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September 2018 Newsletter

In This Issue

Welcome from the Chair

Dear Northern Inlanders,

Welcome to another edition of our newsletter. Last month saw a change in both the overall Minister responsible for Regional Development (now Hon Michael McCormack MP), as well as the Minister responsible for the Regional Development Australia (RDA) program, Bridget McKenzie. We are looking forward to working with both Ministers into the future for the betterment of our region.

The last few months have seen a significant number of grants open for applications, as well as funding announcements for deserving projects around the region. It is great to see this level of activity to help our region grow and prosper. Be sure to keep up to date with the grants that are available for businesses, infrastructure and community projects through the listings on our website and our monthly newsletters.

While the last two weeks have seen some rain for parts of our region, many areas still haven’t seen a drop. Our thoughts are with the families, businesses and communities that are doing it tough.

Regards,

Russell Stewart
Chair

What Does Job Automation Mean for Regional Australia?

Regional Australia employs almost one third of Australia’s workers, and 81% of the nation’s agriculture, forestry and fishing (AFF) workers. The recent discussion paper ‘Riding the Next Wave of Automation in Rural Australia’ by the Regional Australia Institute look into the change in the employment in regional areas and the effect of automation, and the need for a dual approach for regional communities to adapt to the changes ahead.

Employment in AFF has decreased over the last five years and is expected to continue decreasing in the next five years, partly due to automation. Human labour is increasingly being replaced by automation to increase productivity, meet labour needs, and increase yields to meet the increasing demands of our growing population. This is being met with the fear that some rural jobs may be replaced completely by technology, however the RAI proposes that jobs will change to requiring higher skill levels and an increased emphasis on digital skills.

While the percentage of jobs at high risk is the same for regional and metropolitan areas of Australia, at 27%, there is a higher percentage of jobs at a moderate risk of automation in regional areas, 37% compared to 27%. Occupations that are based around low-skilled, routine manual labour, such as machinery operators and drivers, labourers, and clerical and administrative workers, are more likely to be automated than those that are non-routine and need a higher level of skill and care, such as managers and professionals.

The RAI proposes that ‘vulnerability to automation is about change as the result of automated technologies. It does not necessarily mean job loss, nor does it extend to all AFF subsectors’.  The Department of Employment projections show that AFF employment will decrease by 0.8% over the next five years, and the AFF subsectors related to livestock will be the hardest hit. At the same time, sectors relating to fishing, hunting, fruit, tree nuts, mushrooms, vegetables and nursery and floriculture production will grow. The Northern Inland region will unfortunately be one of the most affected regions of New South Wales, with employment decreases in the more resources and production-based industries, but these will be off-set by increases in more service-oriented industries, for a net employment growth.

However, these decreases do not mean that there will less jobs available in the AFF sector. In 2008, the national Farmer’s Federation estimated that the AFF industry was short around 80,000 skilled workers. Research by the National Centre for Vocational Education and Research shows that farmer and farm manager positions, will have 123,000 openings between 2016 and 2024 because of expansion and the retirement of the current workforce. This indicates that despite the changes in jobs due to automation, there will still be a need for workers in the AFF sector.

It will be important for regional communities to adapt to these changes, and the RAI proposes a dual focus on gaining employees with the required skills from the current population and through migrant workers. With children from farming families more reluctant stay and the misconception that the AFF sector doesn’t provide opportunities and career progression, less of our youth are undertaking studies relating to agriculture and rural science. This trend could be offset by increasing the awareness of the professional opportunities, fostering our youth’s interest in farming and better pathways between school, training and employment. To supplement the local labour source, migration labour can be utilised, however the current visa process is not flexible enough to effectively fill the local labour gaps, partly due to the current industry and occupation classifications do not accurately reflecting the nature of the work or the need for unskilled labour and lower qualifications.

The report by the RAI provides an interesting insight in the change that is ahead for the workforce and communities in regional Australia, and the full report can be obtained on the RAI’s website here.

$2.5m Rail Freight Hub for Werris Creek and Beyond

Crawfords Freightlines will soon commence construction of a new intermodal rail facility in Werris Creek. With the development application approved by Liverpool Plains Shire Council last week, work has already begun to prepare the land for construction, with plans to have trains running from the terminal by the start of 2019. The $2.5 million facility will generate employment to at least 25 full-time employees and will generate flow-on effects to other businesses in the township and surrounds as a result of the works and additional visitors.

The construction of the facility and its impact on the economic development of the region will be a great opportunity to a multitude of businesses including the transport of grain, farm equipment, timber, meat and fertilizer, cotton seed and refrigerated shipping. Moving this freight by rail is more efficient, reduces trucks and congestion travelling to all three ports located in Port Botany.

Liverpool Plains Mayor, Andrew Hope indicated that the development will give Werris Creek and the Shire a massive economic boost. “This is a big opportunity, especially given the amount of work it is going to create,” Cr Hope said. “We’ve certainly had conversations with them about local employment. They’re an Australian-owned, family-owned business, so they understand the importance of investing in the local community.”

Crawfords Freightlines management made the decision to make the intermodal facility an open access facility providing opportunity for other businesses in the region and neighboring areas and to focus in particular on existing and new export opportunities and assisting where ever possible for these businesses to reach global markets more efficiently and cost effectively.

The potential for growth is huge as the North West Express will link with other modes of transport servicing Moree, Narrabri, Inverell, Armidale, Tamworth and the entire New England area. Crawford Freightlines owner Peter Crawford said Werris Creek’s rail positioning was almost unrivalled. “It’s one of the best spots in NSW, and definitely the best spot in the North West,” he said. “The interest we’ve had since it was announced is unbelievable. The demand is already there, and it will grow. And as it does we’ll accommodate that.”

Businesses Encouraged to Get Involved in the Inland Rail

Recently the Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development attended the Inland Rail stakeholder roundtable hosted by Narrabri Shire Council as an important community consultation on the project. The roundtable brought together Federal, State and Local Governments, industry representatives and the Australian Rail Track Corporation to discuss how the Inland Rail will benefit businesses, communities and the economy in the region.

“Inland Rail is going to be a boon for regional Australia. Businesses in Narrabri are ready to get into gear and discuss what they can do take advantage of the employment and procurement opportunities as part of construction, logistics and supply and providing services,” Mr McCormack said.

Katrina Humphries, Mayor of Moree Plains Shire Council is also encouraging businesses to get involved and benefit from the Inland Rail. “Not only will the Inland Rail provide huge benefits to our producers once completed, but has the potential to open up new industries for the region, with Moree positioned to continue its importance as a transport and logistics hub for the north-west and gateway to the New England region,” said the Mayor.

Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton said he was pleased to see regional Australians are getting ready for Inland Rail. “As a local, I can tell you the community is excited to see this project coming to fruition. The Australian Government has invested $9.3 billion in this once-in-a-generation infrastructure project and now we are working to support complementary investment along the corridor,” Mr Coulton said.

Businesses can become involved in the Inland Rail project by:

  • Registering to receive notifications about Australian Rail Track Corporation tenders through Tenderlink.
  • Registering to link with other suppliers through the Industry Capability Network.
  • Staying informed about the project, including employment and tender opportunities on the Inland Rail website here.

Innovation by Students to be Recognised at eIMEx

Gunnedah’s Energy, Innovation and Mining Expo (eIMEx) is one of the region’s newest events and will showcase the best in energy, mining and innovation from around the Northern Inland region as well as further afar. Backed by funding from Gunnedah Shire Council and the NSW Government through the Incubator Event Fund, the inaugural event will be held in November this year.

To reflect our belief that great invention and ideas came be found and fostered through our region’s youth, we are pleased to be the sponsor of the student innovation award. Entry is free and open to any student in high school or tertiary education for any type of innovation, there are no category restrictions. Finalists will be invited to exhibit the ideas at the expo and the winner will be announced at the eIMEx dinner on Friday the 2nd of November. Entries close on the 30th of September, and further details about the Student Innovation Award and the expo can be found on the eIMEx website here.

UNE Smart Region Incubator is Increasing its Reach

The University of New England’s Smart Region Incubator was launched in early 2017 with funding support from the NSW Government. The incubator connects regional business with growth potential together with academic business research, mentors and community partners. It also provides a work space, data or information on funding opportunities and runs events.

Through the additional $300,000 of additional funding recently announced by the NSW Government through the Local Innovation Network program, the Smart Region Incubator will be able to expand its activities across the Northern Inland region. Though the creation of collaborative online platforms, and hosting of events and activities across the region, they hope to inspire and educate the next generation of Innovators and entrepreneurs throughout our region.

The new program will start off with a masterclass in Gunnedah in October and you can find out more about the Smart Region Incubator on their website.

Featured Grants and Funding Opportunities

Below are some featured grants and funding opportunities from around 75 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.

Drought Communities Programme — Extension
Closing date: To Be Advised
Value: Up to $1 Million per Local Council
Run By: Australian Government Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities

The Drought Communities Programme (DCP) supports communities in the most drought-affected regions of Australia. Funding is available to eligible councils for local infrastructure projects and other drought-relief activities. Project funding is intended to provide short-term support, including by boosting local employment and procurement, and addressing social and community needs.

On 19 August 2018, the Australian Government announced it would boost the Drought Communities Programme by $75 million and provide initial support of $1 million to 60 eligible councils in 2018-19. All twelve councils in the Northern Inland are included.

Eligible councils are able to select projects that provide the greatest support to their communities, including infrastructure and other activities. Projects must be in addition to the normal planned activities of the council. Further guidance will be available in the program guidelines.

Projects could include:

  • Employing local contractors to undertake repairs and maintenance
  • Upgrading or building new community facilities
  • Holding events and undertaking drought-relief activities
  • Carting potable water into communities for drinking and bathing.

Regional Growth – Environment and Tourism Fund
Closing date: 21st of September 2018, 5pm
Value: $5 Million and over for stream one, $500,000 and over for stream two
Run By: Australian Government Department of Employment

The Regional Growth – Environment and Tourism Fund (RGETF) aims to increase tourist visitation by investing in regional environment and tourism infrastructure, particularly focusing on fixed assets that will grow and further diversify NSW regional economies.

Up to $100 million is available for the RGETF Round Two in 2018-19. This is divided in two streams:

Stream One: Up to $50 million for regionally iconic tourism activation projects, such as the Wagga Wagga Riverside Precinct Rejuvenation, the Jenolan Caves upgrade of visitor facilities and the Tamworth Astronomy/Science Centre, Planetarium and Café.

Stream Two: Up to $50 million for projects from eligible applicants who were unsuccessful at EOI stage during Round One.

Volunteer Grants
Closes: 18th of September 2018 2pm AEST
Value: $1,000 to $5,0000
Run By: The Department of Social Services

Volunteer Grants aim to support the efforts of Australia’s volunteers. The grants provide small amounts of money that organisations and community groups can use to help their volunteers. The grants form part of the Government’s work to support the volunteers who help disadvantaged Australian communities and encourage inclusion of vulnerable people in community life.

This funding is to be used to:

  • purchase eligible small equipment items for use by volunteers;
  • contribute to volunteers’ fuel costs;
  • contribute to transport costs for volunteers with disability who are unable to drive;
  • assist with the costs of training courses; and
  • undertake background screening checks for volunteers.

What's On in the Northern Inland

R U Aware, We Care
Various Dates
Drought support and fundraising throughout the region

2018 ABHA National Finals
Tuesday 18th to Sunday 23rd of September
Tamworth

Moree Community Connect Day
Wednesday 19th of September
Moree

Colour Run
Saturday 22nd of September
Uralla

Boggabri Spring Fair
Saturday 22nd of September
Boggabri

Glen Innes Oktoberfest
Saturday 22nd of September
Glen Innes

Movie Night Under the Stars
Saturday 22nd of September
Narrabri

Victoria Park Family Fun Day & Plant Sale
Sunday 23rd of September
Tamworth

CGS Summer Crop Options Field Day
Monday 24th to Tuesday 25th of September
Burren Junction and Bellata

Plant Breeding Institute Field Day
Wednesday 26th of September
Narrabri

2018 Agility Dog Association of Australia (ADAA) National Grand Prix
Friday 28th of September to Monday 1st of October
Tamworth

Emmaville GemFest
Saturday 29th to Sunday 30th of September
Emmaville

Annual Spring Rose and Flower Show
Saturday 29th to Sunday 30th of September
Narrabri

Guyra Spring TroutFest
Saturday 29th to Sunday 30th of September 2018
Guyra

Guyra TroutFest Open Gardens
Saturday 29th to Sunday 30th of September 2018
Guyra

Kentucky Spring Fair & Challenge
Sunday the 30th of September
Kentucky

Buskers & Comedy Festival
Tuesday the 2nd of October
Armidale

The Lightning Bolt II in Tenterfield
Tuesday 2nd of October
Tenterfield

Caravan & Motorhome Club of Australia 33rd National Rally
Saturday 6th to Saturday 13th of October
Gunnedah

Fiesta La Peel - Multicultural Street Festival
Saturday 13th of October
Tamworth

Warialda Hospital Auxillary Market Night
Saturday 13th of October
Warialda

Drought Relief Family Fun Day & Pig Races
Saturday 13th of October
Glen Innes

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