year commitments of $500 million to repair and replace worn out wooden bridges, $500 million to repair, maintain and seal local roads, $400 million for regional digital connectivity from the Snowy Hydro Legacy Fund and a $100 million boost to the Stronger Country Communities Fund.

“The drought continues to impact farmers, businesses and people living across our regions, and the Budget measures announced today will stimulate local economies, build the infrastructure our regions need and secure town water supply,” Mr Barilaro said.

“The Regional Growth Fund has been topped up to $1.7 billion, allowing the NSW Government to run a further round of the popular Stronger Country Communities Fund.

“Up to half of the $100 million available this year will be dedicated to regional youth infrastructure and programs, focused on building community involvement, wellbeing and getting our young people ready for work.

“This Budget commits Snowy Hydro funds to projects for the first time, meeting our election commitments to deliver digital connectivity where people live and work, improve water security, and establish Special Activation Precincts that attract jobs and investment,” Mr Barilaro said.

Highlights from the 2019-20 Budget for regional NSW include:

  • $170 million to fast track critical water and infrastructure projects.
  • $100 million expansion of the Stronger Country Communities fund.
  • $90 million to boost mobile coverage and internet connectivity.
  • $37.5 million over three years to extend the Wild Dog Fence in Western New South Wales to prevent wild dogs entering the State.
  • $32 million over three years to investigate the feasibility of raising Wyangala Dam wall.
  • $20 million for business cases and technical studies to investigate Special Activation Precincts.
  • $8 million for Country Universities Centres, to establish at least five more regional centres.
  • $3 million for detailed investigation of potential international air freight hub sites that will transport regional NSW produce from paddock to plane to plate, once the current prefeasibility study is complete.