In this Issue:
Farewell from the Chair
Dear Northern Inlanders,
This will be my last newsletter as Chair of RDA Northern Inland as I have decided not to stand for another term. I have immensely enjoyed the past 4 and a half years and the projects and initiatives we have undertaken. Of particular importance has been our work on the Murray Darling Basin, the digital economy, business growth, renewable energy, regional governance and attracting new residents and businesses to the region.
Through the RDA Fund, we also attracted over $12 million for various projects that contributed directly to economic development in the region. It is important that regional Australia continues to fight for equity of service and its fair share of government budgets. I will continue to advocate for regional Australia through my ongoing role as Chair of the Canberra-based Regional Australia Institute.
May I take this opportunity to wish you Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2015. Enjoy your time with family and friends and see you around the traps.
All the best,
Mal Peters, Chair
Uralla to be Australia’s First Zero Net Energy Town
NSW Parliamentary Secretary for Renewable Energy, Leslie Williams was on hand on 27 November, 2014, to announce that Uralla has been chosen for a project which aims to see it become Australia’s first Zero Net Energy Town (ZNET). It is possible that Uralla will satisfy all of its own energy needs from renewable energy sources, or zero net energy, in a way which is competitive in terms of price, quality, reliability and security. It is envisaged that this could be achieved within ten years.
The ZNET project will put the spotlight on Uralla. It will create a blueprint for other towns and communities across the country to follow. “I congratulate Uralla on its quest to become Australia’s first ZNET town. The eyes of not just NSW but those of Australia will be watching,” Mrs Williams said.
The NSW Government has sponsored this project by providing $105,000 through the Office of Environment and Heritage for a community Consortium to prepare a blueprint or business plan for the project.
Senior Project Officer with Regional Development Australia Northern Inland, David Thompson, was involved in the project's development and the process of selecting the winning application, out of five northern inland communities. “It is not about taking Uralla ‘off the grid’, rather, balancing out the energy consumed with energy produced.”
The ZNET project delivers on the NSW State Government Renewable Action Plan, it has the potential to attract renewable energy investment, build community support and attract and grow renewable energy expertise at the local level.
ZNET presents a unique opportunity to bring together technology solutions with adaptable financial arrangements and meaningful community involvement.
Summer Energy Saving Tips
RDANI Energy Efficiency Education Officer, Peter Stanley has warned that recovering from the Festive Season can be challenging enough, so households and businesses can take some simple steps to avoid having an energy bill blowout in the New Year.
“Consider always setting air conditioners to the normal settings as recommended by the provider. These are usually 25 degrees for the cooling thermostat and 20 degrees for the heating thermostat. Even one degree more can result in at least a 10% increase in energy used,” Mr Stanley said.
“An easy way to cool ourselves down is the often-forgotten method that our parents used: take the jumper or hot shirt off! Consider getting a timer (if there isn’t one built into the system), and also consider a timer when using the hose to water the garden,” he added.
“Remember to close doors to any unused rooms and shade your windows and walls from the sun.”
“Enjoy your summer barbeques and when looking at heating or cooking, take into consideration the very strong rumour that gas prices are about to rise dramatically!”
Providing Hard Facts and Figures for the Tree-Change Decision
he Foundation for Regional Development, who organise the Country NSW Expo each year in Sydney (formally Country Week), have developed the first website of its kind; showing all the information needed for Sydneysiders to make an informed decision about where they may like to move within NSW.
Unlike other websites that just feature a regional group of councils, or only the major regional cities, CountryNSW.com.au has information about all 112 councils outside of the Sydney Metro area.
“We developed the website to become a virtual Country NSW Expo, available to view 24/7, the whole year around, not just the three days a year we run the Expo in Sydney,” CEO of the Foundation Peter Bailey said. “Every council has representation for free. We are always working towards enhancing the economic development of country and coastal NSW, and this website is another way of building the profile of country NSW to Sydney residents.”
There are surveys that people can answer to give them suggestions about where to move based on their preferences. Over 50 answers for the survey 'What type of community do you want to live in', have been received.
So far, over 60% of people answering the survey are Sydney residents looking to move out of Sydney, with an additional 30% considering moving in the future.
66% of people want to move to a community with LESS than 25,000 population.
60% want to move inland, 20% to the coast and 20% unsure. Inverell has had the most Northern Inland hits.
The top 10 most visited pages, Northern Inland region, Central Western region, Southern Inland region and Mid North Coast region are featured.
[IN]SIGHT: Australia’s Regional Competitiveness Index
Used by communities, business leaders and policy makers alike, [In]Sight allows you to understand the opportunities and challenges that are driving the future of Australia.
In]Sight 2014 ensures that you continue to have the best data at hand with new themes and indicators.
Using internationally proven frameworks, [In]Sight provides 624 competitiveness profiles at the Local Government Area (LGA) and regional level. Data and rankings for ten themes and 68 indicators capture the competitive position of each part of our nation. Regional decision-making should no longer be based on national and state averages. With [In]Sight Australia can respond to the unique needs of different places and realise its competitive opportunities.
NBN Fixed-Wireless Rollout Builds Momentum Across Rural and Regional Australia
An additional 11,900 more homes, farms and businesses across Australia can now switch to the National Broadband Network (NBN) after services recently went live across 42 rural and regional communities.
Construction has also commenced to extend the network to a further 12,400 more homes, farms and businesses across 60 communities which will be able to connect to the NBN in the coming 12 months.
This continues the momentum of the NBN rollout with the national footprint now covering more than 146,000 farms, homes and businesses across rural and regional Australia.
New communities where the NBN is now ready for service in the Northern Inland include Manilla (surrounds), Barraba, Gilgai, Inverell (surrounds).
Employers Get Thumbs Up for Proper Paperwork
RDA Northern Inland applauds the ethical and methodical practices of employers in the region.
In late November, 2014 the Fair Work Ombudsman announced that more than three-quarters of businesses in Tamworth and Armidale are complying with their record-keeping and pay-slip obligations under federal workplace laws, as revealed through random checks.
Fair Work inspectors made face-to-face visits to 177 employers as part of an ongoing effort to raise awareness among employers of the importance of keeping proper records.
Inadequate records hamper the ability of Fair Work inspectors to determine if employees are being paid correctly if a dispute arises over wages. In the past, the Agency has taken legal action against some employers who did not keep adequate records and who were suspected of underpaying their staff.
The Fair Work Ombudsman liaised with the Armidale and Tamworth Business Chambers before commencing site visits in November last year. Auditing concluded 12 months later and the results were revealed in a report.
Ninety-seven per cent of employers (171) were found to be meeting their record-keeping responsibilities and 89 per cent (157) were complying with pay slip laws.
Most of the issues identified related to employers failing to keep records of hours worked by employees and failing to issue employees with sufficiently-detailed pay slips within one working day of pay day.
Eleven per cent of employers (20) had not been providing a copy of the Fair Work Information Statement to new employees.
Employers can access free resources available at www.fairwork.gov.au to assist them to comply with workplace laws.
Online resources include templates for time-and-wages records and pay slips, fact sheets and tools for determining correct rates of pay for employees, such as PayCheck Plus.
Any employer or employee seeking advice can also call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94, or on 13 14 50 if they need an interpreter. Small Business owners calling the Infoline can opt to be put through to the Small Business Helpline to receive priority service.
Featured Grants and Funding Opportunities
Heritage Funding For Local Communities
The government’s NSW Heritage Grants program makes $6.5 million available for heritage and conservation over the next two years. The purpose is to help local communities preserve tangible reminders of our past and conserve them for future generations.
Grants are available in four streams spanning Aboriginal, youth and seniors, state and local heritage projects.
The 2015/16 and 2016/17 program will provide:
$550,000 for Aboriginal heritage places;
$1 million for community, youth and seniors heritage projects;
$2.42 million for State Heritage Register-listed places, including $2.2 million for major works projects; and
$2.35 million for local heritage places.
To find out more about the NSW Heritage Grants program and to apply for grants visit www.environment.nsw.gov.au/Heritage/funding/index.htm
What’s On in the Northern Inland
Inaugural 2014 New Year’s Eve Ball
(in aid of Ronald McDonald House)
Wednesday 31st of December
New Year’s Eve Rodeo & Campdraft
Wednesday 31st of December
Holy Smoke New Year’s Eve Fireworks
Wednesday 31st of December
Wallabadah New Years Day Races
Thursday 1st of January
Tamworth Country Music Festival
Friday 16th to Sunday 25th of January
Country Capital Ute Muster
Saturday 24th of January
Monday 26th of January
Find out about activities in your area through your Council’s website or FaceBook page