The NSW Government is committed to supporting strong communities across the Hunter. 

The Hunter is Australia’s largest regional economy, valued at over $40 billion.

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 Hunter

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.

Boost mental health workers in the Hunter

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

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 manage 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.

Early intervention for vulnerable young people in the Hunter

State-wide target: To support 155 young people each year in regional NSW through the Youth on Track program.

Early intervention and targeted services can reduce offending risk in young people. Youth on Track is an early intervention scheme that supports 10–17 year olds in the Hunter. It helps police and education staff to refer young people at risk of long-term criminal behaviour to a support service, before courts are involved.

Improve connectivity in the Hunter

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 great 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 the Hunter, reducing blackspot locations, improving lives and potentially even saving them.

Works underway

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

Giving guidance to a business that cares

Not everyone is made to feel welcome when they seek out a service. But at Shear Abilities in the Hunter, they have adapted their hair salon to make a difference to people living with disabilities.

Shear Abilities - Giving guidance to a business that cares

Building a bridge after the flood to reconnect Torryburn

For some towns, a bridge may be the only way in, and the only way out. For the small community of Torryburn, nestled deep in the Paterson Valley in NSW’s Hunter region, when their old bridge was washed away by a devastating flood in 2015, they were cut off from the world.

Building a bridge after the flood to reconnect Torryburn

Region overview

The Hunter is one of NSW’s most popular destinations, located just two hours’ drive north of Sydney. Newcastle, Maitland and Lake Macquarie are the major cities, surrounded by the regional centres, which include Cessnock, Muswellbrook, Port Stephens, Scone, Singleton and Taree. The Hunter features coastal and valley landscapes, internationally renowned wine production, important natural areas, both urban and rural lifestyles and extensive mining resources. Together with its global companies, these features make the Hunter an attractive place to work, live and play.

The region is also home to a multi-million dollar thoroughbred horse breeding industry, world-class wineries and national parks, and its river estuaries are the largest oyster producers in the state.

Drivers – economic, social and environmental

The Hunter is Australia’s largest regional economy, valued at over $40 billion. The region prospers economically and socially, supported by a highly professional and skilled workforce and strong research, health, tourism, manufacturing and defence sectors.

The Port of Newcastle is the largest coal export port in the world, with its overall exports valued at almost $18.5 billion in 2016-17.

Williamtown RAAF base sits at the heart of the region’s defence sector and is supported by a hub of important defence and aerospace companies. It is co-located with the Newcastle Airport, currently servicing 1.2 million passengers annually.

Building upon the region’s strength in these sectors, the NSW Government has established a partnership with industry to identify new economic opportunities and support ongoing job creation. The advanced manufacturing sector in the Hunter-based industries continues to develop new products and processes in many traditional industries including medical, energy, food, wine and supply chains using smart technologies.

A focus in developing new industries and diversifying the economy will help support the region’s 2016 population of 726,500 and the 18 per cent growth in population projected over 20 years to 2036.

The region’s road and rail networks provide important freight connections between Sydney, Brisbane and inland NSW. Moreover, Newcastle, the nation’s largest non-capital city, offers world-class transport gateways in the Port of Newcastle and Newcastle Airport. Continued investment in the public transport system and infrastructure over the next two decades will cater for the region’s growth and future prosperity.

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 $1.7 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 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 regional development that will contribute to industry opportunities and jobs growth. Initiatives include:

  • the Upper Hunter Economic Diversification Action Plan
  • the Innovation Network Newcastle (i2N)
  • Three76 Hub, Dantia Smart Hub, Defence Innovation Hub Williamtown, Upper Hunter Innovation Hub as part of the Boosting Business Innovation Program
  • supporting businesses to start and grow through the Business Connect program
  • developing options to improve water and land security and identify employment lands and infrastructure needs
  • establishing the Newcastle SkillsPoint where local employers help design the courses people need to get jobs in the region.

Rural and resource industry investment

  • Identify land uses compatible with retiring mines, power station sites and rehabilitation areas, while protecting productive agricultural land in the region.
Barrington Tops outlook

Increasing employment opportunities for youth in the Hunter Valley

  • Support employment opportunities for young people in the region through the Singleton area’s Learn to Work program for kids in years 10-12.
  • Train unemployed youth in the Singleton and Cessnock areas for local industry needs.
  • Deliver the Smart, Skilled and Hired Youth Employment Program, where young people are matched to jobs.

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 the yearly bill through discounts on equipment upgrades.

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

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

Delivering infrastructure

Increasing regional capacity to hold and attract major events

  • Work with local government and industry to grow the visitor economy by increasing the region’s capacity to attract major events, supporting job growth and boosting the economy.

Delivering essential infrastructure

  • Deliver key transport, health and community infrastructure to address the current and future needs of the Hunter, including the new $450 million Maitland Hospital, and the $45 million Hunter Sports High School upgrade.

Planning integrated land use and transport for Newcastle

  • Attract people to the city, creating job opportunities and a sense of vibrancy through the Revitalising Newcastle program.
  • Invest more than $650 million by delivering a new transport interchange in the city’s centre that will allow for easy transfers for all modes of public transport, as well as cyclists and pedestrians, between the city centre, waterfront and beaches, for residents and visitors.

Improving education results and growing healthy kids

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 2032 under Start Strong
  • providing $111 million for government schools in the Hunter region, giving principals flexibility to direct funding to local school and individual student needs to improve learning outcomes under the 2018 Resource Allocation Model.

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.
Shops at Hunter Morpeth

Protecting the vulnerable

Reducing domestic violence reoffending and supporting people leaving violence

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

  • providing subsidised rent through Start Safely Private Rental Assistance for up to three years to those escaping domestic violence or at risk of homelessness
  • implementing Safer Pathway to assist victims and children with specialised case management
  • targeting repeat offenders, including establishing Domestic Violence High Risk Offender Teams within the NSW Police Force
  • 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
  • establishing at Cessnock Correctional Centre a High Intensity Programs Unit to reduce reoffending rates of inmates with custodial sentences less than six months and remand intervention targeting offenders who have been charged but not yet sentenced with domestic violence offences
  • trialling of What’s Your Plan?, a world-first program to improve compliance with Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders for Aboriginal defendants and ENGAGE, an intervention for defendants in their court process.

Reducing reoffending

  • Implement innovative programs to reduce repeat offending rates in the region.
  • Prioritise Taree and Belmont courts for future expansion as part of the Magistrates Early Referral Into Treatment program for defendants with drug and alcohol problems.

Restoring children to families from out-of-home care

  • The $7 million Newpin Social Benefit Bond supports the return of children to parents from out-of-home care, where it is safe to do so. Across NSW, the program has restored 203 children to their families and prevented children from 55 families from entering care since the program began in 2013, representing a restoration rate of 63 per cent. A Newpin Centre has opened in Newcastle.

Reducing Youth Homelessness

  • Support young people aged between 16-24 years who are at risk of homelessness, to gain safe and affordable private rental through the Rent Choice Youth program.
  • Commit $40 million over four years across targeted locations in NSW through the Premier’s Youth Initiative that will support 100 clients in the Hunter with personal advisors, education and employment mentoring, and long-term accommodation to help them gain independence.

Improving services for socially disadvantaged communities

  • Establish the Collective Impact Coalition, a partnership of public and private sector organisations to implement early intervention and prevention programs with special emphasis on promoting family and child wellbeing in the Muswellbrook area.

Building the capacity of people in social housing to get employment

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

Keeping families together

  • Implement better models for keeping families together as part of Their Futures Matter in the Illawarra-Shoalhaven. 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.

Supporting the wellbeing and growth of our regional communities

Supporting strong local government

  • Transform local government to ensure communities benefit from modern customer-facing 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 skills for local government workers and increase job opportunities for young people and unemployed older workers.

Supporting local communities affected by Williamtown contamination

  • Commit to ongoing engagement and assistance for local communities and industry in the Hunter to minimise residents’ exposure to PFAS chemicals originating from RAAF Base Williamtown.

Protecting our environment and managing our land & water

Planning integrated land use and transport for Newcastle

  • Invest more than $650 million by delivering a new transport interchange in city’s centre. Through the Revitalising Newcastle program, people will be attracted to the city, creating job opportunities and a sense of vibrancy to the city.
  • Develop the transport interchange will allow for easy transfers for all modes of public transport as well as cyclists and pedestrians between the city centre, waterfront and beaches for residents and visitors.

Unlocking economic potential by accelerating land use strategies

  • Identify opportunities for high tech and aviation development in the Williamtown precinct. Land for freight, road and rail corridors will be prioritised to support the future needs of the Williamtown area.

Understanding our groundwater supplies

  • Examine the extent and location of potential water resources and groundwater aquifers through a new 3D geological model of the Sydney-Gunnedah Basin.

Protecting our coasts from erosion

  • Support local councils to address coastal erosion, estuary health and floodplain management risks for their communities through the $83.6 million Coastal Management state-wide reform package, and the Floodplain Management grants program.

Protecting koalas

  • Deliver nearly $800,000 worth of koala conservation projects through Saving our Species across NSW, including satellite tracking, creating habitats, community engagement and reducing threats such as dog attack and vehicles.
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