Be fire safe: Ensure your smoke alarms are working

Janelle Saffin's monthly column for July 2024 covers fire safety in winter, the recent NSW Budget, and a win for community sector workers here in the Northern Rivers.

Janelle Saffin MP’s column for July 2024

AS WE move into the colder months, Fire and Rescue NSW has launched its winter safety campaign, with important messages about what you can do to be fire safe, and save lives.

Last winter, nearly half of the 1080 homes that were impacted by fire in NSW did not have a working smoke alarm. This figure is far too high, especially considering approximately 20 people a year die in house fires in NSW that could have been prevented.  Hundreds more people survive a fire but suffer life-changing health consequences.

In NSW, it’s a legal requirement to have working smoke alarms on every level of your home. You are twice as likely to die in a home fire if you don’t have a working smoke alarm.

Fire and Rescue NSW is urging the community to check they have a smoke alarm, test that it is working and if it isn’t, contact them for a free safety visit:

When a fire takes hold, every second counts. In less than 30 seconds, a small flame can turn into a major fire, that’s why having a fire escape plan is crucial for every household. Without a plan, lives are at risk.

I encourage you to visit the Fire and Rescue NSW website, download the template and draw up your escape plan. It’s recommended that residents practice their escape plan at least twice a year to ensure everyone knows what to do.

Remember, in case of fire: stay low, get out, and stay out! Ensure windows and doors have quick-release devices. Protect your loved ones by planning and practicing your escape plan.

Download your plan today:

Budget boosts housing, incentivises bulk billing

THE NSW Budget, handed down on June 18, was a responsible one which importantly addressed the historic neglect of social housing supply and frontline health worker accommodation, and which incentivised GP clinics to bulk bill more than 70 per cent of patients.

Lismore has been identified as a possible future location for some of the 120 new health worker dwellings, which may include building new accommodation, refurbishment of existing living quarters and possible purchase of suitable properties such as motels.

In Opposition, I successfully lobbied to keep the former Laurel Lodge in Lismore in public ownership, and had it repurposed as social housing units, so in Government, I’ll strongly advocate for our fair share of this Budget’s record investment in new housing, including public housing.

If GP clinics across our electorate take up the Government’s new Bulk Billing Support Initiative (once legislated) it will help keep them viable, help reduce cost-of-living pressures on patients and take the pressure off hospital emergency departments.

Good news for community sector workers

The Minns Labor Government has delivered an historic reform for community service workers, more than 75% of whom are women, ensuring they get access to portable long service leave.

This will improve the lives of hard-working staff in domestic and family violence support, homelessness services, community housing and other community services.

Under the current system community sector workers can only gain long service leave after 10 years working for a specific employer.

They will now get long service leave based on their time in the sector rather than time employed by a single employer. 

This reform will ensure these workers receive 6 weeks paid leave after 7 years of employment in the sector, no matter how many times they change contracts. Part-time employees will have access to the entitlement after the equivalent time, on a pro-rata basis.

Caption:  Janelle Saffin MP with the Fire + Rescue NSW Commissioner Jeremy Fretwell and Member for South Coast Liza Butler MP at the launch of the Winter Fire Safety campaign.