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RDA National Forum 2012
The RDA National Forum 2012 brought together Chairs, Deputy Chairs and Executive Officers from the 55 Regional Development Australia (RDA) committees from 17 to 18 May 2012 in Adelaide, South Australia.
A professional development day and welcome reception preceded the official program on 16 May 2012.
The focus of the forum was Stronger Regions, Stronger Nation. The program featured a range of experts from fields relating to the work of the national RDA network, and highlights included an address from the Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government Simon Crean MP on the vision for regional Australia.
The first day of the official program explored the themes of planning and partnerships through a range of sessions.
The Honourable John Brumby set the tone for the day with a session on the 4 Cs: Celebrate, Consolidate, Collaborate and Consummate. He spoke about a world in transition and the regional development experience in Victoria, specifically with the Regional Infrastructure Development Fund and Regional Development Victoria. He highlighted the importance of a regional presence for governments and spoke on new opportunities for the future coming out of the regions.
The Right Honourable Lord Mayor of Adelaide Stephen Yarwood continued the theme of partnerships with a presentation on collaborative and influential partnerships, which was supported by a discussion with RDA Hunter Executive Officer Todd Williams on the value-add from RDA committees.
The RDA initiative is a partnership between three levels of government and working across government was also a strong theme throughout the forum. South Australian Commissioner for Integrated Design Tim Horton led a presentation that covered effective engagement with key stakeholders across governments and industry. This was supported by a presentation by RDA Far North Queensland and Torres Strait Chair Professor Allan Dale on the North Queensland Regional Development Initiative.
The forum presented a number of opportunities for networking between RDA committees and government, including a session involving a panel of representatives from the Australian Government Departments of: Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry; Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy; Climate Change and Energy Efficiency; Education, Employment and Workplace Relations; Innovation, Industry, Science, Research and Tertiary Education; Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport; Resources, Energy and Tourism; and Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.
The RDA committees also workshopped with relevant State and Territory Parliamentary Secretaries for Regional Development, as well as State and Territory Directors from the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport.
The first day also explored major initiatives involving the national RDA network, including driving place-based strategies such as those underway in Tasmania and Murray-Darling Basin, as well as the Regional Development Australia Fund (RDAF), the National Broadband Network (NBN) and Clean Energy Future.
NBN Co. shared its views on remote economic development in relation to the NBN rollout, saying that a shared vision is crucial to the success of the initiative. RDA Mid North Coast (NSW) Executive Officer Peter Tregilgas also spoke on harnessing the opportunities the rollout may provide to improve economic, social and cultural outcomes for regional Australia.
The first day of the official program also saw the launch of the RDA Community of Practice, which will bring RDA committees together online and face-to-face to discuss topics of relevance to their profession. A number of breakout sessions on specific topics – midi-cities, capital cities and remote economic development – set the initiative in motion.
The official dinner featured a discussion and question and answer session with the Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government the Honourable Simon Crean MP and Ministerial Advisory Council on Regional Australia Chair Bill Kelty AC. The session was facilitated by ABC radio and television journalist James O’Loghlin.
Mr Crean and Mr Kelty discussed the disconnect that can easily occur between regions and government. The importance of the national RDA network was highlighted and RDA committees were urged to keep persisting with their regional agendas, because one-size does not fit all.
Minister Crean spoke on his Vision for Regional Australia and reinforced the importance of embedding regionalism in government.
He outlined the challenges and opportunities facing RDA committees, particularly with regards to harnessing the strengths of each region. To read the speech visit Minister Crean's website.
“Don't look at things just as challenges. We confront challenges all the time. Look through them for the opportunities and look to work with us, and other governments, to help realise those opportunities,” Mr Crean said.
He also spoke on the relationship between the national RDA network and local government, saying it was important for committees to work with local government to achieve results for the regions.
RDA Chairs, Deputy Chairs and Executive Officers heard from the South Australian Museum Director Suzanne Miller on using arts and culture to build the economy. Ms Miller spoke on the importance of partnerships and collaboration with stakeholders including government, national and international public and private investors, corporate partners and philanthropic organisations.
RDA South Coast Chair Rob Pollock followed with case studies on how arts, culture and festivals have increased economic diversification within the South Coast region.
In the final forum session, attendees heard from AFL Commissioner and Business Director/Sustainability Advisor Sam Mostyn on smart leadership. Ms Mostyn used examples of the AFL engaging with regional Australia to achieve its long term goal of building a national presence. She also spoke on the need for regional leaders to be courageous, curious and inventive, and how sustainable development for regions also includes wellbeing.
The forum wrap-up was presented by the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport Deputy Secretary Dan O’Brien on Friday 18 May 2012.
The forum provided an opportunity for RDA Chairs, Deputy Chairs and Executive Officers to establish and re-establish links between their regions, as highlighted by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between RDA Australian Capital Territory and RDA Southern Inland (New South Wales). This MoU supported a closer working relationship between the two regions, particularly in progressing the outcomes of an MoU on regional collaboration, which was signed between the ACT and NSW Governments in late 2011.
The forum also allowed Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport and other Australian Government Departments and Agencies to hold genuine consultation and gain valuable feedback on various programs and policies, such as the rollout of the NBN and RDAF. The RDA Regional Plans were highlighted as a key document that would also continue to feed into the development of programs and policies.
The new focus on place-based initiatives was highlighted through work already being undertaken by RDA committees in a range of locations such as Tasmania and the Murray-Darling Basin, as well as a number of emerging locations such as the LaTrobe Valley and North Queensland. Following on from the forum, RDA committees were encouraged to consider the need for place-based initiatives in their own regions or to contribute to place-based initiatives being undertaken in other regions.
Mr O’Brien also spoke on the themes of professionalism and partnerships on display at the forum. He urged RDA committees to maintain their passion and dedication to the regions and to continue the conversations held across the three days from Wednesday 16 to Friday 18 May 2012. These conversations have already commenced as part of the RDA Community of Practice.