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August 2021 Newsletter


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In this Issue

Welcome from the Chair

Russell Stewart - Chair

Dear Northern Inlanders,

The number of times that our communities' resilience has been tested of late is hard to fathom. While the latest round of public health order restrictions is hard to bear for many, it is important that we reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our region and take the necessary steps towards re-opening our communities once again. Our communities are to be congratulated for their incredible effort so far, which has kept region's case numbers very low so far.

It is vital that we reach out for support to take care of our mental health at this time. Having children at home, financial distress, and the heartbreak of having to close your business once again takes a significant toll. Seeking help for your mental health is as vital as seeing your doctor for other ailments. The available free support services make it easier to find the support you need during this time.

It is fantastic to see the level of interest in the New England Renewable Energy Zone. With 81 registrations of interest received, we now have the ability to pick only the best for our region. The New England REZ presents a major change for our region’s economy, and it is essential that our communities are engaged in the process. It is also important that members of our communities are employed in these projects' construction and operational phases. We are pleased to be working on a project to identify the skills that will be needed and how to bridge any skill gaps so that our communities can prosper.

Regards,

Russell Stewart
Chair

Interest Generated for the New England REZ

The New England Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) is set to be Australia’s largest planned REZ. These zones involve developing new power grid infrastructure to connect multiple energy generators in the same zone. They are effectively the modern-day equivalent of a power station and combine the generation, transmission, storage and system strength services.

The recent Registration of Interest (ROI) process for the New England REZ had netted a much larger catch of potential projects than expected. A total of 81 potential projects have been put forward, with the potential to generate a combined 34,000 megawatts of energy each year – far exceeding the 8,000 megawatts the REZ is designed to hold.

“With this high level of interest, we have the luxury of supporting only the best projects that benefit the community, maintain the highest and strictest development standards and maximise local renewable jobs and investment in the region,” said Adam Marshall, Member for Northern Tablelands. “We won’t be compromising our standards, and now we are in the box seat, so we can be even more discerning, which is great. It’s the projects that our region rejects that will make our region the best – delivering projects which provide us with the enormous economic and social benefits, without compromising any of our region’s assets or amenity.”

The ROI process is the first step in engaging industry and project proponents as planning for the New England REZ progresses. It will be used by the Energy Corporation of NSW (EnergyCo) to inform the next stage of REZ design. EnergyCo will continue engagement with local stakeholders, including landholders, First Nations and other regional representatives, through the New England REZ Regional Reference Group.

The New England REZ is expected to deliver around $10.7 billion in investment and create 830 operational jobs and 1,250 construction jobs each year. With the creation of these new jobs in our region, we must identify the skills needed to ensure that these projects employ members of our communities.

RDA-NI are pleased to be undertaking work with the NSW Department of Regional NSW to identify the skills needed for the New England REZ. The construction and operational phases for approved projects will need a vast array of skills. By identifying these in advance and creating a plan to equip our communities with the skills, we have the opportunity to maximise the benefit to our region’s economy and help our communities prosper.

Support for COVID Affected Businesses and Individuals

The current round of public health orders has created challenging times for many businesses and individuals in our region, both financially and emotionally.

It is essential to take care of our mental health during this time, and there is a range of support services available to help. Whether it be dealing with having your children at home, the financial and emotional distress of being unable to run your business, or missing loved ones, it is vital that you reach out for support. The Department of Health has a good summary of the free mental health support services that are available to help.

There is also a wide range of financial support available from the NSW and Australian Governments for businesses and individuals. We will be keeping our specialised COVID-19 support page as up to date as possible with grants that apply to the Northern Inland region. Below is a summary of some of the available assistance:

Support for Businesses

Support for Individuals

Additional Time for Black Summer Grants

As many of the communities affected by the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires are currently under public health order restrictions, the Australian Government has extended the closing date for applications to the Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Grants Program to the 6th of October.

This grants program will provide funding for a range of projects that are designed to support social and economic recovery, and restoration efforts. These grants can fund up to 100% of eligible project expenditure and must be completed by the 31st of March 2024.

A funding envelope has been allocated to each eligible LGA to ensure all LGAs have the opportunity to receive funding. Two categories have been created based on the impact of the bushfires on the LGA. The category allocation determines the size of the funding envelope that is available. If the project is located in multiple LGAs the amount of funding assigned to the LGA would be proportionate with the cost of activities undertaken within the LGA.

In the Northern Inland, the following LGAs are eligible under the following categories:

Category 1 - A funding envelope of up to $4.5 Million per LGA:

  • Armidale
  • Glen Innes
  • Tenterfield

Category 2 - A funding envelope of up to $1.6 Million per LGA:

  • Gwydir
  • Inverell
  • Narrabri
  • Tamworth
  • Uralla
  • Walcha

The National Recovery and Resilience Agency will be running additional online workshops to assist applicants and registrations are available through their website. Further details for the Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Grants Program are available on GrantConnect.

Recognition for Young Agricultural Innovators

If you are aged between 18 and 35 and want to make a difference for Australia’s agriculture industries, the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment wants to hear from you!

Applications are now open for the 2022 Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture. These awards support young innovators, scientists, researchers, extension officers, industry advisers, and others actively engaged in the agriculture sector who have an original project that will contribute to Australia's agriculture industries' ongoing success and sustainability.

The winner of each category will receive a $22,000 grant for their project and the chance to receive additional funding and recognition in the Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia’s Award.

There are 12 industry award categories:

  • biosecurity and digital innovation
  • cotton
  • eggs and poultry (layers)
  • established, new and emerging rural industries
  • fisheries and aquaculture
  • forest and wood products
  • grains
  • horticulture
  • pork
  • red meat processing
  • viticulture and oenology
  • wool

Applications close at 5pm on Friday the 1st of October, and further details are available on the 2022 Science and Innovation Awards website.

Synthetic Biology

According to a new report from the CSIRO, Synthetic Biology presents an opportunity to develop an industry that can be worth up to $27 billion a year and 44,000 jobs in Australia by 2040. The two most significant areas to benefit would be the food and agriculture industry ($19 billion and 31,000 jobs) and the health and medicine sectors ($7 billion and 11,700 jobs).

Synthetic biology is a rapidly growing field that applies engineering principles and genetic technologies to biological engineering. Drawing on biology, engineering and computer science, it facilitates the rapid development of functional DNA-encoded biological components and systems that have increased predictability and precision compared to other forms of genetic modification.

In agriculture, it can help feed the world in more sustainable ways and provide solutions to the increasing impacts from climate change, declining arable land and increasing demand. It can provide sustainable biomanufacturing of food and agricultural products and create biological solutions to productivity and environmental challenges in the agricultural sector. It could change the way we produce food products, animal feed products, agricultural chemicals, agricultural and food biosensors, biological agricultural treatments, and engineered crops.

Synthetic Biology also has potential for medicine, including developing new vaccines, diagnostic tools, and treatments. With Australia’s health expenditure expected to increase significantly by 2030, synthetic biology can provide cost-effective solutions to current and emerging health issues. It will change the development of new medical products for humans and animals, provide cheaper and more reliable production, and accelerate product development.

Professor Claudia Vickers, Synthetic Biology Director at CSIRO said the scientific impact was encouraging, and with sustained investment, synthetic biology can deliver increased impact and economic benefit. “Synthetic biology can help overcome a range of global challenges, particularly in agriculture and health. It can also enable Australia to transform its economy by creating new, more sustainable industries and generating jobs,” Professor Vickers said. “Bringing technology, the research community and other stakeholders together to enable start-ups, private investment and growth of market share will be essential to achieve the vision outlined in the roadmap.”

Further information and the National Synthetic Biology Roadmap is available on the CSIRO website.

The 491 Visa Process has Changed

Applying for a 491 Skilled Regional State Nominated Visa has changed for the 2021-22 financial year. Interested applicants must now receive an invitation to apply from the NSW Government before submitting a full application for nomination to the relevant RDA.

Further information about how to register your interest with the NSW Government and the online form is available on their website. We also recommend reading through their frequently asked questions about the ROI process.

The NSW Government will be running four rounds for registrations of interest for applicants seeking an invitation to apply in the 2021-22 financial year. Submissions must be placed in the timeframe designated for these rounds, and submissions outside these time frames will not be considered by the NSW Government.

These ROI rounds will be held:

  • 1st to 31st of August 2021
  • 1st to 31st of October 2021
  • 1st to 31st of January 2022
  • 1st to 31st of March 2022

To help Skilled Migrants through this new process, we have included the new requirements for how to apply for a 491 Visa on our website. We are aware that the process can feel daunting, so we have broken the process down into 10 steps that you can follow.

Most of the other criteria has remained the same, and once an invitation to apply has been received from the NSW Government, you can submit your application in full to our office. Please note that we cannot advise applicants regarding the process for an invitation to apply, and we cannot accept an application or invite anyone to apply without an invitation from the NSW Government.

New NBN Services for Businesses

NBN Co will be expanding their nbn Business Fibre Zones across Australia, along with several new initiatives that aim to help reduce costs for businesses. The nbn Business Fibre Initiative forms part of the $700 million package of initiates to support businesses. It is designed to help level the playing field for businesses of all sizes in more locations by reducing the variation in the cost of business broadband services.

An additional 60,000 business premises will now be included in the nbn Business Fibre Initiative, with the creation of 44 new business nbn fibre zones from the 1st of September. This will bring the total to 284 zones in metropolitan and regional Australia, providing around 850,000 business with access to business nbn Enterprise Ethernet.

Maps of the areas covered by the nbn Business Fibre Zones are available for Tamworth and surrounds, Armidale and surrounds, and Moree and surrounds. Other areas outside the Northern Inland are available on the full list of Business Fibre Zone maps on the NBN Co website.

Eligible businesses within existing and newly announced business nbn™ fibre zones can benefit from:

  • no up-front build cost to internet providers for the fibre deployment, on demand, and no up-front connection cost if a business orders a business nbn™ Enterprise Ethernet service on a three-year term,
  • access to discounted monthly wholesale charges, up to a 68% discount for some businesses.
  • A Service Delivery Guarantee to complete the design and construction of new fibre infrastructure in most business locations within the nbn™ fixed line footprint within 50 business days.   

From the 20th of September, there will be a range of new wholesale discounts for nbn Business Fibre Zones. In addition, businesses not located in the nbn Business Fibre Zones will be eligible for wholesale discounts of up to 56% for nbn Enterprise Ethernet business-grade broadband.

Further information about how access to business fibre has changed is available on the nbn website.

Featured Grants and Funding Opportunities

Below are some featured grants and funding opportunities from the multitude of open grants listed in our Grants and Funding Opportunities Database on 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 free Business and Infrastructure Funding Opportunities and the Community Grants and Award Programs newsletters through the simple form located in the footer of our website, www.rdani.org.au, to receive monthly summaries of current grants.

 

Youth Opportunities
Closes: 6th of September 2021 - 5:00 pm
Value: $10,000 to $50,000
Run By: NSW Government Communities and Justice

The Youth Opportunities program provides one-off, time-limited grants to not-for-profit organisations and local councils for youth-led and youth-driven community projects that have a positive youth development focus.

Funded projects from previous rounds have focused on giving young people the opportunity to develop a range of skills, including life skills and healthy behaviours; leadership, communication and teamwork; event management and planning; and providing volunteering opportunities that link young people to further education and training.

 

Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program
Closes: 31st of December 2021
Value: $14,596 to $40.7699 Million
Run By: Australian Government Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

This program provides funding to Local Councils for local road and community infrastructure projects. The scope of LRCI Program Phase 2 supports a broad range of eligible projects so communities can fund the infrastructure that they need, support businesses and create employment opportunities across their communities.

The LRCI Program Phase 2 aims to continue to assist a community-led recovery from COVID-19 by supporting local jobs, firms, and procurement. It expected that councils will use local businesses and workforces to deliver projects under the LRCI Program where possible to ensure stimulus funding flows into local communities.

Local Councils who have in place an executed Grant Agreement in relation to their ‘Nominal Funding Allocation’ under Phase 1 of the LRCI Program are eligible for Phase 2.

 

On-farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate Scheme
Closes: 30th of June 2022 or until expended
Value: Up to $25,000
Run By: Rural Assistance Authority

This scheme helps Australian farmers to better prepare, respond to and recover from drought. Primary producers and horticulture farmers can apply for rebates to buy and install on-farm water infrastructure to water livestock and permanent plantings.

Eligible farmers can claim up to 25% (of which at least 50% of the rebate will be provided by the relevant state or territory government) of expenses for on-farm water infrastructure up to a maximum total rebate of $25,000.

The new infrastructure must be:
for your own grazing livestock or permanent plantings (rebates do not apply to agisted stock) purchased and installed for an animal welfare or permanent planting need and to improve your drought resilience.

 

AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award - 2022
Closes: 8th of October 2021
Run By: AgriFutures

This award program celebrates the inclusive and courageous leadership of women involved in Australia’s rural and emerging industries, businesses, and communities, now and into the future.

Applicants must have an existing community, collaboration or commercial project, business or program which is live and up and running, or will be live within three months of the application being submitted.

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