Friday, June 21, 2024

Regional development advisory council interim members named

Interim members of the NSW Government Regional Development Advisory Council have been appointed by the Minister for Regional NSW Tara Moriarty, with the council tasked with ensuring regional and rural communities are placed at the centre of government decision making.

The Minister says the Council will play an important role in modernising the Regional Development Act (2004), and provide independent advice to ensure projects are evidence-based and achieve real outcomes for communities.

“The appointment of these 7 interim members to the Regional Development Advisory Council is an important step towards the provision of independent and expert advice on what projects and programs should be funded in regional NSW,” Ms Moriarty said.

“I congratulate all the members on their appointment and look forward to working with them over the next 12 months.”

She said the appointment of members for an interim of 12 months enables the council to be fast-tracked into existence so progress can be made in reviewing the Act, and advise the minister on establishing a robust governance framework for the $350 million Regional Development Trust Fund.

The new chairperson appointed is Professor Emeritus at the University of New England (UNE), Alison Sheridan (pictured). Prof Sheridan was head of UNE’s Business School, leading the establishment of the UNE Smart Region Incubator and the Master of Economic and Regional Development course.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to ensure we create a robust and sustainable investment framework for regional and rural NSW. As someone who has undertaken substantial research on regional development I understand how important strategic investment is for delivering real outcomes for communities,” said Professor Sheridan.

Appointees to the Regional Development Advisory Council were identified through a process managed by the Department of Regional NSW working with an independent talent search agency, in consultation with the Premier’s Department and NSW Treasury. 

A call for expression of interest for becoming an advisory council member with a 3-year tenure will get underway in mid-2024 with the new council established by the end of 2024.

The Regional Development Trust Fund will look to deliver its first tranche of funding investment in the first half of 2024. It will have 4 focus areas – sustainable regional industries, improving regional service delivery, supporting Aboriginal economic development, and developing community infrastructure and capacity building.

Regional Development Advisory Council members:

Alison Sheridan (Chairperson)

Alison Sheridan is a Professor Emeritus at the University of New England (UNE). Professor Sheridan has been based in regional NSW for 35 years and was previously head of UNE’s Business School. She led the establishment of the UNE Smart Region Incubator and co-led development of the Master of Economic and Regional Development course.

Danica Leys

Danica Leys is an admitted solicitor in New South Wales and current Chief Executive of the Country Women’s Association (CWA) of NSW, which has a base of 8,000 members. She is also an operator of a farming business in North West NSW. Ms Leys is a board member for Greater Sydney Local Land Services and is a member of the NSW Domestic and Family Violence and Sexual Assault Council.

Thomas McKeon

Thomas McKeon is an accomplished professional with over 40 years of experience in the agriculture, asset, and investment management industries. Based in southeast NSW, Mr McKeon has a strong background in senior and executive management roles within large-scale corporate agricultural companies, both in Australia and internationally.

Alison Stone

Alison Stone is based in the Hunter region and has a 40-year career in land and infrastructure management, commercial development, forestry, fire and emergency management, and primary industries at local, state and national levels in executive, board and advisory roles.

Carol Vale

Carol Vale, is a Dunghutti Woman from Armidale, NSW and has dedicated her career to improving outcomes for Indigenous Australians. She is the co-founder and CEO of Murawin, a national professional advisory service specialising in social research, evaluation, place strategy and sustainability. She has extensive experience in regional development and social planning and is a current member of the Planning Institute of Australia’s Cultural Knowledge Circle.

Rebecca Fox (ex-officio member)

Rebecca Fox is the Secretary of the Department of Regional NSW. Ms Fox has extensive experience in government and legal sectors and was the first female and non-technical lead of NSW Public Works in the history of the business.

Dianna Somerville (ex-officio member)

Dianna Somerville is the current chairperson of Regional Development Australia Riverina and was nominated by the Australian Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories, Kristy McBain MP. Dianna has lectured in entrepreneurship and been involved with economic development in regional communities.

Find out more about the Regional Development Advisory Council.

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