MATTERS OF STATE: Orange being spoken about in corridors of power at last

PLUGGED IN: Member for Orange Phil Donato at the Spirit of Anzac Centenery exhibition in Orange last week. Photo: CONTRIBUTED
PLUGGED IN: Member for Orange Phil Donato at the Spirit of Anzac Centenery exhibition in Orange last week. Photo: CONTRIBUTED

I'm committed to making sure that the issues raised to me by people in my electorate of Orange get the attention they deserve.

In case you missed it last Friday, I appeared on the Richo program on Sky News Australia to discuss the Orange byelection, political representation in rural areas and forced council amalgamations.

There's a real disconnect between what you hear from Barnaby Joyce and the NSW Nationals Party.

One example of this is Troy Grant's refusal to relocate the NSW Rural Fire Service headquarters to a rural area. He won't even consider his own electorate of Dubbo.

There's no reason to keep this in Sydney, especially when the NSW SES has its headquarters in Wollongong.

My first weeks in parliament have been very interesting - especially when you consider how often Gladys Berejiklian and John Barilaro are mentioning rural areas in speeches after the Orange byelection.

We didn’t get that sort of attention beforehand.

I know that rural communities are tired of being taken for granted. That stops now.


MENTAL health is a key issue for rural areas that needs addressing.

During a recent meeting at the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health (CRRMH), I met with Professor David Perkins, Director of Rural Health Research at the Bloomfield Campus of the Orange Health Service, and a gathering of regional co-ordinators.

With a focus on the ongoing mental health and well-being of the community, service provision and suicide prevention, the entirety of rural NSW is serviced through the co-ordinators.

The provision of service is also strongly linked to research through their affiliation with the University of Newcastle.

They are doing wonderful job supporting our communities.


LAST week, I met with Dianne Gill and Camilla Kenny, co-ordinators of the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP) operated by CRRMH in Orange. 

Among the many services they provide, education is delivered to a number of groups in rural communities to assist distressed people at work, including the workers themselves or those the workers come into contact with in the workplace.


THE Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience opened in Orange last week and it will be key in recounting Australia’s involvement in a number of major conflicts from WWI through to the present day.

I’m proud to see that several local stories featured in the exhibition – making it even more meaningful.

Its interactive nature, along with plenty of engaging information and genuine artifacts from various wars, gave it broad appeal.

The inclusion of Australia’s role in peacekeeping missions in Cambodia, Rwanda, Somalia, and East Timor was also thought provoking.

The Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience plays a vital role in ensuring the sacrifice and legacy of those who fought is preserved and I appreciate the opportunity for our electorate to be one of 23 included in the tour.

Phil Donato is the Member for Orange and a representative of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party