16 November 2016

Last week I had the pleasure of being a part of the Cessnock Chamber and BPW fourth annual White Ribbon Day breakfast.It was an opportunity to continue the discussion around domestic violence and for Cessnock men to join me in taking the White Ribbon Oath.  As a White Ribbon Day Ambassador I feel very passionate about ensuring our community is talking about domestic violence every day not just on White Ribbon Day November 25, 2016. Sadly 65 woman in Australia die as a result of domestic violence every year. As a community we have a responsibility to speak out and prevent this tragedy from continuing. It was positive to see other men in Cessnock join me in becoming an ambassador. I congratulate Mount View High Deputy Principal Shane Hookway and Mount View High teacher Steve Quigley on their decision to become role models for all men in our community.  

Australia Day 2017 Award Nominations have opened giving us the opportunity to recognise people dedicated to our community. I witness firsthand many of the people who are always working towards making our community a better place. We are very lucky to have so many people willing to give up their own time making invaluable contributions. Nominations cover different categories including Citizen of the Year Award, Senior Citizen of the Year Award ,Young Citizen of the Year Award , Community Event Award, Sports Award, Environmental Award, Heritage Award and, Achievement and Appreciation Awards.   Official nomination forms and selection criteria are available from www.cessnock.nsw.gov.au. Nominations close Friday 9 December 2016. The recipients will be announced at the Civic Reception held on Australia Day.  

The Emergency Services certainly did a great job protecting our community during the recent fires in Cessnock & Heddon Greta. The community is so thankful for the sacrifice these people make in order to keep our homes and families safe. No loss of life and only minor damage to buildings. Not only was this a result of our highly skilled fire crews but the substantial hazard reduction that took place over Winter. Residents of Abernethy share in my gratitude that this work slowed the progress of the main fire front encroaching on the village. The November fires are a reminder and makes us more aware of the importance of having an emergency plan in each household. Residents wanting to update their plan or create a plan should visit http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/plan-and-prepare/prepare-your-property.  

Special mention must go to a number of local businesses who demonstrated true community spirit. Thank you to Bunnings Warehouse for allowing their carpark to be used as a muster point and for opening up their facilities. Basillico also showed tremendous support with the donation of hot trays of pasta for RFS crews and emergency services.  A huge thank you to Cessnock Basketball Stadium, who opened up their doors and set up as an evacuation point. The Lions Club and the Salvation Army as usual stepped up for our community to ensure the hardworking firefighters were fed and watered.  

Finally my sincerest thanks to all the residents who donated food and water. While it was a trying time for our community, we pulled together and looked after each other. I look forward to Cessnock City Council recognising these magnificent efforts on Australia Day.