An Australian Government Initiative

Regional Development Australia


Independent Review of the effectiveness of the RDA programme

The Regional Development Australia (RDA) programme funds 55 RDA committees that bring together local leaders who work with state and local governments as well as regional stakeholders to develop economic plans for their region. RDAs also work with stakeholders to support the development of robust proposals for funding (government and private sector) as appropriate. RDAs promote awareness of, and access to, Australian Government programmes.

Objective of the Independent Review

To examine the effectiveness of the RDA programme in delivering the Australian Government's regional agenda and make recommendations regarding its future scope, structure and delivery model, in light of developments in the Australian Government's regional agenda.

The review will research, consider and report on three themes.

  1. Alignment with the Australian Government policy objectives (including the smaller government agenda) now and into the future. This will include consideration of:
    1. whether the current RDA programme framework is appropriate for delivery of the Australian Government's regional agenda, considering new initiatives; state and territory regional policy agendas; and implementation mechanisms and changes to regional programmes.
  2. The RDA programme framework, including the:
    1. value of RDA Committees' outputs and measures of success;
    2. purpose and structure of the Chairs Reference Group;
    3. funding model/formula for the programme (including historic and future allocations, state co-funding and potential collaborative arrangements);
    4. number of RDAs and their boundaries (including processes to alter them, and whether capital cities and external territories should be included);
    5. desire to minimise any duplication of activities between other bodies in states and territories (including Joint/Regional Organisations of Councils, Regional Development Commissions, etc.); and
    6. RDA Committees' role in both promoting access to programmes and assisting proponents to develop proposals.
  3. The governance and administration of the programme, including:
    1. whether RDA Committees can manage their internal governance appropriately within the current structure;
    2. whether appointment processes are appointing appropriately skilled committee members;
    3. RDA Committee membership and appointment arrangements, with a focus on simplifying the administrative processes involved in appointing RDA members;
    4. how government can best support and administer the RDA programme, including evaluation processes, data collection and staff resourcing; and
    5. any other opportunities for reducing the administrative burden imposed on RDA Committees and government in delivering the RDA programme.

Review panel arrangements for the Independent Review

The Review will be conducted under the leadership of an independent consultant (the Reviewer), who will be supported by a secretariat and supplemented by other consultants deemed relevant by the Reviewer and/or the Department.  

Consultation and approach for the Independent Review

The review will consult with stakeholders via multiple methods including written submissions, interviews, surveys and workshops. The review may seek the views of:

  • Regional Development Australia Committee representatives;
  • Relevant state and territory Ministers and/or Departments;
  • A broad and representative cross section of regional business and economic development peak bodies (eg ALGA, chambers of commerce); and
  • Any other relevant stakeholders identified in the consultations.

Resources to be provided to support the Reviewer

The Department will provide the Reviewer and other review team members with a suite of resources to support the Review. The reviewer will be provided existing research and data sources, including:

  • Collected statistical data and information analysis and published reports (such as the Progress in Australian Regions—Yearbook 2015 and Trends report);
  • A summary of current RDA key arrangements including: partnership arrangements with state and territories; structure, funding contributions, number of committees per jurisdiction, and boundary maps;
  • Examples of all Funding Agreement deliverables including samples of regional plans, business plans and budget reports; and
  • Any other relevant data and information sources identified in the consultations.

Timing of the Independent Review

The review panel arrangements will commence as soon as possible.  An interim report will be provided to the Department in October/November 2016, and a final report by the end of 2016. 


RDA Committees are funded by the Government to foster economic growth and make the most of the potential capability of their region. Under funding agreements with the Australian Government, RDA Committees are funded to develop 3-5 year regional plans that focus on economic development of the region, enhance awareness of Australian Government programmes, and assist proponents in seeking funding. RDA Committee members are all volunteers—the funding to RDA committees is for staff, premises, committee costs and resources necessary to deliver the outcomes expected by Government. Some jurisdictions also partner with the Australian Government in supporting RDA Committees, although this has reduced overtime.

The Committees (except in Victoria) are incorporated associations, responsible for their own activities. The states and territories often also have their own localised organisations that may perform similar functions to the Australian Government's RDA Committees.

Following the 2016 election, the Government is implementing two new regional programmes, a national Building Better Regions Fund, which will deliver investment in regional infrastructure and communities, and a Regional Jobs and Investment Programme, which will see community leaders and local experts work together to create a genuine community-driven jobs and investment programme to be piloted in nine regions.