Re-launch of MNC Strategic Regional Plan

Following on from the Federal Governments release of the Regional Investment Framework (RIF) and the feedback received at the launch sessions of the MNC Regional Strategic Plan on regional priorities, Regional Development Australia Mid North Coast (RDAMNC) has now re-written the plan.  We thank everyone who has contributed both to the original plan and attended the launch sessions, your contribution is invaluable in helping us shape the revised plan.

Whilst this is the re-launch of the original plan, this is by no means the end.  RDAMNC has shortened the timeframe on the plan with a view to revisit sooner rather than later and we welcome any input that you have either towards the plan or any of the projects within it.

A copy of the revised MNC Strategic Regional Plan is available on our website

Should you have any questions or feedback, please contact Dianne Wall at or on 02 5525 1500.

Regional Snapshots

The RDA MNC team have been developing regional snapshots for our communities across the Mid North Coast, Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands.

These snapshots are easy to read compilations of the demographics of our People, Places and Industries along with key insights on heath, housing and employment.

Go to the Regional Snapshot Project to see more information.

Mid North Coast Regional Strategic Plan Consultation Outcomes

RDA Mid North Coast thanks all the region’s participants in the recent Mid North Coast Regional Plan Launch and Consultation.

 There were 12 events scheduled over the months of May and June 2023 across the region, attracting businesses, local organisations and community members. RDA Mid North Coast also worked closely with each of the Local Governments in the area to seek feedback and understand the priorities for the six localities we serve.

 We promised to keep you all in the conversation over the next few months as the plan is re-framed in line with the Regional Investment Framework. The action areas identified in the original plan have been prioritised by the regional stakeholders who came to the events and participated in the survey online. For the outcome summary, click here.

Regional Investment Framework

The Regional Investment Framework – outlined in the 2023-24 Budget – puts regions and the people who live in them, at the heart of decision making.

The Framework will establish a new regional development forum for Australian Government agencies, with regular engagement to better inform Commonwealth decisions. All regional investments must meet standards of merit and integrity, crucial to maintaining trust and confidence in government.

The Framework identifies four key priority areas to support regional development – investing in services, people, places and industry.

The 2023-24 Budget, invests heavily in these four priority areas.

Investing in Services

The 2023-24 Budget works to strengthen Medicare, relieve pressure on hospital systems, and ease the cost of living pressures for Australians, ensuring access to healthcare no matter your postcode or bank balance.

An historic investment of $3.5 billion will triple the Bulk Billing incentive – the largest increase in the 40-year history of Medicare – an immediate injection to benefit communities in regional, rural and remote Australia.

We’ll make common medicines cheaper. Australians in regional Australia will need half as many trips to the GP and pharmacist just to fill a repeat script for more than 300 Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme medicines used to treat chronic conditions, saving Australians up to $180 a year for every eligible medicine they buy.

Access to healthcare is a priority for regional Australia. We are also investing:

$358.5 million for Medicare Urgent Care Clinics to support delivery of an additional 8 clinics, bringing the total commitment to 58 clinics around Australia, including Broome and Rockhampton. Clinics will be operating this year, open for longer hours and with no out-of-pocket costs.
We’re also expanding After Hours Primary Care. And more Australians in regional and rural locations will benefit from longer telehealth consultations.
We’ll reinvest savings into strengthening community pharmacies, including by doubling the rural maintenance allowance. We want our pharmacists to play a larger, more central role in their communities, with funding to provide many more vaccinations, deliver opioid dependency treatments and medication reviews in Aged Care.
And commit $238.5 million to address inequities in cancer outcomes for First Nations people.
For regional families, the Government is also addressing critical shortages in Child Care and Teaching, to support and build a quality workforce.

$72.4 million to support Early Childhood Education and Care professional development.
A further $9.3 million to the National Teacher Workforce Action Plan, with initiatives to increase the number of people choosing to become teachers, and ensure we keep existing teachers.
We will also deliver $40.4 million in additional funding for schools in Central Australia to increase school enrolment, student engagement and improve learning outcomes.

Plus, we will invest further in the Indigenous Boarding Providers grants program, supporting dozens of providers who host some 2,300 First Nations students from remote areas.

The Albanese Government continues work to ensure Regional Australians are connected, informed and safe. We are:

Creating a new National Messaging System to help protect people and property – with targeted, real-time information to mobile phones during an emergency.
Continuing delivery of free-to-air satellite television services to regional and remote Australia, including First Nations communities.

Investing in People

The 2023-24 Budget delivers impactful cost-of-living relief to regional Australians.

Jobseeker and related working age payments will be increased by $40 and the Government will reduce the eligibility age for the higher JobSeeker rate for single people on the payment for 9 continuous months or more and who are 60 or over to 55 years or over.
The Single Parenting Payment, will be expanded to cover principal carers with a youngest child under 14 years of age, benefiting around 22,000 people in regional and remote Australia.
In addition, maximum rates of Commonwealth Rent Assistance will be increased by 15 per cent, benefiting around 300,000 people in Australia’s regions.
We are looking after our Aged Care Workforce, with a 15 per cent payrise – a record $11.3bn investment which will impact the some 4,000 aged care services taking care of our older Australians in rural, remote and regional Australia.

This Budget extends our commitment to our National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children – with a $589.3 million package, which includes a focus on First Nations women and children.

And we’re redesigning the Skills for Education and Employment program, to provide more pathways for Australians who want to access training, gain secure employment and career progression.

On top of our commitment to deliver 480,000 Fee-Free TAFE and vocational education places, we are:

Committing $8.6 million over four years to design and implement the Australian Skills Guarantee, which will create opportunities for apprentices, trainees, paid cadets – and for women to work on major Government projects in regional Australia.
Extending the Foundation Skills for Your Future Remote Community Pilots program, which currently supports people in 11 remote communities to better language, literacy, numeracy and digital literacy skills.

Investing in Places

The Albanese Government is making it easier for people to secure a safe and affordable home, no matter where they live.

We are expanding the Regional First Home Buyer Guarantee from July 1, to any two eligible borrowers, such as friends and siblings, beyond married or de facto couples, and making it available to non-first home buyers if they haven’t owned a property in Australia in the last 10 years.

And we’re supporting more social and affordable housing by increasing the guaranteed liabilities of the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC) by $2 billion, to support more financing through the Australian Housing Bond Aggregator.

The Albanese Government is also committing $200 million, to deliver real change for Australians experiencing disadvantage – with a range of initiatives and a new targeted framework.

This Budget is also investing in safer communities with:

Up to $200 million per year to support disaster risk reduction projects in regional Australia, under the Disaster Ready Fund.
$236 million over 10 years to improve flood forecasting and warnings.
$231.8 million invested in Services Australia to establish a cost-effective emergency response capacity – ensuring the delivery of high-quality government services and payments, when customers need them the most.
We remain focused on keeping communities well connected.

The Albanese Government is committed to our 10-year, $120bn Infrastructure Pipeline. But we will clean up an unsustainable backlog we inherited with an independent review, to ensure we have a nation-building investment pipeline – with projects that provide regional connectivity, liveability and safety.

Other initiatives include:

Funding of up to $95 million a year for the Bridges Renewal Program.
$500 million for the Roads to Recovery Program.
33 Remote Roads Upgrade Pilot Program projects to be delivered in 2023 and 2024.
And, $43.6 million to deliver the National Road Safety Action Grants Program over 3 years, building on the Government’s commitment to improve road safety for all Australians.
The Budget also builds on the $250 million landmark plan for A Better, Safer Future for Central Australia, delivering the next phase of initiatives including in infrastructure, health, education and engagement for ‘at risk’ First Nations Youth.

We are also committed to lock in Commonwealth funding contribution to support the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games – including $935 million over 10 years towards 16 new or upgraded Games venues. This will benefit regional location including Barlow Park in Cairns and the Toowoomba Sports Ground.

And we continue to invest in the environment and culture, which make our regions unique.

This Budget invests $355.1 million over four years to end the neglect of Commonwealth National Parks, funding which will create local jobs. And $439.2 million over five years to support programs that repair World Heritage properties, restore Ramsar wetlands and conserve threatened species and ecosystems.

Plus, dedicated funding of $286 million under our landmark National Cultural Policy: Revive. This includes targeted initiatives in regional arts, including protecting First Nations knowledge and cultural expressions.

Investing in Industry and Local Economies

The Government is making future-focused investments, recognising the significant contribution Australia’s regions makes to securing a productive and sustainable future for the nation.

This budget allocates over $1.4 billion through the Powering the Regions Fund to support industrial decarbonisation and develop new clean energy industries in the regions, through three new streams of grants.

Building on this work, we will legislate a national Net Zero Authority to ensure the workers, industries and communities that have powered Australia for generations, can seize the opportunities of Australia’s net zero transformation.

Regional Australia will also benefit from new opportunities in the emerging hydrogen sector, and the Government has allocated $2bn to establish Hydrogen Headstart – to help underwrite large-scale renewable hydrogen projects through competitive hydrogen production contracts.

We are committed to ensuring Australia is a country that makes things, including through the Government’s $15bn National Reconstruction Fund, which will transform Australia’s industry and economy, creating secure, well-paid jobs in regional areas – with investments in seven priority areas, including value-add in resources, value-add resources, value-add in agriculture, forestry, and fisheries, transport and renewables and low emissions technology.

The Albanese Government continues its support of our strategically significant critical minerals projects, establishing the Critical Minerals International Partnerships Program and extending funding for the Critical Minerals office, to created continued economic opportunity for regional Australia.

And we are delivering on an election commitment to Australia’s agriculture sector – investing $1bn over four years, to strengthen the national biosecurity system.

We’ll create a new, sustainable and accountable funding model that will help minimise disruption and economic loss through outbreaks, support better yields through lower damage to produce and provide new access to markets, through greater biosecurity assurance and reputation.

The Budget also commits:

$40.6 million over four years to continue the Indigenous Rangers Biosecurity Program, supporting a strengthened biosecurity system in Northern Australia.
$302.1 million over five years through the National Heritage Trust to reduce the agriculture sector’s emissions, build climate resilience, enhance market access and improve environmental outcomes.
We are also growing and expanding the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme by strengthening domestic operations and enhancing oversight, without compromising safeguards that ensure vulnerable workers are adequately protected.

Read the original Media release here.

MNC Regional Strategic Plan

Regional Development Australia Mid North Coast (RDAMNC) sought feedback on their Strategic Regional Plan 2023-33 during a region wide tour and survey during May and June 2023.  Download your copy here.

The Albanese Government released on 9 May 2023 their new Regional Investment Framework. This is a new a blueprint for how they will work with regional communities to address the diverse needs across the nation. The Strategic Regional Plan tour helped gather further input from the Mid North Coast community to recast the plan in accordance with the new Regional Investment Framework.

“The plan fills a gap in Mid North Coast regional economic development planning, as there are no other strategies which focus on this area as a distinct economic region,” said Dr Madeleine Lawler, CEO of RDAMNC.

“This plan is designed to provide a multi-level government lens on the regional priorities for the Mid North Coast and will assist local governments and non-profits in ensuring their planned projects and proposals are in line with national priorities for regional Australia.”

The RDAMNC team conducted briefing sessions in every Local Government Area, beginning in the Bellinger Valley on the 24 May, and concluding with Coffs Harbour on 20 June 2023.

“Regional Development Australia Mid North Coast is fortunate to represent one of the most environmentally abundant regions in Australia, which offers its residents an enviable lifestyle in a beautiful, natural environment, with unique and thriving regional towns and cities,” said Kieren Dell, Chair of RDAMNC.

“We see our role as a connector between regional communities, business, government and not-for-profits, a facilitator of change, and an independent voice for our region. We will continue to support the Mid North Coast well into the future.”

Contact: Madeleine Lawler

Mid North Coast Circular Economy Report

RDAMNC, in partnership with the Mid North Coast joint Organisation (MNCJO), conducted a Mid North Coast Circular Economy research project consisting of a series of workshops and a survey. The project aimed to identify challenges and opportunities for the further development of a more circular economy across the region. There are clear economic benefits to a strong circular economy, including creating new types of jobs, supporting innovation and resource efficiency, as well as increased productivity.

In addition to the economic impacts, a strong circular economy has other significant benefits, notably in waste management, with landfill nearing capacity on all the Local Government Areas on
the Mid North Coast, and in increasing the regional capacity, resourcefulness and resilience of the Mid North Coast, especially in times of disaster.

Opportunities to further develop the Circular Economy in the Mid North Coast are vast and will be stimulated through expanded communication networks, opportunities to share information and
ideas, greater collaboration across Local Government Areas, education programs to increase community buy-in, connecting industry with investment partners and progressing existing innovative

Potential limitations and difficulties which were identified as obstacles to the expansion of a Mid North Coast circular economy include the geographic and demographic barriers of the region,
including small, isolated populations and the tyranny of distance, infrequent opportunities for networking, perceived lack of support by government, and narrow profit margins which act as a
disincentive for business.

RDAMNC looks forward to continuing this work into 2023.

The report associated with this report is now complete, and can be read here:

Mid North Coast Circular Economy Research Project (Regional Snapshot) – PDF

Mid North Coast Internet Service and Providers

Article Summary

  • What is the best type of internet for me?
  • Who is NBN Co and what do they do?
  • What is an internet service provider and which one should I choose?
  • What is Starlink and is it suitable for where I live?
  • Where can I go to get good advice from people who understand the problems in regional Australia?

There are several internet connection options for Mid North Coast residents, with the National Broadband Network (NBN) available to every single property in the region. Towns and cities have access to fibre optic wireless connection, and in the less populated areas of the region, fixed wireless and satellite options are available. There are also some legacy ADSL connections, but most telcos do not offer new ADSL contracts.  If you need high quality internet connectivity for work, study or home, it’s beneficial to check the coverage available to you in your chosen location before you move there. The Regional Tech Hub can do a free and independent report of the options available to you at your address

Regional Technology Comparison

ADSL internet: Also known as Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line, ADSL is last century’s legacy broadband internet connection, transmitting data through a copper wire using your premise’s phone line. Telstra owns the ADSL line, and according to their submission to the ACCC’s Wholesale ADSL declaration inquiry (PDF), less people are using ADSL, there are a range of options for customers to use instead of ADSL, and most other providers don’t offer new ADSL plans. It’s likely that over the next couple of years, Telstra will stop providing an ADSL service, arguing that it is more expensive to operate and inferior to just about every other service. In areas without access to a fixed broadband service (people who live out of town), this is likely to mean that people currently on ADSL with no access to a fixed broadband network will need to change to a satellite network or other available internet service.

Mobile Broadbandinternet delivered directly to your mobile device via a mobile phone tower.

Fixed Wireless: there are both NBN and non-NBN fixed wireless services, both of which require line of sight access from your premises to the nearest internet base tower. However, on the mid north coast there are limited non-NBN providers.

NBN Broadband: NBN Co is the government owned company tasked with building the Australian broadband network. Generally speaking, towns with more than 2000 people have access to some kind of fibre optic cable broadband. Although NBN Co builds and owns the network, you will need to buy your access from one of many internet providers – and while you’ll need to pay for your NBN plan, the cost of connecting the NBN to your home is completely free, with the Australian Government covering the cost. Broadband on the Mid North Coast consists of a suite of options including fibre optic cable connections, which is any type of NBN connection that uses a physical line running to the node, kerb or premises. There is also fixed wireless, which uses data transmitted by radio signals from a transmission tower to an outdoor antenna attached to the premises, and the Sky Muster satellite service which delivers the internet to regional and remote Australia, via two satellites. 

NBN Co is working on a series of upgrades across the Mid North Coast over the next couple of years:

Service Providers: NBN Co builds the network, and then sells access to the network to service providers such as Telstra, Optus and all the other internet service providers, who then sell the service to you. There are a LOT of different service providers, so you will need to do some research. The Regional Tech Hub is a great resource for regional internet connection. Contact your provider about plans and pricing, installation and activation enquiries, ongoing support and trouble shooting.

Low to Medium Earth Orbit satellites: while NBN Sky Muster uses two high to very high satellites to provide their service, Starlink uses new low to medium earth orbit satellites, which orbit 60x closer to earth than the NBN satellites. Newly available in Australia since late 2022, Starlink satellites offer faster speeds, with less latency (delay) and unlimited data, at a higher cost. Watch for new offerings by Australian telcos in this space, with Telstra planning its own low earth satellite technology. This type of technology is best suited to out of town or non-metropolitan users, as the speed can be impacted with very high users in built up areas, and as more people subscribe.

For more information:

Regional Tech Hub: offers independent advice and support and helps regional Australians negotiate often confusing phone and internet options and technical issues.

Better Internet for Rural, Regional and Remote Australians: a ‘one-stop shop’ of relevant info & links for all things bush telecommunications. BIRRR offers support, independent advice and advocacy and negotiates often-confusing bush broadband options and issues. 

Mid North Coast Mobile Phone Service

Article Summary

  • Who owns the mobile phone towers and networks?
  • Who are the telcos and who are the mobile phone providers?
  • What is the 3G network and why will it be closing in 2024?
  • How can I boost my mobile phone service?

The Australian Government and the NSW State Government work in collaboration with the three biggest Australian telecommunications companies (telcos) to build mobile phone infrastructure, address mobile black spots and protect key infrastructure from natural disasters.

In Australia, there are only three mobile phone networks – the Telstra network, the Optus Network, and the TPG Telecom network (previously Vodafone). Telstra and Optus are the main telcos who are responsible for building mobile phone infrastructure on the Mid North Coast, with TPG Telecom limited to major metropolitan areas (their associated brands are vodafone, TPG, iinet, internode, LEBARA, AAPT and felix).

In Australia, each mobile phone tower is locked to the constructing telco’s customers, which limits customers to connecting to their provider’s towers only. In regional areas, this contributes to the patchy reception experienced by residents, travellers and tourists, who, depending on the provider they are connected to, may or may not be able to connect to the tower in their vicinity.

Who are all the other mobile phone providers you might wonder? They are subsidiary mobile providers who use the Telstra and Optus networks to provide mobile phone services (often called Mobile Virtual Network Operators– MVNOs) – and we let you know which of these smaller providers use which network.

Mid North Coast Telcos

Telstra: Telstra services around 40% of the Mid North Coast population, providing a wide range of mobile network and complementary technologies to individuals and organisations. Click here for their 3G, 4G and 5G coverage maps. They have seven planned upgrades or new builds for towers and small cells across the region in 2023. On the Mid North Coast there have been 15 base stations funded by the five rounds of the Mobile Blackspot program – 13 sites are complete, with two more scheduled to be complete halfway through 2023. See below table for towers and locations. Telstra also has a national map of towers on its website.

Note that Telstra will be closing its 3G network in June 2024. This is to enable investment in the next generation of mobile technology. Closing 3G will free up bandwidth to be repurposed for 5G and is in line with the global decline of 3G technology, which is 20 years old and was designed for text and calls only. Telstra has committed to provide 4G coverage equivalent to their 3G coverage by the time they close their 3G network. 

The MVNO’s who sell their services using the Telstra network include: ALDI mobile, Belong, Boost Mobile, Exetel, Lycamobile, MATE, more, numobile, Tangerine Telecom, Woolworths Mobile.

Optus: Optus provides mobile and internet services to individuals and organisations, as well as mobile phone infrastructure. Click here for a snapshot of their 3G, 4G and 5G coverage map of the Mid North Coast

As part of Optus’ ongoing commitment to improving its mobile network and customer service in regional Australia, the telco has invested $11 million into the Mid North Coast region in the last five years, with a further investment of $1.3m planned in the next 12 months. The Mid North Coast is a priority for Optus, with 19 towers built over the last 5 years and 3 more planned over the next 12 months. Optus also has a national map of their towers.

The MVNO’s who sell their services using the Optus network include: amaysim, Aussie Broadband, Catch Connect, Circle.Life, Coles Mobile, Dodo, gomo, Moose Mobile, Southern Phone, SpinTel, Yomojo.

Site Name Carrier Site Status (carrier indicative) 
Brierfield Optus Complete 
Byabarra-Bagnoo Road Telstra Complete 
Comboyne A Telstra Complete 
Comboyne B Telstra Complete 
Ebsworth Fire Road, Booral* Telstra Complete 
Elands Telstra Complete 
Firefly Optus Complete 
Girvan* Telstra Complete 
Hickeys Creek Telstra Complete 
Mount Seaview Optus Complete 
North Dorrigo Telstra Complete 
Sherwood Telstra Complete 
Taylors Arm Telstra Complete 
Wherrol Flat Telstra Complete 
Yarrabandinni Optus Complete 
Lord Howe Telstra 2023, Q2 
Millbank Telstra 2023, Q2 

Ways to boost your mobile phone service

Even though mobile phone reception is improving on the Mid North Coast, there are still times and places where reception is patchy, especially along the highway, in less populated areas, and if there are obstacles between you and the tower (obstacles could be geographical or human-made). Some options to boost your mobile phone reception include wi-fi calling antennas and mobile phone signal boosters.

For people who need to be connected wherever they are, in all conditions, then satellite phones are an option. They require an investment of $500-$1500 per handset, often needing a separate service plan with associated monthly costs. Before purchasing a satellite phone, it is important to research the coverage and pricing options available to ensure you select the best option for your needs and you are aware of the call costs (often you pay for incoming calls as well as outgoing, and prices range form a few $ per min to $5/min). Telstra also offers satellite phone services.