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July 2015 Newsletter

In this Issue:

In This Issue:

Welcome from the Chair

Dear Northern Inlanders,

Welcome to another edition of our monthly newsletter. Firstly I would like to congratulate Ian Lobsey OAM on his appointment as Deputy Chair of RDA Northern Inland. Ian has been a long-standing Committee Member of our RDA and the previous Regional Development Board. He brings a wealth of Local Government knowledge and strategic thinking to the Committee. We look forward to announcing the other successful Committee members very soon.

We are also pleased to have been engaged by the Namoi Group of Councils to develop a business case identifying the socio-economic impacts, costs and benefits of upgrading the Manilla to Boggabri road – a key regional transport route. We have a great team in the office who can offer these types of services to Local Government and other interested parties, so please get in touch if need be.


Russell Stewart, Chair

Regional Development Australia Committee in Barraba

TheRDA Northern Inland Committee members and staff came together for a quarterly meeting in June. Russell Stewart from Narrabri, convened his second committee meeting as Chair of RDANI in Barraba. The location proved to be conveniently central, with the regional committee members also coming from Armidale, Quirindi, and Inverell.

Mr Stewart said the meeting, which was held at the Playhouse Hotel in Barraba highlighted important strengths of the region, beyond what was discussed. “Our meeting was held in Barraba this time around because, we believe it is appropriate to get out and experience what our smaller communities have to offer,” he said. “The quality, professionalism and service we encountered was first-rate.”

“I’d encourage other regional organisations and businesses in the Northern Inland to give smaller towns a go and experience the professionalism you expect and the country hospitality that can surpass your expectations.”

During its five hour meeting, the Committee heard updates on projects supporting the region’s development, ranging from the evolution of a ground-breaking online initiative to skilled migration. The “Fit for the Future” local government challenge, which has taken the attention of our local councils, prompted RDANI to research and write a report on the impact on communities of local government jobs and capital expenditure. “It is clear that the removal or reduction of government jobs would hit smaller communities harder. These economic consequences should be factored into any State Government amalgamation considerations. Rationalising local government in Sydney should come before regional NSW.”

Mr Stewart said it is vital for Regional Development Australia Northern Inland to grow relationships with the 13 Northern Inland Local Councils, as well as all forms of industry and the wider community.

“I look forward to hearing from anyone keen to work with us, to develop practical tools to work on the healthy growth of our region,” he said.

RDANI and Namoi Councils Partner to Work on Upgrading Rangari Road

Chairperson of Namoi Councils, Cr Col Murray, said he and member Councils were very pleased to have the agreement of Regional Development Australia (RDA) Northern Inland, to work in partnership with the Namoi Councils to develop a business case identifying the socio-economic impacts, costs and benefits of upgrading, realignment and bitumen sealing of Main Road 357 Rangari Road from Manilla to Boggabri.

The Namoi Group of Councils comprises Gwydir Shire Council, Gunnedah Shire Council, Liverpool Plains Shire Council, Moree Plains Shire Council, Narrabri Shire Council, Tamworth Regional Council and Walcha Council.

Cr Murray said “A key component of the Namoi Councils 2015 strategic work program is the upgrading of MR 357 Rangari Road - Manilla to Boggabri to provide improved and upgraded road transport access to five major coal mines on the western side of the mining areas of the Namoi Valley.

“Rangari Road Manilla to Boggabri is located within the Tamworth, Gunnedah and Narrabri LGAs and provides road access for inter-regional freight movement, drive-in-drive-out mine employees and mining service contractors travelling by motor vehicle from Tamworth, Manilla, Barraba, Gunnedah, Boggabri and Narrabri, and the surrounding Namoi Region generally, to the Boggabri Coal Mine, Tarrawonga Coal Mine, Rocglen Coal Mine, Maules Creek Coal Mine and Whitehaven North Narrabri Underground Coal Mine.
“If upgraded, realigned and bitumen sealed, it is highly probable that MR 357 will become a vital strategic road link within the region providing access to employment, services and markets in the mining areas of the Namoi Valley and will develop as a highly trafficked inter regional freight network” said Cr Murray.

Russell Stewart, Chairperson of RDA Northern Inland said “The professional resources of RDA Northern Inland will be used to undertake and complete a Cost Benefit Analysis for MR 357 to provide the essential evidence base identifying the value of this project, in support of submissions to be made for funding this important regional transport priority.

“Future significant potential exists for an upgraded MR 357 to provide road transport connectivity to Inland Rail infrastructure passing through the Narrabri LGA adjacent to the termination of MR 357 at the Kamilaroi Highway and intermodal freight centres planned for the Region” said Mr Stewart.

The Cost Benefit Analysis of Rangari Road will be completed at the end of October which will then allow Namoi Councils to make funding submissions for this important Regional Transport Project.

Helping to Address Northern Inland Skills Needs

DA Northern Inland is making an important contribution to the Northern Inland NSW region’s economy, through its skilled migration program. RDANI Chair Russell Stewart said that for employers who need a position filled and cannot do so with local labour, skilled migrant labour can be critical. “We are looking at various approaches to addressing our skills and labour shortages. Skilled migration is one very important option and we are proud to be involved in facilitating that option for employers throughout the region,” he said.

Under the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS), RDANI performs the Regional Certifying Body role, which entails providing advice to the Department about a nominating employer and how they meet the required criteria. Nominated employees from overseas apply for the 187 visa, which is a direct entry stream (towards Permanent Residency). This visa program involves a minimum two-year commitment from both the employer and the employee.

RDANI also assesses applications from prospective skilled migrations for the NSW Government nominated Skilled Regional 489 sub-class visa. Applicants are supported by RDANI and receive a State nomination if they meet the criteria and are qualified in an occupation that is considered to be needed in the Northern Inland region.

In the 2014/15 financial year, RDANI processed 67 RSMS employer nominations and 125 Skilled Regional 489 visa applications. “Our efficient processing has meant a prompt outcome, which is extremely important when the need is urgent, as is often the case,” RDANI Executive Officer, Nathan Axelsson said.
“The skilled migrant option is generally the last resort and employers can literally be counting on a successful outcome as quickly as possible, to ensure the smooth operation and growth of their business or organisation,” he said. “This is one reason why it is so important that we are here, on the ground in this region, able to explain the process. It can appear overwhelmingly complex but for employers with a genuine need, it is a worthwhile win-win.

“The Skilled Regional visa is also of great benefit to the region, bringing in workers and their dependents who are not only skilled but who are also enthusiastic and committed.”

“Our skilled migration program does more than strengthen the economies of the region, through cultural diversity it also enriches our communities,” Mr Axelsson said. “Over the past financial year, we have brought skilled migrants to the region in such sectors as education, health, agriculture, hospitality, engineering and trades.”

In addition to liaising with employers and skilled migrants, RDANI works with community organisations which help address the challenges of settling in and engaging with a regional community, such as Northern Settlement Services and Multicultural Tamworth.

“Retention of skilled labour can be as much a challenge for our region’s employers as attraction of skilled labour and we encourage employers to do what they can to support their workers from overseas in truly becoming part of the community. Integration through joining service or sporting clubs could be one way they can get to know people and get involved in their local community.”

For further information about Regional Development Australia Northern Inland’s skilled migration visas, please go to our website: www.rdani.org.au/skilled-migration

The Energy Efficiency Message

As part of the Regional Development Australia Northern Inland Northern Lights Project, a brochure has been distributed to households throughout participating Local Government Areas – Armidale Dumaresq, Glen Innes Severn, Guyra, Gwydir, Inverell, Tenterfield and Walcha. “This brochure has basic tips for reducing energy bills. It is for people who may not have started to look at reducing their energy bills until the recent price-hikes and also locals who have a sustainability focus and may have overlooked a behavioural change that can make a big difference,” RDANI Senior Project Officer, David Thompson said.

Meanwhile, the project’s Energy Efficiency Education Officer Peter Stanley has been traveling the region with custom-built educational displays to physically highlight how households and businesses can cut their energy costs. Details of where Peter will be giving presentations is available on the Northern Lights website here.

The dedicated Northern Lights Project website is: www.northernlightsproject.com.au

Mobile Blackspot Funding for the Region

MOBILE phone reception blackspots throughout the region will soon be significantly reduced with funding to construct new phone towers recently announced.

The improvements in network coverage would be delivered through the State Government’s investment of $24 million into the Mobile Blackspot Program, along with $28 million of Federal Government funding and a contribution from the networks – a total investment of $92 million across country NSW.

There is a broad spread of new and upgraded base stations across NSW, with a total of 144 being funded over three years.

The Northern Inland region has done proportionately well, with the following locations being funded:
Hillgrove, Bonshaw, Elsmore, Kings Plains, Hetheringtons Sugarloaf (Rocky Creek), Spring Mountain Road, Invergowrie, Kingstown Road (Balala), Woolomin, Dungowan, Piallamore, Duri, Tamworth, Westdale, Oxley Vale, Moonbi, Hallsville, Attunga, Manilla, Fossickers Way, Barraba, Newell Highway (south of Narrabri) and Pilliga

“Reliable, good quality telecommunications are essential for this region and its development,” said RDANI Chair Russell Stewart. “Our State and Federal Governments deserve a pat on the back for this program.”

Protection Against Scammers

Want to keep up to date with how to protect your business from scams? Check out the ACCC's new and improved Scamwatch website which has just been launched.

Scamwatch features all the latest news and tips to help consumers and small businesses identify and avoid scams, and key features of the new site include:

  • Types of scams: The ACCC provides information on the most common types of scams in circulation in Australia, and collects and publishes data on these scam types.
  • Report a scam: If you think you've been scammed or know someone who has, report it to the ACCC using the ‘Report a scam’ page.
  • Get help: If you've been scammed, there are steps you can take straight away to reduce the damage and prevent further loss.

For more information, read the dedicated ‘Protect your small business’ page.

You can also sign up for Scamwatch radar alerts to stay informed about the latest scams.

Inquiry into Service Coordination in Communities

A new Parliamentary inquiry is aiming to improve the way government and non-government services are delivered to those who need them most. NSW Nationals MP and Chair of the Social Issues Committee, Hon Bronnie Taylor MLC, said the inquiry was an important opportunity for regional communities and organisations.

“We know that so often, an issue doesn’t need more money thrown at it – it’s about making the services and programs we already have work together to get the outcomes our communities deserve”, Mrs Taylor said.

The committee will assess whether government agencies and non-government service providers are coordinating to best meet the needs of their clients.

The committee will also look at the barriers to effective service coordination, including the impact that privacy laws may have on service providers talking to each other and coordinating services for their clients.
Mrs Taylor said the committee was still receiving submissions.

“Any individual or organisation is welcome to make a submission. If they have any experiences or ideas of how our government and non-government providers can work together better, they should consider having their say”.

Submissions can be made until Sunday 16 August. For more information or to have your say, visit the committee website at www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/socialissues

Federal Government Small Grants Programme

Federal Member for New England, the Hon. Barnaby Joyce said the Stronger Communities Programme, announced in this year’s Budget, will deliver $150,000 per year for two years to fund small capital projects which deliver social benefits.

“This is an exciting opportunity for local communities to work with me to identify potential projects which will contribute to our community’s long term vibrancy and viability,” Mr Joyce said.

“I will be establishing a community consultation committee to identify projects which are a priority and to ensure this funding delivers the best possible outcomes for our community. Following community consultation, I will invite identified incorporated not-for-profit and local government organisations to apply for funding.

“Identified applicants can apply for funding of at least $5,000 and up to a maximum of $20,000 and must provide matching cash or in-kind funding on at least a dollar for dollar basis.

“I encourage potential applicants to contact my office on (02) 6761 3080 to discuss projects which meet the eligibility criteria,” Mr Joyce said.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to read the Stronger Communities Programme guidelines and the Frequently Asked Questions which are available on the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development’s website www.infrastructure.gov.au/SCP

Grants and Funding Opportunities

Innovation Funding Boost for Local Rural Councils
Applications Open: November 2015

The NSW Government is pleased to make available a $4 million Innovation Fund to develop new solutions for small rural communities.

Small regional and rural communities in NSW face unique issues and challenges in sustaining their communities and maintaining local services. To help these councils to better serve their communities, one-off grants are available to councils to develop new ideas and new ways of working. The fund will help councils with projects that involve delivering services in a different, more cost effective way or getting together with other councils to share resources or technology to lessen the tyranny of distance.

The Government is providing record investment in rural and regional areas through the Fit for the Future package:

  • Up to $13.5 million for councils that choose to merge
  • $5.3 million to establish Joint Organisations
  • A $4 million Innovation Fund
  • Savings of up to $600 million State-wide through access to cheaper borrowing

The Propeller Fund
Applications are Ongoing

Propeller, an initiative from The Foundation for Young Australians, exists to celebrate and enable youth-led social change initiatives in local communities across Australia. Quality short films tell the stories of ordinarily extraordinary young people leading social change projects and are showcased on the Propeller online platform alongside helpful tips and resources.

Propeller projects are youth-led, have a social or environmental focus, demonstrate local impact and have community networks and support.

Check out the videos of young people making stuff happen. Get inspired. Copy ideas. Start your own thing. Apply for funding. Be the Propeller.

Funding for Local Rugby League Clubs
Applications Close 12th of August 2015

The 2015 NSW Footy Facilities Fund is open for applications from local football clubs until 12 August, 2015. It is a joint initiative of the National Rugby League and the State Government and offers funding to improve local clubs' grounds and facilities.

Additionally, applications can be strengthened by addressing one or more of the following:

  • improving safety at sport and recreation facilities (e.g. providing safer playing field, access pathways for players, disability ramps)
  • increase the security at sport and recreation facilities (e.g. installation of fencing)
  • remove barriers to promote inclusion in Rugby League (e.g. upgrade of amenities to increase female participation, provision of disability access, upgrade of referee amenities)
  • develop environmentally sustainable sport and recreation facilities (e.g. installation of drainage, rainwater tanks, more efficient lighting)
  • building strong communities.

What’s On in the Northern Inland

Armidale International Film Festival
Friday, 31st July to Sunday 2nd of August.

The Mungindi Show
Saturday 1st August

Pallamallawa P&C Campdraft
Saturday 1st August

Ebor Art Exhibition and Sale
Sunday 2nd of August

Eulah Creek Machinery Day
Sunday 2nd of August
Eulah Creek

Byamee Homeless Services: Hike for the Homeless 2015
Sunday 2nd to Friday 7th of August
Moree to Boggabilla, Boomi, Mungindi, Garah

NextGen Narrabri – Agribusiness Forum
Tuesday 4th of August

Australian Cotton Trade Show
Wednesday 5th to Thursday 6th of August

Moree Boomerangs RLFC: Celebrating 90 Years
Saturday 8th August

Steam Train Rides
Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th of August

Tuesday 18th to Thursday 20th of August

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