Northern NSW rallies to volunteer for cancer patients in need
When the theme for National Volunteers Week 2020 was first set, I'm sure our current situation was not what was envisioned. Still, this year's theme of 'Changing Communities, Changing Lives' could not be more appropriate.
Over the last few months, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented an unprecedented amount of change in our lives and in the communities that support us. Around Australia, charities like ours are rushing to adapt to new restrictions and reduced donations while still providing support to those most in need.
Even our volunteers, who make up 80 per cent of our workforce and are willing to donate their time for free, have been impacted. In March 2020, in line with Government advice, 91 per cent of Cancer Council NSW's volunteer force, was stood down due to their increased risk of contracting COVID-19. Many of the volunteers impacted were over the age of 60 and at a higher risk of contracting the disease. We know that this has been a common challenge for other charities around Australia.
As you might imagine, this made it very difficult for us to be able to deliver our services at a time when cancer patients and carers needed support the most. One service hit particularly hard was our Transport to Treatment (T2T) service, which relies on volunteer drivers to help cancer patients get to their treatment appointments when they're too sick to drive themselves.
Cancer never stops, not even for a global pandemic. We needed drivers desperately or put simply; some cancer patients would not be able to access their life-saving treatment.
So, who came to the rescue? You did. We put a call out to our communities for volunteer drivers and the response was inspiring. Within a matter of days enough people had applied to be drivers that we could keep our Northern NSW T2T service running at full capacity. What an amazing reaction from such an incredible community.
Despite the risks, people were more than ready to push themselves outside their comfort zone in support of those more vulnerable.
We received over 30 volunteer driver applications, resulting in 19 newly recruited drivers who will be on the road for us in the coming weeks. Hundreds of cancer patients will now be able to access their treatment as a result.
One of our long-time Northern NSW T2T volunteers, Garth Howard, who was recently awarded the 2020 Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation's Chairman's Medal for his contribution to the community, put it best when he said, "Our lives and our communities may be changing to adapt to these new times, but one thing will always remain the same. When push comes to shove, Australians will always drop what they're doing to help someone in need." While Garth is among those stood down due to restrictions, he continues to support the T2T service by washing and cleaning T2T vehicles, and integrating new drivers into the program.
National Volunteer Week is about these Australians that selflessly donate their time in support of a cause they believe in. So, on behalf of Cancer Council NSW, I'd like to say a huge thank you to the Northern NSW community, especially those that came to support us in our hour of need.
What can you do this National Volunteer Week?
Firstly, thank anyone you know that volunteers their time in support of a worthy cause. During a period like this, they are the reason charities are able to continue supporting those in need.
Secondly, if you are in a position to help, donate some time or money to a charity close to your heart. Your support is needed now more than ever. Lastly, if you have any questions or concerns about cancer, please call our 13 11 20 Information and Support Line.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Northern NSW, we thank you.
Brenna Smith, Manager of Regional and Rural Communities, Cancer Council NSW
Removal of Tamworth Regional Council notices from newspapers
In response to Mayor Col Murray's comments regarding Tamworth Regional Council's decision to remove council notices from both the Manilla Express and the Leader newspapers (Northern Daily Leader, Monday May 11, p.2), there are a couple of inconsistencies to be noted.
He is quoted as saying that "council is in fact a business too [and is] suffering very severely from the lack of those revenues."
He goes on to say that he doesn't "believe it can be the local government's responsibility or in fact any government's responsibility to protect sectors of our industry."
If council is suffering from a lack of revenues, and doesn't feel responsible for the protection of particular sectors of industry, why is it that they are now offering to reimburse headworks charges to land developers?
I don't disagree with the initiative; it will surely alleviate the financial burden on local land developers, most of whom are major players in the local building and construction industry and significant providers of local employment.
I don't, however, agree with the hypocrisy of Mayor Murray's comments ... because council seems happy to reimburse land developers hundreds of thousands of dollars, but remains indifferent to the effect of removing council notices from local newspapers.
And anyway, the effect of council's decision to no longer advertise their notices in local newspapers is not limited to the financial impact on the publications.
Residents and ratepayers will need to check the council's website for the latest notices, which will include information on development applications. For how long will the information be on the website? This is unclear. How will we know to go looking for it? We won't.
It is very, very wrong of council to do this, and the consequential decrease in transparency will only serve to facilitate further speculation of self-interest and underhandedness.
Smaller, outlying towns have been struggling for a long time, long before the recent drought, long before the bushfires and long before COVID-19.
Bank branches and other services have dissipated over the years and as such, job prospects are now minimal.
Council's decision will further marginalise outlying areas such as Manilla, and push an already-vulnerable and ageing demographic to the outer reaches of society.
The older residents of this Local Government Area have been conveniently forgotten, as a significant proportion of this demographic does not access the internet for information.
By limiting accessibility of information to their constituents, Tamworth Regional Council is, put simply, not fostering a democratic style of government.
Newspapers remain an integral communication tool in regional areas and should be used as such, particularly in these adverse times, when staying 'connected' is of paramount importance.
Lucy Gallagher, Attunga
Carbon dioxide parts per million (ppm) is now 413 (April 2020). The best past measures, from ice cores, tell us it has not been over 300 ppm for 800,000 years, through some eight 100,000 year solar/ice/interglacial cycles. Raised CO2 would lead us to expect warming because plants' absorption of CO2 is what cooled the Earth to make it liveable for us.
That's why if you burn the fossilised plants and release the C02 the Earth will heat up again. The current warming is unprecedented for 1 million years: "As the Earth moved out of ice ages over the past million years, the global temperature rose a total of 4 to 7 degrees Celsius over about 5,000 years.
In the last century alone, the temperature has climbed .7° Celsius, roughly ten times faster than the average rate of ice age warming recovery." (NASA "How is Today's Warming Different from the Past"). And we aren't coming out of an ice age. So there has been nothing for 1 million years and eight cooling/warming cycles that resembles our present situation.
If other than human/greenhouse causes of warming were occurring, such as before the last million years, or short-term causes today, we'd be able to see them, especially since satellites went up from the 1970s. If we can now measure all the atmospheric gases, we can see something big enough to warm the earth ten times faster than the million year average.
"Given the compelling evidence supporting greenhouse gases, and the lack of any plausible alternative explanation - despite many attempts to find such evidence - the IPCC concluded in its 2013 report that 'It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warning since the mid-20th century." (Dessler and Parson Global Climate Change p 93)
Since that 2013 report, every year has been globally hotter than 2013, 2016 the hottest, 2019 the second-hottest on record.
Nothing in science is certain, but talk of unknown, undetected causes of warming, as an argument that we should not act on the clear-cut explanation of it we have, is superstitious mumbo-jumbo. Of course we don't know what we don't know. No one ever does.
The Church of Democratic Enlightenment believes global warming has serious implications for democracy specifically and humanity generally.
Stan Heuston, Oxley Vale