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February 2015 Newsletter

In this Issue:

Welcome from the Chair

Dear Northern Inlanders,

I would like to say how humbled and honoured I am, to be given the opportunity to represent the communities of the best region in Australia.

Secondly, I would also like to offer my sincere thanks to the well-wishers since my appointment was announced. My transition into this position, although packed with much detail to learn, has been made easy by the great assistance received from our Regional Development Australia Northern Inland staff.

There is no doubt, that the huge diversity of the Northern Inland region, along, with the outstanding communities, individuals, organisations and business, place us in an extremely solid position going forward.
However, to reach the elevated outcomes we deserve, I believe it is critical that we attack this from a combined and collaborative “whole of region” approach, while playing to our obvious and mutually beneficial strengths.

The focus of our next three years will be economic development and employment for the Northern Inland. We are particularly keen to develop effective, solid, ongoing partnerships in the region, and look forward to hearing from potential partners.

Over the coming weeks, we will be selecting a number of suitable applicants to fill positions on the Committee left vacant by outgoing members.

I’m looking forward to the exciting times ahead and catching up personally around the region in the coming weeks.

Please be sure to contact our office or myself if you feel we can help in any way.


Russell Stewart

New Chair for RDA Northern Inland

The Australian Government has announced the Chair and Deputy Chair appointments to Regional Development Australia (RDA) committees across New South Wales. In the Northern Inland region, Narrabri’s Russell Stewart has been appointed Chair, while Inverell’s Les Parsons is continuing as Deputy Chair.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss said the three-year appointments will provide leadership to RDA committees to drive economic growth and make the most of the potential capability of their region. “The committees will assist local community stakeholders to develop project proposals and direct them to appropriate public and/or private funding sources—including the $1 billion National Stronger Regions Fund.”

The new leadership of RDA Northern Inland met in Armidale with Executive Officer Nathan Axelsson and are primed to hit the ground running. Mr Stewart is a prominent champion for the Narrabri community and described his appointment as Chair of RDA Northern Inland is an honour that he is excited about. “This region is home for my family. I’ve got a real passion for the people and communities who live in the bush.”
The RDA Northern Inland Committee comprises of members from throughout the New England and North West and Mr Stewart said he sees strength in their diversity, as he does with the region. “I think that working with the diversity and strengths in the Northern Inland region, we can be unbeatable.

"I am keen to help achieve positive change, with a regional approach. I wouldn’t have put my hand up if I didn’t think my fellow Committee members and staff could make a difference.”

“My focus is that we, as a region, need to take pro-active steps to not only attract quality people but also to retain them. We need to create opportunities and practical on the ground tools which encourage them to stay. By sharing knowledge about successful local initiatives on a regional level, we can improve how our communities remain attractive prospects for quality people who want to work, live and contribute,” Mr Stewart said.

Mr Truss said that the national network of 55 regional committees can play a key role in growing stronger regions across the nation and ensure all three tiers of government work together. “The committees will advise on priority activities that will unlock regional economic development and improve the productivity of their region.

“RDA committees will provide advice to the Government on critical issues affecting each region and are an important mechanism to increase access to Australian Government programmes in their communities.”

End of Summer Energy Saving Tips

RDA-NI Energy Efficiency Education Officer with the Northern Lights Project, Peter Stanley has one key word for better energy efficiency in both, the hot and cold months - insulation.

The temperature control problem in most houses is not actually heating or cooling the house – it is retaining that comfortable temperature. Heat will eventually leave but will do so much quicker when there is nothing stopping it from leaving via uninsulated walls, ceilings, windows or floors.

Conversely, in summer, the outside heat gets into the house through the uninsulated walls, ceilings, windows and floors and usually heats up the house to a high and uncomfortable temperature.  When insulating, it is a good choice to also insulate hot water pipes so as to ensure the water for baths and showers remains as hot as possible.

Insulation is sensible and extremely cost-effective.

Inaugural New England Tech Fest

The inaugural New England Technology Festival is an innovation, unique to the region event and RDA Northern Inland is encouraging business representatives and community members to make the most of the opportunity that it represents.

Armidale North Rotarians have organised the event, which is to run from 4 to 6 March, upstairs in the Armidale Ex-Services Club. Details of the events can be found at www.netechfest.com.au.

“I would particularly encourage business people throughout the Northern Inland region to attend the ICT Advisory Panel on the evening of Thursday 5 March,” RDA Northern Inland Executive Officer, Nathan Axelsson said.

The Advisory Panel will be an opportunity to quiz experts from numerous technical fields about business related IT issues.  No subject is off limits and business owners will find technology experts available in pretty much every IT sector. All but one of the New England Technology Advisory Group (NETAG) members will be present plus other members of the local IT community, so it's a great opportunity to get free advice and showcase the world-class talent that is available in the region.

“The more business representative who turn up and get involved, the more lively and useful the forum will be,” Mr Axelsson said.

There will be tech vendors on hand, however presentations will be informative or entertaining, as opposed to simply being promotional.

The Techfest presentations are focused around the core theme of entrepreneurship and start-ups.  The talks will celebrate those who have launched successful start ups and their experiences, and also draw upon the knowledge and experience of others in technology and entrepreneurship.

TechFest organisers hope the talks will encourage others to take the leap of faith and launch a business knowing there is a support network of colleagues, researchers and funding around them.

Migrant Support

RDA Northern Inland was represented at the quarterly New England Multicultural Interagency meeting in February by Gary Fry. “Northern Settlement Services Inc” provides an important service to the region and organising these interagency meetings on migrant issues is another valuable contribution.”

Among the issues discussed was English language training options for recent settlers in the region, with Annie Turner from TAFE New England Institute giving a presentation.

RDA Northern Inland is the Regional Certifying Body for skilled migration, assessing regional employer and State nominated visa applications. “We provide what advice about settling in the region we can to newly arrived skilled migrants. We will also be raising awareness of the support agencies represented at the recent meeting in Tamworth.”

“Hopefully, we will see representation from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and our local Members of Parliament at these interagency meetings in the future.”

“While our region’s economy might be temporarily flat, we do need labour from overseas. Just as big an issue as labour attraction is the challenge of retention. As workplaces and communities, we need to take responsibility for the challenge of retention, own it and be proactive in addressing it. That should be especially the case with workers and other recent settlers from overseas. If we are seeing a proportion of our skilled migrations working in the Northern Inland region until they get their Permanent Residency, we must consider how we can do better in helping them to integrate in our communities and see this region as their home – their final destination.”

“Embracing cultural diversity is enriching our communities and this is being increasingly appreciated. That the head of Multicultural Tamworth Inc Eddie Whitham was recognised as Tamworth Regional Council’s Citizen of the Year on Australia Day 2015 was indicative of the positive change in the region and spotlighted the work being done to achieve it.”

For further information about RDA Northern Inland’s skilled migration programs, please look at our website: www.rdani.org.au/skilled-migration.php

Councils Urged to Put Their Hands up for National Recognition

The National Awards for Local Government is an annual celebration of Australian local government achievements. The Awards recognise the important role of local governments in delivering targeted quality services to Australians in urban and regional communities. The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss launched the 2015 Awards on 14 January 2015.

Through the Awards, the Australian Government celebrates local government projects that are innovative, deliver better outcomes for communities, have the potential to be rolled out across the country and that make a meaningful difference. The Awards are administered by the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development with support from sponsoring Australian Government departments.

Entries close on 27 February.

For further information, go to: www.regional.gov.au/local/awards/

Local business people are encouraged to look into the Industry Skills Fund – Growth Stream. If interested, applications opened on 19 January 2015 on the business.gov.au website. This could be a great opportunity and RDANI Executive Officer Nathan Axelsson is urging business people to read about the criteria, see if they fit and if so, have a go. “Note that five priority industries have been identified and there is a merit assessment criteria and guide provided.”

The $476 million Industry Skills Fund – Growth Stream (the Fund) is a key element in the Australian Government’s Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda and will deliver up to 200,000 training places and training support services over four years. The Fund provides Australian businesses with access to training so that they are better placed to succeed in a rapidly changing economy.

Businesses that apply for funding under the Industry Skills Fund must financially co-contribute to the proposed project. The Fund primarily targets Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), including micro businesses, which plan to upskill and reskill their workforces to better position themselves for growth opportunities. Large businesses are also eligible for the Fund, but they will be required to make a higher contribution to the costs of training.

Assistance is available in the following categories:
Skills Advice
A service delivered free of charge to eligible businesses through a nation-wide network of expert Skills Advisers. This service provides help identifying skills opportunities and maximising training outcomes.

Training Grant
Co-investment for businesses looking to improve the skills of their workforce for an identified growth opportunity.

The Fund will also prioritise businesses in the industries listed below. If a business is not in a priority industry, they may still be eligible to apply. Priority industries include:

  • food and agribusiness;
  • mining equipment, technology and services;
  • medical technologies and pharmaceuticals;
  • oil, gas and energy resources;
  • advanced manufacturing, and
  • enabling technology and service industries that support one or more of the priority areas listed above.

Interested businesses can register their interest on the Industry Skills Fund page or call 13 28 46.

The following information is available on the Industry Skills Fund page on business.gov.au:

Engaging China Seminar

Engaging China is a unique program that will provide your business with knowledge and insights, developed with leading experts. NSW Trade & Investment has partnered with AVANA to deliver this comprehensive and authoritative training program to get you ready to trade with China.

Northern Inland businesses and organisations who are interested in learning about working with China are invited to attend this free workshop, presented by Richard Beere of AVANA. It is taking place from 9.45am to 4.30pm on 6 March 2015 at the Quality Hotel Powerhouse.

Three modules will be covered:

  • Business Insights: Doing business in China - including exporting, distribution, visas and permits, legal issues, banking, foreign exchange, setting up a representative office and investment opportunities.
  • Culture Insights: Interacting in China - including building rapport, forming long-term relationships and creating a positive first impression.
  • Export Lab: Market knowledge building - an expert panel will explore the political, financial, cultural and other aspects of doing business in China. This will be carried out in an interactive Q&A style format.

Click here to register.

The ACCC’s Online Resources

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission offers three free online programs, including the small business education program which is aimed at helping small businesses understand their rights and obligations under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA 2010). This covers areas such as misleading and deceptive conduct, consumer guarantees, consumer contracts, small business scams, pricing and unfair selling practices etc.

There is also a pre-entry franchise education program, designed to help potential franchisees evaluate their suitability for running a franchise and to acquire the knowledge needed to do so successfully.

These programs, as well as the tertiary education program, can be found at: www.ccaeducationprograms.org.

It might also be a good idea to subscribe to the Small Business Information Network and Franchising Information Networks – a free service dedicated to keeping small businesses informed about the latest regulatory developments, scams, upcoming educational webinars and publications etc. To subscribe, simply send your details to this address: smallbusinessinfo@accc.gov.au and/or franchisingcode@accc.gov.au.

To get advice related to the CCA2010, contact the ACCC’s small business helpline on 1300 302 021.

Country Art Escapes Phone App

The Country Art Escapes Phone App is now live! Country Art Escapes offers visitors and locals the opportunity to plan a day trip or longer cultural tour. Explore the artist studios, galleries, museums and other cultural venues and experiences of the New England North West region of New South Wales.

RDANI congratulates all involved in this project and encourages people to have a go at this artful blend of technology, culture and tourism.

Featured Grants and Funding Opportunities

Community Heritage and Icons Grants
Applications Close: 5 March 2015

Community groups across Australia are now able to apply for grants through the 2014-15 round of the Community Heritage and Icons Grants Programme.

Up to $337,000 is available this financial year to community organisations to undertake activities that promote community participation and awareness of places on Australia's National Heritage List.

Grants of between $2,500 and $10,000 are available for projects that support the programme's objectives.

Further information about Community Heritage and Icons Grants, including the programme guidelines and application form, is available at: www.environment.gov.au/community-heritage-icons-grants

Festivals Australia: Regional Festivals Project Fund
The Regional Festivals Project Fund supports the inclusion of an arts project at festivals in regional and remote Australia. Grants are available to support the costs to produce and present an arts activity and there is no limit on the amount that can be requested.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to speak with an Australia Council Grants Officer before applying to this fund.

For more information and to apply, visit their website here.

The Australia Council for the Arts Grant runs a wide range of grants and programs with closing dates from March to December

A range of grants are available ranging from $5,000 to 6 year organistation funding grants.

Further information is available on their website here.

Department of Veterans' Affairs - Veteran & Community Grants
Applications are Ongoing

The Veteran and Community Grants (V&CG) programme aims to maintain and improve the independence and quality of life for members of the veteran community by providing funding for projects that support activities and services to sustain or enhance health and wellbeing.

More Information is available on their website here.

What’s On in the Northern Inland

Harley Davidson Australian National Rally – Iron Horse Muster
Friday 27th of February to Sunday 1st of March

Tenterfield Rotary Bavarian Music & BeerFest
Wednesday 4th to Sunday 8th of March

Not-for-Profit Forum
Thursday 5th of March

Zonta International Women’s Day Event
Friday 6th of March

Armidale Music Foundation Choral Weekend Workshop and Performance
Friday 6th to Sunday 8th of March

Art and All That Jazz
Friday 6th to Sunday 8th of March

Uralla Community Festival
Saturday 7th of March

Independent Miniature Horse 10th National Show
Wednesday 11th to Sunday 15th of March

The Armidale Autumn Festival
Friday 13th to Monday 15th of March

Minerama Fossicking, Gem Show and Jewellery Show
Friday 13th to Monday 15th of March
Glen Innes

Week of Speed
Saturday 14th to Sunday 22nd of March

Nundle Country Picnic
Sunday 15th of March

Appaloosa National Show
Wednesday 18th to Saturday 21st of March

NSW State Caravan Rally
Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd of March

Grey Fergie Muster
Saturday 21st to Sunday 22nd of March

Inverell Multicultural Day
Saturday 21st of March

Nosh on the Namoi
Saturday 21st to Sunday 22nd of March

Opera in the Paddock
Saturday 21st of March

The Great Tambar Tug Off
Saturday 21st of March
Tambar Springs

Harvey Norman Moree Super Star Auditions
Sunday 22nd of March

Oracles of the Bush
Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th of March

Seasons of New England
Saturday 28th of March

Uralla Lantern Parade
Saturday 28th of March

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