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November 2020 Newsletter

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In this Issue

Welcome from the Chair

Russell Stewart - Chair

Dear Northern Inlanders,

Early this month I welcomed the confirmation from the Australian Government that RDA-NI will continue to receive funding to support the economic development of the Northern Inland region for another 4.5 years. This extension of the Australian Government support not only recognises the hard work by our Committee and Staff, but also the importance of regional economies like ours to the nation.

I was also pleased that our Committee was able to hold our first face-to-face meeting for 2020 in Moree this month. This provided us with the opportunity to meet with Mark Coulton, Federal Member for Parkes, and Mark Connolly, Economic Development Manager for Moree Plains Shire Council, to discuss the issues facing the Moree community and the plans to help this fantastic community prosper in the future.

The commencement of construction of the Narrabri to North Star section of the Inland Rail also signals the start of new opportunities for our region. The economic stimulus from construction and access to the railway line will encourage new industries into our region and help our existing businesses grow, in turn providing jobs and economic benefits to our communities.


Russell Stewart

The Australian Government Recommits to RDA-NI

The Australian Government recognises and commends the important ongoing work of the Regional Development Australia Network (RDA) in driving economic development and growth across regional Australia. 

Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories, the Hon Nola Marino MP, today announced the Australian Government’s recommitment to the RDA Network, including RDA-NI under a new 4.5 year funding agreement and refreshed Charter.

“RDA-NI will continue to play an important role supporting the economic recovery of the region as it emerges from COVID-19 and recent bushfire/drought crises. RDAs are a highly valued and respected network of volunteers and staff who drive economic development in our regions and provide critical intelligence back to the Australian Government about key issues impacting local communities’, Mrs Marino said.

The Network involves 52 RDAs across Australia, including the Indian Ocean Territories and Norfolk Island. RDAs work with all levels of government, business and community groups to support economic and workforce development, local procurement, strategic regional planning and to inform programs and infrastructure investments.

RDA Committees are made up of passionate and dedicated local leaders with a broad range of experience, including from local government, business, community and the not-for-profit sectors.

A refreshed RDA Charter will emphasise greater alignment across all levels of government and regional planning that identifies and advocates strategic long-term investment priorities.

Australia’s regions are diverse, although they also face many similar challenges. RDAs network, share information, and collaborate across the country to develop innovations and solutions that can be adapted across the country.

The Government’s to regions will be further enhanced by redirecting the role of metropolitan RDAs in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth to focus on working with regional RDAs in their state to identify and connect their regions with decentralisation and economic development opportunities coming out of the capital cities.

Regional Australia and RDA Committees will play an important role in revitalising Australia’s economy as we emerge from COVID-19. The new funding agreement and revised Charter will provide a strong basis for this work.

For more information on the RDA program please go to www.rda.gov.au

RDA-NI Committee Meets in Moree

Each quarter our Committee and staff gather in a Northern Inland community for our Committee meeting. These meetings are held around the region to visit our communities and to meet with community representatives. Unfortunately, due the pandemic our meetings this year have been held online, so we were pleased to be able to hold our first face-to-face meeting for 2020 in Moree yesterday.

While our Committee and staff meet regularly with community stakeholders and are in constant discussion about the development of our region, our Committee meetings provide an important opportunity for in-depth discussion about the opportunities for our region’s growth and possible solutions to address issues being faced. During the meeting we discussed a range of topics including the economic recovery of the region from the drought, bushfires and COVID-19, youth employment, the skilled migration program, skill shortages, and the development of industries in our region.

We were pleased to have the opportunity to discuss the issues and opportunities for the western side of our region with the Federal Member for Parkes, The Hon. Mark Coulton MP. Mark provided us with key insights to the needs of the Parkes electorate, which includes the Northern Inland Local Government Areas of Moree Plains, Gwydir, Narrabri and Gunnedah. We are looking forward to working closely with Mark in the future to develop opportunities for the region.

We were also pleased to meet with Mark Connolly, the Economic Development Manager for Moree Plains Shire Council. Mark provided us with an update on the economy of the Moree Plains, including the opportunities arising from the Moree Special Activation Precinct and Inland Rail, which will provide a unique opportunity to attract new businesses and industry to Moree, and will have positive impacts for not only Moree, but the Northern Inland region as a whole. We are grateful for the close relationship we have had with Mark and Moree Plains Shire Council over the last ten years and look forward to continuing this relationship into the future.

We would like to thank the management and staff of the Maslina Bar and Grill who provided us with the venue and catering for our meeting. Our next Committee meeting is currently scheduled to be held in February 2021, and we are looking forward to visiting another of the great communities in our region.

Skilled Migration Update from NSW Treasury

The NSW Government’s limited number of interim nomination places for the 2020–21 financial year have been exhausted.
We are currently awaiting confirmation of an additional allocation of places from the Home Affairs for the remainder of the financial year.

Regional Development Australia (RDA) offices will shortly commence assisting NSW Treasury managing applications for NSW nominations for the subclass 491 visa once the additional allocation has been confirmed. Under this new arrangement, each RDA will be responsible for setting their own eligible skilled occupations for nomination (within DoHA and NSW Treasury guidelines) and accepting and assessing nomination applications.

Information on applying for nomination through participating RDAs, including eligible skilled occupations, will be made available on their respective websites once allocations have been confirmed.

Nomination Criteria for a 491 visa in NSW will remain consistent across all regions and can be found on the Skilled Work Regional Visa page of our website. Individual RDAs may have some Additional Criteria requirements for some occupations, please check with the individual RDA website before submitting an application.

Please note that as a result of COVID-19 and significant reductions in Australia’s Migration Program Planning Levels, the chances of being nominated are currently low and you must meet the published nomination criteria to apply.

RDAs are unable to provide further details on opening dates for the receipt of applications, eligible skilled occupation lists or ‘how to apply’ processes until the allocation has been finalised. Please monitor the RDA websites for further updates.

Closing Date Extended for Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund

Businesses and communities in bushfire impacted regions will now have more time to prepare and apply for grants under the $250 million Bushfire Local Economic Recovery (BLER) fund open round, which is co-funded by the NSW and Australian governments.

Australian Minister for Emergency Management, David Littleproud and NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro today announced a new deadline for applications of 28 January 2021.

Mr Littleproud said that the Commonwealth was committed to ensuring that as many communities and businesses as possible could access Local Economic Recovery support. “Our national approach to Local Economic Recovery funding is about assisting communities to lead their own recovery, with governments and local partners funding projects that will make a real difference locally,”.

“I encourage fire affected communities in New South Wales to get together and consider what their community needs to boost their economy, their wellbeing and their recovery, and I look forward to seeing what people come up with and the benefits that will flow long-term.”

Mr Barilaro said an additional 12 months has also been provided for successful applicants to deliver their BLER projects, with all projects now to be completed by June 2023.

“As communities focus on rebuilding, the last thing they need is to come up against bureaucratic red tape so we are working with communities and councils in bushfire impacted areas to support them during this period,” Mr Barilaro said. “We know we need to work with people not against them, and we have heard communities loud and clear. Communities and businesses are still working to re-establish themselves, and for many, it is going to be some time before that is a possibility.

“By extending the BLER deadline we are giving bushfire affected communities the opportunity to plan, develop and deliver the best proposals for projects that will support the social and economic recovery of these regions, and create vital jobs now and into the future.”

Grants of between $200,000 and $20 million will be available for projects in nine of the Northern Inland Local Government Areas such as:

  • Local community and cultural infrastructure
  • Tourism campaigns (including digital product development) and regional events
  • Workforce adaptation and work ready training programs
  • Community wellbeing and mental health programs
  • Tourism infrastructure including walking and mountain bike trails
  • Neighbourhood safer places

Further information is available on the NSW Government website.

Construction on the Inland Rail Begins in the Northern Inland

Construction of the Inland Rail has commenced in the Northern Inland, with The Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Minister Michael McCormack and Member for Parkes, Mark Coulton turning the first sod of soil in Moree.

Narrabri to North Star (N2NS) is the second section of the 1,700 kilometre Melbourne to Brisbane freight line. This section is expected to support more than 500 direct jobs from the contractor, along with many others for sub-contractors and businesses in the region, providing a much needed economic stimulus to the region.

“It seems like just yesterday I turned the first sod on Inland Rail in Parkes and today we celebrate another momentous occasion with the commencement of the second section between Narrabri to North Star, an equally significant event,” Mr McCormack said. “This year we completed the first section of Inland Rail between Parkes and Narromine, which has enhanced the connectivity of the national network, joining the east-west Perth line to the north and south spine.”

Mr McCormack said regional Australians were benefiting now, when they need it most, from the record-breaking investment the Australian Government is making into infrastructure – including Inland Rail – right across the nation.

“The $693.8 million construction effort on Narrabri and North Star brings immediate stimulus to the regional communities of Narrabri, Bellata, Moree, Croppa Creek and North Star and those townships in between,” Mr McCormack said.

“In real terms, it means more money spent locally, more money spent with local, regional and Australian businesses at the same time as building an asset that will benefit our nation for generations. As we build Inland Rail, we lay the track for supply chain efficiencies that will boost the national economy.”

Local Member for Parkes and Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government, Mark Coulton said today’s milestone in Moree at the heart of the Narrabri to North Star section showed Inland Rail was on track for all the right reasons.

“Inland Rail is one of the main reasons I got into politics, so today’s sod turn is a very proud moment for me, and a key achievement for the Australian Government,” Minister Coulton said. "It’s a project that will open up eastern Australia for business and allow farmers to get their products to domestic and international markets, which is welcome news for the councils in North West NSW that represent a region rich in agriculture.”

“Inland Rail is necessary to meet Australia’s growing freight transport task for the next 50 years, and all levels of government are working together to leverage the long-term benefits of Inland Rail to attract new businesses to regional Australia.

“From the special activation precinct in Moree to Narrabri’s Inland Port, private businesses and industry are setting up shop because they can see the long-term growth Inland Rail is bringing to these regional communities.”

The contractor for the Narrabri to North Star section of the rail, Trans4m Rail, is holding information sessions at North Star, Moree and Narrabri as well as online to allow community members to learn more about regional employment and supply opportunities. These sessions will be held in November and December and details can be found Inland Rail events listing.

$250M of Funding to Encourage Business into NSW

This month the NSW Government announced the new $250 Million Jobs Plus Program that will be part of the 2020-21 NSW Budget. The program is anticipated to create or support up to 25,000 jobs and will run from the 15th of December 2020 to the 30th of June 2022.

This program aims to encourage domestic and international business to establish or grow in NSW through a range of measures, including up to four years of Payroll Tax relief. To be eligible for the program, businesses will need to create at least 30 new net jobs.

The available support will include:

  • payroll tax relief, up to a four-year period, for every new job created where a business has created at least 30 new net jobs.
  • assistance with the NSW planning system, including fast-tracked planning approval pathways and advice, plus guidance on appropriate site selection to increase speed to market.
  • partnering to develop subsidised training programs in order to build specialised skills aimed at sustaining these new jobs into the future. This includes funding to develop and deliver bespoke skills programs which can be accessed by the wider NSW community
  • providing enabling infrastructure such as building local roads, access to utilities and future-proofed digital infrastructure.
  • access to a one-stop-shop Jobs Plus Concierge Service in government to help businesses efficiently navigate and access government agencies and programs.
  • access to free or subsidised government spaces and accommodation.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the new program would create or support up to 25,000 jobs to 30 June, 2022. “The challenges NSW has faced as a result of the triple crises of drought, bushfires and COVID-19 have given us an opportunity to change our approach and refocus on creating jobs for the future. NSW is the nation’s economic powerhouse and Jobs Plus will entice top-performing companies from interstate and across the globe to NSW, and cements this state as the best place to do business in Australia.”

Information on other available funding opportunities for businesses is available in the Business Grants area of our website.

NSW Government is Seeking Input from Bushfire Impacted Businesses

Resilience NSW and Service NSW want to hear about the experiences of business owners that have been affected by the 2019-20 bushfires via a short survey.

The aim of the survey is to understand how businesses impacted by the bushfires are recovering, what support the are accessing and where additional assistance is needed.

The Bushfire Impacted Business Survey is expected to take only 6 minutes to complete and will be open until the 24th of December.

Free Webinar Series on Collaborative Business Models and Structures

Farming together is offering the opportunity to learn about collaborative business solutions in Farming Fishing and Forestry through their free webinar series.

Collaborative business solutions can be used to address some of today’s greatest issues and provides farmers with the opportunity to gain greater control of the supply chain, create economies of scale, build resilience to climate impacts and access new markets.

This online series are free to join and will be held weekly on Thursday nights starting the 5th of November through to the 17th of December at 7 to 8pm. Participants will also be provided with the chance to have their questions answered by the guest speakers and the expert panel each week.

Recordings of past sessions are available to view on the webinar series page of the website and include:

  • Dare to Share Your Data: Developing a Farmer-Driven Data Co-operative
  • Out of the box Solutions: Community supporting agriculture – agriculture building community
  • Galvanising Hidden Strengths: building community knowledge and support networks
  • Building Trust and the Power of Collective Data

Upcoming sessions are:

  • 3rd of December - Love thy Neighbour: Neighbouring farmers joining forces
  • 10th of December - Stories from Country: Indigenous Collaborative Farming
  • 17th of December - Talking about your Generation: Planning for Success in Succussion

Further Information and registration is available on the Farming Together 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.

There is also wide range of assistance 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 reguarly.

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.


MPSC Public Donations fund
Closes: 18th of December 2020
Value: Up to $3,000
Run By: Moree Plains Shire Council

Community, sporting and educational groups across the Moree Plains are invited to secure funding from the Public Donations fund for the January – March quarter to help sponsor their next event, purchase new equipment or otherwise fund the provision of services for activities within the Shire.

A whopping $20,000 is up for grabs with two rounds of funding to be determined by Council in January 2021, with only one round of funding having been offered thus far this financial year following restrictions placed on face-to-face Council meetings earlier this year due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

This round covers the period from January to March 2021, and applications will be presented to the Council at its meeting on 28 January 2021.


Women's Leadership and Development Program Project Grants
Closes: 9th of December 2020 - 11:00 pm
Value: Most grants are anticipated to be $200,000 to $800,000
Run By: Australian Government Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

This grant opportunity supports projects that achieve tangible improvements in outcomes linked to the achievement of all, one, or a combination of the key priority areas of the WLDP (note: International Engagement will not form part of this grant opportunity).

The key priority areas are:

  • Women's job creation
  • Women's economic security
  • Women's workforce participation
  • Women's leadership
  • Women's safety

Priority will be given to applicants who can demonstrate how their project complements existing initiatives under the government’s JobMaker Plan, in particular the JobTrainer Fund, to work in partnership with the Commonwealth.

Projects that are scalable, transferable across industries and occupations, and those that focus on supporting women from different backgrounds (including rural, remote and regional women) are strongly encouraged.

Projects funded under the 2018–19 WLDP grant opportunity are encouraged to apply for a continuation or expansion of their project.


Traceability Grants Program
Closes: 21st of January 2021 - 11:00 am
Value: $20,000 to $3 Million
Run By: Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment

This program provides opportunities for successful applicants to conduct projects that will enhance the supply chain traceability systems and arrangements that support the export of our agricultural commodities.

Traceability is the ability to follow the movement of a product through stages of production, processing and distribution (ISO 22005:2007). Australia’s agricultural traceability systems include all government regulation and industry arrangements that enable tracing of agricultural production and products, back and forward along entire supply chains. At each step in the supply chain, participants should be able to trace one step forward and one step back.

The objectives of the program areto:

  • Support industry projects that will enhance our agricultural supply chain traceability systems, including developing and trialingtechnologies that digitise information flow.
  • Provide an advantage for our exporters in overseas markets to assist them in maintaining their competitive edge
  • Increase opportunities to export Australian commodities
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