Parents and young people are being urged to know the symptoms and act fast if they suspect meningococcal disease to help prevent premature death or life-long disability. Late winter and early spring, is when infections tend to increase, and risk is greatest for children under five and for 15-24-year-olds.

Last year, there were 59 meningococcal cases in NSW and four in South Western Sydney Local Health District.

Symptoms usually start with a sudden fever, often with headache, nausea and drowsiness. Neck stiffness, dislike of bright lights and a rash of reddish-purple spots or bruises may also develop quickly. Babies with the infection may be irritable, not feed properly or have an abnormal cry.

While it is a well-known symptom of meningococcal disease, the rash does not always occur, or may present late in the illness.

South Western Sydney Local Health District Director of Public Health Dr Naru Pal said seeking medical help urgently can be lifesaving.

“If you suspect meningococcal disease, don’t wait for the rash – see a doctor urgently,” Dr Pal said.

“While the number and severity of symptoms can vary, if you suspect meningococcal disease, you need to act fast because meningococcal disease can cause death or permanent disability within hours if not treated.”

Meningococcal disease can be fatal in up to one in 10 cases, and one in five infections result in permanent disabilities, including learning difficulties, sight and hearing problems, liver and kidney failure, loss of fingers, toes and limbs, or scarring caused by skin grafts.

“We strongly encourage vaccination as a key prevention against meningococcal disease,” Dr Pal said.

Under the National Immunisation Program, meningococcal ACWY (Men ACWY) vaccine is provided free for babies at 12 months, adolescents, and people of all ages with certain medical conditions. In NSW, the adolescent dose is delivered through the school vaccination program in Year 10.

As of 1 July 2020, Aboriginal children up to the age of two years, and people with certain medical conditions, can also access free meningococcal B (Men B) vaccine.

A parking meter situated close to the toilets at Burragorang Lookout is easy to miss if you are not looking for it; but it hasn’t escaped the notice or annoyance of locals who say it doesn’t belong in the area at all.

The machine was installed in June. It’s not the first time a visitor’s fee has been applied to the lookout – it has been in force since 2000, but in 2011 “ the fee collection infrastructure was temporarily removed as intermittent digital reception was unable to reliably support credit card payments” a spokesperson for the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) said.

The NPWS defended the fee highlighting it was in line with many national parks and especially since the site has been upgraded with a “new shelter” and increases accessibility along with the ongoing maintenance of”… toilet, barbecue and picnic facilities as well as the lookout platform”.

Many locals, some who are relations of the people who used to live in the valley before it was flooded, said the fee is contrary to what was promised.

Trish Hill from Wollondilly Heritage Centre and Museum said the lookout is for everyone and should be freely accessible.

“We have reunions here for families of the Burragorang Valley, whose properties were flooded.”

She said these families shouldn’t have to pay to look at the view and water which now covers their former properties.

Ms Hill the local community and tourists should be allowed to visit the area without incurring a charge.

It's missing something vital and essential to a healthy communal life.

Camden is missing a ‘cultural heart’ – an arts centre – for creative and performing arts.

When the Civic Centre opened in the mid-1970s Camden took a big step forward. Now called Camden Community Centre it runs a very active and varied programme as a fully booked multifunctional space including the presentation of the annual Camden Art Prize for more than 40 years.

But there is nowhere to spill a bit of paint. Nowhere to throw a bit of clay. No etching press for printmaking. No open sculpture garden. No music or dance studios. No workshop spaces. No specialist resource areas. No intimate theatrical space for locally produced performances.

The more recent council conversion of Macaria into the Alan D. Baker Gallery honours a local artist of international standing, his talent and contribution to the local area.

It is a precious space with very limited use as a multi-media workshop space and more suited to historical and heritage exhibitions available through the state travelling exhibitions program.

So we need a comprehensive arts centre, with many spaces, providing educational, exhibition, performance and creative activities for all age groups.

An ideal starting point would be the abandoned and neglected Camden Police Station which is central and ideal to support the town centre. It could be part of a multi-venue 'arts centre'.

Across the regions there are numerous examples of varied and exciting community arts centres from public funded to self-funded. Looking at these active examples will assist in setting a direction in designing an arts centre that suits Camden area.

Starting the 'arts centre' conversation is important as I know many locals have expressed interest for many years.

We need all politicians to participate in this discussion – even those with no interest in the arts.

We need to address the question of balance as our population booms highlighting concerns about unemployment, mental health and a lack of training opportunities with a disembowelled TAFE system.

There is no shortage of genuine energy and professional expertise available to invigorate the arts centre debate.

I challenge Camden councillors, state and federal politicians to support the local community in designing, planning and attracting funding for an arts centre for the whole community.

Greg Frawley,