Known for its diverse economy, New England & North West grows around a fifth of NSW’s agricultural produce and is rich in mineral, energy and renewable resources.
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.
Regional service delivery priorities for the New England & North West
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 in New England & North West
State-wide target: To assist up to 750 young people each year into education, training or employment through Regional VET Pathways.
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 in New England & North West
State-wide target: To increase the mental health peer workforce in regional NSW by 50 per cent by June 2019.
Regional NSW has a higher suicide rate than the state average, and high rates of intentional self-harm hospitalisations. Mental health services need a stronger workforce to deal with these. 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.
Enhance transport access for Aboriginal people in New England & North West
State-wide target: All community transport providers to have made efforts to increase the patronage of their services by Aboriginal people.
Transport is essential for people in regional NSW to get to work, access healthcare or simply reach the shops. In communities where few households have a vehicle, community transport services matter. Improving access to community transport will help Aboriginal people to access more services and employment opportunities.
Improve connectivity in New England & North West
State-wide target: 174 new or upgraded mobile base stations to be delivered in regional NSW by 2019.
Mobile phone coverage along major transport routes and in smaller communities is a significant challenge. Across NSW in 2016 there were over 3,200 reported regional blackspot locations affecting businesses, services and assistance during natural disasters.
The NSW Government’s Mobile Black Spot Program will deliver new and upgraded mobile base stations for New England & North West, reducing blackspot locations, improving lives and potentially even saving them.
Explore the map below to find out more about the projects happening in your area.
Bridging the ‘Booka’ Creek
Like many things, a road is only as strong as its weakest link. For Mount Lindesay Road, in the far north of NSW, its weakest link was the old Bookookoorara Creek Bridge (locally known as the “Booka”), 34 kilometres north of Tenterfield.
When regional schools get to decide
It can sometimes seem that city kids have more of a leg-up than kids in regional areas, but schools in regional areas now have the opportunity to better respond to the needs of their individual students. This is just what Westdale Public School has done.
The New England & North West region is located about halfway between Sydney and Brisbane. Landscapes in the region range from volcanic rainforest tablelands and cliffs in the east, to the highly productive floodplains in the west. Known for its diverse economy, the region grows around a fifth of NSW’s agricultural produce and is rich in mineral, energy and renewable resources. Coal, metals and gemstones are also sourced across the region. One of the largest solar farms in Australia is at Moree and there is a unique opportunity to generate additional wind energy on the Tablelands.
Drivers – economic, social and environmental
Regional local government areas Tamworth and Armidale are home to almost half of the region’s population and are supported by four regional centres – Gunnedah, Inverell, Moree and Narrabri. With a concentrated urban population, infrastructure and services are essential to support the region’s growth. A stronger local government sector will assist communities in managing challenges, while continuing to deliver quality services and facilities for years to come.
A secure water supply for the region is critical to expand its agriculture, mining, food processing and manufacturing industries.
To effectively manage land-use conflict, the NSW Government is finding new and innovative ways for industries to co-exist.
The ability to move people and freight within and beyond the region calls for a safe and reliable transport network. Expanding tourism and the many recreational and cultural activities across New England & North West means more visitors will arrive by car, train, bus and plane.
Freight requirements will expand in line with industry growth, and to ensure the region remains competitive across its industries, thorough corridor and network planning is essential.
Healthcare needs are changing. More people are living with chronic illness and the population is ageing. Making sure there is access to the necessary health services remains a priority. Building on the significant investment in the Tamworth Rural Referral Hospital and various multipurpose services, New England & North West’s hospital services will be upgraded.
Education reform is a priority for the region. Ensuring students are engaged at school, and making sure they have adequate reading and writing skills are important for their overall wellbeing and future careers. Keeping young people in the region by providing more school-based traineeships and apprenticeships in new and emerging industries, will ‘grow’ locally skilled employees.
Regional Growth Fund
The NSW Government has a new approach to supporting growth and business potential that means all residents of regional NSW will see the benefits of strong economic management. To support this new approach, the $1.7 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 new 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
Supporting skills development to improve pathways to employment for adults and young people
- Increase the number of school-based traineeships and apprenticeships by targeting new placements in state and local government.
- Establish Connected Learning Centres in Quirindi, Glen Innes and Tenterfield and the Tamworth SkillsPoint Headquarters for career pathways, Aboriginal languages and employability skills.
- Help 15 to 19 year olds who have disengaged from learning with mentoring, good career advice and connecting them to jobs and training through the Regional VET Pathways program.
- Expand our Local Government Skills Strategy to all NSW councils to improve skills for local government workers and increase job opportunities for young people and unemployed older workers.
- Match young people to jobs in the region through the Smart, Skilled and Hired Youth Employment Program.
- Increase the skill levels of workers in the grains and cotton industries in the region through AgSkilled, an initiative under Smart and Skilled.
Making it easier to invest and innovate in the New England & North West
- The Northern Inland Investment Profile to improve access to information about business investment opportunities.
- The Smart Region Incubators at Armidale and Tamworth to support agri-business innovation.
- The AgTech Cluster pilot in Armidale to help build a strong agricultural technology sector and in turn, spur rural innovation creating jobs for the future.
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.
Improving successful mineral exploration
- Develop a series of maps showing mineral resource potential for economically important gold, antimony and base metal mineral systems in the region. The maps provide important guidance to plan land use and improve mineral exploration success by allowing explorers to focus in particular places.
Improving the efficiency and capacity of our road networks
- Improve safety and provide additional capacity where needed, ensuring key regional roads provide safe, efficient and reliable travel, for freight and travellers
- Develop Regional Transport Corridor plans for the Kamilaroi, Bruxner and Gwydir highways. A Regional Road Corridor strategy has been completed for the Oxley Highway and drafts for the Waterfall Way and New England Highway have commenced.
Supporting primary production through research and development
Continue to fund research and development in grain, fibre and oilseed cropping industries in the region with research providing skills development and employment, focusing on four areas:
- germplasm improvement
- farming systems management
- plant protection
- supply chains and market access.
Delivering essential infrastructure
Deliver key transport, health and community infrastructure to address the current and future needs of the New England and North West region, including:
- upgrades to Armidale, Moree and Tamworth airports to support regional tourism
- upgrading facilities at Farrer Memorial Agricultural, Glen Innes, Narrabri and Peel High Schools to improve the way the schools look and function
- contributing to improved health services by directing significant investment towards Tamworth Rural Referral Hospital and the Armidale, Gunnedah and Inverell Hospitals.
Improving education results and growing healthy kids
Promoting economic growth through international education in the region
- Support economic growth in the New England and North West through the international education sector, by enhancing the experience of local international students.
- Deliver the International Hub, a referral service with targeted support for international students via a partnership with StudyNSW, the University of New England and Bupa.
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 $47.5 million for government schools in New England and North West 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. Connected Communities schools in the region will improve educational outcomes for Aboriginal students.
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 after-school, weekend and structured fitness or physical activity.
Linking children with early childhood education and care
- Commit to ensuring that all children can receive 600 hours of quality preschool education before they start school. By committing $1 million, Future Directions provides further support to social housing clients across the state to access early childhood education and care.
Protecting the vulnerable
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:
- subsidised rent through Start Safely Private Rental Assistance for up to three years to those escaping domestic violence or at risk of homelessness
- the Oxley Local Area Command trial of the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme
- implementing Safer Pathway to assist victims and children with specialised case management and referral
- working with the Inverell and Tingha communities to develop new ways to prevent domestic violence
- trialling What’s Your Plan?, a world first program to improve compliance with Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders for Aboriginal defendants
- targeting repeat offenders and expanding the Explore, Question, Understand, Investigate, Practice and Succeed (EQUIPS) program to reduce reoffending
- applying the Practice Guide to Intervention to target higher risk domestic violence offenders already under Community Corrections supervision.
Reducing drug and alcohol use
Reduce drug and alcohol related crime, creating safer and more secure communities and providing more treatment services for people struggling with addiction through:
- targeted programs and campaigns engaging the community and licensed venues
- adding Moree court as a future priority for the Magistrates Early Referral Into Treatment program for defendants with drug and alcohol problems.
Reducing youth homelessness
Commit to reducing youth homelessness and providing greater support to young people who are or at risk of homelessness. We are supporting:
- young people aged between 16-24 years who are at risk of homelessness gain safe and affordable private rental through the Rent Choice Youth program
- young people aged between 12-15 years to reconnect with their families or access long term accommodation through the Homeless Youth Assistance program.
- Commit to reducing reoffending through evidence based motivational and behavioural management tools. Targeted rehabilitation, law enforcement and collective resources and expertise of partner agencies will support the introduction of Extra Offender Management Service in Tamworth to reduce reoffending of high risk adults.
Increasing the supply of social housing
- The $22 billion state-wide Communities Plus building program is delivering additional vibrant mixed social housing. The program includes up to 23,000 new and replacement social housing dwellings, 500 affordable housing dwellings, and up to 40,000 private dwellings across NSW. The NSW Government invested $128.1 million to deliver 318 dwellings across 20 major regional centres including the New England & North West. The Social and Affordable Housing Fund is increasing supply in the region.
Keeping families together
- As part of Their Futures Matter, better models for keeping families together will be implemented in the New England & North West. The models are based on the latest evidence and best practice for treating the underlying causes of harm and trauma. Over 900 places will be available each year for NSW families, with half of the places for Aboriginal families. Tamworth has been identified as a priority site for the implementation of Multisystemic Therapy for child abuse and neglect.
Supporting the wellbeing and growth of our regional communities
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, including:
- negotiating an accord with the Northern Region Aboriginal Alliance to support commitments in the areas of health, education, economic development and employment, social justice and housing
- supporting Local Aboriginal Land Councils to strategically assess their land to identify opportunities for housing, employment and other uses.
Supporting strong local government
- Joint Organisations will focus on issues that matter to regional communities such as building strong businesses, securing water supplies and improving transport, community infrastructure and services.
Protecting our environment and managing our land and water
Managing land use conflict with intensive agricultural activities
- Encourage and assist industry to develop improved odour control practices. The Government will publish a best practice odour modelling guideline for intensive poultry farms to better inform investment decisions.
Understanding our groundwater supplies
- A new 3D geological model of the Sydney-Gunnedah Basin will be used to understand the extent and location of potential water resources and groundwater aquifers.
Protecting Liverpool Plains from mining exploration
- Protect the farming future of the Liverpool Plains, by scaling back the section of the Shenhua Watermark Coal exploration licence that encroached on the flat fertile agricultural land of the plains.
- Restrict any future mining activity to the ridge lands, with a commencement still subject to further management plans and the ongoing monitoring of strict conditions already in place.
- Across NSW, the NSW Government has delivered almost $800,000 worth of koala conservation projects through Saving our Species. This includes satellite tracking, creating habitats, community engagement and reducing threats such as dog attack and vehicles.