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February 2021 Newsletter

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In this Issue

Welcome from the Chair

Russell Stewart - Chair

Dear Northern Inlanders,

How quickly this year is passing by, it is hard to believe that we are at the end of February already. As they say, busy times go by quickly.

We often hear from employers that are unable to find appropriately skilled workers to help their businesses grow and prosper. Programs such as the Skilled Work Regional (491) Visa, for which RDA-NI are a Regional Certifying Body, are making a significant contribution to fulfilling existing skill shortages. However, employers are advising us that the lack of suitable existing visa programs to fill skill shortages is continuing to hinder their future prospects.

To help these employers, RDA-NI are proposing a Designated Area Migration Agreement with the Department of Home Affairs for the Northern Inland region. It is anticipated that this agreement would provide an alternative means for filling these skill shortages and in turn help our region’s economy to grow. To make this proposal, we need to hear from employers about their experiences and needs, and we would appreciate employers taking our short ten-minute employer survey.

I would like to extend my congratulations to Alyssa from Moree who has been nationally recognised for her story in the Heywire competition. The Heywire program provides a fantastic platform for the ideas and stories of our regional youth, and each of the winning entries are well worth a read. I am pleased that Alyssa has this unique opportunity be a positive example to others and to represent her community.


Russell Stewart

Could You Help Tailor Skilled Work Visas to Suit Your Needs?

Due to ongoing skills shortages in our region and the lack of suitable existing visa programs to assist employers with their labour needs, a Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA) is being proposed by RDA-NI to the Department of Home Affairs.

A DAMA is similar to a Labour Agreement that a large employer might have with Home Affairs, in order to have concessions or reduced requirements for existing visa programs. We anticipate that a DAMA would provide employers who have not been able to source the skilled labour they need with another option for doing so.

As our region’s employers work to recover from drought, bushfires and Covid-19, practical options to meet their growth needs are important. Our regional proposal needs to be supported by data and for that, we need input from employers through this employer experiences and needs survey.

We have kept the survey as short as possible while also collating the data that is required by Home Affairs. The survey takes only 10 minutes to complete and we appreciate you taking the time to answer the questions provided. All responses will be kept anonymous, with all data being used in aggregate.

If you have any questions about this survey or what a DAMA would mean for the region, you can contact our Senior Skilled Migration Officer, Gary Fry on 02 6771 0700 or at gfry@rdani.org.au

Applications for 491 Visa Nominations are Now Open

Skilled migrants play an important role in filling identified skill shortages in our region and in helping our local businesses prosper. We are pleased to advise that we are now accepting applications for Skilled Work Regional (491) Visa nominations for the Northern Inland region.

Our website has been updated with a wealth of information, including how to apply for a 491 visa nomination which breaks down the process for applicants into a 7-step process, making it simple for applicants to determine their eligibility and apply.

As a result of COVID-19 the list of occupations we can nominate is greatly reduced and does not represent our region’s skills shortages. Applicants are encouraged to pay close attention to the eligibility criteria, our occupation list and the information on the form for their relevant stream before proceeding with an application. We have also created a list of frequently asked questions and helpful information for visa holders to assist applicants, as well as information for employers.

The New South Wales State Government is not nominating any 491 applicants from offshore. This is due to the request from the Australian Government to prioritise on-shore applicants and the national border restrictions, due to COVID-19. While we understand that many are currently facing difficult situations, no exceptions can be made.

Employers struggling to find staff are welcome to join our free service, the Skilled Migrations Jobs Board Northern Inland Facebook Group. This group has over 1,000 members and is an efficient means of connecting with or advertising to our skilled migrants.

If you have any questions about applying for a 491 visa nomination after reading through our frequently asked questions please contact our Senior Skilled Migration Officer, Gary Fry on 02 6771 0700 or at migration@rdani.org.au

National Recognition for Alyssa From Moree

Each year the ABC Heywire competition celebrates the stories and ideas of young regional Australians. Since 1998, Heywire has become a powerful platform for rural youth to share their stories and make a difference in their communities.

Hundreds of people entered from across Australia this year and winners were chosen for "telling it Like it is" about Life in their part of the country. From growing up in a refugee camp, to busting myths around Autism and celebrating LGBTQI pride. Lawn bowlers, bull riders, young farmers, Linguists, female cricketers, and disability advocates share what Life is Like for them in regional Australia.

This year, Alyssa from Moree has been recognised for her entry “Racism is real, but I won't let it drag my brothers and me down”. She shares her story of being subject to racism as an Indigenous kid, that being black is a gift and how she is a proud a proud Kamilaroi young woman and past school captain at Moree Secondary College, as well as how she can set an example for her younger brothers and sisters.

Mark Coulton MP, Federal Member for Parkes and Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government applauded the winners. ""Heywire continues to empower young regional, rural, and remote Australians to share their stories, ensuring their voices are heard far and wide. It is why the Australian Government is proud to be an ongoing sponsor of the program. Many of these young people have grown up facing issues Like drought, bushfires, floods and now the COVID-19 pandemic, and they continue to put their best foot forward to drive change in their communities." Minister Coulton said.

You can listen to and read Alyssa’s full entry and view the other winning entries on the Heywire website.

Local Businesses Encouraged to Join Dine and Discover

In March the NSW Government will be launching Dine and Discover NSW across the state to encourage communities to get out and about and support dining, arts and tourism businesses. Under this initiative NSW residents aged 18 and over will receive four $25 vouchers to use at a participating businesses, including:

  • Two $25 vouchers to be used for eating in restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs and clubs.
  • Two $25 vouchers to be used for entertainment and recreation, including cultural institutions, live music and arts venues.

Local businesses are encouraged to register for the program so that they can accept the vouchers to take advantage of this opportunity and aid their recovery from the decreased trade over the last year. To be eligible, businesses need to:

  • Have an active Australian Business Number (ABN) and be registered for GST.
  • Operate in NSW in an eligible industry listed on the registration page.
  • Be registered as COVID-safe and have a COVID Safety Plan in place.

To receive the vouchers, residents need to have the Service NSW app and register for a MyServiceNSW account before the vouchers are distributed.

Interested businesses can register through the Dine and Discover NSW Business Registration page of the Service NSW website.

A Roadmap to a Circular Economy and Economic Grow

Circular economies generate economic and job growth as well as increasing sustainability by eliminating waste and the use of finite resources from industries. It fosters innovation in technologies, products and processes that transform supply chains and business models, in turn creating new domestic and export markets. Effectively, today’s goods become tomorrow’s resources.

Implementation of a circular economy system is becoming ever-more critical as primary materials become increasingly more expensive and ways of dealing with waste become ever-more unacceptable. In 2019, the Australian Government’s National Waste Action Plan set a target of a 80% recovery rate from all waste streams by 2030 and ban the export of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres in late 2020.

The National Circular Economy Roadmap for Plastics, Glass, Paper and Tyres, produced by the CSIRO for the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, has found that this innovation is crucial to realising significant economic gains for Australia, address environmental issues and foster regional employment. The development of a circular economy could increase the number of jobs per 10,000 tonnes of waste from 2.8 to 9.2. If Australia’s recovery rate is increased by only 5%, around $1 Billion would be added to Australia’s GDP.

CSIRO Chief Executive, Dr Larry Marshall, said science and technology can drive Australia's next wave of economic opportunities. "Australia is among the world's best in advanced manufacturing and environmental research, and that unique science can turn industry and environment into partners by making sustainability profitable. Science can transform our economy into a circular one that renews and reuses what we previously discarded, and indeed a virtuous circle that creates higher paid jobs, advances new Australian technology, and protects our environment.”

The report identifies that implementing a circular economy currently faces a range of challenges that will need to be overcome, including:

  • Loss of source material through sub-optimal product design, consumption, and collection
  • Lack of reprocessing capacity
  • Lack of end markets for secondary materials
  • Lack of consistency across jurisdictions
  • Lack of system-wide capability to support a circular economy

To overcome these challenges, the report proposes these challenges can be overcome by increasing the importance of reusing secondary materials in Australian culture and provides a series of strategies to address each of these challenges.
The report also identifies six elements for moving towards a circular economy for plastics, glass, paper, and tyres:

  1. Retain material through use and collection
  2. Upscale and innovate recycling technologies
  3. Innovate and collaborate in design and manufacture
  4. Develop markets for secondary materials and the products that use them
  5. Streamline nationally consistent governance
  6. Secure a national zero waste culture

Further information can be found in the full copy of the National Circular Economy Roadmap for Plastics, Glass, Paper and Tyres on the CSIRO 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. To help those affected by drought, bushfires, and COVID-19, we have created specialised grant listings for each of these on our website.

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.

Murray–Darling Healthy Rivers Program: Small Grants Round 1
Opens: 3rd of March 2021
Closes: 31st of March 2021
Value: $5,000 to $50,000
Run By: Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment

The Murray–Darling Healthy Rivers Program aims to help restore the ecological health of the Murray-Darling Basin, while also supporting economic development and employment in local communities.

It is anticipated that the grants under Small Grants Round 1 will be offered to successful applicants in April-May with payment made on execution of project agreement before the end of June 2021.

The Program is split into 2 streams:  Small Grants (2 rounds); and Large Grants (1 round held in 2021-22).

In this financial year (2020-21) only the Small Grants Stream (round 1) will be held with a total investment of $6 million. The remaining Program funding will be made available early in the 2021-22 financial year through a small grants round 2 and a larger grant round.

2021 NAIDOC Local Grants
Closes: 15th of March 2021 - 8:00 pm
Value: $200 to $1,000
Run By: National Indigenous Australians Agency

This grant supports activities being held during NAIDOC Week 2021 (4-11 July) that celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures, achievements and continuing contributions to our country and society. Activities should align with the National NAIDOC Theme for 2021, ‘Heal Country’.

This grant round provides funding to organisations to contribute to the costs of local and regional NAIDOC activities across Australia.

Reducing Social Isolation
Closes: 31st of March 2021 - 5:00 pm
Value: $10,000 to $60,000
Run By: NSW Department of Communities and Justice

This program provides funding for organisations to deliver locally-driven projects, programs or activities that foster social inclusion for older people.

The grant program aims to support effective, self-sustaining projects that provide meaningful opportunities for older people to connect with each other and develop quality relationships.

For a project to be eligible, it must be aimed at older people aged 65 years and over, or 50 years and over for Aboriginal people, who are socially isolated or at risk of isolation. Projects should focus on bringing older people together in person through small group activities where possible.

The program encourages projects, programs and activities that seek to actively engage new people, particularly harder-to-reach socially isolated older people.

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