Free RATs for concession card holders
The Prime Minister announced last week that 6.6 million pensioners and Commonwealth concession card holders will have access to free Rapid Antigen Tests, as COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country.
Up to 10 tests will be available over three months (a maximum of five in a month) free through pharmacies to more than six million people holding the following cards:
- Pension Concession Card
- Commonwealth Seniors Health Care Card
- Department of Veterans’ Affairs Gold, White or Orange Card
- Health Care Card
- Low Income Health Card
Over 200 million tests have been sourced by the Commonwealth and the States and Territories. These free tests will become available in the next two weeks. However, anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, or who is a close contact, should attend a state clinic for free testing and not go to a pharmacy to receive a free test.
A PCR test is also no longer needed to confirm a positive RAT test. Anyone who has a positive RAT test is encouraged to contact their GP for support as required and undertake the required seven days isolation.
In the meantime, I encourage people in the Parkes electorate to book in their booster shots if it has been four months or more since you received your primary course of COVID-19 vaccination. For more information, visit: https://www.australia.gov.au/
Grants for flood-affected primary producers
Farmers across the Parkes electorate were hit especially hard by flooding and severe storms late last year, so I’m pleased that local primary producers will now have access to grants of up to $50,000 to help them get back on their feet.
Provided through the jointly funded Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA), these grants are available for eligible primary producers in the Bogan, Bourke, Brewarrina, Broken Hill, Cobar, Coonamble, Dubbo, Gilgandra, Gunnedah, Gwydir, Lachlan, Moree Plains, Narrabri, Narromine, Walgett, Warren and Warrumbungle local government areas and the Unincorporated Area of NSW.
The grants can be used for recovery and reinstatement activities, including salvaging crops and repairing damaged farm infrastructure and equipment.
For information on personal hardship and distress assistance, contact Service NSW on 13 77 88. To find out more and apply for a primary producer grant, visit https://www.raa.nsw.gov.au/grants/disaster-recovery-grants
Building drought resilient leaders
Just prior to Christmas I was happy to announce that eight mentees and four mentors have been selected in round two of the Future Drought Fund Drought Resilience Leaders mentoring program.
They join 10 mentees and nine mentors from our region who were selected in the first round, who will now have the opportunity to share knowledge, skills and experience to help build drought resilience to benefit their local farming communities.
Congratulations to each of the successful round two applicants in the Parkes electorate, including mentees Amelia Doering (Crooble), Tegan Roberts (Bourke), Hayley Wilson (Dubbo), Rebecca George (Nevertire), Anika Molesworth (Broken Hill), Kate Smith (Moree), Elodie Tanner (Dubbo), and Oliver Thorne (Dubbo), and mentors Kathryn Hines (Broken Hill), Guy Roth (Narrabri), Rosalie Siemer (Broken Hill), Christine White (Coolah).
Applications for round three will open in early this year. For more information about the Drought Resilient mentoring program visit: https://rural-leaders.org.au/programs/drought-resilience-leaders-program/
Photo caption: Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton pictured with Guy Roth, one of the mentors who will be taking part in the Future Drought Fund Drought Resilience Leaders mentoring program.