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General Newsletter - 9th of March 2023

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In this Issue

Welcome from the Chair

Russell Stewart - Chair

Dear Northern Inlanders,

When I speak with Council representatives and local community members, the challenges and ambitions are often the same. Many are seeking to increase population, attract new industries and improve infrastructure. Working together on these common factors can increase the outcomes and decrease the workload on our already overloaded Councils. Great things can be achieved by sharing experiences and knowledge to work towards our goals collectively, as was the case at the recent New England Joint Organisation workshop we hosted in Warialda.

Our organisation is uniquely placed in that we have a regional perspective backed by a wealth of knowledge and experience. I am proud to say that all our staff have worked with RDANI for over ten years, and their skills are available to our Councils, communities and private sector due to the support of the Australian Government. I encourage anyone who would like assistance writing a grant application, developing a business case or who require robust economic analysis to contact our office at rdani@rdani.org.au or by phone on 6771 0700. By working together, we can help our region grow and prosper into the future.

Skill shortages are another ongoing issue in our region. The recently announced extension of worker rights to graduate visa holders that will come into effect in July this year will certainly help our businesses in the short term. However, we also need a long-term plan that includes encouraging our youth to take up trades and stay in our communities. The initiative by Inverell Shire Council to include a hands-on component through ‘Try a Trade’ at their career expo in June is a great way to do this. From my experience, a hands-on approach can make a massive difference in the decision-making process for our young people. If you are a trade-based employer or have trade skills, I encourage you to contact Inverell Shire Council and support this great initiative.


Russell Stewart

Helping NEJO Plan for the Future

It was refreshing to come together face-to-face rather than through a computer screen as we facilitated a workshop in Warialda with Mayors from the New England Joint Organisation (NEJO). NEJO is a Joint Organisation of Councils that includes eight Local Councils; Armidale Regional, Inverell Shire, Glen Innes Severn, Gwydir Shire, Narrabri Shire, Moree Plains Shire, Tenterfield Shire and Uralla Shire. It works to create sustainable economic growth and create educated, healthy and connected communities and stimulate investment in critical infrastructure.

We are pleased to continue to assist NEJO as they work towards their vision for member Councils. Last year we completed an Economic Development Strategy for NEJO and a range of business cases for key road upgrades to improve connectivity and productivity in the region. These business cases will provide the foundation for Councils to apply for grant funding for these essential upgrades and repairs.

This year we continue to provide support by facilitating the revision of NEJO’s Strategic Plan, which was the workshop’s focus. During the workshop, key strategic areas were discussed, including building upon competitive advantages, addressing barriers to growth, attracting industry, and developing resilience to future environmental impacts such as drought and floods.

Providing publicly accessible charging facilities for electric vehicles has been identified by NEJO as an important factor in attracting tourism growth into the future. To help NEJO Councils prepare for this opportunity, we are also working with the eight NEJO councils to identify electric vehicle charging sites and available government support.

“The Councils in our region are facing similar challenges. Many have the same priorities, and there are many benefits to working together as a region.” said RDA-NI Executive Director Nathan Axelsson. “By working together, we can combine each Council’s knowledge and skills and learn from each other’s experiences for everyone’s benefit. All Local Government Areas, large and small, play an important role in the Northern Inland Region’s economy. Each is unique and has its own competitive advantages, so our region’s Councils are not necessarily in direct competition with each other.”

“The RDA-NI team is a unique resource for our Councils and our communities, and we are proud to be assisting NEJO in their work to benefit their member Councils. Our Staff and Committee have a range of experience, skills and local knowledge available for our region’s benefit, thanks to our Australian Government funding.” he said. “In just the last five years, we have helped write successful grant applications for over $80 Million of projects in the Northern Inland and many more through our cost-benefit analysis reports, statistical analysis, business cases and grant writing assistance.”

Further details on our research, consultancy, grant writing and economic analysis services are available on our website.

Funding for Social Benefit Projects

Round 8 of the Australian Government’s Stronger Communities Programme (SCP) is now open, with $22.7 million available to support community organisations and councils to deliver much-needed local projects.

Funding of between $2,500 and $20,000 is available for not-for-profit community organisations and local governments to fund small capital projects that deliver social benefits and boost local community participation, including small-scale infrastructure upgrades, fit-outs and equipment purchases.

Each federal electorate will receive a capped amount of $150,000 to fund up to 20 local projects. In Round 8, the Government has included a requirement for local MPs to outline the project nomination process to enhance the transparency of the program.

“Community groups are the heart of towns and villages right across the electorate and this type of funding is often vital to help them grow and prosper into the future.” Said Mark Coulton, Member for Parkes. “This latest round aims to support communities recover from the widespread impacts of adverse weather events and current economic pressures, and I strongly encourage interested organisations to contact my office if they have a project important to them which will benefit the local community,” Mr Coulton said.

Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, said the special provision will support Australia’s economic recovery from effects from recent natural disasters and rising costs of living. “Many activities are eligible for funding such as successful recipients from Round 7 which included building upgrades for St Vincent De Paul at Werris Creek, a first aid defibrillator for Currabubula Pony Club, wheelchair access for the Yarrowitch Community Hall, a power generator for Inverell Community Radio, solar at the Wongwibinda Community Hall, sideline bench seats as we’ve provided for the Kootingal/Moonbi Rugby League Club or repairs to the BBQ shed for the Tenterfield Show Society.”

For this round, grant funding will be up to 100% of eligible project costs except for local governing bodies where grant funding will be up to 50% of eligible project costs. Local governing bodies must provide matched funding contributions towards their eligible project.

Interested applicants must submit an expression of interest (EOI) by 5pm on the 10th of March with their Federal MP:

Further information including grant guidelines, eligibility requirements and the application process, are available on the business.gov.au website.

Share Your Trade with Students

Inverell Shire Council plans to incorporate a unique and engaging aspect to their Careers Expo with a hands-on component. Through a series of ‘Try a Trade’ stalls at the expo, students will have the chance to experience first-hand what their future career can be like.

Many businesses in the region are experiencing workforce shortages, and providing our youth with opportunities such as this is essential in encouraging students to pursue trade-based occupations.

Inverell Shire Council would like to hear from businesses or individuals that are able to demonstrate what their trade is capable of at the expo in June. Anyone who can support this initiative or would like further information can contact Inverell Shire Council’s Corporate Support Coordinator, Nikki on 6728 8288 or nikki.faint@inverell.nsw.gov.au

Changes to Graduate Visas to Help Fill Skill Shortages

Additional time and work rights will be available to eligible Temporary Graduate Visa (subclass 485) holders, according to the Department of Education. The extension is in addition to the existing additional one to two years of work rights for eligible students who study, live and work in regional areas. These changes will support businesses and help rebuild the international education sector following the pandemic. It is a practical change that will increase the availability of a well-trained and highly capable workforce to help ease current pressures.

The Australian Government has released an indicative list of occupations and the eligible qualifications that will enable graduates to access greater work rights. The list includes bachelor and master degrees in health, teaching, engineering, ICT, and agriculture. All doctoral studies will also be considered eligible for the measure, regardless of the field of study. The list will be reviewed annually and updated by the Australian Government as needed in response to the labour market.

These extended work rights come into effect from the 1st of July this year. The current settings will be increased by two years, extending extend post-study work rights from:

  • two years to four years for select Bachelor degrees
  • three years to five years for select Masters degrees
  • four years to six years for all Doctoral degrees.

Existing settings for regional and remote Australia will also be maintained and, where relevant, will be eligible for the additional two years. Eligible graduates with a valid Temporary Graduate Visa on 1 July 2023 or who apply for a Temporary Graduate Visa after 1 July 2023, will be considered for the two-year extension. Graduates whose visa expires before 1 July 2023 can apply for an extension of their work rights by visiting Temporary Activity visa (subclass 408) Australian Government endorsed events (COVID-19 Pandemic event) page of the Home Affairs website.

More information about these measures is available at Temporary Graduate visa - Subclass 485.

In addition, the Government will increase the allowable work hours cap for international students from 40 hours per fortnight to 48 hours per fortnight when the cap is reinstated on the 1st of July. This modest increase will help students to support themselves financially, gain valuable work experience and contribute to Australia’s workforce needs while they study. More information on student visa work hours is available on the Department of Home Affairs website.

This extension was a commitment made following the Jobs and Skills Summit and developed further after advice from a working group made up of the Council of International Education, the National Tertiary Education Union, Universities Australia, and the Departments of Home Affairs and Education.

“Businesses are screaming out for skilled workers, particularly in the regions. We have got the second highest skills shortage in the developed world, according to the OECD. Skills shortages are everywhere.” said Minister for Education Jason Clare. “We teach and train these skilled workers. This will mean they can stay on longer and use the skills they’ve gained in Australia to help fill some of the chronic skills shortages we have right now.”

Please note that this article is for informational purposes only. Whilst this information was sourced from Australian Government websites, it does not replace personal research or advice from a migration agent.

Selling To Government – How to Seize the Opportunity

The Australian and NSW Governments spend $80.8 Billion and $40 Billion each year in procuring goods and services, respectively. Becoming a supplier to Government can be a game-changer for small businesses. Yet, knowing where to start and how to seal the deal can be daunting. To help break down this barrier for small businesses, the Australian and NSW Governments have information available to help businesses through the process.

The Australian Government has created the Selling to Government website that provides businesses with the information and support they need to sell to the Australian Government. The site also includes a Guide to Selling, which provides information on each step of being a supplier. The site contains information about:

  • Where to find opportunities
  • How to respond to an approach to market
  • What to expect if you are awarded a contract

The Australian Government is seeking feedback on improving this website and welcomes any feedback to inform future updates through their Have Your Say form.

The NSW Government has a website, Selling to the NSW Government, which provides key information about the processes and requirements, such as how to become qualified to tender, identifying opportunities and developing a quality tender response.

Through a partnership with TAFE NSW, the NSW Government also have a free online micro skills course available which covers:

  • Getting Business Ready
  • Finding Opportunities
  • Selling to Government
  • Successful Supplying

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.


Student Wellbeing Innovation Fund
Closes: 2nd of April 2023
Value: Up to $200,000
Run By: NSW Government Department of Education

The NSW Department of Education has established a Student Wellbeing Innovation Fund to support and encourage bold, innovative programs and/or initiatives that are ceated and offered by external providers, to be sourced by primary and secondary schools for the purposes of educating, informing or directly supporting individual students to improve their mental health and wellbeing.

The Student Wellbeing Innovation Fund will directly support student wellbeing outcomes and will build on the department’s commitment to quality assure external student wellbeing programs to enhance the development and provision of high-quality external providers delivering evidence-based wellbeing programs/initiatives.

The Student Wellbeing Innovation Fund has two streams:

  1. To provide one-off capacity building funding for providers of wellbeing programs/initiatives who are wanting to scale or deliver their wellbeing programs and/or initiatives in new areas or to new cohorts listed as a priority area.
  2. To support ‘incubator’ student wellbeing programs and/or initiatives by providing seed funding (via one-off grants) to providers to research, create, develop and test new approaches to supporting and addressing student wellbeing issues.


Energy Efficiency Grants for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises - Round 1
Closes: 19th of April 2023 - 5:00 pm
Value: $10,000 to $25,000
Run By: Australian Government Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water

This grant program supports businesses to upgrade or replace inefficient equipment to improve their energy efficiency. These upgrades will enable industries to reduce their energy use and manage energy cost volatility in the long term. This will contribute to Australia’s target of a 43% reduction on 2005 emission levels by 2030.

The objectives of the program are to:

  • improve energy efficiency practices and increase the uptake of energy efficient technologies
  • assist small and medium businesses to manage their energy usage and costs
  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


Festivals Australia - Round 16
Closes: 20th of March 2023 - 11:30 pm
Value: $5,000 to $150,000
Run By: Australian Government Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts

Festivals Australia enables artists and organisations to shape Australia’s cultural landscape, increase cultural diversity and inspire, educate and entertain communities across Australia.

This progam provides funding to support individual art projects at festivals or significant one-off community events, such as a town celebration or opening of a new community resource.

The Program seeks to celebrate the intrinsic capacity of the arts to engage, inspire and make meaning for all Australians, while supporting the celebration of place and promoting a sense of community identity.

The Festivals Australia objectives are to:

  • provide access to a diverse range of high-quality, innovative arts projects that grow audiences at festivals across regional and remote Australia;
  • support partnerships and collaboration across the arts sector; and
  • encourage community participation in arts projects at regional and remote festivals.


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