Posts Tagged “hunter”

1

A new Australian program, including an interactive website and app, has been developed specifically for small business owners to give them practical resources and tools to improve their mental health and wellbeing.

In NSW, the small business sector makes up almost 98 per cent of all businesses, employs 1.51 million people, contributes approximately $41.61 billion in annual wages and salaries and contributes more than $269.32 billion to annual sales and service income.

Ahead for Business will be activated initially in three sites across NSW in October – Lake Macquarie, Singleton and Parramatta. Local business owners are being invited to register to attend a free event in each area to find out more and network with other locals in small business.

The program has been developed by Hunter-based mental health and suicide prevention institute, Everymind, in partnership with the icare Foundation and NSW small business owners.

Everymind Director, Jaelea Skehan said Ahead for Business was designed following research conducted in 2017 into the stressors small business owners face and the gaps in existing support for this sector.

Jaelea said small businesses are the backbone of the economy and the community. Yet, until recently, there has been very little focus on the wellbeing of small business owners.

“Small business owners face a range of stressors including long working hours, feeling obliged to work when sick, multiple responsibilities, and financial stress,” Jaelea said.

“We also know from our research that many small business owners were concerned about the impact of the business on the family and many were feeling disconnected or isolated in their business.”

A survey of more than 440 small business owners showed they had higher levels of symptoms of depression and anxiety than the national average. Stress levels were high too with 57.6 per cent falling outside the normal range.

Jaelea said the website and app will help people to assess their current situation and direct them to relevant information and available supports tailored to their specific needs. It also enables people to identify simple things they can include in their everyday routine and provides templates to develop their own Business Mental Health Plan.

“Ahead for Business not only builds awareness about the importance of mental health and wellbeing within the small business community, it connects people immediately with tools, resources and supports,” Jaelea said.

“We listened to small business owners and the online screening tools and resources on the Ahead for Business portal can be accessed discreetly, 24 hours a day from home or work, to help to prevent and manage stressors and support early help-seeking.

“Whether people are new to small business, are running a side hustle or have many years of experience in business, it is important they are encouraged to focus on the most important asset that their business has – themselves.”

She said the upcoming information events are a great opportunity for small business owners in Lake Macquarie and Singleton to be the first to start using the program and the range of tailored supports it provides.

The Lake Macquarie event is being held in partnership with Lake Macquarie Combined and Southlake Business Chambers, the Business Growth Centre and Lake Macquarie Art Gallery. The Singleton event is being held in partnership with The Rural Adversity Mental Health Program and Singleton Business Chamber. Joining Jaelea to speak at the trial site events are: Workplace Psychologist, David Burroughs; Founder of Billy Goat Soap, Leanne Faulkner; and former Wallaby Player and Founder of the social network Karma, Clyde Rathbone.

 

Source: https://www.hunterheadline.com.au/hh/business-news/new-program-keep-hunter-small-business-owners-mentally-healthy/

1

Research into the Hunter Valley region has revealed there are particular employment growth areas forecast for the region over the next three years, including construction, aged and disability care, child care and cookery.

TAFE NSW’s Regional General Manager, Susie George said the research, which was conducted by Australia’s largest training organisation, revealed that the predicted growth in employment opportunities in the Hunter Valley is thanks to a number of important factors.

“With a number of exciting projects, such as planning for the construction of a new $450 million hospital in Maitland, diversification and growth of the energy sector, the Hunter Innovation Project which aims to encourage ICT startups, as well as a new facility at Beresfield for FLSmidth, an increased demand for skilled workers will continue to be generated by industry,” Susie said.

“The Hunter Valley is the fastest growing area in the North Region, with the population forecast to grow by 3 per cent between 2018-2021, and employment forecast to grow by 4.1% over the same period.”

TAFE NSW is a provider of vocational education in the Hunter Valley and it is evident that residents are upskilling in readiness for the employment growth in these industries. The top five courses by enrolment at TAFE NSW in this region last year included a Statement of Attainment in Foundation Skills Support; Certificate III in Mobile Plant Technology; Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician; Certificate III in Business Administration and TAFE Statement in Youth Engagement.

“TAFE NSW will continue to innovate and develop courses to meet the skills needs of local regions,” Susie said.

“TAFE NSW delivers the skills that drive a strong economy, support vibrant communities and help individuals, enterprises and industries to adapt and thrive.

“With more than 1200 courses available and with current and future job prospects looking bright, there’s never been a better time to upskill or reskill at TAFE NSW.”

Source: http://www.hunterheadline.com.au/hh/business-news/employment-growth-areas-hunter-brings-opportunity/

1

EACH week, the Weathertex manufacturing plant at Heatherbrae sends up to four double-size containers full of its hardwood-based wall-cladding products by semi-trailer to Port Botany.

Executive chairman Paul Michael says the company, which exports about 20 per cent of its product, would love to ship its containers out of Newcastle, and is supporting the Port of Newcastle’s push to have a container terminal established on the former steelworks site.

About 10 kilometres away, the giant Tomago Aluminium smelter brings in about 1.1 million tonnes of its main raw material, alumina, through the Port of Newcastle each year.

About 60,000 tonnes of aluminium – or about 10 per cent of its output – heads the other way out past Nobbys as bulk cargo.

But most of Tomago’s output, or about 500,000 tonnes a year, is exported through Botany, leaving the smelter on freight trains at the rate of about 400 containers a week.

Tomago chief executive Matt Howell says the company is “doing the sums” on what a Newcastle container terminal would do for the smelter, saying “we can see the sense and logic” in the proposal.

“The Hunter has the industrial presence to support a container terminal,” Mr Howell said. “Obviously there are no concrete plans as yet but we like the idea.”

With a Newcastle container terminal back on the political agenda, Weathertex and Tomago are just two of the Hunter businesses who see benefits in shipping containers out of Newcastle.

Mr Michael says as well as a saving in trucking costs, growing congestion made planning truck movements in and out of Sydney was becoming increasingly difficult.

The Port of Newcastle has highlighted transport costs and congestion in recent documents, including a submission to the NSW government’s draft freight and ports plan, which closed for consultation in March.

The NSW opposition is supporting the Newcastle push, with Labor leader Luke Foley saying the secret container fee imposed on the port during its privatisation was stopping it from developing a container terminal.

The fee would add about $150 a container to Newcastle’s costs.

It meant “a wide swathe of the state from the Hunter and the Hawkesbury to New England and the mid-North Coast will be paying more to import and export their goods”.

“The Berejiklian government’s decision to prevent Newcastle from competing with Port Botany means imposing high transport costs on businesses for 98 years,” Mr Foley said, referring to the length of the Newcastle lease.

Dubbing the fee a “port rort”, Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp said Hunter businesses had put the cost of road-hauling a container to Sydney at about $1500.

“This includes fuel, maintenance, vehicle booking fees, surcharges and labour,” Mr Crakanthorp said. “The tolls alone for travelling north from Botany are $68.19 one way. These costs would be much reduced, or avoided altogether, if a container terminal was developed in Newcastle.”

After a tour of the Weathertex plant, Port Stephens MP Kate Washington said it was a “manufacturing marvel” that would benefit from a Newcastle container terminal.

Mr Michael said that after 20 years under the existing ownership, the plant had lifted output from 1.2 million square metres a year to two million square metres.

It had been running around the clock on two 12-hour shifts a day and was about to add a third shift, meaning another 15 or so jobs on top of a workforce of about 100.

The plant had capacity to run four shifts a day.

Mr Michael said the plant, built in 1939, was the only one of its kind left operating in the world.

It still made small amounts of its original product, masonite interior panelling, but its main output was Weathertex, made for external use in various styles.”

Masonite and Weathertex are both made of hardwood pulp, formed into shape using high pressure steam and hydraulic presses.

Masonite is named after William H. Mason, who patented what became known as the Mason process in America in 1924.

 

Source: https://www.theherald.com.au/story/5402664/what-could-a-newcastle-container-terminal-mean-for-these-local-industries/

1

THE Hunter is proving a holiday hot spot for other Australians, with stays in the region increasing faster than the national average, according to new figures released today.

The latest National Visitor Survey (NVS) statistics show a 22 per cent growth in Australians visiting the Hunter over the past three years, Liberal Senator for NSW, Arthur Sinodinos, said.

“That’s much more than the national figure of 15 per cent and testimony to the Hunter Region’s attractiveness as a destination for holidaying Australians,” Senator Sinodinos said.

He said the statistics showed 3.63 million local tourists visited the Hunter Region in the last 12 months, an increase of 9 per cent on the previous 12 months.

Most tourism in the Hunter was domestic, with short stays of two nights, the statistics revealed.

“On average, they’re spending $467 a head, which is 17 per cent more than the year before and a 27 per cent increase over three years,” Senator Sinodinos said.

Data for international visitors released earlier this month showed 194,000 visitors from overseas flocked to the Hunter in the year to December 2017, a 12-month increase of 14 per cent.
Source: http://www.theherald.com.au/story/5308944/the-secrets-out-hunter-proving-hot-spot-for-aussie-mini-breaks/

2

MORE than 400 job seekers with a disability have been hired by Hunter businesses in the past 12 months, according to leading employment services provider, APM.

APM has been promoting the benefits of employment for people with illnesses, injuries or disability, and supporting employers in the region, since 2002.

Since October last year the company, which is Australia’s largest provider of Disability Employment Services (DES), achieved 426 successful job placements for throughout the Hunter.

As well as supporting job seekers through applications, interviews and training, the service works with employers to match potential employees to positions in their business.

APM’s Regional Manager for DES, Kate Falkenmire, said their teams work with job seekers from all backgrounds and with a range of disabilities to seek out the sustainable employment options across the region.

The service also helps local businesses access government wage subsidies and access funds for new equipment, workplace modifications or training required to assist a job seeker when they start work.

The Smith Family Trust owner Doug Smith recently hired job seeker Shane Riley through APM. Shane is the fifth person he has employed through the company and Doug said he regularly makes use of the support APM offers.

“They assisted with the end-to-end recruitment and have been providing regular support for over six months for my employees in the workplace,” he said.

Building on the success of their DES program, APM recently launched its first service to specifically help young job seekers across Hunter and the Central Coast.

APM YES (Youth Employment Services) looks to engage school leavers and people aged 15 to 24, and help boost their prospects of finding employment after leaving the classroom. While also helping local businesses fill their hiring gaps.

Source: http://www.theherald.com.au/story/4968945/bring-down-barriers-with-apm-services/

1

Wallsend MP Sonia Hornery has called for the the state’s new fleet of regional trains to be built in the Hunter.

On Monday Deputy Premier John Barilaro announced the replacement of the entire regional train fleet and the construction of a new rail maintenance facility in regional NSW.

Expression of Interest will soon be issued for the design, construction and maintenance of the trains and the new maintenance facility, with Dubbo earmarked as the preferred location.

It has prompted Ms Hornery  to call for a commitment from the government to build the trains locally.

“This government has a track record of kicking workers while they are down, after last year announcing that the $2.3 billion project to build the new fleet of intercity trains was being sent overseas,” she said.

“Now we see the government announce the replacement of the Regional Rail Fleet and there is no commitment to build these trains locally.

“We have that capability right here in the Wallsend electorate. Our local workers can build these contracts on time and on budget.

“The government should commit to build them here.”

A tender process will be conducted next year, ahead of the contract being awarded in early 2019. The announcement also mentioned the “use of private financing” for at least part of the project to replace 60 XPT passenger cars, 19 diesel locomotives, 23 XPLORER and 28 Endeavour passenger cars.

The new trains will be operated by NSW TrainLink, the NSW Government owned regional rail and coach service provider. The new trains are expected to be completed in the early 2020s.

Source: http://www.theherald.com.au/story/4858593/calls-to-build-new-train-fleet-here/?cs=305

1

THE new year has brought a smattering of new childcare businesses in Newcastle, with most citing demand for a growing shortage of vacancies in the region as their motivator.

Warners Bay centre Little Beginnings has opened its second, 92-place facility in Hillsborough Road and newcomer Creative Childcare has opened in Kotara with plans to open at least five centres in Newcastle and surrounds this year. In Waratah, purpose-built The Hub is run by veteran educators Raylee Davies and Nicole Denzin, who opened their first The Hub centre in Mayfield a year ago.

The pair met while teaching at Belmont Christian College and job-shared the role of director of Mayfield Community Preschool.

A restructure of government funding two years ago that potentially threatened the pre-school’s numbers led she and Mrs Denzin to start The Hub, which offers long day care hours and a focus on “holistic” quality care.

It opened on January 9 and is taking new enrolments.

“Council is saying there is demand, well we are not full and I am concerned but I feel happy because we are at 50 per cent capacity and we have only been open three days,” says Mrs Denzin.

A council spokesperson said council had received 24 development applications with a reference to child care in the past year. Of those, 15 have been approved, with one refused and nine still to be determined.

The Hub aspires for childcare that goes beyond best practice and its “heart and vision”, says Mrs Davies, is “that we become an extension of home for our families and children”.  It has seven rooms and “free flow” design, with indoor rooms all connected to the outdoors to maximise interaction between the two spaces in a natural setting.

Creative Childcare co-founder Craig Neil said the business will add as many as 400 places in planned centres in Newcastle, Warabrook and Hamilton this year.

“We want to raise the bar in the provision of childcare in the area,” he said.

The centre incorporates creative learning principles including music, art, dance and food into its curriculum.

Source: http://www.theherald.com.au/story/4411301/growth-spurt-in-care/?cs=4200

In the last 12 months approximately 4.6% of people in Newcastle and the Hunter have found themselves unemployed amidst signs the local labour market is weakening.

This is pretty much on par with the rest of the nation, and the weaker labour market signals are said to be one of the key factors underlying recent interest rate cuts.

One could reasonably hazard a guess that the downturn in the mining industry may have contributed to Newcastle and Hunter unemployment but, falls in regional employment are actually more closely linked to the trade-exposed manufacturing industry and reflect the difficulties experienced in recent times within this sector.

Continue reading »