In This Issue
Welcome from the Chair
Dear Northern Inlanders,
Welcome to another edition of our newsletter. This month we are pleased to announce the running of our trial Wool Works Shearer Training School in Glen Innes. This is a great initiative to support the training and retention of young people in our region. We’re also kicking off the first ever comprehensive Skills Shortage survey of our region. This is an exciting project that will shed some light in the training and recruitment issues facing employers in the region as well as guiding young people on the skills needed for the future.
And finally, the deadline is fast approaching to get your nominations in for the 10th annual Northern Inland Innovation Awards – a great opportunity to get your businesses’ and towns’ innovations up in lights. See www.niia.com.au for more details.
Seeking Input From Local Businesses
Regional Development Australia – Northern Inland (RDANI) engages in activities and projects specifically aimed at boosting employment and regional economic performance in the Northern Inland region of NSW.
As we travel the region and talk with businesses owners, the challenges of finding and retaining skilled and reliable staff has emerged as a major impediment to business growth and profitability. It is clear that we require information on skill-shortages specific to our region.
This NSW Government-funded survey is designed to explore the problem in more detail, and help us work with businesses and agencies in the region to find real solutions. We have already conducted some work in this area, and the findings suggest that what has been done for the past few decades may no longer be relevant to contemporary employees and business.
Keep an eye out for our 10-minute survey in the coming weeks. The survey will allow us to analyse the current and future skills needs and gaps to assist employers in identifying areas of potential training and upskilling. Information will be made available to employers, training providers and jobseekers to assist in finding and filling the right jobs in to the future.
Final Reminder: Innovation Awards 2017
2016 Innovation of the Year Winners, Renee and Craig Neale of Wholegrain Milling Company, Gunnedah
This Northern Inland Innovation Awards deadline is fast approaching. Entries close on 9th October 2017.
“If you want to promote what makes your business or organisation special, if an innovative approach or product has had results for you or your clients, why not get an entry into the Northern Inland Innovation Awards?” asked RDANI Executive Officer Nathan Axelsson.
“We also welcome nominations. So, you can to help promote how progressive and innovative someone else is.”
“You are not too busy. The entry/nomination process is simple and the benefits are worth the effort,” Mr. Axelsson said.
“I encourage everyone to get onto the awards website (www.niia.com.au) and check out the videos of past category winners and finalists. Then download the entry form and think ‘how can I describe myself as innovative?’ It is time market yourself and your unique story in this region,” he said.
Each year, the gala Northern Inland Innovation Awards dinner and presentation evening is held in a different Local Government Area in the region. This year, the region’s innovation showcase will be staged at the Armidale City Bowling Club on Friday, 24 November.
The award categories are: Agriculture / Horticulture and Associated Services; Health, Aged Care and Disability Services; Retail, Tourism & Leisure; Professional and Government Services; Manufacturing and Engineering; and Research and Education. The RDANI Innovation Awards judging panel will vote on the RDANI Innovation of the Year Award from the winners of each category. Finalists for each category will be invited to attend the gala awards night, with the general public also encouraged to come along.
Skilled Migration Vital for Moree Engineering Business
DD’s Engineering & Fabrication Director Donald Devney and boiler maker Savenaca Seeto from Fiji
The 6th Regional Development Australia Northern Inland (RDANI) skilled migration case study video has just gone online and it is important viewing, according to RDANI Chair Russell Stewart.
“This case study shows how critical skilled migration has been for the growth of DD’s Engineering & Fabrication in Moree. It also shows why some skilled migrants settle in and contribute to our communities long-term,” he said.
RDANI Skilled Migration Project Officer Gary Fry said that the attraction and retention of skilled labour remains a real challenge for this region and particularly in the North West. “DD's Engineering & Fabrication in Moree is a great example of why the skilled migration work of RDANI is vital to the economic development of our region,” he said.
DD’s Engineering & Fabrication is a home-grown business in Moree. The business was conceived and developed by company Director Donald Devney, who was born and raised in Moree. It services (predominantly) irrigation and broadacre agribusiness clients throughout remote north-western NSW and south-central Queensland.
“When I first kicked off in 1994, I actually thought my hardest problem would be finding the work to keep me going but I soon found out that finding skilled staff in a rural community was to be our biggest challenge,” he said in the video.
DD’s Engineering & Fabrication actively does what it can to employ and upskill locals. It currently boasts a workforce of 15, five of whom are apprentices. “They (the apprentices) often move on and we always need qualified, skilled and experienced staff who we can count on,” Mr. Devney said. “We have employed skilled migrant boiler makers since 2007.”
Mr. Fry explained that in locations such as Moree, retention of skilled labour is as important an issue as attraction. “As of August 2017, Savenaca Seeto had been working as a boiler maker at DD’s Engineering & Fabrication for almost 11 years. He and his family are an important contribution to a regional community, as well as a growing regional business,” he said.
In the case study video, Mr. Seeto details why he has settled in the town of Moree with his wife and seven children. “Moree is a small town and there’s a lot of work around. We’ve been busy for the last 10 years.”
“I prefer living here because the rent is so much cheaper than the city and if we want to go somewhere on a family holiday, it’s easy to save up,” he said.
“In Moree, the lifestyle is very convenient. If I want to go to the shops or the school, it’s only a few minutes in the car. We only have two traffic lights in the middle of town. We’ve got everything we need here (in Moree).”
To view the latest skilled migration case study video, click HERE
Trial of Ground-Breaking Shearing School
RDA Northern Inland Executive Officer Nathan Axelsson, ready to trial the Wool-Works shearing school
A cutting-edge shearing school project in the Northern Inland region has been developed in response to a national shortage of shearers and wool handlers, alongside a need for recognised, consistent training. Regional Development Australia (RDA) Northern Inland led a taskforce of stakeholders whose collaboration has made “Wool Works” possible. An RDA Northern Inland funded trial day will be held at the Glen Innes Agricultural Research and Advisory Station (GIARAS) on October 11 and 12.
RDA Northern Inland Executive Officer Nathan Axelsson said the Wool Works shearing school trial will be educational and entertaining for the participating students, with some of the best shearers and wool handlers from across Australia showcasing the skills and demands of their profession.
“High school students participating in the RDA Northern Inland Agribusiness Careers and Professions (AGCAP) program will be attending, furthering their insights into the sector,” Mr Axelsson said.
“The event will allow the Project Group to demonstrate that they are able to work with their key partners; the Department of Primary Industry and Local Land Services in relation to their requirements around biosecurity in particular. This then allows us to potentially provide shearer training programs at the GIARAS into the future; a fantastic facility and asset for the region.”
“The Project Group members are passionate about the region’s wool industry and its skilled labour needs. We have enjoyed the support of former shearer, Nationals Senator for NSW John Williams, as well as Member for Northern Tablelands, Adam Marshall,” Mr Axelsson said.
“As someone who spent many years in shearing sheds, looking at the world upside down, I applaud this initiative and all involved,” said Senator Williams. “It is said that Australia rode on the sheep’s back. Our shearers have been an integral part of the nation’s development over the eyes. In a world where technology takes centre stage, it is refreshing to see these steps taken to ensure the skills of one of our greatest professions, shearing, live on.”
“I’m really excited by the prospect of a shearing school at the field station – it’s a great opportunity to use the world-class skills of local shearers and sheep production specialists to train the next generation,” said District Vet with the Northern Tablelands Local Land Services (LLS) Nigel Brown. “We can include technical aspects of animal health and welfare - biosecurity - along with practical shearing and sheep handling skills. This is good for the sheep, the producers and industry.”
Building Better Regions Funding Announcements
Senator the Hon Fiona Nash, Minister for Regional Development, has announced the projects to be funded under Round One of the Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) Community Investments (CI) stream.
A total of 147 projects to the value of $6.9 million have been approved for funding under the CI stream, nationally.
RDANI Chair Russell Stewart applauded the local grant recipients but has urged the region to be proactive and put hands up for a greater share of the funding pie in the next round of this program.
Successful grant applications in the Northern Inland were:
Armidale Regional Council for a Strategic Plan for Growth and Development of the Armidale Regional Airport - $75,000 in funding for a $150,000 project.
Youth Action & Policy Assn (NSW) Inc towards Building Armidale's Young Social Entrepreneurs - $16,905 in funding.
Armidale Regional Council for the project “The Regions Cooperative: Delivering lasting value to rural Australia” - $108,000 funding for a $144,000 project.
For details on all of the successful applications click HERE
Round One of the CI stream was heavily oversubscribed with 392 applications received. A list of the successful projects is available at www.business.gov.au/bbrf.
It is anticipated that round two of the BBRF will open for applications prior to the end of 2017.
Would You Like to be Part of a Community Investment in the Sapphire Wind Farm?
The Sapphire Wind Farm is well into construction and the developer, CWP, is wanting to assess the level of community interest in directly investing in the project. This would be an opportunity for local community members to invest money into the wind farm and participate in the financial benefits from the sale of renewable electricity.
The survey is open until the 31st of October and is available online at: www.sapphirewindfarm.com.au/community-investment-testing
SWF is being built at a cost of approximately $590m.
One third of the output of SWF has been sold to the ACT Government under a 20 year contract – which effectively guarantees the energy price received over this period. The remaining 2/3 will be contracted in the future, subject to prices, or sold into the spot market.
The project has an expected operating life in excess of 25 years
Work started in January 2017 and will progressively be completed by 30 June 2018
Banks are providing approximately $330m (just under 60%) of the $590m funding required
The owners, of SWF, being Partners Group (+90%) and APRL are funding approximately $260m
The potential opportunity is for the community investors to make an investment in securities issued by the SWF investors, APRL (the CWP Renewables company that holds the company’s equity stake) and Partners Group.
Partners Group is a global private markets investment manager, serving over 900 institutional investors worldwide. We have USD 57 billion in assets under management and more than 900 professionals across 19 offices worldwide. We realize potential in private markets by financing and developing great companies, desirable real estate and essential infrastructure. We create value in our investments through active and long-term responsible ownership.
If there is enough interest in the investment idea for it to proceed, it will be the first project of its type in Australia – even though community investment of this kind in large scale wind projects is a very common model in countries throughout Europe and North America.
The investment model would be linked to performance of the Sapphire Wind Farm as a whole (rather than an individual turbine or turbines).
Doing Business with the NSW Govt
NSW Government’s Business Connect program is staging a free educational seminar to help level the playing field regional businesses looking to increase the business that they do with the NSW State Government.
This workshop will give you an overview on how your small or medium sized business can maximise opportunities to supply goods and services to government agencies.
At this free seminar you will hear:
What opportunities are coming up
How government purchasing works
How to set your business up for success
How to connect to support to help your business grow
Business Connect, in partnership with the Department of Premier and Cabinet, will be delivering a Procurement Workshop Seminar in Tamworth on Tuesday 10th October 2017. It will take place from 1-2:30pm at West Tamworth Leagues Club.
To find out more and register to attend please visit:
New England North West Bulk-Buy Program Update
Farming the Sun has announced that the 5th solar power bulk-buy block for the New England North West is now open.
This marks a significant milestone for the program. Farming the Sun has now passed the two-thirds mark toward achieving its goal of installing 1MW (equivalent to 1% of residences across the region) of high quality solar power! The total level of uptake has now passed 700kW!
The bulk-buy discounts for the fifth block are still up to 33% below regular retail prices. The full schedule of prices are detailed below.
Here's a few more statistics on how the Farming the Sun Solar Power Bulk-Buy IV program is going to date:
Total capacity of solar power systems confirmed to date 708.7kW
Installations to date approximately 500kW
The average system size is increasing, and is now 4.63kW
Five Tesla Powerwall battery storage systems
More than 240 expressions of interest to participate
Around 210 site assessments completed
Register your interest here.
Grants and Funding Opportunities
NSW Government’s Safe Shooting Program
Incorporated, community based not-for-profit shooting, hunting or collecting clubs can apply for up to $20,000 per project.
Applications close on 13 October 2017.
For more information and to apply, visit www.sport.nsw.gov.au/clubs/grants/safeshooting
Business Acceleration grants being offered by the NSW Government
The NSW Government’s $19 million Disability Sector Scale-Up (DSSU) program is designed to help businesses prepare for and make the most of the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
Applications for the first of tranches of small, medium and large Business Acceleration grants are now open and businesses, non-government organisations, peak bodies and consortiums are all able to apply through www.tenders.nsw.gov.au
What's On in the Northern Inland
41st Annual Gunnedah Gallop
Sunday 1st October 2017
“On Your Bike” Exhibition
Sunday 24th September to Saturday 7th October 2017
Armidale Men’s Shed
Scrap Heap Adventure Ride
Friday 29th September to Sunday 01 October 2017
Green Valley Farm, Tingha
Dryland Sled Dog Race
Saturday 30th September to Monday 2nd October 2017
Bolivia / Tenterfield
Guyra Spring TroutFest
Friday 29th September to Sunday 1st October 2017
Guyra Open Gardens
Saturday 30th September to Sunday 1st October 2017
Outlaw Hot Rod Club Moonshine Rumble
Friday 6th to 8th October 2017
Unleash the Black Dog Ball
Saturday 7th October 2017
Kootingal Lions Club Inaugural Art Exhibition and Sale
Friday 6th October 2017
Kootingal Community Hall
National Horse Driving Trials
Friday 6th to Sunday 8th October 2017
Fiesta La Peel – Multicultural Street Festival
Saturday 14th October 2017
Ashford Salami Festival
Saturday 14th October 2017
The Rotary Dungowan Village Fair & Motor Show
Saturday 14th & Sunday 15th October 2017
National Rugby Championships – NSW Country Eagles Vs Perth Spirit
Saturday 14th October
Scully Park, Tamworth
NE Sporting Car Club Khanacross
Sunday 15th October 2017
Inverell Sapphire City Festival
Friday 20th to Sunday 29th October 2017
70th Wallabadah Flower Show
Saturday 21st October 2017
Warialda Honey Festival
Saturday 21st October 2017
Walcha Mountain Festival
Saturday 21st October and Sunday 22nd October 2017
Camp Quality EsCarpade
Monday 23rd October 2017
Inverell PBR Bull Ride
Monday 23rd September 2017
Boggabri Spring Festival & Food Fair
Tuesday 24th October 2017
32ndth Packsaddle – NERAM’s biggest fundraising exhibition
Friday 20 October to Sunday 5th November 2017
Saturday 28th October 2017
Sir Henry Parkes Oration
Saturday 28th October 2017