New DAMA information now available for local businesses

June 13, 2019

Businesses across the Limestone Coast can begin preparing for the commencement of the recently announced Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA) for South Australia. Regional Development Australia Limestone Coast (RDALC) will assist in driving awareness locally by providing information on the new visa program. In the first of a series of publications, RDALC have produced a frequently asked questions document to assist business operators to understand how this agreement will work.

“With the imminent rollout of the DAMA, we want to be on the front foot and offer as much support and assistance to local businesses as possible,” said Rachael Ashman, Manager Business and Workforce Development, RDALC. “Commencing on 1 July 2019, employers across all of South Australia who are experiencing skills and labour shortages can sponsor skilled and semi-skilled overseas workers,” she said.

The DAMA will enable South Australian employers to sponsor skilled overseas workers for positions they are unable to fill with local workers. Employers who can demonstrate that they are experiencing skills and labour shortages will apply for endorsement from the South Australian government to enter into a DAMA labour agreement. This will enable local businesses to sponsor skilled and semi-skilled overseas workers with more flexible requirements than are available via the standard skilled visa programs.

Local businesses can access one of the agreements that the South Australian government have entered into with the Department of Home Affairs. The South Australian Regional Agreement comprises of 114 occupations and is accessible to all South Australian businesses.

“These occupations were determined through consultation with industry associations and key employers throughout the state, alongside data on skills shortages in our key industries,” said Ms Ashman. “For our region, employers can nominate occupations included on two lists, which include skilled occupations across a wide range of industries including in the meat industry, agriculture and forestry, hospitality and healthcare,” she said.

Some eligible occupations included in the lists for the Limestone Coast are cooks, diesel mechanics, forestry workers, meat boner and slicer, sawmilling operator and waiters.

“It’s important to acknowledge that these lists comprehensively address state wide skills shortages, so while some occupations listed may seem unrelated to our region, they will address needs across other parts of the state,” said Ms Ashman. “Some of the most significant skills shortages we are experiencing locally are in the meat processing industry and in the agri-business and forestry sector so we are pleased to see that key occupations in these areas have been included for our region,” she said.

“The Agreement recognises the needs of regional Australia and provides our employers with an opportunity to respond to our unique circumstances when it comes to finding skilled workers” said Ms Ashman. “RDALC want to best support the needs of our local industries and will continue to consult with local businesses to identify future demands and how these can be met through the DAMA process.” she said.

RDALC will provide a more detailed guide in coming weeks. Information is also available through Immigration SA. To discuss the DAMA, local businesses can contact Rachael Ashman, Manager Business and Workforce Development on 87231057 or email

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RDALC Welcomes New Manager Business and Workforce Development

May 20, 2019

Regional Development Australia Limestone Coast (RDALC) welcomes Rachael Ashman to the position of Manager Business and Workforce Development. Rachael and her family recently relocated to the Limestone Coast from Melbourne, and she brings with her a wealth of expertise and skills.

“With the departure of Paul Mullen who recently relocated to a new business opportunity in Brisbane, we were very excited to secure someone of Rachael’s professional calibre for our organisation – she is a fantastic gain for our region,” said RDALC Chair, Peter Gandolfi.

Having worked both in Commonwealth Departments and the private sector, Rachael has a depth of experience focusing on program delivery and people management. Her most recent position was with the Department of Home Affairs in Victoria.

In her new role, Rachael will provide key support and advice to local businesses wishing to explore their options in employing skilled migrants. Her understanding and experience in the Department will be invaluable given the recent Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA) announcement for South Australia.

“Rachael brings a comprehensive skill set in stakeholder engagement, programme development and delivery and strategic operations,” said Mr Gandolfi “as an experienced mentor and workforce planner she is a welcome addition to our leadership team.”

Rachael will be responsible for RDALC’s regional strategy to grow businesses by building human capital and connections with services and government programs. A key responsibility is to focus on supporting small business development, which will in turn, boost local employment and growth for our region.

Rachael is excited about bringing her skills and experience to this role and is looking forward to assisting what she has already seen as a vibrant and dynamic business community across the Limestone Coast. “Having grown up in rural Tasmania, I’m enjoying the move away from the city and am keen to work with the wide range of businesses found throughout our region,” she said.

To contact Rachael, please call 87231057 or email

For further Information contact:
Mr Peter Gandolfi
Chair, RDALC
M: 0419 155 947

Mr David Wheaton,
Chief Executive Officer
T: 87231057
M: 0417 885 920
Date: 21/5/19

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Achieve Organisational Success with Governance Masterclass

April 5, 2019

Regional Development Australia Limestone Coast (RDALC) is excited to announce it will be offering a Governance Masterclass to be held on Thursday 6th June in Mt Gambier.

“This is a great opportunity for anyone who is currently serving on or working for a board, or thinking about joining a Board,” said RDALC Chair Peter Gandolfi.

Most people join a board with the aim of making a positive contribution to its operation and outcomes. It’s an opportunity for people to offer their abilities and skills, but once they are serving on a board it’s also important for them to continue to expand their skills and knowledge.

“The structure, responsibilities and strategies of boards are becoming more complicated, and a high performing board is critical to an organisation’s success,” Mr Gandolfi said.

The masterclass will delve into the finer details of roles and responsibilities of a board member, by offering specific training around the legal requirements of a board member, directors’ duties and handling conflict.

“Understanding the characteristics of effective directors and practices for good governance are all key to effective board operation and the masterclass will cover these details and more,” said Mr Gandolfi.
The participation cost is $132 (including GST), but there are also five free positions up for grabs for volunteers on boards of registered charities.

“We recognise the importance of supporting people volunteering for charity and not-for-profits in our community and wanted to assist them in their professional development,” said Mr Gandolfi.

Those interested in participating in the Governance Masterclass can find out more by visiting the Eventbrite page: or by contact Renee at RDALC on 87231057.

For further Information contact:
Mr Peter Gandolfi
Chair, RDALC
M: 0419 155 947

Mr David Wheaton,
Chief Executive Officer
T: 87231057
M: 0417 885 920
Date: Thursday 4 April 2019

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Population, Business Confidence to Benefit From Regional DAMA

March 22, 2019

The regional Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA) will boost population and improve business confidence in the South Australia regions, according the state’s peak regional economic development agency.

Regional Development South Australia chairman Rob Kerin said the DAMA would help the state’s regions to secure up to $20 billion of investment and support the creation of 9500 jobs.

“The announcement of a regional DAMA will help South Australia’s regions overcome declining and static populations with the settling of migrants state-wide,” he said.

Mr Kerin said the DAMA would help ensure expansions, upgrades and planned investment by local, national and international businesses in regional South Australia were not restrained by access to skilled workers.

“South Australia’s regions are currently experiencing significant capital investment across many industries,” he said.

“However, the number of employees needed to maintain and grow regional business operations outweighs the current locally-based workforce, requiring businesses to supplement their workforce with migrants.

“The DAMA will underpin regional business growth and provide much-needed flexibility for a region to respond to local economic and labour market demands.

“Some of regional South Australia’s most significant and emerging industries are those with the greatest skill and labour needs, including agribusiness, food manufacturing and processing, mining, renewable energy, aged and disability care, tourism and accommodation.

“Migrant workers will not replace the local workforce, with training and upskilling continuing to be an area of focus for South Australian RDAs and businesses.

“South Australia’s regional townships have a long history of welcoming migrant settlement, recognising the value of the import of much needed skills but also the strength of a multicultural community.”

Regional Development Australia boards are formed as a partnership between the Commonwealth of Australia, Government of South Australia, and regional local government authorities.

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‘After Hours’ social gatherings to welcome new residents

February 20, 2019

Regional Development Australia Limestone Coast (RDALC) will welcome new professionals to the region by hosting the first in a series of ‘After hours Events’ on 28 February at Mount Gambier’s “5290 bar and function room”.

Aimed at those who have moved to the region for work, the informal networking event is great chance for people to make connections in their new community.

RDALC CEO David Wheaton said “Our region offers such a fantastic variety of events, activities, local clubs and groups for people to enjoy. We want to help new residents to connect with what’s on offer.”

“This event will provide a relaxed, casual venue for people to swing by after work, grab a drink and have a chat with some new acquaintances,” he said.

The events will take on different themes in future. The first being local music and entertainment opportunities.  “We thought the best approach was to have a different focus for each event. With the Fringe coming up next month, it’s timely to kick off with a music and entertainment theme” said Mr Wheaton.

Future events will focus on local arts and culture, and history and nature. “By featuring different activities and locations, we can really showcase the region,” he said.

 With the Limestone Coast boasting one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, and a shortage of skilled labour in some sectors, RDALC is keen to attract and retain new people.  “Having moved to the region myself, I understand it takes time to make strong social connections beyond work. This is a great place to live and work and we want new employees to get immersed in the local community, said Mr Wheaton

Local groups and organisations are encouraged to get in contact with RDALC if they’re after new members or wish to promote their upcoming events.

Further information, including registration for the event can be found via the RDALC facebook page @rdalimestonecoast or by calling 8723 1057.  Or click the link below:

For further Information contact:

Mr David Wheaton,

Chief Executive Officer

T:  87231057

M: 0417 885 920


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Position Vacant – Manager Business and Workforce Development

February 14, 2019

We’re looking for a full time Manager, Business and Workforce Development who possesses business acumen, networking skills, and ‘big picture’ thinking with the ability to work one-on-one with small business and to lead, mentor and support staff to achieve excellence in service delivery.  If you are interested in this role and want to find out more please review the Position Description or contact David Wheaton, Chief Executive Officer on 08 8723 1057.

Please read the Applicant Guidelines  for more information about what to include in your application.  Applications must be submitted by email to and close at 12 noon on Friday 8th March 2019.

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Road and Rail Transport Study goes full steam ahead

February 7, 2019

The first stage of the Regional Development Australia Limestone Coast (RDALC) strategic transport infrastructure study is now underway.  Focusing on the region’s road freight network and reinvigoration of the rail corridors, the study will outline where investment in the transport network can unlock productivity gains through efficiencies and what role rail might play in this.

The project will map the supply chains and estimate road and rail transport costs for our local commodities such as timber, wood chips, dairy products, livestock and crops.

Delivered by the CSIRO, it will assess whether reinstating the rail lines from Mount Gambier to Heywood and Mount Gambier to Wolseley will reduce freight costs and save wear on local roads.

“The data gathered from this study will provide an analysis of total and per tonne transport cost (and potential savings) by commodity and mode of transport, including rail, said Peter Gandolfi, Chair of RDALC. “It will also highlight what’s known as ‘pinch points’ which are areas where roads or bridges could benefit from an upgrade to allow for more efficient transport options on particular routes,” “This information will then guide decision makers and funding bodies to address critical areas that need upgrades,” he said.

“With local agricultural products travelling vast distances from farm gate to end market, we are talking about real savings for local producers if we reduce the percent of farm gate value taken up by transport costs,” said Dr Elizabeth Perkins, Manager for Investment Attraction and Infrastructure.  “The data gained from this study will provide huge benefits to local producers, local, state and federal government. It will also identify prospects in our economy where new markets can be developed based on increased transport efficiencies,” she said.

In coming months RDALC and CSIRO researchers will be working with stakeholders to gather data on the freight and transport task and feeding that information into the model.

The study will take around 6 months to complete.

For further Information contact:

Mr Peter Gandolfi

Chair, RDALC

M: 0419 155 947

Mr David Wheaton,

Chief Executive Officer

T:  87231057

M: 0417 885 920


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RDALC Chair welcomes open door policy with Minister.

January 17, 2019

 Seven South Australian Regional Development Australia (RDA) chairs and CEO’s recently met with the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Tim Whetstone, along with Rob Kerin, Chair of Regional Development South Australia.

The meeting was an opportunity for the CEO’s and Chairs to discuss key issues for the region with the Minister, and discuss important future activities.

“The Minister encouraged RDAs to work closely with him, to share ideas regarding our region’s economic and infrastructure priorities,” said Peter Gandolfi, Chair of RDA Limestone Coast.

Minister Whetstone outlined his key areas for focus included rail and infrastructure (including heavy vehicle access and issues), increasing the opportunity for red meat production, pilots with immigration Visa programs and growth in the tourism industry.

“Here in the Limestone Coast we are making strong progress towards many of these key areas with the recent announcement of the rail benefit study, the positive results from the recent SA Tourism Industry Council report and the work accomplished so far by the Red Meat Cluster group,” said Mr Gandolfi.

In coming months, RDALC will be increasing its communication with various industry and business representatives to further discuss the Ministers priorities and how they align with our regions activity and needs.

“Business and Workforce Development Manager, Paul Mullen has also been working on the opportunities for entering our region into a Designated Area Migration Agreement and we are collaborating closely with PIRSA and regional Industry and Business leaders to shape this proposal,” he said. “This will help address the workforce shortage faced by various business sectors.”

 Regional Development South Australia (RDSA) plays a unique role in supporting the economic development efforts of seven regionally based RDAs. For well over 25 years the seven RDAs have evolved into key economic development agencies within their specific regions. Under the structure of the peak body Regional Development South Australia, (RDSA) the RDAs come together to collaborate closely on a wide range of cross-regional issues and economic development projects that are fundamental to the future and well-being of South Australia. 

Photo taken at the December RDSA meeting chaired by Rob Kerin included discussion of state-wide issues and priorities with the Hon Minister Tim Whetstone MP, Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development.

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Limestone Coast Rail Study

November 22, 2018

Regional Development Australia Limestone Coast will be undertaking an economic benefit study on re-establishing rail in the region.

The study will be based on the advantages of reinstating rail from Heywood (Victoria) to Wolseley. It will assess the full route and the viability of segments, such as Mount Gambier to Heywood with an intermodal on the Eastern outskirts of Mount Gambier.

Chair Peter Gandolfi said the resurrection of rail may prove to be an enabling action to boost our local economy by increasing productivity and lowering freight costs.

“One of the major drivers behind this move is the current limitations that transport imposes on our productivity,” said Mr Gandolfi. “The costs associated with transporting goods accounts for 21 per cent of all production costs in our region. If we are serious about achieving greater economic growth for the Limestone Coast we need to explore more efficient means of transport.

“RDALC recognises that re-establishing rail is not a new discussion for our region. But given the increased volumes of freight being moved along our roads it’s timely to revisit the possibility of reinstating rail in the region.”

In coming months, the RDALC will be meeting with stakeholders to discuss the opportunities that could be realised through the reinstatement of rail services.

“We are keen to get a more accurate understanding of the costs businesses are experiencing with their freight and build a clear picture of the situation at this present time,” said Dr Elizabeth Perkins, Manager, Investment Attraction and Infrastructure.

“As part of the feasibility study we will be seeking input from local businesses to help build this picture and will be contacting them directly for input.”

With freight costs being the main impetus for the study, the work will involve strategic actions to assess the status quo and viability of rail for the region. This will include the economic drivers associated with rail, however the potential for passenger transport has not been ruled out and may also be considered as part of the study.


Find out more about the feasibility study here:

Rail Feasibility Factsheet


For further information contact:

Mr Peter Gandolfi

Chair, RDALC

Ph: 0419 155 447

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Special Funding Assistant for Limestone Coast Transport Industry Training: Truck Drivers

November 21, 2018

Funding is available from the South Australian Government to assist in the cost of training truck drivers in the Limestone Coast Forestry and transport industry, to help overcome current skill shortages. This funding is being delivered through Regional Development Australia Limestone Coast (RDALC). RDALC will co-fund (not exceeding 50%) upgrade to HR license training.

Employee Eligibility for Training
Must live or work in South Australia, and are:

  • Unemployed or underemployed, or retrenched or at risk of retrenchment
  • An Australian or New Zealand citizen;
  • A permanent Australian resident; or the holder of a state sponsored visa on a pathway to permanent residency. (Conditions apply for non-Australian residents)
  • Aged 16 years or over and not enrolled at school
  • Participants can only be referred to this project from employers.
  • Employer will need to commit to continuing employment at completion of the training

If you are uncertain about what this means for you contact:
Glenda McInerney at RDALC in the Forestry SA Building, 152 Jubilee Highway East, Mount Gambier. Telephone: (08) 8723 1057 or Email:

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