Forster Surf Life Saving club

On Tuesday 21st May 2024, RDAMNC was fortunate to be given a tour of the new Forster Surf Life Saving club that is currently under construction.

This project has been a long time coming and it is fantastic to see that it has received support from the Federal and State Governments as well as MidCoast Council to finally come to fruition. This is an outstanding project for the Forster community and has been developed with future growth in mind.

The new club will include state of the art training facilities for their members, in particular, the Nippers – being a coastal region, the opportunities for children to be able to develop strong swimming and surf-life saving skills is critical.

We would like to acknowledge that while the entire MidCoast LGA is now within the remit of RDAMNC, prior to October 2023, Forster was supported by our colleagues at Regional Development Australia (RDA) Hunter . RDA Hunter provided support to Forster Surf Life Saving Club to successfully gain funding for this project and we thank them for our inclusion and opportunity to provide ongoing support for this project and the Forster community into the future.

Pictured are John Turner (RDA Hunter, Chair), Dianne Wall (RDAMNC Acting CEO), John Quinn (President, Forster Surf Life Saving Club) and Trevor John (CEO, RDA Hunter).

Join us for Industry Skills Audit Focus Group!

Are you seeking employees on the Mid North Coast? Can’t attract staff? Here’s an opportunity to shape the future of the workforce and training. Come along and have your say.

We are holding Skills Audit Focus Groups in all of our LGA’s. We are interested in understanding where there are gaps for the region, in what skill sets and what the future needs are for industries to be sustainable in the long term. We invite business owners and recruitment managers to join us for these Industry Focus group discussions.

Please register via this link – Humanitix

If you cannot attend but want to have your say and be involved, Please participate in our survey!

RDA Mid North Coast & Norfolk Island facilitates the introduction of fresh genetics to Norfolk Island’s cattle population

We are very pleased to announce that we have been able to facilitate the introduction of an assisted reproduction program for the cattle on Norfolk Island. We’d like to thank the Hon. Kristy McBain, MP and the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communication and the Arts, Breeder Genetics, Norfolk Island Cattle Association and the Norfolk Island Regional Council for making this possible.

A full copy of the media release can be viewed here.

Labour participation rates on MNC – it’s more than just a statistic

Following reports in May 2023 that the Mid North Coast (MNC) has the worst labour participation rates in NSW, Regional Development Australia Mid North Coast (RDAMNC) decided to do some investigation to see what was going on.  RDAMNC partnered with the Regional Australia Institute (RAI) to conduct an analysis into the labour force participation on the MNC with comparison to Regional NSW and the state as a whole.  When you control for the 65 and over age range, the data was quite surprising. 

The labour participation was evaluated based on LGA and within each of those by age (15-64), general, Australian and Overseas born, Indigenous and Non-Indigenous and labour force mobility.   The report showed that Port Macquarie-Hastings and Coffs Harbour LGAs actually have higher participation rates than the regional and overall state averages, indicating that these LGAs may not require the same level of targeted workforce interventions as other LGAs within the region.  Whilst Midcoast and Bellingen have lower participation rates than the averages, Kempsey and Nambucca were significantly lower again. 

Given the similarities in population size, a ‘deep dive’ was conducted into Midcoast LGA with comparisons against Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie to highlight areas that need further investigation or support.  The results showed that despite the differences in geographical spread and Midcoast being in the ‘middle’ of results across the region, that there were some similarities between it and Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour, including that professional occupations account for the largest employment in all three regions, and male employment is significantly higher for full-time and female employment is higher for part-time across all 3 regions.

RDAMNC has found that all the LGAs in our region have different trends and so there will not be a one-size-fits-all approach to any future projects that arise out of this study.  Additionally, the data in the report challenges any assumptions that may be made in relation to labour participation on the MNC.  While some of the statistics are quite dire, some of the other interesting statistics include:

  • Kempsey LGA is the only one to have a higher female participation rate.
  • Kempsey LGA is also the only one to have a higher participation rate in the 45-54 year bracket than 35-44 year old.
  • Nambucca LGA has the lowest level of labour participation but the highest level of people working outside of the LGA and it doesn’t received the equivalent in labour from other LGAs to supplement it.
  • Nambucca LGA has the smallest difference between Australian-born and Overseas-born participation
  • Bellingen is the only LGA to have a higher participation rate in older workers (55-64) than younger workers (15-24).
  • Bellingen LGA also has the largest difference in male to female workforce participation rates.

The results of this study along with RDAMNC’s work on the upcoming skills audit on the Mid North Coast will help to form our future, more targeted programs on labour force participation within different LGAs. 

RDAMNC CEO, Dr Madeleine Lawler, stated that “whilst some of the results within this labour participation study were expected, there were quite a few that were quite fascinating.  What is clear from the report, is that each LGA is very unique and will require support in different ways.  RDAMNC is looking forward to working with each LGA to develop our programs in this space”.

A copy of the report can be found on the RDAMNC website (

Defence Innovation Network (DIN)

Defence Innovation Network (DIN) is a university-led initiative of the NSW Government and the Defence Science and Technology Group to enhance NSW & ACT Defence industry capability through collaboration with government and academic research institutions.

Established in October 2017 and supported by nine leading universities, we focus on bringing world-class research capabilities and innovation to the defence sector and facilitate engagement between research groups that provide defence relevant technologies.


  • Increase NSW capacity for defence R&D
  • Foster collaboration between NSW industry and universities
  • Increase NSW defence science investment through national & international defence R&D programs
  • Support Australian STEM capacity and pathways to STEM careers in defence

Check out the February 2024 E news here: DIN Newsletter – GlobalX, Physical Sciences Fund, DIN Sandpit Workshop

Find out more about the Defence Innovation Network (DIN) and subscribe to their newsletters here.

Coffs Coast Career Connections 2024

The annual careers event for the Coffs-Clarence region is being organised by Mid Coast Connect for Thursday 16th May 2024. BCU, ETC, Southern Cross University and The City of Coffs Harbour are event partners.

This initiative raises the awareness and aspirations of young people about careers. Some 1200 senior students from twenty high schools in the region (Macksville to Dorrigo to Grafton) will attend. Participating students arrive in groups from 9:00 am and the event finishes at 1:00 pm.

A strong local economy is underpinned by an appropriately qualified, and motivated, workforce. This workforce development initiative contributes to encouraging young people to build a career in the region by informing them about vocational opportunities and the pathways to employment.
Throughout the day exhibitors will showcase careers in their industry. These showcases:

  • Include activities or displays that encourage interaction/engagement with students
  • Demonstrate the range of occupations within the industry
  • Provide information on learning pathways and support available
  • Career showcases are supported by Health Careers Workshops. These workshops are ten-minute career conversations in small groups (10-12 students).

Health Careers Workshops include the following health professions:

  • Aboriginal Health
  • Aged Services
  • Chiropractic
  • Home and Community Care
  • Medical Radiation Science
  • Nursing and Midwifery
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Medicine
  • Paramedic
  • Pharmacy
  • Physiotherapy

Student role models also contribute to the workshop discussion.
Exhibitor registrations can be made through the following link:

For further information contact

Regional Development Australia Mid North Coast announce new Board members

Regional Development Australia Mid North Coast (RDAMNC) has recently successfully completed its recruitment process and appointed three new Board Members.

Made up of new and continuing members, the Board consists of representatives from various industries and backgrounds from across the Mid North Coast region, all dedicated to the ongoing economic development of the region.

“I am pleased to welcome three new members to the RDAMNC Board and congratulate them on their appointment, given the high-calibre interest in these roles,” said Kieren Dell, Chair of RDAMNC.

“The addition of the three new Board Members provides RDAMNC with increased representation across our geographical footprint from MidCoast up to Coffs Harbour and they come with deep experience and contacts across many different organisations. I look forward to working together to continue to grow a resilient and vibrant region.”

The new Board Members are Sturt Eastwood (Chief Commercial Officer for Gowings and Sawtell resident), Jane Hillsdon (Chief Marketing Officer for Birdon, resident in Port Macquarie) and Anthony Jephcott (Former Telstra shop owner, commercial property owner and startup and angel investor, resident in Coffs Harbour).

Existing Board Members are Kieren Dell (Chair), Richard O’Leary (Deputy Chair), John Roydhouse (Treasurer), David Harvey, and Tracy Singleton.

Find out more about the RDAMNC Board here.

Norfolk Island Regional Plan Consultation

The draft Norfolk Island Regional Plan has been developed to focus on the Norfolk Island regional economy and act as a guide for much of the advocacy, facilitation and project development undertaken by the Regional Development Australia Board and staff.

Regional Development Australia Norfolk Island and Mid North Coast’s (RDAMNC’s) annual Business Plans will feed into, and draw from, this Regional Plan to ensure integration of the priorities and successful implementation and coordination of the key action items.

As the custodian of this Regional Plan, we recognise that success will come from a strong partnership model focused on outcomes. Local Government, business and community leaders are our key economic stakeholders in the region and are invited to join us at the consultation event and provide feedback on the plan.

The consultation event was held at 6pm on the 14th February at the Governor’s Lodge, Norfolk Island.

RDAMNC keeping their finger on the pulse of local issues facing the Mid North Coast

Regional Development Australia Mid North Coast have announced the Ignite Minis event series, coming in early 2024, to enable consultation on local issues facing the Mid North Coast.

The RDAMNC Ignite Minis are three in-person events designed to briefly provide the updated Regional Strategic Plan in line with the Regional Investment Framework (RIF) and provide the opportunity for consultation on the priority areas of the RIF. Key topics to be covered in the events are: early childhood education and childcare, the Regional Innovation Program, and migration.

The RDAMNC Ignite Mini’s will be hosted in three of the Mid North Coast regions, Taree, Kempsey and Bellingen and will cover the same topics and workshopping at each event.

Date and Venues:

  • 1st February 2024 – 9am to 3pm – Club Taree, Wingham Road, Taree
  • 6th February 2024 – 9am to 3pm – Kempsey RSL, York Lane, Kempsey
  • 8th February 2024 – 9am to 3pm – Bellingen Golf Club, Waterfall Way, Bellingen

RDAMNC CEO, Madeleine Lawler says “Ignite Mid North Coast is having a role change this year. RDA Mid North Coast is taking the opportunity to tour the region to collaborate with the people on the Mid North Coast on some of our pressing issues. Our Ignite Mini sessions will help us to get to grips with early childhood education and care, migration options for labour shortages, skill needs in the region, renewable energy and incubating small business development.”

Charles Sturt University (CSU) and RDAMNC are working together to conduct a skills audit of the Mid North Coast and will deliver voluntary focus groups in the last session of Ignite Mini. The team are interested in understanding where there are gaps for the region, in what skill sets, and what the future needs are for industries to be sustainable in the long term.

Visit the Ignite Mini’s event page for more information and to reserve a spot at the
venue closest to you!