Country Universities Centre Norfolk Island

During the very early stages of the recent Residential Visit on Norfolk Island by RDAMNC CEO, Madeleine Lawler, the repeat challenge of access to vocational education and training and higher education for Norfolk Islanders was raised. The team has initiated a Regional University Study Hub Grant application with the Country University Centre team in order to improve access to post-secondary education on Island.

More information will be shared once this project progresses.

Regional Innovation Program


Local Innovators – New Start-Ups and Established Businesses with an innovation new to the Market in Tech – Housing – Industry – Agribusiness – Energy – Education – Medical – Sports – Innovation.  

Market Ready – You have something tangible that you can take to Market over the 8-Week Program. Maybe just to test it out – maybe it’s to build sales – this Program is all about building traction.

Entrepreneur Ready – You’ve got the Innovation, but do you have the Mindset to take it to Market. Don’t apply if you’re not yet ready to see this baby through. There’s guaranteed to be rejection…time out of your comfort zone…peer pressure…no pain no gain!

RDAMNC in conjunction with local Council’s have teamed up with Alt-Collective to deliver the Regional Innovation Program supporting local innovators to bring their innovations to life through a series of Programs in 2023/24 including…

  • Ideate – Half-day Workshop was held in November 2023 to give participants a clear understanding of where their product is now & the steps they need to take to bring the idea to Market. Our experienced Facilitators broke down the Entrepreneurial Journey & helped participants find focus on their next steps in taking the concept from Idea to a Funded Enterprise.

Details: Completed November 2023

  • Incubate – 8-week Program focussed on building a tangible product, getting it in the hands of potential customers to test & develop, & developing funding strategies to get your enterprise up and running. Weekly sessions – Face-to-Face & Virtual – working with experienced Mentors with a focus on taking action & delivering outcomes to develop your Minimum Viable Product. Participants will build Leadership, Time Management, Networking, Pitch & Sales skills.

Beginning with a 2-day Intensive (12 hours face to face) on 20th & 21st June 2024 in Sawtell.
Followed by an 8-week program (2-hour time commitment each week) starting 24th June 2024.
The Grand Finale Pitch Event to wrap the Program on Thursday 22nd August 2024.

Visit Alt Collective website here for more information and to apply for the 8-week program.

Or you can email Courtney Tune on


Value – $3,990 – through support from Regional Development Australia & Partners we can subsidise the cost of the Accelerator Program for local innovators including…

$199 – Innovators Based on the Mid-North Coast qualify for the super subsidy thanks to our MNC Partners – Regional Development Australia & Local Councils.

Scholarships – Female Founder…First-Nations Founder…Just hard up for cash? We’re offering free spots for those Founders that we don’t see enough of in these Programs.

Early Childhood Education and Care on the Mid North Coast

As part of the Regional Investment Framework (RIF), “Services” is now one of main areas identified by the Government for RDAs to focus on. One service that was identified was early childhood education and care. To obtain an understanding of the situation in our region, RDAMNC conducted a survey of both childcare providers and parents in September 2023.

RDAMNC have prepared a quantitative and qualitative summary of both surveys which can be viewed here.

This is the first part of our work in this area with follow up to come in the form of:

  • Consultation with peak body and government representatives.
  • Engagement of Martin Musgrave (economist) to analyse the economic impacts to providers, families and businesses. Click here to view a copy of the report.
  • Workshops (in February 2024) with stakeholders to look at opportunities in the region to increase supply.
  • Advocacy report on the surveys, consultations, economic analysis and workshop outcomes.

It is anticipated that this project will be completed by the end of June 2024.

Manufacturing Sector Support

Project Summary

Regional Development Australia – Mid North Coast (RDA MNC) is spearheading the “Manufacturing Sector Support” project with the aim of revitalizing and strengthening the manufacturing industry within our region. This transformative initiative recognizes the critical role manufacturing plays in driving economic growth, fostering innovation, and creating sustainable employment opportunities.

Project Goals and Objectives

  1. Promote Economic Resilience: The primary goal of the project is to enhance the economic resilience of the Mid North Coast region by supporting the growth and diversification of the manufacturing sector.
  2. Job Creation: The project aims to create new job opportunities within the manufacturing sector, both directly and indirectly, by fostering an environment conducive to business expansion and development.
  3. Innovation and Technology Adoption: RDA MNC will facilitate the adoption of innovative technologies and best practices within the manufacturing industry to enhance productivity and competitiveness.
  4. Supply Chain Enhancement: The project will work to strengthen and expand local supply chains, reducing the dependence on external sources and ensuring a more robust and self-sustaining manufacturing ecosystem.
  5. Skills Development: RDA MNC will collaborate with educational institutions and industry partners to provide training and upskilling opportunities for the local workforce, aligning their skills with the evolving demands of the manufacturing sector.
  6. Sustainability and Green Practices: Emphasizing environmental sustainability, the project will promote the adoption of eco-friendly manufacturing processes and sustainable materials, positioning the region as a leader in green manufacturing.

Key Activities

  • Industry Consultation: RDA MNC will engage with local manufacturers to understand their challenges, needs, and aspirations, forming the basis for tailored support programs.
  • Market Research and Analysis: In-depth market research will identify growth opportunities and emerging markets, guiding businesses towards profitable niches.
  • Technology Adoption Workshops: Organizing workshops and seminars to educate manufacturers on the benefits and practical implementation of advanced manufacturing technologies.
  • Business Support Services: Providing guidance on accessing grants, funding opportunities, and resources available for manufacturing businesses to invest in growth.
  • Networking Events: Facilitating networking events and industry forums to foster collaboration, partnerships, and knowledge sharing within the manufacturing community.
  • Skill Development Programs: Collaborating with educational institutions to develop training programs addressing the evolving needs of the manufacturing workforce.

Expected Outcomes

  • Increased employment opportunities in the manufacturing sector.
  • Enhanced competitiveness and profitability of local manufacturing businesses.
  • A more resilient and diverse regional economy.
  • A reputation for innovative and sustainable manufacturing practices.
  • Strengthened regional supply chains.
  • A skilled and adaptable manufacturing workforce.

Renewables Opportunity Map

One of the four pillars in the Regional Investment Framework (RIF) is Investing in Places. This is a challenging space for RDAs. At the 2023 National Conference for RDA, it was clearly articulated that the federal government wants to see RDAs active in leading and encouraging net zero transition.

The opportunity to commission a high-level opportunity analysis of the Mid North Coast arose and RDAMNC have engaged ANU to undertake this study, which would identify the areas where wind, offshore wind, pumped hydro and commercial solar installations could be developed.

Once the opportunity analysis has been completed, RDAMNC will do the following:

  1. Meet with each General Manager of the Councils in our region and discuss the opportunities
  2. Offer to facilitate community consultation on the outcome of this report
  3. Produce a supplementary report for the state government and federal government that summarises the community feedback and outcomes
  4. Consider producing a regional plan for renewable energy to provide to the investment community which provides the ‘green light’ for detailed business cases.

Project Update March 2024

RDA Mid North Coast commissioned Australian National University to review the region of the Mid North Coast and provide an overview of the opportunities that exist for renewable energy production in the region. The rationale is that the Mid North Coast needs to be proactive and lead into the energy transition by seeking to partner and collaborate to bring to fruition the opportunities that exists in the region.

The report emphatically states that there is no shortage of opportunities in Australia for renewable energy production. What will make the difference is communities that lead into the transition and proactively seek to benefit from the value that energy decarbonisation represents.

Key points:

  • Significant opportunities exist in our region for renewable energy production, with the northern region solar opportunities being an incredible asset
  • This is an incredibly competitive sector, with the people and regions standing to benefit being those who welcome the opportunity to benefit from the inevitable transition
  • We have considerable opportunity with off-shore (with appropriate community consultation) which should be considered, with the view to being early adopters
  • It is essential that we continue to deploy rooftop solar on public assets, and encourage the community uptake of the technology
  • We have a significant opportunity to connect Queensland and New South Wales and should commission a detailed study into high-voltage transmission network possibilities for the region which will require significant focus on gaining social licence from the community
  • Our region has the potential to be the “Natural Battery of New South Wales” with the outstanding opportunities available to the region in pumped hydro long duration storage – a fundamental key to the successful transition of NSW
  • We note the reservation on green hydrogen and recognise the need to focus energy and attention on electrification of the grid before green hydrogen is a truly green solution – however, it is worth keeping fingers on the pulse to ensure no opportunity is unnecessarily missed and we are prepared to take advantage of the technology once electrification of the grid is further advanced.

Next steps: RDA Mid North Coast will be working with key local, regional, state and federal stakeholders to take advantage of the opportunities in the region. A key focus for the RDA will be community engagement and liaising with industry and government to facilitate the best outcomes for the region with the knowledge contained in this Report, as per steps 1,2 and 4 above.

Download the report here.

Norfolk Island Local Produce Branding Project

During the Tourism and Wellbeing Business Incubator of 2022, a “made in Norfolk” brand was again raised as a priority to identify the products and produce that has been locally made and grown.

RDAMNC saw the opportunity to work with Saturate, the branding and media agency engaged to undertake the Norfolk Island Destination Marketing project, to ensure that the “made in Norfolk” brand was harmonious and linked to destination marketing.

This will produce an exciting identity for the creations of Norfolk Island, making it easy for tourists to shop locally and support the domestic economy of Norfolk Island.

Mid North Coast Skills Audit

One of the four pillars in the Regional Investment Framework (RIF) is Investing in People. Within the definitions provided by the RIF the education, availability and accessibility of people is captured. These two projects are proposed as the 2023-2024 lead projects to assist RDAMNC and our stakeholders understand the labour market features properly.

The last skills audit conducted on the Mid North Coast was 2019. The significant international, national and local events which have transpired since that time have had an impact on the labour market. The workforce challenges of skills and workforce attraction have now shifted to a full shortage in people, housing, skills, accessibility of training packages and worse linkages between industry and education institutions. The team at RDAMNC has partnered with Charles Sturt University to deliver this research project.

This project will assist us in gathering the necessary information to establish projects that will assist in the areas prioritise by our stakeholders across the region and a preliminary report on findings will be available after September 2024 with the final reports will be academic, peer reviewed papers which are planned to be available in 2025.

Join our Industry Focus Groups!

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 Humanitix .

Participate in our survey!

To find out more about the study, including confidentiality and ethics information, visit here. Or you can contact the researchers:

Associate Professor Larissa Bamberry,

Professor Oliver Burmeister:

Answers are anonymous and may be published in academic journals. Thank you for participating.

Labour Participation Study

One of the four pillars in the Regional Investment Framework (RIF) is Investing in People. Within the definitions provided by the RIF the education, availability and accessibility of people is captured. This project will be one of the 2023-2024 lead projects to assist RDAMNC and our stakeholders understand the labour market features properly. RDAMNC has commissioned the Regional Australia Institute to understand the real figures associated with labour participation in the Mid North Coast.

The participation rate for the Mid North Coast is the worst in NSW. In May 2023 it was 47.1%. The rest of NSW was 66%. This is an indication of a structural difference in the MNC labour market that needs to be investigated. This project will enable us to do the following:

  1. Compare the participation rates of the Mid North Coast LGAs with regional NSW, the whole State and Australia, and
  2. Analyse the participation rates of different demographic groups in the region, to identify specific participation challenges.

RAI completed their report into the labour force participation in December 2023. A copy of the report can be viewed here.

For further information on how we are continuing to Invest in People, MNC Skills and Labour, please visit our project Mid North Coast Skills Audit.