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September Newsletter

In this Issue:

Welcome from the Chair

Dear Northern Inlanders,

Welcome to another edition of our monthly newsletter. In this edition we’re delighted to showcase our “Wool Works” shearing school trial in Glen Innes which will take place next week. With such a large proportion of our young people not engaged in education, training or employment, initiatives like this are very welcome indeed.
With less than two months to go until our 9th annual Northern Inland Innovation Awards in Inverell, we are still encouraging councils, businesses and not-for-profits to nominate for these prestigious awards. This is a great way to gain regional and national exposure for achievements in your organisation’s area of expertise.


Russell Stewart

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Public Trial of Ground-Breaking Shearing School

RDA-NI 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. 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 Showground on Wednesday 5 October from 9am to 4pm and the general public from around the region is invited to attend this free event.

RDA Northern Inland Executive Officer Nathan Axelsson said the Wool Works shearing school trial will be entertaining for the public and enlightening for organisers, with some of the best shearers and wool handlers from across Australia and New Zealand flocking to the region to showcase the skills and demands of their profession. “They will be treating the day as a warm-up for the National Shearing and Wool Handling Championships, taking place at the Warialda Showground from Thursday 6 to Saturday 8 October,” he said. “The major national event is a spectator spectacular, with upwards of 120 shearers and wool handlers in a highly competitive arena.”

“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 Glen Innes Agricultural Research and Advisory Station (GIARAS); a fantastic facility and asset for the region.”

“The Project Group members are passionate about the region’s wool industry, its skilled labour and training needs. We have enjoyed the support of former shearer, Nationals Senator for NSW John Williams, as well as Member for Northern Tablelands, Adam Marshall and TAFE New England,” 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 commend the foresight of RDA Northern Inland and the other stakeholders involved in developing this exciting concept and have strongly supported the proposal from the outset,” said Mr. Marshall. “With rural commodities, including wool, continuing to increase in value we face a resurgence in many rural industries and that will result in skill shortages, so a project such as this is not only timely but opportunistic.”

“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.”

Launch of Community Solar Power Bulk-Buy for the City of Light

Speakers from the launch of the community solar power bulk-buy launch

A pioneering new community solar power bulk-buy program has been launched in Tamworth on 19 September, marking a significant milestone for a new era of power for Australia's 'first city of electric light'.

The bulk-buy program was officially launched by Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson, who spoke about how significant solar power was becoming for the region, especially given the recent news of another utility-scale solarfarm at the White Rock project near Glen Innes.

The community bulk-buy is being coordinated by Farming the Sun, Australia's most diverse community solar energy collaboration and is coordinated by local rural sustainability charity Starfish Initiatives.

“Farming the Sun began in 2008 and at that time was Australia's largest community solar power bulkbuy”, said Project Director, Adam Blakester. “Today's launch is the first time a community bulk-buy has been made available to the greater Tamworth and New England region. It is especially exciting given that Tamworth was Australia's first 'city of electric light'!”

Bulk-buying of solar power systems is a strategy which has been widely used by community energy groups around Australia as a way of significantly increasing the affordability and take up of solar power.

“This new bulk-buy is offering high quality, Tier 1, solar power systems at discounts of 20-30% below retail,” continued Blakester. “Renewable energy credits are in addition to this saving, which means that some residents and businesses can reduce their up-front investment by nearly half!”

There are environmental benefits from going solar too. Nicky Chirlian from Save Our Soils Liverpool Plains also spoke at the launch. “97% of residents and farms surveyed across the greater north west region are opposed to mining,” said Chirlian. “Renewable energies such as solar are essential to protecting our food, water, soil and habitat, as well as to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.”

Farming the Sun achieves its success through large-scale collaboration. More than a dozen local organisations are program partners, including solar specialist Eco Energy & Solar Solutions, Armidale Tree Group, Liverpool Plains Land Management, North West Alliance, Regional Development Australia Northern Inland, Save our Soils Liverpool Plains, Southern New England Landcare, Sustainable Living Armidale, TAFE New England, Walcha Together and Z-NET Uralla.

“To realise these savings, we need to bulk order a shipping container of solar panels at one time, which is around 200kW in total,” continued Blakester. “Our project goal is to install solar for an additional 1% of residences throughout the region, which is similar to what we achieved with the first bulk-buy back in 2008. Business uptake will be in addition to this target.”

Stephen Griffith, Z-NET Uralla Coordinator, spoke at the launch in regard to the business benefits of solar. “Recent research conducted by Regional Development Australian Northern Inland identified that our region spends $410m per year on energy, and that this is largely electricity with a little gas,” said Mr Griffith. “Businesses are finding that their return on investment from solar can be very compelling, particularly if they mostly use electricity in the daytime and seven days per week.”

The bulk-buy offer is available to residents and businesses throughout the Tamworth, Liverpool Plains, Gunnedah, Armidale, Uralla and Walcha regions. Full details can be found on the project website at www.farmingthesun.net or by contacting Starfish Initiatives.

The Hunt is on for Australia's Regional Online Heroes!

Regional Online Heroes 2016

Are you a regional business owner? If you're using the internet to grow, Google and the Regional Australia Institute want to hear your story!

They are looking for Australia’s top ten Regional Online Heroes from around Australia to fly to Google's HQ in Sydney for a money-can’t-buy Masterclass – to help them grow even faster!

What makes you a Regional Online Hero?

Any small or medium regional business* that uses the internet to grow is eligible. A Regional Online Hero could mean anything from using online marketing to attract interstate customers, expanding from a bricks and mortar store to selling online, or managing a team across borders using shared documents on the cloud.

Enter the competition!

Visit www.regionalaustralia.org.au/regionalonlineheroes2016 and register for a chance to secure one of only ten positions for the masterclass at Google HQ in Sydney.

Glen Innes Solar Farm Granted $6 Million Support

White Rock Wind Farm

Member for Northern Tablelands and Parliamentary Secretary for Renewable Energy Adam Marshall has welcomed news that Goldwind Australia’s White Rock Solar Farm proposal, near Glen Innes, has been awarded $6 million from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). RDA Northern Inland Chair Russell Stewart applauded the announcement. “White Rock is already a significant contributor to the region and is supporting our Northern Inland Innovation Awards,” he said.

Mr Marshall said this funding would ensure the $44.5 million, 20 megawatt, solar farm was constructed on the same site as the already commenced $300 million, 175 megawatt wind farm. “This is tremendous news for Goldwind and our region,” Mr Marshall said.

“With another renewables project now slated, this will mean further investment and jobs will come our way and encourage other projects and companies to invest in renewables in our part of the world.

“Already, our region is home to the third largest solar farm in the state, at Moree, and the two largest wind farms are underway near Glen Innes. The Northern Tablelands is fast developing a reputation as a renewables hub for.”

Mr Marshall said that the White Rock solar farm was one of 12 projects nation-wide supported by ARENA, with an investment totalling $97.1 million to unlock more than $1 billion worth of projects, which would generate 482 megawatts of electricity each year – enough to power around 123,000 homes.

“This project was chosen from a very strong field of applicants from across Australia, demonstrating companies are ready to invest in large-scale renewable energy, but also the quality of the Glen Innes proposal,” Mr Marshall said.

Five of the 12 projects funded were in NSW – Glen Innes, Dubbo, Parkes, Griffith and Manildra – clearly demonstrating that renewables in country NSW is “coming of age”.

Forklift Training & Assessment

Forklift Safety is high on the SafeWork NSW agenda over the next 15 months.  Inspectors will visit 1,000 workplaces to verify compliance.

Make sure you have your staff trained and licensed!  Click on the link below to see more details about TAFE New England
Forklift Information

24-26 October
7-9 November
21-23 December

Email: commercial@tne.edu.au

Grants and Funding Opportunities

Business Research Innovation Initiative

Applications close 30 November 2016

The Australian Government spends about $50 billion on procurement every year in Australia. Rather than procuring existing products, we’re encouraging businesses to develop more innovative solutions to government policy and service delivery problems, with a pilot series of ‘challenges’ called the Business Research and Innovation Initiative (BRII).

What is it?

1. Innovative businesses are invited to submit proposals to address those challenges and the winners will receive grants of up to $100,000 to test their ideas over three months of development.

2. The most successful ideas may be eligible for a further grant of up to $1 million to develop a prototype or proof of concept over the following 18 months.

BRII will provide SMEs with critical early stage financial support for the development of new-to-market innovations, and boost their experience with to Government procurement contracts.

When is it happening?
The five challenges are:

Information on the programme is available at:  https://www.business.gov.au/assistance/business-research-and-innovation-initiative

Small Grants for Rural Communities (SGRC) - Round 30

Applications for Round 30 close 7 October 2016

The Small Grants for Rural Communities is the longest running and broadest program the Foundation for  FRRR offers, opening twice per year.

In 2016, the SGRC program celebrates 30 rounds of grant-making. The program has supported hundreds of small communities in that time, investing millions of dollars into local projects.

It is a great example of a collaborative program supported by various partners, which has the flexibility to address issues that make a difference to the sustainability of rural, regional and remote communities.

Grants of up to $5,000 are available for projects and activities that offer clear public benefit for communities  in rural, regional or remote Australia. Priority is given to communities of 10,000 or fewer.


Not-for-profit community organisations that have an ABN or Incorporation Certificate can apply. Organisations / projects demonstrating community partnerships are preferred to multiple applications from one community (please submit only one application per organisation).

Projects must be for a charitable purpose (benefit the whole community).

Projects with clearly defined objectives, timeframes and evaluation strategies will be preferences.

While the criteria for this program is broad, we currently cannot fund operational and administration costs.

If your project involves working directly with children, your organisation should have policies and procedures around working with children, Working with Children Checks, and the handling of child abuse complaints, or the project may not be funded.

Before applying, please review the Guidelines and Application Form carefully.

What's On in the Northern Inland

Life in the Landscape
Saturday 3rd September – Monday 3rd October
Glen Innes

Quirindi Pony Club Annual Camp
24th – 30th September

Rugtoberfest 2016
Friday 30th September – Sunday 2nd October

Guyra Sprint TroutFest
Friday 30th September – Sunday 2nd October

Wright College 60th Anniversary
Friday 30th September – Sunday 2nd October

Australian Agility Dog Association 2016 National Grand Prix
Friday 30th Sep – Monday 3rd October

Manilla VRA Antiques & Collectors Fair
Saturday 1st – Sunday 2nd October

Emmaville Gemfest and Swap Meet
Saturday 1st – Monday 3rd October

Birrang Enterprise – Get a Free Driver’s Licence Event
Wednesday 5th October

Warialda National Shearing Titles and Wool Handling
Thursday 6th –  Saturday 8th October

Uralla Rotary Antiques and Collectibles Fair
Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th October

A Day on the Gravel
Sunday 9th October

Inverell Sapphire City Festival
Friday 14th – Sunday 23rd October

Healthy Mummy Fund Raising Mud Run
Saturday 15th October

Fiesta La Peel – Multicultural Street Festival
Saturday 15th October

Ashford Salami Festival
Saturday 15th October

Moree Relay for Life
Saturday 15th – Sunday 16th October

Walcha Mountain Festival
Saturday 15th October – Sunday 16th October

Blackville Art Show & Market Day
Sunday 16th October

UNE Graduation Days
Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd October

Wallabadah Flower Show
Saturday 22nd October

Oktoberfest at the Royal Theatre
Saturday 22nd October

Inaugural Unleash the Black Dog, Black Tie Ball
Sunday 23rd October

Spring Ridge P&C’s Annual Prawn and Chicken Night
Friday 28th October
Spring Ridge

A Day on the Green
Saturday 29th October

Thunderbolt’s Festival
Saturday 29th October

Evo City Mountain Bike Challenge
Friday 28th – Sunday 30th October

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