It was a big week in Gunnedah Shire Council last week. There was a packed gallery for our July meeting, and it was great to see members of the community taking an active interest in the decision-making process.

Among the matters before council was a Mayoral Minute I put forward following our discussions with the Gunnedah Branch of the Police Association.

We’ve said it before and the latest crime figures prove it – we are experiencing a crime surge in Gunnedah. The April 2021 to March 2022 NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) data has shown a significant increase in break and enter dwelling (135.1 per cent), stealing from a dwelling (51.2 per cent), motor vehicle theft (55 per cent), stealing from a motor vehicle (80 per cent) and (47.5 per cent).

If you look at this worrying rise and pair it with the fact that our police are understaffed, we are not only concerned for our community, but for the ongoing health, safety and mental well-being of our front-line police. We need them, and we need them to be able to do their jobs in relative safety.

We voted to support the Gunnedah Branch of the Police Association’s call for two additional general duties constables; one general duties sergeant, one full-time general administration support officer (GASO), and at least three proactive crime team members to be based at Gunnedah Police Station with the priority being to service Gunnedah and the south-western area of the Oxley Police District.

Council is calling on both the NSW Minister for Police and the Shadow Minister for Police to show bipartisan support for a full complement of police in our area. Our community deserves to feel safe.

Also at last week’s meeting, council approved funding for 17 community groups through our grants programs.

Council has approved a total of $18,353.60 for five applications for the Section 356 (Arts and Cultural) Small Grants Program to assist in continuing existing projects or supporting new projects or initiatives for arts and cultural programs, projects and events that help meet the needs of Gunnedah’s growing community.

Projects that secured funding included the Annual Art & Ceramics Exhibition held by Arts Gunnedah and the Around the World in One Day project from the Multicultural Women’s Association.

We also approved a total of $30,176  for 12 community and sport groups to strengthen existing initiatives or start new projects through the Gunnedah Shire Council Section 356 (Community and Sports) Small Grants Program.

Projects include a new marquee for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter, new pie warmers for Meals on Wheels and seating at both the Breeza and Gunnedah tennis clubs.

The Community and Sports program has seen nearly $500,000 in funding go to a huge range of organisations since it began in 2005.

Both of these grants programs are a wonderful way for Gunnedah Shire Council to support all the good work our volunteer organisations do in Gunnedah Shire. 

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