TAFE loses place in education sector

Greens MLC John Kaye (centre) and NSW Teachers Federation representative Rob Long (back, fourth from left) meet with students of TAFE Illawarra Bega campus last year.IN WHAT has been labelled a complete surprise, the NSW Government has moved the responsibility for TAFE from Education to the Industry sector.
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“No-one as far as I know had been aware of it being discussed,” Bega TAFE’s NSW Teachers Federation representative David Grainger said of the move.

“It is a complete surprise.

“What does Industry really know about Education?”

NSW Teachers Federation organiser for Illawarra TAFE Institute Rob Long also said no consultation had been made over the decision.

“It’s obviously hugely disappointing that the new government has undervalued TAFE’s educational role,” he said.

“However, we look forward to a positive relationship with the new minister.”

The decision was announced after the NSW Liberals’ recent re-election to government and comes in the wake of their contentious Smart and Skilled TAFE reform package released on January 1.

TAFE will now fall under the portfolio of Minister for Regional Development, Skills and Small Business John Barilaro.

“The move to the Industry, Skills and Regional Development portfolio aligns vocational training with industry representatives and business organisations,” a spokesperson for Mr Barilaro said.

“The decision aligns TAFE directly with Industry to create the jobs for the future.”

The spokesperson for Mr Barilaro said current TAFE funding arrangements are unchanged, but Mr Grainger thought the decision would mean less funding available for TAFE service delivery.

“I can’t see anything in the last 10 years having put in money so I don’t imagine this is a sudden reversal of that process,” he said.

Mr Long said his concerns over the transfer of TAFE to Industry included not having an educational voice in training packages, and policy being dominated by the needs of industry.

“You need to focus on student needs…not just the needs of the workplace, because there are a lot of students who need more support, such as students with disabilities,” Mr Long said.

He said Member for Bega Andrew Constance assured him the transfer of TAFE to Industry will have no adverse effect on Moruya and Bega TAFE campuses.

NSW Greens MP John Kaye said he was “outraged” over Premier Mike Baird’s decision to move TAFE into Industry.

“It’s the next step to privatisation of TAFE,” Dr Kaye said.

“It means the next generation of South Coast workers will not have the proper understanding of their worksite and will not have the opportunity to innovate.

“After just six months of ‘Smart and Skilled’, TAFE is on the ropes,” Dr Kaye said.

“Severing the connection to Education will push it over the edge.”

Mr Long said Smart and Skilled has so far seen a “huge” increase in fees, an increase in costs for students as they are no longer subsidised at the same level, and having hours cut from such courses as manufacturing and nursing.

Mr Long said similar privatisation of TAFE funding has occurred in Victoria and Tasmania, and this has led to an increase in “lower quality, dodgy providers”.

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Fit, firing Devils ready for Rams’ challenge

DENMAN Devils’ new first grade coach Paul Gallagher says his side has embraced old-fashioned values as they look to regain the Hunter Valley Group 21 title this season.
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The Devils won the competition two years ago but lost the 2014 grand final to the Greta-Branxton Colts in a nail-biter.

Despite the disappointment of missing out on back-to-back titles, a strong pre-season has seen Denman reach the Scanlon Shield final.

Gallagher is confident his side’s commitment at training has prepared them well for the first test of their title credentials against the Muswellbrook Rams at home on Sunday.

“I’m not a fancy coach, I believe in a lot of running,” he said.

“If you put the hard work in then you’ll get the results out of it; the boys have bought into that and are putting in the effort.”

However, he claims the rivalry between the two clubs will always make it a difficult game.

“They always come down here and give us a hard match,” he said.

“The history between our clubs goes back a long way and they always love coming over to our patch and knocking us off.

“I think their two halves and new signings will be dangerous and they have good, honest forwards.

“So we won’t be taking them lightly, that’s for sure.”

The Devils have picked up two main players in the off-season to boost their title chances.

James Standing, who played in the club’s grand final win in 2013, and front-rower Luke Freebody will both be part of the first grade side.

In this weekend’s other first grade matches, Aberdeen hosts Scone from 5.15pm on Saturday while Singleton takes on Greta-Branxton on Sunday from 2pm.

ON THE MOVE: Denman’s Paula Dinavalou spreads the ball wide last year.

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Royal honours for Singleton Champion

THE president of the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW (RAS) believes Susan Bower personifies everything the Sydney Royal Easter Show is about.
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Susan Bower (centre) with the president of the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW Robert Ryan and former NSW Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson.

And, as a result, the Singleton-born and bred lass was duly recognised in last month’s Parade of Champions for her dedication to the show.

“Susan epitomises all that is good about the show – Australia’s biggestcelebration of our country’s people, practices and produce,” Robert Ryan said.

“Central to the show are the Sydney Royal competitions, which showcase the skill, energy, passion and produce from rural NSW and beyond.

“The Parade of Champions honours those who go beyond winning theribbons and trophies.

“Some have been part of the show community for a large portion of their lives and between all of them have clocked up hundreds of shows in Sydney.”

The champions were selected by the RAS for their commitment and long service to show life, culminating in the prestigious parade on Excellence in Agriculture Day on March 31.

In its fourth year, the Parade of Champions is a chance to honour those who make the show the success it is today.

For Susan, herself, she has never missed a show.

And, in that time, boasts numerous achievements, including state finalist in The Land Showgirl Competition in 2002 and Rural Achiever in 2003.

She was nominated for her long-standing and continuing commitment to agricultural development in NSW and beyond.

“It was a huge honour,” Susan explained.

“The show is all about bringingthe country and city together in anenvironment built for learning, new experiences and showcasing the best of Australian agriculture.

“It was amazing standing there with the other people – many of whom have achieved some great things.

“To be included in that sort of group was humbling.

“I’ve been involved with shows from a young age – starting with cooking at Singleton and helping steward the beef cattle section.

“I also went through as a Showgirl and a Rural Achiever.”

Susan’s association with the RAS hasn’t ended there either.

She’s spent five years with the Youth Group and is a current board member of the RAS Foundation.

That organisation raises fundsto enable the awarding of ruralscholarships and community grants.

“Doing that is very rewarding,” Susan said.

“We gave out 59 scholarships this year alone.”

The local Westpac head ofagribusiness even helps the NAA ladies in Singleton.

“I’ve loved shows all my life,” she said.

“They’ll all about community.

“They also provide rural people with opportunity and showcase excellence in agriculture.”

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Vandals offered lifeline

Gavin Turner in front of some of the graffiti.A JOBS lifeline has been offered to graffiti vandals.
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Resident Gavin Turner made the gesture after spotting graffiti complaining about lack of work at Nyrstar smelter.

The graffiti was scrawled in huge letters on the overpass near Solomontown Primary School, justup the road from where Mr Turner lives.

He owns four rental properties and is “struggling to find people to weed or do some painting” at the sites.

“If they contact The Recorder, I can give them a job.

“It might just be shovelling weeds.”

Mr Turner suggested the jobless could also approach farms which were struggling to find people to put up fences or drive tractors.

He said that the vandalism was unnecessary and just detracted from the town.

The largest scrawl read, “Nyrstar hates ore children. How is high lead our fault?”, with smaller pieces under the bridge reading “Nyrstar – where are our jobs?”, “High lead levels are you fault … you breathe too much” and “Transforming employed to unemployed”.

Mr Turner was dismayed at the negativity towards the city’s biggest employer.

“Just look at it. Pirie seems to cop enough with the smelters,” he said.

“We would be a ghost town without the smelter. They think there’s no jobs now, imagine if they left! There are jobs around if they want them.

“It is just a gutless act, in my opinion.

“I know we have all been guilty of doing bad things as kids, but I have never done graffiti.”

The graffiti has since been removed.

Source: Port PirieRecorder

High hopes for tourism in Hepburn region

Minister for Tourism John Eren (L) travelled to Daylesford to discuss tourism in the region. He is pictured with Mary- Anne Thomas MP, Chris Malden, Wayne Cross, Patrick Baird, Alla Wolf Tasker, Judith Isherwood, Noel Harvey and Tess Brady.Picture: JULIE HOUGH MINISTER for Tourism John Eren visited Daylesford and Trentham on Thursday to discuss future opportunitiesandwork throughthe challenges facing the region.
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Mr Eren met with Macedon MP Mary-Anne Thomas and a group of key tourism operators to determine how to fill gaps in the system.

He said it was important to showcase the region to fellow Victorians.

“We really want to build on that intrastate tourism and help people discover their own backyard,” Mr Eren said.

“We know how important tourism is for the Daylesford region and we want to keep building on that.”

Skilling up residents and remaining vigilant with funding also remainchallenges for the region, he said.

But by listening, the government will “help overcome those hurdles”.

“There is a changing climate and we need to acknowledge and work with that,” Mr Eren said.

“People have big ideas for this region and we really need to take on board all of that information and help where we can.

“It’s really about giving our youth the skills to stay in the region and find work.”

Ms Thomas said she was glad Minister Eren had visitedDaylesford and Trentham.

“It is nice to see a commitment to our region and we will now work together for the future,” she said.

ButTourism Hepburn chairRobyne Head says she isdisappointed the group was not advised of the minister’s visit, until reading about it in the paper.

Ms Head said its members would have liked the opportunity to meet, even briefly, with Mr Eren.

“We find it particularly important to talk to him bsince the change ofgovernment and because thebudget is sotight,” she said.

“We would like an indication of what the region will get and they needto keep us informed.”

Ms Head said theTourism Hepburn board was made up of individuals on the ground, who often acted as the eyes and ears of the local happenings.

“Small business iscrucialto every small town so we look forward to meeting with the minister soon,” she said.

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Search for missing Coogee mum intensifies

Missing since Wednesday morning: Jessica Bialek. Picture: FacebookPolice are scouring hotels, parks and reserves throughout Sydney as the search intensifies for a young mother who vanished from her Coogee home.
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Jessica Bialek, an accomplished photographer who has worked for the Australian Ballet and the Bangarra Dance Theatre, left her home on Dudley Street in Coogee just after 8.30am on Wednesday to walk to a nearby bank.

Detectives have visited the bank on Thursday morning in an effort to determine whether bank transactions showing up on her account recently were made in the past 24 hours.

The 37-year-old failed to return home to her husband and young daughter on Wednesday morning, alarming family and friends who have mounted a search to find her.

Ms Bialek’s husband, Sabino Matera, said he had been unable to reach his wife since he last spoke to her when she left home.

He posted a desperate message on Facebook around 8pm on Wednesday night, asking people to help him find her.

“She left home without her car and [has] not made contact nor returned home. Her phone is off. This is a real alarm,” he wrote on Facebook, where he is also circulating his wife’s photograph.

Eastern Beaches police commander, Detective Superintendent Gavin Dengate, said police were looking in “all public places, canvassing through motels within the area and speaking to relatives, friends and loved ones”.

Ms Bialek, who has a background in dance and singing, is a freelance photographer specialising in performing arts photography, as well as fashion.

Other companies she has worked for include Opera Victoria, Circus Oz and the Victorian College of the Arts.

Police have launched an investigation into her disappearance, and say they hold concerns for her welfare.

Ms Bialek is described as being between 170-175 centimetres tall, with a slim build and dark hair.

Anyone who has seen her in the past day, or who has any information that could assist investigators, has been urged to contact Maroubra police on (02) 9349 9299 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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Fountain restored

THANKS to members of the Rotary Club of Singleton, the Munro Fountain has been, once again, restored.
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Rotary Club of Singleton president Warren Deaves,Dennis Allen and John Henderson

The water feature was originally a horse watering fountain donated to the town by the first mayor of the municipality, Alexander Munro.

“It was built in a foundry in Glasgow, transported to Australia and erected in the centre of George Street,” club president Warren Deaves said.

“It served its purpose for many years in the horse drawn era.

“However, it was removed when motor cars took over and, unfortunately, parts of the fountain werescattered around town.”

It wasn’t until 1982 that the Rotary Club of Singleton decided to retrieve the parts, restore the fountain and re-erect it in front of the Singleton Museum where it stands today.

This year’srestoration is, in fact, the third in the past three decades thatthe Rotary club has undertaken.

Mr Deaves felt that given the significance of this Singletonlandmark, he wanted to make the restoration one of his projects in 2015.

“Many hands make light work,” he said.

“Other willing helpers from the club were Dennis Allen, who was heavily involved in the previous two restorations, Bill Gee, Kerrie Bartrim, Marty Pall and John Henderson.

“Wonderful support was also provided by Tutt Bryant and Bunnings.”

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New Cats purring

MUSWELLBROOK Cats will come up against one of the early favourites for the Black Diamond AFL premiership in their first round match at Weeraman Oval on Saturday.
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The Cats finished ninth last season but several new recruits have strengthened the squad ahead of their clash with The Entrance Bateau Bay.

Captain Bryan Martin said the addition of players like Adam Highnam, Jedd Stojakovic, Nigel Smith, Jake Parker and Tate Berry had added much-needed experience and depth.

“Some of the new blokes haven’t played for a while but they’ve got the skill and grew up with the sport so they know it,” he said.

“Once you get over 50 games of experience you really have an understanding of the game, so it helps us out a lot already.

“We’re all relatively fit but in this competition you don’t have to be a super athlete, so you can fit in well if you know the game.”

Martin said Bateau Bay would be tough opponents given their strong recruitment of players over the past few years.

“They’re in a great area down on the Central Coast and they’ve got around 200-plus registered juniors in their camp,” he said.

“They’ll be pretty pacey but I think with what we’ve got, learned and built on from last year that we’ll be alright.”

Martin also praised the work of coach Brian Scott and his assistant Troy Garling over the course of the pre-season.

The Cats head into the game on the back of several indifferent results but Martin said it was all part of the learning process.

Muswellbrook played in the inaugural pre-season carnival, which saw Tamworth, Newcastle City, Maitland and Singleton compete for the first trophy on offer this year.

While the Cats failed to win a match during the carnival, they were able to give players valuable game time.

Tomorrow’s match will start at 1pm and entry is free.

CONTEST: New Cats recruits Jedd Stojakovic and Adam Highnam challenge for the ball on Wednesday.

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Tatyoon’s golden prospect

Navarre Minerals’ exploration manager Wess Edgar surveying the Tatyoon area. Navarre Minerals diagram showing confi rmed basalt dome targets in the region (highlighted in red) including at Tatyoon where drilling commenced this week.
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TATYOON could be the source of the region’s next gold boom with Navarre Minerals commencing a drilling project this week in search of the precious commodity.

The project includes a reverse circulation and diamond drilling program totalling up to 2000 metres across a stretch of land about 1.5 kilometres long near Tatyoon.

The focus will be to collect samples for testing from an interpreted basalt dome structure deep below the surface, with studies suggesting the potential of mineralised sediments which lead to the formation of gold.

Navarre Minerals managing director Geoff McDermott said the exploration project should last three to four weeks.

“We are trying to have it all done before the cropping season begins, so we are working in with the farmers of the area to make sure we are off the ground and have everything tidied up before they start their operations,” he said.

“We will be doing roughly 2000 metres of drilling over about 10 to 15 holes. Individual holes will be anywhere from about 60 metres deep through to about 300.”

Mr McDermott said percussion drilling is a quick process which sees the equipment hammer through rock to the basalt dome where the sample will be collected and logged with geologists.

While Navarre Minerals is hoping to emulate similar grades of gold that have been discovered at Stawell, Mr McDermott ensured that this is not a mining project.

“We’re not allowed to mine, we have an exploration license and our aim is to prove that there is or isn’t gold in the rocks below,” he said.

“We have done all the groundwork to believe that we have a target there. Stawell is the model that we have been using, the Magdala mine, and they are currently mining at roughly four grams of gold per tonne.

“So if we could see four grams over a distance of four or five metres down that would be pretty good. We are hoping to see not only the gold grade, but rock alteration, so minerals such as sulphide.”

Navarre Minerals held a community consultation meeting last month where representatives informed local residents of the exploration procedure.

If enough gold is discovered in thesamples collected at Tatyoon thatmining is warranted, one suggestionis transporting potential ore by railor road to the Stawell Gold Mines forprocessing.

Mr McDermott said NavarreMinerals, based in Stawell, andlandholders at Tatyoon had cooperatedwell during the testing phaseand hoped that continued as drillingcommenced.

“We had some really good discussionswith the Tatyoon people andwhile they are concerned that explorationis going to lead to a mine, wehave been able to allay a lot of theirfears about what we are trying to do.We have been working very closelywith one of the key landholders thatwe plan to drill on,” he said.

“I think one of the importantpoints is that Navarre Minerals is alocal company that lives and worksin the area. We are not from Perthor Melbourne, we are a part of thecommunity and I think they takecomfort from that fact and that ourreputation means a lot to us.

“Without the landholder consentand them being happy, we can’t doour business. That is what we prideourselves on.”

Ancient seafl oor basalt domes arewhere elements in the Earth’s crustare mineralised into gold.

A large section of WesternVictoria, including Stawell andArarat, sits along a major structurefault which houses a number basaltdomes with potential gold in them.

Mr McDermott said NavarreMinerals was keen to explore anumber of sites in the area to seewhat lies beneath.

“We have just been granted anexploration license that coversfrom Ararat to Great Western andwe believe we have another coupleof these types of targets (similarto Tatyoon) that sit around there,which we will be looking into over thecoming weeks and months,” he said.

“We are excited and have ourfingers crossed. We call the drillrig the ‘truth machine’ and we arehoping that it comes up with somegood results.”

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Staph infection rate high at Calvary Mater hospital

THE Hunter’s second biggest hospital has recorded higher rates of the potentially deadly golden staph infection than any other hospital in Australia.
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The Calvary Mater Newcastle Hospital had 15 cases of staph in 2013/14, at a rate of 2.48 cases per 10,000 bed stays.

There were 43 cases at the John Hunter Hospital, the third highest number of cases recorded at a major hospital nationally but with rate of 1.61 per 10,000 bed stays, it fell below the benchmark limit of 2 per 10,000 bed stays.

The results, released by the National Health and Performance Authority on Thursday, highlight the fact that patients are up to three times more likely to catch the bloodstream infection depending on the hospital where they receive care.

Estimates suggest that up to one in three people who experience healthcare-associated Golden Staph, otherwise known as Staphylococcus aureus, die from it or a related cause.

Maitland Hospital recorded an infection rate of 1.52 per 10,000 bed stays, against the peer average of 1.15.

The director of clinical services at the Calvary Mater Newcastle, Roslyn Everingham, said the report must be read in context.

‘‘Calvary Mater Newcastle cares for a very high proportion of highly vulnerable patients with compromised immune systems, which puts them at greater risk of infection,’’ she said.

One-third of the hospital’s acute patients are oncology patients, and three-quarters of the reported cases involved medical oncology or haematology patients, she said.

‘‘Of the 15 reported cases, eight were admitted to the hospital as inpatients with the others receiving care as outpatients.’’

The hospital had worked hard to lower rates of infection, she said.

‘‘Calvary Mater Newcastle has a rigorous policy of surveillance testing, which highlights early signs of infection to allow prompt intervention and lessens the risk of morbidity and mortality.’’