Photo: RDASI Committee and staff with Brendan Martin, owner and founder of Martin’s Fertilisers in 2020

Regional Development Australia Southern Inland NSW (RDASI) held a meeting in Yass recently and determined several priorities for the region.

A non-government organisation, RDASI acts as a conduit for people wanting to live, work, invest, and play in the Southern Inland region.

RDASI CEO Carisa Wells said they are a connector across all three levels of government.

Carisa said the Yass Valley is going through an incredible growth period.

“It’s a very exciting year,” she said. “We’re obviously very excited to work with a new mayor and a new council.”

Carisa said digital connectivity is one of the group’s big focuses, especially in the Murrumbateman area.

“We call it the great equalizer,” she said. “It really does assist regional communities to not only stay on top of the public announcements and current affairs but obviously with working remotely.”

Carisa said people are working remotely more frequently than they have in the past so having the capability from a digital point of view to do that is beneficial.

“To work and not necessarily to have to commute every day I think is really beneficial for our regions.”

“That means staff stay in these towns and spend their daily money on things like lunch, pharmacy, beauty, and whatever on a daily basis.”

“They spend it within the town rather than taking it to a larger town centre or a major city.”

Simply put Carisa said money stays local when you’re having more of your workforce stay local.

Another focus for the group is regional infrastructure, in particular roads and housing.

Carisa said housing is a big issue, but she doesn’t call it “affordable housing” instead she refers to it as “workforce housing”.

“For example, Yass has a lot of issues during the week with full accommodation centres because of construction workers being in and around the region.”

“Providing multiple styles of housing for different levels of incomes I think is really important,” she said. “I think housing in general needs to have a much broader scope.”

“We have other regions as well where the minimum block size is some extraordinary thing that you must have a whippersnipper and a lawnmower and I don’t think that’s catering to everybody’s choices.”

Workforce development has also become a major focus for RDASI.

“We know that businesses are crying out for additional labour.”

The RDASI manages and administers the skilled migration visa program for investment New South Wales. One of their new projects Grow Our Own, is an expansion on a program that RDA Riverina began to support and promote local opportunities to job seekers and later age school kids.

Carisa said the labour issue is a two-way street because sometimes local kids don’t realise the opportunities they have in their region and equally employers often don’t realise the talent they have available.

“I think the opportunities are abundant in the Yass Valley and I think that’s where it’s imperative that we take those opportunities while they’re in front of us.”

By Brianna O’Rourke