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  • intouch Magazine

Community News - July 2023

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes, USU Official Luke Hitchinson with City of Newcastle workers at the Works Depot.




HIA recently revealed Australia’s strongest markets for home building in the 2023 edition of the HIA Population & Residential Building Hotspots Report. The report identifies Australia’s fastest-growing suburban regional ‘hotspots’ based on population growth and indicates areas with high levels of building activity and employment for the building industry. Once again, the HIA Hunter region was well represented in the report.

“Nine areas of the HIA Hunter region qualify as housing hotspots based on their strong performance in terms of building approvals and population growth,” commented HIA Hunter Executive Director Craig Jennion. “Thornton-Millers Forest is once again the HIA Hunter region’s number one building hotspot with a population growth rate of 6.6% and $119.5 million in building approvals,” said Mr Jennion.

“Second on the list, Branxton-Greta-Pokolbin had a population growth rate of 5.6% and $145.7 million in building approvals. Up one place from last year, Kurri Kurri-Abermain was ranked third with a population growth rate of 3.5% and $71.2 million in building approvals.”

Five of the nine hotspots are located in the Hunter Valley, three in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie and one on the Central Coast. An area qualifies as a hotspot in the Hunter Valley and Central Coast region if at least $50 million worth of residential building work was approved during the 2021/22 financial year, and its population growth rate is faster than the 1.2 per cent national average. For more information, visit the Newsroom at the Housing Industry Association’s website at


A raft of progressive leave provisions and enhancements featured in City of Newcastle's (CN) Enterprise Agreement (EA) 2023 is being extended to local government employees across NSW.

Up to 20 days of paid leave will be accessible to all NSW local government employees in domestic violence situations, along with Miscarriage Leave and a range of other initiatives offering employees greater support and flexibility if the proposed Local Government (State) Award 2023 is endorsed on 1 July.

Returned service people will also be recognised by being granted paid leave to attend Remembrance Day and Anzac Day, whilst apprentices and trainees will be given a leg-up with 100 per cent of their tool allowance covered.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said CN's industry-leading Enterprise Agreement 2023 had set the tone for the rest of the state in terms of a harmonious industrial sector across local government.

“As one of the first councils in NSW to lead the way in domestic violence leave provisions back in 2018, City of Newcastle is pleased to see the results of those successful negotiations presented to all local government employees in NSW," Cr Nelmes said.

"The success of CN's EA has challenged the rest of the Local Government sector to embrace the progressive elements of the agreement." City of Newcastle CEO Jeremy Bath said the outcome achieved for local government employees statewide is a testament to all parties involved.

"The inclusion of these new provisions in the proposed State Award is a great outcome for local government employees in NSW, the unions, delegates and ratepayers," Mr Bath said.

"It's wonderful to see the progressive benefits and employment conditions led by City of Newcastle's EA now reflected in the proposed state Award, in addition to the Local Government sector's commitment to inclusion, diversity and equity."

USU Official Luke Hutchinson said the proposed Award reaffirms the USU’s longstanding history of delivering improved pay and conditions for all 50,000 workers employed throughout all Councils in NSW.

"This proposed Award provides improved workplace conditions that will enable optimum services for our community and delivers socially progressive conditions such as access to miscarriage leave, improved parental leave, improved workplace flexibility and improved family and domestic violence leave," Mr Hutchinson said.

"Following the resolution of the City of Newcastle Enterprise Agreement in late 2022, the USU challenged the rest of the Local Government sector to embrace the progressive elements of this agreement.

“Most importantly, this proposed Award provided our members some instant relief to address the current inflation crisis impacting workers across our communities."


Businesses ranging from hair salons to hightech virtual reality developers have been named finalists in the Lake Macquarie Business Excellence Awards 2023.

A panel of judges selected over 50 finalists across 14 categories from this year’s record field of almost 150 entries. Winners will be announced at a gala dinner at Belmont 16s on 21 July.

Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser said the annual awards highlighted the strength and diversity of businesses in Lake Mac.

“Our city is home to more than 13,500 businesses employing well over 73,000 people,” she said.

“We have an economic output of more than $26 billion, making us one of the regional powerhouses of NSW.

“These awards recognise our top performers, from micro-businesses employing just a few people to large companies turning over millions and providing significant employment opportunities.”

Finalists this year include Mount Hutton’s Salon Ten beauty salon in the ‘Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion’ category, and Resonant Blue, a digital marketing agency that created a virtual reality coal mine for visitors to experience at the new Sugar Valley Library Museum, kirantakamyari, at Cameron Park.

Resonant Blue will compete for the Excellence in Innovation Award. The Lake Macquarie Business Excellence Awards are proudly supported by gold sponsor Dantia.

Mayor Kay Fraser with 2022 Excellence in Innovation Award winner The Blue Tribe Company.


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