News in brief: September 25

SAVE: Hunter Water managing director Darren Cleary meeting with Trudy Patterson and Peter Smith, volunteers of Warners Bay Community Garden which received a $10,000 Love Water Grant in 2019. Picture: Supplied
SAVE: Hunter Water managing director Darren Cleary meeting with Trudy Patterson and Peter Smith, volunteers of Warners Bay Community Garden which received a $10,000 Love Water Grant in 2019. Picture: Supplied

Love Water Grants open to community

The first round of applications has now opened for community groups and organisations to apply for a share in $160,000 as part of Hunter Water's expanded Love Water Grants program.

The focus of the program is to fund water conservation and environmental initiatives.

This year the scope of the grant program has been widened to provide additional support to community groups and organisations that have been impacted by COVID-19.

Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey welcomed the addition of two new categories into the assessment criteria.

"I'm really pleased to see the introduction of the 'customer hardship' and 'economic stimulus' categories in this year's Love Water Grants. I encourage local businesses, community groups and organisations to apply, with up to $10,000 in funding on offer," she said.

Hunter Water managing director Darren Cleary said community projects funded by the Love Water Grants helped spread the value of saving the precious resource and making smart water choices.

"Our community has used 15 per cent less water than we expected over the past year, which is equivalent to saving the water use of 52,000 households. This is an outstanding result and shows how everyday behaviours and changes, whether big or small, make a difference," he said.

"This includes water efficiency and sustainability initiatives implemented as a result of our grants program. It's helping our community make smart water choices and it's bringing us together. We're proud to partner with and support our community through this program, as we work to ensure a resilient and sustainable water future.

Applications for round one of the grants program close on Saturday, October 24. Round two due will open in February 2021. For more information or to apply go to hunterwater.com.au/grants.

CUTE: SES Maree, a long-term resident of the Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary which will officially open on Friday, September 25 and to the public on September 26. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

CUTE: SES Maree, a long-term resident of the Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary which will officially open on Friday, September 25 and to the public on September 26. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

Donate can, bottle earnings to Port's koalas

Port Stephens Koalas has partnered with Return and Earn and TOMRA Cleanway to raise much needed funds while reducing litter.

The charity is a donation partner of the container deposit scheme, and currently features on two TOMRA Cleanaway Reverse Vending Machines in Raymond Terrace - the one in the carpark of Terrace Central and the other at Muree Golf Club.

This means customers using the RVMs to return empty bottles, cans and cartons, can directly allocate their 10c refunds to supporting sick and injured koalas.

So far, $2000 has already been raised through the RVMs, which equates to 20,000 containers returned and saved from landfill or the litter stream.

"Our environment is first and foremost when it comes to protecting koalas - whether it be loss of habitat through over-development, drought or bush fires," Christine Johnson, PSK's fundraising coordinator, said.

Ms Johnson said the funds donated to PSK are used to help fund education campaigns, support scientific research, and buy and plant koala food tree plantations.

"Funds raised make it possible to provide veterinary medications and tests for the koalas, as well as intensive care and rehabilitation facilities where needed. All donations ultimately help to ensure we have a safe, healthy koala population in Port Stephens for generations to come," she said.

Lifeline Australia has switched on Lifeline Community Counselling, a free and no referral needed video Tele-health counselling service.

Lifeline Australia has switched on Lifeline Community Counselling, a free and no referral needed video Tele-health counselling service.

Lifeline tele-health available at no cost

Lifeline Australia has switched on Lifeline Community Counselling, a video Tele-health counselling service that provides ongoing psychological support to Hunter residents who are struggling through the double impacts of bushfire and COVID-19.

Created with funding from NRMA, the service is offered to communities that have been impacted by bushfire and COVID-19 and is offered at no charge to the client with no referrals required.

"Our local community has been through some really difficult times and the COVID-19 restrictions have removed many of the important opportunities we have to connect with each other to work through our bushfire recovery together," Lifeline Hunter regional general manager Julie Wicks said.

"We know that to achieve the most beneficial mental health outcomes, it's really important that we make sure anyone who is struggling has the opportunity to receive ongoing support. With the help of NRMA we are very proud to be able to offer this tele-health video counselling service at no charge to community members who have been impacted by bushfire.

"Our very recent history of bushfire devastation has left many vulnerable to negative mental health outcomes in this time of COVID-19 physical distancing counter measures. This service provides a critical opportunity to provide early and ongoing intervention that will minimise the long-term mental health impacts of the two consecutive events. We want people to know that it is OK not to be feeling OK and if you feel you need support, please reach out to Lifeline."

Lifeline Community Counselling clients will receive continued support through an assigned qualified counsellor that will ensure continuity of care.

The initial consultation will see the counsellor work with the client to assess their current situation, identify their goals for counselling and offer counselling support aimed at improving mental health and addressing areas of concern.

All Lifeline's counsellors are tertiary qualified and practicing under the supervision of experienced psychologists and counsellors.

To make a video appointment with a Lifeline counsellor, community members are encouraged to register via lifeline.org.au/community-counselling

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Clubgrants funding available 

Port Stephens community organisations impacted by COVID-19 are being encouraged to apply for funding under the next round of the NSW Government's Infrastructure Grants program, which is now open.

"The economic impacts of COVID-19 have meant some communities have struggled to maintain sports, cultural and other social activities," Catherine Cusack, Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter, said.

"Community sporting and cultural organisations are the lifeblood for many communities and this funding can be used for projects that foster equity, social inclusion and participation. We want these organisations to not just keep their doors open but to grow and prosper.

"Clubgrants funding is designed to give community organisations a boost when and where it's needed most - it is available for projects to build, repair or upgrade facilities across arts and culture, sport and recreation, disaster readiness and community infrastructure."

The last round of the program saw projects to repair and rebuild community assets affected by bushfires and COVID-19 given priority. Such projects will remain in the priority framework for this round.

Community infrastructure is also now a standalone category and it can be used for spaces like halls and meeting rooms, community transport, and infrastructure that supports youth, disability, mental health, homelessness, and domestic violence services.

The grants are made possible by the Clubgrants Category 3 Fund which re-invests profits from registered clubs' gaming machines into a statewide funding pool for large-scale community projects.

To find out more information or to apply go to responsiblegambling.nsw.gov.au. Applications close October 12.