Cultural exhibition to tour to Wollongong

Wollongong will soon host a unique arts and cultural exhibition thanks to almost $1.7million in Australian Government funding announced today by Arts Minister Simon Crean. “We are committed to taking the great art-forms of the capital cities to the regions to ensure all Australians continue to access and participate in our dynamic arts and culture,” Mr Crean said. “The funding announced today will support 14 organisations to develop and tour exhibitions to venues across Australia, with a particular focus on regional and remote communities.” This support is provided through the Australian Government’s national touring program Visions of Australia and the Contemporary Touring Initiative. The funding will provide a wide variety of communities with the opportunity to view significant exhibitions from major galleries and museums, as well as cutting edge contemporary art. “In advance of Australia’s first National Cultural Policy in almost 20 years, we are demonstrating our commitment to regional arts initiatives,” Mr Crean said. “This investment will enhance the liveability of the regions and encourage greater participation in the cultural life of our nation.” Continue reading

478 new homes for vulnerable Australians in the Illawarra

Nearly 500 new homes have now been built in the Illawarra under the Federal Labor Government’s $5.6 billion Social Housing Initiative. “I am happy to say that this region has benefitted greatly from the Australian Government’s $5.6 billion investment in social housing, with 478 new homes being delivered here in the Illawarra,” Member for Throsby, Stephen Jones said. “Developments like these are important in helping to provide a safe and secure place to call home for some of our community’s most vulnerable people,” he said. Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird said “Not only do these homes offer stable accommodation, they are also designed to assist residents to remain connected and supported in our community. “Stephen and I are particularly proud to be part of a Government committed to giving vulnerable Australians a place to call their own,” Ms Bird said. Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Robert McClelland said, “as of 1 January, over 17,000 new homes have been delivered to vulnerable Australians right across the country with 478 of these new homes now in the electorates of Cunningham, Throsby and Gilmore.” Continue reading

Free hearing services for young people

21 December 2011 The Commonwealth Government is extending free hearing services to young people from 1 January 2012, the Federal Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, said today. “Young people aged 21 to 26 years of age living in the Illawarra will be eligible for a range of free hearing services. Previously a young person became ineligible when they turned 21 years of age. “Young people will be eligible for rehabilitation and hearing devices, including hearing aids and cochlear implant speech processor upgrades from Hearing Australia. “The inability to access appropriate hearing services can have a serious effect on a young person’s ability to earn a living and participate socially. “The extension of free hearing services to young people up to 26 years of age ensures they can have any hearing problems addressed quickly and early, while undertaking their studies, or establishing themselves in their chosen careers”, Ms Bird said. The Government has invested an additional $47 million over four years to expand the Community Service Obligations (CSO) component of the Hearing Services Program (HSP). To be eligible to access hearing services as part of these changes, young adults must be an Australian citizen or permanent resident, have not yet turned 26 years of age, and have a confirmed hearing loss.

Nurse practitioner funding awarded to IRT

18 December 2011 The Illawarra Retirement trust (IRT) has been awarded $690,000 over three years for a nurse practitioner to help deliver quality health care to older Australians in the Illawarra, Federal Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, announced today. The IRT funding is one of 32 projects across Australia to expand the role of the nurse practitioner in residential and community based care. “Nurse practitioners play an important role in the delivery of health care to older Australians. “They can assess and manage clients, prescribe medication, order diagnostic investigations and refer clients to other health care professionals. “Wollongong’s population is ageing and this demographic trend increases the number of people requiring complex support and care. “This funding will enable the IRT nurse practitioner to assist clients across the Illawarra region, including in Shellharbour and Kiama. “I am delighted that the IRT has been recognised to participate in this national pilot program”, Ms Bird said. The funding has been made available under Commonwealth Government’s Nurse Practitioner – Aged Care Models of Practice Program.

Commonwealth continues support for high speed broadband in Illawarra region with $1.25 million in funding

15 December 2011 The Federal Illawarra Labor MPs, Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones, today welcomed the announcement of Kiama Council’s success in funding under the first round of programs to enable local communities to take advantage of the National Broadband Network (NBN). The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, has announced that Kiama Council has been successful in the first round of funding under the Commonwealth Government’s Digital Hub and Digital Local Government Program. Kiama Community College has been successful in funding under the Digital Enterprise programs. The Commonwealth Government’s funding of the three projects combined is up to $1.25 million. “This is good news for the Illawarra and shows the Commonwealth’s consistent, strong support for the roll-out of high-speed broadband in this region. “Unfortunately, the position of the Liberal-National Party is to continue to oppose the NBN”, Ms Bird said. Mr Jones said, “The investment that this region has made in putting the case that the NBN should be rolled-out among the first mainland sites has paid off. “We will see the NBN roll-out in Wollongong and Dapto next year as was announced by the Prime Minister in October.”

University of Wollongong to benefit from new CRC funding

23 November 2011 The University of Wollongong’s Australian Institute for Innovative Materials (AIIM) will play a leading role in major research projects to develop low cost, high powered batteries for use in electric vehicles and photovoltaic solar cells, the Federal Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, said this afternoon. The Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Kim Carr, announced $148 million in funding for new Cooperative Research Centres (CRCs) with $26 million awarded to the Automotive Australia 2020 CRC and $14.5 million awarded to the CRC for Polymers. “These two new CRCs, the research projects they are involved in, and the leading role to be played by the University of Wollongong’s AIIM, are about powering the future in a low carbon constrained economy. “I am delighted that AIIM, which was awarded $43.8 million in Commonwealth Government funding, will be able to play a leading role in research and industry collaboration to develop low cost, high powered batteries for electric vehicles and organic photovoltaic solar cells”, Ms Bird said.  

Wollongong small businesses and workers to benefit from Australia's mining boom

23 November 2011 The Federal Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, today welcomed the passage through the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth Government’s Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT) despite opposition from the Liberal-National Party. “Thousands of small business operators and workers in the Illawarra region will finally share the benefits of this unprecedented boom in Australia’s mineral and energy resources. “The MRRT recognises that Australia’s minerals and energy resources belong to every Australian. “In opposing the introduction of the MRRT, the Liberal-National Party simply confirm that they stand up for vested interests, not all Australians”, Ms Bird said. She said that 15,100 small businesses in the Cunningham electorate would benefit from the $6500 immediate write-off of assets, and cut in the company tax rate to 29 percent. “The boost in superannuation from 9 percent to 12 percent will help 45,500 workers in Cunningham enjoy a higher retirement income. “Expanding superannuation concessions to income earners earning less than 37,000 per year will help increase the retirement income of another 22,900 low-income earners. “This is real change and real reform for small businesses and workers in my electorate ensuring they share in a $430 billion pipeline of investment in the Australian mining industry”, Ms Bird said.

Expanded GP services for the Illawarra and Southern Highlands

18 November 2011 Stephen Jones MP and Sharon Bird MP have welcomed the announcement of over $1.6 million in health infrastructure grants for Illawarra and Southern Highlands GP clinics and frontline healthcare providers. The Member for Throsby, Stephen Jones, said that the new health infrastructure would increase capacity and access to local primary healthcare providers. “Making sure families can access the healthcare they need close to home is a key part of the Gillard Labor Government’s health reform agenda. These grants are helping to make this happen,” Mr Jones said. Sharon Bird, the Member for Cunningham, said that as well as increasing capacity, some providers would offer new or expanded services. “This bricks and mortar health investment will make a real difference to local community health care,” Ms Bird said.   Continue reading

New Research Centre for Wollongong

Hon Anthony Albanese MP Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Leader of the House The University of Wollongong will produce world-class research and teaching in infrastructure development with the opening of its new $62 million SMART Infrastructure Facility. This state-of-the-art facility consists of 30 specialist research and teaching laboratories that focus on a wide range of infrastructure services such as electricity, energy, water, gas, transport and rail. It will ensure that large scale infrastructure investments in Australia and public policy development are based on evidenced-based research. The laboratories will include a simulation centre which can generate scalable models of various infrastructure services and how they interact. This will be of great benefit to more than 5000 students who are expected to take classes at the facility each week. Continue reading

Paying tribute to a disability champion

SENATOR JAN MCLUCAS Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers SHARON BIRD MP Member for Cunningham STEPHEN JONES MP Member for Throsby The Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Senator Jan McLucas, today paid tribute to long serving Chief Executive Officer of Greenacres Disability Services, Neil Preston OAM. At Greenacres today, Senator McLucas joined Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird and Member for Throsby, Stephen Jones in a surprise celebration for Mr Preston to thank him for his service to the disability sector. “Neil is an accomplished CEO, he is a recipient of an Order of Australia, he has been a contributor to our country’s public policy; he has many hats and a long list of achievements that have made a difference to the lives of people with disability,” Senator McLucas said. “Thank you Neil, for your relentless energy and commitment, for defending the rights and well being of people with a disability, for delivering real change in our community. Your knowledge of the sector has informed many government decisions.” Ms Bird said that under Neil’s leadership, Greenacres had grown from having 205 service users, operating 6 services from 6 sites when he commenced in 1996, to now working with 950 people with disability providing 18 services from 16 sites in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven regions. Continue reading