Monday 25 December 2023

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Sunday 24 December 2023

As 2023 draws to a close U.N. member states are increasingly frustrated and horrified by Israel's continuation of the war on Gaza


IMAGE: AlJazeera, 22 December 2023

On Friday 22 December 2023 the fifteen nation members of the U.N. Security Council voted 13 to 0 - with Russia and the United States of America abstaining from the vote - to adopt the following resolution demanding that all parties comply with their obligations under international law, notably with regard to the protection of civilians, calling for urgent and extended humanitarian pauses and corridors throughout the Gaza Strip for a sufficient number of days to enable full, rapid, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access and to enable urgent rescue and recovery efforts, also calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, as well as ensuring immediate humanitarian access.

The resolution also reconfirmed support for the right to sovereignty and self-determination of the Palestinian people and, for the 'two state solution'

NOTE: Although not a current member of the Security Council, Australia had shown its support for a humanitarian pause in Israels war on Gaza as a step towards a permanent ceasefire by voting for Resolution A/ES-10/l.27 (adopted 153 votes to 10) in the U.N. General Assembly on 12 December 2023.

Security Council resolution 2720 (2023)

The Security Council,

Reaffirming the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations,

Recalling all of its relevant resolutions, particularly resolution 2712 (2023), which, inter alia, demands that all parties comply with their obligations under international law, notably with regard to the protection of civilians, calls for urgent and extended humanitarian pauses and corridors throughout the Gaza Strip for a sufficient number of days to enable full, rapid, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access and to enable urgent rescue and recovery efforts, and calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, as well as ensuring immediate humanitarian access,

Reaffirming that all parties to conflicts must adhere to their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law, as applicable,

Stressing that the Gaza Strip constitutes an integral part of the territory occupied in 1967, and reiterating the vision of the two-State solution, with the Gaza Strip as part of the Palestinian State,

Expressing deep concern at the dire and rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and its grave impact on the civilian population, underlining the urgent need for full, rapid, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access into and throughout the entire Gaza Strip, and taking note of the concerning reports from the leadership of the United Nations and humanitarian organizations in this regard, reaffirming its strong concern for the disproportionate effect that the conflict is having on the lives and well-being of children, women, and other civilians in vulnerable situations, and stressing the humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, and independence,

Stressing the obligation to respect and protect humanitarian relief and medical personnel,

Reaffirming its call for all parties to refrain from depriving the civilian population in the Gaza Strip of basic services and humanitarian assistance indispensable to their survival, consistent with international humanitarian law,

Commending the indispensable and ongoing efforts of the United Nations, its specialized agencies and all humanitarian and medical personnel in the Gaza Strip to alleviate the impact of the conflict on the people in the Gaza Strip, and expressing condolences for all civilians, including humanitarian and medical personnel, killed in the course of this conflict,

Welcoming the efforts of Egypt to facilitate the use of the Rafah Border crossing by United Nations humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners for the provision of humanitarian assistance for people in need throughout the Gaza Strip,

Taking note of the 15 December 2023 decision by the Government of Israel to open its crossing at Karem Abu Salem / Kerem Shalom for direct delivery of humanitarian assistance to Palestinian civilians in Gaza, which should ease congestion and help facilitate the provision of life-saving assistance to those who urgently need it, and emphasizing the need to continue working closely with all relevant parties to expand the delivery and distribution of humanitarian assistance, while confirming its humanitarian nature and ensuring that it reaches its civilian destination,

Encouraging engagement with relevant states in the implementation of this resolution,

Welcoming the implementation of a recent ‘humanitarian pause’ in the Gaza Strip, and expressing appreciation for the diplomatic efforts of Egypt, the State of Qatar, and other states in this regard, and also expressing grave concerns as to the impact the resumption of hostilities has had on civilians,

Recognizing that the civilian population in the Gaza Strip must have access to sufficient quantities of assistance that they need, including enough food, water, sanitation, electricity, telecommunications and medical services essential for their survival, and that the provision of humanitarian supplies in the Gaza Strip needs to be sufficient to alleviate the massive humanitarian needs of the Palestinian civilian population throughout the Gaza Strip, and recognizing the importance of resuming commercial imports of essential goods and services into the Gaza Strip,

Welcoming financial contributions and pledges by member states in support of the civilian population in Gaza, and taking note of the International Humanitarian Conference for the Civilian Population of Gaza held in Paris on 9 November 2023 and its follow-up meeting on 6 December 2023,

1. Reiterates its demand that all parties to the conflict comply with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law, including with regard to the conduct of hostilities and the protection of civilians and civilian objects, humanitarian access, and the protection of humanitarian personnel and their freedom of movement, and the duty, as applicable, of ensuring the food and medical supplies, among others, of the population, recalls that civilian and humanitarian facilities, including hospitals, medical facilities, schools, places of worship, and facilities of the UN, as well as humanitarian personnel, and medical personnel, and their means of transport, must be respected and protected, according to international humanitarian law, and affirms that nothing in this resolution absolves the parties of these obligations;

2. Reaffirms the obligations of the parties to the conflict under international humanitarian law regarding the provision of humanitarian assistance, demands that they allow, facilitate and enable the immediate, safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance at scale directly to the Palestinian civilian population throughout the Gaza Strip, and in this regard calls for urgent steps to immediately allow safe, unhindered, and expanded humanitarian access and to create the conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities;

3. Demands that the parties to the conflict allow and facilitate the use of all available routes to and throughout the entire Gaza Strip, including border crossings, including full and prompt implementation of the announced opening of the Karem Abu Salem / Kerem Shalom Border Crossing, for the provision of humanitarian assistance in order to ensure that humanitarian personnel and humanitarian assistance, including fuel, food, and medical supplies and emergency shelter assistance, reaches the civilian population in need throughout the Gaza Strip without diversion and through the most direct routes, as well as for material and equipment to repair and ensure the functioning of critical infrastructure and to provide essential services, without prejudice to the obligations of the parties to the conflict under international humanitarian law, and stresses the importance of respecting and protecting border crossings and maritime infrastructure used for the delivery of humanitarian assistance at scale;

4. Requests the Secretary-General, with the objective of expediting the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the civilian population in the Gaza Strip, to appoint a Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator with responsibility for facilitating, coordinating, monitoring, and verifying in Gaza, as appropriate, the humanitarian nature of all humanitarian relief consignments to Gaza provided through states which are not party to the conflict, and further requests that the Coordinator expeditiously establish a UN mechanism for accelerating the provision of humanitarian relief consignments to Gaza through states which are not party to the conflict, consulting all relevant parties, with the goal of expediting, streamlining, and accelerating the process of providing assistance while continuing to help ensure that aid reaches its civilian destination, and demands that the parties to the conflict cooperate with the Coordinator to fulfill their mandate without delay or obstruction;

5. Requests that the Coordinator be appointed expeditiously;

6. Determines that the Coordinator will have the necessary personnel and equipment in Gaza, under the authority of the United Nations, to perform these, and other functions as determined by the Security Council, and requests that the Coordinator report to the Security Council on its work, with an initial report within 20 days and thereafter every 90 days through 30 September 2024;

7. Demands the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, as well as ensuring humanitarian access to address medical needs of all hostages;

8. Demands the provision of fuel to Gaza at levels that will meet requisite humanitarian needs;

9. Calls for all parties to adhere to international humanitarian law and in this regard deplores all attacks against civilians and civilian objects, as well as all violence and hostilities against civilians, and all acts of terrorism;

10. Reaffirms the obligations of all parties under international humanitarian law, including with regard to respecting and protecting civilians and taking constant care to spare civilian objects, including such objects critical to the delivery of essential services to the civilian population, and with regard to refraining from attacking, destroying, removing or rendering useless objects that are indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, as well as respecting and protecting humanitarian personnel and consignments used for humanitarian relief operations;

11. Reaffirms that civilian objects, including places of refuge, including within United Nations facilities and their surroundings, are protected under international humanitarian law, and rejects forced displacement of the civilian population, including children, in violation of international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law;

12. Reiterates its unwavering commitment to the vision of the two-State solution where two democratic States, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders, consistent with international law and relevant UN resolutions, and in this regard stresses the importance of unifying the Gaza Strip with the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority;

13. Demands that all parties to the conflict take all appropriate steps to ensure the safety and security of United Nations and associated personnel, those of its specialized agencies, and all other personnel engaged in humanitarian relief activities consistent with international humanitarian law, without prejudice to their freedom of movement and access, stresses the need not to hinder these efforts, and recalls that humanitarian relief personnel must be respected and protected;

14. Demands implementation of resolution 2712 (2023) in full, requests the Secretary-General to report to the Security Council in writing within five working days of the adoption of this resolution on the implementation of resolution 2712 (2023), and thereafter as necessary, and calls upon all parties concerned to make full use of the humanitarian notification and deconfliction mechanisms in place to protect all humanitarian sites, including UN facilities, and to help facilitate the movement of aid convoys, without prejudice to the obligations of the parties to uphold international humanitarian law;

15. Requests the Secretary-General to report on the implementation of this resolution in the regular reporting to the Council;

16. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.

TheTimes of Israel, 22 December 2023, excerpts:

Friday’s vote came after days of intense negotiations and delays required to get the US on board with the initiative. United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the UN Lana Nusseibeh acknowledged that the resolution wasn’t ideal as far as Abu Dhabi is concerned, given that it believes that only an immediate ceasefire will help ensure the surge in humanitarian aid that the initiative seeks.....

Security Council resolutions are legally binding, but in practice, many parties choose to ignore the council’s requests for action.....

Friday’s resolution also requests the appointment of a UN humanitarian coordinator to oversee and verify third-country aid to Gaza......

The adopted resolution states that aid would be managed in consultation with “all relevant parties” — meaning Israel will retain operational oversight of aid deliveries.....

Israel has argued that the limited amount of aid entering Gaza has been the fault of UN facilitators, stressing that it has inspected three times the amount of aid than has been entering Gaza. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres insisted in a Friday statement on the vote that Israel’s offensive was the “real problem… creating massive obstacles” to aid shipments, as he reiterated his call for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire.

Reuters, 21 December 2023:

CAIRO/GAZA/JERUSALEM, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Fighting in the Gaza Strip escalated on Thursday with some of the most intense Israeli bombardment of the war...

Israeli bombing was at its most intense over northern Gaza, where orange flashes of explosions could be seen from across the fence in Israel in the morning hours. Later, Israeli planes roared over central and southern areas, dropping bombs that sent up plumes of smoke, residents said.

In Israel's commercial capital Tel Aviv, sirens wailed and rockets exploded overhead, intercepted by Israeli defences. Shrapnel fell on a school but the children were in shelters and there were no reported casualties, Israel's Ynet news site said.

Friday 22 December 2023

When it comes to trashing the built environment & amenities in small regional towns the Minns Labor Government is as big a destructive bully as its Liberal-Nationals predecessors


This is a cruel hoax being perpetrated by the NSW Minns Labor Government which benefits no-one except financial speculators and slapdash property developers 

Echo, 21 December 2023:

The latest ‘affordable housing’ reforms by the NSW Labor government have been roundly criticised by the peak body representing councils, with Local Government NSW (LGNSW) saying it ‘further erodes council involvement in town planning, giving developers increasingly free rein in both city and country’.

The legislation that governs NSW ‘affordable housing’ is the State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP), and a revamped SEPP came into effect last week under NSW Labor, which aims ‘to make it faster and easier to build more affordable housing’.

It followed the original policy announcement made earlier in June.

A joint statement by Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, Paul Scully, and Minister for Housing, Homelessness and the North Coast, Rose Jackson, spun a positive message around the reform, including amendments ‘to ensure the bonuses are available to Build to Rent developments, by allowing them to apply in commercial zones, even if residential accommodation is prohibited under the relevant Local Environmental Plan (LEP)’.

Inconsistent statements

Ms Jackson said, in the media release, ‘These reforms are about bringing together all key delivery partners while making sure we consider the views of councils and communities, so we get high quality homes supported by the right infrastructure and amenity.’

Yet LGNSW president, Cr Turley, said the new SEPP removes councils from the approval process, which removes community checks and balances, and that the reforms also do not address how the infrastructure required by the additional density and growth in population would be funded.

You can vote out a council which makes planning decisions you don’t support, but you have no such power to get rid of the bureaucrats,’ she said.

The Echo asked the office of Ms Jackson why she believes councils’ views were considered in the revised SEPP, given the views of LGNSW.

Additionally, The Echo asked how can the NSW government ‘be confident that their affordable housing reform will be effective, given there is no measure of effectiveness in this reform?’.

Also, ‘Does Ms Jackson support a parliamentary inquiry into the SEPP to establish how affordable housing outcomes can be measured and improved?’

Ms Jackson’s reply will be published if received.

Cr Turley added the SEPP change also allows developers of the biggest buildings to bypass every single component of the council approval process, leaving no protection for local communities.

Under the State Significant Development (SSD) pathway, communities will be at the mercy of faceless government bureaucrats any time a building costs more than $75m in the city, or $30m in regional areas’, she said.

Thursday 21 December 2023

About that infill re-development proposal for Yamba Hill & CBD

The General Manager

Clarence Valley Council

2 Prince St, Grafton, NSW 2460

21 December 2023


Cr. Peter Johnstone (Mayor)

Cr. Jeff Smith (Deputy Mayor)

Crs. Allison Whaites, Debrah Novak, Greg Clancy, Ian Tiley, Karen Toms, Steve Pickering, William Day

Dear Sir,

RE: Clarence Valley Council Draft Local Housing Strategy and Draft Affordable Housing Policy – on public exhibition until 9am Friday 22 December 2023

Draft Local Housing Strategy (final form 27 October 2023) a 158 page document and Affordable Housing Policy 2015 (final form 11 October 2023) a 7 page document, lay out Clarence Valley Council's proposal for future residential development in the upper and lower Clarence Valley.

These documents speak to using medium density infill development to more closely align urban area demographics with what local and state governments consider 'ideal'. NSW Government policy suggests that infill development can exceed surrounding building heights provided 10-15 per cent of a new building's total floor area can be considered 'affordable housing'.

When it comes to Yamba there are two infill proposals.

One for above existing shop residential flats /apartments raising an undisclosed number of commercial buildings to heights of 18 metres in the town CBD. Foreshadowing increased pressure on town parking which already frequently has cars cruising the main and side streets repeatedly trying to find a parking spot - a situation made worse by visitors in holiday periods. Added to that the street shadows cast by the raised height of buildings in a central business district where casual outdoor dining is enjoyed by residents & visitors alike. Entrance to these above shop flats/apartments will require stairs and this will potentially limit residency to those without mobility or other health issues, those who are not frail aged and perhaps not be accommodation favoured by parents with very small children.

The second infill proposal is for 152 R3 Medium Density dwellings on Yamba Hill, which after demolition of up to 70 existing houses on selected lots will see the net new infill dwellings reduced to est. 82 "Premium townhouses in desirable location near to the ocean" 12 meters in height. [Clarence Valley Council, October 2023].

The three housing types shown as examples of infill dwellings in the "Draft Local Housing Strategy" at page 42 were Dual Occupancy, Terrace Houses and Manor House which is simply a two story block of flats.

All of them shared the same features: internal staircases, common walls and an indication that there would be little to no cross ventilation into some of these dwellings. In the case of the block of flats there was no architectural feature which would lessen the heat hitting the buildings outer walls.

So many of Yamba's existing two-bedroom duplex dwellings, due to inappropriate building design & small lot size, experience both hot and cold extremes to a degree larger housing tends to avoid.

Given Australia's average air-surface temperature has increased to1.47 ± 0.24 °C since national records began in 1910 [CSIRO online, retrieved 21.12.23] and the average global temperature is 1.2°C above pre-industrial levels and expected to begin to consistently surpass 1.5°C from 2024 onwards [Hansen, James et al, November 2023,"Global Warming Acceleration"], I would have expected Council to indicate that it realises that vulnerable people are going to start dying during heat extremes in just such multiple dwelling designs it offered as examples. After all it does briefly mention under Strategic Directions, "Adapt to climate change and reduce exposure to natural hazards".

By the same token, given science has made it clear that tropical storms are now moving polewards, slowing down but growing in destructive force and are predicted to occur as Category 2 cyclones as far south as the NSW coast with Corindi Beach as the range limit [Bruy`ere, C.L. et al, Sept 2022, "Using large climate model ensembles to assess historical and future tropical cyclone activity along the Australian east coast"] it is not unreasonable to expect there would be some mention of housing designs with wind loading standards higher than 57 m/s.

As a general observation I was disappointed that the necessary broad brush approach to population demographics was not refined once specific re-development sites were outlined [See Appendix].

I suggest that Council gives serious and detailed consideration to the exacerbated climate change risks that urban areas now face and, consider amending the two documents to include ways to limit the degree to which such risks affect the built environment. Thus making it clear to all stakeholders that Council expects and will insist on a higher level of structural safety built into infill house designs and development applications.

I further suggest that Council reconsider the impact that increased building height associated with shoptop housing may have on the character of CBD streetscapes which form part of the tourist experience of Yamba and, from which local income is derived which supports the Clarence Valley regional economy bottom line.

In anticipation and appreciation of your assistance with this matter.


[signature & address redacted]

Yamba NSW 2464



Yamba, a coastal urban precinct covers an est.16.92km of degraded sand hills, a section of elevated coastline with unstable soils, predominately soft estuarine & ocean shore lines, drained marshland, small tidal water courses, subverted natural flood ways and, a former natural flood storage area historically used as pasture but now under development.

It is bordered by the Clarence River (north), Sullivans Road-southern limits of an established golf course (south), Pacific Ocean (east) and Oyster Channel (west).


As of 2022 the town's resident population is est. 6,403 persons with a population density calculated at 378.5 persons per [.id Community: Demographic Resources, "Yamba Community Profile", online version].

NOTE: Yamba's current resident population is thought to represent a little over 10 per cent of the total Clarence Valley population [Clarence Valley Council, October 2023]

The Yamba estimated resident population had remained stable at between 6,168 and 6,403 persons in the six financial years 2017 to 2022, indicating a population growth of just 235 individuals or an average population change percentage of less that one point [.id, Yamba Community Profile].


The built environment includes two distinct shopping precincts, a mixed light industrial estate, a marina, various forms of holiday/tourist accommodation, two hotels, two sports-based social clubs, a number of small restaurant/cafes, a cinema, a post office, two banks, two primary schools, a digital TAFE space and, approx. 3,643 dwellings with an average household size of 2.1 persons [ABS Census 2021].


Public transport in the town consists of 8 daily bus movements out of Yamba from Monday to Friday which follows a set route through 10 town streets. With 4 bus movements on Saturday, Sunday & public holidays.

There are 8 daily bus movements into Yamba from Monday to Friday and 4 bus movements on Saturday, Sunday and public holidays. Wait times between buses on weekdays is between an hour and a half to two hours depending on the time of day.

The bus service is supplemented by one taxi nominally operating 7 days a week from 7:30am to 10:00pm. However due to post-pandemic state-wide movement restrictions which affected the local economy this taxi service sometimes has to use the Yamba taxi to service Maclean township as well and, on occasion it is not on the road at all due to staffing issues. The one rideshare vehicle nominally operating in Yamba has restricted hours.


The permanently occupied residential dwellings are est. 2,783 dwellings, with the remaining 860 unoccupied residential dwellings presumably being either investment properties, second homes, deceased estates or for sale as vacant possession on Census Night.

NOTE: Holiday rental & AirBnB accommodation were excluded from the occupied residential dwelling count in Census 2021 and presumably their number can be found in the 411 dwelling difference between the occupied & unoccupied residential dwellings and the overall total of undifferentiated dwellings in the town [ABS, Yamba (NSW) 2021Census: All persons QuickStats].

By 2021 the residential housing profile was:

Separate house — 2,091

Semi-detached, row or terrace house, townhouse etc — 474

Flat or apartment —161

Other — 44. [ibid]

NOTE: An est. 71.9 per cent of all occupied residential housing had between 2 to 3 bedrooms.

Of the occupied residential dwelling an est. 69.3 per cent were owner occupied while another 27.2 per cent were occupied by persons renting their accommodation [op cit].


Within town precincts there is sufficient vacant land with residential zoning — much of it with active development consents and some of it in the process of site preparation in anticipation of subdivision & sale/lease. Included in active consents & proposed developments are medium density subdivisions and manufactured home estates.

It is currently estimated over 2,000 people will be housed in active & pending development consents should these be fully realised.


People of workforce age comprise 56.6 per cent of the town population. In June Quarter 2023 the Maclean-Yamba-Iluka unemployment rate was 3.6 per cent in a labour force of 7,013 persons. The unemployment rate for the same quarter in Grafton was 6.4 per cent and unemployment across the entire Clarence Valley in June 2023 was 4.7 per cent.

Sectors where employment is frequently found in the town:

Cafes and Restaurants, Accommodation, Aged Care Residential Services, Primary Education, Supermarket and Grocery Stores.


Age groupings as a percentage of the town population:

  • 0-14 years—13% compared with Northern NSW at 16.3% & all of NSW at 18.2%;

  • 15-24 years—7.4% compared with Northern NSW at 9.7% & all of NSW at 11.8%;

  • 25-39 years—13.1% compared with Northern NSW at 14.9% & all of NSW at 21.4%;

  • 40-54 years—14.1% compared with Northern NSW at 17.7% & all of NSW at 19.1%;

  • 55-64 years—14.8% compared with Northern NSW at 14.8% & all of NSW at 11.9%;

  • 65-79 years—27.7% compared with Northern NSW at 19.9% & all of NSW at 13.1%; and

  • 80 years & older—10.0% compared with Northern NSW at 6.8% & all of NSW at 4.6%. [.id, Yamba (NSW)

    Locality snapshots]

    NOTE: An est. 37.7% of Yamba's population are between 65 to 85+ years of age. While 61.4% of those over 15 years of age are living as legally married or de facto partners.


Total migration into the Yamba-Angourie area in 2022 & 2023 combined was est. 1,435 persons and migration out of the area was est. 941 persons, resulting in net migration of est. 494 people [.id, Angourie – Yamba: Components of population change].


The section of Yamba Hill which Council has indicated it intends to designate as suitable for R3 medium density infill redevelopment falls with ABS SA1:10401188228 covering 0.39 with an equivalent population density of 758.9.

Council proposes to allow the demolition of approximately 70 dwellings to be replaced by 152 dwellings in the form of townhouses, with building heights of 12 metres which translate into two floors.

The net dwelling increase will be 82 newly erected dwellings and a projected increase in population on this section of Yamba Hill in the vicinity of 172 persons. Given the description of the housing types anticipated it is highly likely internal access to dwellings would involve staircases.

All newly housed persons would be able to access the direct bus route via Yamba Street. However, as there is a 1hr:30min to 2 hour wait between all weekday bus movements and 2 hour waits on weekends, anyone without access to a car would have to rely on the taxi service or walk between 320 to 800 metres downhill to Yamba Central Business District.

If on foot the return journey via Yamba Street goes from a level 9m elevation increasing by degree up to a 17m elevation near the top of that section of Yamba Hill.

Wednesday 20 December 2023

Locums, agency staff and volunteers are the face of public hospital health care in the NSW Northern Rivers region in 2023-2024


Clarence Valley independent, 13 December 2023:

Staff shortages amongst doctors, nurses, and specialists on the north coast has seen the Northern NSW Local Health District spend $148 million in the 2022-2023 financial year on agency staff.....

In July 2023, The Sydney Morning Herald revealed that NSW Health was spending about $1 billion annually on temporary health workers, with $148 million spent on locum doctors who are paid up to $4000 a day, while working in under resourced regional hospitals.

Northern NSW Local Health District NNSWLHD Chief Executive, Tracey Maisey said the past few years have been challenging, navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, floods and bushfire emergencies.

Despite these challenges our staff have succeeded in delivering high quality and positive outcomes of care,” she said.

When vacancies exist, NNSWLHD engages agency medical and nursing staff to supplement the permanent workforce across the District.

The 2022 floods had a significant impact on local communities and our local workforce, and agency staff played an important role in supporting our services throughout this period.

In the 2022-23 financial year, the costs associated with our agency workforce totalled $148 million.”

The $148 million spent in the 2022-23 financial year on locum staff equates to about 13 per-cent of the Northern NSW Local Health District NNSWLHD annual budget, with more than $68 million paid in wages and $16 million spent on accommodation for these staff.....

Recruitment of staff is ongoing.

An overseas nursing recruitment program conducted earlier in 2023 is bolstering local nurse numbers, with the first of 60 new nurses already settling into their roles at hospitals across the District,” Ms Maisey said.

In partnership with our staff and expert external support we have developed a comprehensive recruitment campaign, and there are recruitment and retention incentives for critical roles.

We are supporting the retention of existing staff by assisting eligible staff on temporary contracts to transition to permanent employment and are working with our facilities to support them to improve internal recruitment processes and timeframes.

We have also increased our new graduate nursing numbers, as well as offering permanent positions rather than traditional fixed term contracts.”

The Northern NSW Local Health District board has also looked at the issue of creating a volunteer arm in its service provision and in November 2023 issued a media release which stated in part:

Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) is calling for community members to join the Healthcare Helpers volunteer program, with a range of roles available in health facilities for 2024.

Applications are now open for volunteer roles supporting patients, visitors and healthcare staff in facilities in Tweed, Nimbin, Ballina, Lismore, Maclean, Grafton, Bonalbo, Urbenville and Kyogle.

NNSWLHD Volunteering and Fundraising Manager, Claire Quince said the volunteers support health staff and improve the experiences of patients and visitors.

After welcoming 30 new Healthcare Helpers to Lismore, Grafton and Maclean Hospitals in June this year, we are now expanding the program to the District’s other health facilities,” Ms Quince said.

In addition to meet and greet roles in hospital public areas, we are introducing companion volunteers to provide social support to patients undergoing surgical procedures, cancer treatment and dialysis rehabilitation, as well as new mothers in the maternity ward.

Our residential aged care facilities at our Multi-Purpose Services are also recruiting companion volunteers to provide social support and assist with outings for aged care residents.”