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October 2012 Newsletter

In This Issue:

Welcome From The Chair

Mal Peters, Chair

RDA Northern Inland (RDANI) welcomes the announcement of the $175 million RDA Fund Rounds 3 & 4 with Expressions of Interest due on December 6th. It’s encouraging to see some of the changes to the funding rounds, including $50m ring-fenced for smaller communities and reduced annual turnover requirements for Not-For-Profits. RDANI is encouraging EOIs from suitable applicants for regional infrastructure projects which relate to or support the economy, the community, arts and culture or sport and recreation.  You can read more about the RDA Fund below.

On another note, I was privileged to have attended the RDANI Northern Inland Innovation awards in Tenterfield last Friday night and would like to congratulate our overall winner, EdAlive Software of Armidale. At a time when regional businesses are facing massive challenges, it’s great to see the number of innovators we have in the region who are growing their markets and exporting to the world. The Northern Inland truly is a hub for entrepreneurialism and innovation.

RDA Fund Rounds 3 and 4 Announced

Regional Development Australia (RDA) committees have a key role to play in shaping infrastructure investment to meet regional needs during Rounds Three and Four of the Regional Development Australia Fund (RDAF).

The Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government, the Hon Simon Crean MP, announced the funding rounds this week, inviting applicants to submit Expressions of Interest (EOIs) for projects that will support local economies, build dynamic communities and enhance liveability across the country.

Round Three is worth $50 million and will provide grants of between $50,000 and $500,000 for projects located in towns with a population of 30,000 or less.

Round Four will allocate $175 million through grants of between $500,000 and $15 million for priority regional infrastructure projects that also leverage funding from state and local governments and the private sector.

As with RDAF Round Two, RDA committees will review EOIs from all potential applicants and select five priority projects for Round Three and three priority projects for Round Four to progress to full application.

The RDAF is worth almost $1 billion over five years and is designed to boost economic and community development as part of the Australian Government’s commitment to regional Australia. Through Rounds One and Two, $350 million has already been invested in 81 projects across regional Australia.

More information, including the Rounds Three and Four Guidelines, can be found at http://www.regional.gov.au/regional/programs/rdaf.aspx

Applicants can direct questions relating to the application and assessment process to rdaf@regional.gov.au.

Senator Conroy opens Armidale Broadband Smart Home

A project to build a regional NBN Experience Centre in Armidale has been realised following a visit to the city on Monday by Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.

After more than 12 months of behind-the-scenes work by government, education and private industry partners, the home now offers an insight into the home of the future and how the NBN will change the way we live, work and play. Led by Regional Development Australia Northern Inland, the Broadband Smart Home, located in Queen Elizabeth Drive demonstrates many of the real-world applications of the NBN, including home automation, remote health monitoring, video-conferencing, rehabilitation, education, remote business, sensor monitoring and environmental sustainability.

Senator Conroy, together with Federal Member for New England Tony Windsor, were treated to a number of live demonstrations, including the joint University of New England and Australian Centre for Broadband Innovation’s ‘Smarter, Safer Homes’ initiative which focuses on demonstrating the use of simply-installed, NBN-linked devices to help elderly people live safe and comfortable independent lives. Also on show was Neuroscience Research Australia’s project exploring exercise-based video games to deliver fall prevention training into the homes of older adults with a live-link to the Autumn Lodge Retirement Village in Armidale.

The highlight of the day was a live videoconference to Daejon in South Korea where the Minister and local Duval High School students were able to chat with Korean students in real-time over 8000 kilometres away.

"It was great to take part in the launch of the Armidale Broadband Smart Home, which clearly demonstrates the many ways that regional areas will benefit from high-speed broadband," Senator Conroy said.

“People living in Armidale are among the first in the nation to have access to the faster, improved broadband that the NBN offers, with all the advantages of being first, particularly for small businesses, education and health sectors”, Senator Conroy said.

“High-definition video conferencing means children are able to take classes their local school doesn’t offer and people will be able to consult with a specialist doctor from anywhere in Armidale, or around the country, without travelling long distances.

“The Broadband Smart Home has the potential to be a real asset to Armidale and the wider region. I’d like to congratulate the project partners for pursuing this important initiative. It’s great to see local people taking advantage of the opportunities that the NBN can offer,” Senator Conroy said.

As well as being open to the public, the home is also being used by local TAFE and University students to trial and demonstrate various cutting-edge projects across a range of areas. The home is already being used by NBN Co and Retail Service Providers to trial and deploy NBN-related equipment and services.

Project partners include Regional Development Australia Northern Inland, NSW Trade & Investment, ISU Solutions, CSIRO, The Australian Centre for Broadband Innovation, TAFE New England Institute and The University of New England, Armidale.

Anyone interested in a tour of the Armidale Broadband Smart Home can contact Regional Development Australia on 02 67712790.

Northern Inland Innovation Awards Recognises Our Region’s Innovators

Northern Inland NSW has shown to be rich with innovative business operators at the 5th Regional Development Australia Northern Inland Innovation Awards Dinner in Tenterfield, with the winner being Armidale educational software developer, EdAlive.

Businesses in regional Australia face massive challenges in the 21st Century and innovation is the way to jump the hurdles, Chair of Regional Development Australia Northern Inland (RDANI), Mal Peters said.

The winner is a classic example of innovation in practice. "EdAlive shows how a business can expand national and international markets from a regional setting, through innovation. They have created new revenue streams with innovative approaches bringing older software products to new markets through the internet, while also getting ZooWhiz uniquely mobile," he said.

Graham East, the CEO of EdAlive said this regional recognition means a great deal to us. It has been challenging to stay a step ahead of the dramatically changing software publishing industry,"

The awards were held at the Sir Henry Parkes Memorial School of Arts complex, where Australia’s Father of Federation and one of Australia’s first great innovators, made his famous Tenterfield Oration with the dinner attended by a broad cross-section of businesses and organisations from across the region.

The category winners were:

Horticulture and Associated Services – SaferGate of Inverell, for the invention and commercialisation of a revolutionary gate design.  Finalists were Innovate Ag of Wee Waa and Fruit Salad Tree of Emmaville. Moore Venison of Wellingrove received an Encouragement Award. This category was sponsored by AgriFood Skills Australia.

Tourism/Leisure and Related Services - Experience the Highs by Armidale Dumaresq, Walcha, Uralla and Guyra Councils. It markets the newly branded 'New England High Country', using a brochure, website, mobile device apps and social media to promote experience-based short breaks, highlighting high altitude outdoor attractions to younger city-based markets. Finalists were the Kamilaroi Highway Group and The Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre. An Encouragement Award went to Moonbi Alpacas, Arts, Crafts & Café. This category was sponsored by Telstra Country Wide.

Professional and Retail Services  - Hutchison Software of Armidale for ‘Gardenate’, involving a website, mobile apps, and an email planting reminder service for home gardeners. The information, forum and app functionality has earned international renown. Finalists were elly B (Organic Skincare) of Uralla and Premier Meats of Tenterfield. The encouragement Award was presented to New England Country Living Magazine of Tamworth. This category was sponsored by Sharemarket College Brisbane.

Manufacturing and Engineering - Star Logixs Electronics of Deepwater. This high-tech business has designed, developed and manufactured cutting-edge electronic devices such as control systems for the Autobaler and voltage indicator Livetesters, for domestic and export markets. Finalists were Hillier by Design of Tenterfield and Boss Engineering of Inverell. The Encouragement Award went to Armidale's New England Solar Power. This category was sponsored by AusIndustry Enterprise Connect.

Research and Education Category - EdAlive won this particularly tight competition, which meant there were four finalists. The other three were ISU Solutions of Armidale, The University of New England's School of Rural Medicine and Dr Robert Mensah, Chief scientist of the former Cotton Catchment Communities CRC of Narrabri. The Armidale Spinners and Weavers Group received the Encouragement Award. This category was sponsored by UNE Partnerships.

Food and Wine Agritourism Program to Invigorate New England Region

Life on the land may not be glamorous, but it’s the ideal escape for an emerging tourism market that’s bringing new life and energy to regional communities.

Local farmers and land owners are invited to learn more about opportunities to diversify their businesses at Food and Wine Agritourism Field Days to be held throughout the New England Region this month.

The field days will introduce a local Agritourism Business Development Program, initiated by Inland NSW Tourism and facilitated by Knowledge Transfer Services. Comprising a series of six full-day workshops, the program is designed to facilitate the establishment of new food and wine agritourism experiences.

The project received $50,000 in funds through the Destination NSW 2011/12 Regional Tourism Product Development Funding Program, which aims to create, grow and enhance tourism products available across regional NSW to help attract more visitors.

Mr Graham Perry, Chief Executive Officer of Inland NSW Tourism, said the depth of this program would provide impacts at the local level.

“This project will develop food and wine experiences in the region, and importantly, will contribute to Destination NSW and Inland’s goal of doubling overnight visitor expenditure by 2020,” Mr Perry said.

“Tourism plays an important role throughout the region, with visitors contributing significantly to the economy,” he said.

Regional development expert and managing director of Knowledge Transfer Services, Rose Wright, said agritourism was an opportunity to diversify an existing agribusiness and had the potential to provide an alternative or additional income stream and a succession plan to keep family members on the land.

“Domestic and international visitors want authentic, regional experiences based on our rural way of life, food, wine and landscape, which we often take for granted,” Mrs Wright said.

“Those of us fortunate enough to live in regional NSW know how beautiful our part of the world is with its endless starry skies, wonderful natural and rural environments and fantastic, food and wine, but for many people these are little-known luxuries that they only get to experience when on holiday,” she said.

To register for the agritourism field day, please email your full name and contact details to rsvp@knowledgetransfer.net.au

The field days will be hosted at:

  • Tamworth: Monday, 26 Nov 2012
  • Armidale: Tuesday, 27 Nov 2012

Venue details will provided upon RSVP.

Only 28 Days Until The Digital Switchover

There are only 28 days left until analog signals will be permanently switched off in areas across Northern New South Wales. If you’re not digital ready by 27 November you will no longer have access to free-to-air TV.

It is important for residents in areas of Northern New South Wales to be digital ready before the switchover date. Residents who haven’t made the switch to digital TV are urged to get digital ready right now so they can continue to watch all their favourite TV shows.

Northern New South Wales will be the sixth region to switch and will join more than 1.6 million households already enjoying digital-only free-to-air TV.

Assistance is still available for people who need help getting ready for digital TV. There are two assistance programs available for households and both schemes provide for installation of new equipment in the home.

People who need help and advice to get ready for the switch to digital-only TV should visit the Digital Ready website at www.digitalready.gov.au or call the Digital Ready Information Line on 1800 20 10 13.

First meeting of the Northern Basin Advisory Committee

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s Northern Basin Advisory Committee met for the first time today in Canberra.

The committee was formed in response to the need for a dedicated committee to represent the specific issues of the Northern Basin, which includes more than half of the Murray-Darling Basin. The committee will advise the MDBA on how best to implement the Basin Plan in the Northern Basin upstream of Menindee Lakes, which is different in many respects to the Southern Basin.

“By providing advice on issues such as proposals to save water or improve outcomes, this committee will provide the MDBA with an ongoing strategic perspective about the implementation of the Basin Plan in the north,” said MDBA Chair Craig Knowles.

The chair of the committee is Mr Mal Peters. Mr Peters is well known throughout the region as the Chair of the Regional Australia Institute and Regional Development Australia, Northern Inland. He is also a member of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Regional Australia and a councillor on Inverell Shire Council.

“We’ll be working in support of local communities on the rolling out of a practical Basin Plan,” said Mr Peters.

The members of the committee were selected based on their knowledge and experience on issues relevant to the Basin Plan. This includes water management, environment and conservation, irrigation and dryland agriculture, social and economic analysis, Aboriginal interests, community leadership and local government.

The members include: Mal Peters, Inverell, NSW; Geoff Wise, Bourke, NSW; Ian Todd, St George Qld; Katrina Humphries, Moree, NSW; Ed Fessey, Brewarrina, NSW; Fred Hooper, Weilmoringle, NSW; Donna Stewart, St George, Qld; Michelle Ramsay, Bonshaw, NSW; Sarah Moles, Goomburra, Qld; Bruce McCollum, Goondiwindi, Qld; John Clements, Wee Waa, NSW.  The committee is pictured with Craig Knowles (Chair, MDBA) and Rhondda Dickson (CEO, MDBA).

Be Prepared this Bush Fire Season

With around one thousand volunteer firefighters battling more than one hundred blazes across the state, this bushfire season is already proving to be a very dangerous one.

The NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said that fires had already killed stock and destroyed property such as fences, sheds, tractors and electricity poles and wires. “We estimate that this weekend more than $1 million of damage was sustained across NSW. In one single fire in Northern NSW around 22,000 hectares of valuable pasture land was burnt and more than 200 head of stock were killed. This is a stark reminder of the reality of bush fire season and the damage fires can cause.”

“Less than three weeks into this year’s season NSW RFS volunteers have already attended 373 fires, compared to 180 in the same period last year. It is clear that this fire season arrived early, and with hotter, drier weather predicted, people need to get ready now, not later. Our firefighters can’t do it alone; they need people to be prepared.”

“I urge everyone to download a Bush Fire Survival Plan and talk to their family about how they will handle a bush fire this season. That discussion could save their lives, home or livelihoods.”

The Rural Fire Service website has a Bush Fire Survival Plan detailing what individual households can do to help protect their homes and prepare their families, all of which also assists the RFS volunteers. Remember, planning to make a plan is not a plan.

What’s On In the Northern Inland

New England Outdoor Recreation Expo and Antique Machinery Expo
Friday, November 9, 2012 - Sunday, November 11, 2012
Armdidale Showground

The New England Outdoor Recreation Expo will also include the Armidale Antique Machinery Club’s annual Machinery Rally and Heavy Horse Field Day this year. There will also be the huge selection of caravans and campervans, 4wds, camping equipment and accessories as in previous years. Also returning this year will be the popular fishing demonstrations from the massive fish tank, rides for the kids, petting zoo and of course the Machinery Rally and Heavy Horses will have demonstrations all weekend.

Walcha Garden Festival
Saturday 10th November 2012 to Sunday 11th November 2012

Spend a leisurely weekend exploring these picturesque, cool climate, private gardens of varying sizes and style. Grab some morning tea, relax under a shady tree, or admire the arts and crafts of many talented locals. Further information may be found through the Walcha Tourism Website.

Warrialda Honey Festival
17th of November

The Aboriginal meaning of ‘Warialda’ is ‘place of wild honey, and the celebrates all that is Warialda..  The Honey Festival celebrates not only our town’s heritage, but also our current produce, talents and community spirit.

At the Honey Festival each year you will find stalls selling produce such as beeswax candles, jewellery, local arts and crafts, garden products, and locally produced food and conserves.  Musical productions are also performed by each of the local schools as well as local dance groups.This year the major attraction for the festival this year will be a balloon artist and the Gomeroi Dance Dance company.

The Festival generally concludes with a parade, in which local community organisations, sporting groups and schools participate by decorating floats to travel down the main street. For more information contact the Warialda Visitor Information Centre.

New Grants and Funding Opportunities

Regional Development Australia Fund (RDAF)

Rounds Three and Four of the Regional Development Australia Fund (RDAF) have opened. Round Three will provide $50 million for projects in small towns, while Round Four will provide $175 million for strategic infrastructure projects in regional Australia.

Tourism Industry Regional Development Fund (TIRF) Grants

The Minister for Tourism has launched the Tourism Industry Regional Development Fund (TIRF) Grants program for regional tourism businesses looking to improve their tourism offerings.
This competitive merit-based TIRF Grants program offers grants from $50,000–$250,000 (GST exclusive) on a matched dollar-for-dollar funding basis.  A major focus of the program is to improve the quality of accommodation and attractions in regional areas. Funding is also available for innovative projects to attract interstate and international visitors and extend their length of stay.

Remote Jobs and Communities Program

A Call for Expressions of Interest (EOI) was released on Tuesday 2 October 2012 for the Remote Jobs and Communities Program  (RJCP).

The RJCP will commence on 1 July 2013, with a single service provider in 59 identified remote regions across Australia.

The new program will integrate current employment and community-development services, to ensure more Indigenous and other remote job seekers participate in meaningful community activities and get the skills they need to find and keep a job.

Partners in Recovery

Suitably placed and experienced non-government health and welfare service provider organisations are invited to apply for grant funding under the PIR initiative.

In general, one PIR Organisation will be funded in each of the 61 Medicare Local geographic regions to better support people with severe and persistent mental illness with complex needs, their carers and families.

PIR Organisations will work at a systems-level to support the multi-service integration needed to ensure services and supports are matched to people’s need.  PIR will facilitate better coordination of and more streamlined access to the full range of clinical and other services and supports needed by the target group.

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