Weekly Column

Sunday is Australia, a day on which we reflect on and celebrate who we are, where we’ve been, what we’ve achieved and what we have to look forward to.  As a nation we have much to be proud of.

It’s also a time to thank those who give their time on a voluntary basis to help those in need, to keep us safe, or to make our local communities the best places they can possibly be.  I congratulate in advance all those who will be recognised on Sunday for their contributions and achievements.   Happy Australia Day to all.


I’m very pleased to announce the successful recipients of the latest round of Local Sporting Champions Grants. In this round there were nine individual local athletes who will each receive $500 under the program.

Congratulations to Ashtonfield’s Patrick Magann, Singleton’s Jade Moody and Taylah Knight, Aberglasslyn’s Matthew Pender, Buchanan’s Nadja Squires, Cessnock’s Ella-Rose Hugo, East Maitland’s Jamie Parker, Branxton’s Corey Lamb and Weston’s Connor Spinks.   I know many families find it difficult to meet the ongoing and significant costs associated with participation at sporting competitions, particularly those from regional areas.

The Local Sporting Champions program is designed to provide financial assistance for young people aged 12-18 towards the cost of travel, accommodation, uniforms or equipment when competing, coaching or officiating at an official national sporting organisation, endorsed state, national or international sporting championships or a School Sport Australia state or national championships.  Applications for round 3 are open until Feb 28th. Application forms are available online at the Australian Sport Commission website


With many families feeling the post-Christmas pinch, Hunter Water has joined a program that provides interest free loans to low income earners for essential household items such as washing machines, water heaters and stoves.

Hunter Water is partnering with Hunter Region No Interest Loans Scheme (HRNILS), an organisation that supports those who are financially struggling by providing interest free loans of up to $1,200. 124 families have already bought a new water efficient washing machine through the program. A new washing machine will save the average household 21,000 litres of water and 700 kilowatt hours of energy which is about $110 per year not being spent on utility bills.

The environment is also benefiting from the program. Enough water to fill an Olympic swimming pool and 1.5 million black balloons of carbon have already been saved thanks to interest free loans for new water efficient washing machines.

To be eligible for a no interest loan for an essential household item, applicants need to have a healthcare or pension card and be able to afford repayments of up to $30 per fortnight.

Essential household items that can be purchased through the program include fridges, freezers, washing machines, heaters, computers, furniture, car registration and insurance, green slips, medical equipment, prescription eyewear, stoves and water heaters.

For more information, please visit or call 02 4987 7660.

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