The Australian Regional Development Conference will be held at Twin Towns Services Club, Tweed Heads, NSW on Monday 17 and Tuesday 18 September 2018.

This annual conference will provide a platform to network and be part of the conversation on the learnings, solutions and challenges that regional and rural towns experience.  The conference theme is Uncovering Regional Possibilities with the aim to encourage out of the box thinking and to learn from passionate advocates about the great things that are being done to develop sustainable communities.

Nominations will open soon for the 2018 Regional Development Innovation Awards with winners and runners up being announced at the Conference Networking Function on Monday 17 September.  We look forward to welcoming you to the conference.

Confirmed Featured Speakers

Adjunct Professor Tony Sorensen, University of New England.

Dr Sandra Phillips, Associate Professor and Coordinator, Indigenous Higher Degree by Research in the Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research (JIIER), University of Technology Sydney

Featured Speakers - Invited

Ms Christine Holgate, Group Chief Executive Officer & Managing Director, Australia Post

Abstracts close  1 June 2018
Notification to authors 8 June 2018
Author acceptances 18 June 2018
Draft program available 22 June 2018
Presentation amendments 6 July 2018
Presenter registration and payment 27th July 2018
Full papers for peer review 3 August 2018
Full paper for non-peer review 10 September 2018
Early bird registrations close 3 August 2018

Conference Topics

  • Federal and state or local council
  • Decentralisation of government offices, opportunities
  • Facilitating program transition, local involvement
  • Flexibility of programs and policy implementation
  • Renewable energy and energy supply
  • Natural resource management including water management
  • Food and agriculture, farming
  • Fisheries, ports, offshore
  • Transport logistics, road, freight rail, shipping ports and regional airports
  • Telecommunications, increase connectivity
  • Digital Economy
  • Job creation and skilled migration, telecommuting, working age population
  • Supporting the younger working population
  • Service delivery provision – health (NDIS), housing, aged care
  • Housing affordability and urbanisation
  • International and domestic education, universities and vocational training
  • Cultural and entertainment, libraries
  • Banking and finance, liveable and investable, domestic superannuation
  • Is growing bigger towns the solution?
  • Developing training, supporting upskilling
  • Engaging industry sector opportunity – tourism, education, creative industries, defence force
  • Leadership; influence
  • Initiatives in structuring a vibrant community
  • Placemaking case studies
  • Engagement and innovation, person centred
  • Futuristic view
  • Trends in relation to industry, innovation and entrepreneurship decline, solutions
  • Population decline and shift in demographics
  • Challenges associated with economic development for aged care
  • Infrastructure, engagement, development and planning
  • Long term sustainability
  • Attracting investment, economic growth strategy
  • Retention and increase of job availability
  • Embracing entrepreneurship

Program Committee

Mr Tony McBurney, Director, Integrated Design Group

Ms Kerry Grace, CEO, RDA Mid North Coast

Ms Natalie Egleton, CEO, Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR)

Mr David Spear, General Manager Partnerships & Communication, Regional Australia Institute

Ms Nicole Pearson, General Manager Regional Economics Policy Branch, Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, Australian Government

Professor Paul Burton, Director, Cities Research Institute, Griffith University

Ms Narelle Pearse, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Finance & Planning), CQUniversity

Conference Starts in


Network with us

Conference Highlights 2017

Mr Jack Archer, CEO, Regional Australia Institute

Jack Archer has been with the Regional Australia Institute (RAI) since its inception in 2012, and developed the RAI’s policy and research program including major products such as [In]Sight: Australia’s Regional Competitiveness Index and [In]Form: Australia’s Online Library of Regional Research. Jack took up the role as Chief Executive Officer on 1 July 2015.

In previous roles as a consultant and public servant, Jack contributed to major regional reforms in water, climate change, indigenous issues and industry. Jack’s 2017 presentation focused on regional population trends and how regional communities are responding.

Ms Lorraine Gordon, Project Director, Farm Co-operatives & Collaboration

Lorraine Gordon is the director of the Federal Government’s Farm Co-operatives and Collaboration Pilot Program, known as Farming Together. The national, two-year $13.8m program is developing and supporting co-operatives, collective bargaining groups and collaborations among Australia’s primary producers. The co-initiator of the successful Ebor Beef Co-operative, Lorraine is the former NSW Rural Woman of the Year and CEO of Regional Development Australia (RDA) Mid North Coast.

Lorraine’s 2017 presentation had an emphasis on developing self-sustaining collaborative groups among Australian primary producers.

Cr Col Murray, Deputy Chair, Regional Capitals Australia & Mayor, Tamworth Regional Council

Cr Murray is in his fourth term on Tamworth Regional Council and his seventh term as Mayor. He served as Deputy Mayor for two years prior to becoming Mayor. He is the Deputy Chair of Regional Capitals Australia – an alliance of local government associations advocating for continued growth and sustainable development of regional capitals around the nation. His presentation in 2017 discussed the importance of regional capital cities to the regional development agenda.

Mr Will Rayner, CFO, Rural Bank

Will joined Bendigo’s specialist agricultural offering, Rural Bank, in September 2013, and was appointed Chief Financial Officer in October 2015. Will is a non-executive director of Community Insurance Solutions Pty Ltd, and non-executive director of the SA Dairy Industry Fund. Will has spent his life immersed in Australian rural and regional affairs. He grew up as a fifth-generation farmer on his family’s wheat and sheep farm in the mid-north of South Australia.

In 2017, Will presented on Agriculture as a growth engine for regional Australia.

Conference Partners 2017

Mail to: PO Box 29, Nerang, 4211
+(61 7) 5502 2068