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December 2012 Newsletter

In This Issue

Merry Christmas From The Chair

Mal Peters, Chair

Dear Northern Inlanders,

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and prosperous 2013. I hope you enjoy some well-earned rest with family and friends.

This month we received over 31 Expressions of Interest under the RDA Fund rounds Three and Four and we look forward to sitting down early in the New Year to assess those eight projects that will go forward to the full-application stage. We look forward to a few wins for our region from the projects submitted under the RDA Fund for Northern Inland NSW.

Mal Peters, Chair

Office Hours During Christmas and New Year

Our office will be closed from 5pm on Friday the 21st of December until 9am on Wednesday the 2nd of January.

Please note that there will be no Skilled Migrant certifications processed by this office between December 17th, 2012 and February 12th, 2013. This does not apply to Off-List nominations. Further details can be found in the Skilled Migration section of our website, www.rdani.org.au/skilled-migration.php

Call For Local Leaders To Drive Regional Development

The Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport is calling for community volunteers with vision, drive and integrity to join the Regional Development Australia (RDA) network in New South Wales.

Individuals with community, industry or local government experience who are able to represent the broad interests of the Northern Inland region, understand local challenges and achieve results are encouraged to apply.

Women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people with diverse cultural backgrounds, people with disabilities and people from across every age group are encouraged to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI). All EOIs will be considered against the skills and expertise needed by the Northern Inland Committee.

The RDA Northern Inland Committee is especially seeking EOIs from people who have strong business acumen with hands-on experience as well as demonstrated innovative capacity. Expertise and knowledge relating to our key regional challenges such as delivery of health and education as well as improving infrastructure and growing local businesses will also be held in high regard.

Appointments will be made by the Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government, the Hon Simon Crean MP and New South Wales Deputy Premier, Mr Andrew Stoner. EOIs are encouraged by Wednesday 16 January 2013.

Further information, including an EOI form and information booklet, can be found at www.rda.gov.au or by contacting 1800 505 938 (Mon–Fri 9am-5pm AEDST) or rdaeoi@regional.gov.au.

2013 National Awards For Local Government Excellence

Local governments across Australia have an opportunity to be recognised and rewarded for the innovative and new ways they support and serve their communities through the 27th National Awards for Local Government.

Local Government Minister Simon Crean today announced the 2013 National Awards for Local Government are now open for entries.

Mr Crean said the National Awards showcase the Federal Governments partnership with local government by recognising the important role local councils have in making communities more liveable and sustainable.

"It is important for us to tap into local councils' expertise and work together in partnership to develop creative solutions to address emerging social, economic and environmental issues," Mr Crean said.
"Local governments are the closest to their communities and underpin location-based solutions to meet community-specific needs.

"The Federal Government recognises the vital role local government plays in communities and this is why were progressing the case for Constitutional Recognition for Local Government as well as providing councils with $2.1 billion in annual support through the Financial Assistance Grants."

Mr Crean said the 2013 Award categories were broad this year, representing the extensive work of local government. They include Active Arts; Excellence in Road Safety; Strength in Diversity; Regional Collaborations, Asset and Financial Management, and Excellence in Tourism.

"The National Awards for Local Government have recognised, rewarded and promoted the innovative work of local governments across Australia for more than a quarter of a century now," Mr Crean said.

"I urge all councils to enter the 2013 Awards to showcase local initiatives and recognise individuals within their councils who have gone to extraordinary efforts to implement innovative solutions at a national level."

Entries close 15 February 2013. For more information on the 2013 National Awards for Local Government visit www.regional.gov.au/local/awards/index.aspx or contact Awards@regional.gov.au.

Isolated Patients Travel And Accommodation Assistance Scheme

IPTAAS is a subsidy program, which provides financial assistance to help with travel and accommodation costs for people (and eligible escorts) who need to travel long distances to access specialist treatment not available locally.

Through IPTAAS, those who are eligible, can obtain assistance for travel and accommodation costs. Assistance is available for both public and private transport and accommodation arrangements.

To be eligible for the Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme you must:

  1. be a resident of New South Wales who is eligible for Medicare benefits
  2. be required to travel at least 100km each way, or a cumulative distance of at least 200km  a week,  from your usual place of residence to access the nearest available medical  specialist
  3. be referred by a medical practitioner to the nearest treating specialist for specialist treatment
  4. claim the maximum available benefits from your private health fund first
  5. not be eligible for any assistance under any other government assistance scheme

Further information for IPTAAS for NSW residents including an application form can be found on NSW Health’s website at www0.health.nsw.gov.au/living/transport/iptaas.html.

Social and Economic Data To Assist Businesses And Communities

A range of social and economic data to assist businesses and communities across Australia is now available in one central location at myregion.gov.au. Information can now be accessed by Australia’s 55 Regional Development Australia boundaries, relating to:

  • employment
  • education
  • local economy
  • population growth
  • income
  • housing
  • Internet connectivity.

The data will assist individuals, businesses and communities to understand regional circumstances and to support planning and development initiatives.

Give A Special Gift This Christmas Season

Australia needs an extra 25,000 blood donations over the Christmas and New Year period to bolster supplies for cancer patients, road trauma victims and people undergoing emergency surgery.

With regular donors likely to be away on holidays, the level of blood stocks is likely to drop. Blood Service spokesman Shaun Inguanzo explains that the need for blood does not take a break.

“The Christmas break will be longer than the shelf-life of some blood products, prompting concerns that without enough donors, stocks could run severely low... Australia has more than 600,000 blood donors capable of chipping in, but currently only 300 are giving blood on Christmas Eve.”

“Some products like platelets – essential in helping cancer patients cope with chemotherapy – only have a shelf life of five days. We know many regular donors will start their holidays on the Saturday before Christmas, and their platelets will expire on Boxing Day.  So we need people to donate on Christmas Eve, to ensure we have enough platelets for all those who rely on them.

“It only takes an hour of your time and every donation helps to save three lives.”

Regular donors going on holidays can also check the Blood Service website to see if a donor centre would be open near their vacation destination.

Giving blood takes just only five to ten minutes if you have been before and only about an hour from arrival to departure for first appointments. Donating plasma or platelets takes about fourty-five minutes, and only one and a half hours for the whole process from interview to refreshments. A small amount of time to make such a big difference to someone in need.

Appointments can be made online through the Blood Service website at www.donateblood.com.au/ready-to-donate/make-appointment or by calling 13 14 95.

Tamworth Country Music Festival

Tamworth’s Country Music Festival will run for 10 days again next year from the 18th to the 27th of January 2013. With visitor numbers of an estimated 50,000 for 2012, the event is a true success story of how events can be successful in regional areas. Max Ellis OAM, one of the Festival Founders takes a look at just what makes the Tamworth Country Music Festival one of the most unique in the world.

“Tamworth in January is hot, it's casual, it's stars and Golden Guitars, it's happy crowds, it's tents and caravans, it's easy going camaraderie .. "g'day mate and where are you from?", it’s concerts and shows, it's buskers, it's folding chairs, big hats and eskies. When it’s over, and you're heading down the highway to Croydon, Cremorne or Camooweal, there's the feeling that it will be good to get home again for some peace and quiet after 10 days of continuous music!

For us locals there's a sense of relief as the tents come down and the 55,000 or so visitors head home. We say goodbye to country music friends we've known for decades. The pressure is off and it's nice to get our town back again, to drive down Peel Street and park outside the shops. Not that we mind. The annual Tamworth Country Music Festival has put our little city on the map in a way that is the envy of every other regional centre in Australia.

It wasn't always like that. In the old days, locals headed for the coast in January to escape the dreadful heat and occasional flood. Nothing much happened in Tamworth between Christmas and the schools going back in February. People were surprised, when in 1973, Radio 2TM decided that the January Australia Day weekend was the best time for our first Country Music Awards. Despite a few pessimists who felt that country music was "hick", the Awards took off.  In the years that followed we developed a string of new activities that are still the backbone of the Festival, creating an event now recognised as one of the top ten music festivals in the world.

While music is at the heart of the 10 day Festival, it's the fascinating combination of welcoming locals, friendly visitors, summer holiday atmosphere and non-stop music that gives the place such an across the board appeal. And there is always time for meeting new friends, or old, in a cool spot in a club, pub or coffee shop.

Join the thousands who stroll down the city's pleasant, tree lined main thoroughfare, Peel Street, at any time during the day or in the warm evenings. Three blocks are closed to traffic over the Festival and down the entire length are buskers. Some have been coming to the same spot for years. You'll hear some of the best and worst performers in the nation! There are individuals, groups and bands, all ages, some shy, some flamboyant, playing all kinds of music. You might pause to listen to an aboriginal country rock band from Arnhem Land, while just a few metres away there's an old yodeller from Bourke, singing Slim Dusty songs, both competing for audience with a crooning kid with a blue guitar from Tasmania. And don't imagine for a moment that any of these buskers are no-hopers. Kasey Chambers, Troy Cassar-Daley and Keith Urban are just a few of the stars, who have trodden the Peel Street pavements as youngsters.

There is just so much to see and do that even after 38 years I still haven't been to everything. These days the official program lists over 2,500 individual events ranging through concerts, record launches, bush poetry, exhibitions and so on. It even includes rodeos and bull-riding in the fabulous new Equine Centre.

People often ask me whether I had ever thought that the Festival would develop into such a vast and significant event. I answer that while I can't remember our vague expectations 38 years ago, we certainly contributed enough blood, sweat and tears over the years, to make it happen! I'm proud of what we achieved and I still love every minute of it!”

Max’s full story can be found on the official festival website at www.tamworthcountrymusic.com.au/index.cfm?page_id=1424.

Further details on the festival including event and ticket details can be found at www.tamworthcountrymusic.com.au.

New Grants And Funding Opportunities

The Centre for Workplace Leadership
The Australian Government has committed $12 million for the creation of a Centre for Workplace Leadership. The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations invites Proposals from organisations or consortia with the capacity and expertise to establish and administer the Centre.

The Centre will encourage higher performance and stronger leadership capability in Australian workplaces, in order to boost workplace level productivity and ensure Australian workers have quality jobs.

Indigenous Justice Program
The Attorney-General’s Department provides funding through the Indigenous Justice Program for projects to reduce adverse contact of Indigenous Australians with the criminal justice system.  The objective is to support safer communities by reducing Indigenous offending, and through that, reduce Indigenous victimisation and incarceration.

The Department is particularly concerned with the capacity of grantees to collect data that can demonstrate achievement of justice outcomes.  It is important that applicants address this in their project design.

Biodiversity Fund Northern Australia Targeted Investment 2013-14
Following the initial round of funding in 2011-12, and before the next round of national funding, the Biodiversity Fund will target Northern Australia with an investment of up to $50 million over four years. The aim is to restore and manage Australia's biodiversity in Northern Australia and improve carbon outcomes across the landscape.

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