To commence my column this week, I would like to wish all Narrabri Shire year 12 students who started their Higher School Certificate on Thursday, October 17, and will continue until the last day of exams on Monday, November 11, all the very best in successfully completing their exams.

All the preparation, groundwork and planning that you have put into the past 12 months, not to mention the past 13 years of education, will be put into your exams over the coming weeks.

However, don’t put too much pressure on yourself, there is life after Year 12.

No matter how you fare with your final exam results – there are currently so many options out there for school leavers, both locally and further afield, that you have many choices and career paths to select from, the hardest decision will be choosing the one that fits you best.

Good luck to you all!

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I would also like to thank the staff from National Parks and Wildlife Service, Rural Fire Service (many local and state-wide units), and also the Local Emergency Management personnel on their relentless efforts in containing the Mr Kaputar and surrounds bushfires in the recent weeks.

I would like to congratulate the fantastic efforts of these committed people on their firefighting skills, to keep the Mt Dowe communications base safe (to date), and this is through poor visibility due to thick smoke, and also hot humid conditions during the recent days as well.

You are a credit to your community, and I sincerely thank you for your amazing efforts, and wish you all the best to continue to attempt to reduce and finalise this particular set of fires – and to please remain in safe health to get home every day!

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Finally, this week I would like to brief the community on the recent 2019 Local Government NSW Annual Conference that myself, the deputy mayor and the general manager attended at the large conference venue at Warwick Farm in Sydney between Sunday 13 – Wednesday, October 16.

The Conference was attended by over 150 NSW local government councils, regional and metropolitan, and this year over 123 motions were debated.

Narrabri Shire Council submitted two motions – one of which was debated and passed during the conference.

Council’s motion was on ‘Regional Education Pathways’ – focussing on requesting the NSW Government and TAFE NSW to expedite a review of current regional education offerings.

This review would identify current and future regional skills shortages based on the current State Government’s regional investment strategies and State Significant Developments (that are occurring in the Narrabri Shire).

Also, that priority be given to implementation of actions from such a review, for trade associated pathways that align with the State Government’s regional investment strategies and State Significant Development.

I was very humbled that a motion submitted by our own Council was debated and passed with a great deal of support, statewide.

This education investment will assist in retaining young people in the Shire, educating trades qualified students and will also encourage local employment with projects that may include the Inland Rail development, Northern NSW Inland Port, and other agricultural and extractive resources employment options within the Shire and surrounds.

What a great outcome this would be for our local youth and further training options for all eligible residents within the Shire. Watch this space – and fingers crossed very soon!