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  • intouch Magazine

Community News - May 2023

New NSW Cabinet. Image Source: Tim Crackenthorp/Facebook.




The region's peak industry body, Business Hunter, has welcomed strong Hunter ministerial representation in the New South Wales government, with five out of 22 Cabinet Ministers in the Minns Ministry appointed from the region.

Business Hunter CEO Bob Hawes commended the new state government for increasing diversity on its front bench, with gender parity achieved for the first time in NSW and significant regional representation.

"Achieving gender parity in New South Wales is a historic step, and the Hunter has played a significant and proud role, contributing four of the eleven women who collectively represent this wonderful milestone for our state and for the nation," said Mr Hawes.

"The inclusion of regional voices also bodes well, and five Cabinet Ministers from the Hunter is extraordinary and more than double the last time Labor was in government, despite holding a similar number of seats," said Mr Hawes.

New ministers include:

• Swansea MP Yasmin Catley, the first female to be appointed as Minister for Police and Counter-terrorism

• Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison, the first female to be appointed as Minister for Regional Transport and Roads

• Port Stephens MP Kate Washington, Minister for Families and Communities, Minister for Disability Inclusion

• Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp, Minister for Skills, TAFE and Tertiary Education and Minister for the Hunter

• Charlestown MP Jodie Harrison, Minister for Women, Minister for Seniors and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

Mr Hawes said he was pleased to see the government follow through on their election commitment to re-introduce the portfolio of a Minister for the Hunter.

"We've ticked this important recommendation off the list, and we hope Tim is provided the necessary administrative resources to support him to succeed in this portfolio," said Mr Hawes.

Mr Hawes also welcomed moves to support Greg Piper MP, Member for Lake Macquarie, as the next Speaker in the lower house.

"We look forward to hopefully seeing Greg elected as Speaker when Parliament returns in May and acknowledge his recent efforts to advocate for important issues for the Hunter and surrounding regions," said Mr Hawes.


Herb Urban, a local business that creates sustainable smart gardens in partnership with the City of Newcastle, is proud to announce the opening of their newest project, "The Little Green," a new vertical smart garden in the heart of the city at Hunter Street Mall.

Thanks to the funding provided by the council SBR (Special Business Rate) initiative, Herb Urban has unveiled "The Little Green," a stunning architectural smart garden accessible to the public. This new community garden is situated between Jayes Travel and Kafey Cafe in Hunter Street Mall.

The garden features a state-of-the-art design that combines smart technology and lush greenery, creating the perfect blend of form and function. "The Little Green" allows people to enjoy herbs, veggies, and ornamentals easily, making it simple and accessible to connect people to their food sources.

To further support the community, the garden also includes a community notice board with access to online resources, offering tips and tricks for gardening. Herb Urban worked alongside local artist Clare O'Hara to create the community noticeboard.

"We are thrilled to bring this new automated community garden to Newcastle," said the CEO of Herb Urban. "Our mission is to make sustainable living simple and accessible to everyone, and we believe this new garden will provide a unique opportunity for people to connect with nature and grow their food sustainably."

"The Little Green" is now open to the public, and the community is invited to come and experience this innovative and sustainable addition to the city.


Nominations are open for the 2023 Lake Mac Business Excellence Awards, highlighting local businesses big and small. Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser said nominations for last year's awards were up more than 20 per cent on previous years, "and I'm keen to see this momentum continue".

"Feedback from applicants was that it was a great exercise to stop and really focus on their business – what they had already achieved and what they were planning for the coming year," she said.

"It doesn't have to be a million-dollar enterprise. Lake Mac is home to thousands of small businesses doing amazing things. Together, they are the beating heart of our economy."

Tech company SAPHI saw a significant jump in revenue and recognition after taking out last year's Business of the Year award.

"We also experienced a step change in requests for speaking at events, our social media following and lead generation," Director Cameron Owen said.

Mr Owen encouraged other local businesses to go in the running to reap the same kind of benefits.

While all applications are carefully assessed by a panel of expert judges, this year, a new People's Choice Award will be chosen based on the highest number of public votes.

"All business category finalists will be eligible for this new award," Cr Fraser said.

Other changes include splitting the Employer of Choice award into two categories – 20 or fewer employees and 21 or more employees – to encourage more small businesses to enter.

This year's awards will be announced at a gala dinner on Friday, 21 July, including 16 categories. The winners of 13 of those categories will progress to the Hunter Business Awards.

Go to for more information and to apply online for a business or individual category.

SAPHI Director Cameron Owen holds his 2022 Outsanding young business leader award.


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