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SEGRA 2017 News

SEGRA National Conference in Upper Spencer Gulf a Success

The Sustainable Economic Growth for Regional Australia (SEGRA) National Conference brought 175 delegates from around the country together in the Upper Spencer Gulf from October 24-27 2017.

The Upper Spencer Gulf became a meeting point for people passionate about regional Australia, with the theme of the week being, ‘Disruption: a catalyst for change’.

The forum focused on using new knowledge and technology to adapt to changes in traditional industry bases, with Head of KPMG James Mabbott, Regional Minister Geoff Brock and author Dave Clare among a long list of keynote speakers.

With the event held in South Australia for the first time, SEGRA Convenor Kate Charters said she has received ‘fabulous feedback’ from both delegates within the region and those who had travelled.

“They were really happy with the content of the conference, but also they’ve enjoyed being here and the hospitality that we’ve received,” she said.

“They certainly valued the opportunity to hear from people like Steve Marafiote from Sundrop Farms and Brad Alderson, who spoke about SolarReserve.”

Prior to the speakers and workshops hosted in the three cities, Port Augusta played host to the Mayoral Welcome Cocktail Reception on the Tuesday to officially open the event. A Networking Dinner was held on the Wednesday night at the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden, while the Port Augusta Golf Club played host to the Conference Dinner on Thursday night.

Delegates participated in a Flinders Ranges Study Tour on the final day of the conference, visiting several sites including the Wilpena Pound Resort, Jeff Morgan Gallery and Great Northern Lodge.

Mrs Charters said that with 30 per cent of delegates bringing their partners to the conference, it is estimated that over $250,000 has been injected into the economy in the Upper Spencer Gulf.

Port Augusta City Mayor Sam Johnson said the conference exceeded his expectations.

“This was SEGRA’s 21st year and it’s the first time ever in South Australia and SEGRA have advised us that this is the biggest uptake they’ve ever had for the study tours,” he said.

“Aside from that, there was some great feedback. It’s nice that people who have never ever been to this region or to Port Augusta have come and given their first impression and it was all positive, which was really reassuring.”

Mayor Johnson said that while it was a great networking opportunity for local leaders, it also proved to be a very successful week for local businesses.

“All the local accommodation was booked out and not just in Port Augusta, but there was an overflow in Port Pirie and Whyalla as well,” he said.

“I give credit to small business owners and their staff because we got some really amazing feedback from conference delegates about some of our businesses here – from the taxi drivers, to the baristas, to the waitresses.”

Attribution: this article first appeared in The Transcontinental Port Augusta.

Mayor Sam Johnson and Regional Minister Geoff Brock at the SEGRA National Conference. PHOTO: Sam Johnson.

SEGRA 2017 Conference Proceedings

Thank you for your participation in SEGRA 2017. We have received a lot of positive feedback and it is great to see so many SEGRA challenges getting off the ground. We will keep you updated through SEGRA Walks the Talk.

We are pleased to advise that the 2017 conference proceedings are now available. A link is available below.

We are keen to update our website and newsletter with any photos of the conference you can share. Please email them to

The SEGRA LinkedIn group is very active at present. If you are not yet a member, please consider joining and contributing to discussions.

We are delighted to announce that the SEGRA 2018 conference will be held from 22 - 25 October in Mackay, Queensland. If you would like to pass on ideas of themes, action agendas or speakers, please do not hesitate to contact Kate Charters at the office on 0408 882 871.

Expressions of interest are now open for SEGRA 2019 and beyond. Please contact Kate Charters via the email address below.

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Around The Regions

Australia’s first Mainstreet Management Book

Mainstreets and city centres all over the world are facing competition from shopping centres and online. Shopping centres have enjoyed amazing success for more than 50 years by offering thousands of free car parks, air conditioning and a pristine shopping environment.

To combat this trend, mainstreets and city centres are using effective management and marketing strategies to strike back and deliver successful outcomes for the community and themselves. Successful mainstreets across the world are known for their unique and distinct character. While this diversity in mainstreets can be a strength, there are many things that shopping centres do well that the mainstreets can learn. Professional management and funding are two critical areas.

In this book ‘Mainstreet Management: Successful Retail Strategies’ I provide practical advice about mainstreet management that can be applied to mainstreets and City centres. I have managed mainstreets and shopping centres for more than 25 years and many strategies I describe can be adapted to local mainstreets to help them thrive against the competition.

Mainstreet managers, business district managers and government staff can take the lead for their local communities by adopting the best management practices available in the world today. Using examples from the UK, America, Australia and New Zealand I explore the world’s best mainstreet management models.

In this book you will discover how to engage businesses, improve the business mix, effectively promote mainstreets and deliver events and how to implement responsible governance processes. Bringing key stakeholders together including retailers and property owners and utilise their collective strength will help to attract more customers and provide the best retail offer for the customers. We can’t just sit back and hope that mainstreets will improve.

This book is suited for managers, councils, business students and business groups who are looking to develop and grow their mainstreet or retail precinct. ‘Managing Mainstreets: Successful Retail Strategies’ provides the tools and key strategies to ensure mainstreets are successful in a highly competitive retail market.

Kind regards

David West
Principal Consultant
Premier Retail Marketing

Mobile phone hotspots planned for remote parts of Central Australia

More than 30 mobile phone hotspots, developed by an Aboriginal organisation in Alice Springs, will be set up in remote locations in Central Australia.

More than half a million dollars of government funding has been allocated to the Centre of Appropriate Technology (CAT) to manufacture and install 32 hotspots in locations that have little or no mobile phone coverage.

It's [also] pretty cheap if you compare it to getting a full mobile tower ... a mobile tower might cost you $800,000.
Andrew Crouch, Senior telecommunications engineer, CAT

The hotspots, or mobile signal amplifiers, were designed and developed by CAT, an Aboriginal organisation in Alice Springs that uses appropriate technology to give Indigenous people in remote areas better access to services.

The Northern Territory Government has provided $360,000 for 22 of the hotspots with the remainder being funded by a $185,000 grant from the federally administered Aboriginals Benefit Account (ABA).

The design, successfully trialled in two locations near the remote community of Hermannsburg, about 130 kilometres south-west of Alice Springs, uses a satellite dish to amplify the signal from nearby mobile phone towers.

Attribution: this article first appeared in ABC News Alice Springs.

CAT employee uses the mobile phone hotspot along the Bobby Hole access track, west of Alice Springs

What’s in the RED Toolbox?

There are four main tools in the Red Toolbox – the Showcase, Groups, Projects and Insights.

The Showcase has over 5,000 leading Australian producers and services. Groups are “meeting and sharing” places for regions, sectors, issues, projects and export. Free to join. But only Partners can create Groups – see “About” page.

The Projects section is under development and will include a library of existing projects and a place for project ideas to become realised.

And Insights is the section for blogposts on the above – regions, sectors, issues, projects and export.

Developing the RED Toolbox (still officially only 4 weeks old) has been like building a wall – putting bricks into place one by one.

Starting with foundation partners, councils and RDAS, then adding a few industry sectors and then projects – moving from adding partners, to ideas and then action. There is no action, without partners and ideas.

And then back to adding more councils and RDAs, expanding the number of industry sectors and adding more ideas and projects. We have just begun.

Partners are key to the evolution of the RED Toolbox. The next few weeks and months will see more councils and RDAS become partners, from across Australia, creating their own local groups based on regional economic vision and plans.

At the national level, we have now created 10 “umbrella” Groups – advanced manufacturing, agricultural and food, energy, water & environment, ICT, medical and health, mining and METS, security and protection, smart city infrastructure, sport development and tourism development.

These Groups support discussions on big ideas. In time they will become knowledge centres, which councils and RDAS can access to support their local projects and developments.

Businesses and not-for- profits can also become partners in the RED Toolbox and create Groups. They can also join the “umbrella’ groups relevant to what they do. So a pollution control manufacturer could join Mining and METS, Energy, Water and Environment, Security and Protection and even Medical and Health. A Cybersecurity company could join Security and Protection, ICT and Smart City Infrastructure and so on.

The RED Toolbox is designed to connect organisations across silos, to build bridges between sectors and regions, and to support the sharing of ideas.

Early days. And we are now moving onto Projects. We have created a Projects group and there is a Projects section on the platform.

The Projects group is for the discussion of ideas. The Projects section is for the realisation of ideas.

The Projects section of the RED Toolbox will have a library of project case studies or outlines, which can be copied. We are looking for projects with demonstrable benefits – ie jobs, tourism attraction, youth engagement etc. The Projects section will also present new project ideas for partners to engage with. Project ideas can seek material, experience, funding and project management skills – building teams of partners to turn ideas into action.

The platform connects across multiple dimensions. Local groups can connect people locally, but still connect with sectors, other regions and projects. Groups can be private (invite only), open or closed.

So the platform supports community and privacy. It supports parochial and local, and national and international. It supports businesses, associations and sectors.

Not everybody wants to connect, collaborate and share. But 97% of organisations do. And the RED Toolbox is there to support them.

And their networks, connections, supply chains, regions and states. So become a Partner, join the RED Toolbox, add your ideas and become part of the solution.

How outside help could keep our kids on track

Regional Queensland children who are struggling at school are often unable to access the help they need.

But a Queensland startup aimed at helping students no matter where they live could have the answer.

This paper, as part of the Fair Go For Our Kids campaign, revealed regional Queensland's young people are less likely to finish Year 12 than those in the city. Educational experts said regional Queensland students have poorer access to out-of-school help and are often unable to afford it.

The campaign comes as a Chartered Accountants of Australia study calls for the education sector to better train students for work.

Brisbane-based startup ClassCoach believes it can help struggling maths students, and even entire classes, through test analytics and 24/7 online tutoring.

ClassCoach head of customer engagement Simon Free said the online system was designed to help every maths student access the help they needed.

"The idea is to introduce analytics to classes to help identify areas that certain students, or the entire class, might need extra help in," he said.

"Regional areas do not have the same access to quality help outside of school. Those services might exist but that doesn't mean the students are able to access them.

"The beauty of ClassCoach is that if you have the internet you can access it. Our plan is that will keep it more affordable for those kids and families that need it most."

Irlen Syndrome is a condition where light may interfere with the brain's ability to process visual information.

Irlen Clinic director Peter Freney, a former school principal, said students with learning difficulties were not always properly catered for in schools.

He said tutoring or wider educational intervention were ways of helping those students who had fallen behind.

"But remember, the tutors come from the wider educational system and bring the culture and all the strengths and weaknesses of that system," he said.

"Kids with learning difficulties and dyslexia don't need more of the same, they need a different approach. This requires investment in professional development for teachers."

The education system has also come under fire from Australia's businesses.

Chartered Accountants Australia New Zealand policy leader Geraldine Magarey said a survey of 800 business leaders found only four in ten believed school did a good job preparing people for work.

"This demonstrates a lack of confidence by organisations in the education sector's ability to equip the future workforce with the skills they will need," she said.

Attribution: this article first appeared in the Sunshine Coast Daily.

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Multi-level Governance: Conceptual challenges and case studies from Australia

Important policy problems rarely fit neatly within existing territorial boundaries. More difficult still, individual governments or government departments rarely enjoy the power, resources and governance structures required to respond effectively to policy challenges under their responsibility. These dilemmas impose the requirement to work with others from the public, private, non-governmental organisation (NGO) or community spheres, and across a range of administrative levels and sectors. But how? This book investigates the challenges—both conceptual and practical—of multi-level governance processes. It draws on a range of cases from Australian public policy, with comparisons to multi-level governance systems abroad, to understand factors behind the effective coordination and management of multi-level governance processes in different policy areas over the short and longer term. Issues such as accountability, politics and cultures of governance are investigated through policy areas including social, environmental and spatial planning policy.

The authors of the volume are a range of academics and past public servants from different jurisdictions, which allows previously hidden stories and processes of multi-level governance in Australia across different periods of government to be revealed and analysed for the first time.

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