? Health News
- The NSW vaccine program is underway, with group 1b commencing vaccinations today. To find out when your turn will come, use the Vaccines Eligibility Checker: https://covid-vaccine.healthdirect.gov.au/eligibility
- The Federal Health Department Secretary believes that international travel may be possible again in 2022, depending on worldwide vaccine rollout! In the meantime, let’s support our local tourism industry by exploring this beautiful country.
- When you’re out and about, don’t forget the NSW Dine & Discover vouchers – see whether your LGA is eligible yet, and register now: https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/transaction/apply-dine-discover-nsw-vouchers
ℹ Regional News
- Have you been affected by rain and flooding? The Federal Government has activated disaster relief payments for residents of the following LGAs: Armidale, Bellingen, Central Coast, Cessnock City, Clarence Valley, Coffs Harbour, Dungog, Hawkesbury, Kempsey, Lake Macquarie, Maitland City, Mid-Coast, Nambucca Valley, Newcastle City, Port Macquarie-Hastings, Penrith, Port Stephens and Tenterfield. To find out more, visit https://www.disasterassist.gov.au/Pages/disaster-recovery-payment.aspx . You can also find state government help at https://www.raa.nsw.gov.au/disaster-assistance. Your bank may also be able to assist, so ask the question!
- The 20-Year Economic Vision for Regional NSW, which sets out the state government’s plan for regional NSW, has been refreshed: https://www.nsw.gov.au/sites/default/files/2021-02/20%20Year%20Vision%20for%20RNSW_0.pdf
? Business & Employment News
- Industrial Relations Reform – the federal government was forced to shelve much of its industrial relations reform package last week, with only the changes regarding casuals passed by the Senate. It remains to be seen whether they will try again to address the remaining reforms later in the year. PPS will host a webinar in the next few weeks regarding casual employment but rest assured there is little change – the chief goal of the reform was to address the Rossato decisions regarding eligibility for leave for casual workers. If you have any questions in the meantime, please contact us.
- The national unemployment rate has dropped half a percentage point to 5.8 per cent in February, with the majority of full time employment positions going to women. However, it is unknown what the exact effect of the end of JobKeeper this weekend will have on unemployment numbers. The government is facing calls to allow migrant fruit and vegetable pickers into the country to support regional industries now facing a shortage of workers.
- Changes to the JobSeeker base rate have passed parliament, with unemployed Australians to receive an extra $25 per week starting from April 1 (just after the coronavirus supplement payment of $75 per week ends on March 31). The increase does however come with an increase in “mutual obligations”, with jobseekers required to look for at least 15 jobs a month and those on a payment for at least 6 months must enter an “intensive training stage” to enhance skills or get work experience.