Welcome to my first Memo from Mayo for 2019. It's been a busy few weeks following the Christmas break with a well-attended barbecue for supporters, a visit from the Minister for Veterans' Affairs Darren Chester and the official opening of our South Coast office.
I am also helping to facilitate a public meeting in Lobethal later this month to investigate a Community Bank® for the district and I extend a personal invitation to you to attend one (or more!) of the 21 community forums we have been busy organising for the month of March.
2019 Community Forums
Rebekha's 2019 Community Forums follow on from the first round of forums the local MP hosted across the region in 2017. These events and the thousands of community surveys returned by residents across the electorate resulted in the production of Rebekha's Community Forum and First Year Report.
Now, due to the Australian Electoral Commission redistribution in South Australia, Mayo is a much larger seat.
This round of community forums welcomes the input of more than 14,000 new electors and encourages all residents to contribute to an action plan going into a new election cycle.
We’ll be talking about the things that matter to you, including affordable and accessible health care, a secure retirement, improved aged care services, better education, nurturing our environment, taking action on climate and energy policy and supporting Australian jobs.
To find out more details and to RSVP please head to www.rebekhasharkie.com.au/forums
Mt Barker Hospital ED petition
CAPTION: Rebekha has launched a petition calling on the State Government to invest $15 million of Federal health funding into an urgent upgrade of the Mount Barker Hospital Emergency Department.
This week Rebekha has kick-started her campaign for an urgent upgrade of Mount Barker Hospital's Emergency Department (ED) which has outgrown its current home.
"We know the Federal Government has set aside an extra $1.3 billion for regional health services," Rebekha said.
"Our State Government needs to ask for our share for the Mount Barker Hospital so our medical professionals can work in a modern ED to meet the growing demands of the growing community it serves.
"Today I have launched a petition calling on the State Health Minister, Stephen Wade, to invest the $15 million needed to make the Mount Barker Hospital ED the type of facility our region deserves."
To sign the petition click here.
Medicare Customer Service Centre for South Coast
CAPTION: The new Medicare Customer Service Centre and Victor Harbor Centrelink office is located at 90 Victoria Street, Victor Harbor, and is open Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 4.30pm.
Rebekha is excited to announce that thanks to her direct advocacy a Medicare Customer Service Centre is now located within the Centrelink office in Victor Harbor to assist residents with all of their Medicare needs, including claims and rebates, or updating bank account details and other personal information.
Rebekha said the new Medicare Customer Service Centre would make life easier for everyone living on the South Coast.
“The Victor Harbor/Goolwa region is home to more than 25,000 people and is one of the fastest growing urban areas in South Australia so the population warrants the services of a major urban centre,” Rebekha said.
“However, it is also the oldest area in the State and I have advocated for this service because I believe our community needs special consideration.
“The more senior residents in my community tell me they need face-to-face service with government agencies, particularly when they are going through difficult life changes such as the death of a partner or a partner moving into an aged care facility."
The new Medicare Customer Service Centre and Victor Harbor Centrelink office is located at 90 Victoria Street, Victor Harbor, and is open Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 4.30pm.
You can read a copy of the letter sent to Rebekha from the Prime Minister in December 2018 confirming the centre agreement here.
Minister for Veterans' Affairs visits
CAPTION: Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester with Rebekha at a roundtable at the Strathalbyn RSL.
Mental health services for younger veterans, cuts to advocacy funding and improving disability access at veteran facilities were some of the key issues raised by community leaders and veteran groups when the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Darren Chester, accepted an invitation from Rebekha to visit the electorate.
Rebekha organised a roundtable discussion on veteran support services for stakeholders at the Strathalbyn RSL followed by a morning tea for local RSL and veteran group representatives at the Macclesfield RSL.
“The Minister was extremely generous with his time and I know he appreciated the welcome he received from our veteran community as much as they appreciated the opportunity to raise their concerns directly with him,” Rebekha said.
You can read more in Rebekha's press release here.
Pre-poll voting centre for KI
CAPTION: Rebekha with some KI supporters at a thank you barbecue. The AEC did not provide pre-polling facilities during the 2018 by-election, prompting some complaints.
Thanks to persistent advocacy from Rebekha, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has agreed to set up a pre-poll voter facility on Kangaroo Island during the 2019 Federal Election.
The centre will be based in Kingscote in the same facility that will be selected for use on election day.
“This is fantastic news for the Island and I’m glad I continued to push the AEC to revisit the issue when, after the 2018 by-election, they initially rebuffed the possibility of a pre-poll voting centre based on KI’s voter population,” Rebekha said.
“I wrote back and pointed out that Thursday Island in the Torres Strait, which has a similar voter population, was provided with pre-poll voting in the last Federal Election as was Phillip Island in Victoria, which has a bridge to the mainland."
You can read the letter from the Electoral Commission in Rebekha's press release here.
South Coast office officially opened
CAPTION: Rebekha with volunteer JP Rod Lovell at the official opening of the South Coast satellite office last Friday.
Several hundred people turned up last Friday for the official opening of Rebekha Sharkie satellite office on the South Coast.
The satellite electorate office is located at 26 Hindmarsh Road, McCracken, and is open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9am to 5pm. A Justice of the Peace is available at the office on Monday mornings from 9am to 12pm.
“I have always believed that Mayo constituents needed a more accessible office on the Fleurieu,” Rebekha said.
“Unfortunately the Australian Electoral Commission ruled that Mayo wasn’t large enough geographically to warrant two full-time electorate offices but we have sourced sufficient funds within our budget to fund a permanent satellite office three days a week."
Lobethal bank meeting
CAPTION: Late last year members of the Lobethal community organised a petition protesting the closure of the ANZ branch.
Rebekha, local community leaders and representatives from the Bendigo Bank are hosting a public meeting in Lobethal on Tuesday February 26 to explore the option of a Community Bank® model opening in Lobethal.
This option follows the recent closure of the ANZ Bank branch in Lobethal which prompted local residents (pictured) to sign a petition and lobby their local Federal MP.
Merry Christmas and welcome to my last Memo from Mayo for 2018.
It's been a huge year for the electorate - but I believe we have achieved a great deal for our community.
The following items are just some of the more recent highlights.
Please note that our Mount Barker Electorate Office will be closed from 25 December 2018 and will reopen on 2 January 2019 while our new South Coast satellite office will be closed from 20 December 2018 and will reopen on 2 January 2019.
My team and I look forward to working with you in 2019.
Permanent South Coast office
Rebekha now has a permanent presence on the South Coast, opening an office at Victor Harbor.
The satellite electorate office is located at 22 Hindmarsh Road, McCracken, and will be open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9am to 5pm.
“I have always believed that Mayo constituents needed a more accessible office on the Fleurieu,” Rebekha said.
“Unfortunately the Australian Electoral Commission ruled that Mayo wasn’t large enough geographically to warrant two full-time electorate offices but we have sourced sufficient funds within our budget to fund a permanent satellite office three days a week.
“Given it is so close to Christmas, it was a low-key opening on December 10 but I will host a celebratory sausage sizzle for the community in late January."
Appointments with staff at the South Coast can be booked on scheduled opening days between 9am and 4.30pm by calling (08) 8398 5566.
Mental health funding boost
Rebekha, centre, attended a youth mental health forum in Victor Harbor during the recent by-election. During that forum, she discussed her campaign to bring a 'shop front' headspace mental health service to the Fleurieu with Eastern Fleurieu School Strathalbyn student Ebony Brackstone, left, Victor Harbor High School students Matthew Pajer and Jorja Hann-Barke and Investigator College students Isabella and Gabby Cook.
The Federal Government’s $3 million funding injection into ‘headspace’ mental health services at Mt Barker and Victor Harbor over the next four years is just what the doctor ordered for the young people of Mayo.
After many years of advocacy by Rebekha to improve mental health services for young people in the electorate, Health Minister Greg Hunt has now announced that $800,000 will be shared between the two regional centres this financial year to expand and set up satellite services with ongoing funding of $760,000 per annum for a further three years.
“This announcement means more young people will get the support they need, it means the expanded Mount Barker ‘headspace’ is better able to meet the ever-growing demand for its services and young people on the South Coast have much better access to youth-specific services than they ever had in the past," Rebekha said.
You can read more in Rebekha's press release here.
You can also watch Rebekha talking about the issue in Question Time back in October here.
Aged Care Bill update
A parliamentary committee has recommended the adoption of Rebekha's Private Member’s Bill to require the publication of staffing ratios in aged care facilities.
The Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport released its recommendation earlier this month saying there was a pressing need to increase transparency in the aged care system and the Aged Care Amendment (Staffing Ratio Disclosure) Bill 2018 was a “first step”.
You can read more about the announcement here.
Freeway slip lane
Rebekha has welcomed an announcement by the Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack that work on a third lane on the freeway between Stirling and Crafers will be finished in 2019.
Mr McCormack, the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, was responding to Rebekha during Question Time when the Member for Mayo asked when the long-promised freeway upgrade would be completed.
Heritage listing bid for the Bight
Rebekha has introduced a Private Member’s Bill into the Parliament to grant National Heritage Status to the Great Australian Bight to protect this pristine environment from risky mining activities.
The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Heritage Listing for the Bight) Bill 2018 was tabled in early December.
“I believe that my Bill strikes the right balance between sovereign risk and social, economic and environmental protection,” Rebekha said.
“In recognition of that balance, whilst my Bill does not outright ban oil drilling in the Bight, it does set a significantly higher environmental impact threshold when the regulator, the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA), assesses offshore oil and gas activities in this biodiversity hotspot and major fisheries resource.”
Live sheep export update
The Federal Parliament has missed the chance to phase out long-haul live sheep exports in a 'measured' way with the House of Representatives recently voting down a Senate motion instigated by Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick.
The motion called on the Government to legislate a ban on long-haul live sheep exports.
“The Australian Livestock Exporters' Council’s recent self-imposed three-month moratorium on shipments during the Northern Hemisphere summer is just delaying the inevitable transition away from long-haul sheep exports to the Middle East," Rebekha said.
“In the last week of Parliament for 2018 we had a chance to debate the issue, the opportunity to have a vote on my Private Member’s Bill to resolve this issue, but the Government chose to kick the can down the road and put it off until next year."
UN Youth Representative
Photo: Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie, right, hosted Amos Washington, Australia’s Youth Representative to the United Nations, pictured centre, as he presented his 2018 Youth Representative Consultation Report in Canberra. The launch was attended by Parliamentarians and staff including Michael Cornish, pictured left.
In the last week of Parliament Rebekha hosted Amos Washington, Australia’s Youth Representative to the United Nations, as he presented his 2018 Youth Representative Consultation Report.
The report follows Amos' representation to the UN General Assembly in New York last month and summarises the findings of a six-month consultative ‘Listening Tour’ of young people around Australia.
Rebekha also tabled the report to the Parliament and spoke about Amos’s findings in the House of Representatives.
Fighting for road funding
In the last weeks of Parliament Rebekha called on the Government to continue Supplementary Road Funding so councils have the resources they need to upgrade local roads.
Centre Alliance negotiated $40 million for SA for the past two financial years to provide a stop gap for funding slashed in 2014 but more investment is needed.
"Road safety is everyone’s responsibility but we need to keep investing in the condition of our roads," Rebekha said.
You can read Rebekha's recent speech in Parliament here.
And you can watch part of her speech here.
Mayo service awards
Photo: Rebekha presents a Mayo Community Service Award to Ciel Schmarr from Mount Barker Waldorf School.
Mayo Community Service Awards have been presented to 18 senior students across the electorate by Rebekha and her team.
The award is conferred to a senior student who has demonstrated a keen interest in social justice and shown great community leadership potential.
"This is about hearts and minds coming together and I congratulate all recipients," Rebekha said.
"My congratulations also go out to all of our young community leaders in Mayo, and I'd also like to congratulate all of the students who are graduating from year 12 this year."
You can read more about the recipients here.
Local Sporting Champions
Photo: Trampoline gymnast Charlotte McAvaney was a recipient of a Local Sporting Champion grant in a previous round.
Rebekha is pleased to announce that the Mayo’s Local Sporting Champions for Round 2, 2018-19 have been approved by the Australian Sports Commission.
The Local Sporting Champions program is an Australian Government initiative which provides funding assistance to young sportsmen and women who are participating in a state, national or international sporting competition.
"I congratulate all of our recipients on their sporting achievements thus far. I am a strong believer in the value of sport to communities, and I wish all our Local Sporting Champions all the best in their competitive endeavours," Rebekha said.
You can read more about the recipients and how to apply for the next Local Sporting Champions round here.
Baring all for cancer support
Photo: Rebekha with the calendar girls Kathleen Moyle, front left, Judy Vallance, Pam Graham, Jan Moon, back left, Nola Ward, Kaye Steele, Janet Morgan, Marian Blewett, June Tuohy, Helen Miller and Bronwyn Herraman.
Rebekha attended the Riverside Retirement Village annual Christmas party at the South Lakes Golf Club at Goolwa where she met the lovely Riverside ladies who donned their birthday suits for a calendar to raise money to support those touched by cancer.
All funds from the calendars (which also include recipes!) will go to the Fleurieu Cancer Support Foundation, a group of dedicated volunteers providing services and support to members of the Fleurieu community affected by cancer.
The calendars are being sold for $12 and are available from the Riverside Retirement Village and Rebekha Sharkie’s offices at Victor Harbor and Mount Barker.
Welcome to my latest edition of Memo from Mayo. We have one more week before Parliament closes for the Christmas break but the crossbench and my Centre Alliance colleagues in the Senate are working hard to get some runs on the board.Read more
Welcome to the latest edition of my Memo from Mayo.
We have another week of preparation before the last sitting weeks of the Parliamentary year when the crossbench welcomes Dr Kerryn Phelps, the new Independent Member for Wentworth, to her place in our Federal Parliament.
In the meantime, I have been busy in the electorate and my office has been incredibly busy with inquiries. Contacts with our office have increased dramatically since the by-election. If you have had to wait for a reply to a policy inquiry, please be patient, we are attempting to address all our correspondence as quickly as possible.
ScoMo the Christmas Grinch
This week Rebekha called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to "stop behaving like the Christmas Grinch" and actually increase the Department of Social Services’ latest Financial Wellbeing and Capability Fund amount.
The call came after the Foodbank charity announced that its funding had been effectively halved under the latest funding allocation.
The decision would have affected partner charities such as the Hutt Street Centre and UnitingCare Wesley.
“Funding for food relief has been frozen for the past decade and yet our charities and not-for-profits are struggling to keep up with demand,” Rebekha said.
Bowing to public pressure, the Prime Minister did eventually reverse the decision.
You can read Rebekha's press release here.
Her statement on the Prime Minister's reversal is here.
And you can listen Rebekha discuss the issue on the ABC here.
Protect the Bight
Rebekha Sharkie has renewed her call for Heritage Listing of the Great Australian Bight following the recent release of modelling showing an oil spill in this pristine environment could end up being the largest in world history.
The BP modelling for a proposed drilling site in the Bight (now held by the company Equinor) was only released after a two-year legal battle by Greenpeace Australia Pacific.
It shows a Bight oil spill could release more than twice the amount of crude oil that entered the Gulf of Mexico after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, considered to be the largest marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry.
"This is not 'environmental lobbyist fearmongering'," Rebekha said.
"This is the actual modelling of oil super giant BP and we should all be deeply concerned by the potential risk to the environment and our local economy."
You can read her press release here.
Grant drop-in session
Photo: Rebekha and constituent adviser Hayley with Harry Seager from the Callington Recreation Park Committee.
Rebekha hosted a 'drop-in' grant information session on November 8 so clubs and organisations could receive feedback and advice on applications for the community investment stream of the Building Better Regions Fund.
"We had a great turnout and I was pleased to see such a wide variety of projects being developed right across Mayo," Rebekha said.
"If you couldn't make it, you're welcome to call my office on 8398 5566."
Please remember applications close November 15. More information here.
Speaking of grants, Rebekha recently attended the official opening of the Kingscote Skatepark which was constructed using State Government funding with some help from a $10,000 Federal Government grant through the 2017 Mayo Stronger Communities Program.
Since then Rebekha and her assessment team have shortlisted 20 applicants for Mayo's $150,000 share of the 2018 Stronger Communities Grants Program.
The successful projects are expected to be announced later this year with some organisations already advised that they have been granted funding.
South Coast Young Mayo
Photo: Rebekha is pictured with a number of young people who attended Young Mayo on the South Coast.
Rebekha's youth advisory group Young Mayo met on the South Coast on November 7.
The young people who attended raised concerns about the declining population of the rare hooded plover along the beaches in their region.
Rebekha will now write to the Victor Harbor Council to request more patrolling of dogs on leash on beaches. She will also contact the South Coast Environment Centre to seek advice about ways to protect the species.
Councillor (now Mayor) Moira Jenkins came along to Young Mayo to ask the group what they thought a youth centre in Victor Harbor would look like.
Moira is working with Father Jesse Poole to develop a centre.
The new Mayor took the comments from Young Mayo to a meeting with the Victor Harbor Rotary Club.
Club members are looking at supporting a youth centre concept.
Music: Count Us In
Photo: Music: Count Us In at the Lobethal Primary School, with the Scott Creek Primary School.
Rebekha recently attended Kidstock and Music: Count Us In at the Lobethal Primary School.
This year was the fourth year that Lobethal Primary has taken part in Music Count Us In.
The students at the school and (and Scott Creek Primary who came over for Kidstock) were among 500,000 students across the country singing the same song at the same time.
There are some concerns that Music Australia's 10-week education program Music: Count Us In will not be happening next year due to budget cuts.
Rebekha is currently making inquiries with Music Australia and the office of the Education Minister Dan Tehan regarding their negotiations.
"This is a wonderful program that provides music education free of charge to many schools that cannot afford a music program," Rebekha said.
"I don't want to see this program go by the wayside because the Government argues it has provided extra money to the states through the Gonski 2.0 education reforms."
You can watch the performance by Lobethal and Scott Creek Primary students here.
Showtime over ... for another season
Rebekha and her team have hosted stalls at eight shows, the Meadows Country Fair and several farmers markets across the electorate in the past nine months.
"I love chatting to people at these events. It's very informal and a great way for people to raise concerns or just say hi," Rebekha said.
"The last show for the season for the Sharkie team was Uraidla where I was able to give away my recently printed 2019 Mayo Menu Calendar.
"The calendar is a collection of the recipes from our 2018 social media campaign to promote our local farming families in Mayo and encourage our community to get behind our local produce.
"If you missed out at Uraidla, feel free to drop into my electorate office in Mt Barker and my part-time office at the Victor Harbor Council on Wednesdays (9am-4.30pm) to pick one up."
Lest We Forget
Rebekha and her team marked the Centenary of Armistice by attending Remembrance Day services across the electorate from Langhorne Creek to Mount Compass and Stirling.
Rebekha also attended other events including a tractor run at Milang to raise money for Legacy, a street parade in Mount Barker and the official opening of memorial panels at the Nairne RSL using funds from the Armistice Centenary Grants Program.
Many other projects under this program have been opened (including the sculptural cut-outs pictured above at the Mount Compass War Memorial Community Centre when Rebekha met with local man Bill Cooman to discuss memorial works in the town).
The Armistice Centenary Grants Program is now closed but if your community has memorial projects they wish to pursue, the Saluting Their Service Commemorations Program - Major Commemorative Grants - is now open.
Grant applications close at 2pm (AEDT) on 10 January 2019.
Another week of Parliament has begun. Here's an overview of a few of the issues Rebekha raised last week.Read more
Mayo's own UN Youth Representative
Mayo's own Youth Representative to the United Nations, Amos Washington, centre, with Rebekha and her Centre Alliance colleague Senator Rex Patrick at Parliament House.
Australia’s Youth Representative to the United Nations, Amos Washington of Mount Barker, was the special guest at an event in Federal Parliament organised by Rebekha through the Parliamentary Friends of Young People.
Amos, a 22-year-old law student, has spent the past six months on a self-funded tour of Australia talking to young people prior to heading to New York next month to address the United Nations General Assembly about his findings.
Co-chairs of the Parliamentary Friends of Young People - Centre Alliance Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie and Liberal Member for Brisbane Trevor Evans – hosted the event with Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick so they could bring the voluntary work conducted by Amos to the attention of their colleagues.
“I am very proud of the work done by Amos, a young person from my electorate who was also a member of my youth advisory group, Young Mayo,” Rebekha said.
You can watch a video with Amos here.
And there might be time to grab at ticket to attend a fundraiser for Amos on September 6. Details below.
Kids in the House
Robert and Charlotte King from Littlehampton (pictured) visited Rebekha in Canberra as part of JDRF Australia’s Kids in the House campaign.
They were articulate advocates for research into Type 1 juvenile diabetes, calling for the Government to secure a further $50m over five years to continue the work of JDRF’s Clinical Research Network.
Charlotte was eight years old when she was diagnosed and thanks to research breakthroughs she is fitted with a Continuous Glucose Monitoring device and hasn't had to prick her finger to check her sugar levels.
However, Charlotte’s parents visit her school every day to conduct insulin injections.
Juvenile diabetes affects not just children but the whole family.
Finding a cure is the ultimate goal but research can also lead to new technologies to make life easier for the 120,000 Australians who live with this life-long autoimmune disease.
Rebekha recently met with Kylie Mines from Motivation Australia, a not-for-profit disability, and development organisation based in Aldinga.
Motivation Australia works with local organisations in the Asia Pacific Region to enable people to be healthy and mobile, access assistive technology and achieve full and equal inclusion.
With the Government scaling back spending on aid, organisations like Motivation Australia are struggling to secure sufficient funding to run primary health care projects in the Pacific.
One of their projects is running wound management training for nurses so people with diabetes who contract feet ulcers can avoid hospitalisation and possibly amputation.
Pension waiting times blowout
Rebekha used a speaking opportunity in Parliament to talk about the excessive waiting times for processing applications for the aged pension.
In Mayo, several constituents have waited months for their applications to be approved.
This Government needs to invest in Centrelink, especially in its service delivery.
Hats off to the Top Hat Forum
John Selby, left, from the Mount Barker Croquet Club, Jan Luck from COTA, Rebekha Sharkie MP, and Mount Barker Community Centre Manager Sean Hames at the Top Hat Forum.
Rebekha was the guest speaker at the latest Top Hat Forum run by the Mount Barker Council and the Mount Barker Community Centre.
The forum meets at the council chambers whenever there is a fifth Wednesday in a month and is a networking opportunity for various community groups with older memberships in the region.
Rebekha spoke about the challenges and opportunities facing Australia’s ageing population and the electorate of Mayo.
Mayo is the oldest electorate in SA and the eighth oldest in the country with more than one in five residents (22.3%) over the age of 65 years.
The number of Australians aged 85 years and over is projected to more than double from 455,400 in 2014 to 954,600 by 2034.
The number of people living to the age of 100 and beyond is expected to increase dramatically over this period, from about 4,600 in 2014 to 15,700 in 2034, and in another 50 years on, in 2084, there is expected to be more than 100,000 centenarians!