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General Newsletter - 6 December 2023

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In this Issue


Welcome from the Chair

Russell Stewart - Chair

Dear Northern Inlanders,

With the appearance of Christmas trees and festive lights adorning homes around the region, the spirit of celebration and giving to others is in abundance.

To volunteer your time, a limited resource, to any community organisation, shows a generosity that supersedes any that can be given through financial means. Last month, we celebrated just that with the retirement of our longest-standing Committee member, Les Parsons OAM, from Inverell. Les was part of the founding Committee for RDA-NI in 2009, as well as a member of the preceding Northern Inland Regional Development Board. Les was an essential support to me as the Deputy Chair when I commenced as RDA-NI Chair in 2015, and his wise and considered advice and incredible knowledge of our region are matched by few. On behalf of the Committee and Staff, both past and present, I thank Les for contributing his time for the benefit of our region.

Data is an essential tool in understanding population changes in our region. In this newsletter, we complete our three-part series analysing the population migration data for our region by our senior economist, David Thompson. This month, we look at four Local Government Areas in the southeast of our region, which includes Gunnedah and Tamworth, the two LGAs with the highest population growth in our region, as well as consider what the figures for the region show us for the region’s future.

This population study has highlighted the importance of inward migration from overseas, and there are a lot of changes in this space at the moment. Applications for 491 Nomination from the NSW Government have now opened, and the Skilled Refugee Labour Agreement Pilot Program is also underway. For these initiatives and other migration programs to be successful in regional areas, it is essential that the programs and their associated eligibility requirements align with the needs of our businesses and communities. With that in mind, I recommend that you share your experiences and feedback on Planning Australia’s 2024-25 permanent Migration Program to ensure your view is heard. Further details for each of these are available below.


Russell Stewart

Celebrating 21 Years of Service

Last month, we paid tribute to the tireless contribution of our longest-serving Committee Member, Les Parsons from Inverell. Les has been on the RDANI Committee since our commencement in 2009, as well as the preceding Northern Inland Regional Development Board, with a total of 21 years of service.

A loyal volunteer and advocate for our region, he has made an important contribution to committee discussions and to the development of projects to support the growth of our region and the Inverell community. Due to his wealth of experience and knowledge, his insight has proved invaluable to the region.

Les’ outstanding contribution was recognised through a letter from the Hon. Kristy McBain, Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories. “On behalf of the Australian Government, I would like to thank you for the significant contribution you have made over more than twenty years as a valued and respected Committee member of Regional Development Australia (RDA) Northern lnland.” she said. “The Government is extremely grateful for the years of volunteer work you have dedicated to RDA Northern lnland. RDAs play a key role in building strong and connected regions, and the work undertaken by the RDA Northern lnland Committee during your tenure means the region is well placed for continued growth and success.”

Our heartfelt thanks and gratitude go to Les for the many years of volunteering his time for the benefit of others, and we wish him, his wife Heather and their family all the best for the future.

Analysing Migration Patterns for Our Region – Part 3

Population growth is a major objective of all twelve of the Local Government areas (LGAs) in the Northern Inland region of NSW, as evidenced by the objectives in their Community Strategic Local Plans. For our communities and economies to grow and prosper and to attract the level of services communities expect, population and labour force supply are critical.

Net migration (in-migration minus out-migration) is a key contributor to both the population level and the supply of labour, which has been negatively impacted recently by the Covid-19 pandemic. In this three-part series, we will look at the migration patterns between 2016 and 2021 for each Local Government area in our region. In this final instalment, we look at four Local Government Areas (LGAs) from the southeast corner of our region: Gunnedah Shire, Walcha, Tamworth Regional and Liverpool Plains Shire.

Liverpool Plains Shire LGA
The Liverpool Plains is characterised by a net loss of 242 people in terms of domestic migration, mostly to other Northern Inland areas and also the North Coast of NSW, Qld and the Newcastle/Hunter area. Net inflows of people to the area came largely from Sydney and the rest of NSW.  57 people moved to the region from overseas.

The estimated resident population decreased by 239 people (a 3.0% decline) between 2016 and 2021, indicating that the net outflow of population to other areas and deaths exceeded domestic and overseas inflow and births.

Tamworth Regional LGA
The Tamworth Regional LGA experienced a relatively small net loss of 170 people in terms of domestic migration mostly to Qld, the North Coast of NSW and the Newcastle/Hunter region. Sydney and the rest of NSW produced net inflows of people to the LGA.  1,622 people moved to the region from overseas which is a significant number though slightly less than for Armidale.  The presence of several major meat processing plants in Tamworth which utilize overseas workers is the main reason for this large influx of residents from overseas.

The estimated resident population grew by 2,662 people (a 4.4% increase) between 2016 and 2021, indicating that the net outflow of population to other areas and deaths was more than compensated for by the domestic and overseas migration inflows and births.

Gunnedah Shire LGA
Gunnedah has a net loss of population from domestic migration in the order of 54 people with most moving to Qld and the Newcastle/Hunter regions.  However, there was a significant inflow of people from the rest of NSW, other Northern Inland regions and Sydney.  The larger outflow to the Hunter/Newcastle is probably a reflection of workers moving from the mining industry around Gunnedah to the mining industry in the Hunter.

165 people moved to Gunnedah from overseas.  The estimated resident population increased by 594 people between 2016 and 2021 indicating that any net outflow of population to other areas and deaths was more than compensated for by the domestic and overseas inflow and births.

Walcha LGA
The Walcha LGA saw a net loss of 122 people in terms of domestic migration mostly to the North Coast of NSW and the Hunter/Newcastle area. Sydney and the Rest of NSW produced the largest net inflows of people to the LGA.  21 people moved to the region from overseas.

The estimated resident population decreased by 112 people (a 3.6% decrease) between 2016 and 2021, indicating that the net outflow of population to other areas and deaths exceeded the domestic and overseas migration inflows and births.

Although the Estimated Resident Population for the Northern Inland region grew by 1,327 people (0.7%) between the 2016 and 2021 Census periods, this growth was not shared equally amongst the 12 LGAs.  Tamworth and Gunnedah alone were largely responsible for this regional population growth with many other LGA losing population.

Net domestic migration for the region as whole and indeed for all 12 LGAs was negative.  In total 4,797 people left the region for other Australian locations outside of the Northern Inland region.  However, this was offset to a large degree by 4,539 residents moving into the region from overseas, though we cannot tell how many residents left the region to go overseas.

The biggest domestic losses of residents from the region were to Qld (2,947 net), North Coast of NSW (1,576 net) and the Newcastle/Hunter region (1,276 net). The biggest source of new residents to the region was from Sydney (896 net) closely followed by the rest of NSW (826 net). The modest population gain of 0.7% is well behind the gain for the state of NSW which was a 4.7% increase in population between 2016 and 2021.

The upshot of these statistics is that there is a need to keep pursuing activities which attract residents and businesses to our region and reduce the out-migration from the region.  This will be a combination of both employment and business opportunities, but also liveability and service provision factors.  Of course, liveability and service provision depend to a large extent on population levels which can become something of a chicken and egg problem.  However, there are a number of things local government can do to enhance liveability and services (e.g. housing supply, advocacy to retain/enhance health and education services, road and other transport upgrades, sport and recreation facilities, streetscapes, tourism promotion, business support).

491 Visa Nomination Application Details Now Available

Applications for nomination from the NSW Government for a 491 Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) Visa are now open.

Unlike previous years, this process is now being administered directly by the NSW Government. Therefore, we cannot provide any assistance or accept any applications to our office. Duly, the information below is for your information only, and any enquiries should be directed to the NSW Government.

We are, however, continuing to provide our free Skilled Migration Jobs Board for the Northern Inland to facilitate connections between employers and skilled migrants, as well as our Skilled Migration Settlement Support Group for migrants either in or moving to the Northern Inland.

NSW nomination for this visa allows skilled migrants to live, work and study in designated regional areas of NSW for a period of 5 years.

For 2023-24, there are two pathways to NSW nomination for this visa:

  • Pathway 1 – Apply directly to Investment NSW if you have an established work history with a regional NSW-based employer.
  • Pathway 2 – Be invited to apply by Investment NSW.

Note that NSW nomination for this visa under 'Pathway 2' is exceptionally competitive.

Further information about how to apply for a 491 Visa nomination in NSW, including general and pathway-specific eligibility criteria, is available on the NSW Government website.

Share Your Feedback for the 2024-25 Migration Program

As part of their migration programs, the Department of Home Affairs offers a range of visas that provide permanent pathways, including the Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) Visa (Subclass 491), Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) Visa (Subclass 494) and the Temporary Skill Shortage Visa (Subclass 482).

Each year Department of Home Affairs seeks views and perspectives on the size and composition of the permanent migration program for the following program year. The Department has called for written submission to inform the planning of the 2024–25 permanent Migration Program.  A discussion paper, Planning Australia's 2024−25 Permanent Migration Program, has been published to help inform submissions.

The annual consultation and feedback process is critical to planning migration program settings that best serve the national interest. By collecting views from our diverse communities across the country, public submissions help the Government shape the Migration Program to address challenges and seize opportunities to meet the needs of our nation.

Public submissions are open until the 17th of December 2023, via the Department’s website.

Help for Employers to Recruit Refugees

Employing a skilled refugee offers them and their family the opportunity to rebuild their lives.

To help employers, the Department of Home Affairs is hosting a free webinar on how Australian employers can use the Skilled Refugee Labour Agreement Pilot Program to:

  • access the talent that exists in refugee and displaced populations to address workforce skills shortages; and
  • offer a skilled refugee and their family the opportunity to rebuild their lives in Australia.

The Pilot, delivered in partnership with Talent Beyond Boundaries (TBB), enables Australian businesses endorsed by TBB to enter into a labour agreement with the Australian Government to sponsor an approved skilled refugee or displaced person on a permanent or temporary basis through existing employer-sponsored visa programs.

Concessions to standard visa eligibility requirements available under a Pilot labour agreement are designed to reduce barriers for businesses and skilled refugees/displaced persons accessing these employer-sponsored skilled visa pathways.

Together, the Department and Talent Beyond Boundaries will cover:

  1. How the Pilot works;
  2. Concessions available under the Pilot;
  3. How TBB can support you to find, hire and welcome a candidate;
  4. TBB’s endorsement process; and
  5. Outcomes so far, including first-hand candidate and business testimonials.

The webinar is free to attend, and you can register through the Department of Home Affairs website.

Talent Beyond Boundaries also facilitates job connection through their website where employers can register current vacancies and refugees can provide their details.

Sydney Flight College to Launch in Tamworth

Leading Australian flight training academy, Sydney Flight College, is expanding its operations to Tamworth, cementing the Northern Tableland city’s reputation as a prime aviation training centre. Sydney Flight College (SFC) will open an academy at Tamworth Regional Airport from July 2024, offering a new 12-month Diploma of Aviation package, its renowned pathway to creating the next generation of airline pilots. In what will be a boost to the local economy, SFC will initially house 32 students and 10 instructors along with a fleet of training aircraft in existing international flight training facilities at the airport.

With a new cohort of students starting every 6 months SFC Chief Executive Officer Joseph Pilo said it’s an exciting development; “For many months now we have been looking for the right location to expand our school and I’m delighted Tamworth ticks all the boxes. From July next year, we will run two pilot training centres – here in Tamworth and our current facility at Bankstown Airport in Sydney, furthering our vision to bring the world closer by shaping tomorrow’s pilots. With its dedicated training runway and facilities, Tamworth is an ideal base for training, offering year-round operations without the hazards that can exist in the crowded skies over Sydney and represents an opportunity for students to turn dreams into reality, receive top-tier aviation training and embark on fulfilling careers as pilots.”

In its 54 years of operations, SFC has trained thousands of pilots, many of whom have moved to Australian and international airlines, while others are flying in a variety of roles from the Royal Flying Doctor Service, freight movements and private jets. Many have also chosen to stay on as instructors to help train students as future pilots.

Tamworth Regional Council Mayor Russell Webb said “Sydney Flight College expanding their operations to Tamworth is a big win for our region. This development not only brings opportunity to our youth but also brings a boost to our local economy. This initiative directly helps us to achieve our vision in Blueprint 100 by generating new jobs and improving skill levels of the community.”

Gunnedah Locals – Have Your Say About Open Spaces

Gunnedah Shire residents are being asked to help shape the future of some of the Shire’s best-loved open spaces.

Gunnedah Shire Council is developing master plans for key sporting and recreation precincts and is seeking the input of the community to make the best possible use of the spaces in the future.

Gunnedah Shire Mayor Jamie Chaffey said the master plans were the next logical step following the Gunnedah Shire Open Space Strategy and would set out a long-term vision for these popular areas. “We are asking the community to fill in surveys about Gunnedah Showground, Wolseley Park, Kitchener Park, and the Donnelly Fields/Namoi Fields/Riverine Precinct/Woolshed Reserve,” Cr Chaffey said. “These precincts cover some of our most popular playing fields and heavily used community spaces, so it is absolutely critical that we get as much community input as possible.

“There are four simple surveys that ask how people use these spaces and how they would like them to evolve in the future. This will be important information in creating great a master plan for each area. Looking at all of these popular areas at the same time is an ideal way to ensure our open spaces cover the broadest spectrum of interests and age groups, and we look forward to seeing these master plans developed and put into action.”

To take part in the surveys, go to the following individual links for each precinct;

Gunnedah Shire Council held a pop-up community consultation session on the 5th of December, and another will be held on Wednesday the 6th of December at the front of the Gunnedah Newsagency between 9am and 11am.

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.


Clubgrants Infrastructure Grants
Closes: 18th of December 2023
Value: $50,000 to $250,000
Run By: NSW Office of Responsible Gambling

This program provides funding to support community infrastructure such as a multipurpose community hub or a service for an eligible community group.

The objective of the Clubgrants Category 3 Infrastructure Grants program is to fund the costs of construction, alteration, renovation, completion and fit-out of buildings and community infrastructure to deliver outcomes for disadvantaged NSW communities including regional, remote and drought-affected areas, culturally and linguistically diverse, disability and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and disaster-affected communities.

There are four streams under this program:

  • Community Infrastructure - This program provides funding to support community infrastructure such as a multipurpose community hub or a service for an eligible community group.
  • Sport and Recreation - Funding to support sport and recreation infrastructure such as sports centres, playgrounds and swimming pools.
  • Arts and Culture - Funding to support arts and culture infrastructure such as museums, art galleries or cultural centres
  • Disaster Readiness - Funding to support disaster readiness infrastructure such as evacuation centres, capital equipment or a multipurpose community facility.


Regional Skills Relocation Grant
Closes: 15th of December 2023
Value: Up to $12,500 per worker
Run By: NSW Government Department of Regional NSW

This grant assists regional NSW businesses in identified industries attract skilled and specialised employees from NSW metropolitan areas, interstate or internationally, to regional NSW.

Eligible costs covered by this grant, include the following relocation expenses:

  • furniture removal including removalist services or trailer/truck or ute hire to relocate the employee’s home/residence
  • pet boarding for up to three months
  • travel for employee and immediate family to relocate
  • temporary accommodation for up to three months, including hotel, motel, Airbnb and boarding house accommodation
  • furniture storage for up to three months

Up to $1000 of the grant may be accessed to support an in-person candidate interview, or pre-employment site-visit (payable if candidate is successfully employed).

Eligible businesses can also claim up to $2500, as part of their total grant, to access qualified recruitment services, or HR professionals, to provide tailored recruitment assistance for the pre-approved role/s. The business can apply to be reimbursed once a candidate has been successfully employed.

To be eligible for funding, eligible businesses must be operating within an eligible industry aligned with key NSW Government policies, priorities, and strategies. Examples of eligible industries include:

  • agribusiness and forestry
  • resources and mining
  • tourism (where regionally significant and/or iconic)
  • health and aged care (where serving populations from out of region)
  • freight and logistics
  • advanced manufacturing
  • renewable energy
  • technology-enabled primary industry


National Science Week Grants 2024
Closes: 11th of December 2023 - 5:00 pm
Value: $2,000 to $20,000
Run By: Australian Government Department of Industry, Science and Resources

National Science Week is Australia’s major national celebration of the sciences, occurring in August each year. National Science Week will be held from 10 to 18 August 2024. National Science Week provides the opportunity for community participation in high profile science engagement activities across the nation.

The objectives of the grant opportunity are to:

  • inspire wide community participation in STEM
  • provide an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of Australian scientists to the world of knowledge
  • encourage an interest in science pursuits among the general public
  • encourage younger people to become fascinated by the world we live in
  • encourage new and innovative ways of engaging with audiences.


What's On in the Northern Inland

Uralla Carols in the Park
Wednesday 6th of December

Gunnedah Christmas Festival
Thursday 7th of December

Lighting of the Community Christmas Tree
Thursday 7th of December

Lighting of the Community Christmas Tree
Thursday 7th of December

Walcha Twilight Markets
Friday 8th of December

Warialda Christmas Carnival
Friday 8th of December

Boom Crash Opera at Bingara Christmas Carnival
Saturday 9th of December

Carols in the Park
Saturday 9th of December

Carols in the Park
Saturday 9th of December

Supper Dance at Emmaville Hall
Saturday 9th of December

Coffee & Chat Car Display
Sunday 10th of December

Danthonia Christmas Carols
Sunday 10th of December

Lions Carols by Candlelight
Wednesday 13th of December

Christmas Mardi Gras
Thursday 14th of December
Wee Waa

Boggabri Community Christmas Night
Friday 15th of December

Carols on the Grass
Friday 15th of December

Narrabri Chamber of Commerce Christmas Carnival
Friday 15th of December

Carols in the Park
Saturday 16th of December

Carols on the Lawn
Saturday 16th of December

Christmas Carols
Saturday 16th of December

Community Christmas Carols
Saturday 16th of December
Glen Innes

Fundarra Church Markets
Saturday 16th of December

Hillgrove Short Film and Supper Night
Saturday 16th of December

Community Carols Night
Sunday 17th of December

Narrabri Santa Run
Sunday 17th of December

Centacare Christmas Party
Wednesday 20th of December

Summer Solstice at the Australian Standing Stones
Thursday 21st of December
Glen Innes

Inverell Salvation Army – Remembrance Service
Saturday 23rd of December

Boggabri FRNSW Santa Run
Sunday 24th of December

Christmas Lunch with the Salvos
Sunday 24th of December

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