More traineeships in Bellambi for people with a disability

Minister for Employment Participation and Child Care, Kate Ellis and Federal Member for Cunningham Sharon Bird, today announced funding of $600,000 from the Innovation Fund program for Mission Australia’s Feather Weight project. This project will train and employ up to 11 job seekers with disability in recycling services, giving them the support they need to achieve accredited training in Certificate II in waste management. The job seekers will receive training though a soon to be established social enterprise Feather Weight, which will manufacture punching bags and protective sports equipment, including tackle bags, hit shields and goal post pads. “For people with a disability, the benefits of work extend far beyond a mere pay packet. A good job brings with it dignity, purpose and a sense of connectedness to the community,” Ms Ellis said. “The Feather Weight project will provide the critical support and assistance that unemployed people with a physical disability or mental illness need to be able to enter the labour market.” This project will also have an environmental benefit, as job seekers will be working to reduce waste material such as car seats, from the automotive industry by an estimated 1,020,000 tonnes, which would otherwise be sent to landfill. Continue reading

$152,760 to enhance local settlement services

The Commonwealth Government will invest in $152,760 in local services to assist refugees and migrants become self-reliant and settle in the Illawarra region, Federal Labor MPs, Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones, announced this afternoon. Illawarra Multicultural Services will receive the funding under the Commonwealth Government’s Settlement Grants Program, which aims to help refugees and migrants become independent, acquire crucial skills and knowledge about life in Australia and contribute to the national economy. “I am delighted that Illawarra Multicultural Services will receive the financial support they need to continue to provide practical assistance to help our newest community members,” Ms Bird said. “The Government recognises the important role community organisations play helping migrants and refugees settle as quickly as possible and build rewarding lives in Australia and the Illawarra. Mr Jones said the projects would assist refugees and migrant families strengthen their connection to the wider Australian community and encourage participation, engagement and inclusion. “Activities will include group information sessions focusing on life skills, tenancy skills and how to access mainstream services. “These projects will provide new arrivals with the tools they need to become self-reliant and successfully settle in the community,” he said. Illawarra Multicultural Services will deliver services under the Settlement Grants Program in the local government areas of Wollongong, Shellharbour, Shoalhaven and Wingecarribee.

$440,000 to fix black spots in Cunningham

The Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese and Member for Cunningham Sharon Bird today announced the Commonwealth Government will provide $440,000 to fix three dangerous road black spots. The approved projects in the Federal electorate of Cunningham are: Picton Road at the Cordeaux Colliery entrance road at Wilton: $400,000 to provide a sealed shoulder; Intersection of Burelli Street and Kembla Street at Wollongong: $20,000 to remove the right turn filter and only allow turns on a green arrow; and Intersection of Princes Highway and Elliotts Road at Fairy Meadow: $20,000 to remove the right turn filter and only allow turns on a green arrow. The projects were recommended by a panel of independent road safety experts and ill be delivered during the course of the coming financial year (2011/2012). Ms Bird said since being elected in 2007, the Commonwealth Government has alocated more than $4.3 million to sixteen black spots across the Cunningham electorate. “This investment is helping to make our local roads even safer for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, with twelve of these projects already completed,” said Ms Bird. Continue reading

University of Wollongong part of $2.3 million research project to better predict weather and detect climate change

The University of Wollongong is part of a world-class research project that will help us better detect climate change and predict the weather, Federal Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, said today. The project has been made possible thanks to funding from the Commonwealth Government’s Australian Space Research Program (ASRP). Congratulating the University of Wollongong as part of a $2.3 million grant led by South Australian company Vipac Engineers and Scientists, Ms Bird said the Greenhouse Gas Monitor project will develop a sensor to improve the measurement of greenhouse gases. The Vipac-led team includes the Australian National University, the universities of Wollongong and Melbourne, the Bureau of Meteorology and Melbourne-based Rosebank Engineering. The project will increase Australia’s capability in the design, construction and testing of advanced, remote sensing instruments. The University of Wollongong will provide scientific leadership to the project and its world-class testing facilities will be vital to the project’s success. “By tying sensitive measurements to satellite observations, scientists will be able to provide a clear record of the level of greenhouse gases. This will help us monitor changes in the climate,” Ms Bird said. “In turn this will improve our knowledge of the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and also lead to more reliable weather forecasts. The new weather forecast capability will also benefit our agriculture industries. “This is yet another example of how the Commonwealth Government’s continued investment at the University of Wollongong is driving research and development, which will have broad applications for Australian innovation, commercialisation and jobs growth”, she said. Over the last 2 years, the Commonwealth Government has invested $205.7 million at the University of Wollongong.

Illawarra Retirement Trust gets palliative care funds

The Illawarra Retirement Trust (IRT) will receive $83,000 in Commonwealth Government funding to deliver palliative care support and services, Federal Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, announced this morning. “I am pleased that the IRT has been successful in its application under the Local Palliative Care Grants program. “Each year more than 20,000 people receive specialist palliative care and more than 500,000 patients, carers, and family members are affected. “Almost all of us will know someone facing a life threatening illness with very little or no prospect of cure. “This funding will help the IRT deliver the compassionate care needed for people nearing the end of their lives”, Ms Bird said. Across Australia, 81 community groups, health and aged care providers, and charitable organisations have received Commonwealth Government funding under the Local Palliative Care Grants Program.

$703,000 healthy communities boost for Wollongong

The Commonwealth Government will provide Wollongong City Council with $703,000 in funding to help ensure the people of the City of Wollongong look after their health and lifestyle, Federal Illawarra Labor MP’s, Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones, announced today. “This Commonwealth Government funding links a number of health and community based organisations together to help ensure that the local community looks after their health, prevents illness, and maintains a good lifestyle. “The fact is that the Wollongong community is ageing, daily living means we sometimes forget to eat the right foods, take exercise, and this has an impact on our health, costing us money to visit doctors. “The Healthy Communities Initiative, under which this funding is provided by the Commonwealth Government, aims to ensure we encourage and maintain a healthy community in Wollongong”, Ms Bird said. Mr Jones said, “the Healthy Communities Initiative would include installing outdoor fitness equipment in Wollongong’s southern suburbs. Continue reading

Emergency relief funding for five local community organisations in Cunningham

The Commonwealth Government will provide on-going funding over the next three years for five local community organisations providing emergency relief services to vulnerable families and individuals, Federal Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, said today. “The local community organisations will share in just over $2 million of funding. “Emergency relief services funding helps vulnerable families and individuals with assistance to meet food, clothing, pharmacy, transport, accommodation and utilities bills. “The Commonwealth Government recognises that cost of living pressures do impact on vulnerable families and individuals and the on-going funding support to local community organisations will provide some assistance to meet emergency situations”, Ms Bird said. Local Community Organisation Funding Amount Illawarra Aboriginal Corporation $95,183 Community Health for Adolescents in Need $75,961 Anglicare - Wollongong $1.09 million Salvation Army Illawarra $601,619 Thirroul Neighbourhood Centre Inc $150,441

Illawarra set to benefit from digital economy push

Federal Labor MPs, Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones, have today welcomed the release of the Commonwealth Government’s National Digital Economy Strategy, indicating that the Illawarra would benefit from the early roll-out of the National Broadband Network (NBN). “This region has been at the forefront of the NBN roll-out starting at Kiama and Minnamurra and is set to reap the benefits of high-speed broadband for health, education and telecommuting. “I encourage the region’s business, health, education and civic community to work with RDA Illawarra and its Broadband Sub-Committee to develop a region-wide digital economy strategy so we are ready to take full advantage of the NBN”, Sharon Bird said. Stephen Jones said, “The opportunities ahead of the region by building on its knowledge and experience in the digital economy will mean increased business and jobs growth. “The digital economy will change the way we do business, visit the doctor, learn at school and university, and work from home”. Ms Bird, who is the Chair of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications, and Mr Jones, who is also a member of the Committee, are about to wrap up a public inquiry into the role and potential of the NBN. Ms Bird and Mr Jones, with the support of Regional Development Australia Illawarra, were instrumental in ensuring that Kiama and Minnamurra were among the first mainland test sites for the roll-out of the NBN.

Final hurdle cleared in getting to the World Transplant Games

Media Alert Sponsorship Presentation 11:30am Government Caucus Room (RG 80) Australia’s youngest adult transplant games competitor nineteen year old Wollongong resident Jessica Sparks will be able to take part in the World Transplant Games in Sweden in June with the support of pharmaceutical company Abbott Australasia. Miss Sparks suffers from cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder which affects most systems of the body, particularly the respiratory system. At age 12, Jessica’s condition deteriorated and by age 16 she was diagnosed with end-stage lung disease and put on oxygen and bi-pap breathing devices. Her deteriorating condition meant that she could not walk, talk or breathe without assistance and her physical restrictions led to frustration for a girl who enjoyed participating in sports. In 2009, Jessica received a double lung transplant at St. Vincent’s Hospital. Since then, she has graduated from high school, completed a college course with High Distinctions and is currently studying law and French at the University of Wollongong. A passionate advocate for organ donation, in 2010 Jessica participated in the Australian Transplant Games winning 16 medals in sports including badminton, volleyball and athletics. Continue reading

Corrimal based partnership gives financial second chance to local people

Australia’s only specialist banking service for not-for-profit organisations has joined forces with a local not-for-profit employment and training provider to help the region’s most vulnerable people get financial loans and advice to get their lives back on track. Federal Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, said today that the Commonwealth Government has provided $2.3 million in funding support to Community Sector Banking (CSB), which is partnering with Access Community Group, to deliver a Financial Management Program in the Illawarra. “I am really delighted that two of Corrimal’s quiet achieving not-for-profit organisations are joining forces to help ensure that financially vulnerable and disadvantaged people can take advantage of a hand up to get their lives back on track. “The Financial Management Program aims to improve the financial knowledge and resilience of vulnerable people and families living in our local community. “CSB is a national organisation with its head office based in Corrimal since 2002, and Access Community Group has been based locally since 1986”, Ms Bird said. Continue reading