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Published 16th March, 2018

Distinctive environmental, heritage and natural resources define the North Coast, underpinning the economy and creating an enviable lifestyle.

Governments are judged by the outcomes they deliver for communities.

We have worked hard to build a strong budget and restore NSW to its rightful place as the number one economy in the country. We are rolling out a record-breaking infrastructure program that is already having a positive impact across all parts of the state. Most importantly, we are a government that wants Regional NSW to thrive and feel supported.

Our Regions is a package of materials designed to showcase the work being undertaken in communities across Regional NSW. It is a source for information about the projects we have committed to, that we are building, and that have already been delivered. The material will highlight some of the projects occurring in health, education, transport, roads, sport, the arts, and the community sector.

It paints a clear picture of the progress that is happening around you. More importantly, it shows a government working for you; a government dedicated to people and families in regional communities.

Please take the time to inspect your local Our Regions section on the website, or pick up a copy of your local Our Regions brochure. It is a great way to ensure you are aware and engaged with the work that is occurring in your region.

The information available online will be continually updated, as the investments we make in Regional NSW continue to roll out.

Our government is determined to make sure that every regional community continues to grow, attract more investment, and create an even better quality of life for its citizens not just for tomorrow, but also for decades to come.

Gladys Berejiklian
Gladys Berejiklian
NSW Premier

John Barilaro
John Barilaro
NSW Deputy Premier

Benjamin Franklin
Ben Franklin
Parliamentary Secretary for Northern NSW

Regional service delivery priorities for the North Coast

The NSW Government is committed to ensuring the people of regional NSW have the best access to essential services and infrastructure in regional Australia. We recognise the importance of ensuring all regional communities can access the essential services of a modern economy. We believe our geography brings enormous opportunity, and should not deter people from choosing where they live, work and play.

To help deliver on this commitment, the NSW Government has developed Regional Service Delivery Priorities to improve local services according to each region’s specific needs.

The priorities are based on existing state-wide programs that address local challenges and benefit communities. The NSW Government will provide updates on the priorities’ progress over the next year.

Supporting young people into training and employment on the North Coast

State-wide target: To assist an estimated 750 young people each year into education, training or employment through Regional VET Pathways.

Regional NSW often faces higher rates of youth unemployment when compared to Sydney. The Regional VET Pathways initiative supports young people aged 15-19 to find their way into education, training and work with career advice and mentoring to help them pursue their careers. The NSW Government wants to ensure that young people get the help they need to find a job so they can build a future and contribute to their community.

Boost mental health workers on the North Coast

State-wide target: To increase the mental health peer workforce in regional NSW by 50 per cent by June 2019.

The NSW Government is committed to improving mental health services in regional NSW to tackle loss of life and prevent self harm. Mental health services need a stronger workforce to deal with it. The Government’s ‘Living Well’ strategic plan sets out to support those with mental illness. By creating a well supported mental health workforce that employs people with a lived experience of mental illness, we can help reduce the length of admissions, readmissions and use of restrictive interventions.

Deliver quality infrastructure in the North Coast

State-wide target: Local infrastructure projects to have commenced implementation in target regions by 2019.

The Stronger Country Communities Fund is investing $200 million in NSW over the next two years. To make the North Coast region a more vibrant place to live and work, infrastructure projects will improve the lives of residents. The fund will help boost productivity and make the region a more attractive place for individuals and businesses looking to re-locate.

Works underway

Explore the map below to find out more about the projects happening in your area.

Rebuilding after the Lismore floods

In many regional NSW towns, the local TAFE campus is more than a place to learn. It’s a hub that creates valuable training and employment opportunities for the whole community.

Developing strategies around sharks at Ballina

For many years, tourists have flocked to the coast of Ballina Shire in northern NSW for its pristine waters, temperate climate and great surfing beaches. But in the summer of 2015, several shark attacks in the area, one of them fatal, left many rethinking their visits to the area and locals concerned with how to address the issue.

Region overview

The North Coast is the most biologically diverse region in NSW. Distinctive environmental, heritage and natural resources define the character and lifestyle of the region, underpinning the economy and creating a unique and enviable lifestyle for its residents.

Drivers – economic, social and environmental

Around 12 million people visit the North Coast annually, making tourism, along with health care and social assistance, a leading driver and source of employment.

The Pacific Highway is the main freight route between Sydney and Brisbane and plays a major role in the local economy.

The region is home to an ageing population, with 31 per cent of people predicted to be aged above 65 by 2036. New services will be required to meet demand from this group, presenting opportunities for employment growth to support this emerging market.

As demand for quality health, transport, community services and infrastructure increases, the NSW Government has a significant infrastructure investment program to support the growth of the region’s service-based industries. This includes activating underutilised Government land to stimulate economic development and supporting local government to plan for affordable housing development in key growth areas.

Fast-tracking the resolution of land claims will support economic development opportunities for the Aboriginal community.

The NSW Government is working hard to address high unemployment rates within the region. Nine campuses spread between five universities and a significant Vocational Education and Training footprint, allows Government to partner with schools, institutions and industry to educate and train local people for local jobs in a number of sectors.

The North Coast has a strong community culture. Families and communities can be better supported through locally designed, targeted programs to improve social outcomes.

Primary industry is an important economic contributor to the region and diversified agricultural production includes dairy, beef and blueberries. The NSW Government is establishing partnerships with industry to provide quality and coordinated services to the agri-food sector and enabling new collaborative arrangements with key agencies in these sectors.

The ongoing protection of the natural environment and wise use and management of natural resources is critical for sustainability of the region. Renewable energy has strong regional support and private investment into alternative energy supplies is encouraged.

Coramba Public School

Regional Growth Fund

The NSW Government has a new approach to supporting growth and business potential which means all residents of regional NSW will see the benefits of strong economic management. To support this new approach, the $1.3 billion Regional Growth Fund has been created to deliver the infrastructure to help regional economies expand, and to improve the amenity for people living in regional NSW. The Regional Growth Fund is designed to activate local economies and create jobs by building and upgrading infrastructure, improving facilities and investing in sports, arts and culture in eligible regional communities.

The Regional Growth Fund includes:

  • Growing Local Economies – Unlocking economic potential by building or upgrading power, transport and telecommunications links and water and sewerage services 
  • Resources for Regions – Supporting the infrastructure needs of mining-affected regional economies
  • Connecting Country Communities – Investing in better mobile phone and internet connectivity to support businesses and families living and working in regional areas and drive regional productivity 
  • Regional Sports Infrastructure – Supporting participation and high achievement in sport for regional NSW communities by improving facilities
  • Regional Cultural Fund – Delivering investment to support bold and exciting regional arts and culture
  • Stronger Country Communities Fund – Supporting councils and community groups to deliver crucial local infrastructure to improve quality of life.

These programs are in addition to the $300 million Regional Growth – Environment and Tourism Fund which supports environmental assets, tourism infrastructure and attractions to drive greater visitation and spend across regional NSW.

Our actions in the region

We are actively contributing to strong and healthy regional communities through these initiatives.

Creating jobs and growing the regional economy

Economic development through land activation

  • Activate underutilised government sites in Coffs Harbour and Ballina. Developing potential sites for land activation projects will support employment and tourism, commercial activities and housing growth.

Connecting job seekers to opportunities in growth industries

  • Work with careers advisors, employment agencies, training organisations and industry to better align career pathway opportunities to improve youth unemployment across the North Coast.

Growing the agri-food economy

Work to grow agri-food industries by:

  • supporting the North Coast Agrifood Alliance
  • enabling new collaborative arrangements in the horticulture, dairy and beef sectors in areas including Kyogle, Casino, Lismore, Dorrigo and Kempsey
  • supporting the Byron Region Food Advantage Program to prepare food manufacturing businesses for new market opportunities.

Making energy more affordable for small business and low-income households

  • Deliver low-income household rebates of $285 and a Family Energy Rebate of $180 via the energy affordability package to support approximately 900,000 customers across NSW struggling to pay energy bills.
  • Deliver more than 17,000 energy efficient fridges and televisions to low-income households through the Appliance Replacement Offer.
  • Deliver more than $8 million worth of energy efficiency upgrades to 2,800 social housing properties across the state.
  • Save small businesses up to $1,900 on their yearly bill through discounts on equipment upgrades.

Using new technology to improve transport efficiency and innovation in regional NSW

  • Local innovators and industry leaders will be invited to collaborate with the NSW Government’s Smart Innovation Centre to trial automated vehicles in regional NSW.
  • The NSW Government is also trialling On Demand public transport for regional NSW. Industry and regional transport operators will be invited to partner with the NSW Government in the trials.

Cattle farm in northern NSW

Delivering infrastructure 

Delivering essential infrastructure

Deliver key transport, health and community infrastructure to address the current and future needs of the North Coast, including:

  • a $4.35 billion investment in the Pacific Highway upgrade between Woolgoolga and Ballina by 2020
  • a further $12.9 million to upgrade the region’s airports
  • establishing a 1,700-bed correctional facility at Grafton.

Improving education results and growing healthy kids

Tackling childhood obesity to support children and families to be healthy and active

  • Reduce childhood obesity by implementing the Make Healthy Normal social marketing campaign, Go4Fun, Munch & Move, Live Life Well @ School, Healthy Lunchbox competition, Healthy School Canteens and the Get Healthy in Pregnancy Service.
  • Provide training about healthy food options to staff at youth organisations.
  • Deliver the Y-Hunger program to children and young people.

Helping kids get active

  • Invest $207 million over four years through the Active Kids Rebate allowing parents to claim up to $100 per school child, per calendar year (as a voucher from 31 January 2018) to reduce the cost of sport registration or membership fees for afterschool, weekend and structured fitness or physical activity.

Continuing to improve education results

Improve NAPLAN results by focussing on literacy and numeracy, including:

  • delivering $332 million across the state for early childhood education and preschools from 2018 to 2022 under Start Strong
  • providing $80 million for government schools on the North Coast via the 2018 Resource Allocation Model, giving principals flexibility to direct funding to local school and individual student needs to improve learning outcomes for all their students.

Coffs Harbour Eastern Breakwater

Protecting the vulnerable

Preventing suicide

Address high suicide rates, particularly in the Northern Rivers by:

  • continuing to implement early intervention mental health services to schools across the region through the GOT-IT program
  • introducing Our Healthy Clarence, an ‘all of community’ strategy for the Clarence Valley to target suicide prevention through better care coordination and improved access to evidence based treatment for people at risk of suicide in the area.

Addressing domestic and family violence

Address domestic and family violence through a diverse range of support services and programs, with additional funding to expand support programs, including:

  • targeting repeat offenders, including by establishing Domestic Violence High Risk Offender Teams within the NSW Police Force
  • providing subsidised rent through Start Safely Private Rental Assistance for up to three years to those escaping domestic violence or at risk of homelessness
  • keeping the victim and any accompanying children safe in their home with the assistance of Kempsey Staying Home Leaving Violence service
  • implementing Safer Pathway to assist victims and children with specialised case management and referral
  • applying the Practice Guide to Intervention to target higher risk domestic violence offenders already under Community Corrections supervision
  • trialling What’s Your Plan?, a world-first program to improve compliance with Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders for Aboriginal defendants
  • expanding the Explore, Question, Understand, Investigate, Practice and Succeed (EQUIPS) program to reduce reoffending
  • establishing a High Intensity Programs Unit at Mid-North Coast correctional centre to reduce reoffending rates of inmates with custodial sentences of less than six months
  • establishing remand intervention targeting offenders charged with domestic violence who have not been sentenced at Grafton correctional centre.

Building the capacity of people in social housing to get employment

  • Provide greater opportunities to social housing clients to become work ready through training, education and building capacity, including the Career Pathways program by working with local employers to identify courses to meet emerging employment opportunities.

Reducing reoffending

  • We are committed to reducing reoffending. The Extra Offender Management Service is now delivered in Lismore to reduce reoffending of medium to high risk adults. The Youth on Track early intervention program works with 10-17 year olds at risk of long-term involvement in the criminal justice system. The Rural Residential Adolescent Alcohol and Other Drugs Rehabilitation Program in Coffs Harbour provides intensive rehabilitation to Juvenile Justice clients with alcohol and other drug use and offending behaviour. Approved Counselling Services will also be rolled out to women at the Mid-North Coast correction centre by mid-2018.

Rebuilding strength in socially disadvantaged communities

Commit to addressing social and economic disadvantage experienced by communities. Support includes:

  • implementing a Place Plan for Kempsey to reduce intergenerational disadvantage for social housing estate residents
  • improving social housing communities across 25 areas in the North Coast including in Grafton, Lismore and Kempsey through the Social Housing Community Improvement Fund
  • improving education and safety for young people living in South and West Kempsey through the Social Innovation Fund
  • developing and implementing a Solution Brokerage response plan to build community resilience in Bowraville.

Increasing housing supply, choice and affordability 

  • Grow social and affordable housing supply via the Communities Plus program, a component of the Future Directions for Social Housing in NSW Strategy.
  • Deliver mixed tenure projects in Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour under Communities Plus Neighbourhood Projects Release 3, including private, social and affordable housing.

Supporting the wellbeing and growth of our regional communities

Supporting strong local government

  • Transform local government to ensure that communities benefit from modern customer-focused councils, providing better value for ratepayers.
  • Announce legislation to allow councils in regional NSW to voluntarily join Joint Organisations that will focus on issues that matter to regional communities such as building strong businesses, securing water supplies and improving transport, community infrastructure and services.
  • Expand our Local Government Skills Strategy to all NSW councils to improve the skills of local government workers and increase job opportunities for young people and unemployed older workers.

Improving economic, social and cultural outcomes with the Aboriginal community

  • Work with Aboriginal communities in the region to ensure their meaningful input into decisions that affect their lives.
  • Continue to work with the Regional Aboriginal Development Alliance and the Tribal Wave Assembly to support strong Aboriginal communities to achieve local outcomes.
  • Support Local Aboriginal Land Councils to strategically assess their land to identify opportunities for housing, employment and other uses.

Protecting our environment and managing our land & water

Supporting the long-term management of the environment and preparing for climate change

Support the economic resources, environment and heritage of the region through:

  • supporting an Eco-Health Program to measure the ecological health of the region’s estuaries
  • supporting local government to respond to regional climate vulnerabilities
  • encourage private investment in Northern Rivers’ bio-hubs.

Keeping our North Coast beaches safe

  • The NSW Shark Management Strategy includes helicopter surveillance, shark listening stations and shark tagging. The North Coast received a higher proportion of the deployed SMART drumlines along the NSW Coast. The NSW Government is providing funding for drone and shark nets trials. The community is encouraged to use the SharkSmart mobile app and Twitter which report shark sightings in real time.

Protecting our coasts from erosion

  • The $83.6 million Coastal Management state wide reform provides support to local councils to address coastal erosion, estuary health and floodplain management risks for their communities through the Coastal and Estuary Grants program and the Floodplain Management grants program. Lake Cathie, Lake Cakora and Brooms Head Beach have achieved certification of coastal zone management plans.

More sustainable use of our native forests

  • Invest in scientific research to improve the way timber is identified and managed. This information will help locate sustainable timber resources such as private native forests, understand impacts such as Bell Miner associated dieback and predict risks to key fauna habits.

Aboriginal Land Agreement Pilot

  • Commence a pilot site at Tweed Heads to support the Aboriginal Land Councils to be empowered to use their land to achieve social and economic benefits for their communities.

Protecting outstanding biodiversity values

  • Conserve biodiversity and Gondwana World Heritage Area values under the $100 million Saving our Species program, with the National Parks and Wildlife Service leading flagship projects such as the Burning Hotspots – Gondwana Threatened Species and Fire Project and the restoration of koala habitat in Bongil Bongil National Park.

Protecting and preserving our native plants and animals

  • Support river health through the Saving our Species Citizen Science Project, Bellingen Riverwatch – Our River, Our Future. The project monitors the health of the entire river system through the collection of water quality data.
Published 16th March, 2018
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