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Mount Gambier, South Australia, 22–24 September 2020 2020

2018 Concurrent Speakers

Concurrent Bios and Abstracts 2018

SEGRA Concurrent Bios and Abstracts 2018

Jack Archer

Chief Executive Officer, Regional Australia Institute

Presentation: More Migrants for Small Towns: securing the missing workers for rural Australia



Jack has led the Regional Australia Institute as its CEO since July 2015.

In this role, Jack plays a leading role in the national conversations about the future of regions, including the opportunity for rural renewal through migration and the growth and the development of Australia’s network of great small cities.

In 2017, Jack brought the Commonwealth and all state governments together with four Universities to create the RAI’s shared inquiry program. This supports a new level of collaboration and research between governments on regional policy issues.

Prior to being appointed CEO Jack developed the RAI’s policy and research program. In previous roles as a consultant and public servant, Jack contributed to major regional reform in water, climate change, indigenous issues and industry.

Jack is originally from Paterson in the lower Hunter Valley of NSW.


This presentation will detail the RAI’s recent work with communities around Australia on locally led migration strategies to fill rural workforce shortages and address population decline.

Mayor Anne Baker

Mayor, Isaac Regional Council

Mayor Anne Baker Web


Mayor Anne Baker is a passionate advocate for the region and has served in local government for more than a decade.

She was elected Mayor in 2012 and returned for a second term in 2016, having served as a divisional councillor in the first term of Isaac Regional Council from 2008.

Mayor Baker has lived in the Bowen Basin with her family for 32 years; with more than 20 of those years spent in Moranbah. She and husband Frank have two adult children and three grandchildren.

She believes that local government is the key to building stronger communities, but also recognises the importance of all three levels of government working, collaborating and aligning priorities.

Her priority for the region is to work towards delivering diversity in order to promote economic growth and ensure a sustainable future. Improved liveability is also a key goal, and she strives towards this, both as Mayor and a passionate member of her community.

Adrienne Barnett

Manager, MARABISDA Inc.


Adrienne Barnett is Manager of MacKay and Regional Aboriginal and Islander Development Association (MARABISDA) Inc.

MARABISDA Inc uses local knowledge to build the capacity of Mackay Region’s Aboriginal, Torres Strait and Australian South Sea Islander Community. It is managed by community members.

Established in 2008, the focus of the organisation is to support and advocate for vulnerable Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Australian South Sea Islander families and children. The organisation also aims to assist and support individuals and community, particularly in the areas of sport, culture, education and employment aspirations.

MARABISDA Inc provides services to the community through its programs

It was a founding organisation of the Mackay Family Support Alliance


Co-presenter of ‘A Collaborative Community of Practice: the Mackay family support alliance’. Please see abstract under Dr Wayne Daly

Rui Bi

Senior Lecturer, Charles Sturt University

Presentation: The Effects of Aligning IT with Business Strategy in Small-to-Medium Enterprise Growth

IMG 0737


Rui Bi is a Senior Lecturer in Management at Charles Sturt University, Australia. Her research interests include IT business value, e-business and supply chain management, and small-to-medium enterprise development and growth. Her publications have appeared in such journals as Journal of Global Information Management, Journal of Small Business Management, Pacific Asia Journal of the Association for Information Systems, Small Business Economics: An Entrepreneurship Journal, and Small Enterprise Research Journal.


This study extends small-to-medium enterprise (SME) research by building and empirically testing a theoretical model to explore the effect of alignment between IT and business strategy in the development of small business competencies. We argue that IT business alignment, as a strategic resource, enables SMEs to develop business competences which promote firm growth. The data analysis results confirmed the hypothesised relationships. This study contributes to SME research and provides proven explanations for managers to understand why the alignment of IT with business strategy is a crucial determinant for business success.

Mike Brunker

Councillor, Whitsunday Regional Council

Mike Brunker


Councillor for Division 6, Mike was born and raised in Collinsville but has lived in Bowen for 20 years where he currently runs a newsagency with his wife Kylie.

As a former coal miner and Mayor of Bowen Shire Council and Whitsunday Regional Council for 17 years, Mike has a proven track record of delivering outcomes for the people of Bowen and Whitsunday.

Mike’s background in mining and local government has given him a thorough understanding of the challenges faced by communities, families and local businesses from the coalfields to the coast.

Mike has always been passionate about creating job opportunities through economic development and that remains his focus today.

Marie Cameron

President of the Regional Social Development Coalition (RSDC)


Marie Cameron has served as President of the Regional Social Development Coalition (RSDC) since 2014. Employed as a communities team member with Hail Creek Mine, and coupled with her strong personal commitment, Marie has served in various positions on many Committees and Boards within the not-for-profit sector and community organisations throughout North Queensland, and particularly within the Mackay region. 

Marie holds a Bachelor of Business (Distinction), along with an Associate Diploma (Accounting) and Diploma of Business (HR). She has recently completed post graduate studies in sustainable development and is currently working towards completing her Masters.

Having worked in the mining industry for the past 15 years, Marie has previously worked in WA and regional North Queensland for state and local governments. Marie is committed to supporting community priorities which will enhance building community capacity and capability, and supporting the sustainability of our local and regional communities.

Kate Charters

Director, Management Solutions (Qld)

Presentation: Place-Based Economic Development: three case studies

Kate Charters


Kate Charters is a Director of Management Solutions (Qld) a professional development and training company with particular focus on regional public policy issues and their implementation. She is a founding member of Sustainable Economic Growth for Regional Australia, (SEGRA) recognised as the most credible independent voice on issues affecting regional Australia.

Kate is the principal author of the annual SEGRA communiqué “Speaking up for Regional Australia “and co-editor of “Regional Advantage and Innovation: achieving Australia ‘s national outcomes.” Springer, Germany; Kinnear, S. Charters, K. Vitartas, P (Eds.) 2013. Kate has recently been appointed as an Adjunct Associate Professor with the Institute of Land Water and Society, Charles Sturt University.

With extensive experience at senior levels of government in both service delivery and policy development roles, Kate has a strong interest and understanding of the interaction of government, business, the non-government sector and the community in shaping and responding to public policy agendas.


Regions are increasingly being asked to identify regional development projects that deliver local jobs and investment as well as raising the funding for the all or a substantial part of the costs of the project. This place-based approach to regional economic development requires collaboration between public, private, community and social institutions. Whilst collaboration can be fostered through a range of innovative joint learning processes, it is important for regions to be able to move from collaboration around ideas and sectors to the funding of an investible business case for identified projects. This can be a complex process. Research presented in this paper identifies a number of constraints in the collaborative investment ideal including: conflict of interest between authorised compliance officers, decision makers and investors; conflicts around information sharing between businesses; individual business profit obligations to shareholders as well as questions regarding delivering fiduciary duty in a co-investment model. The Regional Solutions Framework (RSF) provides a model for building place-based catalyst regional economic development projects through a collaborative investment model. This paper reports on the experiences of applying the RSF framework in three different regions and how the Framework served as a means of organising collaboration, creating advocacy coalitions and building collective agency. The potential of RSF for designing and implementing more effective institutional arrangements, catalysing institutional reform and bringing about more collaborative modes of governance in collaborative investment should be further explored.

Robyn Collins

School Administration Officer, School of Business and Law, CQUniversity

Presentation: Growing Mackay Region's Professional Capital; Sustainability Through Collaboration - A Case Study: engage mentor program

Robyn CollinsSEGRA


Co-Project Manager and Co-Founder of the Engage Mentor Program; Robyn works in School Administration and Engagement for the School of Business and Law, CQuniversity Mackay. Robyn’s primary career was in Information Technology with Queensland Government. Robyn was Northern Zone Manager, Information Technology for Queensland Health. In this role Robyn was integral in establishment of telecommunications and information systems across North Queensland from Mackay to Thursday Island and west to Mount Isa communities. Robyn oversaw implementation of health information systems, telehealth initiatives and the Information Technology Help Desk services for Queensland Health. Robyn also managed foundation administration and operational systems and technology implementations for Queensland Emergency Services, and the Queensland Corrective Services Commission. As part of her current role Robyn supports and leads engagement activities focussing on holistic development of students. Robyn has a strong commitment to developing students’ professional toolkits to complement their educational experience. In 2017, Robyn, as a member of the SBL Mackay Team, was awarded the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to Learning and Teaching.


Co-presenter of ‘Growing Mackay Region’s Professional Capital; Sustainability Through Collaboration - A Case Study: engage mentor program’. Please see abstract under Maree Franettovich.

Anita Crisp

Executive Officer, Upper Spencer Gulf

Presentation: Transforming the Upper Spencer Gulf

Anita Crisp


After a short and dismal teaching career, Anita has instead spent most of her time working in the local government and natural resource management sectors.

She has tertiary qualifications in applied science, education and business management, is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and has also been involved with a number of Government boards and committees over the past decade.

Anita is currently the Executive Officer of the Upper Spencer Gulf Common Purpose Group, supporting the collaborative advocacy of the Port Augusta, Whyalla and Port Pirie Councils.


The 2017 SEGRA conference, held in South Australia’s Upper Spencer Gulf, focussed on disruption as a catalyst for change.

This theme loomed larger than life for the Upper Spencer Gulf’s three regional centres of Port Pirie, Port Augusta and Whyalla as, one by one, crisis hit their major industries and employers:

• In 2014 the Port Pirie lead smelter went into voluntary administration • In 2016 the Port Augusta coal fired power station closed • In 2017 the Whyalla steelworks went into voluntary administration

In this midst of this most challenging of times, the Spencer Gulf Cities Alliance identified seven key ‘future industries’ and 30 strategic initiatives to help pave the way for transition of our economy and our communities.

We have now started to turn the corner, with a number of major initiatives that provide our region with a strong base from which we continue to build on our comparative strengths, as we pursue opportunities that help us become cleaner, more innovative, liveable and economically diverse regional cities.

To secure the future of the Upper Spencer Gulf, we must also ensure we have the enabling services to underpin our economic growth, including access to higher education, improving city liveability, protecting our natural assets and landscapes and strengthening regional governance.

Last year’s SEGRA conference highlighted a number of exciting new developments and opportunities unfolding in our region.

This presentation aims to provide a practitioners perspective on the often undervalued role that strong local advocacy, self-belief and determination played in supporting this regional change.

Andrew Crouch

Senior Research and Projects Officer, Centre for Appropriate Technology Ltd

Presentation: CfAT Mobile Phone Hotspot: a low cost solution to extending mobile phone coverage in rural and remote regions

Andrew Crouch (002)


Andrew Crouch is Senior Research and Projects Officer with the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CfAT), which he joined in 2006. He has a career background in telecommunications, and qualifications in engineering and international development. During his time with CfAT, Andrew has been engaged in a range of projects focussed on benefiting people living in remote Australia with improved access to communications and information.

In 2014, he developed the concept and design for the CfAT Mobile Phone Hotspot, and has since overseen its development and implementation in a wide range of remote locations.

Andrew has made policy contributions on remote area telecommunications issues including those affecting the Indigenous sector to Regional Telecommunications Reviews, the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) and the Broadband for the Bush consortium.


Telecommunications infrastructure in remote and rural Australia is critical to the region’s future development. Current strategic telecommunications policy for the regions relies heavily on the rollout of the NBN. The primary fall-back being the terrestrial mobile communications network, with much of remote and regional Australia served by patchy coverage.

The Centre for Appropriate Technology’s Mobile Phone Hotspot was developed to provide low-cost extension to existing mobile phone coverage footprints for remote settlements, roadsides and tourism locations. The Hotspot extends the coverage from existing mobile towers, from their typical 15km radius out to about double that distance (30km or further). Being a passive repeater solution, it requires no power supply and is virtually maintenance-free. It is thus ideally suited to locations where reliable power and security are too costly to provide.

This single-user-at-a-time device is very simply installed at around 2% of the cost of a mobile tower, and makes it possible to service small resident communities or other public-interest locations outside the coverage fringe, where it would be difficult or impossible to mount a benefit/cost argument to convince a carrier or funder to pay for a new macro-cell tower and the attendant backhaul costs.

The first Mobile Phone Hotspot was installed in the remote Aboriginal community of Red Sandhill near Hermannsburg in Central Australia early in 2015. Since then, 45 hotspots including enhanced higher gain units, extending coverage up to 100Km from the nearest tower, have been installed in the Northern Territory including 9 cyclone-rated units in the Top End.

Dr Allan Dale

Professor of Tropical Regional Development, The Cairns Institute, James Cook University

Presentation: Exploring Social Development Through Place-Based Approaches: the Cairns South collective impact project

Allan Dale


Dr Allan Dale is a Professor of Tropical Regional Development at The Cairns Institute, James Cook University. He has a strong interest in integrated governance, with a particular focus across the tropical world, northern Australia and the Great Barrier Reef. Allan has extensive global and national research and policy expertise in building strong governance systems, but particularly in regional, rural and social development and natural resource management. Allan was previously the Chair of RDA FNQ&TS, CEO of Terrain NRM and before that was responsible for natural resource policy in Queensland.


Place-based approaches to social and rural development are experiencing renewed interest across Australia and within Queensland. Such approaches are critical to analysing and resolving complex social, economic and environmental problems in local and regional communities. To explore the importance and potential of place-based approaches, this paper outlines the local Cairns South Collective Impact (CI) project currently being undertaken by researchers from the Cairns Institute, JCU in partnership with Mission Australia and the Cairns South Community. Collective Impact approaches represent an innovative framework to build capacity and to align collaborative effort among community, government and non-government stakeholders to more effectively address a complex societal issues. The Cairns South CI project has a focus on improving outcomes for children aged 0-12 years of age in the fast-growth southern corridor of Cairns (the Early Years Cohort). Efforts focus on strategic approaches to improving a broad range of key outcomes for this cohort (health, learning, cultural and other inclusion etc.). At the time of presentation, the project will have been running for approximately two years. The paper will discuss the CI methodology generally, but also its local implementation in FNQ, and key learnings to date. This information is likely to be of interest to those working or living in communities interested in implementing place-based approaches around the diverse issues and challenges they face.

Dr Wayne Daly

Department of Community Services, Youth and Women, Mackay Office

Presentation: A Collaborative Community of Practice: the Mackay family support alliance


Wayne Daly is a social worker with 35 years human services experience working in the community, government and academic sectors. He is based in Mackay and is a Senior Contract Officer with the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women.  He has co-chaired the Mackay Family Support Alliance since 2017. In 2005 he was a visiting research associate at the Children’s Research Centre, Trinity College, Dublin to further his professional and research interests in the participatory rights of disadvantaged and marginalised children and young people. He has a passion for working collaboratively with colleagues progressing place-based early intervention and prevention initiatives to support families so that their children can be happy, healthy and safe. He is a keen exponent of Appreciative Inquiry – What is working well and why? What is the change we want to see? Co-designing what will be, and working together to make it happen.


For the past 6 years a group of Mackay senior human service practitioners have gathered together every six weeks and sometimes in between to form an Alliance of service providers who believe in the value of working together and sharing responsibility in supporting families so that children can be happy, healthy and safe in our community. This presentation will spotlight the Mackay Family Support Alliance as an initiative that connects Government strategic intent and investment with place-based connectedness grounding policy in collaborative local action. The Alliance has acted to strengthen the family support service delivery system by enabling collaboration and coordination and as such has become a building block of local social infrastructure based on strong connections and passionate commitment. Families often experience complex problems and many face vulnerabilities leaving them exposed to significant and consequential government intervention. These families are someone’s neighbour, someone’s extended family, their friend, their patient, their student, their child in care. Alliance members will share examples of initiatives that recognise the role of the broader community in connecting families with complicated lives to the right supports at the right time. Drawing on place-based collective impact research and appreciative inquiry methodology the presentation will examine what has worked well for the Alliance and why. It will highlight the underlying kernels of effectiveness and the challenges and learnings along a collaborative journey.

Thomas Day

Enterprise Solutions Manager, Asialink Business

Presentation: Building China Capabilities to 'Value Add' your Engagement with our Region

Thomas Day


Thomas’ professional experience spans a range of China related roles in education, government and business. He has over a decade of experience engaging with China, including five years spent in-country.

In Thomas’ current role as Enterprise Solutions Manager at Asialink Business’ China Practice, he is responsible for liaising with a number of stakeholders from a variety of sectors to assist them understand the market, expand or grow in China.

Prior to joining Asialink Business, Thomas worked with a number of China related organisations, including the Confucius Institute at the University of Melbourne, Australia China Business Council, Australia China Alumni Association and the Australian Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo.

Thomas graduated with a Bachelor of International Relations/Diploma in Languages (Chinese) from La Trobe University and has completed exchange semesters at Momoyama Gakuin Univeristy, National Chung Hsing University and National Taiwan Normal University.


Coming soon.

David Donnelly

Director, Instinct and Reason

Presentation: The Suzanne ’s Dilemma: will the needs and aspirations of 55 yr+ seeking to move to rural and regional communities match the likely reality experienced in the move? / Sustaining Rural Communities through Boomer In-Migration: factors motivating early retirees to settle in rural communities

David Donnelly


David is a graduate in Business with a major in Marketing from the Elton Mayo School of Management at the University of South Australia. Following University, David worked with the Office of Government Information and Advertising (federal) and then in the market research industry for more than twenty-five years where he established the largest social research group in Australia. David is currently a PhD candidate with the University of Sydney looking at how sea and tree changers can impact the adaptive capacity of regional communities.

He is currently a co-owner and Director of Instinct and Reason, a market and social research and strategy organisation with a range of prestigious clients here and overseas. He consults at very senior levels within both private and Government organisations. He has three areas of specialisation: Understanding how current and future trends impact the ability of businesses to make sustained profits and for government agencies to be effective in service delivery. He assists organisations understand the ways they can effectively position themselves and segment their audience. To this end he has been involved in corporate brand positioning and segmentation research work with a wide range of Government and commercial organisations. Many projects have involved communications development.

Due to his experience running the largest social research group he now leads a team who use well established methods for understanding consumer behaviour. Some of the most sophisticated mathematics and modelling techniques for predictive analysis of factors impacting behaviour are also used. This allows them to identify the factors (that if addressed) will have most impact on future outcomes.

Qualifications: Bachelor Business (Major in Marketing) Memberships Australian Market and Social Research Society

Abstract - The Suzanne ’s Dilemma: will the needs and aspirations of 55 yr+ seeking to move to rural and regional communities match the likely reality experienced in the move?

As a result of recent population shifts and economic trends (e.g. housing price boom), cohorts of early retirees (i.e. Boomers aged 55 – 64 years) are aspiring to move to rural and regional localities. Indeed, a significant proportion of this cohort have skills that may actually enhance the socio-economic adaptive capacity of the community they chose to live in. As such, this trend in retirement living may aid rural and regional localities in securing the socio-economic viability that many seek. However, while such communities may desire to achieve this growth in population and economy, little is actually known about what these incomers are looking for and what they hope to experience once they move to such a community. This paper, drawing on a nationally representative population sample (n=16,000) of people aged 55 + years, reports on who this population is and what they are looking for in their targeted rural or regional community.

In presenting these data, a workshop format is proposed, commencing with a presentation of the results of a segmentation study of people of aged 55 + years, who are aspiring to relocate to rural and regional communities. The presentation will profile this cohort with regards their socio-economic position, their demographic qualities, self-reported support needs and cultural backgrounds, as well as identifying the kinds of aspirations they may seek to fulfil by living within their targeted community.

It is in turn proposed that the conference break into facilitated groups which will be designed to generate discussion and debate amongst participants, with regards the extent to which, rural and regional communities are sufficiently equipped to embrace these in-migrants and provide the kind of community experience that these people are seeking. Indeed, do the receiving communities have the capacity within themselves, to make the most of the people who are moving to their communities? And if not, what are the resulting policy implications? Indeed, what kinds of changes need to occur in order that this escape to the rural idyll has a happy ending?

Abstract - Sustaining Rural Communities through Boomer In-Migration: factors motivating early retirees to settle in rural communities

Population decline has been identified as a specific threat to the socio-economic viability of rural communities across OECD countries. In response, affected communities are looking for strategies to enhance their capacity to adapt to change. Given recent population shifts and economic trends, people aged over 55 years have been identified by some communities as a source of not only possible population growth but also of adaptive capacity. This paper addresses the motivations of early retirees (who are also known as Boomers) to move to a coastal (sea change) or rural community (tree change).

The paper specifically examines insights from the literature on Boomer sea/hill change motivations. Four basic motivational drivers were identified:

  1. age and gender
  2. functional motivators such as (i) a desire for better weather, (ii) the idea of rural amenity
  3. value-based motivators such as wanting to replicate the rural idyll and including counter-urbanisation, environmental and family-centric trends and, finally,
  4. economic and logistical drivers such as down-shifting; telecommuting or welfare migration).

Motivational drivers, however, form just one part of the picture in in-migration. The motivation to move to a rural locality has to be balanced against given advantages and disadvantages. This study found that that the population likely to relocate to a rural locality is heterogeneous, particularly when compared with the more homogenous nature of rural communities. This learning has significant implications for rural communities targeting in-migration as a strategy for securing socio-economic sustainability, particularly those seeking to enhance their adaptive capacity by drawing on the skills of newcomers. To be successful in attracting and retaining incomers, local communities will need to know more about the potential segments or types of in-migrants, particularly if they want in-migrants that will contribute to the socio-economic adaptive capacity of the rural community in question.

Belinda Drew

Chief Executive Officer, Community Services Industry Alliance



Belinda Drew is the Chief Executive Officer of the Community Services Industry Alliance and has over 20 years’ experience in the community services industry. CSIA was formed with the support of twenty-eight foundation members - the story of its formation is one of collaboration, co-design and commitment and points to the power of “working together”.

In her role as CEO Belinda is focused on representing the value of the community services industry to government and the business sectors on issues of organisational sustainability, government contracting, outcomes measurement, productivity and much more.

Belinda has worked across the fields of disability, homelessness, child protection and housing and is passionate about contributing to the task of building a strong, sustainable and contemporary industry across Australia.

Belinda also holds a range of advisory and Board roles across community services and social enterprise and is a member of the Australian Advisory Board on Impact Investing, a Board member of Social Enterprise Finance Australia (SEFA) and an advisor to the Credit Committee of SEFA.


Co-presenter of ‘Community Services Driving Regional Jobs Growth’. Please see abstract under Matthew Gillett.

Amanda Edwards

Service Manager, Bowen Flexi Care Inc

Presentation: A Grassroots Collaborative Action: Bowen Collinsville Mental Health Action Group


Amanda Edwards has been employed at Bowen Flexi Care Inc since 2000 and been a Service Manager for the past 14 years.

She has worked in the disability sector for 39 years. Amanda is passionate about managing a small community based organisation, and about integration with the community to support people with a disability.

Bowen Flexi care Inc is now approved and fully integrated under the National Disability Insurance Scheme.


The Bowen Collinsville Mental Health Action Group (BCMHAG) was established in March 2018 after a number of gaps in the local mental health service delivery were identified. BCMHAG’s aim is to install a framework in the system so the Bowen and Collinsville communities can better understand and access mental health treatment and support services. There is an identified gap in community based mental health services for people presenting with mild to moderate mental health disorders in these 2 communities.

BCMHAG is a locally driven, place-based response to address this identified need which has the support of consumers, community owned service delivery organisations, clinical practitioners, Local and State Government representatives, and has already achieved several milestones.

BCMHAG works from a community based collective action framework to create change and better community outcomes.

Jennifer Emmett

Chief Executive Officer of Connect Housing Group, Chair of the Whitsunday, Isaac, Mackay Housing & Homelessness Action Network and local representative for QShelter

Jennifer Emmett


Jennifer is the CEO of Connect Housing Group, Chair of the Whitsunday, Isaac, Mackay Housing & Homelessness Action Network and local representative for QShelter. Jennifer has worked in the Mackay Community Sector since 1995 and is committed to supporting individuals and organisations that empower local community. 

Awarded the AIM Mackay Not for Profit Leader of the Year in 2016, Jennifer has a diverse mix of skills and experiences including; organisational leadership, business planning, network development and leadership, Advanced Diploma in Community Sector Management, Diploma of Business, Licenced Real Estate Agent, Event Management, Sales and Marketing Experience, Volunteer Coordination, Workshop/Meeting Facilitator and Information Technology Skills.

Maree Franettovich

Associate Lecturer, CQUniversity

Presentation: Growing Mackay Region's Professional Capital; Sustainability Through Collaboration - A Case Study: engage mentor program

Maree FranettovichSEGRA


Co-Project Manager and Co-Founder of the Engage Mentor Program; Maree is a Lecturer in Business, which incorporates a dynamic professional and community engagement profile, with CQUniversity’s School of Business and Law. In 2017, Maree as a member of the SBL Mackay Team, was awarded the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to Learning and Teaching. She mentors regional students to invest in their career success and to take advantage of opportunity. This links with Maree’s longstanding professional interest in regional capacity building. Throughout her career Maree has applied her professional expertise across a diverse range of industries in Australia, including the federal parliament, tourism, the financial sector, health services, agribusiness, transport and logistics, and career development, and has worked overseas. Maree is Deputy Chair of Sarina and District Community Financial Services Limited, and a Director with Connect Housing Mackay. Maree is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Australian Institute of Managers and Leaders, and Queensland Rural, Regional and Remote Women’s Network.


Regional sustainability requires collaborative communities of professional skills to support and develop future industries and to build regional capacity. This case study describes an initiative in regional, professional capacity building, undertaken by School of Business and Law, CQUniversity Mackay, in collaboration with industry partner Rio Tinto Hail Creek, and the region’s business community. The Engage Mentor Program aims to positively contribute to the region’s business vitality by building professional capital and fostering an environment for retention of locally educated business students while growing mutually beneficial business relationships.

The broad scope of business underpins every sector of the economy and is fundamental to all industries. Regions rely on business for jobs and prosperity. The Engage Mentor Program was established as a two year project, with the first year as a Pilot. This Program connected students of the School of Business and Law, Mackay with the region’s experienced business professional in a dedicated Mentee-Mentor relationship. In addition a tailored professional development program was conducted for the Mentees focussing on developing employability skills, workforce transition and industry knowledge.

The Engage Mentor Program highlights regional career opportunities to students so that they may make a deliberate choice to live and work in the Mackay region. The design of the Engage Mentor Program capitalised on local assets: an Australia wide University right on the door step, established collaborative relationships with active business partners, and a shared commitment to developing professional capital to meet the region’s workforce needs.

Based on the Pilot’s outcomes, the Program has entered year 2. While securing a job was not a stated outcome of the Pilot, one-third of the Mentees secured employment locally in their desired professional fields. All Mentees reported they achieved their respective personal goals. This growth in individual professional capability was highly visible and endorsed by the Mentors. The Program’s developing reputation has provoked increased engagement from the region’s business professionals.

The pilot outcomes of the Engage Mentor Program would suggest that this is an effective model for growing professional capital in this region. With year 2 underway, the focus is to explore the key factors to effectively refine and operationalise the model. The future challenge is establishing a sustainable collaborative model that may be transferrable to other regions.

Lynda Ford

Chief Executive Officer, Enterprising Partnerships

Presentation: Youth Entrepreneurship in Action: a practical model for concurrently extracting regional economic and social value

Lynda Ford


Lynda Ford is CEO of Australian company Enterprising Partnerships and a Director of iGen Foundation. Her organisations provide intercultural entrepreneurship programs including for first generation Australians.

Lynda is an Intercultural Cities Expert appointed by the Council of Europe’s Intercultural Cities Programme. She works with governments in Australia and internationally to conduct entrepreneurship programs and design intercultural policies and programs which bring together people from diverse cultural backgrounds to create friendships, new businesses, innovative workplaces and, ultimately, to reduce fear of the ‘other.’

Lynda is a co-founder of MyInterpreter, an early stage technology startup disrupting the old interpreting system in Australia.


For the past five years, Enterprising Partnerships has conducted youth entrepreneurship programs that increase value to local communities. By using the opportunity of entrepreneurship training to create meaningful relationships between Australian-born Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and migrants, community relationships and local government economies are strengthened. One of its current programs, Cultov8, is an abbreviation of ‘intercultural innovation.’

Cultov8 provides Business Startup Weekends and 12 week business accelerator programs. The purpose of Cultov8 is to: activate communities to think about gaps in products or services and solving that problem; promote or re-engage entrepreneurial mindset; explore new business ideas and progress to startup stage; assist new businesses to establish Australian business compliance requirements; assist current business owners to better understand their customers, costs and revenue models and reduce unemployment particularly for young people.

One tangible outcome from the first Cultov8 accelerator programme is the intercultural relationship developed between a 26 year old Kenyan builder, 25 year old interior designer, 27 year old home automation specialist and 44 year old Afghan stonemason. This relationship not only increases markets, customers and supply chains but results in intercultural dialogue, myth busting about other cultural groups and advocacy within an individuals’ ethnic and religious community about the social and economic contribution to Australia of other migrant communities.

Cultov8 and other entrepreneurship programs provide a current, replicable model to stimulate local economies while strengthening the harmony and social cohesion of local communities.

Jill French

Member, Highfields District Business Connections

Presentation: An overview: the role of local leaders’ in Australia’s first regional lifestyle enterprise precinct

Jill French


Jill French has worked as a consultant in a business and community development role for over two decades. During that time, she has had the opportunity to work with a range of enterprises and communities across regional New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and the Northern Territory where she was based for eight years.

A long-time advocate of participatory planning and grass roots engagement, a personal goal is to work with businesses and communities to strengthen their organisational capacity and ability to deal with economic challenges and deliver practical solutions. Jill has a strong foundation in communications, applied social research and business planning and holds a Master’s Degree in the area of community planning and capacity building for effective regional development. In her role with HDBC she holds a position on the Executive Committee and also the Steering Committee for the Lifestyle Enterprise Precinct providing communications and governance support.


Co-presenter of ‘An overview: the role of local leaders’ in Australia’s first regional lifestyle enterprise precinct’. Please see abstract under Mary Reid.

Presentation briefing paper

Matthew Gillett

General Manager Programs, Community Services Industry Alliance

Presentation: Community Services Driving Regional Jobs Growth

Matthew Gillett1


Matthew Gillett is an industry development professional with extensive experience in organisational management and development, workforce planning, vocational education and training, research, business development and social policy. Matthew has led a number of state-wide workforce in key growth sectors such as health, aged care and disability. He is currently state-wide manager for the WorkAbility Qld project that takes a regional approach to growing and developing the NDIS workforce. Matthew has a Bachelor of Arts and a Certificate IV in Assessment and Workplace Training. He has also studied research units at postgraduate level.


In 2015, Community Services Industry Alliance and Queensland Government commissioned research by Deloitte Access Economics looking and the social and economic environment for community services in the coming decade. Forecasting the Future: Community Services in Queensland 2025 (the report) predicted significant and ongoing growth in all areas of community services across Queensland regions. The report predicts over 45,000 new jobs will be created in the industry by 2025, including both low skilled and high skilled roles across the state.

Since that report, the roll out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has accelerated jobs growth in the industry, and opened up a range of business opportunities for other industries to provide services such as maintenance, gardening, tourism and hospitality to people with a disability. CSIA has been leading a Queensland workforce plan for the NDIS and currently predicts another 20,000 to 30,000 jobs will be created as a result of NDIS implementation in the next three years. This presentation will provide an overview of the economic forecast and jobs growth expected across community services, and explore some of the keys to successful development of these key industries. In particular, we will explore the skills ecosystem approach that has been successful in realising jobs growth and economic benefits in key sectors such as aged care, health and disability services.

Howard Hayes

TradeStart Adviser, Trade & Investment Queensland

Presentation: Japan Agricultural Exchange Council Joint Initiative with the Bowen Region

Howard Hayes


Howard started as Trade Advisor in Mackay in February 2011. Prior to this, he held senior management positions in the retail, finance and insurance sectors. The last 10 years has seen Howard be closely involved with a range of industry sectors through his business advisory role with State Development and as a self-employed business advisor.

Living in Mackay for 30 years, he has strong networks within the business community. Having seen the peaks and troughs of the mining, sugar, education, beef and tourism industries (for which the area is well known), Howard is well positioned to identify the opportunities for growth in this exciting region.


Howard Hayes has been working with the Bowen region stakeholders on building the Japan Agricultural Exchange Council project for the last 12 months.

Mark Henley

Chief Executive Officer, Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS)


Mark Henley is Chief Executive Officer of the Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS) – QCOSS is Queensland’s leading force for social change to eliminate poverty and disadvantage. QCOSS has a strong focus on supporting communities across the state to see that all people have access to the right supports and services, and to ensure that all people have a good life.   With nearly 600 members, QCOSS undertakes informed advocacy and supports a strong community service sector.  QCOSS’s key activities focus on providing effective policy advice, working to strengthen responsive community services and having productive partnerships with government, private sector, and the community sector.    Mark’s professional background is an accountant and then moved into the community services sector with the Spinal Injuries Association as Chief Accountant in 1989 and then Chief Executive Officer from 1999 to 2011. Mark has 28 years of experience in the community services sector and a commitment to creating responsive services, and independence, dignity and better outcomes for all people. He is a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and Deputy Chair of the Queensland Plan Ambassadors Council.


Role of QCOSS in supporting Regional Qld Communities

Social Infrastructure

Social Plan (Community Development Plan)

Mackay Changing Lives Changing Communities Forum

Peter Homan

General Manager, Outback Queensland Tourism Association

Presentation: Self-Drive and Geotourism

Peter Homan1


Pete is a solution focused General Manager with a career demonstrating visionary leadership and performance in people management, strategic project management and business growth. He is an exceptional communicator, with high level negotiation skills who identifies opportunities, develops and provides tactical solutions to exceed organisational objectives.

With a wealth of experience in events, hospitality, tourism, retail, business to business sales, small business and management, Pete is a passionate contributor to growing tourism in outback Queensland.


The face of tourism has been changing; consumers are seeking experiences that offer an emotive connection rather than just a transaction experience. This is particularly evident with the younger generation.

Tourists are now venturing off the beaten track to see more nature - based experiences that can be shared on social media. The trend is particularly evident when considering geologically rich places with interesting landscapes or rock formations. In the outback, we have a wide range of outstanding landscapes and sculptures to promote to this new breed of traveller. Our focus is to provide access and knowledge of our wonderful natural assets to a technologically savvy marketplace. OQTA’s 2020 vison is to highlight four key themes and hero experiences in the outback: Paleotourism, Outback Adventures, Heritage and Locals and Outback Events – promoting the natural gorges, lookouts, parks, scenic flights, Aboriginal rock art and drives. OQTA see the potential to join this vision, by creating and promoting self-drive itineraries with the focus on geotourism attractions.

We see an opportunity to build self-drive itineraries that focus on the hero experiences .This will drive the consumer preference of finding these remarkable natural offerings and target markets that are time poor. There are many niche markets that are accessible and make marketing more value driven as well as targeting more engaged audiences. For example: Twitchers; Snailers; agri-tourists; wildlife lovers; cultural and heritage to name a few. This is what will drive tourism in to the future and fits so well with Geotourism.

Simon Horne

Angel Investor, Brisbane Angels



Simon is a convener for Angel Loop, a non-governmental, not-for-profit that establishes Angel Groups and activities across Queensland. Over the last 15 months he has helped establish 8 Regional Angel Groups from Rockhampton to Logan. Simon personally is an experienced serial entrepreneur and angel investor with more than 15 years international startup experience having started a number of businesses in Asia and more recently in the US.

Dr Kim Houghton

General Manager, Policy and Research, Regional Australia Institute

Presentation: Deals and Delusions

Kim houghton


Dr Kim Houghton is the RAI’s General Manager of Policy and Research and ensures the Institute’s work has practical application, supports a better policy environment and more vibrant regional economies. Having worked on regional economic development in Australia for almost 20 years, Kim has a passion for engaging, motivating, informing and connecting entrepreneurial business owners.


Collaborative deals are a new investment approach in Australian regional economic development. Deals based approaches are shifting the long running favouring of competitive grants programs as the preferred mechanisms for funding regional development. This presentation looks into the differences between these approaches, the circumstances in which they should be considered by policy makers and program designers, and lessons learned so far in different jurisdictions. The presentation draws on a Discussion Paper prepared by the Regional Australia Institute to review both the suitability of the two approaches and the requirements each engenders in grant providers and recipients.

Dr Ann Ingamells

Senior Researcher, School of Human Services & Social Work, Griffith University


Dr Ann Ingamells is an academic with a focus on community capacity and associated practices. She convenes the Coalition of Community Boards and is a founder member of Community Development Queensland. Ann’s research and practice have supported all forms of community work at rural, regional and urban levels.

Keenan Jackson

Urban Economist, .id

Presentation: From Town to Country

Keenan Jackson3


Keenan is an economic development specialist with knowledge and expertise in city competitiveness, cluster analysis, innovation system development, and complexity economics. He is passionate about growing stronger regions and cities. In the Victorian State Government, he played a key role in developing the economic evidence and investment logic to support the Victorian Government’s economic development agenda, especially in regional areas. Since joining .id two years ago, Keenan has provided economic and population advice to local councils and industry groups across Australia. He has degrees in Economics, Education, and Urban Management and Development.


Are regions converging on their metro counterparts? What has shaped recent growth stories in different regions?

Regional and rural areas have sometimes been looked at economically as simply places to dig up (Mining), grow food (Agriculture), or go sight-seeing in (Tourism).

These industries are of course still defining features of many regional areas, but the story is more nuanced. There is evidence to suggest regional economies, especially larger towns, are looking more and more like metro ones with greater diversity (generating value from services) and supporting larger pools of qualified professionals than before. The RBA has also recently shown that average unemployment rates and participation of prime-aged workers in the capital cities and outside capitals has been converging.

Larger differences actually exist between regional and rural areas, as opposed to regions and the metro. These differences have influenced spatial economic performances in recent years.

This presentation will put the spotlight on QLD and highlight economic growth differences across regional typologies. It will also explore the factors that might have influenced some regions to grow more strongly than others in recent years. It will complement recent OECD thinking that all regions have the potential to grow.

The presentation will be interesting for anyone who understands that regional Australia is a crucial part of the economic growth story and that unique local characteristics mean a simplistic regional development approach is outdated.

Colin Kinner

Founder, Startup Onramp

Presentation: Practical Tips for Building Entrepreneurial Skills in Regional Communities

Colin Kinner


Colin Kinner is the founder of Startup Onramp, a training and mentoring program for first-time startup founders with a focus on regional Australia.

Colin has been deeply involved in the national startup ecosystem over the last ten years - including as CEO of several incubators and accelerators, an early stage investor, mentor and expert on building startup ecosystems.

Colin is also an experienced startup educator who has trained and coached hundreds of emerging entrepreneurs. He is passionate about helping startup founders to be successful by learning from the experiences of others, and has been engaged to advise on startup best practice by a number of agencies including Australia’s Chief Scientist who a commissioned Colin to author a landmark report on entrepreneurship education in Australia. He is also Consulting Editor for The Entrepreneur’s Guide, a comprehensive guidebook for startups published by Caxton and backed by the ASX.


High-growth, globally focused startups are vitally important to regional Australia. They contribute to economic diversification away from commodity-based industries, are capable of producing large numbers of high-value jobs, and are a source of export income.

However, most regional startup communities are still embryonic, are operating below critical mass, lack core entrepreneurial skills, and lack access to experienced mentors who can guide the growing community of first-time entrepreneurs.

This session will provide delegates with:

Carmel Marshall

Planning & Development Manager, CentacareCQ

Presentation: Health and Community Services in Regional and Rural Central Queensland: meeting the challenges and opportunities of Queensland’s fastest growing workforce

Carmel Marshall


Carmel Marshall is Planning and Development Manager at CentacareCQ. The main focus of this role is to help ensure the organisation is sustainable and relevant into the future, so requires an understanding of the influences on the environment in which CentacareCQ will be operating over the next five to 15 years. This picture then informs the decisions and actions taken in the current environment to move CentacareCQ towards its desired future. Planning for a sustainable workforce is a significant part of this work. Carmel’s previous roles with the Institute for Sustainable Regional Development and Rockhampton Regional Development Limited included research and project work in sustainable regional development.


February 2018 labour market data from ABS shows 14.7% of workers in Qld were employed in health and social services (13.5% for Australia). Over the past decade, 45% of jobs growth in Queensland has been in health and social assistance (Community Services Industry Alliance 2018). As demand grows for health and community services, with the ageing population and the continuing implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, this trend for jobs growth will continue. Meeting the demand for supports in regional and rural Queensland can offer unique challenges, as well as interesting opportunities.

The health and community services industry has seen a shift towards “consumer driven” and “consumer influenced” models of support provision. Traditional roles in delivering counselling, home care, nursing and other supports are being supplemented by new roles that meet demand – equine therapy; designing social activities and supporting young people with disabilities to access these in a way that is inclusive; teaching young parents how to pack healthy lunch boxes and create healthy meals are examples of activities that don’t require a nursing qualification, or a qualification associated with delivering community care supports.

So how do service providers in regional and rural communities engage with the challenges and the opportunities that are being driven by the changes in funding models and the tilt towards a consumer-driven market? This presentation will outline some of the strategies and changes being tested and implemented by CentacareCQ, a Catholic social services agency, across its regional and rural footprint in Central Queensland.

Dr Breda McCarthy

Senior Lecturer in Marketing, James Cook University

Presentation: Food Waste in Australia and Consumers’ Willingness to Buy Novel, Value-Added Foods

Breda McCarthy


Dr Breda McCarthy holds a PhD and a Master’s degree (research). She is a currently a Senior Lecturer in Marketing at JCU with research interests in food waste, renewable energy and regional and rural economic development.


This research explores consumers’ willingness to buy novel, value-added food. Respondent-completed questionnaires from 330 Australians reveal that half of the sample are willing to buy value-added food. The survey indicates that helping farmers is the top ranking factor driving demand for value-added foods. There are significant differences in attitudes towards food waste and price sensitivity between respondents who are willing to buy a value-added snack product and those who are not willing or neutral about purchase. Surprisingly, moral concerns are not significant in distinguishing consumers who are willing to buy value-added foods from those who are not; hence, the authors find only partial support for the norm-activation model (Schwartz, 1977; Schwartz & Howard, 1981). Nonetheless, the survey findings are promising with regard to consumer acceptance of new, plant-based products and early adopters of innovation in the horticultural sector should heed the study’s findings.

Vicky Meyer

Senior Workforce Policy Officer, Queensland Health

Presentation: Grow Your Own Workforce: building a strong and sustainable local health workforce for Queensland


With over 15 years’ in the Not-for-Profit, and State Government sectors Vicky Meyer is a Workforce Policy and Planning professional with a wealth and breadth of experience. Vicky’s extensive knowledge of the health and community services industry together with her skills in policy development, project coordination and management has seen her engaged to deliver numerous large-scale workforce projects. Through the development of long-standing relationships and engagement of key industry stakeholders, peak bodies and delivering on vital projects, Vicky has become an industry subject matter expert in workforce planning, policy and strategy for the health and community services industry. Vicky is currently managing the Grow Your Own Workforce project for Queensland Health, a project that addresses key systemic issues including an ageing workforce, workforce shortages, addressing diversity and workforce attraction and retention through education and training.


With health services facing growing service demand, an increasingly complex health service environment and skilled workforce shortages, there is growing realisation that the sector needs to attract and develop a future workforce by adopting more contemporary and innovative workforce planning models, with a focus on reducing locational disadvantages. One such model is what is commonly referred to as a “Grow Your Own” (GYO) approach.

To support the implementation of this place-based workforce model, Queensland Health partnered with the Health and Community Services Workforce Council to deliver a Feasibility study. The intent was to investigate good practice, and to better understand what is working and what is needed to roll out locally-led workforce initiatives throughout Queensland.

GYO centres on finding ways to attract, develop, support and retain local candidates of all working ages and backgrounds, who may have otherwise faced barriers to employment. To strengthen local workforce planning and support health providers to grow their own local workforce, Queensland Health and the Workforce Council developed an online resource hub. Designed to be a one-stop shop, the resource includes practical workforce planning tools, information about funding for recruitment, training and good practice case studies.

As the composition of the available local labour force is different in every community, the challenges, opportunities, networks and strategies will vary too. To cater for this, the resource hub includes specific information for the various cohorts, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, youth, disadvantaged, culturally and linguistically diverse job seekers, and rural and remote.

Charlie Morgan

Executive Officer, Mackay Whitsunday Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership

Presentation: The Region's First Indigenous Cultural Heritage Indicators: engaging the Mackay-Whitsunday's Traditional Owners as citizen scientists

Charlie Morgan1


Charlie is the Executive Officer of the Mackay-Whitsunday Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership. The Partnership is a collection of 25 different Partners representing the government, community, industry and traditional owner sectors. The Partnership’s primary output is the Region’s first integrated annual waterway health report card which includes environmental, social, economic, stewardship and cultural heritage indicators to determine the health of the Mackay-Whitsunday Region. Charlie is a marine scientist and has spent over the last 10 years working in Queensland in the fields of water quality, major project approvals, climate change adaptation and scientific communications. She holds a Masters of Applied Science in Protected Area Management and a Bachelor (Hons) in Environmental Science.


In 2016, the Mackay-Whitsunday Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership worked with the Mackay-Whitsunday-Isaac Traditional Owner Reference Group (TORG) and an independent consultant to develop an indigenous cultural heritage site assessment framework for use in the Region’s first integrated waterway health report card. The site assessment methodology combined, for the first time, physical condition of indigenous cultural heritage sites coupled with their spiritual value as well as the level of cultural maintenance (or degree of Traditional Owner input in site management/maintenance). The assessments were run again with the TORG in July 2018, to further engage TORG members in data collection, to facilitate site score comparison between years and to increase the spatial reach of sites assessed. This presentation will explore this project in more detail including the drivers for the project, the challenges faced and the opportunities created, including from the perspective of TORG members themselves. The TORG include representatives of the Gia, Ngaro, Juru, Yuwibara, Koinmerbura, Barada Barna and Wiri traditional owner groups.

Prof Mark Morrison

Program Lead, CenWest Innovate, Charles Sturt University


Mark is Program Lead for CenWest Innovate, a business accelerator funded by the NSW Government and Charles Sturt University, and Associate Dean, Research in the Faculty of Business, Justice and Behavioural Sciences at Charles Sturt University. His research has focused on the development of entrepreneurial ecosystems in rural areas, including the development of a plan for regional development in the Murray Region of NSW funded by various local councils and the NSW Government. Other current research focuses on the activation of markets to better reward farmers for improved soil stewardship funded through the Soils CRC, and work on climate change communications. Mark’s other research interests include non-market valuation, technology adoption, market-based instruments, Indigenous entrepreneurship, and data mining. His research has been funded by the Australian Research Council (Discovery and Linkage Grants), Soils CRC, NSW Department of Industry, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Indigenous Business Australia, NSW Environmental Trust, Land and Water Australia, Country Energy, Museums and Galleries NSW, Murrumbidgee Local Health District and CareWest among others.

Christine Payne

Workforce Consultant

Presentation: Walking Together: Indigenous perspectives and planning the workforce

Christine Payne1


Christine Payne was a member of the Workforce Council team focused on the design and delivery of a range of inclusive practice offerings including the unique ‘Walking Together – Workforce Planning for Cultural Impact’ program. Christine’s involvement in this work has developed her interest in using creative approaches in teaching, learning and workforce planning, particularly through embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in her work. More recently Christine’s work has focused on the development of resources to support early childhood education and care learners with English as a second, or third language and the design and delivery of several programs aimed at building individual and organisational cultural capability.


This session showcases ‘Walking Together – Workforce Planning in a Cultural Context’ and stories from its delivery in Mount Isa and Gympie.

We invite participants to join this interactive session which shares our model of working with community leaders, Elders and workforce to develop workforce plans that aim to change practice and policy in a place based context. The Walking Together program is an action learning model delivered over several months. Based on the knowledge that to understand the present, you must understand the past, the program commences with a cultural capability assessment, extensive stakeholder engagement and an environmental scan. This understanding and knowledge of the local context is complemented by an evidence base that informs the building of a picture of the future workforce requirements. Strong connections are established across the program and together the group create a workforce plan that includes deliverable actions at an individual, organizational, community and systemic level.

The Workforce Council is committed to recognising the strengths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and building their workforce participation. The Walking Together program supports this by building understanding, knowledge and skills to recognise, engage with and apply indigenous ways of working in workforce planning and development. In this workshop we will:

Jenny Perks

Co-Founder & Director, Upstart


Upstart is a NFP and educational charity equipping young people with future facing skills, knowhow, connections and entrepreneurial mindsets. We work with young people, their educators and the business community to inspire, educate and kickstart tomorrow’s changemakers and job creators.

Our flagship program, The Upstart Challenge is our entrepreneurial ideas challenge, accelerator and mentoring program for secondary school students that culminates in a Pitching Showdown. This “shark-tank” like event is attended by over 200 leaders from the business and education community which propels young people to the next stage of their journey within the entrepreneurial ecosystem, fuelling the pipeline of talent for the region.

Since 2012 we have developed the entrepreneurial skills of 1,163 students, worked with 2,180 members of the business and education communities at our events and workshops, and 73 mentors and partners form our unique network of thought leaders and changemakers.

The Upstart Challenge is part funded by the Victorian Government, industry, education and community sponsors.

Headquartered in Geelong’s Pivot City Innovation Precinct, Upstart has recently expanded to open a second office in Ballarat to spread our regional entrepreneurial and economic development model.

About Jenny

Mark Phillips

AusIndustry, Incubator Support Initiative

Mark Phillips1


Mark is an Australian entrepreneur, investor &business mentor who has launched 5international startupsand is a firm believer that innovation is the key success factor for high growth business and community rejuvenation.

Since April 2018 he has been working with AusIndustry to accelerate the development of Startup Incubators throughout regional Australia.

Mark’s diverse career began as a Chartered Accountant, and has included success as an international gymnast, tech consultant, salesperson &business manager with KPMG, Apple and Microsoft as well as an entrepreneur in his own startups.

Mark has a history of sitting on various innovation and economic development panels, non-profit boards and regularly provides innovation briefings to a range of Federal, State & Local Governments.

Today he is based in regional Queensland and brings wide innovation, business experience and connectionsfrom his extensive travels and workthroughout the world and around regional Australia.

Known for his business creativity, hand-on approach, and relaxed style Mark is constantly connecting people with opportunities.

Mary Reid

Member, Highfields District Business Connections

Presentation: An overview: the role of local leaders’ in Australia’s first regional lifestyle enterprise precinct

Mary Reid


Mary Reid had a 20 year marketing career working for some of Australia’s leading companies prior to a 15 year career in the Queensland Public Service where she held policy and industry development positions including whole of government agencies. In 2009 Mary opened Merivale Cakes and Crafts her multi-award winning cake decorating business and sugar-craft academy in Highfields. Mary has a student/follower base of over 400, she has mentored 20+ students into their own businesses across 3 states, produced wedding cakes for over 900 couples, and organised 5 international cake competition tours where students have won 21 awards. She received two public sector Australia Day Awards for leadership and marketing; the Highfields Citizen of the Year, Australia Day Award 2016; and 2018 Australian Bridal Industry Academy award for community and industry development. As a member of Highfields District Business Connections, Mary has taken a leadership role in the Steering Group overseeing the Highfields Lifestyle Enterprise Precinct.


In August 2016 when Highfields District Business Connections (HDBC) decided to explore the economic development opportunities for their community their focus was on jobs and growth. In retrospect, they were unprepared for the time and intellectual demands that the 24 month journey would require.

Today we outline the diverse challenges confronting HDBC and the multi-tiered learnings that are still evolving which will transition Highfields from a perceived dormitory suburb into an economically sustainable community. From the project’s original concept to its current status, the HDBC leadership has acted with versatility and tenacity. With the emergence of the Highfields Lifestyle Enterprise Precinct, Australia’s first, this leadership culture and group structure has redefined the meaning of locally-driven and industry-led regional projects. Achievements from the project which could become transferable learnings across regional Australia include but are not limited to: innovative benchmarks in regional development particularly in community and industry collaboration; capacity to work collaboratively with a specialist advisor on the Regional Solutions Framework; creation of a national best practise demonstration project; presentation to the Commonwealth Select Committee (Regional Development & Decentralisation); industry and community workshop program; strategic networks from the corporate sector and executives across the three tiers of government; inclusive engagement strategies with the Toowoomba Regional Council; and, hosting a national executive roundtable which included an address by the Federal Minister, Dr John McVeigh.

These learnings and insights will be invaluable for other peri-urban communities to attract local employment that enhances their lifestyle.

Presentation briefing paper

Chad Renando

Founder and Managing Director, Startup Status

Chad Renando1


Chad Renando is a leader in the Australian innovation ecosystem. As the inaugural Community Manager of Ipswich City Council’s award-winning Fire Station 101, Chad defined the vision and strategy, and established the programs, culture, and community of Australia’s first innovation fully owned and operated by a local council. His role included managing day to day operations in the hub, and building the local ecosystem of investors, commercial partners, service providers, schools, and universities. Outcomes include an engagement with over 150 entrepreneur members in the first 18 months and creation of local jobs.

As an investor and mentor for startups, Chad’s other contributions in the innovation ecosystem include leadership positions in social enterprise accelerator Impact Academy, the global impact hackathon movement Random Hacks of Kindness, and supporting the Queensland Office of the Chief Entrepreneur in measuring Queensland’s innovation ecosystem. Building on his Masters of Applied Social Science, Chad is now touring Australia through a PhD studying the role of innovation hubs in building community resilience.

Chad background includes over 25 years of practical leadership experience in the public, not for profit, and commercial sectors. His roles include: professional consultant, facilitator, and executive coach in the utilities and resources sector; General Manager for Australia’s largest privately owned digital agency; and manager of an 80-employee, $10M annual manufacturing company.

Angus M Robinson

Managing Partner, Leisure Solutions

Presentation: A New Approval Process for Major Geotourism Projects under Review & Engaging with the Greater China Region: case studies from Taiwan and China

Angus M Robinson


Over the past two decades, Angus has been engaged in executive roles relating to technology park development and hi-tech industry association work. In his current capacity as a member of the Expert Network with the Accelerating Commercialisation program, he currently facilitates ICT related technology collaboration with Taiwan.

In December 2007, Angus retired as Chief Executive of the Australian Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers’ Association. During this period, whilst directing the Electronics Industry Action Agenda program of the then Australian Government, Angus developed strong linkages with kindred industry groups in the Greater China Region, conceiving and implementing the Australia Taiwan Strategic Framework Agreement. He later served for a one year period as Executive Director of the Australia Taiwan Business Council.

In his current role in geotourism industry development, he directs for the Australian Side, the implementation of the Memorandum of Cooperation between the Geological Societies of Australia and China.

Abstract - A New Approval Process for Major Geotourism Projects under Review

Over the past 10 years, the awareness of geotourism and interest from key constituency groups continues to grow. Geotourism has been featured at SEGRA since 2012; with the inaugural geotourism workshop at SEGRA 2014 in Alice Springs, SEGRA 2015 held in Bathurst, NSW, an event which saw the genesis of the Etheridge (Far North Qld) and Warrumbungle (Central West NSW) UNESCO global geopark proposals. Geotourism workshops have also been convened at SEGRA 2016 in Albany, WA, and SEGRA 2017 at Port Augusta, 2017. Despite recent setbacks with the nomination process for these geopark developments, support for geotrail projects is increasing across Australia, with a key challenge for transforming geotrail projects to include both biotic and cultural content. Is recognised that the key driver of geopark development must be focused on regional development – i.e. jobs and growth and demonstrate economic benefit to offset perceived political risk. A high level of community (including other land-user) engagement is also essential to meet nomination requirements. In recognition of these factors, discussions have taken place with government to develop a new process for considering geopark proposals. During a first stage, proponents will undertake a ‘GeoRegional’ assessment including the determination of the most viable geotourism delivery mechanism available. Should a geopark option be favoured, discussions with the State/Territory Geological Survey and relevant planning agencies to obtain approval ‘in principle’ will be required. The initiation of extensive community consultation and the finalisation of stipulated nomination documentation for formal approval of the State Government will be essential pre-requisites.

Abstract - Engaging with the Greater China Region: case studies from Taiwan and China

In the political and economic context of the Asian Century, Australia through its cities and regional areas needs to work hard in establishing long-term social and economic relationships with the powerhouse of Asia, that is currently established within North Asia, particularly in the Greater China Region (China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong) with its strong technological links to Japan and South Korea; and with the appreciation that the Chinese business community extends well into South East Asia. The Greater China Region includes a wide range of provinces and city centres, many of which have demonstrated a keen willingness to establish bi-lateral ties through a range of mechanisms that have invariably involved sister city and inter-industry association relationships. In July 2005, the Australian and Taiwan ICT industries agreed to co-operate in the mutual development of their electronics and ICT sectors through the implementation of a program of engagement guided by a strategic framework agreement as a logical consequence of an active program of activities developed between the Australian Electrical & Electronic Manufacturers’ Association and the Taiwan Electrical & Electronic Manufacturers’ Association since early 2002. Progress under this arrangement was reported annually to the Bilateral Economic Consultations between Australia and Taiwan. Separately, in 2016, the Geological Societies of Australia and China entered into a unique Memorandum of Cooperation that was principally aimed at growing the level of best practice, nature-based tourism in both countries, and has already led to a structured ‘sister’ regional relationship in NSW and potentially in Tropical Far North Queensland.

Patrick Ruettjes

Regional Director, Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning

Presentation: Investment Attraction: how local input can make it happen

Patrick Ruettjes1


Urban and Regional Planner, MPIA. Born in Germany, completed Master of Geography, Urban and Regional Planning in 1999 at the University of Osnabrueck, worked in local and state governments and private consultancy in Germany. Worked in Planning in Western Australia from 2006 to 2015, mainly in local government. Queensland Government since early 2015 in the role of Manager (Planning), Mackay Isaac Whitsunday Regional Office, with the Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning.


Queensland offers plentiful land, a wealth of resources, excellent and expanding infrastructure, a highly skilled workforce and attractive incentives for new and established business to make the state their home. The Queensland Government wants innovative and dynamic businesses to establish and expand in Queensland. To further this economic vision, the Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning (DSDMIP) is actively engaging with companies, with the aim of encouraging the relocation and establishment of new projects, or reinvestment and expansion of existing operations in Queensland.

DSDMIP works closely across government and with private sector agencies to provide a Queensland one-stop-shop approach for advice, information and facilitation support. Locally the Mackay Isaac Whitsunday Regional Office (MIWRO) is the face of this one-stop-shop and offers a single point of contact to investors. The type of facilitation support that may be provided can include:

We would love to share with the conference some of our experiences and wins in the investment attraction space.

Garry Scanlan

Chief Executive Officer, Greater Whitsunday Alliance

Presentation: Bust… A not so Dirty Word: an experience of resilience, where it is creating a better economy

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Garry Scanlan has over 35 years’ experience in the Australian maritime, port and resources industry, last 25 years in leadership roles. He is working in the public and private sector facilitating the development and delivery of major projects in Queensland and the Northern Territory. Garry has extensive experience in successfully working with Government, Boards, Senior Management teams and diverse and high level Stakeholders to deliver strategic business outcomes. He was appointed the inaugural CEO of the Greater Whitsunday Alliance Ltd. in January 2017 to drive regional economic development in the Mackay, Isaac and Whitsunday region.


In 2013, Mackay had it all. A booming mining economy, a thriving mining services sector and a strong housing market. And then it stopped. Literally overnight. Coal prices plummeted, the housing market took a nose dive, companies shed hundreds of jobs and locals scrambled to make ends meet. The region was not prepared on how to deal with business in the tough times, after all Mackay had experienced ten years of unprecedented growth. The words ‘flat’, ‘underperforming’ or ‘depressed’ were not words that had been associated with our economy in recent memory. Quite simply, when the resources sector corrected in 2013, this region didn’t have enough skills, or resources to sail through the intensity of the bust cycle. And it hurt. Five years on, the region is now on the upward curve of a strong recovery. Have we done enough to educate and equip our community, industry and business leaders to avoid the sustained hurt of a repeat downturn? What were the lessons learnt and how is the region applying these to ensuring future sustainability? This presentation highlights the tactics and efforts that Mackay region industry groups used to tackle the lows and how resilience is the key factor to revival.

Dr Caroline Smith

Executive Director, Jobs Queensland

Presentation: Growing our Regions Using a Place-Based Approach to Workforce Development


Dr Caroline Smith is the Executive Director of Jobs Queensland, a statutory entity set up by the Queensland Government in 2016 to provide independent advice on skills demand, future workforce planning and apprenticeships and traineeships.

Caroline has more than 20 years of experience working in the areas of skills and workforce development, employment, labour markets and workplace relations. Before joining Jobs Queensland, Caroline was Deputy CEO of the National Employment Services Association and also an executive in the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency (AWPA, formerly Skills Australia) with responsibility for the National Workforce Development Strategy.

Caroline’s career has spanned government, industry and academia. Caroline completed her PhD at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow and was the 2012 Australia-US Fulbright Professional Scholar in Vocational Education and Training (VET).


Jobs Queensland is a statutory entity set up by the Queensland Government in 2016 providing independent advice to government on skills demand, future workforce development and apprenticeships and traineeships. Jobs Queensland works with regional Queensland to identify the skills needed to support economic development by developing workforce development strategies. Our workforce planning framework provides an overlay and incorporates key elements from multiple workforce planning approaches and economic modelling. Furthermore, a place-based model provides for additional layers as the need arises capturing knowledge and industry intelligence from various sources in multiple ways.

By combining a number of scenarios with economic modelling, Jobs Queensland seeks to identify the skills needed for the future across Queensland industries and regions. Several plausible future scenarios supported by economic modelling help manage future uncertainties and ensure that the projections recognises important factors that may impact regions in the future.

Understanding the transitions occurring in regional Queensland and the opportunities that new and emerging industries can provide is key to developing resilient communities. Ensuring the availability of an appropriately skilled workforce is essential to supporting sustainable economic growth within regions. Since our establishment, Jobs Queensland has worked collaboratively with a number of regions to develop workforce strategies. This presentation will focus on learnings from:

Zim Solo

Project Director of Renewable Energy, Carbon Friendly Enterprises

Presentation: Remaining Competitive Through Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency

Zim Bio Pic


CFE Project Director of Renewable Energy, National Engineering Registered Professional Engineer of Queensland, Member of the Association of Energy Engineers, Internationally Certified Energy Manager, Chartered Professional Engineer (Mechanical), Chartered Professional Engineer (Medical), Member of Institute of Engineers Australia, CertIV Project Management, Construction Engineer, Project Engineer, Energy Management Consultant.

Zim has also engaged in multiple international volunteer projects and was a founding member of the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Chapter and has delivered projects worldwide across 11 countries.


It is very easy in Australia to become complacent, but with the fast moving energy landscape it is important now more than ever to embrace energy efficient technology and renewable energy to remain competitive in the domestic and international marketplace.

With ROI’s of as low as 2 years and operating life of upto 20-25years solar renewable energy generators make simple economic sense.

The truth is 50% of all solar panels installed last year was done so by China alone, and unless we activate this tried and tested technology and focus on the facts rather than the political hearsay we will be left in the dust.

The ROI on energy efficient upgrade projects are far better with payback in as little as months thereby boosting profit margins, building resilience and reducing maintenance downtime.

This technology simply works better, is cheaper and makes sound business sense to those who are paying attention to the facts.

This paper will look at current marked data trends and the ROI case study of a 100kW Solar System.

Jarryd Townson

Split Spaces

Jarryd Townson


Jarryd lives and breathes innovation and entrepreneurship. Having created and launched several businesses, he has experienced the highs and lows of the start-up world and armed himself with the knowledge to support it.

Since creating Mackay’s first innovation hub ‘Split Spaces’, you’ll often hear him on his regular radio segment or travelling the globe representing the Mackay region and pushing his limits on extreme adventure programs.

Over the past few decades, he has immersed himself in the world of marketing, events, Not-For-Profits and also operates a local web agency ‘Digital Crayon’.

A leader and true activist for community development and eco-system building, Jarryd spends his time supporting the growth of entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs and his passion for youth innovation.

With exciting future plans in the pipeline, Jarryd’s a force to be reckoned with and an inspiring leader whose vision for the future is big, bright, loud and a little bit wild.

Assoc Prof Peter Waterman

Institute for Land, Water and Society (ILWS), Charles Sturt University

Presentation: Safe Water Australia: securing adequate safe domestic water for rural, remote and regional Australia / Assessing Risk and Risk Mitigation: coastal catchments

Peter Waterman1


Peter Waterman has professional qualifications in geography, social science, urban planning and environmental management. Over the past 55 years he has gained professional experience as: a secondary school teacher; military officer; officer of government; academic; advisor to governments and boards of commercial enterprises; consultant and lobbyist; and a research director and managing director of private companies. In 1970, Peter co-foundered one of the first environmental consultancy companies in Australia. Since then he has provided a wide range of consultant services across the land use planning and environmental management fields for public and private sector clients in Australia and overseas.

Currently, Peter is the Managing Director of Environmental Management Services (EMS) a boutique consulting company that he established in 1977 and incorporated in 1984. Operationally, EMS integrates engineering, management and science in seeking innovative solutions for sustainable regional and local development. In this capacity, Peter provides services to clients from business, industry, governments and community based organisations. Additionally, Peter is an Adjunct Professor-Institute for Land Water and Society, Charles Stuart University (ILWS-CSU) and an Adjunct Associate Professor-Faculty of Science, Health, Education and Engineering. University of the Sunshine Coast (USC).

Current collaborative activities with ILWS-CSU and SEGRA include:

• Sustainability Technologies, especially in relation to adapting to changing climatic conditions and fostering decentralised development. • Murray Darling Basin, with a focus on catchment scale management of water resources and the delivery of ecosystem services at regional and local scales.
• Secure Safe Domestic Water, with the aim of establishing community based collaborations to support the sustainable provision of adequate safe domestic water from private supplies (surface, ground water, rainwater tanks in rural and remote regional Australia.

Abstract - Safe Water Australia: securing adequate safe domestic water for rural, remote and regional Australia

Australia wide, the sufficiency and quality of water resources used for domestic purposes in rural and remote regions is largely unknown and the potential health risks arising from this situation are poorly dimensioned. Nationally, little assistance is provided by any level of government to reduce potential health risks from non-scheme water in rural and remote regions. In all Australian jurisdictions, Local Governments only have statutory responsibility for the quantity and quality of scheme water provided to rural cities, towns and settlements. People on farming and pastoral properties are left to their own devices to secure adequate and safe domestic water supplies.

The Institute for Land Water and Society, Charles Stuart University (ILWS-CSU) in collaboration with SEGRA and regional partners initiated the SEGRA Challenge: Securing Adequate Safe Domestic Water for Rural and Remote Regional 2015. The initiative focuses on fostering self-sufficiency in the provision of secure safe domestic water (SSDW) from private supplies on rural and remote properties and rainwater tanks in towns and settlements.

A key conclusion from the work to date is that a new mechanism is needed to drive and sustain the SSDW initiative. This could be done through the establishment of Safe Water Australia (SWA) as a collaborative and independent funding mechanism (possibly a not-for profit legal entity) to ensure that private domestic supplies are adequate and that the reduction of health risks from unsafe water becomes a priority across rural and remote regional Australia.

Safe Water ConneXion Synopsis

Abstract - Assessing Risk and Risk Mitigation: coastal catchments

Australia wide there is ample evidence that coastal drainage systems and offshore marine areas are becoming more vulnerable environmental change. Nationally, there is no consistency in approaches to catchment scale assessment of environmental risks and the development of strategies to mitigate the effects of the cumulative pressures of human activities and changing climatic conditions. And commitment to the integrated management of coastal catchments and nearshore areas varies across Australian jurisdictions.

The purpose of this presentation is to argue a case for using catchments to delineate boundaries for strategic land use planning and natural resources management rather than those of Local Government Authorities or the geometric frameworks of parcels of land. This need is especially relevant to the topography and drainage patterns of the riverine and estuarine systems of the coastal catchments of Queensland, New South Wales. Victoria, the south east of South Australia and the south west of Western Australia where there are well defined rivers.

New Zealand provides a statutory and operationalised precedent for the approach and it is one worth considering. A wide range of spatially focused tools are available to assess vulnerability and mitigate environmental risks and these should be applied consistently using catchments as naturally bounded planning units.

Georgena Watt

Chief Executive Officer, Ideas Kitchen Consulting PL

Presentation: Leadership is Key to Joining the Dots

Georgena Watt


Georgena Watt has been an industrial and organisational psychologist for more than 30 years and is CEO and founder of Ideas Kitchen Consulting based in Mackay. She works with a wide spectrum of people and ideas with the core aim to add value to the community. She is passionate about the field of psychology, a core STEM discipline, to inform and improve the performance of individuals, teams and organisations. She is a long standing member of the Australian Psychological Society (APS) and is a Fellow of the APS College of Organisational Psychologists. She has a long history of professional and community involvement in the Mackay region, including Chair of the Australian Psychological Society Mackay Branch, Chair of the Glenden Development Industry Group, and member of local advisory groups on Workplace Health and Safety, suicide and mental health, school chaplaincy, regional social development, speaker co-ordinator for inaugural TEDx Mackay program, and local tourism and arts organisations.


To fully benefit from the next wave of social and economic growth across Australia, a greater emphasis on leadership knowledge, skills and capacity has been identified as critical to make the most of the presenting opportunities. The recent Study of Australian Leadership sees this need for improvement as urgent to keep pace with global competition. This paper will present the results of a New York neighbourhood leadership development program involving 300 community leaders. The program used a methodical and scientific approach and evidence from research to inform the process. The significant social and economic success of the outcomes will be discussed with reference to the applicability to the MIW regional area and extending to other regions across Australia. Implications for our future growth of the social and economic landscape through the development and consolidation of regional leadership expertise will be proposed.

Monica Wulff

Co-Founder, Startup Muster

Monica Wulff


Monica has a passion for and experience in providing research and knowledge to help make data driven decisions that support entrepreneurial growth in Australia.

After recognising a lack of insight and statistics about the Australian startup ecosystem she co-founded Startup Muster in 2013. In October this year Startup Muster celebrated over 500,000 survey questions being answered an released its 5th annual report.

She is also part of a number of advisory groups related to startups and entrepreneurship, including the Data61 Ribit platform, the Jobs 4 NSW Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Advisory Committee and the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science’s Women’s Advisory roundtable chaired by Hon Michaelia Cash MP.

She has a Bachelor in Applied Finance and a Bachelor of Economics from Macquarie University and has worked across public and private sector including the Australian Bureau of Statistics

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