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Narromine student off to the Paris Olympics
Narromine student off to the Paris Olympics

08 July 2024, 3:40 AM

Bush Kids can do anything, and it seems 17-year-old Callum Hutchinson of Narromine is one of those. Callum is set to join more than 500 young people who will represent 36 countries at the Paris Olympic games at the Festival24 Youth Summit.It all comes off the back of his participation in the Rugby Creates Chances program. Callum, who successfully completed the program, has been invited to experience a range of Olympic and Paralympic sports at the 2024 games, as well as cultural enrichment opportunities at the Festival 24 conference in Lyon and Paris. “Rugby Creates Chances has really opened my eyes – I never really thought of going down the sporting career track until I jumped into the program and I now plan on getting a job in sport, finishing high school and possibly going to university,” said Callum. “I am still pinching myself that all of this has led to me being invited to go to Paris Olympics as part of Festival 24. “Since starting Rugby Creates Chances, I have learned a lot about leadership skills, how to be more independent, and how to be a role model and mentor for the younger kids and people around me. On July 4 this year Callum attended the last training session of the newly selected Olympic Rugby Sevens side before they flew out to Paris.Callum Hutchinson. IMAGE SUPPLIED. The rugby-based development program for Aboriginal youth in Far West NSW has developing leadership and coaching skills at its core, preparing kids for the future and assisting them to be job ready. The NSW Government’s Regional Aboriginal Partnerships program has invested $1.5 million in the Rugby Creates Chances program, demonstrating its commitment to supporting and developing Aboriginal communities in regional New South Wales.  The two-year Rugby Creates Chances initiative includes a 10-week Tackle Life program, which trains 14-to-17-year-old students how to develop and teach rugby union skills in primary schools, at after-school activities, and in local clubs and community centres. Western NSW students take part in a 10-week Future Pathways program to identify their strengths, consider their careers and participate in mock job interviews and CV building to help them emerge from school-work-ready. The program then gives students the chance to get hands-on employment experience while earning a Certificate III in Sports Coaching, as well as develop leadership and problem-solving skills, and connect with their communities. “The NSW Government is improving opportunities for people in Western New South Wales and our Aboriginal communities, is delivering funding through partnership programs and the Regional Development Trust,” according to Minister for Regional and Western NSW, Tara Moriarty. “I am delighted Callum will get to experience something as extraordinary as attending the Paris Olympics after his involvement in this program which has been made possible through the NSW Government’s Regional Aboriginal Partnerships Program. “We can see how Callum and other youth are taking on new challenges, emerging as community leaders, plus practising the skill of self-reflection which can influence behaviour.” According to Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, David Harris, the Program Rugby Creates Chances, is utilising young people’s love of sport by offering an engaging pathway for Aboriginal youth to get active, train and upskill on Country while gaining valuable life and leadership experience. “Alongside their Student Based Apprenticeships with NSW Rugby, the kids are getting a program with a proven track record for inspiring engagement, confidence and ensuring they emerge from school, job ready. “I’m confident Rugby Creates Chances will deliver meaningful results for our young people in Western NSW while assisting to Close the Gap on Priority Reform 5, which aims to drive positive employment, training and broader social outcomes for Aboriginal peoples across New South Wales.”Maurice Longbottom. IMAGE: Commonwealth Games, Australia Proud Dharawal man and Australian Rugby Sevens Olympian, Maurice Longbottom said he was pleased to see a country boy gaining such a valuable experience off the back of the Rugby Creates Chances program. “The Rugby Creates Chances program not only teaches kids skills about Rugby, but about resilience and leadership and preparing for the future, and I’m grateful and happy to hear that kids like Callum have these opportunities to grow and learn and prosper. “Opportunities like this can be few and far between in smaller country towns, and I just love that this program is taking rugby and coaching skills on the road as part of a much bigger picture for these kids. “I wish Callum all the best for his big trip to Paris, and I hope he can catch some of our games to keep that fire roaring in his belly for rugby and whatever comes next.” Temia Robinson of Coonamble is a Creating Chances student-based trainee and is full of praise for the program. “Creating Chances has helped me overcome my fear of meeting new people and now I’m out here coaching little kids, which I never thought would happen,” Temia said. “We don’t have a lot of opportunities out this way and some kids drop out of school and don’t do much with their lives but through the Creating Chances program, I didn’t think I’d graduate and now I might graduate next year. “Before Creating Chances, I didn’t know what to do after school but since starting the program, I have learned I can overcome my fears and now I’m thinking of becoming a physiotherapist,” she said. As for Callum, who has only ever travelled as far as Queensland, he is keen to get going and carry out his responsibilities as an ambassador in Paris at the Festival24 youth summit with the proud backing and support of his family, friends and wider community.

New money ticks over for council road works
New money ticks over for council road works

07 July 2024, 9:20 PM

Western Plains roads will receive just shy of a million dollars over the next five years for road upgrade and repair projects under the federal government's Roads to Recovery (RTR) program.The government published in July 2024 the amount local councils across Australia would receive from the $4.4 billion pool, with the 551 recipients given the call on which projects to prioritise. The RTR operates under ongoing five-year funding periods, the idea being to provide a stable and predictable funding source. The new period began with the start of the 2024-25 financial year on 1 July.Source: Australian GovernmentShires will not receive all their money in one go. Instead, they'll receive a nominal yearly increase in funds from the total accolated up to 2029. For example, Narromine Shire Mayor will receive $1.18 million in the 2024-25 financial year, then $1.45 million in the next.  Narromine mayor Craig Davies singled out the Widgeree, Weemabah and Enmore roads in his shire for a face lift, the three totaling around 70 to 80 kilometres. "While it's a help, the funding will only go a small way to resolving the issues that we've got with our roads," Cr Davies said. "Our roads make up the vast majority of our spending, there's no doubt about that. We look after in the Narromine Shire around 1500 kilometres of roads. Half that's tar, half that's gravel or dirt." Locals can track works undertaken under the program, including estimated costs and expected start and finish dates, via an interactive map from the federal government. While he welcomes the funding, Cr Davies said Narromine Shire has struggled to maintain all it's roads. Bogan Shire major Glen Neill echoed the sentiment. "We're very at any stage for funding, the thing is that it's just not keeping pace with our costs unfortunately." "As far as roads go, the amount of unsealed roads we have in the shire is an ongoing process, it just doesn't stop. You can grade a gravel road and then in six months time you'll need to regrade it." "There's never really enough money to go around until you can get it to the point where you have them sealed. And then all that requires a reseal after a few years or you lose that too." He said school bus routes are a road funding priority. "And then we've got several other roads in the shire that we've tried to link up with other major roads over a lot of years, so it'll go into some of those projects for sure," Cr Neill said. 

The "ladies fire truck" gets a new home.
The "ladies fire truck" gets a new home.

07 July 2024, 7:40 AM

Lachlan Shire Council provided Tullibigeal with their first ever fire truck in the early 1980's. It was a Bedford truck, fire engine No. 82, purchased from Lockhart. Prior to obtaining the Bedford, firefighting around the small village was undertaken with privately owned water carts and knap sacks.  The old truck became part of local legend in 1991 when during a large bushfire, the majority of the men were called away to tackle the fire - with a new fire truck- leaving the town's women to use the old Bedford and protect the town from spot fires and the threat of disaster. Earlier this year, the council received government funding of $125000 to house the historic vehicle as a permanent exhibit in town in an enclosed shed and with relevant signage about the historic fire unit. The truck is currently being restored in preparation for the display. As part of the project it is planned to produce signs and posters that detail the history, tell the stories and show photographs of the truck in service. While the story about the courageous women in 1991 is documented, there are bound to be plenty of other stories that local historians hope will come to light. This information isn’t readily available so Council is asking members of the community to come forward with any information they might have about the vehicle and its use in the local vicinity. IMAGE: Lachlan Shire CouncilJanelle Ireland, a member of the Tullibigeal and District Progress Association said the community are looking forward to the project coming together. "The truck has been in over in Yenda getting restored by a young guy who loves doing that sort of thing," she said. "When it's finished and back in the new shed, the council is looking to have some signage up about the history." Council has some information on the truck’s history and the heroic actions of the women and children of Tullibigeal to protect the town from fire in 1991, but they are looking for more. "The vehicle was around for a long time before 1991, so it would be great to get some more information," a council spokesperson said. "However, we need as much information as possible to tell the full story of the truck and its importance to the community."  If you have any information that could be used in this project, please email Council’s Manager Projects and Buildings, Guy Marchant at [email protected] or Janelle Ireland at [email protected]. "We're hoping for a September opening for the shed," Ms Ireland said. "It will be great to have a display for visitors to look at and understand the history."

Peak body celebrates 20 years of growing community governance
Peak body celebrates 20 years of growing community governance

07 July 2024, 3:40 AM

The Murdi Paaki Regional Assembly (MPRA) celebrated their 20-year milestone on Thursday 20 June at the Cobar Bowling & Golf Club. Forty-five people from various Community Working Parties (CWP), as well as members of the government, community, shire and various NGOs gathered for the event.“We had Bourke Mayor Barry Hollman, Cobar Shire General Manager Peter Vlatko, the Deputy Secretary for Regional Health Luke Sloane and representatives from the University of New England among others,” a Murdi Paaki spokesperson said. Coonamble's CWP Chairperson Teresa Stanford was unable to attend the event. The Murdi Paaki Regional Assembly was established in 2004 to facilitate collaboration between the region’s Aboriginal communities through its Community Working Parties (CWPs). Their role has grown to become a representative regional voice participating in decision-making and assisting in implementing government policy.The peak body encompasses 16 communities, including Bourke, Brewarrina, Broken Hill, Cobar, Collarenebri, Coonamble, Enngonia, Goodooga, Gulargambone, Ivanhoe, Lightning Ridge, Menindee, Walgett, Weilmoringle, Wentworth/Dareton, Wilcannia. MPRA Chairperson Grace Gordon. IMAGE SUPPLIED.Assembly delegates and CWP members are not paid for their governance work and their roles representing the community. The MPRA helps organise projects to benefit the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in these areas. The Regional Aboriginal Housing and Leadership Assembly (RAHLA) which is a partnership between MPRA and the NSW government.RAHLA helped create the Alternative Energy Project which installed solar panels on 633 homes across 23 communities and drafted housing and environmental health plans. As one of their proudest achievements, MPRA listed the Murdi Paaki Services Limited (MPSL) which was created in 2016 to ensure that the different regions have equal access to funding. "We need organisations like the MPRA to make people accountable for Aboriginal funds that are filtered through out community," Coonamble CWP member Teresa Standford said. “In a political sphere where change is the only constant, the Murdi Paaki governance model has been a beacon of stability for 20 years,” Grace Gordon, MPRA chair said.  “The Murdi Paaki model has evolved over twenty years into a mature, stable network for governance and representation of First Nations people across large areas of New South Wales.”The Murdi Paaki Regional Assembly has also built a partnership with the University of New England (UNE) to help Aboriginal people in their area to receive tertiary education. TRACKS is a free program that helps Indigenous students who did not complete Year 12 to gain credentials that make it possible for them to enrol in higher education. Ms Gordan said that in the next 20 years Murdi Paaki hopes to continue to develop an equal partnership with the government. 

Listen up! Living remote contributes to Indigenous ear issues
Listen up! Living remote contributes to Indigenous ear issues

06 July 2024, 9:34 PM

Living in remote locations is a precursor for ear issues, especially for Indigenous children.Middle ear infection (otitis media) in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children remains among the highest globally and those aged under two have a much higher risk of undiagnosed ear disease, new Hearing Australia clinical findings show.As NAIDOC Week kicks off on Sunday July 7, Hearing Australia is encouraging parents and primary healthcare providers to make sure young First Nations children have their ear health checked as often as possible.As part of its HAPEE Program (the Hearing Assessment Program – Early Ears), Hearing Australia recently analysed the hearing assessments of 19,000 First Nations children across the country, with some alarming findings. More than 26 per cent of children assessed were found to have undiagnosed ear disease and one-in-five had undiagnosed hearing loss. Children under two have more ear trouble than older children, and those in very remote locations have more problems than children in regional or metro areas. There is overwhelming evidence that hearing loss in young children can impact their learning and development.Early testing can help prevent lifelong problems.“However, the good news is we are making headway in seeing children and getting them the help, they need,” says Yorta Yorta woman Kirralee Cross, from Hearing Australia’s First Nations Services Unit.“In 2022-23, we assessed 14,435 First Nations children, the most in any year since the HAPEE program began in 2019. "The data also shows that, while some 60 per cent of children have better hearing health when seen at a follow-up appointment, more needs to be done to improve community awareness of the importance of ear and hearing health.”Locally, Hearing Australia Centres are operating at Bourke, Walgett, and Cobar.Ms Cross said there needs to be a paradigm shift to tackle otitis media among First Nations children.“Ear infections are common in children but for First Nations children they typically occur more often, start very early in life and last longer,” she said. “There’s an urgent need for action at many levels – from the health system, service providers, practitioners, and parents/caregivers. "First Nations cultures are traditionally shared through language, dance, song, and art. So, not only do we need to ensure our children can hear well to learn, but we also need our children to hear well to learn the stories being passed down by Elders to help keep our culture alive.” Kirralee urges parents to “speak up” if they have any concerns and to get their children’s hearing checked regularly – even if there are no obvious signs of problems.“Middle ear disease can be difficult to detect; there may be no symptoms like earache or fever. Which is why we also urge primary healthcare providers to assess ear health early, effectively, and regularly, to identify First Nations children with persistent problems, and get appropriate treatment and support in place,” she said.The Ear Health and Hearing Check recommendations include the routine use of tympanometry, which reveals how well the middle ear is working and provides a quick and easy indication if there’s an ear health problem. “Our data shows that children who fail tympanometry tests have a much higher likelihood of hearing loss,” explains Kirralee. “This test takes around a minute to do. It’s an excellent way to detect ear health problems. "To enable the routine use of tympanometry, Hearing Australia offers training and support to primary healthcare providers.”Kim Terrell, Hearing AustraliaKim Terrell, Hearing Australia’s Managing Director, says the HAPEE program is crucial to improving the hearing health of First Nations children and building the capabilities of primary health services.“We are fortunate to work with many amazing partners and we acknowledge their commitment to helping prevent avoidable hearing loss in First Nations children,” Mr Terrell said. “Checking the ear and hearing health of young children is a critical step to preventing long-term ear disease and hearing loss.”

All guns blazing: Jamie Lea exhibits in Canberra
All guns blazing: Jamie Lea exhibits in Canberra

06 July 2024, 7:41 AM

Western plains artist Jamie-Lea Trindall will have 17 works on display throughout NAIDOC (National Aboriginals' and Islanders' Day Observance Committee) Week in Canberra.Her mother Darla and daughters Elka and Lexie joined her at Tuggeranong Arts Centre on 14 June for the opening of the All Guns Blazing exhibition, attended by around 45 people.The works include black and white relief prints carved from sheets of linoleum as well as ceramic coolamons, shallow carry vessels with curved sides traditionally used by Aboriginal peoples, made from black clay.During her artist talk, the Wiradjuri woman spoke about Aboriginal stockmen and the family histories that inspired her work."I am living proof of the trailblazers who survived in the front line of colonisation through sheer skill, and determination as agricultural pioneers be that droving cattle, wool trading, Shearers or camp cooks," Jamie-Lea said."These works have been my voyage of discovery through not only the generations of family I know and love, but also those before that - traditional women who spoke in their own language when they met English shepherds or the convicts that were sent here because they were horse thieves."The exhibition also has a large tent installation made from five metres of cotton dyed with tea, eucalyptus and rusty horse shoes, as homage to three generations of Jamie-Lea's family who travelled country NSW by horse drawn wagons.Jamie-Lea’s exhibition will run until 10 August. IMAGE: SuppliedNAIDOC Week runs from Sunday 7 July and to 14 July. The exhibition remains open until 10 August.Jamie-Lea, also the Director of Outback Arts, told the Western Plains App it is hard to explain the feeling of having her work on display at the centre."The artwork has been made during a personal process of discovering family stories and that takes so much time," she said. "Once it is on the wall for others to see, it does feel like you're showing a piece of your soul. "It's also very rewarding to finally have works finished and looking amazing in a gallery after taking such time to create them."

 "Still a long way to go" on supermarket reform
"Still a long way to go" on supermarket reform

06 July 2024, 3:40 AM

The introduction of a mandatory Food and Grocery Code of Conduct will be a positive step for farmers and families, NSW Farmers says, but they say more needs to be done.  A voluntary code of conduct for major supermarket chains was introduced in 2015 to improve standards of business behaviour in the food and grocery sector but is essentially non-binding. On Monday 1 July the federal government announced that it would impose new obligations on supermarket chains to treat their suppliers fairly, or the supermarkets will face fines of $10 million or three times the financial benefit of the breach. The soon-to-be-mandatory code will stop unreasonable demands or threats by supermarkets on suppliers and will apply to companies with an annual revenue of $5 billion.The threshold means the code will cover Woolworths, Coles, Aldi and Metcash - the company the supplies many independent grocery stores. Craig Emerson. Image: The Australian. The compulsory code was the main recommendation of a review conducted by former Labor minister Craig Emerson. The government will adopt all 11 of Dr Emerson's recommendations. But while making the code mandatory, significantly increasing penalties for breaches, and providing better support for farmers in disputes with the supermarkets were positive steps, NSW Farmers Horticulture Committee chair Jo Brighenti-Barnard said there was still a long way to go in solving Australia’s supermarket problem.  “We welcome this report which confirms what we’ve been saying all along – there needs to be meaningful competition reform so Australian farmers and families can get a fair go at the checkout,” Ms Brighenti-Barnard said. Image: thegilgandraregion.com  “For too long farmers have been afraid to speak out because of the sheer might of these two big supermarkets, so options for independent mediators and arbitrators who can set enforceable actions is a good step, but growers need to be able to use them without fear of retribution. “It will be critical for farmers to have an active role in drafting this mandatory code so it is practical and fit for purpose.”  Among the findings in the report were enormous penalties for breaches of the code – something NSW Farmers had been seeking – but Ms Brighenti-Barnard said courts rarely imposed the maximum penalty.  “As long as farmers are selling their fresh food for a few cents a kilo and supermarkets are charging families a few dollars a kilo, we’ll all continue to feel the pain,” Ms Brighenti-Barnard said. Jo Brighenti-Barnard. Inage: The Northern Daily.  The Greens also argue that the code of conduct will not bring down food and grocery prices.  “Food and grocery prices won’t come down unless we make price gouging illegal, and create powers to break up the supermarket duopoly,” Greens Economic Justice Spokesperson Senator Nick McKim said. “We will bring our divestiture bill to a vote on Wednesday this week.” The bill would empower the ACCC to break-up large supermarket chains, aimed at what they say is stopping the reduced competition caused by the duopoly of supermarkets in Australia. “Divestiture powers exist in numerous free-market economies around the world, and the Chair of the ACCC has confirmed that greater competition in the supermarket sector would bring down food and grocery prices.”  

Order up! New kitchen for the Club in the Scrub
Order up! New kitchen for the Club in the Scrub

05 July 2024, 9:20 PM

The Grawin Opal Miners Sports and Recreation Club - known affectionately as the Club in the Scrub - will soon have the heat and the chill they need in a new kitchen, thanks to a funding injection from the NSW Government.  The Community Building Partnership Fund is a NSW government initiative to support infrastructure projects that deliver positive social, environmental, and recreational outcomes.  The club got the whole $23,538 they applied for to upgrade their kitchen with a new oven, walk-in freezer, air conditioning, and rewiring for the kitchen. "We can order the oven and freezer as soon as the funding comes in," Sandra Douglas, Volunteer and Vice Chairperson at the Club in the Scrub said. She said the kitchen will have to wait to be rewired because they cannot completely close the kitchen during peak season. "It's been a long, long time since our last upgrade."  The Club in the Scrub kitchen is open seven days a week, 365 days a year for lunch and from Wednesday to Sunday, run mainly by one staff person doing prep and cooking, and one volunteer cook helping out.  Volunteers also help out with doing dishes and other tasks that need to be taken care of.  Although the population of Grawin is not officially known, Ms Douglas said that during peak season they get around 1,000 visitors per week.The Club in the Scrub has been around for nearly half a decade.  Volunteers opened the club in 1976 in protest against the 'Pub in Scrub' raising the prices of their beer.  Until the club became a registered venue in 1990, police would raid the club twice a year - and afterward join in for a drink with club members.   The Grawin club has braved the pandemic, floods, and the closure of the fossicking dumps.  On August 3, people from across NSW will flock to the Grawin Show held at the Club in the Scrub auditorium to see jugglers, roving entertainers, and the many competitions. Grawin Show 2023

Marthaguy Picnics bounce back bigger
Marthaguy Picnics bounce back bigger

05 July 2024, 8:40 AM

Quambone escaped the rains on Saturday 29 June for a day of punting and cheering as the village put on its first Marthaguy Picnic Races in three years. A mix-aged crowd of 250 spectators from the shire and beyond lined the fence to watch six races with jockeys from across western NSW, including Bathurst, Gilgandra, Cobar and Dubbo.The gate opened around 11am to a sunny morning fit for racewear, with the crowd tucking in to a free midday lunch serving butter chicken with rice and lasagne with salad ahead of the action. The races hit an early speed bump when an unruly Rylstone Rocket unseated jockey Emily Harrison and bolted down the track as riders mustered to the barriers for the first race, planned for 1pm. Ms Harrison was unhurt and continued to ride for the rest of the day, although she and the horse were scratched from that race.Race three almost saw a win for Coonamble racing royalty. An 'awe' went up from the crowd as a razor thin margin of four milliseconds put Dubbo trained horse Belle O'Balle first ahead of Bupkis, trained by Coonamble-bred Clint Lundholm, who is now based in Dubbo. Things took an unexpected turn after the final race when second placed Zara Lewis and third placed Ms Harrison each lodged a protest against first place Leandro Ribeiro, one alleging Mr Ribeiro's horse had bumped another during the race. Both protests were dismissed.PHOTO: Coonamble’s Jess Walker takes a punt on ‘Intense’ for race four. Feathered hats and fashionable jacketsJudges were spoiled for choice in the fashion competitions. Grace Hopcroft (daughter of Leigh and Toni Garnsey, Carinda) sported a beige jacket and navy blue akubra to take the sash in the Women's Under-30s, while Cathie Colless (Come by Chance) won the Over-30s decked from the waist up in a black jacket, turtle neck, hat and gloves.  Local hat enthusiast Janet Perry from Sandhurst, Quambone dazzled with an impressive set of red, black and white feathers atop a black hat to win the bouquet for the Best Millinery. The men didn't disappoint either, with an old-style look from Gular's Dominic Spora (complete with binoculars) and a splash of colour on Sydney's Maximilian Ringbauer wooing the judges.  PHOTO: Best Dressed Lady Over 30 winner Cathie Colless from Come By Chance and runner-up Katrina Shelton from Quambone.'Excellent' day of racingMarthaguy Picnic Race Club Secretary Marg Garnsey said the crowd was "a little light" compared to usual pre-COVID numbers, but that didn't get in the way of some "superb" racing. "We had huge compliments on our track, we had great compliments on the meals and the hospitality." Ms Garnsey said. "There's not been many races on, so we had full fields, twelve jockeys, five bookies. We don't have those numbers usually.""Everyone left with no injuries and all horses left with no issues. So that makes it a good, safe racing day."Marthaguy Picnic Race Club volunteers Clint Andrews and Marg Garnsey, jockey Eloise Drews, Harriet O'Brien, trainer Kirssie Simpkins, sponsor Chris O'Brien and club member Simon Turnbull with winner of the O'Brien Winters Partners Marthaguy Cup, Distinctive Glory. IMAGE: Coonamble Times - River McCrossenThe picnic race meetings struggled to get off the ground after they were cancelled in 2020 due to COVID. They made a comeback in 2021, but were cancelled on 2 May 2022 with just four days to go after 50 millimetres of rain fell on the racecourse in late April. Lightning struck twice when, on 3 May 2023, a visiting stipendiary steward from Racing NSW declared the track unsafe to race due to cracking in the ground. This year, over 20 millimetres hit Quambone the weekend before the 11 May racing date and postponed the meeting to June 29, where everyone revelled in a fine 22 degree day.There'll be no reset for Quambone's weary volunteers.Many of the race club members also work and play at the Quambone Polocrosse Carnival set for this weekend 6 & 7 July.

Car spiked in cross-town chase
Car spiked in cross-town chase

05 July 2024, 7:39 AM

A Ford Territory is back in it's owner's hands after police pursued it through Coonamble and popped it's tyres in Baradine. Townsend Street resident Matt Boney was having dinner that night when he received a call from son Maurice around 6:20pm. Maurice had spotted the Ford Territory pull in to the Roadhouse, which was allegedly stolen from 80-year-old resident Robert Steadman (Aussie Bob) outside his Townsend Street home between Thursday evening on 27 June and 4am on Friday 28. The car had already been sighted there when it pulled in for fuel on Friday evening on the 28th. "They didn't turn the bowsers on. They must have recognised him through the window," Matt said. If it was the same driver, he wasn't getting away this time. Within seconds of receiving the call, Matt was on the road. His father Tony and Maurice were in their own cars tracking down the Ford. "By the time I got over the bridge, I could see the car going into Mobil. As it's gone into the fuel centre, I've actually pulled aside and then rung the police." On the phone with Coonamble Police Station, he followed the Ford as it pulled out from the fuel centre and headed up Limerick Street, keeping a distance of around 100 metres. "As they turned down Edwards Street, I went down Hickey Street and the police actually followed me," Matt said. "I was actually talking to the police at the station, who were relaying what I was saying to the guys in the wagon. "As I turn right onto Wingadee Street the car was coming towards me, and I told the police on the phone just now 'this is the car you're about to give way to.'" The wagon came to the intersection, it's lights lit up and the pursuit kicked off. "It was terminated a short time later due to safety concerns," a police spokesperson said. "Police successfully deployed road spikes on Baradine Road, Baradine, and the vehicle came to a stop on Darling Street, Baradine."Night time video of the arrest scene shows lights blazing from at least two police vehicles, as well as the Ford, on the t-intersection between Worrigal and Darling street The driver was arrested and taken to Coonamble Police Station. He was charged with: Take and drive conveyance without consent of ownerNever licensed person drive vehicle on roadPolice pursuit - not stop - drive dangerouslyDishonestly obtain property by deceptionDrive recklessly/furiously or speed/manner dangerous, andBreach of bail. The man was refused bail and appeared at Dubbo Local Court via video link on Thursday 4 July 2024, where he was formally refused bail to appear at Coonamble Local Court on Tuesday 16 July 2024. Robert thanked members of the community who helped get his car back. "It's nice to be in a town where people care," Robert said.

 It's starts with a simple cough, the big killer in our communities
It's starts with a simple cough, the big killer in our communities

05 July 2024, 3:40 AM

Western Plains residents are being asked to reconsider their tobacco habits for a “hard to treat and late diagnosed cancer” as new data reveals the toll lung conditions are having on the community. Lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) - sometimes referred to as emphysema or bronchitis - accounted for a heart-breaking 297 deaths in the Western Plains between 2018 and 2022. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data shows lung cancer and COPD combined made for the biggest cause of death in Coonamble (30), Narromine (41), Cobar (30), Bogan (22), Walgett (49) and Warrumbungle (66) during that four year period. Combined it was also the second highest cause of death in Bourke, Brewarrina and Gilgandra. The most common risk factor says Cancer Council NSW for both these conditions is no surprise - it’s smoking. Alecia Brooks from the Tobacco control unit at Cancer Council NSW told the Western Plains App that tobacco smoking is associated with 77% of lung cancers. “It's hard to treat and usually comes with a late diagnosis” she explained to the Western Plains App.  “And we know smoking rates are higher the further you go from a capital city.” Data from the ABS also shows much higher daily smoking prevalence among Australians living in inner regional areas (12.2%) and outer regional and remote areas (17.9%) in 2020-21, compared with those living in major cities (9.3%). Smoking remains the biggest contributor to 'killer coughs'. “If you have consistent cough” she said “you need to seek medical advice” But the most important thing, Ms Brooks said was to look to ways to quit smoking - even if you just smoke occasionally. She suggests that sprays, medications and patches can be useful. “I guess smoking is often a very social activity,” she explained “But our research has found that the majority of people who quit smoking quit cold turkey, and in terms of motivation they often do it when they are wanting to be around longer for their family.” 

Nominate a road in need of repair
Nominate a road in need of repair

04 July 2024, 9:20 PM

Think your road should be receiving more TLC? There's now an opportunity to name the roads you think should be getting attention.Trangie truck driver Tim Ferrari had a close call only a couple weeks ago on the Widgeree Road, which branches west from the town towards Bogan Shire. "I met a truck on a corner. We were both loaded and if it was wet I think I would have rolled my truck." He said that Narromine Shire should prioritise the road for repairs and upgrades."It's a fairly busy road with a lot of produce coming and going," Tim said "The bitumen width on it is single, but it drops off. When you meet another truck, and if you're both loaded, it's very dangerous. "If some trees and shrubs can get knocked out, just so you could see and prepare yourself if something else was coming on corners, it would be a start. "It's hard to just go and resheet 40 kilometres of road, but if they can do dips and drabs every year, it'd be good."  Tim and other motorists will have a chance to make their voices heard in a national road survey launched by the Liberal-National Coalition on 21 June. Residents can pop in the name of a road, bridge or intersection, along with a what they think can be done to fix it. The survey will be open until 5pm on 30 August 2024.Federal Nationals member for Parkes Mark Coulton. PHOTO: supplied “As someone who regularly travels across hundreds of kilometres within the Parkes electorate, I know first-hand how terrible some parts of the road network have become,” Federal Parkes MP Mark Coulton said. “I’m calling on the residents of the Parkes electorate to help shine a light on the appalling condition of our roads by taking part in this national survey."Let’s send the Labor Government a message to provide more funding to fix our roads.” Narromine mayor Craig Davies agreed Widgeree Road is in strong need of a face lift, along with Weemabah and Enmore roads, the three totalling around 70 to 80 kilometres."They are very heavy freight corridors," Cr Davies said. "They have deteriorated to the point where they're basically dangerous in places."Cr Davies said Narromine Shire has struggled to maintain all it's roads and, like many Western Plains shires, relies heavily on grants from the federal and state governments. "A council the size of Narromine, which our income, is just finding it really difficult to look after all our roads." "The fact is there's just been so much cost shifting from state and federal governments to local government in the past decade to the extent where federal assistance grants are now half what they used to be and our cost structure is probably in the order of almost double."If you have a road to nominate for repair or upgrade, take advantage of the national road survey.

Vet regret not happening everywhere
Vet regret not happening everywhere

04 July 2024, 7:40 AM

A shortage in the veterinary workforce in regional NSW has been the focus of a recent report, but one local vet clinic says things are not as bad as they seem. Committee Chair of the review, the Hon Mark Banasiak MLC said 'There are many factors that have contributed to the veterinary workforce shortage in New South Wales, including the regulatory framework, market forces and community expectations. "These issues have created a 'perfect storm' for the workforce, affecting recruitment, retention, salaries, working hours, and mental health and wellbeing." Dr Kylie Parry from NorthWest Vets in Coonamble, said she found the report interesting as, in 20 years of living locally, they had never had issues finding vets. "There are eight vets working at the practice at the moment and over all our time here, we have not had any trouble attracting young vets," Dr Parry said."It's very important to foster an environment where vets want to come to a practice and that involves not being constantly on call and working ridiculously long hours. "I don't think that is any different to any other professions - work/ life balance is very important." Regional retention of vets is a big issue according to Mr Banasiak and this is compounded for veterinarians outside the major cities, where finding childcare and housing is also difficult. These challenges, plus a dwindling supply of younger veterinarians wanting to work with large animals, make it extremely difficult to recruit veterinarians in rural and regional areas, the report claims. Accordingly, the committee has recommended that the NSW Government provide financial incentives to encourage veterinarians to work in large animal practice in regional areas.' Dr Parry said that she hasn’t see any issue with young vets wanting to work with larger animals."We have plenty of vets interested in larger animals," she said. "It is definitely not the experience of our practice that these young vets aren't around. "I think the main thing is to provide a culture and practice to attract vets. "We work hard to foster an environment to attract vets and it is also around the community welcoming new people which we find to happen quite naturally in our region. "As far as financial incentives, I would suggest a HECS rebate would be extremely helpful." "There are definitely vet practices that have issues with staffing, but shortages in industries are not unique to vets."Issues around mental health are huge and that is a lot about unrealistic views from clients. Luckily, I can say that we do not have that issue here and our clients are fantastic."One big problem with the vet industry at the moment is that, when I graduated in the early 90's, the gender split was 50/50. Now it is 85% women and 15% men. That's not a problem until women have children and are the primary caregivers and need time off work."Kylie and Scott Parry passed the ownership of their practice to younger vets Charlie Millthorp and Emily Fisher in 2022 but continue to be part of the veterinary team that covers Coonamble, Walgett, Lightning Ridge and further afield.  Other findings from the report touched on additional stressors with animals that have no owners. Mr Banasiak continued: 'The committee found that veterinarians provide a public good by caring for and treating injured wildlife and stray, lost and homeless animals. These services often receive little or no recompense. To address this issue, the committee has recommended that the NSW Government provide dedicated ongoing funding for the provision of veterinary services to wildlife and to help ensure local government authorities collect stray animals from licensed veterinary clinics. Dr Parry said we were extremely lucky in the Western Plains that the Dubbo Zoo is close by and offers free wildlife treatment. "It means caring for wildlife is not an onerous issue for local vets and that is hugely appreciated," Dr Parry said. "Vets also have a good relationship with local councils and work well together for the welfare of animals."

Keeping livestock loads pristine
Keeping livestock loads pristine

04 July 2024, 3:40 AM

Trangie's truck wash has had a makeover, resulting in a more efficient method for local truckies to keep their rigs clean.Livestock carrier, Paul Milgate from Paul Milgate Transport at Trangie said the improved truck wash facility has made life a whole lot easier. The upgraded facility, located near the Graincorp silo site was designed following extensive consultation with truck operators and industry organisations to meet the high standards required by the agricultural and freight sectors. "It's partly a biosecurity thing." Mr Milgate said. "We use it a lot. Sheep and cattle come in and out of this area all the time, from Queensland, WA and Victoria, and it’s important to keep the trucks clean. A lot of sheep go down to Tamworth to the abattoir. We wash the crates and the trailers regularly to get rid of the manure and mess." Member for Dubbo and Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Mr. Dugald Saunders MP, highlighted that the upgrade is fantastic news for the agricultural and freight industries. “Truck washes are essential not only for safe and clean travel for livestock but also for reducing the spread of weeds and diseases across NSW,” Mr Saunders said. “With freight movement expected to increase over the next 5-10 years, this state-of-the-art facility is crucial for improving outcomes and productivity within the sector." Mr Milgate said the upgrade was very welcome and had made a huge difference to the efficiency of his operation. Improvements include realignment and modification to accommodate road trains and B Doubles, a new sloping wash pad to allow sediment to freely flow out of crates as well as superior water pressure ensuring maximum power to wash out dirty crates and truck bodies. "Before we only had a flat slab and hoses without good pressure. Now it's bigger and better and the water pressure has really improved," Mr Milgate said. "It does a much better job than before." Narromine Shire Council Mayor, Clr Craig Davies said that this modern system will streamline the process of decontaminating trailers between loads, enhancing both cleanliness and efficiency for contractors, casual haulers or livestock producers. “The unique geographic position of the Narromine Shire guarantees this necessary upgrade to meet the growing demands of livestock and freight carriers,” Mr Davies said. "Council is thrilled to have a project that supports a vital part of the freight sector. Such investments are crucial for ensuring our communities have the infrastructure needed to thrive." The Trangie Truck Wash is located off Saleyards Road, and is now fully operational and can be accessed by members of the trucking industry who possess an Avdata key. An Avdata key is an electronic touch-key enables drivers to access truck washes, tracking usage which is billed to a registered account holder.

Hercules returning to Gilgandra
Hercules returning to Gilgandra

03 July 2024, 9:20 PM

Gilgandra locals will get an up close look at the iconic C-130 Hercules this Sunday on 7 July to kick off NAIDOC Week. The air-lifter will take off from Richmond Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base in Hawkesbury for a flight of around 90 minutes before performing flyovers and landing at Gilgandra Aerodrome around 10am. It's the first time a Hercules has landed there for public tours since Reconciliation Week in 2019. RAAF Indigenous Liaison Officer, Corporal Rob Schultz, said the tours are about giving back to the community and representing Indigenous members of the Australian Defense Force (ADF). "Sitting in the cockpit is always a hit," Corporal Schultz said. "We're out there all the time doing our maneuvers, doing our training, so we want to set that jet down to invite the community out to say 'thank you.' "Putting a bit of vibe, a bit of spark, into the community and to put some smiles on some faces, I love that."Gilgandra locals line up for the tours when they last ran in 2019. IMAGE: RAAF Children at the free event will be able to hop into the pilot seat and chat to the crew of the transport, which depending on the configuration can carry up to 124 passengers. Families will also be treated to rugby stardom when NRLW Paramatta Eels centre Mahalia Murphy and former NRL Manly Seas Eagles five-eight Cliff Lyons hop off the plane with members of the Royal Australian Air Force, Navy and Army. The two have worn the green and gold on the rugby field, Mahalia for both league and union."It's nothing too formal," Corporal Schutlz said. "Hopefully some people will learn some stuff and we inspire some people to take some good steps in the right direction. Doesn't matter if it's not joining the military." There will also be friendly footy and a free sausage sizzle before the Hercules lifts off at around 12:30pm. The landing had been planned on 2 June for this year's Reconciliation Week, but was postponed due to poor weather. The tours had fallen by the wayside since COVID. "I came into my role last year. I didn't do it then because I was just getting to the role and was pretty busy. Now that I've settled into that seat, I can do more," Corporal Schutlz said. "It's time to get back to it." 

Shire heads take aim at rate caps
Shire heads take aim at rate caps

03 July 2024, 3:40 AM

Top officials from Western Plains shire fronted a NSW government inquiry in Dubbo on Friday 28 June to raise their concern over yearly rate caps.  The NSW government put a 4.5 per cent base limit on how much Western Plains councils can raise rates in the 2024-25 financial year, also called a rate peg. The peg was 3.7 per cent for the 2023-24 financial year, which ended on 1 July. The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) says the peg is aimed at protecting ratepayers from excessive increases. However, Coonamble Shire General Manager Paul Gallagher told the inquiry into local governments' ability to fund services that the peg isn't keeping up with costs. "We are, like other local governments, rate pegged at 3.7 per cent. That generates an additional $241 000 of income to Council. Our award wage for our staff this year was $345 000."So, rate pegging doesn't even come close to covering our wage increase," Mr Gallagher said.Coonamble Shire Council General Manager Paul Gallagher at the hearingThe national inflation rate stood at about six per cent in June 2023 according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics' (ABS) Consumer Price Index (CPI). That has steady dropped to 3.6 per cent in March 2024. Mr Gallagher joined his shire's Director of Infrastructure Servies, Kerrie Murphy, during the afternoon session, as well Bourke Shire mayor Barry Holman and General Manager Leonie Brown. The inquiry heard earlier that day from representatives from Warren and Narromine shires. Warren Shire General Manager Gary Woodman told the inquiry it should be up to local councils to decide rate caps. "The rate pegging has never taken into account the typical CPI increases of road maintenance, construction and inputs—the bitumen, steel and concrete," Mr Woodman said. "I would suggest that over the years it has probably averaged 6 per cent to 8 per cent instead of small CPI increases by average across Australia. Rate pegging, of course, does not take into account the increase in costs of insurances, electricity. "I think it needs to be up to the individual communities to make their own decisions instead of someone saying, 'Okay, your CPI is 3.1. We'll have a rate pegging of 2.5 per cent.' If a council is able to convince its community of an appropriate increase, it should be done at the local level."Mr Woodman, like other local councils at the Friday hearing, said current rate peg model isn't up to par The IPART set rate pegs between 4.5 and 5.5 per cent in for 2024-25 financial years based on factors including population, productivity and a council's contribution to the Emergency Services Levy. Councils can apply for a Special Rate Variation (SPV) to the peg, which IPART considers based on factors including the need to increase charges and community awareness of council plans. Narromine Shire's Director of Infrastructure and Engineering, Melanie Slimming, said her council had also taken a hit from the peg. "But we're in a position that this time it's okay. And we don't want to pass on the increased cost to our community at this point, so that's why we didn't go for an SRV," Ms Slimming said. She also told the hearing that her community has put increasing expectations on Council. "When I worked in Adelaide, I never thought about the council. If something went wrong, you'd call the cops or you'd call someone. You wouldn't call the council, Ms Slimming said. "I do on-call now at Council every once in a while and do you know the calls I get? 'There are horses on the road,' 'my next-door neighbour's dog is barking at night,' 'this is happening, 'that's happening'." "We get called for so much stuff and the community expects so much from us. And, in the most part, we do a pretty good job of delivering those services."

Funding to focus on DV perpetrators and prevention
Funding to focus on DV perpetrators and prevention

02 July 2024, 9:20 PM

Nipping domestic violence in the bud starts with understanding how domestic violence offenders tick, according to Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS)On 13 June it was announced that ANROWS received $2 million from the Australian government to fund research on domestic and family violence perpetrators.  The move to fund prevention and early intervention research has been welcomed by local agencies working with victims of violence.“If we are going to eliminate violence against women in this country, we need to understand why people use violence. These are deep-seated problems, and it takes time to understand them fully so we can address them effectively,” ANROWS CEO Tessa Boyd-Caine said. “It’s imperative that we remember the human costs associated with the statistics,” Elise Philips, acting CEO of Domestic Violence NSW said prior to the announcement of the budget.“This really isn’t just a crisis, this is an escalating crisis.” Findings from the NSW Bureau of Crime show a 15.4 percent increase in the number of domestic assault reports over the past five years. “The bottom line is every extra dollar to fight against family and domestic violence is certainly needed,” said Kellie Maxwell, Program Manager for Staying Home Leaving Violence in a number of towns across the western plains. The funding will go towards eight projects focussing on different areas of domestic violence, such as investigating demographic profiles, response tactics, agency processes and data collection practices, enhancing practitioner skills, and developing better responses.  The research will then provide more comprehensive training approaches for support organisations. “Any form of training that is rolled out whether that is for perpetrators or victims of family violence is good for staff working in organisations that deal with domestic and family violence,” Ms Maxwell said. Ms Maxwell said that although domestic and family violence perpetrators come from all walks of life, one common factor is the need to control their victim. “It does not have to be an anger management issue. It’s the need to control somebody else’s behaviour, or actions,” Ms Maxwell said. Community-based programs, such as Mannin’ Up from Mission Australia, focus on changing the behaviour of domestic violence perpetrators. The focus is on identifying abuse and belief systems associated with abuse, managing beliefs and emotions, offence mapping, victim impact and sexual respect. Further research into domestic violence perpetrators could provide insights as to how to provide training for programs such as Mannin’ Up. “Nobody ever has enough knowledge. Everybody can always benefits from further training in those areas,” Ms Maxwell said. “We need to do a lot of early intervention programs through schools and teaching children very early about respectful relationships.” “Children are growing up without an understanding of what respectful relationships are.”

Tooraweenah ex-pro boxing trainer chats to Conversations
Tooraweenah ex-pro boxing trainer chats to Conversations

02 July 2024, 7:40 AM

Western plains resident Mark Pitts isn't the type you'd expect to see the in the boxing ring.Although he now lives in Tooraweenah (a village in Gilgandra Shire) and works around western NSW, his origins were far more citified and sedate. "I grew up in Pymble in Sydney’s North Shore, my parents listened to classical music," Mark said. "You didn't go into the hardest, toughest, roughest business in the world."Most of my friends would be terrified even walking into a boxing gym."It's a chapter of his life Mark spoke to radio presenter Richard Fidler about on Monday 1 July for the ABC's Conversations program, which reaches Australia-wide.The interview was published online and aired on ABC Radio on Tuesday morning 2 July.Mr Fidler told the Western Plains App Mark was the kind of person listeners love to hear."I've had Hollywood movie stars on my show and, with some very notable and glorious exceptions, a lot them are quite boring people," Mr Fidler said."There's really not much to report, there really isn't. But someone like Mark, who's had this incredibly rich life, listeners really prefer those kinds of stories."I think people do that because they feel they can measure their own lives against the guest much more easily."ABC Conversations host Richard Fidler. PHOTO: SuppliedMark didn't plan to become a boxing trainer.In his youth, a passion for rugby took him to first grade for the Eastern Suburbs rugby union side before injury at 24-years-old cut short his dreams of playing for Australia. His next stop was running surfing tours to a remote island in the Philippines. "There was a lot of street kids," Mark said. "So I thought ‘what can I do for them?’" "I met up with this boxing promoter in Manilla and he said 'I can sell you a boxing ring, bags, everything. I can send you a trainer down there if you want to rent him a cottage and pay him a wage.' "That's what we did, and we had accommodation there for any of the street kids that didn't have anywhere to go that wanted to be boxers." After his father remarried and the family business became "sticky," Mark decided to leave it behind. The only thing he had left was the Filipino boxers. Mark now works as a Development Officer for NSW Rugby He sponsored two of them to come to Australia in 1993. They didn't have a trainer when they arrived, so Mark stepped in.He had little to no experience training boxers, but he'd picked up a thing or two from locals in the Philippine capital Manilla. As it also turns out, his rugby background was a perfect fit for the role. "It's working on efficiency," Mark said. "Being a halfback in rugby and training to pass, pass, pass all the time off the ground, using your core, using your breath, using your eye, that transferred into boxing. "When you punch, you don't want to show it's coming. A really, really good halfback doesn't even show their pass before it's gone."His time as a trainer took him around the world including South Africa, England and the United States, training professional boxers for world title fights. There was high stakes, dirty play and spectators in the millions. His career rise put him on a path with Cameroon-born Australian Sakio Bika, who he agreed to train in 2005.The same year, Sakio fought the Super Middleweight world title shot against Markus Beyer in Germany. "Sakio was on top in the fight and then he had a head bash. He cut the boxer under the eye."Their promoter, realising that Sakio was going to win and take the title from him, got up to the referee, put the doctor up, and they stopped it. It was called a draw," Mark said. Sakio went on to fight Welshman Joe Calzaghe in 2006 in England for the World Boxing Organisation and International Boxing Federation super middleweight world titles. "We didn't win, but Zalzaghe said it was the hardest that he'd ever had. It was 22,000 in the arena and probably around 100 million people watching TV around the world," Mark said.The two split in 2008 and Mark, now aged 48, stepped back from the professional level, working with amateurs at a boxing club in the North Shore. "I actually made more money doing that, other than the big years I had with Sakio," Mark said. "And it didn't have all the pressures and commitment of the toughest sport in the world."  Mark had pinged ABC's radar through his grandfather, the legendary airmen Arthur Butler, who in 1931 flew a record solo flight between England and Australia in around nine days, one hour and 40 minutes.In the post-World War Two years, Arthur registered Butler Air Transport as a public company that made Tooraweenah a rural transport hub for western NSW and southern Queensland. Mark joined the push to establish the Arthur Butler Aviation Museum to preserve his grandfather's legacy. "On the back of that, they researched a bit about me," Mark said. "And they said 'how did a person from your background get involved in boxing?,'" Mark said.When asked what stood out him about Mark's story, Mr Fidler said it shone the national light on nationally significant, yet "forgotten" stories from the bush."I once did a story from western Queensland when I went out to Winton to do a conversation with a series of people about the origins of Waltzing Matilda," Mr Fidler said."And when I was there, I realised 'holy crap, I'm in western Queensland. This is a part of the world where Qantus, the first labor party in world and Waltzing Matilda was invented. So there are all these historic stories in regional Australia that I don't think the rest of the country is aware of."That was one of the most delightful things about Mark's story, when he related the story of his grandfather." After leaving professional boxing, Mark eventually moved to Tooraweenah, where he bought back the family home after around 60 years out of their hands.Mark Pitt's grandfather, Arthur Butler, established one of the earliest domestic air passenger services from his base in Tooraweenah. IMAGE: Butler Air Transport Museum Mark worked on farms and fencing for a while before a chance run-in with an old friend in Coonabarabran led to him returning to a long-time passion. "He said 'you better come and work for NSW Rugby,’” Mark said. Mark started as a casual in June 2017 and is still there now as a Development Officer, building junior rugby union throughout the Western Plains. "I was dyslexic as a child, I had trouble at school, and rugby gave me everything." "My self-esteem, my joy and happiness came from rugby."

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