Media Releases

Landmark report highlights the Limestone Coasts strengths and future opportunities for growth and investment

March 25, 2022

Regional Development Australia Limestone Coast (RDALC) has partnered with Infrastructure Australia to develop the Regional Strengths and Infrastructure Gaps report. The report highlights opportunities in housing, education, transport and telecommunications to support the regionalisation trend that took hold during the pandemic and is reshaping Limestone Coast region.

In developing this report, Infrastructure Australia partnered with 48 Regional Development Australia committees to conduct extensive consultation on community views. This involved engagement with key regional stakeholders, including businesses, peak bodies and industry groups, to help create a picture of each area’s diverse assets, growth industries and infrastructure requirements.

Consultation facilitated by RDALC found that stakeholders within the region consider available housing, access to further education and training, broadband and mobile connectivity, and the quality of freight infrastructure, to be the most significant infrastructure gaps.

The report highlights that while the desirability and liveability of the region has increased demand for housing, the lack of infrastructure investment cannot accommodate the rising population.

“The increased demand for housing and lack of available and affordable accommodation for workers means businesses in the region have not been able to operate at full capacity or grow as a consequence,” said Evan Flint, Chair of RDALC.

Access to skills and available workforce were identified as a key growth challenge for the region. Many small businesses are facing major skills related issues, which limit their ability to create further employment opportunities.

“The provision of appropriate education infrastructure is critical to ensure the development and retention of a sustainable working population, with the right type of skills and capabilities to support industry growth,” said Mr Flint.

The existence of multiple black spots across the region, impacting the performance of industries and community was a key issue identified within the report.

“Digital connectivity through appropriate infrastructure has been identified as critical to ensure the Limestone Coast remains competitive with metropolitan regions and globally,” said Mr Flint.

“With our Australian Digital Inclusion Index score well below the State and National average, the need to improve our digital infrastructure is critical in supporting changing delivery models for training and education in the region,” said Mr Flint.

A growing freight task was seen as a key regional priority, and in particular, the increasing number of larger and heavier trucks on local roads. The need for intermodal freight hub facilities and freight rail connection in the southern parts of the region were identified as a necessity in order to support growing freight volumes, alleviate pressure on local roads and increase opportunities to enter new markets.

Infrastructure Australia Chief of Policy & Research Peter Colacino said “Infrastructure Australia’s 2019 Australian Infrastructure Audit identified the challenges and opportunities in providing infrastructure and services in Regional Australia.

“While Australia’s regions are each unique, they share many strengths. This report draws out of those strengths as the basis for communities to define their own identify as well as supporting increased collaboration and knowledge sharing between communities.

“We encourage all stakeholders to use this evidence base to bring forward solutions to local challenges and seize opportunities for growth, innovation and investment. This evidence base supports planning, and informed decision-making, to ensure we get the solutions right to close these gaps.

“Without further reform and investment, the quality of infrastructure and access to services in our regions will remain behind our Fast-growing Cities, constraining growth. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on regional population growth and changing patterns of trade are compounding these challenges,” Mr Colacino said.

Published alongside an interactive map, the report is a starting point for discussion between all parties to inform further planning, policy and investment solutions. Further consultation is being encouraged, with submissions open until 29 April 2022.

You can access the SA report here.

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Limestone Coast Bridges and Drains Impact Survey

March 4, 2022

Regional Development Australia Limestone Coast (RDALC) are partnering with the South Eastern Water Conservation and Drainage Board (SEWCDB) to conduct an important survey to better understand the needs of our region.

This latest collaboration adds a new chapter to RDALC’s history of support for regional infrastructure projects. From large scale airport expansions to examining the functionality of back-road bridges, RDALC have actively assisted businesses and organisations to plan for the growth of our region for almost 30 years.

“RDALC take our role as advocates for regional infrastructure needs seriously and we are pleased to be partnering with the SEWCDB to enable a clearer understanding of the current issues experienced within our region around the drainage network” said Evan Flint, RDALC Chair.

“It has been several years since feedback on the condition of the Limestone Coast drainage system has been sought from the public and it is important to gain up-to-date information on current issues, including the social and economic impacts of this major infrastructure network” said Mr Flint.

“Feedback from the new Limestone Coast Bridges and Drains Impact Survey will be crucial for RDALC and the Drainage Board as we work to plan for the future” said Mr. Flint.

The South Eastern Water Conservation and Drainage Board manages nearly 2600 kilometers of drains across the Limestone Coast. This infrastructure includes over 2000 bridge and culvert crossings.

“An efficient road transport system is essential for primary producers, essential services, forestry, agriculture, freight and tourism. All road users must be able to travel safely across this large network of bridges and crossings. This is not only an economic consideration but a necessity for day-to-day activity across the region” said Brett McLaren, SEWCDB Presiding Member.

RDALC are seeking input from regional road users, including primary producers, transport operators, Local Government, emergency services and tourism operators. The information obtained from this survey will assist the SEWCDB to plan and prioritise asset upgrades for the bridge network across the Limestone Coast, for works that will be completed when additional funds become available.

“I welcome RDALC’s ongoing support and interest in the economic and social impact of improving bridges and crossings, and I encourage as many people as possible to complete the Limestone Coast Bridges and Drains Impact Survey,” said Mr. McLaren.

The survey is available here or by calling Steve Chapple on (08) 8723 1057.

 

For media enquiries please contact:

Evan Flint, Chair RDALC | T: 8723 1057 |

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Regional Leadership Program – Limestone Coast

February 24, 2022

More than 60 future leaders across the Limestone Coast will be identified and better supported through a new leadership initiative. Regional Development Australia Limestone Coast (RDALC) are excited to be partnering with the South Australia Government to deliver the place-based Regional Leadership Program to find and develop leaders within our community.

“I am thrilled RDALC will be able to offer our region’s emerging leaders the opportunity to learn more about themselves and achieve their potential as leaders,” said David Wheaton, CEO RDALC.

“This important program will increase the diversity of our leadership pool and make connections between leaders across the region to affect collaboration and change in our local communities,” Mr Wheaton said.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development David Basham said it is crucial to support strong leaders in South Australia’s regions now and into the future.

“Today our regions contribute around $29 billion per year to our state’s economy with just under 150,000 people employed in regional South Australia,” Minister Basham said.

“For that, our communities need a pipeline of future leaders, as well as a skilled workforce which is why we are providing the state’s seven RDA associations with $2 million from the Regional Growth Fund to deliver a leadership development program, estimated to support more than 400 people.”

Each regional RDA in South Australia will receive funding to deliver programs suited to the leadership development requirements of their region.

“Following the wrap up of the Limestone Coast LGA hosted Leadership program in 2021, we are delighted to continue in delivering this new leadership program with at least 60 community leaders over the next 2 years,” said Mr Wheaton.

“Having advocated for a state regional leadership program for the last 5 years, we see the immense value in providing opportunities for our leaders of the future to participate in,” Mr Wheaton said.

ENDS.

For enquiries please contact:
David Wheaton, Chief Executive Officer, ceo@rdalc.org.au, phone: 08 8723 1057 mobile: 0417 885 920

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Accelerating Regional Employment Program

February 18, 2022

South Australian Government funding supports increased skilled migration to Limestone Coast.

A $170,000 grant from the South Australian Government will allow Limestone Coast businesses to attract, develop and retain skilled workers.

Regional Development Australia Limestone Coast (RDALC) will deliver the ‘Region Ready’ project as part of the South Australian Government’s Accelerating Regional Employment Program.

Member for McKillop Nick McBride said the Region Ready project will support businesses to attract and retain workers in the Mount Gambier, Tatiara, Kingston, Robe, Naracoorte-Lucindale, Wattle Range and Grant council areas.  The project will work with key stakeholders to assist skilled migrants and workers from other states, and overseas -when travel restrictions allow, to successfully settle in the Limestone Coast region.

“I’d like to congratulate RDALC on their successful proposal, which will help drive migration to the Limestone Coast and connect skilled workers with employers,” Mr McBride said.

“We are committed to providing small businesses with the tools to help them grow and increase their capability.

“And that’s exactly what the Region Ready project does by supporting local job seekers, skilled migrants and domestic relocators into employment, promoting job vacancies and connecting skilled workers with employers.

“The Limestone Coast is a great place to live and work, with more and more career opportunities as businesses move outside of the cities during the pandemic.

“The target is to have 25 employers go through the employer of choice program. In addition, Region Ready will develop an employer of choice toolkit and other resources that will be made publicly available, free of charge, connecting the wider business community to the program.

“This has a flow-on effect to the entire community, creating jobs and boosting the local economy,” Mr McBride said.

RDALC Chair, Evan Flint, said Region Ready builds on the success the region has had in attracting new arrivals to the region, and will ensure local employers are well equipped to continue to attract skilled workers to the region, including an international workforce when travel restrictions allow.

“Employers in the Limestone Coast have been struggling to fill vacancies across all industry sectors, so Region Ready will connect skilled job seekers to regional vacancies, securing a reliable workforce for our businesses and supply chains to grow,” Mr Flint said.

“The impacts of COVID-19 are still being felt around the region, including significant shortages in the supply of skilled labour, especially for our agriculture and hospitality sectors.

“By working with employers to build their knowledge and skills through the employer of choice program, we help them stand out from the crowd in a competitive jobs market.”

ENDS

 

For media enquiries contact:

David Wheaton, Chief Executive Officer, ceo@rdalc.org.au, phone: 08 8723 1057 mobile: 0417 885 920

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RDALC: We Value Small Business

September 23, 2021

Regional Development Australia Limestone Coast (RDALC) have been supporting our small business community for the last 26 years. From providing one-on-one guidance on how to start a business, to supporting large multi-million-dollar applications for funding, the team at RDALC are approachable, adaptable, and are connected to the services and support that our region’s businesses need the most.

“Small businesses have had a tough time in the last 18 months, with the ever-changing border and business activity restrictions and the uncertainty of what’s around the corner, we recognise now more than ever how important it is that we are here to support our business community to prosper,” said David Wheaton, RDALC CEO.

“Our business support is not just about helping someone with a business plan, it’s about identifying where they need assistance to remain viable and connecting them to the information, programs and services that can help them achieve that,” said Mr Wheaton.

From supporting businesses like Coonawarra Experiences with their successful funding application, to assisting Boneham Cottages address their workforce shortages, through to helping large-scale businesses like UDC at Penola navigate border closures for their staff, the RDALC team has the knowledge, connections and understanding to help businesses keep their doors open.

“Like many of our small businesses, we operate a small but effective team and have well established relationships across the region,” said Mr Wheaton. “We pride ourselves on being able to adapt to the current needs of the industry and have created programs and support services in response to these,” Mr Wheaton said.

“We have seen our region’s businesses struggle with COVID-19 and have been re-focusing our services and programs to ensure we are meeting every business’s needs, both large and small,” said Rachael Ashman, Manager Business and Workforce Development. “We have developed our Expert Connection program to provide free professional, expert assistance to those businesses critically impacted by the pandemic,” she said.

In recognition of how difficult the past 18 months have been, RDALC have been paying the participant fees for the workshops and training delivered by the Adelaide Business Hub under the Australian Small Business Advisory Service (ASBAS) program.

“We have made sure our workshops cover the topics that our businesses really need and because we know that cash-flow has been a real issue for some operators, we are picking up the costs of these workshops,” said Rachael Ashman. “Over the past 18 months we have funded capacity building training for 115 business operators and owners across the Limestone Coast, providing invaluable access to information and skills to keep their business operating,” she said.

Through the electronic newsletter, The Weekly, RDALC focus on responding to the needs of the Limestone Coast business community by providing up-to-date information on COVID-19 directions, grants and funding, professional development and free (or low cost) training and workshops.

The team at RDALC also provide investment and infrastructure support through economic analysis and assistance with framing funding applications. “In the past 18, months for just the council areas of Wattle Range and City of Mount Gambier, we have seen $2.97 million dollars in grant funding secured for regional projects,” said Mr Wheaton.

“While there are some questions around the value our organisation offers to Limestone Coast businesses, we will continue to provide real and tangible outcomes and services to our local businesses and community,” said David Wheaton “We acknowledge and value the vital role small businesses provide in our region.”

For more information on the support that RDALC can provide your business, call 8723 1057 or our business assistance page here.

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Future Health Care Workers Visit Limestone Coast

September 3, 2021

StudyAdelaide and Regional Development Australia Limestone Coast (RDALC) have partnered to introduce international students studying health and allied health to prospective employers in the Limestone Coast.

Around 50 international students and graduates will hit the road on September 7 as part of the Future Healthcare Workers Limestone Coast Tour, a three-day tour of Kingston, Millicent, Mount Gambier, Naracoorte and Keith, where they will meet representatives from local hospitals, nursing homes, regional health networks and local government to discuss employment opportunities.

South Australian regional health and care providers are facing significant skills shortages as highlighted in the recent Aged Care Royal Commission. Latest figures from StudyAdelaide indicate that approximately 54 per cent of international students intend to live and work in South Australia after completing their studies, with half of those willing to explore a move to regional SA.

StudyAdelaide Chief Executive Karyn Kent said StudyAdelaide and RDALC had received overwhelming interest in the tour from both students and employers.

“More than 830 students registered an interest in the Limestone Coast visit, and we have a wait list for future tours to the Limestone Coast and other regions,” Ms Kent said.

“Our research indicates that more than 50 per cent of international students would consider working in a regional area outside of Adelaide. Therefore, on the one hand we have thousands of students keen to find employment and willing to look outside of greater Adelaide. And on the other hand, we have major regional employers dealing with skills shortages and gaps in their workforce.”

RDALC CEO David Wheaton said he was excited to be working with StudyAdelaide to facilitate the connection between prospective newcomers to the region and local employers.

“The Limestone Coast is currently experiencing great demand for health care workers region wide,” said RDALC CEO, David Wheaton.

“We know that in the month of August alone, there was 107 health care and social assistance vacancies in our region, representing 17% of all jobs advertised in the Limestone Coast,” Mr Wheaton said.

“By partnering with StudyAdelaide and the local Councils, we are able to provide the students with information and opportunities that our region offers, which will hopefully lead them to consider working and living here permanently,” Mr Wheaton said.

“It’s a win-win all round. International students both gain employment – often in sectors that would otherwise have skills shortages – and create employment – with every three international students in South Australia creating one local job.” Said Ms Kent.

The students will travel by bus to the region where they will be welcomed by RDALC and briefed by community leaders on job opportunities and the benefits of living and working in each community.

Students will meet representatives from major regional hospitals including the Kingston, Naracoorte, and Millicent Hospitals, Limestone Coast Regional Health Network, allied health providers, and local aged care facilities.

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New Members for RDALC Board

August 26, 2021

A new look Regional Development Australia Limestone Coast (RDALC) Board met for the first time this month in Mount Gambier, setting a clear direction to bring jobs and investment to the region.

Local farmer Jane Fetherstonhaugh and recent Limestone Coast Leadership Program graduate Michael Millhouse have been welcomed to the Board, serving alongside returning members Darren Turner (MiniJumbuk CEO), Simone Kain (George the Farmer Co-Founder), Liz McKinnon (Green Triangle Forest Industries Hub General Manager), Judy Nagy (Project Management and Finance), Lew Parsons (Forest Industry Consultant), Erika Vickery OAM (Mayor, Naracoorte Lucindale Council), Scott Whicker (Manufacturing and Engineering), Alan Richardson (RDALC Deputy Chair) and Evan Flint (RDALC Chair).

Evan Flint said Jane and Michael’s appointment to the Board will bolster the existing representation of strong business and regional leaders. “I’m extremely pleased to welcome Jane and Michael to the Board as they will bring a strong connection to local business and industry, as well as experience in both private and public sector services,” Mr Flint said.

Mr Flint said the new-look board possessed strong business acumen and drive to continue the organisation’s existing program focusing on business support, investment attraction and retaining a vibrant workforce in the Limestone Coast.

“The Limestone Coast has significant natural assets that underpin the economy’s competitive advantages. I’m confident that this dynamic mix of industry and business leaders will provide direction and opportunity for our region to reach its full potential,” Mr Flint Said.

“Our focus for 2021 has centred around supporting our small business community and delivering the Regional Work SA Program, assisting areas hard hit for staff such as the agriculture, health and hospitality sectors. While our foundation has always included investment attraction and infrastructure, we have also taken a significant step to expand and broaden the provision of critical services through our one-on-one business support,” said RDALC CEO, David Wheaton.

Former The Border Watch General Manger Dennis Jackson did not seek reappointment.

“The RDALC Board would like to thank Dennis for his valued contributions during the past 3 years and we wish him well on his future endeavours,” RDA CEO David Wheaton said.

Above from Left: RDALC Chair, Evan Flint welcomes Michael Millhouse and Jane Fetherstonhaugh to the Board.

 

To read the RDALC Board member profiles, click here.

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Limestone Coast Grant Finder: one-stop-shop for grant funding

July 2, 2021

Regional Development Australia Limestone Coast (RDALC) is making it easier for the community and business owners across the region to access funding opportunities through the Limestone Coast Grant Finder.

The Limestone Coast Grant Finder is an online portal that provides a comprehensive list of funding opportunities available to local business, community groups, sporting clubs, not-for-profit organisations, individuals and Local Government.

RDALC CEO, David Wheaton said the Limestone Coast Grant Finder was a first of its kind in the region and will see more funding flow to local projects.

“Our goal is to increase our support for business, community groups and Local Government to access funding opportunities that will support economic growth and community wellbeing,” said Mr. Wheaton.

Until now, RDALC staff have been providing support to business and industry through a variety of methods including our weekly updates, specific grant application advice and promotion of larger scale funds. In the past, this has required the arduous task of searching across multiple funding websites to identify appropriate grants. The Limestone Coast Grant Finder will compliment these existing efforts and provide a more efficient means of accessing grant information 24/7.

“RDALC recognise the importance and value that external funding plays in supporting regional projects. By making a significant investment in the Limestone Coast Grant Finder, we are speeding up the grant search process and building capacity of business and community to leverage additional funds into the region,” said Mr. Wheaton.

RDALC are providing the Limestone Coast Grant Finder as a free service that identifies funding opportunities specifically available to the region. It collates funding from a cross-section of State, Federal and Local government, private companies, Government Agencies and other philanthropic organisations – in one easy location.

“Users have the opportunity to create a login where they can save, track, and create alerts for the type of grants they are interested in. People can register to receive reminders when certain funding rounds become available, giving businesses and community groups the chance to put together well-prepared funding applications,” said Mr Wheaton.

The portal also provides guidance on finding and applying for grants to maximise the chance of success and has a directory of external professional writers that can help prepare applications.

The Limestone Coast Grant Finder can now be accessed via the RDALC website at www.rdalc.org.au/funding

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Growing our Regional Workforce

June 25, 2021

Regional Development Australia’s (RDA) eight South Australian branches have collaborated to commission a research paper that examines the complex, interconnected and key barriers that are inhibiting the availability of a skilled workforce for regional South Australia. It is a comprehensive review and documents existing research, case studies and stakeholder interviews and sets out an extensive list of recommendations to address the barriers raised.

In addition to the full research paper, a summary document has been prepared providing a list of the Top 5 Key Recommendations.

They are :

  1. Increased housing supply to address the shortage of available accommodation
  2. Employment readiness pathways
  3. Regionally based workforce resources
  4. Increased business HR capacity & capability, including Employer of Choice programs
  5. Migration program reform

Read the full media release here.

Download the summary document here.

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Alan Richardson Reappointed as Deputy Chair

June 2, 2021

Evan Flint, Chair of Regional Development Australia Limestone Coast (RDALC) has announced Alan Richardson will continue in his role as Deputy Chair for a further 3 year term. Having been a member of the RDALC Board since 2011, Alan took on the Deputy Chair role in 2015 and has demonstrated strong leadership during this time.

“Alan is a committed member of the Limestone Coast community. His depth of knowledge of regional issues, his economic intelligence and industry experience have been invaluable to the RDALC in its work supporting economic development across the region,” said Mr Flint.

With a keen interest in infrastructure, Mr Richardson played a significant role in the production of the Rail corridor and freight analysis for the Limestone Coast and South West Victoria – Application of TraNSIT, advocating for the re-introduction of freight rail to the region.

Alan also played a leading role in securing RDALC’s partnership with the South Australian Department for Energy and Mining to deliver the Bioenergy Connect Program across the State. This led to RDALC administering $175,000 in funding to support local industry and business to investigate the feasibility of introducing bioenergy in their business model.

“Alan’s vision and understanding of the opportunities that exist for a circular economy in our region allows us to lead other regions in progressing these concepts and leverage funding that can ultimately deliver significant job creation and greenhouse gas reduction for South Australia,” said Mr Flint.

“To capitalise on opportunities such as these, our region needs leaders like Alan with the foresight of what potential applications such scenarios can have, and a clear knowledge of the resources at our fingertips,” he said.

“I would like to congratulate Alan on his re-appointment and thank him for what has already been a significant service to the region,” said Mr Flint.

This announcement comes hand in hand with the extension of RDALC CEO, David Wheaton’s contract, providing the opportunity for Mr Flint to capitalise on David’s strong and well-established relationships with key business and industry stakeholders in the region.

Earlier this year, applications were invited for RDALC Board Member positions. In the coming weeks, the new RDALC Board will be selected. As part of a national network bringing together business, government and community leaders to support and broker regional development opportunities in the region, RDALC looks for a diverse membership with knowledge of the economic, social, cultural and environmental opportunities and challenges facing our region.

“We will be selecting our new board and are looking for representatives that are community advocates with a strong understanding of the pillars that drive economic growth for the region,” said Mr Flint.

“I look forward to working alongside Alan to select the RDALC Board for the coming years and achieving strong outcomes for our region,” he said.

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