The Association for Sustainability in Business hosts the Australian Regional Development Conference.

From academics through to regional representatives, business owners and agricultural workers, our programs are diverse and inclusive. We provide a platform for all opinions, experiences and insights to be heard, in order to strengthen the success of our regional areas.

With support from industry partners and sponsors, we can continue to advance the economic, environmental and community development of regional Australia.


Mr Tony McBurney, Director, Integrated Design Group (chair)

Tony established Integrated Design Group in Bathurst, NSW, in 1999 after broad experience in architectural practice in Public and Private sectors. After 20 years as company Director, in 2019 Tony’s role transitioned to support of the group’s ‘thought leadership’ in a range of key areas, including community making, affordable and social housing, universal design, aged care, housing procurement, regional integration, broad application of design thinking and cross cultural appreciation. Tony has served: on Design Advisory Groups and review panels; Bathurst Regional Council’s Tourism Reference Group; amongst the leadership of Bathurst Presbyterian Church; in active support of Public Education; and on the CSU Regional Consultative Committee. He operates a country accommodation venue and a regional Art School.

As early ‘tree changers’, Tony and his wife Sarah moved to Bathurst and raised a family of ‘country kids’ who have seen a lot of the world, enjoying a breadth of culture and discovery of ‘place’. They have travelled extensively across Australia and for over a decade Tony has regularly visited Uganda to contribute to several projects that are realising the fusion of the best of African and western influences.

Regional Development has been Tony’s passion for many years and he has contributed to the Australian Regional Development Conference since its inception.

Ms Susan Benedyka, Managing Director, The Regional Development Company

As Managing Director of The Regional Development Company, Susan has a diverse background of government, business and community leadership across rural and regional Australia and specialises in bringing together government, non-government agencies and regional communities for sustainable outcomes.
Susan is passionate about creating positive futures for regional and rural communities. Drawing on high level strategic planning, facilitation and project management skills, she designs, develops and implements community consultation and engagement programs, strategic plans, and community and leadership development programs. She is based in the beautiful North East of Victoria. Amongst other things, Susan is a graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Program, Chair, North East Integrated Water Management Forum, Chair, The Executive Connection, Albury Wodonga, Member, La Trobe University Regional Advisory Board

Dr Scott Davis, Director, My Pathway

Dr Davis is an independent Director of My Pathway, a social and economic development company that partners with government, industry and culturally diverse communities, with a focus on addressing disadvantage in remote and regional Indigenous communities. With extensive technical skills in; public health, higher education and vocational training, focused on capacity building models, regional sustainable development, governance and leadership, within community organisations, non-government organisations, commercial entities, government and civil society, he joined the My Pathway’s company 2 years ago.

Dr Davis was awarded a PhD in Indigenous social and economic development (capacity building) and a Masters in International Public Health from the University of Sydney. He is recognised as a thought leader who most recently has been influential in the Northern Australia Development agenda, in particular the role of Australia in the development of health and community services workforce training pipelines throughout global tropical economies. Dr Davis is a fellow of CRANAPlus and a fellow of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation.

Michael Claessens, Chief Executive Officer, Regional Development Australia ACT

Michael Claessens was appointed Director of Regional Development Australia (RDA) ACT in July 2018. As a proud long-time ACT resident, he has more than 20 years experience in industry and investment, specialising in food, agribusiness and advanced manufacturing. Michael’s focus is on optimising RDA ACT’s connections with regional businesses, councils, government and industry to innovate, seize economic opportunities and attract investment.

Michael has broad experience in rural and regional stakeholder engagement and is particularly skilled in working with people to understand commercial challenges and finding practical market-based solutions. He has successfully maximised investment outcomes for industry, the not for profit sector and government in organisations as diverse as Invest Australia, Ausaid and the Australian Airports Association.

Rachel Whiting, Chief Executive Officer and Director of Regional Development, Regional Development Australia Riverina

Rachel is the Director of Regional Development at RDA Riverina. She has lived in regional communities in NSW, Western Australia and Queensland throughout her professional career and has a passion for communities working together to find place based solutions. Rachel has worked extensively with not-for-profits both as a board member and as management. In her spare time, Rachel has also been breeding horses for the Olympic disciplines for 20 years and is involved in Arts Practice and Facilitation. Rachel is a Fellow of Leadership WA, holds a Master of Communications from Charles Sturt University, a Graduate Certificate in Animal Studies and a Bachelor of Education majoring in Visual Arts and English.

Mr Paul Havelberg, Regional Manager, University of South Australia Whyalla Campus

As Regional Manager for University of South Australia’s Whyalla campus Paul takes a lead role in contributing to the equity and access mission of the University to ensure regional, rural and remote students have access to high quality tertiary education programs. Paul’s background and experiences in education across the north and western region of South Australia has enabled the university to develop partnerships that demonstrate an ongoing commitment to regional engagement. He works closely with schools and education leaders, industry and community organisations and all levels of Government, and represents the tertiary sector in the region on several boards and committees.

Mrs Lauren Andrews, Head of Rural and Regional Affairs, Corporate and Publica Affairs, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank

Lauren Andrews is the Regional and Rural Affairs Strategist for Bendigo and Adelaide Bank. She works to ensure the Bank, the customers it serves and the communities it partners can create and influence policies and initiatives that aim to build a strong and sustainable regional Australia. Lauren was appointed to the role after the Bank recognised it could do even more to ensure the opportunities and challenges facing regional Australians were better represented in public discussions and policy debates. Prior to her current role Lauren led Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s Media and Communications team, working closely with the Bank’s staff, customers, community partners, shareholders and various other stakeholders including the media and government. Lauren started her career as a journalist and worked as a television reporter in regional Australia with WIN News, and in Melbourne at the Seven and ABC newsrooms. She was one of the first graduates of La Trobe University’s Regional MBA program, has served as a director on the Otis Foundation board and her local Community Bank company.


Presenter Applications Close
Friday 24 April 2020


Program Available
Thursday 21 May 2020


Early Bird Registration Closes
Friday 24 July 2020

What’s New in 2020?

  • Technology & Growth
  • Water Resources
  • Infrastructure
  • Indigenous Meaningful Change
  • Business, Trade & Investment
  • Globalisation Opportunities
  • Community Engagement and Leadership


Connect with 200+ attendees active and passionate about regional development. Numerous sponsorship packages are available.