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August 2012 Newsletter

In This Issue:

NBN Boss gets the Lowdown on Future Technology

Geeks and their gadgets took centre stage last week at the Armidale Broadband Smart Home, putting on an impressive show and tell for NBN Co Chief Executive Mike Quigley who was in town to survey the construction of the National Broadband Network.

Mr Quigley praised the innovative work being developed locally that is harnessing the enormous potential that the NBN will bring to regional centres like Armidale and announced that Armidale is on track to become the first city in Australia to be fully fibred.

“It’s been great to see the progress of the NBN rollout in Armidale today, and I am excited to think that this wonderful city will be the first in Australia to be fully fibred by the end of this year,” Mr Quigley said.

“Armidale’s Smart Home is an excellent example of how the NBN will help improve the way we live and work for decades to come.”

Organisations that gave demonstrations included: CSIRO in association with the University of New England’s Smarter Safer Homes Program, ICT International with soil moisture probes, RM Tech with remote video monitoring equipment, AI Vision with remote eye testing, TAFE New England Institute with their EDUone robot and ISU Solutions with their all-in-one telemetry and sensor device and the University of New England’s SmartFarm applications.

Regional Development Australia - Northern Inland (RDA-NI) have taken the lead in the Smart House project, said Regional Development Australia Northern Inland Executive Officer, Nathan Axelsson.

“We are ensuring that the partners involved in the Smart Home are working together to open the house to the broader public and provide hands-on practical demonstrations into what the NBN can do,” he said.

“We hope that the businesses that demonstrated their applications today will continue to flourish but essentially, the Smart Home is an open access living laboratory for those organisations to come in and show their products and applications.

“We see the Smart Home as a showcase, particularly for regional technology firms to provide them with exposure to a wider audience.”

Independent Member for New England Tony Windsor also visited the Smart Home and viewed the progress of the NBN rollout.

Innovative Entries Sought for Regional Awards

Businesses, public and not-for-profit organisations are being urged to start preparing their entries for the 2012 Regional Development Australia Northern Inland Innovation Awards now. Nominations close on Friday, 21 September.

The annual awards program is an initiative of Regional Development Australia Northern Inland (RDA-NI), to recognise and showcase the region's innovations and innovative approaches. According to RDA-NI Executive Officer, Nathan Axelsson, the awards also address the additional need for regional businesses to be innovative towards improving their competitive edge. “If you innovate, think outside the square, explore new directions or approaches, then RDA-NI wants to hear your story. We want to recognise and celebrate the uniqueness of local organisations or businesses and what sets them apart," he said.

“These awards are in line with RDA-NI’s objectives to support economic growth and the development of sustainable, socially inclusive communities in Northern Inland NSW,” he said. “The Northern Inland Innovation Awards showcase and promote a vast array of products, services and initiatives. Entering these awards not only puts your operation up for recognition on a regional level, it also helps to inspire others.”

"The importance of this awards program is again demonstrated by the calibre of generous sponsors it has attracted, which are: Regional Development Australia - Northern Inland; AgriFood Skills Australia; AusIndustry; ShareMarket College; Telstra; and UNE Partnerships."

RDANI Senior Project Officer, Kim-Trieste Hastings is urging the 13 councils within the Northern Inland region to assist in identifying and encouraging entries from local businesses. “RDANI would like to see Armidale Dumaresq, Glen Innes Severn, Gunnedah, Guyra, Gwydir, Inverell, Liverpool Plains, Moree Plains, Narrabri, Tamworth Regional, Tenterfield, Uralla and Walcha Council areas represented in the Northern Inland Innovation Awards,” she said. "Support from proactive Chambers of Commerce and like agencies would also be good to see."

These showcase Northern Inland NSW as a progressive, creative and resourceful region at State, National and even International levels,” Ms Hastings said. “Innovation isn’t necessarily invention. There are so many operations out there, large and small, which are growing and succeeding as a direct result of innovations or innovative approaches, such as diversification to better meet client or community needs."

The Northern Inland Innovation Award Categories are: Agriculture / Horticulture and associated services; Tourism / Leisure and Services; Professional and Retail services; Manufacturing and Engineering; and Research and Education.

The RDANI Innovation Awards Committee will select finalists for each category, who will be invited to attend the gala awards night later in the year, with the general public also encouraged to attend. The 2012 Innovation of the Year Award will be presented to the leading innovator across all categories. This year, the awards presentation night will take place in Tenterfield on Friday, 26 October.

“After the time, effort and money invested into innovation, through product development and commercialisation, past winners have stated that recognition through the Innovation Awards is a greatly appreciated validation,” Ms Hastings said.

Further information on the Northern Inland Innovation Awards may be found on the awards website, www.niia.com.au

Careers Advice for Students in the Northern Inland

School students, school-leavers, tertiary students and their parents had a unique opportunity to explore local training and career opportunities at the ‘Live.Train.Work’ Expo & Careers Forum that was held at UNE’s Lazenby Hall in Armidale on Thursday the 9th of August.

A typical event careers expo might have a number of stall-holders set up. This event focused on break-out information sessions. With over of 120 guest speakers, Students were able to hear first-hand from industry representatives who are passionate about their particular fields.

The information sessions spanned a wide range of careers including; counselling, hospitality, law, media, marketing and communications, early childhood services, I.T., medicine, dental, optical, automotive, creative arts and design, science and primary industries, sport and recreation, vet and animal care, nursing and aged care, metals and engineering, community services, accounting and finance, transport and aviation. Sessions on job seeking, how to write a CV, volunteering, casual work, gap year opportunities and applying for TAFE and UNE courses were also included.

Too often we find that young people in regional centres like Armidale leave the region once their high school or university studies are completed. These people are our brightest and best – our next generation of skilled workers. They are the future of our regional communities. So the ultimate aim of the careers expo and forum was to demonstrate to students that there are many career opportunities, as well as technical training and further study options to be found locally.

The event was run by Regional Development Australia - Northern Inland, in conjunction with local partners including BEST Employment, TAFE, UNE, Jobs Australia, Speedie Staff Solutions, Armidale Business Chamber, EACH Youth Connections, Armidale Dumaresq Council, Community Mutual Group and many local businesses and employees supported the event. Careers Network Partnership Broker Program also helped to bring together the partners for this important event to address the lack of knowledge about training, education and career pathways across many local industry sectors.

Immigration Representative at AgQuip

AgQuip is far more than Australia's biggest showcase of agri-products, it is also a valuable learning opportunity. At this year’s AgQuip, Regional Development Australia Northern Inland (RDA-NI) and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) will be on hand with information about sourcing skilled workers from overseas.

RDA-NI Executive Officer, Nathan Axelsson advises that a representative of the Immigration Department will have a stand in the NSW Farmers’ AgQuip site on Tuesday 21st and Wednesday 22nd of August. "RDA-NI is the region's only employer sponsored visa certifying body and we work closely with Immigration to attract skilled migrants to the region. AgQuip is a great opportunity for people to have some questions answered and have a chat, face-to-face with someone from the Immigration Department."

Mr Axelsson said that the skills and labour shortage is impacting on the agricultural sector, just as it is in many other industries in the Northern Inland, such as medical, mining and trade industries. "It is difficult for employers in the agricultural sector to attract and retain appropriately skilled workers in this region. We need to communicate that to the Immigration Department and the Federal government. We also need to advocate that our farms are workplaces for skilled workers - sourcing workers with the desired skill sets from overseas is often the only option, especially with high mining industry salaries attracting young workers from the rural sector, locally."

"RDANI has worked with NSW Trade and Investment to raise regional awareness of the skilled migration option. AgQuip is an ideal venue for that," he said.

RDA-NI Senior Project Officer, Kim-Trieste Hastings has certified many visas for workers employed by farmers in the Northern Inland region. “I’d like to see employers in the region, who are finding it difficult to attract skilled labour for their particular occupations come along and have a chat about skilled migration at AgQuip. It makes sense to know your options,” Ms Hastings said. "The Immigration representative is an Industry Outreach Officer, with experience and expertise in working with the agricultural sector."

Ms Hastings added that employers must meet various criteria and provide documentation regarding their business to sponsor a skilled worker from overseas. "Employers must demonstrate that they have been unsuccessful in recruiting the skilled staff they need from the local area," she said.

Assistance for Businesses Wanting to Take Advantage of the NBN

The Digital Enterprise Program is a Commonwealth Government Initiative aimed at positioning Australia as a leading digital economy by 2020. The Armidale Dumaresq Council in partnership with the Armidale Business Chamber is presenting ‘Switched on Armidale’ : a two year project comprising workshops, training, seminars and podcasts focussing on the opportunities provided to small business by the National Broadband Network.

The project designed to upskill Small and Medium Enterprises, helps engage small business owners with digital technology and strategies and features industry leaders, expert speakers and leading trainers in technology strategy, emarketing and ebusiness.

There are four ways that businesses can find out how to become engaged with the digital change and take advantage of the NBN:

  1. NBN Introductory Workshops - How to get your business online. These courses are designed for small to medium enterprises and Not-for-Profit (NFP) organisations starting out on their digital journey.
  2. Switched On Armidale Interactive Seminars - A series of workshops led by leading industry experts. Designed to integrate business activity and planning using video, teleconference and audio, to link up remote businesses.
  3. Digital Breakfast Seminar Series - A ten-week series of Breakfast Seminars led by leading industry experts. Enjoy a networking Breakfast and the latest technology news.
  4. Free One-On-One Sessions - Skilled trainers are available to come to your business premises to guide you on the best strategy for helping you to meet your digital enterprise needs and to assist with practical, hands-on technical applications.

Businesses who cannot make it into Armidale for the face-to-face session can watch and interact at home or in their office by watching the ‘Switched On Armidale’ keynotes live. They can also be viewed after the event by going to the Armidale Business Chamber’s YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/engageandinnovate

Further details on the sessions are available through the events page of the Armidale Business Chamber’s Website, www.armidalechamber.com.au/events.php

Scholarships for Students Wanting a Career in Rural and Regional NSW

The Royal Agricultural Society Foundation's 2013 Rural Scholarship aims to help students who demonstrate a passion and commitment for a career that will help the future success of rural and regional NSW. The Rural Scholarship is an important way of helping rural students in NSW achieve their education goals through University, TAFE and apprenticeships.

There is no limit on the types of courses that qualify or the age of the applicant, however they must have a desire to play an active part in the future of rural NSW. Applicants for a Rural Scholarship must:

Be enrolled in or applying for study in any accredited tertiary course at an approved Australian education provider.

Demonstrate an active interest in rural affairs and a desire to contribute to the future of rural NSW.
Demonstrate how a scholarship would assist them in achieving their education or training goal.
Be an Australian citizen or permanent resident.

Applications are open until the 31st of September, and further details are available on the Royal Agricultural Society Foundation’s website, www.rasnsw.com.au/829.htm.

The Royal Agricultural Society Foundation also runs the JB Fairfax Award for Rural Journalism to encourages students who are passionate about rural issues to turn their passion for writing into a career.

The Award includes a scholarship of up to $10,000 and practical work experience at Rural Press and the 2013 Sydney Royal Easter Show. The winning article is published in a major rural publication. Entries close on the 30th of September, and further details, including entry requirements may be found on the Royal Agriculural Society Foundation’s website, www.rasnsw.com.au/830.htm

Mums United

Most of us know that it’s important to be a healthy weight to reduce the risk of serious health problems such as cancer, type two diabetes, and heart disease. But with so many conflicting recommendations, it is difficult to know which ones we should be following, find ways to incorporate them into our busy lives and how to do it all without breaking the bank.

The Mums United program by the Heart Foundation aims to assist mothers, as the most common caretakers, through the Mums United program. This program offers simple changes that can make a real difference to you and your family’s health – ideas that won’t cost heaps, take loads of time or take the fun out of your weekend and evenings.

The aim of the program is to make a significant change through making several small changes to your routine. To do so, they are providing access to activity trackers, online quizzes and healthy, budget friendly recipes. Find out more about the Mums United program on the Heart Foundation’s website, www.heartfoundation.org.au/healthy-eating/mums-united/about-mums-united/Pages/default.aspx

Whats On In The Northern Inland

Moree Motor Show and Shine
Sunday 2nd of September, 8am to 1pm
Jellico Park, Corner Newell and Gwydir Highways, Moree

As a special treat, the Moree Motor Enthusiasts Club will be running a show and shine on Fathers Day. Open to all vehicles, including bikes, customs, hot rods, vintage, veteran, street machines, tractors and trucks, there will be a wide variety of vehicles on show. The Moree markets will also be held in conjunction with the show. Further details, including entry forms, are available on the club’s website, www.mmec.org.au

The Regional NSW BBQ Challenge
Sunday 23rd of September, 11:15am
Evans St, adjacent Inverell Town Hall, Inverell

Starting off with a Showcase Dinner on Saturday the 22nd of September, Inverell will be the venue for third round of the Great BBQ Challenge.

The Showcase Dinner, will be an unforgettable meal created by the awarded father and son Chef duo Michael and Stephen Welbourn from locally sourced ingredients and local wines selected to accompany the food in the lead up to each BBQ Challenge event. Renowned BBQ Cookbook author, Kim Terakes, WIN TV’s Alive and Cooking host James Reeson and the ‘Wine Man’, Peter Bourne will provide insights into the produce and wines being highlighted in the dinner.

The following day, twelve teams of up to four locals will be chosen to don their aprons and cook off on their BBQ’s for a place in the final in Sydney as part of the Crave Sydney International Food Festival. Competitors will be judged based on taste, appearance, creativity and use of local produce and will be sure to inspire.

As well as the BBQ Cook-off, entertainment will be provided by the aptly named BBQ Kings, with food commentary provided by our BBQ guru, Kim Terakes and wine insights from ‘The Wine Man’ himself, Peter Bourne.

The day will also include a farmers market showcasing the fantastic range of local produce from our region. Offering a chance to enjoy and take home produce from our region, it is a perfect way to have your own BBQ cook-off at home.

Full details, dinner tickets and team registration forms are available on their website, www.nswbbqchallenge.com.au

Porchetta Day
Saturday 22nd of September
Gunnedah Showground, South Street, Gunnedah

To experience a weekend filled with Italian inspired cuisine and premium wines, along trestle tables under a Mediterranean like sky, Gunnedah is the place to be. Showcasing local produce through a variety of stalls and exhibitors, it is sure to be a real delight for any foodie, and a wonderful family day out. Further details are available on their website, www.porchetta.com.au

New Grants and Funding Opportunities

Community Building Partnership
This program provides funds for community groups and local councils to invest in community infrastructure throughout the NSW. Incorporated not-for-profit community organisations and local councils are invited to apply for funding to build and improve community facilities in their local area. Grant funding of $200,000 will be made available for every electoral district with an additional $100,000 for electorates identified with higher unemployment rates.

Participation and Facility Program
The focus of this program is to provide increased opportunities for participation in sport and recreation and assist with the funding for the development of local and regional level sport and recreation facilities in NSW.

Small Grants for Small Rural Communities
This program will offer up to $400,000 per round in grants up to $5,000 for projects and activities that offer clear public benefit for communities, with populations of 10,000 or less, living in small rural and remote locations in Australia, contributing to their development in social and community welfare, economic, environmental, health, education or cultural areas.

Scholars and Artists in Residence
The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia invites proposals from people who wish to conduct high level research into the national audiovisual collection. This research may take various forms: an academic may want to write a book or produce a website; a creative artist may wish to create a film, musical composition, dance piece or some other artwork; a curator may wish to create an exhibition; historians, scientists and policymakers may wish to delve into Australia’s audiovisual past.

Further information on grants, funding opportunities and tenders is available on the Grants and Funding Opportunities page of the RDA-NI website, as well as through GrantsLINK, business.gov.au's Grants & Assistance Finder and Community Builders.

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