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October 2019 Newsletter

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In this Issue:

Welcome from the Chair

Russell Stewart - Chair

Dear Northern Inlanders,

Welcome to another jam-packed newsletter.

Last week brought some much-welcomed rain to a good part of our region, and although it certainly wasn’t enough to make a big difference, it was nice to hear rain on the roof.

The scale of the impact that this drought is having on our region is difficult to comprehend for those who don’t live and work here. Our Senior Project Officer, David Thompson, has done some brilliant work in correlating the estimated 4,178 job losses in our region to the same scale of job losses in Sydney. The results are incredible and will hopefully help our city cousins understand what is happening in our communities. You can read about this work below.

We are aware that most of the current drought focus has been on farmers and farm businesses, rather than the flow-on effects to other businesses and the community. Although the impact is significant, non-farm businesses cannot access government support or programs to help prepare for inevitable future droughts. We are hoping to rectify this situation, and as the first step in the processes we are conducting a short five-minute survey to create a solid evidence base to support our call to action. If you are a business in our region that is being affected by the drought, please take a moment to complete our survey and forward it on to any businesses you know are also being affected.


Russell Stewart

Innovative Drought Insights for Sydney

The numbers clearly show that the drought ravaging regional New South Wales is the worst since records began in the 19th century and it is past time that our city cousins and policy-makers understand the unfolding crisis. To illustrate how Sydney would be suffering if the locales were reversed, our researchers have utilised innovative economic modelling to paint a clear picture of the economic, environmental and community impacts of the ongoing drought in Northern NSW and then overlayed that picture with one of Sydney.

Although we have typically used our economic modelling software, REMPLAN to measure the positive impacts of proposed investments, it can be used to measure the negative impacts of drought on a regional economy. NSW Business Chamber surveys have indicated the drought in our region has reduced business’ turnover by as much as 33%. We modelled a 25% reduction in agricultural business turnover, which leads to 4,178 job losses across the Northern Inland NSW economy.

To bring the picture into focus for those in the city, we were able to map the equivalent economic downturn, if it was to occur in Sydney. 4,178 jobs lost in our region is 5.8% of the workforce.  The equivalent impact in Sydney would be 130,000 job losses, or 100% of jobs lost in each of the 11 suburbs shown in red on the map, namely Avalon Beach, Bankstown, Baulkham Hills, Blacktown, Chatswood, Cronulla, Maroubra, Minto, Moorebank, Penrith and Strathfield.

Until now, the economic impacts experienced in eastern Australia through extended drought conditions have been beyond the imagination of city residents. It is hoped that Sydneysiders can better understand the catastrophic impact of the ongoing drought, not just for the farmers, but for each and every small business in our towns and cities that rely on the broader farming sector’s spending for their survival. By escaping the city, exploring a region and spending a few dollars in our character-packed towns, Sydneysiders can help our communities with much needed economic stimulus.

Have Your Say on Drought Assistance for Non-Farming Businesses

At Regional Development Australia Northern Inland, we are aware that most of the current drought focus has been on farmers and farm businesses, rather than the flow-on impacts to other businesses and the community. We are concerned that non-farm businesses cannot access government support or programs to help prepare for inevitable future droughts.

We are seeking to rectify this situation, and have two main objectives:

  1. Have governments create support mechanisms for non-farm businesses in drought-affected areas now.
  2. Have governments create better drought-preparedness policies for non-farm businesses going forward.

As we will require a solid evidence base to support our call to action, collating the experiences of businesses in our region is an important step in bringing about change. We have kept this survey as short as possible while also collecting enough information to create change, and it will take only 5 minutes to complete. All answers that are provided will be used in aggregate, and will not be identified to your business unless you provide us with permission to do so.

We appreciate you sharing your experiences before the 31st of October at:


Would You Like to Join Our Committee?

Would you like to give something back to your community? Are you interested in leading/contributing to a committee to motivated locals who will focus on driving economic development in your region?

We are seeking regional leaders with vision, drive and business experience who are able to facilitate economic development opportunities and investment for our regional communities and create jobs and growth. Your networking skills will help build forums which enable consultation between business, industry and all levels of government and develop solutions for regional economic development.

Applications for a Committee member position are sought from highly motivated and experienced people who are knowledgeable about the economic strengths and challenges of the region.

An information pack is available for interested applicants.

For further information, please phone 02 6771 0700 or email rdani@rdani.org.au.

Applications close at 5pm Friday November 29th, 2019 and must be submitted by email to rdani@rdani.org.au

Strong Case for Werris Creek Intermodal Road Project

A proposed Werris Creek Intermodal Road Access Project would be critical in driving the Liverpool Plains economy forward, according to Mayor of Liverpool Plains Shire Council, Cr. Andrew Hope. “Improving efficiency and safety for heavy vehicles heading to and from the new Crawfords Freightlines intermodal rail facility would be a real win.

“This is a road project that will drive job growth in an economy that is struggling with the worst drought ever. The Crawfords Freightlines intermodal rail facility created 25 new jobs and their workforce at Werris Creek could ultimately grow to 80, yet Council aims to see that be the catalyst for more industrial investment and jobs,” he said.

The Council teamed up with RDANI to demonstrate the need for close to $10mil in funding from the NSW State Government and both organisations are highly optimistic that the value in the investment is clear. The project would involve major upgrades to South Street, which connects with the New England Highway.

Our business case for the Werris Creek Intermodal Road Access Project has made significantly reduced travel times and improved safety plain to see. Average travel savings that would result from the road project for all trucks would be 42kms or 31 minutes of drive-time in a round-trip. The largest time saving projection is for the 4,200 truck movements per year for refrigerated meat coming from Tamworth, involving an average saving of 103km or 77 minutes.

This intermodal road project makes the rail depot an increasingly appealing option for road freight. Previously, freight has gone all the way to Sandgate in Newcastle by road, while the cost of taking freight by rail from Werris Creek is close to half that of the road option. This means big bottom-line savings for the region’s producers and businesses, heavy vehicle movements reduced on the New England Highway and a huge carbon footprint reduction. Research into existing access to the intermodal identified room for travel time and safety improvements and the proposed project would deliver on risk reductions.

Mayor Hope said that economic benefits of increasing efficiencies for freight trucks accessing the Werris Creek Intermodal would extend across many industries and a large area, which includes one of the country’s most significant food bowls. “Optimising road infrastructure for the Crawfords Freightlines intermodal rail facility and other local industries is common sense for the economy, locally and on a State level.”

“The Crawfords Freightlines intermodal rail facility is a highly professional operation and the flow-on benefits for Werris Creek and surrounds has been immediate. We have seen accommodation options get booked out 18 months in advance. This project is really about improving public road transport infrastructure to value add to an economically stimulating freight hub, stemming from private sector investment,” he said.

Liverpool Plains Shire Council is developing a 100 acre industrial precinct adjacent to the Crawfords Freightlines intermodal rail facility. “We are working hard to facilitate economic development. The Werris Creek Intermodal Road Access Project will support our new industrial precinct, as well as the important intermodal rail freight facility. Business investment in the industrial precinct will be an attractive prospect because of the intermodal activities, so this road project will help to pave the way for more jobs in our economy,” said Mayor Hope. “The tracks have been laid for economic growth and we look forward to seeing the NSW State Government get on board.”

The RDANI Committee meets quarterly and members recently followed a meeting in Werris Creek with a tour of the Crawfords Freightlines intermodal rail facility. “This has clearly been an economic shot in the arm for the Liverpool Plains economy and at a time of real need,” RDANI Chair Russell Stewart said. “Liverpool Plains Shire Council has commendably welcomed the Crawfords Freightlines intermodal rail facility with open arms and deserve State Government assistance in building on the economic development from that private sector investment.”

Liverpool Plains Shire Council has proposed that construction begin in January 2021 and be completed by June 2022. The project could pave the way for a heavy vehicle bypass of Werris Creek in the future.

Skilled Migrants Benefit Niche Tech Manufacturer

An Armidale tech business exporting to the world continues to grow global markets after solving their staffing needs through our Skilled Migration program, with two skilled migrants working at ICT International for almost a year. ICT International is a highly specialised manufacturer of precision scientific equipment that measures, monitors and records moisture content in soil and plants. The business has been achieving steady growth, throughout Australia and internationally, exporting instruments to over 50 countries.

Dr. Peter Cull is the Director of ICT International and he said that one of their biggest business hurdles was finding staff with the skills and experience they need, in order to function, let alone grow. “We typically need electronic engineers, microprocessor engineers and service people,” said Dr. Cull. “The Skilled Regional State Nominated Visa program has been absolutely critical to the further growth and development of our business because we have been able to access the skilled staff we need.”

ICT International and the two skilled mirgants, Vuong Ba Tran and David Macasieb, feature in the lasted Skilled Migration case study video. The video also highlights first-hand accounts from the two skilled migrants about how positive their Northern Inland New South Wales move and professional employment has been, with appreciation voiced for the support they received from RDANI.

Vuong Ba Tran is an electrical engineer from Vietnam. He has found his job at ICT International to be a rewarding opportunity for which his skills are perfectly suited. “I graduated from the Queensland University of Technology and applied for the 489 visa. When it was granted and I moved to Armidale, I started working at the tomato farm. Then, applied for an electrical engineer position at ICT International. Peter and Susan Cull gave me a start in my professional career. I love working and living here; the regional visa has worked well for me,” he said.

David Macasieb comes from the Philippines but worked extensively in Singapore. He came to the Northern Inland region as an Electronic Instrument Trades Worker (Special Class). He found his position at ICT International (as an electronic engineer field technician) through our Skilled Migration Jobs Board, a service for skilled migrants and regional employers. With 600 members, this Facebook group has become a greatly valued resource, responsible for numerous job outcomes and settlement support. David’s wife has also found skilled employment in the child-care sector in Armidale.

In the case study video, David outlines the positives he has experienced in settling in a regional centre, from the dining out options and shopping to the infrastructure and services. The people I work with and the community are so friendly and supportive,” he said. “ICT International has a lot of growth potential because of the excellent product they have developed. I am extremely grateful to Dr. Peter and Susan Cull for this opportunity.”

Our office brought Vuong and David to the region as skilled migrants, through the Skilled Regional State Nominated (489 sub-class) visa program. This visa is now closed and will be replaced by the similar Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) subclass 491 visa on the 16th of November 2019.

Skilled Migration Update

The Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) or regional employer nominated 187 visa program is ending in a matter of weeks. Employers must get nomination submitted to the Department of Home Affairs by 15 November 2019 and are encouraged to apply for Regional Certifying Body advice by this date. However, the deadline only applies to when applications must be submitted to the Department and does not apply to RCBs (which is the role performed by Regional Development Australia Northern Inland.

The Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) (subclass 491) visa replaces the Skilled Regional State Nominated (subclass 489) visa on 16 November 2019. There are many positives about this program, which helps to bring skilled migrants to where they needed. Details will be published on our website as they come to light and are confirmed. RDANI expects to be publishing our region’s Occupation List for the 491 visa one week prior to the commencement of the visa.

Investigating the Economic Importance of Mid-Sized Towns

Across the country, more than 2 million regional Australians live in a mid-sized town with a population of between 5,000 and 50,000. The Intergovernmental Shared Inquiry Program will shine the spotlight on these communities to examine their importance from an economic perspective, as well as their future growth trajectories. This new body of work on mid-sized towns will help fill the gap in evidence-based research relating to regional Australia.

In 2019, the Regional Australia Institute’s Inquiry Program into Mid-Sized Towns will focus on the following themes:

  • Understanding the types of mid-size towns we have in regional Australia – how they differ from each other in population size, in their main industries, and in their locations.
  • What attracts people and businesses to these towns and what keeps them there.
  • How a mid-size town plans its own economic growth – when is it best to specialise in an industry, and when it make sense to diversify the local economy.
  • How important schools, health facilities, and community infrastructure are to the people living and working in mid-size towns. We will look at the kinds of facilities people can generally expect to find in these kinds of towns.

As part of the inquiry and with the support of the RAI, the University of South Australia is conducting a short survey that will take approximately 10-15 minutes to complete. They are very interested to hear from anyone with backgrounds in councils, town-planning, tourism and economic development.

Featured Grants and Funding Opportunities

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.

Regional Agricultural Show Development Grants Program
Closes: 13th of December 2019
Value: Up to $500,000
Run By: Australian Government Department of Agriculture

The Regional Agricultural Show Development Grants Program is designed to provide funding for the maintenance and upgrade of existing infrastructure and the building, purchasing and construction of new infrastructure related to the running of an agricultural show on regional showgrounds.

Funding will be available to eligible regional show societies for the maintenance and upgrade of existing infrastructure and the building, purchase, rent or construction of new infrastructure related to the running of an agricultural show on regional showgrounds.

The objectives of the program are to help:

  • keep agricultural shows running
  • bring communities together
  • bridge the divide between country and city.

Infrastructure Grants
Next Round Opens: 18th of November
Next Round Closes: 9th of December 5pm
Future Round Opens: 16th of March 2020
Value: Up to $300,000 depending on project area
Run By: NSW Government Office of Responsible Gambling

The NSW Government offers grants to communities across NSW to support the building, renovation and fit-out of infrastructure. Funding is available for arts and cultural infrastructure, sport and recreation infrastructure and projects that assist communities with essential infrastructure and disaster readiness. Infrastructure Grants are made possible through the NSW Government’s Clubgrants Category 3 Fund, which reinvests a contribution from the state’s registered clubs gaming machine profits back into community projects.

To be eligible for funding, applications must meet eligibility conditions including, the project location, the applicant and project benefit, purpose and development status. There is also a requirement for local government applicants to match funding.

Infrastructure Grants can be used toward the costs of construction, alteration, renovation, completion and fit-out of buildings and community infrastructure in the following areas:

  • Arts & Culture: $50,000 to $200,000 available per project
  • Disaster Readiness & Community Infrastructure: $10,000 to $200,000 available per project
  • Sport & Recreation:  $100,000 to $300,000 available per project

What's On in the Northern Inland

Sapphire City Festival
Friday 18th to Sunday 27th of October

Spring into Art @ Bendemeer
Thursday 24th to Sunday 17th of October

High Country Writers Festival
Friday 25th to Sunday 1st of December
Glen Innes

Thunderbolt Festival
Saturday 26th of October

Hangi in the Country III
Saturday 26th of October

Wee Waa & Community Bush Dance
Saturday 26th of October
Wee Waa

Questacon Pop-Up Science Centre
Saturday 26th to Sunday 27th of October

Open Garden Weekend
Saturday 26th to Sunday 27th of October

Tenterfield Fireaid Fundraiser
Sunday 27th of October

New Resident Welcome
Monday 28th of October

Energy 101 for Small Business
Tuesday 29th of October

North West Arts Trail Open Weekend
Wednesday 30th of October to Monday 4th of November
All of the Northern Inland

NSW Rural Womens Gathering
Friday 1st to Sunday 3rd of November

Foodies Night Markets
Friday 1st of November

Culture Fest
Friday 1st to Sunday 3rd of November

Questacon Science Circus
Saturday 2nd of November

The Big Campout
Saturday 2nd to Sunday 3rd of November 2019

Questacon Pop-Up Science Centre
Wednesday 6th of November

The Big Dry BBQ
Saturday 9th of November
Black Mountain

Harvest Under the Stars
Saturday 9th of November

Black Gully Festival
Saturday 9th of November

Belt Out the Big Dry
Saturday 9th of November

Pop-Up Science Centre
Saturday 9th to Sunday 10th of November

NE Antique Machinery and Heavy Horse Field Day
Saturday 9th to Sunday 10th of November

Granparents Day
Sunday 10th of November

Golden Gate Rodeo
Friday 15th of November

Tingha Tin Festival
Friday 15th to Saturday 16th of November

Nundle CWA Art Exhibition and Sales
Friday 15th to Sunday 17th of November

Nundle Lions Twilight Christmas Market
Saturday 16th of November

Premer's Car and Bike Show
Saturday 16th of November

The Brain Foundation Christmas Fair
Sunday 17th of November

Christmas in the Mall
Thursday 21st of November

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Address 143 Marsh Street
Armidale NSW 2350
Postal Address PO Box 72
Armidale NSW 2350
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