Ignite MNC 2022 – Wrap Up

Opening Address: Imagine an unstoppable community

Dr Clare Allen: General Manager for Port Macquarie Hastings Council – click here to see presentation.

Dr Clare Allen, GM for Port Macquarie Hastings Council – delivering the opening address. Image by Chris Hewgill.


Click on the link to read a summary of the discussions and speaker details


Click on the link to read a summary of the discussions and speaker details

Circular Economy:

Click on the link to read a summary of the discussions and speaker details

Federal Budget October 2022-2023

Tonight, 25 October 2022 Treasurer The Honourable Jim Chalmers MP (Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Australia) and Senator the Honourable Katy Gallagher (Minister for Finance, Minister for Women, Minister for the Public Service of the Commonwealth of Australia) announced the 2022-23 Commonwealth Budget.

The budget seeks to deliver on the Commonwealth’s commitments to:

  • Provide responsible cost-of-living relief that delivers an economic dividend
  • Build a stronger, more resilient and more modern economy
  • Begin the hard task of budget repair to pay for what is important

There are two new programs for the regions:

  • The Growing Regions Program will deliver on the Government’s strategic priorities for regional Australia through an open, competitive grants process.
  • The regional Precincts and Partnerships Program will provide a strategic, nationally consistent mechanism for funding and coordinating projects that support the transformation of important locations across communities in regions, regional cities and rural Australia.


  • $400 million to expand regional mobile coverage and improve the resilience of communications systems;
  • $200 million for two further rounds of the Regional Connectivity Program, to improve connectivity in regional, rural and First Nations communities;
  • $30 million over three years to accelerate Australia’s agricultural sector through the On Farm Connectivity Program, to extend connectivity for farmers and their machinery, and grow Australia’s agribusiness;
  • $20 million for an independent national audit of mobile coverage to establish an evidence baseline to guide and better target future priorities; and
  • a further $6 million over three years to extend the Regional Tech Hub to support better consumer awareness, connectivity literacy and trouble-shooting.

Read more:

2022-23 budget papers

Treasurer’s speech

The Hon Catherine King MP, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government

The Hon Michelle Rowland MP Minister for Communications

The importance of Career Advisors

In 2022, Regional Development Australia Mid North Coast commissioned a Rapid Review on Career Adviser Resourcing in NSW Schools. The author, Ben Archer, has dedicated his career to helping others in developing their skills and enhancing their career outcomes, and works for both Taree Universities Centre and James Cook University in career advice and development departments.

The literature says that school-based Career Advisers play a vital role in helping young people transition effectively out of high school and into further education or employment. This role is of particular importance in regional, rural and remote schools, where students are more likely to experience socio-economic disadvantage, higher unemployment and higher levels of mental illness than their equivalents in urban areas.

It makes sense then, that having well-resourced and supported Career Advisors within these schools can have a positive impact on the economic development of a community. Despite these benefits, Career Advisors have tended to experience a downward trend in their levels of resourcing, reductions in time allowance, and are more likely to juggle multiple positions of responsibility, including teaching subjects they’re not qualified for.

The rapid review identified three main barriers for Career Advisers, including a lack of understanding of the importance of Career Advisers, especially by the school executive; Career Advisers being overloaded with irrelevant tasks; and inadequate financial budgets for Career Advisers, especially in regional, remote and rural schools.

The report recommends that Principals and Executives be made more aware of the potential impact that a well-resourced Career Adviser can have, not just on their school, but on their community as well.

Ben Archer is a Workforce panellist on Ignite MNC 2022.

Read the report here: Rapid Review on Career Adviser Resourcing in NSW Schools

Youth Pathways – How can you help?

It’s not only housing that’s a pressing issue in our region right now.  We also have dire workforce issues throughout the region not only in terms of not enough people in the workforce – also in terms of skill shortages.

While this may not be solved in the immediate future, there is a MASSIVE (and logical) opportunity in opening workforce pathways for young people to join our local business communities.

And while this is not easy, there are actions that we can all undertake to assist young people, their parents AND employers to ensure opportunities connect:

  • Have the conversation.  TALK to the young people you know about careers and jobs and what they entail.
  • SUPPORT the young people you know to connect with work experience, part time work, training opportunities and programs.
  • Workforce Blueprints: Information about four key industries who are prominent employers in the MNC http://rdamnc.org.au/publications/industry-blueprints/  These can be downloaded, printed and shared online
  • School Based Traineeships (SbATs): A great opportunity for young people to experience work (paid) and stay enrolled in school. https://education.nsw.gov.au/public-schools/career-and-study-pathways/school-based-apprenticeships-and-traineeships  Please note, these can be difficult to access and there are many steps involved. However, if this is an option for you as an employer or young person please don’t give up.  Get in touch with RDAMNC for further information about how to navigate the SbAT system.
  • Work experience.   While this is often the responsibility of the child or parent to arrange, if your young person is interested in doing work experience – or exploring different career pathways please make sure your careers teacher knows.
  • More information.  Year 13 has a vast range of information about different careers and work opportunities post school
  • My Future Workforce – free to register for jobseekers, students and employers.  If you want to host a work experience student you can also link here www.myfutureworkforce.com.au
  • Wage subsidies https://www.dese.gov.au/wage-subsidies
  • Regional Industry Education Partnerships (RIEP) Program https://www.nsw.gov.au/education-and-training/vocational/vet-programs/regional-schools-industry Connect with your RIEP officer HERE

More About……Working with Defence

Do you think your business is too small to work with Defence? Or that you need to be based in a major city? Think again.  The Office of Defence Industry Support is here to support you.

What is ODIS:

Opened in November 2021, ODIS is a one stop shop for defence industries.  The service provides advisory, guidance and mentoring services for SMEs to better enable them to work with defence.

More specifically, ODIS provides:

  • Defence business advice
  • Direct linkages to Defence procurement programs
  • Identify current SMEs who can meet Defence needs
  • Direct linkages to Defence end users
  • Assist SMEs to work with end users
  • Tailor grants to assist the development of SMEs
  • Work closely with other key Australian Government initiatives

You must have:

  • An Australian Business Number
  • Be developing products or services that have a specific Defence application which meets a capability need
  • Clear on your business goals and priorities

And be able to:

  • Deliver to the specification you have quoted on
  • Access advice and support available
  • Learn and adapt

Use the Defence Business Readiness Tool (DBRT) to assess the readiness of your business to work with Defence against four key factors: Leadership, products, services, business culture and business processes. ODIS Business advisors can support you to use this tool.

Need support?  Contact

Petr Kodat
Assistant Director

Industry Engagement Team NSW
Office of Defence Industry Support (ODIS)
Australian Industry Capability Division (AIC)
Capability Acquisition & Sustainment Group (CASG)
Department of Defence

Email: petr.kodat1@defence.gov.au
Mobile: 0427 567 262
Web: www.defence.gov.au/odis

Mental Wellness resources for Small Business owners

If you’re doing it tough right now, you’re not alone. We’ve put together a list of resources to help you through, specifically aimed at small business owners.

Ahead for Business have developed a new online training program for business owners. The program aims to enhance capacity and confidence in promoting positive mental health and wellbeing within small business. It will deliver a variety of activities, case studies, information sheets and videos which explore key topic areas of mental health, wellbeing, coping with stress, help-seeking strategies and action planning. There will be four, 10-15 minute modules to complete each containing practical tips and tools, and reflective questions. For more information and to register interest please visit this link:

Counting on U Training Program: Counting on U is an Australian-wide, workplace mental health, and relationship-building program, that aims to provide training to business advisors (e.g. accountants, bookkeepers, financial planners, coaches, lawyers and tax advisors) to better support the needs of small-to-medium (SME) business owners. Business advisors will be offered free training to better support the mental health and financial wellbeing of small-to-medium enterprise (SME) business owners. Training will be conducted online and 4500 participants will be recruited. Register your interest here. 

Lifeline: is a national charity providing all Australians experiencing emotional distress with access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services. We are committed to empowering Australians to be suicide-safe through connection, compassion and hope. 13 11 44. 

Community Connectors: A Lifeline program aimed to skill people in local communities who perform a community connector role through their contact with people either through their work or volunteer roles. The program is for people who would like to be able to safely and effectively support someone in distress or experiencing a crisis. No pre-existing skills or knowledge required. For more information contact Cath Bird: 0400 709 101 

Accidental Counsellor: is aimed at those who would like to be able to safely and effectively support friends, family, colleagues, and strangers who are in distress or experiencing a crisis. Accidental Counsellor by Lifeline will provide you with basic skills and a structure to enable you to provide immediate support and assistance using the ‘Recognise, Respond, Refer’ model. The skills learnt in the Accidental Counsellor course can be applied in many contexts, and will provide participants with skills in active listening, calming and effective gentle questioning. You will also learn how to ask openly about suicide risk and respond safely whatever the answer. The course is open to anyone and no pre-existing skills or knowledge are required. We can also tailor the course to suit your corporate environment. 

Mental Health at Work: NSW Government programs to support good mental health at work, including free programs, tools and resources to help create a healthy workplace and to help support someone recovering from mental health issues. Call 13 10 50 or visit their website for more information. 

Beyond Blue Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service: Struggling to cope during the pandemic? Our trained counsellors are available 24/7. Give them a call on 1800 512 348 or visit their website to access resources, chat online and community forums. 

NewAccess for small Business Owners:  free and confidential mental health coaching program, developed by Beyond Blue to give small business owners, including sole traders, the support they need. Over six sessions, coaches with a small business background will work with you to overcome difficult issues, providing you with practical skills to manage stress and get you back to feeling like yourself. NewAccess for Small Business Owners is available nationally by phone or video call.   

Mental Health Support: From 9 October 2020, the Australian Government will make available 10 additional Medicare subsidised psychological therapy sessions each calendar year. These extra sessions are for people experiencing severe or enduring mental health impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the measures needed to contain it. You will need to see your GP, psychiatrist or paediatrician to be referred for the 10 additional sessions. 

Black Dog Institute: Resources and support for COVID-10 related anxiety and stress designed for managers and workers. 

Head to Health: has been created by Australia’s Department of Health to provide Australians trusted information and digital resources to help support mental health and wellbeing during the pandemic. Helpful information includes: 

  • maintaining good mental health 
  • managing financial stress 
  • how to access mental health services 
  • how to talk to children about coronavirus 
  • protecting the elderly.