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May 2018 Newsletter

In This Issue:

Welcome From the Chair

Dear Northern Inlanders,

Welcome to another edition of our Newsletter. This month we take a look at a few more of our skills-related projects and initiatives in more detail. Don’t forget to sign up to our twice-monthly Grants Newsletters via our Homepage too. It certainly is grant-season at the moment and our staff have been working tirelessly on more than ten significant infrastructure grants and Business Cases for Local Councils and organisations.
Our latest success in preparing Business Cases, applications and Economic Impact Assessments, has resulted in the announcement of a major multi-million dollar upgrade for historic Saumarez Homestead near Armidale. We expect more positive outcomes for the region as the NSW and Australian Governments announce further grant recipients in the coming months. Please contact us to see how we can get you a fair share of the dollars currently available for projects in regional communities.

Regards,

Russell Stewart
Chair

Celebrating Our Innovators and Addressing Skill Shortages

Welcome to the second instalment in our series on how we promote economic growth within the region. In this article, discover how we are celebrating our innovative businesses and addressing skill shortages in the region.

Northern Inland Innovation Awards
Established in 2007, the Northern Inland Innovation Awards have been celebrating the innovation of businesses, Local Councils, and individuals in our region for over ten years. With the support of its local sponsors, the awards are presented at an annual gala dinner that showcases some of the country’s leading innovative products and approaches across a broad range of industry sectors. The next awards night will be held on the 29th of Mach 2019, and you can find out about the past winners on the awards website: www.niia.com.au. It’s a who’s-who of success stories from right across the region.

Skills Survey

In late 2017, RDA-NI conducted a survey of businesses in the region about the barriers to their growth and the difficulties they are facing to fill their employment vacancies. The results of this survey are currently being compiled into a report for the NSW Government looking at the current trends in employment and skills in the Northern Inland region as well as making recommendations based on the input from businesses and other stakeholders in the region. We would like to thank everyone who completed the survey for their invaluable input to the study. A summary of the report will be included in our newsletter and will also be made available on our website once it is completed in the coming weeks.

Skilled Migration

Regional Development Australia Northern Inland acts as a Regional Certifying Body for the Commonwealth Department of Home Affairs and the NSW Department of Industry for the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (Subclass 187 Visa) and the Skilled Regional State Nominated Visa (Subclass 489 Visa). These visa programs target people with skills suitable for vacancies that regional employers have been unable to fill and is a pathway to permanent residency. Applicants are either directly sponsored by an employer or apply based on a list of needed skills for the region that RDA-NI regularly updates.

As well as assisting employers to fill their vacancies, this program provides population growth, with most visa holders moving into the region, many with their partners and children. Since 2009, over two thousand Skilled Migrants and their Dependents have moved to towns across the region as a result of the program.
As part of this initiative, RDA-NI administers a Skilled Migration Jobs Board for the Northern Inland through Facebook, which connects these visa holders with employers in the region. With over 300 members and growing every day, this board has been successful in connecting employers with workers to fill vacant positions that previously restricted their business’ growth.

You can hear the stories of employers and visa holders that have mutually benefited from this program on RDA-NI’s YouTube Channel including the stories of:

In the third instalment in next month’s newsletter, find out how to access a wealth of regional data, how we are helping people find support for their community, business and infrastructure projects and the range of other services we can provide to realise our region’s potential.

Positive Growth Across the Region

As promised last month, here is some more information on the positive economic and employment growth indicators in the Northern Inland. Thanks to our REMPLAN Economic Data and Modelling software, we can see some great trends across the region over the past 5 to 10 years as demonstrated in the graphs below.

Over the past 10 years, Gross Regional Product (GRP), which is the total value of the final goods and services produced in the region in a year, has increased in nominal terms from around $8.5 billion to just over $12 billion. This growth can largely be attributed to the agriculture/agribusiness, Health Care & Social Assistance, Education & Training, Construction and Mining sectors. No surprises for guessing where the majority of employment growth can be seen. Even over a 5 year period, around 10,000 new jobs have been added across all industry sectors, but note that this figure includes casual and part-time employment, as well as employees who may reside outside the region.

Last but not least, population growth obviously goes hand-in-hand with economic growth and on this front, it’s good news as well. The recently released Estimated Residential Population for the Northern Inland as at 30 June 2017, was 186,337people. The total number of people that were usually resident in the Northern Inland on Census night in 2016 was 181,592 people and in 2011, it was 176,249 people. This represents an increase over a 6 year period of around 5.5% or 10,000 new residents. In upcoming articles, we will look at the age-cohorts driving this population growth, as well as some of the domestic migration figures for people moving into and away from our region.

Find out more about the the economic growth of our region on our website here.

Wanted: Your Opinions on Local Energy Projects

Uralla Shire Resident and University of QLD student Lauren Zell is putting together a unique snapshot of grassroots attitudes towards local energy projects. “I want to know what people think; how they really feel about the energy projects on their doorstep. Completing a short online survey will help to understand local views, for or against our energy projects,” Ms Zell said.

Ms Zell has worked in a regional energy efficiency advisory role for many years and is a Regional Development Australia Northern Inland Committee Member. She is currently undertaking a specialised Masters in Energy at the University of Queensland. The survey will contribute to her thesis, a report and ultimately, greater understanding of public perceptions and attitudes regarding energy projects in the Northern Inland region.

“Hopefully, my report will better inform politicians at all levels, government departments, as well as the proponents of energy projects and impacted communities, in this region and beyond.”

“Within a 250km radius of Uralla, we have wind farms, solar farms, coal seam gas, pumped hydro, bioenergy, coal and proposed large scale battery storage. My Master’s thesis is focused on the “Energy hub” that the Northern Inland region has become. The budding energy industry has already injected hundreds of millions of dollars into the regional economy of the Northern Inland region and the sustainability plusses put us in great stead for the future. However, the likes of aesthetic, environmental and health concerns deserve to be heard and considered,” Ms Zell said.

“You would be pressed to find another region in NSW or even Australia that has such a diversity of energy projects. We have wind farms, solar farms, coal seam gas, pumped hydro, bio-energy, coal and proposed large scale battery storage.

We have great solar insolation, excellent wind, geographic head (height needed for hydro), thermal coal and gas reserves, transmission and distribution and also available grid capacity. We also have decentralised generation sites, at end of line. It all explains why this region is uniquely positioned to be identified as a NSW Government Renewable Energy priority zone.”

“The Northern Inland region is abuzz with energy production. If you live in Tenterfield, Glen Innes, Inverell, Bingara, Guyra, Armidale, Uralla, Walcha, Tamworth, Gunnedah, Quirindi, Narrabri or Moree, you are probably aware of one or two projects near you. We actually have an average of three energy projects for each of these significant urban centres! There are at least 29 energy projects that are publicly proposed, under construction or operating within the area,” Ms Zell said.

Lauren Zell is asking anyone who lives in the above towns or cities to complete a five-minute survey on which energy projects they would prefer to be built in their Local Council Area (LGA), as well as what energy models they would like to see become a priority within their regional community. "It could be local towns with electric vehicles, micro grids or zero net emission towns or LGAs,” she said.

To contribute to this important regional study, go to: www.surveymonkey.com/r/EnergyhubNENW  or find Lauren Zell on Facebook where she will have the link for the survey - look for Lauren Energy Gal Zell.

Local Communities Urged to Seek Their Share of State Government Funding

RDA Northern Inland Chair Russell Stewart is hoping the region’s economy, infrastructure, services and developmental capacities in general will get a State Government boost.

“We need to be proactive to get our fair share of the funding pie from the State Government. Now is the time to learn about funding opportunities and hopefully make the most of them,” Mr Stewart said.

The NSW Government currently has a range of funding opportunities available as part of the $1.3 billion Regional Growth Fund, as well as other programs. These represent important opportunities for the Northern Inland, so a comprehensive summary is listed below:

  • Stronger Country Communities Fund – supports delivery of community amenity and local sport infrastructure projects that improve the quality of life for local residents
  • Growing Local Economies Fund – funding for infrastructure projects that deliver economic growth and productivity in regional NSW which draw on the strengths or potential strengths of each area
  • Regional Sports Infrastructure Fund – funding for regional sports hubs or regionally significant sport facilities
  • Fixing Country Roads – targeted funding to local councils to repair and upgrade regional NSW roads for the efficient and productive movement of freight
  • Fixing Country Rail – funding rail infrastructure enhancement projects that eliminate connectivity constraints for freight on the NSW regional rail network

Bright, Young Minds at Property Planning Field Day

The future of resilient agriculture is in good hands judging by the enthusiasm at the 2018 Northern Tablelands Local Land Services Schools Property Planning Field Day.

Over 140 agriculture students immersed themselves in the 21st annual property planning program on the Glen Innes Agricultural Research and Advisory Station on Wednesday, 2 May. The participants spanned years 9-11 from seven regional schools, learning and gathering information about soils, pastures, biodiversity, biosecurity, water quality, and an understanding of Aboriginal cultural heritage.

Northern Tablelands LLS Farm Planning Officer Kim Deans coordinated the event, and joined the LLS team of experts assisting students on the day. Kim said it was rewarding to see students gaining a practical and holistic understanding of the key components of the natural resource base on farms which underpin profitable and productive agricultural systems.

“For these students to have a future in agriculture they need to understand the value of a healthy resource base and how that connects with production. The intent of the Schools Property Planning program is to help the participating students understand that value and connection,” Kim said.
The field day was the first stage of the program. Students took their new knowledge away to create a profitable, productive and sustainable property plan for the Station which is then submitted as an entry into the Property Planning Competition, with the winners announced in August. In the process students will grow skills to respond to future challenges in their agriculture careers on the land.

The students were keen to get their hands dirty at the field day to boost their understanding of the many aspects of farming.

Harry Scoble from Macintyre High School in Inverell was eager to “Learn more about biosecurity and how it works on farm. Biosecurity is very important for our region because it helps keep some of the diseases that are in other regions out of ours.”

Teachers see enormous value in their students’ involvement in the Schools Property Planning Competition.
“The program asks students to analyse and create answers to problems. It goes across curricula and the students get a great deal of satisfaction out of feeling that their ideas are important enough for farmers to listen to,” said Janet Price, Agriculture teacher at O’Connor Catholic College.

“It gives students the opportunity to see the whole of the farming process and for those students who live on a farm, it encourages them to go back and question what needs to be done better at home.”

RDA-NI is proud to support the Schools Property Planning Field Day along with The University of New England to support the region’s future farmers and agriculture professionals.

Bingara a Role Model with Innovative Tourism Project

A visionary Bingara tourism and cultural project called Big River Dreaming, ‘The Water Weaving Way’ has received $2 million in NSW Government funding. The project aims to increase perception of picturesque Bingara as a visitor destination. Gwydir Shire Council is contributing $700,000 to turn the collaborative plans into reality.

Seeking to enhance Bingara’s prime position on the Gwydir River, the project will integrate the town’s attractive and renowned waterfront, recreational facilities, pool and Aboriginal heritage into one cohesive tourism destination.

The pedestrian pathway and cycleway will connect different elements and sites in the town, from future projects which will educate and promote a sustainable future, to profound aspects of cultural heritage by incorporating the Myall Creek site into the project, which will now be accessible via a cycleway.

Work on the project is underway, with pedestrian and cycle pathways to be ‘weaving’ along the river front and through the town, visiting established sites such as the Living Classroom, Cunnigham Park and the Myall Creek Massacre Memorial Site, as well as taking in new projects and developments.

A new children’s splash park will be built at the pool complex and a new kiosk, which will serve tourists for extended hours, as well as those using the pool.

There will also be a lot of new infrastructure work along the banks of the river to make it even more accessible for people of all ages to jump in to cool off, do a little fishing or to camp.  New projects in the town will include a Wellness and Interpretative Centre, Mountain bike rest stops, better river access and a pontoon to facilitate water sports, and new or improved river trails.

The Water Weaving Way is an holistic approach that will greatly enhance the visitor experience and serves an inspiring blueprint for other Northern Inland communities,” Regional Development Australia Northern Inland Chair Russell Stewart said.

Featured Grants and Funding Opportunities

You can 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.

We have expanded the Grants and Funding Opportunities area of our website to include a full listing of current funding opportunities with more detail than we can fit into the newsletters. The website is updated weekly with new listings, so it is a great resource if you are looking for funding for a specific project.

Featured Business and Infrastructure Grants

Future Makers
Closing date: 18th of May 2018
Value: In kind training and undisclosed cash amount, total grant pool of $300,000
Run By: Optus

Future Makers is a capacity building and accelerator program that empowers innovators to use technology to address social issues for vulnerable people. They are looking for entrepreneurs with more than just ideas, but with a working prototype solution. Join other energetic innovators to enhance your business, social impact and tech expertise, network and pitch for funding to help see your solution become a reality.
Shortlisted applicants will take part in a 4-month Future Makers Accelerator program that aims to advance their technology solution and build their business, social impact and tech expertise. Future Makers includes eight days of workshops and a short series of webinars on topics such as Your Vision, technology, knowing your customer, the art of storytelling, marketing strategies, how to secure corporate and investor funding, managing stakeholders, project planning, financial modelling and measuring your impact.

Participants will be coached by top talent at Optus and receive technology guidance and insights from industry experts. There will be an opportunity for participants to polish their business case and perfect their pitch before presenting to a panel of judges representing different sectors.

Optus is offering up to $300,000 in funding over two stages: technology grants and pitch grants. As part of the Singtel Group, there is an opportunity to progress to stage 3 of the program.

Tradex Scheme
Closes: Ongoing
Value: Varies based on the the goods imported
Run By: The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science

The Tradex Scheme provides an upfront exemption from Customs duty and GST for eligible goods imported to Australia that are then exported within one year or other approved period. This provides a cash-flow benefit to the importer.

The goods may be:

  • exported in the same condition as imported
  • processed or treated then exported, or
  • incorporated in other goods which are exported.

Export may be carried out by the importer or a third party. The goods must be exported within one year although approval can be sought to extend this period.

The Tradex Scheme is an alternative to the duty drawback arrangements under the Customs Act 1901. Duty drawback allows the importer to claim back Customs duty paid on goods that are then exported.

Featured Community Grants

Heywire Grants
Closing date: 14th of May 2018
Value: Up to $10,000
Run By: Foundation of Rurual and Regional Renewal

Heywire engages rural youth in the national conversation and each year, the Heywire Competition winners attend the Heywire Regional Youth Summit to develop ideas and practical solutions to improve regional Australia for young people.

Community organisations are invited to apply for grants of up to $10,000 from the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) to assist not-for-profit community-based organisations in rural, regional and remote Australia adopt and act on one of the seven innovative Heywire project ideas. The communities selected to pilot the programs will implement their projects in the next 12 months from September 2018.

The seven ideas from 2017 are:

  • C2C Connecting to Culture – how can we bring generations together to celebrate Indigenous culture?
  • Bridging AgriCulture – how can we connect new Australians with agriculture?
  • HOPE – how can we make schools a place where it's ok to talk about mental health?
  • Taking Control – how can we teach young people the difference between a healthy relationship and an unhealthy one?
  • Yeah the Boys – how can we support boys to stay away from drugs?
  • MediFriends – how can we bring medical professionals and their communities together?
  • Step Up – how can we inspire disengaged young people to take the first step on their journey to success?

Impact Investment Ready - Growth Grant
Round Closes: 14th of May 2018
Value: Up to $100,000

The Impact Investment Ready Growth Grant – previously the Impact Investment Readiness Fund - provides capacity building grants of up to $100,000 to mission-driven for-profit and not-for-profit organisations, allowing them to secure investment capital to scale their social or environmental impact.

Many mission-driven organisations in Australia have the potential to scale and increase their impact, but need investment in the form of equity and/or debt to do so and raising capital can be challenging and often intimidating. Support from capacity building intermediaries can be invaluable at this stage - for instance to build the financial model, get the legal structuring of the organisation right, develop the Information Memorandum, and engage with potential investors.

However, paying for such support can be a challenge in itself. This is where the Growth Grant comes in. They provide grants to mission-driven organisations to pay for the capacity building support needed to raise capital and fast-track their growth and scale of impact.

What's On in the Northern Inland

Ebor Art Exhibition and Sale
Each Sunday in May
Ebor

Royal Flying Doctors: 90th Air Pilgrimage
Wednesday 9th to Thursday 10th of May
Moree

Star Gazing with Chris
Friday 11th of May
Walcha

Silver Service Morning Tea and Mother’s Day art Exhibition
Friday 11th of May
Narrabri

Wee Waa Nurraby Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea
Friday 11th of May
Wee Waa

Moree On A Plate Festival
Saturday 12th of May
Moree

Carnivale
Saturday 12th of May
Armidale

Rotary Book Fair
Saturday 12th to Saturday 19th of May 2018
Armidale

Northwest Regional Careers Expo
Wednesday 16th of May
Tamworth

Currabubula Red Cross and Small Schools Art Show
Thursday 17th to Sunday 20th of May
Currabubula

Wee Waa Show
Friday 18th of May
Wee Waa

NDCAS National Families Week
Friday 18th of May
Narrabri

St Francis Xaviers P & F Association's Movie on the Oval
Friday 18th of May
Narrabri

2018 Wheelchair Rugby League Festival
Friday 18th to Sunday 20th of May
Tamworth

Fire & Rescue NSW Open Day
Saturday 19th of May
All stations in the region

National Volunteers Week
Monday 21st to Sunday 27th of May
Quirindi

Upper Horton Trail Ride 2018
Saturday 26 to Sunday 27th of May
Upper Horton

Reconciliation Bridge Walk
Sunday 27th of May
Armidale

2018 NCHA Futurity
Monday 28th of May
Tamworth

Liverpool Plains Reconciliation and Retaining Local Youth Ride
Saturday 2nd of June
Quirindi

Fabric and Fibre Expo
Saturday 2nd of June
Narrabri

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