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April 2020 Newsletter

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In this Issue

Welcome from the Chair

Russell Stewart - Chair

Dear Northern Inlanders,

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the resilience of our communities is truly being tested. We know that individuals and businesses are hurting from the changes, and we are in direct communication with the Federal Government to work with them and to provide direct feedback on what is happening in our region and about the current Government support strategies.

So that we can capture solid facts and figures at a local level, we are asking businesses to complete our Impacts of COVID-19 on Businesses Survey. This comprehensive survey is to gain a complete picture and will only take 15 minutes to complete. I urge our businesses to complete the survey so we can not only hear about how the pandemic is impacting you, but also hear your ideas and feedback on the effectiveness of current Government support.

On a lighter note, it is great to see the positive impact our team is having on the region. Over the past two years, we have helped attract over $30 million in funding to this region for projects totalling over $68 million in value, and much more through the flow-on effects to our economy and communities. The unique skills and knowledge of our team allows us to assist Local Councils, businesses and community groups develop business cases and grant applications that are hitting goals for everyone’s benefit.

We are always keen to work with all the Councils and organisations in our region. We are especially pleased to be expanding our relationship with Tenterfield Shire Council to support their proactive community and to be working with Moree Plains Shire Council to provide the Go Digital Masterclass to help their businesses to make the transition to selling their goods and services online.


Russell Stewart

Seeking Business Input to Help Shape Government Support

Nathan Axelsson

If you are a business owner or manager, we are seeking your input through our Impacts of COVID-19 Survey to provide us with solid facts and figures about the expreiences of businesses in our region so they can be used to directly inform the Australian and NSW State Governments.

Together with representatives of regions around the country, we are taking part in fortnightly teleconferences with the Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories, the Hon. Nola Marino, as well as senior Government officials from the Departments of Regional Development and Treasury. Through these meetings we are providing them with information about the crisis situation in our region, the local issues and difficulties with the virus control measures, as well as how the Government’s programs are working positively to retain jobs, and where further assistance is needed.

While we are well aware of the situation for businesses and our region’s economy in general, we need help in collating accurate information that we can provide to our Governments. We are enduring a crisis that is unprecedented in modern times, and this is being compounded by the devistation the drought and bushfires have had on our region. The Federal Government is working to manage the constantly changing crisis as responsively as possible, and are to be commended for seeking direct input from regional areas, and your feedback through this survey can help them help you.

It is vital that we get as much information as possible to help shape our regional approach and the Government’s assistance measures going forward. Taking the time to complete our survey will help get real, accurate information from our region to the Federal Government. Our survey is comprehensive and should only take around 15 minutes to complete.

Our Impacts of COVID-19 on Businesses Survey will be open until Sunday the 26th of April.

Funding Wins of Over $30 Million for Our Region

Over the past two years, we have helped attract over $30 million in funding to our region, towards projects totalling over $68 million, but worth so much more to our economic and social growth. Our dedicated staff in Armidale have helped develop successful funding applications, with business cases, cost-benefit analysis and regional data for Local Government, not-for-profits and businesses across our region.

“Being an independent not-for-profit organisation, RDANI has been able to add real weight to funding applications for projects that genuinely contribute to the development of our region and for an economist, that is satisfying,” RDANI’s Senior Research Economist David Thompson said. “Applying data, research and economic modelling, together with our regional perspective, has delivered some of the best and most realistic applications State and Federal funding bodies have seen, according to their feedback. We also use services such as REMPLAN along with historical research and analysis of the current circumstances relating to a project to estimate the economic flow-on benefits of projects”.

Our economist James Pryor has provided a great deal of funding guidance to smaller community organisations, from country Show Societies to schools, childcare centres and sporting bodies. We identify relevant funding opportunities and inform the region about them via our newsletters, website and social media. However, partnerships are key when it comes to applying for funding, and engaging with us can be beneficial for applicants, local and regional economies.

One of our most recently announced funding wins for the region was made by Member for Tamworth, Kevin Anderson. The road project that will enable access between the Werris Creek rail freight intermodal and the New England Highway has a total budget of $9.146mil. and the State Government is to be commended for chipping in $7.296Mil. Liverpool Plains Shire Council took the initiative to work with us and the result will be a great economic driver.

Other big wins include the UNE Discovery Centre, which has a projected cost of $15.215M and received $6.128M in funding and Armidale Regional Council’s Airport Industrial Park, which attracted $6.5M, announced by Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall last year. We also helped Inverell Shire Council rake in $5M for the $5.73M Copeton Foreshores project.

A Gwydir Highway Roundabout attracted $2.2M for a $5.2M project and $1M was granted for the Armidale Adventure Playground. We assisted in securing $114,000 for the Tingha Skate Park. The Saumarez Homestead Tourism upgrade received $1.77M for a $2.87M project and Uralla Shire Council received $1.08M for their $1.1M Tolleys Bridge project.

We provide a freely accessible listing of available grants on our website for businesses, infrastructure projects and communities that is frequently updated. Our two monthly grants newsletters are also free, and can be subscribed to through the form on the left hand side of our website. If you would like personalised assistance with a funding application, please contact us at rdani@rdani.org.au.

Employers Urged to Consider Employing Skilled Migrants

Our Senior Skilled Migration and Project Officer, Gary Fry has highlighted the need for employers to consider skilled migrants when assessing job applicants. “The skilled migrants that have come to our region are highly skilled individuals that have a lot to provide our businesses and communities. They have passed a range of tests to be here, including high levels of English and tertiary qualifications. These people, and their families, have committed to being part of our communities, and many have been here for several years, working towards obtaining permanent residency. Unfortunately, as they are not yet permanent residents, they are unable to access Government support, and many are suffering greatly as they too have lost their jobs and their only source of income.”

The Skilled Regional State Sponsored migrants (holders of the 489 visa) who have been brought to this region are on a concrete pathway to permanent residency and should be considered for permanent positions. They are committed to living and working in the region for at least two years and will hopefully settle for the medium to long-term. We encourage employers to consider 489 visa holders in the same light as any Permanent Resident or Citizen of Australia. They are considered Australian for taxation purposes and there are no additional burdens on employers, however they need to work at least 35 hours per week for at least one year and live regionally for at least two years in order to become eligible to apply for their 887 Permanent Residency Visa.

“There is a highly qualified and experience skilled migrant labour pool sitting in this region right now looking for employment and they are very keen to work. They are not eligible for any form of Government Assistance and are keen to grab any opportunity.” said Mr. Fry

Employers can connect with skilled migrants that are in our region on our Skilled Migration Jobs Board on Facebook. If you have any queries about the program as an employer, you can contact Gary at gfry@rdani.org.au or on 0427 008 572.

New Department of Regional NSW To Take On Urgent Needs

Earlier this month the NSW Government established the new Department of Regional NSW to better coordinate support for communities, businesses and farmers in regional areas that have endured drought, bushfire and flood and now face the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro said the department will bring together Primary Industries, Local Land Services, Resources and Geoscience and regional coordination across government to form a central agency dedicated to regional issues.

“We are urgently responding to the desperate needs of people in the regions and this new agency will work to ensure community wellbeing, resilient economies and strong key regional industries,” Mr Barilaro said. “We know that the issues faced by the people of Cootamundra are very different to those faced in Coogee and so it is imperative we have a government designed to properly support every corner of this State.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made a big impact on what has already been a devastating start to 2020, as farmers continue to suffer through the worst drought in recorded history and towns torn apart by bushfires continue to feel the effects months on.”

“The new Department of Regional NSW will be a voice in government for people in the bush and will have a laser-like focus on the challenges and opportunities unique to regional communities, helping them to get through hardships many of us have not seen in our time. This department will allow a more streamlined response to regional issues as experts in areas such as primary industries, land management, resources, regional development, drought response and bushfire recovery work closer together than ever before.”

The Department of Regional NSW will be led by incoming Secretary Gary Barnes, currently the Coordinator General, Regional NSW, Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

Are You Looking for Work or Have Work Available?

In response to the rapidly changing jobs market, the Australian Government is supporting businesses and those looking for work through the establishment of the Jobs Hub.

While many businesses have been adversely affected by COVID-19 and are reducing their workforces, there are some areas of the economy which have an increased demand for workers. These include jobs in a range of sectors and occupations including health and care sectors, transport and logistics, some areas of retail, mining and mining services, manufacturing, agriculture and government sectors, among others. The Jobs Hub provides an up to date list of a selection of businesses and organisations that are currently hiring, and how to contact them.

Employers who are hiring and want support to connect with potential candidates can contact the Department of Education, Skills and Employment at workforce@dese.gov.au to be connected directly with businesses reducing their workforces; and the employment services network to source suitable candidates.

Match and Upgrade Your Skills with My Skills

The Australian Government’s My Skills website has been recently upgraded to focus on online training for Australians looking to upskill during the COVID-19 pandemic. The website provides a national directory of VET organisations and courses that helps consumers search and compare VET courses and training providers.

Website users can search the increased online offerings of registered training organisations (RTOs) and vocational education and training (VET) options currently available to continue to train for the future. For those in the New England, Mr Joyce said this will provide an excellent opportunity to study a wide variety of course offerings from a range of training institutions around the country and potentially even something that may not have been available to them before.

“The online space opens the door to VET courses and nationally recognised qualifications not only in our own backyard but right around Australia,” Mr Joyce said. “Whether you’re upskilling or looking to retrain and change careers altogether, VET courses are a great option and highly sought after in rural and regional areas like our own. Remaining adaptable and flexible with our employment options during these challenging times is vital to our long-term success.”

The My Skills website complements the existing Skills Match Tool which provides intuitive career guidance to choose or change careers based on the user’s previous work experience and qualifications. This includes providing information on a career’s likely income, whether the industry is in growth and what future pathways are available.

Free Training from TAFE NSW

TAFE NSW, in conjunction with the NSW Government, is offering a range of fee-free online short courses that can be completed in just days or weeks, offering practical skills and experiences across a range of industries.

There are a range of courses including:

  • Practical business skills
  • Enhance your digital impact
  • Improve leadership performance
  • Develop administration skills
  • Grow health and medical knowledge

To access the fee-free courses, you must:

  • live or work in NSW
  • be an Australian Citizen or Permanent Resident or New Zealand Citizen or Humanitarian visa holder
  • be aged over 17 years (people between 15 and 17 may be eligible and should contact us for more information)
  • have left school or are registered for home schooling

Featured Grants and Funding Opportunities

To help businesses and individuals affected by Coronavirus (COVID-19) access the available assistance we have created a dedicated Coronavirus Assistance page on our website. This page will be updated as details become available on the recently announced economic stimulus packages from the Australian and NSW Governments.

There is also wide range of assistance available for individuals, businesses and communities that have been affected by the ongoing drought and the recent bushfires. To help you access this support, we have created dedicated Drought Assistance and  Bushfire Assistance pages on our website which are being updated reguarly.

Below are some featured grants and funding opportunities from the multitude of open grants listed in the Grants and Funding Opportunities area of our website. Our website is updated weekly with new listings and updates and all are applicable to our region, so it is a great resource if you are looking for funding for a specific project.

You can also sign up to our Business and Infrastructure Funding Opportunities and the Community Grants and Award Programs newsletters through the simple form located on the left-hand side of our website: www.rdani.org.au, to receive monthly summaries of currently open grants.

Heywire Youth Innovation Grants
Closes: 26th of May 2020
Value: Up to $10,000
Run By: Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal

Funding to assist not-for-profit community-based organisations in rural, regional and remote Australia adopt and act on one of the six innovative Heywire project ideas. The communities selected to pilot the programs will implement their projects from September 2020. Typically, projects are completed within 12 months. However, within the current context of drought, floods, bushfires and COVID-19, FRRR encourages grant seekers to discuss potential projects with the team that may be delivered over a longer time frame.

Rural Grassroots and Major Projects Grants Program - Feed Appeal
Closes: 22nd of May 2020
Value: $5,000 - $25,000
Run By: Feed Appeal

The Feed Appeal Rural Grants Program is focussed on supporting local charities in rural and remote communities to deliver effective and targeted food relief programs.

Funding in the Rural Grassroots Grants Program is focussed on minor infrastructure, quality kitchen equipment, capacity building training and access to food staples that will help organisations meet the demand efficiently and effectively. Funding requests must directly impact and improve your food relief programs and help build the organisations capacity.

Funding in the Rural Major Projects Program is focussed on supporting charities with a major infrastructure, capital investment, transportation and/or logistics project. Projects must directly impact and improve your food relief program and help build the organisations capacity.

Individual Capacity Building Program
Closes: 6th of May 2020 (Extended)
Value: $5,000 to $500,000
Run By: NDIA

The NDIA is inviting applications in an open competitive process to apply to deliver services under the Individual Capacity Building Program from 2020-21 to 2021-22.

There are two streams of funding available:

1. Individual Capacity Building - activities that build the capacity of people with disability by ensuring that they have the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to participate and contribute to community, and speak up for themselves. Proposed activities must be for the benefit of people with disability.

2. Organisational Capacity Building - activities that improve the ability of Disabled Peoples Organisations and Families Organisations to achieve and strengthen their organisational mission and to deliver Information, Linkages and Capacity Building in the community.

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