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SEGRA Walks the Talk

September 2016 – Edition 21

SEGRA 2016 – Naturally Stronger Regions: realising the potential


26–28 OCTOBER 2016

20 Years of SEGRA

20 Years Speaking Up for Regional Australia

Albany and the Great Southern WA will be the rallying point to celebrate 20 Years of Speaking up for Regional Australia. The Sustainable Economic Growth for Regional Australia (SEGRA) conference was established 20 years ago in response to the sense that the importance of regional Australia in the national agenda was not adequately considered when broader national policy was being formulated. SEGRA is now recognised as Australia’s most credible, independent voice on issues affecting regional Australia.

“It is important when shaping our national agenda that the place of rural, regional and remote Australia is considered. Regional Australia accounts economically for 1/3 of national output and represents a large portion of Australia’s land mass.” Said Ms Charters, Chair of the SEGRA National Steering Committee.

”In developing national and regional policy governments need to think about regions as places for people, regions as places for people’s endeavours and regions as places for resource optimisation and commercial innovation” said Ms Charters.

The SEGRA 2016 conference is a forum for people passionate about the future of regional Australia and a place where new ideas can be formed and shared.

Expert’s from across Australia will meet to discuss “what the economic and social effects of policy reforms fall on rural and regional Australia including how the effects of policy reform might impact differentially on metropolitan and rural and regional Australia”.

However, SEGRA is more than a think tank, participants will also be putting forward ways in which people living in regional Australia might act to facilitate the opportunities for people in regional Australia, in particular the unique regional advantages has in innovation, greenfield development, environmental stewardship, and community strength.

Hosted by Albany and the Great Southern region of WA, a region with access to rich agricultural assets and a diverse, pristine natural heritage, SEGRA 2016 will celebrate regional Australia’s natural capacities.

Simon Crean at SEGRA 2010
SEGRA National Steering Committee in 2010
Former Deputy PM, Warren Truss MP at SEGRA 2015 in Bathurst, NSW

The SEGRA Story

The 1990’s was a period of significant macro and micro economic policy reform. There was a gradual move away from centralised wage -fixing arrangements to more decentralise enterprise-based focus. This transition had implications for real wages and unemployment and to a degree drove the case for further deregulation of the labour market. The second issue was the proposition that saving in Australia was less than optimum as observed by the long term decline in Australia’s national saving and that it was low by international standards. The prospective ageing population also pointed to Australia’s increased saving requirements. These had significant public policy impacts and implications for regional Australia which weren’t always anticipated and sufficiently compensated or adjusted for in advance. A clear example of this was the superannuation policy which drew 10% of cash out of the regional economy into centralised businesses where investment tended to be outside of regional Australia.

In the microeconomic reform program, regional Australia likewise felt inadequate attention was given to the impact on their future social economic wellbeing. The decade was notable for the rise of issue-focused political parties and independents. The major reforms of this time included the dismantling of barriers to foreign trade, financial deregulation; corporatisation and privatisation of government business enterprises, competition reform including new regulatory arrangements for natural monopoly utilities and labour market reform.

Although the overall performance of the Australian economy in the 1990 was impressive, some aspects of the performance were of concern. Among these were relatively slow growth of full-time employment, the rising share of welfare recipients in the community and the increase in inequality of earnings. Whilst strong competitive pressures brought to the market place by new entrants did deliver substantial benefits to consumers, worker in industries subject to significant reform or deregulation often lost out through job losses and more demanding working conditions.

It was in this climate that SEGRA was formed, meeting in Geelong, Victoria in 1997 as a community of practitioners, government, business, researchers, regional development organisations, not-for-profit groups and regional communities. SEGRA was envisioned to provide a forum for people passionate about the future of regional Australia and a place where new ideas could be formed and shared and in particular:

  • what the economic and social effects of the policy reforms on rural and regional Australia including how the effects of policy reform might impact differentially on metropolitan and rural and regional Australia:
  • putting forward ways in which people living in regional Australia might act to facilitate the opportunities for people in regional Australia, in particular the unique regional advantages has in innovation, greenfield development, environmental stewardship, and community strength.

SEGRA has continued to be a voice for regional Australia on a range of government policy and program reforms based on the principles:

  • People in regional Australia have know-how, ideas and innovations – SEGRA reflects what is happening on the ground in regional Australia
  • Regions are systems – environmentally, socially, economically and politically, regional solutions must be interrelated and interconnected across all these spheres.
  • Good policy is derived from research and evidence as well as the knowledge, expertise and professional judgments of practitioners. Proposed policy actions will draw on the wide range of advice from researchers and practitioners shaped by professional input from policy experts.
  • The historically strong participation of practitioners, government, business, researchers, regional development organisations, not for profit groups and regional communities in regional development within the SEGRA network ensures 3600 representations in all aspects of discussion and solutions proposed.

Goals of SEGRA

SEGRA acts to provide end to end value to regional Australia using a systems approach to:

  • Raise the profile of regions as essential parts of Australia’s national outlook.
  • Empower regions to be responsible for their own destinies.
  • Identify ideas, regional issues and opportunities
  • Influence policy by encouraging evidence based responses and supporting practice-based research and projects.
  • Promote regional connectivity

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Immersion Sessions

1. Dynamic Systems Thinking: delivering a sustainable regional Australia

This immersion session raise opportunities, identifies gaps and consider ways forward in using systems theory concepts to inform an understanding of how to maximise outcomes for Regional Australia.

The session will commence with a presentation from Institute of Land Water and Society on systems theory and its application in regional Australia.

Topics covered include:

  • What are the assumptions and guiding logic?
  • Main structural elements of the frameworks
  • Processes by which these elements come together to provide answers
  • Limitations of the lens
  • Proposals for future action, understanding.

There will then be an open discussion around the topic of application of systems theory to maximise outcomes for regional Australia.

Issues for consideration include:

  • Managing conditions of ambiguity and uncertain contexts
  • Addressing the push and pull of different factors, including stakeholders, government imperatives, funding
  • Responding to systems that are constantly evolving and not necessarily settling into an equilibrium.
  • Can complexity theory and residual randomness inform decision makers or just muddy the waters?
  • What governance models might systems theory propose?
  • How community resilience is impacted by uncertainty and discontinuity of resources and participation?
  • Is systems thinking a persuasive instrument for funding allocation? What evidence would be required?

2. Regional Collaboration: self interest, best interest and the parity principle

Stakeholder theory is well established in the mainstream responses to the need to include the range of different interests in any given situation. However less explicit are the operation of stakeholder engagement and measures that demonstrate accountability around the engagement. How well can stakeholder theory account for incompatible objectives and differential power, resources and influence? Can processes be applied that alter power dynamics sufficiently for a robust, viable stakeholder engagement mechanism? Some characteristics include concepts of good faith as dialogue, negotiation, and transparency; other proposals include formal coalitions of interest, and the use of mediation and non-binding arbitration. This session will use case studies to examine how collaboration might best be established maintained, implemented and concluded.

3. Building Entrepreneurial Ecosystems

Over the past 12 months theSPACE in conjunction with SEGRA, Charles Sturt University (CSU) and Startup Tablelands have been researching, developing and integrating processes and practices around the development of self-sustaining, startup & innovation ecosystems in regional areas of Australia. In this immersion session Professor Mark Morrison will share the core findings of 3 studies being conducted by CSU.

  1. A literature review of startup ecosystem development in regional areas
  2. An analysis of existing incubator and business support groups in regional areas
  3. An analysis of the Cairns & Tablelands ecosystems pre & post work conducted by theSPACE.

Troy Haines of theSPACE will share the processes applied and learning outcomes in the development of the Cairns and Tablelands ecosystems and finally Christine Doan will share insights as the lead driver of the Startup Tablelands and their journey. If you are a leader in economic development, then we urge you to join us for this in depth look at both the theoretical and applied application of building self-sustaining, startup and innovation ecosystems in regional Australia.

4. That Thing from the Future: playing with regional scenarios

We as humans are innately poor at predicting the future, yet as practitioners we constantly are asked to do just that. This session will explore the limitations and consequences of the assumptions that we all bring when considering the future scenarios for our regional communities and economies.

Utilising’s engaging facilitated game That Thing from the Future, participants will contribute to the imagination of a range of future regional disruptors, and consider implications for their own communities and economies. The session will be delivered in a fast-paced, fun atmosphere where all can participate, heckle and debate. It will conclude with a debrief discussion as to how such tools can be utilised by practitioners to challenge communities and stakeholders to think outside of the box when considering and planning their own future scenarios.

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SEGRA Day Two - Naturally Stronger Regions Panel

Panel Discussion - Day 2, Thursday 27 October

Knowledge and innovation are inseparable from each other- they drive economies around the world. Knowledge producers and users act to leverage the ideas, technologies, know-how and expertise on which their competitiveness depends. The panel will consider the properties of information and ideas which are central although often implicit to all forms of innovation, the implications and applications for the future as manifested in the unique attributes of regional Australia.

Facilitator - Peter Ryan, Business Editor, ABC Radio


Ian Aitken, Head of Pre-Sales, Enterprise & Small Medium Business, Samsung Electronics Australia

Anthony Bertini, Chairman, Thumper One Pty Ltd

Prof. Ken Dillon, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice President (Administration) at Charles Sturt University

Prof. Fiona Haslam-McKenzie, Co-director Centre for Regional Development, University of Western Australia

Angus M. Robinson, Accredited Member of the 'Expert Network of the Australian Government's Accelerating Commercialisation Program'

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Around the Regions

Australian Centre for Sustainable Business and Development

Enabling Profitable and Sustainable Regional Business

The Centre helps farmers, businesses and institutions to develop profitable and sustainable business. They work closely with industry and government agencies to understand their challenges and opportunities and to develop solutions. They believe that:

  • Research that supports businesses innovation, collaborations and entrepreneurial activity is essential to the profitability of regional businesses.
  • Entrepreneurial leadership is needed to ensure rural and regional prosperity.
  • Innovation in business models and value chains is required to transform our agricultural industries
  • Multi-disciplinary research is critical to sustainability of production landscapes and to understand business systems.

The Centre works with Faculties and research teams across the university and we have four research programs:

  • Entrepreneurial leadership, behaviour and activity. The Regional Entrepreneurial Leadership team investigates, supports and promotes entrepreneurial behaviour and activity to strengthen regional resilience and foster business sustainability.
  • Innovative solutions for value added exports. The Agricultural Value Chainsteam assists local and national industries to better understand export opportunities, risks, pathways and consumer purchasing preferences.
  • Farmer access to high value supply chains and growth capital. The Farm Business Futures research team enables the development and adoption of innovation in farm business models and practices including business collaboration, investment and extension.
  • Sustainable land and livestock management. The Sustainable Agricultural Environments research team produces and delivers knowledge and solutions to problems faced by managers of natural resources in production landscapes.

They pride themselves on independent and credible research, based on rigorous research methodologies and underpinned by relevant theoretical frameworks. They strive to help business innovate and adapt towards transformational change by facilitating informed decision making.

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Special Offer for SEGRA Delegates

Thanks to our 2016 Supporter, the Department of Parks and Wildlife WA, SEGRA delegates are being offered:

Free entry to the Tree Top Walk on presentation of conference name badge. Free entry will be valid until the 4th November 2016. Valued at $21 per entry.

Free entry to national parks around Albany (Torndirrup, West Cape Howe, Porongurup, Stirlings and Two Peoples Bay)

Visitors will need to display their conference name badge in the vehicle. Entry valid until 4th November 2016. Valued at $12 per vehicle per park.

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Recreational Activities in Albany

Thanks to our 2016 Host Partner, City of Albany, SEGRA delegates have the opportunity to participate in a range of recreational activities in Albany including walks, cycling, runs, canoeing and golf.

Most of these activities are free with bookings required to reserve your place.

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Connect with Us

Keep up-to-date with SEGRA by joining us on social media

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