Our Initiatives

Our work falls under 5 key priorities, determined the Orana Regional Plan 2013-2016. Due to the nature of some of our work, we may also be in the early stages of project development or working on ‘commercial in confidence’ projects not listed here.

Economic Diversification & Sustainability

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Work under this priority involves identifying, researching and promoting opportunities to identify, diversify and strengthen key industries throughout the region. This includes annual updates to our economic profile investment opportunities and data provision. We work to identify industries or interventions that would provide more variety to the Orana’s economic base, or that would create new income streams for the region’s existing industries. This is achieved through actions such as research and consultation, collaborative exchange and support for diversification activities being driven by business and industry.

Current projects include:

A BioHub is a “first point of receival”, “receiver of last resort” facility which receives BioMass, like urban wastes or the wastes and by-products of agricultural production, and transforms this waste into other value-add products. Its role is similar to what scrap yards provide for metal recovery. The end product generated from BioHubs includes industrial reductants, biochar-based fertilisers and bio energy.

Regional Development Australia Orana is currently working with local councils, business and industry to progress investment in a regionally-based BioHub. If successful, this would lead to the establishment of a network of Hubs across the region and developing new supply chains, placing the Orana at the centre of the emerging ‘bio economy’.

A business viability study into the region’s first network of hubs is currently underway.

Orana Biohub Project Feasibility Study Overview Orana Biohub Project Feasibility Study Overview (223 KB)

Orana Biohub Project Feasibility Study INS Overview Orana Biohub Project Feasibility Study INS Overview (465 KB)

Orana Biohub Project Pre-Feasibility Study Orana Biohub Project Pre-Feasibility Study (3991 KB)

Orana Biohub Project Pre-Feasibility Study Findings Orana Biohub Project Pre-Feasibility Study Findings (487 KB)

Regional Development Australia Orana has been supporting the up-take of carbon trading as an opportunity for sectoral diversification (mostly in the land sector) since the establishment of the Carbon Farming Initiative. The establishment of the Emissions Reductions Fund has allowed this approach to spread across other sectors of the Orana region’s economy.

Given the scale required to ensure highest abatement at lowest cost, there have been questions about how regional areas can make the most of the opportunities presented by the ERF. Regional Development Australia Orana is providing extension and outreach to encourage regional participation in the Fund in a way that adds competitive scale. We are also collecting evidence to demonstrate the economic impacts of successful projects and developing models to ensure that the region is able to actively participate in any subsequent carbon markets. This work has led to the creation of a key case study on the economics of integrating carbon and traditional farming income streams.

The success of this work is dependent on effective stakeholder engagement, information sharing, mobilising industry champions and engaging carbon service agents and aggregators. RDAO are also providing advice/support for the Renewable Energy Target (RET) and the NSW Energy Savings Scheme (ESS) in addition to the ERF.

Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) Overview Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) Overview (320 KB)

Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) Guide for Business Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) Guide for Business (304 KB)

Carbon Farming in the enterprise mix Overview Carbon Farming in the enterprise mix Overview (554 KB)

Carbon Farming in the enterprise mix w Exec Sum Carbon Farming in the enterprise mix w Exec Sum (1182 KB)

Agriculture has a significant capacity to deliver broad-based economic benefits to the region, due to its well-developed local supply chains and patterns of local expenditure. Agriculture is integral to the region’s manufacturing, wholesale and transport sectors. As a major employer it maintains and strengthens regional populations. It is the backbone of most of the region’s communities and its ongoing sustainability is paramount to the region’s economic future.

We are actively seeking opportunities for sectoral diversification within agriculture. This includes assessing new crops and/or markets such as carbon farming, industrial hemp, wastes (biomass) and mustard seed. We also work to strengthen the industry through developing financial models and policy suggestions, such as opportunities for multi-peril insurance and innovation funds, water usage and enabling infrastructure.

Workforce Planning and Development

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Effective workforce planning and development strategies must be grounded in good research. Under this priority we research and assess workforce capacity and need. We then facilitate, guide and lead projects which address these issues in order to drive economic engines of the region. This may include strategies to: engage young people in the world of work, promote the region to attract skilled workers and overcome barriers to participation in the workforce.

Current projects include:

In May 2014 Urbis Pty Ltd was announced as the successful organisation to conduct research into the workforce capacity of the Orana region.

This research was undertaken in mid-late 2014 and included a comprehensive desktop analysis of available material, a wide-ranging survey of regional employers and additional qualitative research via employer forums and one-on-one interviews. This research was not only intended to uncover obstacles for the region, but also recommend solutions devised from conversation with employers, industry and governments.

The report was delivered in November 2014. Download the Workforce Capacity in the Orana Region report here.

This report now informs all of our workforce development activities and projects.

***This project is currently on hold until further notice***
This project will provide Korean vocational trainees with an opportunity to continue their occupational training and gain experience in Australia. Through a 402 visa, the trainees will take part in structured workplace-based training for up to 2 years, to enhance their skills in their current occupation, area of tertiary study, or field of expertise. The Korean government regards the opportunity available to Korean trainees and workers in Australia as one of the best and therefore sees this project as a highly beneficial opportunity to up-skill.

In this project, Regional Development Australia Orana will act as a facilitator for the trainees’ placement and monitoring and an intermediary for the Korean government and regional businesses. We will also provide culturally appropriate support services to both the trainees and employers, and facilitate the delivery of training through local providers, thus boosting international education in the region.

Regional Development Australia is developing the project in a three layered approach. Firstly, we are developing a number of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) including with the Global Employment Management Bureau, Human Resources Development Service of Korea (HRD Korea). We are also working with International Ubiquitous Education Consortium (IUC) Australia and the Australian Council for Education and Culture, Korea.

Secondly, Regional Development Australia Orana is working in partnership with Orana industries, formalised with individual business MOUs including (but not limited to) construction, automotive mechanical, transport, manufacturing, hospitality and food trades. Employers within these industries as well as research reports have identified a strong desire from employers to train and give workplace experience to the Korean trainees in these fields. The project proposes to place Korean trainees in these positions. Training opportunities for Australian citizens and permanent residents will be given primary consideration before any Korean trainees are placed into training programs, to ensure that there is no adverse impact on the occupational opportunities for Australian citizens or permanent residents. The project has been welcomed by regional businesses as a means of growing the region’s diversity and productivity as well as by the potential trainees wishing to qualify in practical skills.

Finally, Regional Development Australia Orana is using our existing relationships to develop MOUs with training providers as the need arises to deliver the required training. The training will be customised according to each trainee’s individual requirements, which will be in line with the employer’s industry training requirements.

This approach will increase the capacity of the trainees, foster economic diplomacy between the two nations and create positive relationships between Korean and Orana businesses.

The aim of the Regional Relocation project is to drive economic growth in the region by addressing existing and future skills gaps.

We have developed an engaging brand and website, to promote the benefits of living, working and investing in the Orana region, Love the Life We Live (www.lovethelifewelive.com.au). This has been supported by an assessment of current Local Government processes for greeting potential residents, and the information given to potential and new residents.

Being focused on workforce attraction, the website will be promoted to regional businesses as a tool for assisting them to recruit talent from outside the region where the skills gap cannot be filled by the local labour market. It is targeted at young professionals, families and regional returners, who may have grown up in the region and since moved away for other opportunities.

Regional Development Australia Orana is delivering this project in partnership with the Orana Economic Development Officer Network, Wellington Council and Mid-Western Regional Council.

There are a diverse variety of jobs available in the Orana but often students are not aware of the breadth of opportunities available, nor do they have the opportunity to experience this range first-hand.

Work Inspiration is an employer-led and long term strategy to build aspiration amongst students and long-term job seekers. In essence, Work Inspiration is a reimagining of the traditional work experience model. It is a 3-5 day immersive experience to show potential employees the range of roles available, pathways to work and basic workplace expectations.

Participants first learn about their personality type and workplace profile. They then enter a workplace and interview key people to not only learn about the roles available, but what pathways can get them there. Participants then present their findings back to the workplace, an activity that increases their confidence and presentation skills, with the added benefit of boosting employee engagement and satisfaction.

The first Work Inspiration pilots in the Orana region ran in 2015. We intend to extend the program across the region over time.

Business Investment

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Initiatives under this priority are targeted toward creating a positive business environment within the region, and promoting that positivity across the nation and the world. Work involves identification of opportunities for investment, developing platforms to promote the region and building local, national and international economic diplomacy and relationships to promote stronger business connections.

Current projects include:

Each year, Regional Development Australia Orana conduct an analysis of the region’s economy identifying key areas of growth and opportunity areas, where the region’s industry may be importing skills, goods or services from other parts of Australia that could be provided within the region.

This ‘Orana Outlook’ report, and accompanying dinner, celebrate the economic success of the region and inform updates to the region’s online investment profile.


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Enabling infrastructure is vital to the economic success of the region. Regional Development Australia Orana actively consult and research to identify infrastructure needs in the Orana as well as those pieces of infrastructure that may exist outside the region’s boundaries but have a profound impact on the region’s economy. We then work as a partner, facilitator or leader to secure infrastructure investment for these projects.

Current projects include:

The Orana regional economy is heavily reliant on agriculture. While the region produces a diverse array of agricultural produce, the majority is sold in bulk as a commodity rather than as differentiated product. For both products and commodities, minimising the cost and improving the reliability and timeliness of getting products to their respective markets is critical to maintaining those markets and accessing new ones. RDA Orana has commissioned this study to provide information that will help improve productivity for existing enterprises and identify opportunities for diversification, in line with both Federal and State priorities which focus on investing in enabling infrastructure. An important outcome of the study will be the identification of freight and logistics “bottlenecks” or “pinch points”, where aging, inadequate or absent infrastructure creates inefficiencies in the supply chain.

Another key component of this work is an examination of the feasibility of establishing an international air freight facility in the Orana region. This will include a scan of the Asian market opportunities, taking into account the recent Free Trade Agreements, market trends and expectations, and the type and volume of products that could be supplied from the Orana and surrounding regions if such a facility were available. The target here is high value, low volume premium goods that are time-sensitive; the value of bulk commodities do not warrant the extra costs of air freight over existing transportation.

The study will include substantial input from industry and government sectors. A formal engagement process involving interviews and round table discussions is planned, and an online survey has been provided to allow input from other interested parties (click here to complete the survey).

The report is due for completion at the end of November.

The Orana and Far West regions together comprise around 40% of the total state of NSW. Contributing significantly to the economic vitality of the state, and to Australia’s GDP, these regions form the backbone of NSW. The future prosperity of regional NSW and its continued competitiveness depends upon the adequacy of infrastructure in this region, and its connections to the rest of Australia and to the world.

Regional Development Australia Orana, working alongside industry, the Department of Premier & Cabinet, Department of Planning and Environment and the Orana Regional Organisation of Councils has undertaken a Regional Infrastructure Audit and developed a Masterplan for the Orana Region. A similar project has been completed for the Far West Region. The Masterplans focus on those pieces of region-shaping infrastructure or infrastructure ‘bundles’ determined to have the greatest potential overall economic impact.

The Orana Infrastructure Masterplan is now available, and provides insight into a range of projects that are considered “priority” for economic development in the region.

RDA Orana Infrastructure Assessment Report RDA Orana Infrastructure Assessment Report (1025 KB)

With a substantial agriculture industry and the ongoing presence of mining operations in the Orana, more and more pressure is being placed on transport infrastructure; road, rail and air.

Together, Regional Development Australia Orana and Hunter commissioned a study to assess the existing demand and possibilities for improving infrastructure and links to Port via the Golden Highway.

This report Linking the Hunter and Orana Region—establishing the Case for Improving the Golden Highway was released in February 2014 by (former) Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner and forms the basis of activities to progress the systematic upgrade of the Golden Highway.

At this launch Regional Development Australia Orana and Hunter formed a project control group, comprising councils and business along the route. Since this time the Federal and NSW State Governments have dedicated funds in excess of $175m to this region shaping infrastructure of the Golden Highway. A ‘Phase 2’ update was developed in 2015 to ensure the ongoing relevancy of the study.

Whole-of-Government Planning

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Regional Development Australia Orana is a conduit between all levels of government, communities, business and industry. We sit on a number of inter-agency and cross-government groups, and work alongside the state Regional Development network through our Chair and CEO. We can act as a facilitator of cross-government projects, and as an initial point of contact for entrepreneurs, innovators and community groups looking to get their big ideas off the ground. We also represent the region through comment on government programs and papers and policy submissions.

Current activites include:

The National Stronger Regions Fund will invest $1 billion over five years to promote economic development in Australia’s regions and is open to Local Government and incorporated not-for-profit organisations.
Applicants are encouraged to seek the support of their Regional Development Australia (RDA) Committee for their project. RDA Committees can:

  • assist Applicants to identify and develop worthwhile project proposals that contribute to long term economic growth and have been identified as priorities within their region, and 
  • work with Applicants to prepare competitive applications, supporting documents and evidence. 
  • RDA Committees may also approach eligible organisations about developing an application for an infrastructure project or play a facilitation role by bringing key parties together, including those who may provide a financial contribution to the project. 
  • RDA committees will not be involved in the appraisal or prioritisation of applications.

If you would like to speak with Regional Development Australia – Orana about a potential project please read our document, Round 3 National Stronger Regions Fund - Guidelines at a Glance (below) before contacting us on (02) 6885 1488, or by email admin@rdaorana.org.au.
To access information on the fund, including guidelines, FAQs and application details, please visit the National Stronger Regions Fund webpage.

Round 3 National Stronger Regions Fund - Guidelines at a Glance Round 3 National Stronger Regions Fund - Guidelines at a Glance (391 KB)

If you have any questions about the eligibility criteria or application process please email nsrf@infrastructure.gov.au

Please note that Round 3 is now closed and Round 4 has not yet been announced.

Regional Development Australia Orana occasionally provide submissions to government on regional issues. You can view our submissions and responses here .

Other Activities and Partnerships

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Current projects include:

RDA Orana is supporting the Warrumbungle Shire Council in investigating the potential for a Geopark centred on the Warrumbungles National Park. Registration as a Geopark and subsequent membership in the Global Geoparks Network would bring a range of economic and other benefits to the region, associated mainly with tourism. While the prospects are good, there is a significant body of work required in researching and compiling the information required for application to UNESCO. Applications are only accepted in October and November each year; it is expected that if an application is to be lodged, it will be in the 2017 application period.

RDA Orana is providing logistical and coordination support to investigate the feasibility of establishing and promoting an outback tourism ring road. The route begins at Dubbo (as the regional transport hub), then proceeds to Cobar, out to Tibooburra, down through Broken Hill to Wentworth and Balranald, to Hay and Goolgowi and back to Cobar along the Kidman Way. There are also options for entering the circuit at other key locations and/or creating smaller ring roads or side trips along the route. While the majority of necessary tourist attractions and related facilities already exists, the proposal will require a coordinated and consistent approach to promotion of the entire area. This will require the support of councils and other relevant stakeholders. Upgrades of some sections of road would also assist this initiative in the medium-term.