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November 2016 Newsletter

In this Issue:

Dear Northern Inlanders,

Welcome to another edition of our monthly newsletter. It’s certainly been another jam-packed month. Last Friday we held our 9th annual Northern Inland Innovation Awards, attended by over 125 innovators in Inverell on November 18th. Every year, we discover new stories of innovation in this region and again this year, I’ve been stunned by them. People are doing amazing things here in the Northern Inland and you can read more about them below.

This month also sees the announcement of two important grant programs from both the Australian and NSW State Governments. At the State level we have the launch of the Regional Jobs Now Programme and at the Federal level, the Building Better Regions Fund. Find out more about both of these below.


Russell Stewart

Regional Awards Recognise Inspiring Innovators

RDA Northern Inland Chair Russell Stewart with 2016 Innovation of the Year winners, Renee and Craig Neale and Mathew Jensen of Wholegrain Milling Company, Gunnedah
RDA Northern Inland Chair Russell Stewart with 2016 Innovation of the Year winners, Renee and Craig Neale and Mathew Jensen of Wholegrain Milling Company, Gunnedah

The gala awards dinner was held at the Inverell RSM Club on Friday night, 18 November, 2016. A diverse range of businesses and organisations, including seven Local Councils from across the region were represented. The 125 attendees saw videos and heard the stories of the award-winning innovators, with the overall RDANI Innovation of the Year Award going to Wholegrain Milling Company of Gunnedah, which also won the Australian Government’s Department of Industry, Innovation and Science “Manufacturing and Engineering” category.

Wholegrain Milling’s Craig Neale said their ground-breaking Certified Sustainable Food System has been five years in development. The traceable, chemical-free product appeals to conscientious consumers and is priced between conventional and “Certified Organic” grain products. “We’re very satisfied with our rate of growth as a result. We’re finding that consumers are receiving it very well and demand is growing at a rate that we’re struggling to keep up with,” he said. The success of the Certified Sustainable label has meant more employment and increased export markets.

The Inverell Shire Council “Agriculture/Horticulture and Associated Services” category was won by the Best Food Garden, Inverell. The Finalists were GJ & MJ Manvell (SSS BBQ Barns) of Tamworth and UWE’s Currabubula Station. A Highly Commended Award went to Narrabri’s Graeme Rapp.

The Prime Super “Health, Aged-Care and Disability Services” category was won by Camp Quality. Finalists were Youth Insearch and Challenge Community Services of Tamworth. A Highly Commended award went to Rebloom Flower Recyclers of Tamworth.

The Telstra Store Inverell “Retail, Tourism and Leisure” category was won by the New England High Country Councils. Finalists were Narrabri’s Why Leave Town Promotions and The Ashford Salami Festival. A Highly Commended award went to Blackart Welding of Deepwater.

The University of New England “Professional and Government Services” category was won by Tamworth Regional Council. Finalists were Horsanity and Uralla Shire Council. A Highly Commended award went to Regional Finance Solutions, Inverell.

The Australian Government’s Department of Industry, Innovation and Science "Manufacturing and Engineering" category finalists were Weir Built of Glen Innes and Australian Recycled Plastics, Narrabri. Bethel Farm Mill of Bingara was highly commended.

The White Rock Wind Farm “Research and Education” category was won by Macintyre High School, Inverell. Finalists were Z-Net Uralla and HealthWise New England North West. A Highly Commended award went to the TAFE NSW Transport and Logistics Industry Liaison Unit.

Nationals Senator John Williams presented the Community Contribution Award to the Namoi CWA.

The guest speaker was the 2015 Innovation of the Year Winner, Lively Linseed's Jacqueline Donoghue.
Videos about the award recipients will go on the www.niia.com.au website, Facebook and YouTube shortly.
Details of the Finalists and Winners can be found at the end of this Newsletter.

Building Better Regions Fund Announced

On 23 November 2016 the Australian Government announced the release of the program guidelines for the new Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF). The BBRF will invest $297.7 million over four years in infrastructure projects and community investments to create jobs, drive economic growth and build stronger regional communities into the future.

Minister for Regional Development Fiona Nash said there were some key differences between the new Building Better Regions Fund and previous funds. “Projects in major capital cities will not be eligible under the Building Better Regions guidelines. This is a Fund for rural, regional and remote communities.

“A brand new source of funding will be available for community projects – a Community Investments Stream. I realise regional Australia is made of more than bricks, mortar, roads and bridges. The Community Investments Stream might help expand a local festival, attract a theatre production or major sporting event to the region to bring more visitors to the town, or it might be leadership or business training for young locals.

“A new social benefit criteria will allow applicants to show how their project will make their region a more attractive place to live, or improve community connections for example, rather than being encouraged to list as many local ills as possible.

“Projects in remote and very remote areas will receive a loading on their project score, and also will not need to produce 1:1 matching funding. The Government will provide up to 75 per cent of the investment for remote and very remote projects.

“Also, projects will now be assessed against projects of similar size, so small community projects are not competing against huge projects worth tens of millions, for example.”

Grants are available through two funding streams:

The Infrastructure Projects Stream will support projects which involve the construction of new infrastructure, or the upgrade or extension of existing infrastructure that provide economic and social benefits to regional and remote areas.

Grants under this stream must be at least $20,000 and up to a maximum of $10 million, with the project needing to commence within 12 weeks of executing the grant agreement and be completed by the 31st of December 2019. Applications open on the 18th of January 2017 and close on the 28th of February 2017.

Further details can be found on the department’s website at: www.business.gov.au/Assistance/Building-Better-Regions-Fund/Building-Better-Regions-Fund-Infrastructure-Projects

The Community Investments Stream will fund community building activities including, but not limited to, new or expanded local events, strategic regional plans, and leadership and capability building activities.

These projects will deliver economic and social benefits to regional and remote communities.

The minimum grant amount under this stream is $5,000 and while there is no maximum grant limit, although most grants are expected to be under $100,000 and the project needs to be completed within 12 months of entering into a grant agreement. Applications open on the 18th of January 2017 and close on the 31st of March 2017.

Further details can be found on the department’s website at: www.business.gov.au/Assistance/Building-Better-Regions-Fund/Building-Better-Regions-Fund-Community-Investments

If you have questions about this grant program, go to www.business.gov.au/bbrf and get in touch with us here at RDA Northern Inland on 6771 0700.

Regional Jobs Now Portfolio to Fund New Jobs In Regional and Rural NSW

As part of its Jobs for NSW initiative, the NSW Government has launched performance based grants for regional businesses to encourage growth and create jobs.

Regional Solutions is a performance-based grant within the Regional Jobs Now portfolio specifically designed to create jobs in regional and rural NSW. The pilot program will run as a competitive process with applicants initially submitting an Expression of Interest form for all the products in the Regional Jobs Now portfolio.

If you’re a regional NSW business and you are planning to create a minimum of 10 full-time jobs within two years of your project commencement date; you may be eligible for a grant of up to 50% of the total project costs. More details at the Expression of Interest link below.

Applications are now open and close Friday 9 December 2016. Interested businesses can complete an online Expression of Interest form on the Jobs for NSW website.

New TAFE NSW Digital Headquarters to be Housed in Armidale

John Black - Managing Director TAFE NSW, Adam Marshall MP - Member for Northern Tablelands, Megan Aitkin - General Manager TAFE Digital, Lyn Rickard - Head of Education TAFE NSW and Deputy Premier John Barilaro - Minister for Skills
John Black - Managing Director TAFE NSW, Adam Marshall MP - Member for Northern Tablelands, Megan Aitkin - General Manager TAFE Digital, Lyn Rickard - Head of Education TAFE NSW and Deputy Premier John Barilaro - Minister for Skills

Armidale has been chosen as the home of the new headquarters for TAFE NSW Digital, providing state-of-the-art learning experiences for TAFE NSW students across the State.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Skills, John Barilaro, and Member for the Northern Tablelands, Adam Marshall, made the announcement today at TAFE NSW Armidale campus, proving that technology can trump the tyranny of distance when it comes to digital jobs and learning.

TAFE NSW Digital will be responsible for developing digital, world-leading content for use throughout TAFE NSW’s footprint.

“The amount of students taking up online learning with TAFE NSW continues to grow and we are focusing our resources on meeting the demands of students,” Mr Barilaro said.

“Students now want convenient and accessible training anywhere, anytime – it could be face-to-face, online, in the workplace, or a blend of all three.”

Member for the Northern Tablelands, Adam Marshall, said he was excited that Armidale has been identified as the site for the new TAFE NSW Digital headquarters which will bring up to 40 new local jobs.

“Armidale will become a central edu-tech hub with streamlined course content development, innovative and compatible opportunities for local Industries, and local partnerships with businesses in the region,” Mr Marshall said.

“The region already has an impressive reputation for its educational facilities, and the addition of the new TAFE NSW Digital headquarters is great news for the future of Armidale.”

The Deputy Premier and Managing Director for TAFE NSW Jon Black also announced the appointment of Megan Aitken as General Manager for the TAFE NSW Digital headquarters.

The creation of TAFE Digital marks an important milestone in the One TAFE reforms which will see TAFE NSW become more efficient, modern and build on its well-recognised and respected reputation for delivering job-ready graduates.

Seeking Your Feedback on NSW’s Environmental Future

The NSW Government has released a new NSW Climate Change Policy Framework. This policy provides important context for the government’s approach to climate change. It sets two aspirational objectives:

  • achieving net zero emissions by 2050
  • NSW being more resilient to a changing climate

The government has also announced a $500 million funding package and released two draft climate change and energy savings plans for public consultation.

Draft Climate Change Fund Strategic Plan (PDF 2.9MB)
A Draft Plan to Save NSW Energy and Money (PDF 705KB)

The NSW Government is seeking feedback on their plans. Feedback submissions will be received until Friday 16th December, 2016. Details on the submission process can be found here.

For more details on the funding opportunities, the new policy and consultation process, a webinar will be held on 1 December 2016, 11am-12.30pm. You can register here.

Find out more at the Adapt NSW website: http://climatechange.environment.nsw.gov.au/

Grants and Funding Opportunities

The following is a small portion of the Grants and Funding opportunities available around the region. An extended collection can be found in our recently created ‘Grants Newsletter’, which comes out mid-month, every month.

Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Training Provider Grants
Closes 5 December
Up to $100,000
Available to business training organisations in support of increasing understanding of Free Trade Agreements with China, Japan and Korea.

Regional Solutions Pilot Program
Closes 9th December
Up to 50% of project costs
Available to businesses based in regional NSW who plan to create 10 fulltime jobs within the next two years.

Volunteer Grants Program
Closes 20th December
Up to $5,000
Available to organisations and community groups to support their volunteers.

RAS Foundation VET Scholarships
Closes 12th February 2017
Up to $5,000
Available to support individuals in NSW who demonstrate a passion for rural life and commitment for any career that will ensure the future success of rural and regional NSW.

Social Enterprise Development and Investment Funds (SEDIF)
Amount Undisclosed
Available to social enterprises to help them grow their business and impact more people with the result of their work.

Innovation Connections
Up to $50,000
Available to businesses to connect them with an Innovation Facilitator to help identify knowledge gaps and opportunities to grow their business

What’s On in the Northern Inland

Carols By Candlelight - Around the Region
Happy Holidays to everyone around the region this December. Here’s a roundup of all the Carols By Candlelight events around the region. Click the link for more details.

Inverell Town Hall, Inverell - December 2
Wolseley Park, Gunnedah - December 2
Alma Park, Uralla - December 7
Ron Harborne Oval, Moree - December 7
Booloominbah, UNE, Armidale - December 10
Crossing Theatre, Narrabri - December 10
Heritage Village, Quirindi - December 11
Rotunda, Central Park, Armidale - December 14
North Tamworth Bears Oval, Tamworth - December 16
Bingara MPS Grounds, Bingara - December 18

About the Finalists and Winners from the 2016 Northern Inland Innovation Awards

Agriculture, Horticulture and Associated Services

Best Food Garden, Inverell (Category Winner)
The BEST Food Garden has grown into a productive 2-hectare food bowl. Twenty partner organisations use it to provide a rewarding learning environment to disabled and long-term unemployed. The home-grown produce goes to over 100 low income elderly pensioners and Aboriginal Elders throughout Glen Innes, Inverell, Tingha and Moree.

GJ & MJ Manvell, of Tamworth (Finalist)
The Manvell’s SSS BBQ Barns are able to offer extraordinary culinary specials, thanks to a unique paddock to plate innovation. Their local produce includes free range & pasture raised young Buffalo, boar goat, Saddleback & Berkshire Baby Pigs, Middle Eastern Dalmara Sheep, Herbs, pasture raised French Marans Chocolate coloured eggs, Draught Ginger Beer & Wines. From farm to restaurant, there’s an innovative level of traceability, sustainability and distinction.

UWE’s Currabubula Station (Finalist)
Breeding and producing premium Angus beef cattle, UWE’s Currabubula Station has implemented tracking technologies that provide live-time feedback on the cattle’s individual locations, weight gain from the date of tagging to slaughter. The data is uploaded to the cloud where it is easily accessible on any device including a phone app. The next step will cost-effectively deliver comprehensive data of individual animals over their lifetime, for buyers and end-consumers.

Graeme Rapp (Highly Commended)
Graeme Rapp, with his team at the Institute, are currently researching the optimisation of Indian Mustard crops to provide the building blocks of new industrial products, and grow alternative markets in North West NSW. Indian Mustard is a hardy, drought resistant species that also provides disease suppression in cereal crops. Potential industrial products from Indian Mustard include fuels, lubricants, bio-plastics, pharmaceuticals, food products, and biological fertilizers. Graeme’s research aims to establish new markets for a crop of high environmental, but relatively low market value. This potential growth in north-western NSW would have a flow on effect to other rotational species, like wheat and barley, due to Indian Mustard’s biofumigation properties.

Manufacturing and Engineering

Wholegrain Milling Company, of Gunnedah (Category and Innovation of the Year Winners)
Wholegrain Milling Company of Gunnedah uses state-of-the-art stone mill and roller mill technologies. Vertically integrated, they farm, process, package and distribute. The ground-breaking innovation is their Certified Sustainable Food System. The traceable, chemical-free product appeals to conscientious consumers, without the costs and limitations of “Certified Organic” grain products.

Weir Built, of Glen Innes (Finalist)
Long-established in steel manufacturing, the crane industry, motor vehicle body repair and earth moving equipment, Weir Built has engineered a revolutionary modular timber laminate bridge replacement option that is well under half the cost of a concrete bridge, yet has the same load bearing capacity. Designed for Glen Innes Severn Council, this innovation has far-reaching potential.

Australian Recycled Plastics, of Narrabri (Finalist)
Nationally unique, Australian Recycled Plastics is a manufacturing operation than can process kerbside collected 442 plastics to produce PET and HDPE flake. Its’ capacities are rare and innovative on a global level and it is proudly located just out of Narrabri. Employing 40 locals, it is a sustainable enterprise that is boosting the sustainability of the local economy and environment.

Bethel Farm Mill (Highly Commended)
Specialising in dry-mix food primarily from pulses, Bethel Farm Mill, is the only company in Australia making vege-burger, cake, and biscuit products from bean flour. Also, their falafel spicy mix is the only one on the Australian market. They have spent the last 12 months developing healthy cakes and biscuit mixes. Thanks to the bean flour, they are also light, tasty, and an excellent substitute for gluten free diets. The use of pulses make all of their offerings extremely healthy, and a viable alternative for gluten free requirements. Most gluten substitutes are high on starch and low on fibre, however their pulse based foods are the opposite; making them a fantastic addition to almost any meal plan.

Health, Aged-care and Disability Services

Camp Quality (Category Winner)
Camp quality takes the innovative approach that for optimum quality of life for kids with cancer, outside of clinical treatment, laughter is the best medicine. Local volunteers plan, organise and run creative fundraising initiatives to help cover the costs of getting seriously ill children to seriously fun camps. Camp Quality has now developed the “Offspring” program to assist children who have a parent with cancer, with a Kids Guide to Cancer App, Education Programs and Family Experiences.

Challenge Community Services, Tamworth (Finalist)
Challenge Community Services’ Challenge Connexions program empowers people with a disability between the ages of 18 to 35. It’s a modern alternative to traditional day programs for higher-functioning and more able bodied young adults with a disability. Participation is self-determined but supported by dedicated staff. The Connexions Community Centre and Café in Tamworth currently employs two participants as trainees while they complete their Certificate II in Hospitality. Activities include playing in a netball competition, driving lessons, group holidays and event excursions. Individual goals drive skill and personal development.

Youth InSearch (Finalist)
At Youth Insearch workshop camps throughout the region, up to 15 volunteering adults seek to empower around sixty 14 to 20 year-olds to deal with the issues that are adversely affecting their lives and address their negative behaviours. The innovation explores why they are using drugs or alcohol, being involved in anti-social behaviour, committing crimes and lacking the motivation to obtain employment or continue their education.  Following the workshops, weekly support groups continue the process of positive change. The results have been inspiring.

Rebloom Flower Recyclers (Highly Commended)
The founders of this non-profit organisation keep hearing ‘Why hasn’t anyone done this before?’ and it’s for good reason! This meaningful community service accepts donations of flowers after an event or function, then re-packages and re-purposes them, for people in need. Flower donations are distributed around aged care facilities, hospitals and other organisations; creating an innovative use for flowers headed for the rubbish pile. Donors can select where their flowers are sent, or they can leave it up to the wonderful women at Rebloom Flower Recyclers. A simple innovation can make somebody’s day.

Professional and Government Services

Tamworth Regional Council (Category Winner)
The Tamworth Community Playground is a social inclusion achievement. Funded through a council site sale, grants and business contributions, it is innovatively sustainable, comprehensive and fun for all ages. Clever design has created a facility that is fun and much more.

Horsanity (Finalist)
Horsanity is a professional service that innovatively uses horses in workshops for personal and team development. The introduction of horses to the coaching of leadership and team skills is innovative, emotionally and mentally engaging and has been effective in the Northern Inland region.

Uralla Shire Council (Finalist)
Uralla Shire Council’s Main Street Access Project supported local businesses in improving their accessibility. A training program was developed, as was a Mobility Map and branded shop-front signage promoting access options. The Map is in hardcopy or can be accessed digitally via a Q-R code on Access Friendly Stickers adorning main street buildings.

Regional Finance Solutions (Highly Commended)
This cutting edge financial services firm has created specialised software and systems; ensuring service and relationships are at the forefront of their business. Information is stored centrally, allowing lending specialists to consult with clients in their homes after hours. All the information is at their fingertips and, in most cases, decisions can be made in hours instead of weeks, reducing the anxiety of borrowers and lenders alike. As an added bonus, the firm employs mature staff with an average age of 50; who are learning that laptops aren’t just for their grandchildren.

Research and Education

Macintyre High School, Inverell (Category Winner)
Macintyre High School recognised that some students are not academically inclined and become disengaged but must reluctantly remain in school until they are 17. A flexible curriculum approach and programs that keep those students engaged with practical, rural career–orientated training have been successful.

HealthWise New England North West (Finalist)
The HealthWISE New England North West “Sounds good to me” Program aims to improve education, which reduces poverty and improves health. It trains Early Childhood Educators and teachers to include listening, book awareness and phonological awareness activities in their school readiness programs. It includes training workshops, a resource pack with tools, links, Apps and resources needed to run the program in an early childhood centre or school. The program’s development was grant funded but now fees ensure it is sustainable.

Z-Net Uralla (Finalist)
Community volunteers are integral to the innovative Zero Net Energy Town Uralla (Z-NET Uralla) project. They are working to reduce energy use at the same rate that they aim to increase renewable power generation – 30 percent over five years. Resources have been developed and innovative approaches undertaken to assist home owners, renters and business owners, looking at practical areas like curtains and refrigeration.

The TAFE NSW, Transport and Logistics Industry Liaison Unit (Highly Commended)
The Unit has created a modern suite of training products to attract young people to the transport industry, and encourage growth for the sector. Their training products exceed current industry offerings, as well as creating new qualifications for students. Opportunities have been generated for both trainees and businesses thanks to streamlined processes for education and training. The Unit has enjoyed engagement from over 300 industry representatives nation-wide in support of its new approach and training products.

Retail, tourism and leisure

New England High Country Councils (Category Winner)
The New England High Country Councils of Walcha, Uralla, Armidale Regional, Glen Innes Severn, Tenterfield and Inverell innovatively collaborated to produce the My Favourite Corner Motor Cycling Campaign. This tourism effort is innovative in its focus, targeting recreational and touring motor cyclists with specialised magazine features and videos.

The Ashford Salami Festival (Finalist)
The Ashford Salami Festival delivered big positives to a small town affected by socio-economic negatives. The Festival celebrates the Italian culture that was strong in the area when the tobacco industry was. The event achieved brand awareness for the local organising company, 2 Rivers, together with event management and social media promotion experience. Over 2,000 people were entertained and their taste buds satisfied.

Why Leave Town Promotions, Narrabri (Finalist)
This initiative from Narrabri continues to innovate. From a town-based EFTPOS gift card that encourage shoppers to buy local, the team has expanded the program to facilitate charity fundraising with That Fundraising Card. It can only be redeemed in those sponsoring businesses that have donated to the fundraiser, improving business benefits.

Blackart Welding (Highly Commended)
Specialising in handcrafted unique metal artwork, Blackart Welding, makes people think outside the box for gifts and memorials. There are no computers in these designs, everything is created by hand with the scars to prove it. From garden screens to metal firepits, wall art through to property signs and beyond, this innovative artwork not only makes people smile but can serve a purpose.

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