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October 2020 Newsletter

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In This Issue


Welcome from the Chair

Dear Northern Inlanders,

Green stocked paddocks and healthy crops around our region are a welcome sight for us all. Recent rains are providing a chance to celebrate some bumper crops and see life return to areas of our region that have been hit hard by the drought and bushfires.

I was pleased to hear the announcement of $250 Million of funding through the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund, and that nine of our Local Government Areas are eligible. Our team are already hard at work helping put together a range of applications for proponents around the region, and I recommend that anyone who is thinking of putting an application in for this program get in contact with our team and find out how we can help.

Easing of restrictions meant that it was all hands-on-deck for the return of our Shearing School in Glen Innes last month, with students gaining hands on experience for shearing and wool handling over three days. These schools provide a unique opportunity for students and it is fantastic to see this program continue to grow.

The impending construction of the Narrabri to North Star section of the Inland Rail provides a unique opportunity for our local businesses and communities. I strongly encourage our local businesses to get on board and take advantage of the benefits this railway line will provide our region now and in the future. Details on how to register your interest are available below.


Russell Stewart

Students Flock Back to Be Inspired at our Shearing School

We were pleased to be able to run the first Shearing School after the COVID-19 shutdown in Glen Innes in late September. The school was attended by students from Glen Innes High School and Macintyre High School in Inverell, who participated in the three day program that fosters interest while also providing hands on skills for shearing and wool handling.

This latest Shearing School was made possible by a $60,000 grant from the NSW Government under the Stronger Country Communities Fund and was visited by Northern Tablelands MP and Minister for Agriculture, Adam Marshall.  “With COVID-19 disrupting so much of their education this year, it’s great to see these students from Glen Innes High School and Inverell’s Macintyre High School back in the shed and learning skills whichcould provide them with a career for life,” he said.

“Over three days last week, students participated in a number of workshops, learning from wool industry stalwarts the techniques of shearing and wool handling, safety in the wool shed and about animal health, husbandry and biosecurity.  Wool Works is a case study for the type of hands-on education which is required if we wish to equip people with the skills needed for the jobs of the future.”

“As we have seen, COVID-19 international border closures have sent shockwaves through the wool industry, with New Zealand shearers unable to enter the country to fill a shortage of shed workers during the winter/spring shearing. Now is the time to start training our own people to fill that gap."

“As our State’s Agriculture Minister, I want to thank these young people for their enthusiasm and interest in wanting to be involved in the industry which has made our region so successful. Wool growing will play an important role in the recovery of regional and rural NSW in the post COVID-19 economy and I’m glad to see we have young people ready, willing and able to maximise its potential.”

RDANI Executive Director Nathan Axelsson said there had been a huge amount of interest in the Wool Works program leading up to its resumption.

“If it wasn’t for COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings, I think we would have ended up with more students than sheep participating in this school,” Mr Axelsson said. “As the restrictions ease I think we have a great opportunity to extend the program’s reach, in particular to High Schools at Moree, whose teachers have shown they are keen to get their students access to this high level of practical, hands on experience.”

“Our intention is to undertake our final school for 2020 in November, before jumping in again in March/April next year.”

The Shearing School program is possible through collaboration between RDANI, NSW DPI, Northern Tablelands Local Land Services, Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), TAFE New England, Glen Innes Severn Council, GLENRAC, Prime Super and Heiniger.

Any schools that would like to be involved can contact our office to express their interest by email on rdani@rdani.org.au.

$250 Million to Boost Recovery in Bushfire Affected Communities

Businesses and communities in bushfire impacted regions have access to a new fund for local infrastructure and initiatives that will drive economic and social recovery, strengthen morale and help communities get back on their feet through the $250 million Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund, co-funded by the NSW and Australian governments. Australian Minister for Emergency Management, David Littleproud encouraged councils, business chambers, joint groups, businesses, charities and local Aboriginal Land Councils to bring forward their recovery ideas.

“Bushfire recovery looks different in each community, and no one is better placed to identify local priorities than local people, which is why we said it had to be a locally led recovery not a Canberra led one,” Minister Littleproud said. “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.”

Acting Deputy Premier Paul Toole said funding will be available for projects to help industries and communities recover by creating jobs, increasing preparedness for future natural disasters and enhancing the natural environment. “The significant funds injected through this program will support the needs of families and businesses in severely affected communities to bounce back after the 19/20 bushfires tore through neighbourhoods and brought business to a grinding halt,” Mr Toole said.

“Many are getting ready to rebuild their lives and we are backing projects designed to put people in back in work, retain existing jobs and reinvigorate communities with a focus on improvements to essential or community infrastructure as well as industry development.

Tourism is a key industry and the natural environment a drawcard, so we are also looking to restore nature, create attractions as well as promote them, and to put people at ease with investment in the research and infrastructure to improve resilience to future bushfires.”

Grants of between $200,000 and $20 million will be available for projects 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

Alongside this open call for project ideas, shovel-ready projects are being identified in bushfire affected areas, so they can be considered and fast tracked to provide community and economic benefit as quickly as possible.

Applications are open until the 11th of December and further information is available on the NSW Government website.

Funding for smaller projects is available under the Bushfire Community Recovery and Resilience Fund, which is open until the 10th of November 2020.

Nine Northern Inland Local Government Areas are eligible for both funds:

  • Armidale Regional
  • Glen Innes Severn
  • Gwydir
  • Inverell
  • Narrabri
  • Tamworth
  • Tenterfield
  • Uralla
  • Walcha

Budget Initiatives to Help Strengthen Regional Australia

The recently announced Federal Budget for 2020-21, provides a range of initiatives to strengthen regional Australia, and to support the unique way that regions have been impacted by the events of 2020.

The initiatives announced in the budget include:

A further $200 million towards a fifth round of the Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF), including:

  • $100 million for broader community infrastructure and investment
  • $100 million for tourism-related infrastructure.

$100 million over two years from 2020-21 to fund Regional Recovery Partnerships, which will coordinate investments with other levels of government to support recovery and growth in ten regions.

$41 million in funding for a new Research and Development Program, comprising the Securing Raw Materials Program and a Regional Cooperative Research Centre Projects (R-CRC) Program.

A further $30.3 million to the Regional Connectivity Program to expand the number of eligible projects that can be funded under this program, and enable a broader range of regional communities and businesses to leverage the benefits of improved digital connectivity, including in key sectors such as agriculture, tourism, health and education.

An additional $22.7 million for a sixth round of the Stronger Communities Program, which provides grants of between $2,500 and $20,000 across the country for a range of locally-driven projects that aim to strengthen our regions, their economies and the vibrant communities which characterise them.

The Building Resilient Regional Leaders initiative will invest $5 million over three years from 2020-21 to deliver place based leadership training.

$4.6 million towards the Regional Australia Institute’s National Awareness Campaign, promoting the benefits and opportunities of living in regional Australia.

An additional $2 billion in funding for projects through the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund. This more than doubles the Fund to a total of $3.5 billion and will deliver increased water security, build resilience in our regions, deliver jobs and grow the country’s critical agriculture sector. The fund will also become a 10-year rolling program of priority water infrastructure investments.

The aviation industry, which has been heavily impacted by travel restrictions, will continue to receive support through:

  • The Domestic Aviation Network Support (DANS) Program through to 31 January 2021 to support networks servicing the most critical metropolitan and regional routes in Australia.
  • Up to $198 million through to 28 March 2021 for the Regional Airline Network Support Program facilitating the continued operation of a minimum network of passenger flights to regional and remote communities across Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • $100 million in funding for the Regional Airlines Funding Assistance Program to give direct cash flow assistance to smaller regional air operators to help them remain financially viable, and continue to provide essential air connectivity to regional Australia.
  • $66 million in 2020-21 for the Regional Airports Screening Infrastructure Program to support eligible regional airports meet costs associated with establishing enhanced security screening requirements.
  •  $669 million for the International Freight Assistance Mechanism to maintain supply chains by keeping international freight routes and flights operating, and importantly to re-establish domestic connections for producers in regional and rural areas that rely on airfreight.

The budget will invest in transport infrastructure through:

  • $110 billion over 10 years through the rolling infrastructure plan to meet our national freight challenge, get Australians home sooner and safer, and support regional jobs and investment at the time it is needed most.
  • $2 billion over 18 months on road safety upgrades across the road network to create jobs and support the Government’s new National Road Safety Strategy 2021-2030. Works will commence no later than January 2021 and will provide around 9,000 widely distributed local jobs and support the Government’s objectives on road safety.
  • $1.5 billion to fund local priority projects through the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program. This includes an additional $1 billion through the 2020-21 Budget. This investment will support an estimated 3,000 direct and indirect jobs over the life of the projects.

NBN Co will invest $4.5 billion to bring ultra-fast broadband to millions of families and businesses, including an estimated 950,000 homes and businesses in regional Australia. The investment includes establishing 85 Business Fibre Zones in Regional Australia that will provide access to Ultrafast broadband at CBD zone wholesale prices, driving annual cost savings of up to 67 per cent. It also includes $300 million for NBN Co to co-invest with councils, state, territory and federal governments in programs to boost regional connectivity.

A new $37.1 million Strengthening Telecommunications Against Natural Disasters (STAND) Package to prevent, mitigate and manage telecommunications outages during emergencies.

$22.1 million Australian 5G Innovation Initiative to test and trial applications of 5G technology and services in key industry sectors such as agriculture, mining, logistics and manufacturing.

The Annual Regional Wellbeing Survey is Closing Soon

The University of Canberra established the Regional Wellbeing Survey to improve understanding of the wellbeing, liveability and resilience of comunities across Australia and provide data to organisations to support and grow the quality of life for regional Australians.

This year, the survey is particuarly important to discover how the events of 2020 are changing the wellbeing and quality of life for regional Australians. Along with the general questions that are asked each year, there are questions relating to how communities and households have been affected by drought, bushfires, storms and COVID-19.

The short version of the survey takes only ten minutes, and longer versions are avaible for those who are able to contribute more time to share their input. The survey can also be completed over time, as your responses can be saved as you progress.

The survey is open until the 30th of October, and can be found on the University of Canberra’s website.

Inland Rail is a Unique Opportunity for Local Businesses

Works on the 186Km Narrabri to North Star section of the Inland Rail, which will pass through Gwydir, Narrabri and Moree Plains Shires, is set to commence in the coming months.

“As we near construction on the next section of the project, benefits are going to flow via local industry and supplier participation, employment and workforce development in communities surrounding the Narrabri to North Star section – including at Narrabri and Moree in my electorate,” said Federal Member for Parkes, Mark Coulton. “On the first section of Inland Rail between Parkes and Narromine, we saw more than $100 million spent with local businesses and nearly 700 locals work on the project. There were 99 local businesses that supplied goods to the project in some form.”

“Inland Rail will continue to make meaningful contributions to towns along the alignment and I’m thrilled that regional centres like Narrabri and Moree are set to be the next hosts for the project. Inland Rail wants to work with these communities to make sure the advantages are felt locally. I know there is excitement building in the N2NS section as we move towards construction later this year, and local companies and workers are preparing themselves to be ready to hit the ground running.”

“Inland Rail is a project that creates opportunity and jobs in the short, medium and long-term – with the local jobs created in supply contracts like the rail and sleepers, the future jobs and investment during construction, and the enduring benefits that will come from the enhancement and expansion of regional supply chains. This is the type of investment, jobs and future infrastructure our country needs, at the time we need it most.”

Being part of the construction of the inland rail is a unique opportunity for businesses in our region. Businesses interested in supplying to the project as subcontractors, suppliers and equipment providers are encouraged to register their interest. The work packages include a variety of services including, but not limited to, construction, surveying, artwork, electrical, plumbing and cleaning as well as goods. Full details on the ROI process and the work packages is available at on the ICN Gateway.

350 workers with the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) will soon be transitioning to life in our region. With most of the workforce to be located in Moree, this week the Moree Plains Council met with local accommodation providers for housing arrangements for the influx of workers. “The project itself is going to be a massive boost to the Moree Plains economy and the flow-on benefits from hosting such a large workforce right here in Moree cannot be underestimated.“ said General Manager, Lester Rodgers.

Further information about the Narrabri to North Star section of the Inland Rail is available on the Inland Rail website.

Input Sought for the Future of Australian Aviation

The Australian Government is seeking input to ensure the aviation sector is sustainable in the long term. Not only to manage the current impacts on the industry, but also recovery and longer-term reform.

The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications has released the Future of Australia’s Aviation Sector Issues Paper to investigate potential policy directions for the opportunities and challenges in the sector.

They want to hear from those with applicable expertise, the sector and those who rely on it. Submissions are being sought on:

  • The impact of the current COVID-19 crisis, including the Australian Government's support packages; and
  • Longer term policies and reforms to support development of a Five-Year Plan for Aviation.

Submissions can be made by email or in hard copy by the 13th of November, and further details are available on the department 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.


National Shed Development Programme (Men's Sheds)
Closes: 27th of November
Value: Up to $10,000
Run By: Australian Men's Shed Association

The NSDP is open to all Men’s Sheds in Australia and is a competitive grants programme. It allows Men’s Sheds and organisations supporting a Men’s Shed to better respond to the local needs oftheir community.

The NSDP provides direct financial assistance to:

  • Address the health and wellbeing of the shed members.
  • Support health improvementsfor shed members.
  • Deliver appropriate activities and programmes.
  • Improve facilities and the sustainability of Men’s Sheds across Australia.

Men’s Sheds can apply for financial support across the following funding categories:

  1. Health and wellbeingand events - $8,000 maximum
  2. Shed Improvements - $8,000 maximum
  3. Tools & Equipment - $5,000 maximum


Innovate With nbn
Closes: 30th of November
Value: Up to $25,000
Run By: nbn

The Innovate with nbn grants program gives individuals, businesses or organisations across seven categories the opportunity to win a share of $95,000 in funding to support the development of their innovative, digitally led idea.

They are looking for people who live and breathe everything digital who are:

  • Harnessing the benefits of the nbn™ network to enable regional Australians to live, learn and work in a digital society
  • Innovative digital businesses that are disrupting traditional markets in regional Australia
  • Organisations who are lifting digital participation and stimulating regional economies
  • Champions of digital adoption for regional Australia
  • Regional businesses supporting Australians in similar areas

The Innovate with nbn Grants Program aims to recognise and showcase individuals, businesses or organisations that are:

  • Innovators, disrupters or entrepreneurs inspiring others in their community
  • Champions of digital adoption
  • Continuing to facilitate the digital capabilities and benefits of nbn
  • Advocates of supporting regional businesses

The winner of each category will receive a $10 000 grant, with the overall Innovate with nbn™ major grant of $25 000 to be awarded to the most outstanding application across all categories.


Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund
Closes: 11th of December 2020
Value: $200,000 to $20,000,000
Run By: NSW Government

The Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund will provide $250 million of further funding to support the social and economic recovery of communities affected by bushfire in 47 regional NSW Local Government Areas.

It will support projects that retain and create new jobs in regional areas, build resilience and increase preparedness for future bushfire seasons. 

Funding is available in the following three categories:

  • Infrastructure projects, such as roads to support increased industrial development.
  • Environmental projects, such as regeneration activities.
  • Programs including social, business and environmental education initiatives.

The following Local Councils in the Northern Inland are eligible:

  • Armidale Regional
  • Glen Innes Severn
  • Gwydir Shire
  • Inverell Shire
  • Narrabri Shire
  • Tamworth Regional
  • Tenterfield Shire
  • Uralla Shire
  • Walcha Shire


Restart NSW Fixing Country Roads
Closes: 31st of December 2020
Value: Unspecified
Run By: NSW Government Department of Transport

Fixing Country Roads is a key NSW Government program for unlocking the economic potential of Regional NSW. The program provides targeted funding for projects on Council managed roads and bridges that provide benefits to the movement of freight. Fixing Country Roads aligns with and complements the Fixing Country Rail program in reducing the cost to market for regional businesses.

Fixing Country Roads 2020 is expected to provide support for larger, more regionally significant projects than previous rounds.The application process is competitive, with decisions on projects to be funded based on information and supporting documents provided in the application.

There are three streams under the program:

  • Roads and Bridges Construction
  • Bridge and Route Load Assessments
  • Truck Washes
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