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June 2019
Welcome to the RDA Hume newsletter

RDA Hume is a committee of local leaders who work together to champion projects and initiatives that contribute to the economic prosperity of the region.

Our region covers a large area, including the local government areas of Alpine, Benalla, Greater Shepparton, Indigo, Mansfield, Mitchell, Moira, Murrindindi, Strathbogie, Towong, Wangaratta and Wodonga.

Message from the Chair

I’d like to welcome you to the RDA Hume newsletter and the broader RDA Hume network. We will be publishing this newsletter quarterly and encourage you to share it with your colleagues and contacts.

There is a broad range of activities currently going on across the Hume region including:

  • Mansfield Producers Inc - Paddock to Plate Agritourism Alliance - Marketing and Implementation Plan
  • Building economic development capacity in Hume region local governments
  • Hume Region Growth and Change Analysis
  • Hume Regional Priorities 2019-21
  • Decentralisation Opportunities in the Hume region
  • Benalla Labour Analysis
  • Hume Region Workforce Development Plan update
  • Understanding Food Manufacturing Skills Shortages in the Goulburn Valley
  • Analysis of the Defence Sector in the Hume region
  • Victorian Alpine Resorts Visitor Economy Development Plan
  • Sponsorship of the 2019 Victorian Agribusiness Summit
  • King Valley Prosecco business case for investment – marketing and tourism
  • Agritourism industry mapping project
  • Food and agritourism research project

All these activities support our role in advocating strongly for our region.

Early this year, I continued my regular visits to Canberra to meet with senior Ministers and Government officials, including Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and his Chief of Staff.

This meeting covered a wide range of issues, including an update on the recent activities undertaken by RDA Hume, the rollout and implementation of actions from the Regions at the Ready report and the Government’s future policy direction on regional development.

We also spoke about the Hume Strategy for Sustainable Communities, which is due for renewal in 2020 – we believe this work needs funding support from Australian Government because of the role it plays in encouraging partnerships and guiding the region’s decision-making and strategic focus for the past 10 years.

With the Federal election now behind us, I would like to extend my congratulations to the new and returning Members of Parliament in the Hume region.

Our focus is on providing strong and transparent communications to those we represent, and we will keep you posted about our work through our newsletter or in person when we have the opportunity.

Please feel free to pass on any feedback you may have to

I hope you enjoy our first issue.

Kind regards

Susan Benedyka

Current work

In each of these newsletters, we will showcase projects as mentioned above to provide an overview and status update:

Hume Region Growth and Change Analysis

RDA Hume has identified the need to support renewal of the long-term regional strategy and is seeking to undertake a review of progress to date and to gain an understanding of where to from here.

The objective of the project is to:

  1. Undertake a review of the Hume Strategy for Sustainable Communities (2010-2020) in order to understand what has been achieved to date; determine how well progress has gone and to highlight what is left to do that is still of relevance for the region.
  2. Consider where to from here for the region and determine what might be some avenues/opportunities for success.
  3. Complete some initial planning for the next version for the region’s strategic plan.

To date, an extensive desktop review has been undertaken and surveys of key organisations including all local government areas. Both Ovens Murray and Goulburn Regional Partnerships have been engaged and stakeholder consultation sessions have occurred in Shepparton and Wangaratta to gain feedback on the draft document.

The final document is due for release this month.

This research will inform next steps in regional planning and assist with advocacy effort to secure funding for the next regional strategic plan.

Hume Regional Priorities 2019-2021

This document identifies priorities for the Hume region as well as key priorities in each local government area and the Alpine resorts.

It is pivotal to attracting funds for major projects, developing a shared advocacy position, and working collaboratively for great results for the region.

The priorities were developed in consultation with stakeholders at two workshops held in Shepparton and Wangaratta and are in line with the overarching regional priority focus areas in the Hume Strategy.

Those involved included local government authorities, government agencies, Alpine Resort boards, regional tourism boards, catchment management authorities, representatives from the Ovens Murray and Goulburn regional partnerships and RDA Hume.

The final document will be made available later this month.

Decentralisation opportunities in the Hume region

RDA Hume identified the need to better understand opportunities for decentralisation in our region and commissioned a research project.

The project involves undertaking research and analysis to identify the suitability of relevant agencies that could be targeted for relocation.

It took into consideration the recommendations outlined in the Select Committee’s final report: Regions at the Ready: Investing in Australia’s Future.

It will also inform the future advocacy efforts carried out by RDA Hume.

Workforce research and planning
LS Precast – photo courtesy Benalla Ensign

Image above: Construction is underway at LS Precast in Benalla - this will be one business that will shape Benalla’s future labour market (photo credit courtesy: Benalla Ensign).

There are separate research pieces which are being undertaken to inform future workforce strategy and skills shortage.

They are:

  • An update of the Hume Region Workforce and Skills Development Plan: This document identifies the achievements of the previous plan, includes an audit of current workforce pressures within six key sectors and will see the development of the new three-year workforce development plan.
  • This research will contribute to a project that analyses the current labour market in Benalla and future skills requirements and the effect that significant recent investment in Benalla has had (i.e. the Benalla precast manufacturing plant and additional defence sector developments).

This includes research into identifying and addressing skills shortages in the food manufacturing industry in the Goulburn Valley

Defence industry remains a priority
Lt COL Pete Fleming with RDA Hume Chair Susan Benedyka

Image above: Lieutenant Colonel Pete Fleming with RDA Hume Chair Susan Benedyka

Hume has a strong defence sector presence with two barracks at Bandiana and Puckapunyal, as well as significant defence sector manufacturing facilities in Benalla, and large service contracts between defence and Wodonga TAFE.

The sector currently generates $556 million of Gross Value-Added product for the region and supports 2730 direct defence personnel jobs, in addition to private sector jobs.

RDA Hume is committed to ensuring this sector reaches its full potential and recently held a meeting in Wodonga and another in Benalla to discuss how this could be achieved.

Inland rail advocacy continues
freight train

Although there has been significant Federal Government investment to upgrading the North East regional rail line and inland rail, there is still much to do.

RDA Hume continues to advocate strongly for inland rail, due to the significant benefits it will bring to the region.

RDA Hume recognises that the development of the inland rail infrastructure will provide a truly national integrated transport system.

The Federal Government, through the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), is delivering the multi-billion-dollar infrastructure project in partnership with the private sector.

The government has committed $9.3 billion to deliver inland rail, on top of the previously funded $900 million. Work on the inland rail will also support track improvement for the North East passenger rail network.

The project will provide transport connectivity for primary producers, whether they be on the rail corridor or in proximity.

The freight and logistics sector is a significant economic lever for the Hume region due to the national highways of the Hume and the Goulburn Valley, and the presence of global producers such as Mars Petcare, Vitasoy, Uncle Toby’s, Unilever, Campbells, Saputo and Bega.

The construction of the inland rail will provide numerous opportunities for local businesses and will be a fast and efficient freight line with a transit time of under 24 hours from Melbourne to Brisbane. This will increase the productivity and competitiveness of companies based in Hume and will expand market and distribution opportunities.

To prepare for inland rail, RDA Hume is assisting to connect all levels of government, industry and business.

The role of RDA Hume is predominately facilitation and communication, getting key people and organisations around the table to ensure that the region capitalises on opportunities.

It is also connected to Ministers and senior officials involved in this project and we will be staging several engagement activities in the very near future to assist businesses and suppliers get ready for inland rail.

Rail funding a boost for region

A significant boost to Hume region was provided in the Victorian Budget recently, with an announcement the Albury-Wodonga to Melbourne line will share in $340 million for the purchase of 18 VLocity trains.

The order will include trains to be used on the Ballarat and Geelong lines, but the government has confirmed the North-East line will take priority in the ordering so they are ready to roll when the $235 million upgrade of the line being managed by the Australian Rail Track Corporation is completed in 2021.

The Ovens Murray Regional Partnership (OMRP) is among the organisations which have identified improvements of the North East line as a top regional priority.

OMRP has worked with Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) on this issue.

Community members in the region have expressed a clear desire for clean, comfortable, modern trains and a service that is punctual, reliable and scheduled to meet their key needs.

These high-level expectations have been identified formally through:

  • Hume Region Passenger and Freight Rail Review (Hume RDA, 2011)
  • Victoria’s Regional Network Development Plan (DEDJTR, May 2016)
  • Hume Corridor Passenger Rail Study (North East Passenger Rail Consortium, Feb. 2017)
  • Passenger Rail Gap Analysis; Ovens Murray Region (TfV, 2018)
  • Ovens Murray Regional Assemblies and other OMRP stakeholder engagements since 2016.

OMRP acknowledges that since 2016 the Victorian and Commonwealth governments have committed more than $290 million in total to deliver rolling stock, services and track and infrastructure upgrades, including:

  • Additional refurbished classic train carriage to improve reliability
  • Station improvements at Seymour
  • Design and engineering work for new standard gauge long haul VLocity trains
  • Additional daily coach service on the North East line
  • Track upgrade to Victorian Class 2 standard.
Regional deal a win for Hume
Wodonga Councillor Anna Speedie and Albury Mayor Kevin Mack - photo courtesy Wodonga Council

Image above: Wodonga Councillor Anna Speedie and Albury Mayor Kevin Mack (courtesy Wodonga Council)

RDA Hume extends its congratulations to Albury and Wodonga councils on the announcement of a regional deal.

It brings together three levels of government, the community and private enterprise to create place-based partnerships.

Regional deals are tailored to each region’s comparative advantages, assets and challenges and reflect the unique needs of regional Australia.

In a joint statement, AlburyCity Mayor Cr Kevin Mack and Wodonga Mayor Cr Anna Speedie said there were countless opportunities to work together.

“Thanks to this funding from the Federal Government, we’ll be able to work together to develop our economic strengths, identify opportunities for growth and reduce any barriers that might exist between the states,” they said.

“With the support of the Federal and State governments, we hope to make a real difference in not only harmonising cross-border business opportunities but also by identifying opportunities for investment that will pave the way for our joint economy to thrive.”

RDA Hume Chair Susan Benedyka said she had discussed and strongly advocated for the regional deal with senior political leaders during her recent visit to Canberra, and in numerous previous meetings with Ministers.

Conference a spotlight on region
Sustainable Economic Growth for Regional Australia (SEGRA) logo

Neighbouring committee RDA Murray has secured the hosting rights to the Sustainable Economic Growth for Regional Australia (SEGRA) Conference later this year.

The three-day conference will bring up to 250 delegates to Barooga when it is held from 19 to 22 August 2019.

The conference will bring significant benefits to the Hume region with Barooga being a neighbouring town to Cobram.

RDA Hume Chair Susan Benedyka will present a paper at the conference, titled Regional Planning Delivers Catalyst Investment in the Hume Region.

This will outline RDA Hume’s experiences with the Hume Strategy for Sustainable Communities 2010-2020 and the role it will bring in unlocking investment for the region from all tiers of government.

RDA Hume is a sponsor of the conferenceand you can find out more about the conference via

Hume region strengthened by grants
City of Greater Shepparton Mayor Kim O’Keeffe, Federal Member for Murray Damian Drum and Goulburn Valley Highway Shepparton Bypass Action Group chairman Peter Johnson talk about the long-awaited bypass

Image above: City of Greater Shepparton Mayor Kim O’Keeffe, Federal Member for Murray Damian Drum and Goulburn Valley Highway Shepparton Bypass Action Group chairman Peter Johnson talk about the long-awaited bypass (photo courtesy Shepparton News).

Community efforts which have extended over the past 20 years have been realised with the Federal Government announcing it will commit to $208 million in funding towards stage one of the Shepparton bypass project.

The first stage of the project will see a 10km single lane road starting at the Midland Highway in Mooroopna, with a second river crossing being built that will exit onto Wanganui Road.

Find out more

Building better regions

Did you know the Hume region received a major boost from the round three Building Better Regions Fund, announced by the Australian Government in March?

Click on the links below to read more about the new infrastructure and community projects that have been funded across our region.

Details of the infrastructure projects which received funding

Details on the community infrastructure grants which received funding

Investing in fruit exports
Apple Packing

In another win for the Hume region, the Geoffrey Thompson Fruit Packing in Shepparton has received a $15 million boost towards the FRUITCo project.

This is expected to create more than 1350 new jobs over five years, decrease post-harvest costs and eliminate waste.


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