After nearly 600 days of closed foreign borders, I was thrilled to see Sydney’s international terminal bustling once again as flights began landing from around the world. It was heart-warming to watch family and friends embrace each other, reunited after so long.
I am pleased the NSW Government has committed $60 million to encourage international airlines to re-commence flights to Sydney to bring us together again. The Aviation Attraction Fund includes marketing campaign opportunities for airlines, enticing international and interstate visitors to travel to NSW and reconnect with loved ones in our state.
For more information, see: https://www.investment.nsw.gov.au/resources/media-releases/tourism-and-events/
As COVID restrictions continue to ease, I would like to reiterate how proud I am of the immediate and extensive work the NSW Government undertook through Multicultural NSW and other Government agencies to collaborate with multicultural communities throughout this challenging period. A record $54.7 million has been allocated to initiatives which supported vulnerable people and multicultural communities experiencing hardship during the latest COVID outbreak.
It’s thanks to our fantastic vaccination rate here in NSW that our borders are opening up.
Fully vaccinated residents can now travel freely between Greater Sydney and regional NSW and fully vaccinated travellers from overseas can enter NSW without having to quarantine.
Our ability to catch up with friends and family is also expanding for those who are fully vaccinated. There are no longer caps on bookings at hospitality venues, no limits on visitors to a home and no rules for outdoor gatherings with fewer than 1,000 people.
Regulations on businesses have also eased to welcome more fully vaccinated customers, moving to a 1 person per 2 square metre rule.
COVID-19 Financial Support
I am pleased to highlight the NSW Government’s recent announcement of the $2.8 billion Economic Recovery Strategy, which includes funding to stimulate economic activity in cities and regions.
Together we have demonstrated our resilience through these difficult times and are now ready to build a promising future. This Strategy provides a boost to the people and businesses of NSW to get back to work, back to business and back into life, importantly leaving no one behind.
For more information, see: https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/economic-recovery-strategy\
In addition, $330 million has been allocated to support individuals and vulnerable communities through test and isolate payments, emergency hardship payments, food relief and essential support for vulnerable refugees, asylum seekers and temporary visa holders.
Along with the Premier, I was delighted to announce an extension to the NSW Government’s new learn to swim program, titled ‘First Lap’.
It will now cover not just pre-school children, but also those in kindergarten in 2021 and 2022.
The $100 voucher for swimming lessons will be accessible from 1 December through Service NSW and has been translated into Arabic, Cantonese, Mandarin and Vietnamese.
For details, see: https://www.sport.nsw.gov.au/firstlap
We are all deeply concerned by the humanitarian crisis in Afganistan and NSW has again opened its arms to those in need. Over a period of just seven weeks, NSW welcomed almost 900 Afghan arrivals, almost half of whom are children.
The NSW Government is committed to providing ongoing support through a $6.25 million funding package to help temporary visa holders, in particular asylum seekers.
A further $8.5 million has been allocated over three years for support programs in education, health, employment and community services.
Multicultural Community Medals and Honour Roll
I am thrilled to announce nominations are now open for the 2022 Premier’s Multicultural Community Medals and the Multicultural Honour Roll. The winners and inductees will be announced and presented in March 2022 at the Premier’s Harmony Dinner.
This year’s awards program will also pay tribute to renowned Italian-born Australian fashion designer Carla Zampatti through the Carla Zampatti Arts and Culture Medal.
This terrific awards program is our chance to acknowledge the everyday multicultural heroes in NSW who we rely on day in, day out, to support our communities.
The medal categories honour the achievements of community members working in diverse fields including youth, business, arts and culture as well as regional communities.
For more information, see: https://multicultural.nsw.gov.au/premiers-multicultural-community-medals/
Financial help for families
A top priority for the NSW Government is ensuring families can live safely and freely and we have announced a record $484.3 million funding boost over four years to tackle domestic and family violence.
An additional $183 million has also been unveiled to fast-track more than 1,400 new homes for our most vulnerable and create 1,100 direct and indirect jobs in the construction phase. The package supports an extra 990 households through rent assistance, including in areas hit hardest by the pandemic in Western Sydney.
Mental Health Focus for Sport and Multiculturalism
As Minister for both Sport and Multiculturalism, I am delighted that $130 million has been announced for the Mental Health Recovery Package.
The package is available over four years to fund initiatives to offer mental health resources to local sporting groups, training opportunities for community members and a multilingual mental health line in more than 30 languages – a first for NSW.
For details, see: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/mentalhealth/Pages/funding.aspx
Nationals Carers Week
We recently recognised and celebrated the outstanding contribution our unpaid carers make to our state during National Carers Week.
One in five carers in NSW comes from a culturally and linguistically diverse community and I am extremely proud to highlight that a multi-lingual campaign was unveiled to remove barriers to information and support those from our multicultural communities.
Once again, I thank each and every one of you who has rolled up your sleeve to get the jab. Our vaccination rate has been critical in the faster easing of restrictions, which has helped speed up our economic recovery and allowed us to be reunited with family and friends.
If you have not had both of your vaccinations, please book an appointment as soon as possible.
With best wishes,
The Hon. Natalie Ward MLC
Minister for Sport, Multiculturalism, Seniors and Veterans
15 November, 2021