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General Newsletter - 15th of June 2023

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In this Issue


Welcome from the Chair

Russell Stewart - Chair

Dear Northern Inlanders,

Welcome to another edition of our newsletter.

This newsletter highlights another four resilient local businesses as part of our Regional Businesses Shine Through Dark Times project supported by the Australian and NSW Government's Bushfire Resilience and Recovery Fund. This month we are highlighting the stories that demonstrate developing product offerings, including Julie from Sleepy Merino in Inverell, Sue Waters from Carelle's Toy Store in Glen Innes, Tom Croft and Dan Emery from The Welder's Dog in Armidale and the Mahlenhoff family from the Moonbi General Store. We are grateful for the time that each of the twelve businesses volunteered for the benefit of others through this project. Be sure to watch their videos and take the opportunity to learn how to survive from those who have.

Small to medium businesses are a vital factor in economic growth, and the Australian Government’s Industry Growth Fund will play a part in helping businesses to get off the ground and running. It is also great to see Councils providing support, such as the Business Partner Program by Gunnedah Shire Council. If you are a business owner in the Gunnedah shire with an idea to grow your business, check out the information about this program below.


Russell Stewart

Stories of Resilience – How to Survive From Those Who Have

Businesses in the Northern Inland Region have done it tough during the last ten years. The worst drought on record, proceeded the 20219-20 bushfires, the covid-19 pandemic and significant flooding events. Our communities and businesses have endured one unpredictable challenge after another.

Through the support of the Australian and NSW Government's Bushfire Resilience and Recovery Fund, we are proud to share the stories of twelve local businesses in bushfire-impacted areas who have taken on these challenges and survived.

Their stories are a source of inspiration; from their experience, other small businesses can learn how to face future challenges. They highlight how other businesses can embrace change, develop product offerings and look to the future to increase their resilience. By learning from their experiences, we can work together towards a prosperous future for our region.

In the last newsletter, we shared stories from local business owners about embracing change. Today we are sharing four stories about developing product offerings. Watch for the next newsletter, where we will have four more stories about planning for the future.

Julie Bird from Sleepy Merino - Inverell

For woolgrower Julie Bird, hard times on the land meant she needed to improve her business. She began with sourcing more resilient sheep, then diversified and value-added, creating a merino wool brand of sleepwear and casual garments. After three years, her Inverell store is going strong, and her online store is exporting to the world. The result has been improved cash flow for the family business and enterprise, which is more satisfying and sustainable now than before the dark times hit.

Watch Julie's Story or Read Julie's Story

Sue Waters from Carelle's Toy Store – Glen Innes

In Glen Innes, businesses suffered a dramatic loss of trade due to the drought and bushfires. As a traditional toy shop, Carelles has been a landmark retailer in Glen Innes since 1969. Re-opening and re-growing trade was healing on an individual and economic level. For Carelles Toy Shop owner Sue Waters, a business can be about much more than money, and her uniqueness has allowed her to be competitive and has attracted clientele from outside the township.

Watch Sue's Story or Read Sue's Story

Tom Croft and Dan Emery from The Welder's Dog - Armidale

The Welder's Dog is a craft beer producer and operates bars in Tamworth, Armidale and Inverell. This home-grown success story is a role model in innovative resilience when dark times hit, particularly the Covid-19 hospitality sector lockdowns. Thinking outside the box led to Bunker Boxes, full of local produce, including their own brews, were home-delivered by the business. The innovative approach supported other local businesses and kept all staff productively employed through the toughest of times. The Welder's Dog's Bunker Boxes was a standout example of how a business can do more than simply survive dark times; they can shine through as an important part of a local community and economy.

Watch Tom and Dan's Story or Read Their Story

Jeffery Mahlenhoff from Moonbi General Store - Moonbi

The Moonbi General Store (and takeaway) and the adjacent bottle shop are family businesses operated by Claus and Sue and their son Jeffery. Their connectedness with and support of their community has resulted in enduring local support for them and national recognition for their resilience. The Moonbi business persevered through dense bushfire smoke from the burning Moonbi range and introduced Covid rations to ensure the availability of essential supplies for their community.

Watch Jeffery's Story or Read Jeffery's Story

Discover more about this project, including the stories of all twelve local businesses on our website.

Tamworth Intermodal On Track for Operation

Work on the Tamworth Intermodal Freight Facility within the Tamworth Global Gateway Park, is well underway, with the facility expected to be fully operational in the third quarter of 2023.

20,000 tonnes of cement-stabilised gravel were laid on site last month over a span of 21,000 square metres. The 600 metre long cement pad will provide a solid foundation for freight containers, and enable the transfer of goods from truck to train.

Visiting the site, Tamworth Region Mayor Russell Webb and Sean Hovey, General Manager for Qube - Australia's largest integrated provider of import and logistic export services - said it was pleasing to see strong progress at the site. The facility will enable both importers and exporters, as well as other local businesses to have competitive rail access directly to ports, opening North West NSW up to international markets.

"It's tremendously exciting to see Council's Blueprint 100 strategic vision come to life, and that is certainly true today", said Russell Webb, Tamworth Region Mayor. "This is all in support of our local economy, creating new jobs and opportunities for the industries in our region to expand"

Mr Hovey said the new facility underscored Qube's commitments to regional NSW and to expanding Qube's rail services offering, as increasing volumes of freight shift from road to rail. "We’re thrilled to see this vision for Tamworth starting to become a reality and we welcome the strong interest we are already seeing from primary producers to get access to the completed facility and expedite the delivery of their products to domestic and international markets.The Tamworth Intermodal Freight Facility will support communities throughout the region with competitive and cost-effective freight and logistics services. But more than that – it will help get trucks off local and regional highways, making them safer for local families, and it will contribute to emissions reductions."

Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson welcomed QUBE to Tamworth and said he looked forward to continuing to support the city’s gowing import and export businesses. “I pushed hard to the reactivation of the West Tamworth rail line, because I know how important it is for our businesses to have global markets at their fingertips,” Mr Anderson said. “With QUBE continuing to progress their intermodal freight hub, we will continue to see the real opportunities freight rail has to offer with businesses continuing to build their presence in the Tamworth Global Gateway Park.”

The reactivation of the West Tamworth rail line has been funded by the NSW Government’s Restart NSW Fund of a total $35.4 million, with work carried out by John Holland Rail on behalf of Transport for NSW and the Department of Regional NSW. Construction of the Tamworth Intermodal Freight Facility is expected to cost approximately $8 million, with this cost to be funded by Qube.

Gunnedah Business Grants for Growth and Innovation

Gunnedah Shire Council is supporting local businesses to grow and innovate through their Business Partner Program. The Business Partner Program has helped hundreds of local businesses over the years, and Business Partner Advisory Group Chairperson Cr Colleen Fuller said she hoped many business owners would apply for the latest round.

“This program is an ideal avenue to launch new businesses, expand current businesses and implement fresh ideas in our growing and progressive business sector,” Cr Colleen Fuller said. “Many exciting proposals have been submitted to the advisory group in previous rounds and we have watched these plans progress and stimulate our local economy. In our most recent round, grants were awarded for equipment upgrades, business set-up and promotions, rebranding and business expansions. We anticipate many more great ideas in this next round of Business Partner Program applications.”

Applications will be considered on their individual merits, with priority given to those demonstrating regional benefit. Businesses can apply for up to 75% of their business costs, and a wide range of projects are eligible as described in the funding guidelines. Projects may include, but not limited to, manufacturing, processing and wholesale distribution activities. Consideration will also be given to service sector activities that can generate wealth and significant employment for the wider regional economy.

Round One of the 2023-24 Business Partner Program are now open, and close at 5 pm on Friday, the 30th of June. The second and third rounds for 2023-24 will close on the 31st of October 2023 and the 28th of February 2024, respectively.

Further details about the program, including the application form and guidelines, are available on Gunnedah Shire Council’s website. For further information, contact Gunnedah Shire Council’s Economy and Growth team on (02) 6740 2100, or email council@infogunnedah.com.au

New Industry Growth Fund to Support SMEs

As part of the budget, the Australian Government has announced a new $392 million Industry Growth Program that is scheduled to commence later this year.

“This program will offer advice and grants to start-ups and small-to-medium businesses to help them commercialise their ideas and grow. This will enable emergining businesses to become the big employers of the future, backing our innovators with investment and advice so they can make the jump from brilliant idea to business plan to a growing enterprise.” Said Ed Husic, Minister for Industry and Science.

Innovative SMEs and startups play a crucial role in the economy, but many have difficulty bringing their ideas to market. The Industry Growth Program will support early-stage businesses in their most challenging development phase. Projects in the priority areas of the National Reconstruction Fund will be eligible for the Industry Growth Program:

  • renewables and low emissions technologies
  • medical science
  • transport
  • value-add in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors
  • value-add in resources
  • defence capability
  • enabling capabilities

It is anticipated that the program will have these key design features:

  • directly contracted experienced advisers to guide SMEs and startups on commercialisation and early-stage business growth
  • an additional source of industry advice, leveraging sector expertise from not-for-profit industry bodies
  • a new independent committee to give recommendations on projects to receive grant funding
  • an Executive Director to manage and oversee program advisers, and share expertise
  • a Centre of Expertise to build real-world commercialisation capability within our department and broader Australian Public Service.

As part of this announcement, the Entrepreneurs’ Programme has now closed to allow funding to be targeted to support SMEs through the new Industry Growth Program. This includes the Accelerating Commercialisation, Strengthening Business, Growth Services and Innovation Connections programs. All applications submitted to the Entrepreneurs’ Programme prior to the closure will be assessed and honoured if eligible. All existing grant agreements will be honoured, and recipients may finish their projects as agreed.

A further $39.6 million was allocated in the 2023-24 Budget to maintain the Single Business Service, which operates the business.gov.au website and the associated contact centre (13 28 46).

Featured Grants and Funding Opportunities

Below are some featured grants and funding opportunities from the multitude of open grants listed in the Grants and Funding Opportunities area of 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 Business and Infrastructure Funding Opportunities and the Community Grants and Award Programs newsletters through the simple form located on the left-hand side of our website: www.rdani.org.au, to receive monthly summaries of currently open grants.


James Frizelle Charitable Foundation Grants - 2023 - Round 2
Closes: 30th of June 2023
Value: Unspecified
Run By: James Frizelle Charitable Foundation

The James Frizelle Charitable Foundation has been established to support those who have contributed to our great country but may have unfortunately through no fault of their own, fallen on hard times and can no longer speak for themselves.

They have a range of grants including:

  • Community Health Grants
  • Disadvantaged Grants
  • Domestic Violence Grants
  • Homelessness Grants
  • Housing and Accommodation grants
  • Mental Health Grants


Junior Rangers
Closes: 19th of July 2023 - 11:30 pm
Value: Undisclosed
Run By: National Indigenous Australians Agency

Through the 2022-23 Budget and 2023 Closing the Gap Implementation Plan, the Australian Government is expanding the number of junior ranger sites delivered to First Nations secondary and/or primary students in locations across Australia. Activities will support students to engage with their schooling through a combination of classroom and on-Country learning.

This open, competitive grant opportunity will select providers to deliver junior ranger activities at up to 35 new sites in 2023 to end 2025. Initial funding agreements will be for up to three (3) years and may be extended. Preference will be given to local First Nations providers, including Indigenous Ranger Groups or First Nations providers with relationships with Indigenous Ranger Groups, where relevant. Applicants should also demonstrate support from Traditional Owners and partner schools to deliver activities.

Funded activities should boost school attendance and support participating students to complete their schooling. Projects can include school-based activities (as well as camps, excursions and field trips) involving land, sea, and natural resource management, environmental data collection, heritage related projects and cultural studies. Activities can also support students to gain relevant qualifications, such as Conservation and Ecosystem Management (Certificates I, II and III), Maritime Studies and Senior First Aid.


Carbon Farming Outreach Program
Closes: 24th of July 2023 - 5:00 pm
Value: $1 Million to $17.5 Million
Run By: Australian Government Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water

The Carbon Farming Outreach Program (the program) will run over 4 years from 2022-23 to 2025 26. The program has two aspects, a procurement process to develop a training package on behalf of DCCEEW and a grant program to deliver the training package. The program aims to support Australian farmers and land managers to reduce emissions and sequester carbon to contribute to Australia’s climate change commitments.

The purpose of this grant opportunity is to deliver training and advice to empower Australian farmers and land managers, including First Nations peoples, to participate in carbon markets and integrate low emission technologies and practices into their farming operations and land management practices.


Community Achievement Awards
Opened: 14th of June 2023
Closes: 24th of August 2023
Run By: Awards Australia

The Regional Achievement and Community Awards, and are designed to encourage, acknowledge and reward the valuable contributions that individuals, communities and businesses make throughout regional and rural NSW & The ACT. These awards aim to recognise their success and achievements, which contribute to making regional NSW & The ACT a better place.

Awards are presented in the following categories:

  • Connecting Communities Award
  • Small Business Achiever Award
  • Council Crown Land Management Excellence Award
  • Crown Land Management Excellence Award
  • Individual Excellence in Crown Land Management Award
  • Customer Service Award
  • Leadership Award
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