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June 2020 Newsletter

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In this Issue

Welcome from the Chair

Russell Stewart - Chair

Dear Northern Inlanders,

It has been great to see our communities start to reopen and come back to life after the COVID-19 lockdown. The increase in cases in Victoria is a stark reminder that this pandemic is far from over and it is important that we all remain vigilant so that our local businesses, and in turn our region’s economy, can continue to rebuild.

Almost $7.5 million of funding for our region under the Federal Government’s Building Better Regions Fund announced earlier this month will certainly help the restoration of our economy. This funding will help to create jobs, provide much needed infrastructure and support some of the great initiatives in our communities.

I was pleased to hear of the recent announcement of Armidale being chosen as one of the locations for the new NSW Government’s Department of Regional NSW offices. COVID-19 has required many of us to change the way that we work and has highlighted how teams can successfully do so remotely. This shift in perspective for managers of city-based corporations can lead to a new normal, where employees are located around the country, including regional areas. We now have an opportunity to encourage people to relocate to our region and to retain our youth who previously would have moved away to pursue their dream job.

I would also like to extend a warm welcome to two new committee members, Riarna Sheridan and Terry Dodds, and we are excited to have them on board as part of the RDA-NI team. You can find out more about Riarna and Terry including their backgrounds and knowledge that will be a positive contribution to our team, and the future of our region below.


Russell Stewart

RDA-NI Commended by the Australian Government

The Australian Government has commended the outstanding work of RDA Northern Inland in supporting the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Led by Chair Mr Russell Stewart, RDA Northern Inland’s engagement with their community, businesses and all levels of Government has been vital in identifying emerging issues throughout the crisis and opportunities for the recovery phase.” Said the Hon. Nola Marino MP, Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories. “This work is important to managing impacts and ensuring communities and businesses are able to get back on their feet as quickly as possible.”

Minister Marino highlighted our activities to support the Northern Inland region including:

  • Conducting a survey of impacts of the pandemic on the region’s business community;
  • Running ‘Go Digital’ workshops, in conjunction with local councils, to help businesses move to online sales channels; and
  • Hosting regular meetings with the region’s councils to share ideas and strategies for recovery.

“Regional Development Australia Committees (RDAs) have played and continue to play an important role in delivering sustainable infrastructure and services to their regions. These Committees deliver important work in consulting with communities, promoting and participating in regional initiatives, and providing information and advice on their region to all levels of Government.” she said

“Since late March I have been holding regular teleconferences with RDA representatives three times a week. These conversations provided first-hand insights into how local communities are coping, and the impact and effectiveness of Government response measures. This local intelligence is provided directly to Government ministers and agencies to inform policymaking.“

“I want to thank the RDA Northern Inland committee members and staff for their work in driving positive change in your local communities.” she said.

RDANI wish to extend their thanks to everyone that have participated in each survey commissioned by the team. Your input has directly impacted our region and has managed to reach the Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories. Your voice is heard so continue to help us through these initiatives.

Riarna and Terry Join the RDA-NI Team

We recently welcomed Riarna Sheridan from Glen Innes and Terry Dodds from Tenterfield onto our Committee. We are excited to hear their perspective and input based on their wealth of knowledge and experience as part of the RDA-NI team.

Riarna Sheridan

Riarna is an Accredited Building Certifier and Town Planning Consultant who operates a small building certification and town planning consultancy business with her husband that services the New England Region.  Prior to opening the business, Riarna worked for over 10 years in local government, predominantly throughout the Upper Hunter and Newcastle / Lake Macquarie Regions prior to making the move to a property outside of Glen Innes to pursue a sustainable lifestyle.  Throughout her career, Riarna has gained vast experience in the areas of project management, development, town planning, building certification, governance and local government management (with her final role being Manager of Planning & Regulatory Services at Glen Innes Severn Council).  Riarna has also earned a number of qualifications throughout her career with the most recent including a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Graduate Certificate in Management (both through the University of New England).

Riarna was drawn to the role at RDANI due to realising that despite the New England being mostly well-equipped in terms of attracting development and business to the locality, there is more she believes can be done, particularly in the connectivity / technology spheres within rural / remote New England locations and with the implementation of sustainable ‘green’ building practices.

Terry Dodds

Terry did the usual things a young, ambitious yet naive person normally does by undertaking studies in engineering, project and contract management, human resources and many others, thinking that would assist. He thought that working in private enterprise, State and Local Governments across three States in eight senior positions spanning 24 years would put him in good stead. He thought with 38 years’ experience and his common sense approach to problem solving that the management of change would be easy.

How wrong could one be?

He should have listened to his grandmother and studied psychology, as he now sees that the way government works doesn't require someone with technical, financial, logistical, environmental or human resource management finesse, to be successful in government you need the skills of Machiavelli. He’s also realised being a little nuts yourself also greatly helps.

COVID-19 Has Shown How to Regionalise the Workforce

COVID-19 has changed many of our lives, including our perspectives on what we value, and how we work. For many, this means considering a change to the lifestyle that living in regional areas offers. The experience has also removed one of the most significant barriers to regionalising the workforce, as many have learnt how to work remotely using online technologies, proving to corporate managers that teams can be effective even when they are geographically dispersed. Teams no longer need to be centrally located together in metropolitan areas, they can be located around the country, including regional areas. This shift in perspective provides our region with the opportunity to not only attract more residents from cities, but to also retain the youth that previously would have relocated to peruse their dream career path.

“If the COVID-19 pandemic has proven anything, it’s that you can work from regional Australia and do any job. The jobs that were once only attainable if you lived in a capital city can now be done from anywhere.” said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack.

The Big Movers report released this week by the Regional Australia Institute, shows that there has already been a shift in population with more people moving from Sydney and Melbourne to regional areas, than those who moved to the cities, which could be built upon with this change in perspective.

RAI Chief Executive Officer Liz Ritchie says the notion of how we work has been turned on its head and she hopes this change will see significant population growth in regions, following on from a trend that has already been set over a decade. “From 2011 to 2016, our two biggest cities, Sydney and Melbourne lost more residents to regions than they gained – and this was well before COVID-19. Over the last few months, we’ve all had to change how we work and this has allowed staff and employers to see that location is no longer a barrier for where we choose to work.” Ms Ritchie said.

“Now is the time to work together with industry, government and regional communities to ensure regionalisation of the workforce,” Ms Ritchie said. “As a country, we are an extremely mobile nation, and we have a propensity to change our address at twice the rate of people in most OECD countries. If location is no longer a barrier for employment, it’s possible that the trend line over the next decade could see an even greater swing to regions – and this is the RAI’s ambition,” Ms Ritchie said.

In the next month’s newsletter, we will be having a closer look at the findings in The Big Movers report by the RAI and what it means for the Northern Inland and how we can utilise this information for the future of our region.

New Department of Regional Development Office for Armidale

Up to 100 new full-time jobs will be coming to the region in the next few months with Armidale revealed this week as one of four locations for the home of the recently-created Department of Regional NSW. Armidale will be one of four new offices for the Department, with offices to also be established in Queanbeyan, Dubbo and Coffs Harbour.

An elated Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall made the announcement this week and said it was another “huge coup” for the region. “I’m absolutely thrilled,” Mr Marshall said. “This news will be a massive shot in the arm for Armidale and the entire Northern Tablelands and couldn’t come at a better time. Another 100 high value pay checks in the community and the multiplier effect of those will be an enormous boost for the local economy and help us recover from the drought, bushfire and COVID-19 woes.”

“Armidale is the ideal location to live, work and invest and today’s decision is another vote of confidence in our region and our ability to be home to significant public and private sector organisations. Three years ago, the TAFE NSW Digital headquarters was secured for Armidale, bringing with it 52 full-time jobs, and that success has paved the way for another department to come here, this time larger and with even more jobs.

“After a really tough 12 months for the region, I think this marks a real turning point for our economy, with the potential to deliver more than 100 new pay cheques through a mix of new and relocated jobs. Some employees will relocate with their families to Armidale which means new children in our schools, new members for sporting clubs and potentially a boost to the housing market. Armidale’s business community should also take confidence from this announcement that the State Government sees Armidale as a viable place to conduct business.”

Mr Marshall said the decision would also put the region at the forefront of government decision making. “We will have staff here who understand the issues affecting towns like Armidale and know the local challenges and benefits of regional life and they will be in a position to help deliver the support, infrastructure and programs that communities like ours need,” he said.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro said this is great news for regional NSW and for Armidale locals, with new job opportunities set to become available. “We want more jobs and opportunities in the regions, and what better way than to have a regionally focused NSW Government Department located in the very regions we serve. Our regions are filled with talented, innovative, resilient and accomplished people and I am confident the people of Armidale will work alongside their communities for the benefit of all of regional NSW.”

$7.5M for the Northern Inland from Building Better Regions Fund

The Building Better Regions Fund announcement earlier this month has delivered almost $7.5 million to the Northern Inland Region. Six projects have successfully gained funding for projects in Armidale, Bingara, Glen Innes, Gunnedah, Tamworth and Tenterfield.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said this funding injection to support 163 new infrastructure and community projects across drought-affected regional Australia came at a critical time for communities.

“Regional Australians have endured the devastating effects of a prolonged drought which has affected communities across the country for many years,” Mr McCormack said. “In addition, regional Australia has withstood one of the most devastating bushfire seasons, floods and now a global pandemic – to say they’ve been hit hard in recent times, is an understatement.”

“Their resilience will lead Australia’s recovery through grass-roots projects – creating jobs, boosting local economies and growing confidence in regional communities as a great place to live, work and invest. BBRF projects strengthen our local economies and drive much-needed local procurement, with thousands of jobs expected to be supported throughout regional Australia – delivering career pathways and enabling people to stay in the very communities they grew up in.”

“BBRF is all about strengthening the local economy, and delivering lasting benefits to our local communities which we know are suffering the flow-on impacts of drought.” said Mark Coulton, Federal Member for Parkes

“All these projects will drive economic growth and local jobs at a time when we need them most, transforming communities and helping to ensure that our productive and vibrant region remains strong, resilient and prosperous into the future.” said Barnaby Joyce, Federal Member for New England.

The six successful projects in the Northern Inland were:

Tenterfield Water Treatment Plant Replacement
Proponent: Tenterfield Shire Council
Grant Value: $2,645,000
Project Value:  $9,645,000
The project will replace and upgrade the Tenterfield Water Treatment Plant (WTP).

New England Regional Hydrotherapy Centre (NERHC)
Proponent: Armidale Regional Council
Grant Value: $2.316M
Project Value: $3,773,819
The project will provide a new hydrotherapy pool precinct within the Armidale Monckton Aquatic Centre.

Tamworth Intermodal Activation Plan - Phase I
Proponent: Tamworth Regional Council
Grant Value: $2,202,291
Project Value: $4,404,582
The project will construct roadways, a roundabout and utilities services linking access roads to a proposed intermodal freight hub in west Tamworth.

Gwydir Oval Lighting Replacement
Proponent: Gwydir Shire Council
Grant Value: $224,466
Project Value: $449,000
The project will replace existing lights at the Gwydir Oval with LED sports luminaires.

Messy Play Days at Toy Libraries
Proponent: Toy Libraries Australia Inc.
Grant Value: $19,935
Project Value: $20,985
The project will deliver seven Messy Play Days in regional New South Wales and Victoria.

Future Jobs Growth & Local Skills Gaps Research Project
Proponent: Glen Innes Severn Council
Grant Value: $84,200
Project Value: $84,200
The project will deliver two research projects to identify the future growth possibilities and population drivers for the Glen Innes Severn local government area.

A full listing is available of the successful projects for the Community Investment Stream and the Infrastructure Stream of the Building Better Regions Fund.

Business Connect

To help businesses recover from the effects of COVID-19, drought and bushfires, Business Connect is running a series of free online webinars. The webinars cover a range of topics including:

  • developing a customised recovery strategy
  • managing your cashflow
  • accessing finance including grants and loans
  • marketing your business to reach new customers
  • connecting to other government support and local professional services

Further information, including times and registration, is available on the Business Connect Website.

Featured Grants and Funding Opportunities

To help businesses and individuals affected by Coronavirus (COVID-19) access the available assistance, we have created a dedicated Coronavirus Assistance page on our website. This page will be updated as details become available on the recently announced economic stimulus packages from the Australian and NSW Governments.

A wide range of assistance is available for individuals, businesses and communities that have been affected by the ongoing drought and the recent bushfires. To help you access this support, we have created dedicated Drought Assistance and  Bushfire Assistance pages on our website which are being updated regularly.

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. This database is updated weekly with new listings and current programme amendments that are applicable to our region. This is a great resource if you are looking for funding for a specific project.

You can sign up to our monthly Business and Infrastructure Funding Opportunities, the Community Grants and Award Programs newsletters for further information on these grant and programme opportunities. You can do this through the simple form located on the left-hand side of our website: www.rdani.org.au.

Supporting Agricultural Shows
Closes: TBA – Not yet open
Value: Dependent on size of show
Run By: Australian Department of Agriculture

This initiative provides support to agricultural show societies to cover fixed cost expenditure in the 2020 calendar year if their show was cancelled this year because of Coronavirus restrictions or uncertainties.

The $36 million Supporting Agricultural Shows program comprises three components:

  • $10 million in operational support for local show societies. Shows will be able to claim up to $10,000 if their attendance last year was less than 2,000, up to $15,000 if their attendance was between 2,000 and 4,999 and up to $70,000 if their attendance was over 5,000.
  • $26 million in operational support for Royal Agricultural Show societies which can additionally to claim for unrecoverable costs associated with preparing for the cancelled show.
  • $100,000 in operational support for Agricultural Shows Australia’s Rural ambassador program.

All agricultural shows that have cancelled their show in 2020 because of COVID-19 will be eligible and they will not have to compete for assistance.

For further information, contact the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment's agricultural show programs section: agshowgrants@agriculture.gov.au or 02 6272 5603. This funding has only been recently announced, and further information will be available Community Grants Hub when applications open.

Regional Tourism Bushfire Recovery Grants - Stream 1
Closes: 18th December 2020
Value: Up to $30,000
Run By: Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade)

This program has two funding streams which, together, will support events, concerts, festivals and visitor attractions in fire affected regions to assist with recovery efforts and encourage international and domestic visitors to come back to the regions.

Stream 1 will support smaller-scale events (including the promotion of these events), concerts, festivals and/or other visitor attractions such as art installations and tourist walks. Applicants may apply for more than one grant in this stream, up to a total value of $30,000 per applicant. Applications will be assessed as they are received.

Eligible Northern Inland Councils are:

  • Armidale Regional Council
  • Glen Innes Severn Council
  • Gwydir Shire Council
  • Inverell Shire Council
  • Narrabri Shire Council
  • Tamworth Regional Council
  • Tenterfield Shire Council
  • Uralla Shire Council
  • Walcha Council

Tackling Tough Times Together
Current Round Closes: 27th of August 2020
Value: Up to $150,000 depending on the tier applied for
Run By: Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal

The Tackling Tough Times Together grant program helps communities access the resources they need to support one another through the ongoing effects of the drought.

This program is designed to provide flexible funding to support community-based activities that both help to relieve current stressors and symptoms, and most importantly, build capacity and resilience for the future. Funds could also support activities that engage your local community in being proactive, exploring options and creating something that will stand the test of tough times.

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