Hello, I’m Natalie Ward, your NSW Minister for Multiculturalism.
Since my last column, there have been significant changes in the NSW Government. Firstly, I would like to pay tribute to Gladys Berejiklian for her outstanding work as Premier. Her deep and passionate commitment to our multicultural community was particularly evident as she steered the State through the COVID pandemic.
In our new Premier Dominic Perrottet, I know we have a leader who is equally committed to ensuring that crucial work continues, as we begin to emerge from COVID restrictions and enter a new chapter.
As your Minister for Multiculturalism, I will continue to advocate strongly for each and every one of you. It is my great privilege to serve in this position and I look forward to our journey ahead together.
Thanks to our excellent vaccination rates, I can feel a sense of optimism beginning to return to our community as we look to the future.
The NSW Government has detailed the roadmaps that will lead us into the next phase of recovery, as we reach 70% and 80% double dose vaccination.
There is no doubt it has been an extremely difficult time for many of you and the NSW Government has announced a range of support packages to help those who need it most.
A record $43.2 million has now been allocated by the NSW Government to support vulnerable people and multicultural communities during the latest COVID outbreak. This boosted funding means critical support will be expanded to cover all of NSW.
Those who need it most will have access to important measures including emergency food and medical and housing support.
More support for people living in the Local Government Areas (LGAs) of concern is on its way, with a $10 million funding package for organisations providing critical services.
In addition, the NSW Government has provided an urgent $5.5 million boost to emergency support for vulnerable temporary visa holders, with a particular focus on supporting asylum seekers.
A new $5 billion WestInvest fund has been established to help secure a brighter future for Western and South Western Sydney families and residents, helping build new and improved facilities and local infrastructure to help communities hit hard by COVID-19.
The NSW Government will fund an extension of the JobSaver program to help NSW businesses re-open their doors and get people back into jobs as the State starts to ease restrictions and enjoy greater freedoms.
When NSW reaches the 70 per cent double vaccination rate, JobSaver payments will be tapered from 40 per cent to 30 per cent of weekly payroll.
When NSW reaches the 80 per cent, the joint Commonwealth and NSW Government JobSaver payments will cease and the Commonwealth will end its contributions.
At that time, the NSW Government will continue to fund its 50 per cent contribution to JobSaver payments. At this point JobSaver payments will be tapered from 30 per cent to 15 per cent of weekly payroll.
JobSaver payments will end on 30 November, coinciding with the further relaxation of restrictions.
Recently I hosted an online forum, attended by 270 people representing the multicultural community, religious leaders and peak bodies, to discuss the NSW Government’s roadmap to freedom and hear feedback on the response to the COVID outbreak.
The critical input from our religious and community leaders has been essential in lifting vaccination rates, including in Western and South Western Sydney.
I also held a forum with Afghan Australian leaders in response to the evolving humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, to show my support and provide an update on measures to help the community at this difficult time.
The NSW and Federal Governments have announced the launching of a home quarantine pilot program in Greater Sydney, as NSW transitions towards opening up international borders.
Return of international students
A pilot plan for the phased return of fully vaccinated international students to NSW has been given the green light by the Federal Government. The first flight will touch down by the end of this year.
There is no doubt the key to our freedoms is our vaccination rate, so let’s keep it going! If you haven’t booked in for a COVID vaccine yet, please do so as soon as possible to help keep yourself, family, friends and your community safe.
Remember to keep across the latest COVID information and Public Health Orders by going to nsw.gov.au.
With best wishes,
The Hon. Natalie Ward MLC
Minister for Sport, Multiculturalism, Seniors and Veterans