Regional Plans and Projects

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Frontiers Insight and Sandra Welsman are based near Armidale in northern NSW, Australia. Backed by experience across many industries and of working and living in cities as well as regions, we have developed strategic projects for industries, enterprises and communities in regions, nationally and beyond. FI core work

Australia’s inland regional communities, businesses, governments, agencies and key industries – agriculture, tourism, mining, and services – now need to think differently. Populations are ageing faster than in cities. Agriculture has been the backbone to many regions, but is now less than 4% of Australia’s economy.  Young people reasonably look to knowledge and service sectors in the wider world for their long-term working futures.

Issues for businesses, agencies and communities in Australian inland regions have many parallels nationally and globally. Across the world, cities dominate in terms of population, wealth and power. However, regions and their people oversee the globe’s physical space, ecology, food and shelter resource systems, and in many ways, define the culture and character of each nation. Regions in Australia share features with most across the world, including migrating populations and distinct demographics – ageing faster, less educated, less healthy, less diverse, less skilled. Isolation is more than a movie script! Public services are limited. Employers are inhibited by the tyranny of distance, fewer economies of scale, and capacities of the working population, itself a reflection of limited industry and government activity. There are also chasms between major regional centres, with population and power, and small localities.

Australia must now focus on lifting productivity (of industries, workforces, governments, regions) and competitiveness. Reviews identify the issues for regional areas time and time again – infrastructure (education, health, social services, rail, road and air transport, communications); population (keeping youth, attracting professionals); costs of doing business; workforce skills and numbers (also lack of interesting jobs and quality careers); need for new industries and business lines beyond agriculture or mining, as well as fast changing truths about natural resources especially land, water and climate.

In Australian regions, business opportunities, both for companies and the work of universities and educators, often pivot on embracing ‘regionality’. There are ‘naturally regional’ industries and a few activities that cities tend to leave to regions. Agricultural, resource, energy and tourism sectors feature in regions – but even these are macro-managed from city capitals. And regional people – some 30% of Australia’s population (including coastal areas) – face particular challenges in transport, communications, health, education, professional services, work opportunities …) that they need to understand and manage in conjunction with city administrations.

Being Regional and Strategic …

Sandra Welsman and Frontiers Insight integrate thinking across many Australian industries and regional and economic issues. We have long and active experience across multiple sectors including those still vital to inland regions –

  • Rural-regional research into Law, Education, Health and Environments including ongoing regulatory reviews and submissions for rural and agrifood industries. Regulation strategies
  • Agriculture and Agrifood manufacturing; Bio-sciences, and Manufacturing
  • Resources based industries – mining, electricity, water, plus

Newer investigation areas, including

  • Tourism – a major regional income-generator, with rising potential, but structural and economic challenges for aspiring businesses
  • Healthcare – a major regional service and skills issue area but tied in resourcing to populations and their issues.

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Initiatives, research, reviews, projects, plans – for regions and their industries, agriculture, tourism, health, education …

The Regional to Global Enterprise collaboration concept. But challenges to traditional university and academic ways are also part of the package. Dr Sandra Welsman will discuss these tensions in her paper – Regional to Global Enterprise – A collaboration to extend academic work: helix potential, systemic problems. ssrn. This has been presented to the Triple Helix VII International Conference on University, Government and Industry Linkages, Glasgow, June 2009.

Regional to Global Enterprise - research-knowledge-action collaboration. This collaboration concept is based on Australian and worldwide reality that City ways do not translate directly to regions – distance, time, culture, capacity are substantial issues.Noting needs of regional people worldwide for aligned, focused and questioning research efforts, and that regional universities and institutes often need the ‘regionality’ card to compete with city researchers for funds, Sandra Welsman has constructed an original business model for boosting applied research, across-sector education, and useful extension. The RGE model features:

  • a collaborative venture to harness capacities across one lead university, with strategic industry partners, to build research and education activity, outputs, income and impact
  • integrated research, education and business programs aiming to extend developments into local, national and global regions with partners on a commercial, sociological and aid bases
  • focus on value-adding applied research: actively mining huge quantities of published research and world knowledge across disciplines and to channel this into five linked programs aiming to address regional industry, business and community barriers- globally
  • outputs and outcomes: major innovation and research projects, published reports and papers, implementation partnerships with industries, communities and global-local public agencies; plus measurable engagement and impact, and enhanced status .

Key features of the Regional to Global Enterprise concept and its ‘triple helix’ action agenda>, purposefully challenge institutional traditions. Overall, the opportunities this RGE model presents for a lead university, its partners and staff have risen with Global Financial Crisis pressures, and with sharp performance expectations confirmed by Ministerial announcements in 2009 (post Australia’s Higher Education and Innovation reviews in 2008).


Completed projects for regional health:

Collaborative Research Network for Mental Health in Rural Regions, UNE led, four university partners and major health delivery organisation. 8.2010.

Thank you for your outstanding work. Much appreciated. PVC 9.2010.

Your help in putting this together was invaluable. Element leader.

Health Workforce Australia Northern Inland partners funding bids for medical student placements ( ‘A great submission’) also help for social work proposals, 6.2010.

I sincerely thank you for your clear, concise, no-nonsense approach and am 100% sure that this would not have got to this point without your assistance. Project officer

UNE-JMP Tablelands Clinical School and Training Practice submission – Federal REID grant funding success $5.5m, 3.2010.

Clinical School and GP Training Practice Operating Action Plan 5.2010 – developed with partners (being University of New England School of Rural Medicine, University of Newcastle – UNE Joint Medical Program, New England Division of General Practice, Hunter New England Health Service  including Armidale Regional Hospital, and GP Synergy – general practitioner training provider.

Am really thrilled by the [Tablelands Clinical School] submission. Thankyou again for all the cooperative hard work. Clinical Dean 1.2010

I am very supportive of the [operating] action plan. Thankyou. Head, School of Rural Medicine 6.2010


Completed projects for regional education:

Northern Inland NSW Digital Education – Network->Educate->Employ->Grow. National Broadband Network Digital Regions bid with full Project Plan. TAFE NEI, UNE and CTCs. Concept development and plan includes: Leveraging the NBN for regional education; Need to Network, Educate, Employ, Grow; NBN and education in regions; Northern Inland NSW – skills and education demand; Addressing national, state, local priorities; The Northern Inland Digital Education project detail of key elements; Indicators of demand – cases and stories; New, innovative and value for money; Organisation, management, finance; Project timeline; Risk management. 7.2010

Thank you for ‘pulling this all together’ for us. It was a wonderful effort. TAFE NEI; I am delighted at our team effort and all our good humor in what was an impossible timeline, UNE Director; Thank you, and to the team. A very extensive and positive application. Community Technology Centres Association; [We need] to celebrate getting this very complex but worthwhile submission, Industry rep; I am so impressed with what you have done on this application, in so little time. It looks great, UNE.

Associate Degrees- model programs 2008-2010 – to develop unique multi-skill ADs with TAFE, industry and university partners, particularly addressing learner needs and education provider gaps in regions. more

Impressively synthesised, and challenging in the right kind of way. PD 5.09. Your report is being hailed as amazing. CEO 6.09

Trades Training Centres 2009. Submissions for TAS, PLC, and Aberdeen College – successes in rounds 1 & 2 totalling $4.5m.


Scoping Study on Skills Issues for the New England North West, 2.2009.Commissioned by NSW Department of State and Regional Development, and TAFE NEI, to contribute to understanding and planning.

Looking forward 5-10 years, an analysis of data, reviews, reports and projections, enhanced by interviews with employers. Report encompasses: Changing populations and their requirements;  Changing work, workers, employment, employers; What are skills shortages; National skills development initiatives, and particular regional issues.

Outlooks examined for work in agriculture and agrifood, mining, manufacturing-building-trades, Healthcare services, new industries – creative, electronic, tourism, and professional and technical services including government. Discussion of employers as the front-line of recruiting retaining, upskilling, and various skills development agencies, educators, programs.


Lateral thinking on skills for agri-food industries, Australian Farm Institute Farm Policy Journal, skills issue, Sep 2008.

Abstract: While industries worldwide chase ‘talent’, Australian agriculture seems fixed on ‘labour supply’. The key issue is really ‘shortage of people willing to work in agricultural industries’. As to the future – What types of people and from where? To widen fields and to access cities many agri-industry ways need rethinking. What types of work and skills noting rising complexity in all workplaces? And, what forms of education will be expected from both worker-learner and employer viewpoints. Lateral thinking is vital to achieve modern training for a mix of needs. A unique, multi-skill Associate Degree – AgriFood Operations is outlined. At the interface of VET and university, the AD-AFO looks to provide higher study and work interest, plus practical qualifications of status, flexibility and mobility – in order to attract a new-generation of the capable, integrative, aspiring, people that agri-industries need.

Ideas are being pursued in workplace, education, skilling and development projects.

Also, Why the Bush needs the City. Opinion piece on skills, new thinking on university-VET-school and workforces. Weekly Times 9.2005. and Parliamentary submission. >>


Australian Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, 2004. Investigation & Scoping Study for an integrated Centre to support sustainable agricultural practices through business, new education pathways, research and tourism at Moree, NSW. Commissioned by the Area Consultative Committee and DOTARS. Examined regional / rural policies and investment; success factors for clusters, meaning of Sustainable Agriculture, education and training marketplaces (including regional needs and potential for high-skill vocational-university courses), industry and community links, possible commercial ventures and tourism opportunities.

I was really impressed with the [ACSA] report produced by Sandra Welsman… excellent …comprehensive, balanced and forward looking. Director TAFE NE Institute 2004


AUSTRALIAN CENTRE for AGRICULTURE and LAW - Dr Sandra J Welsman, Founding Director 2003-2004A GROUND-BREAKING centre focusing on law and agriculture has been established by the University of New England and will target a largely untapped market. The new centre, AgLaw, is a cross-disciplinary venture backed by three of the university’s big faculties. The centre expects to produce research, consultancies and develop course material for undergraduate and postgraduate programs … It will also provide short courses and seminars for industry. …Founding director Sandra Welsman said it was a first for Australia. … it was about new lines of thinking at the interface of agricultural business, science and law. “It’s an area where I’ve worked for some decades in [the] agricultural industry and there’s a lot of scientific development and a lot of legal regulatory development but not a lot of analysis at the interface,” Dr Welsman said. … The Australian 2 July 2003: Growing demand for ag law.From Concept to Centre: On commission from the University of New England, Sandra Welsman progressed a series of professional feasibility and market analyses to plan and establish a unique, timely interdisciplinary research-based centre, plus a new double degree.aglaw-research-plan-03-05-map1. AgLaw Centre Strategy & Business Plan. 10.2002. Market, business, academic and performance analysis in 4 parts: A. Framework Factors and assessment of goals and the idea;B. Scoping the Marketplace: Active interfaces of Agriculture and Law – four key issue areas (Agricultural industries and supply chains, New agricultural business development, Biotechnology, Sustainable development, Future farming systems, Regulatory regimes, Governance & results);C. Strategy – Positioning, Issues, Scenarios: Marketplace and positioning analysis; Issues facing an AgLaw Centre (building and maintaining research profile, mobilising and orienting expertise), and D. Business Plan 2003-2005.’…an analysis of market demand, career opportunities and benchmarking against the programs of other… universities. This proposal was assessed – and approved – both on its own merits and alignment with the University’s Strategic Plan.’ AUQA Audit Report of UNE 20042. Taking the Lead. AgLaw courses of study. Framework for across-faculty undergraduate, postgraduate and industry courses harnessing strengths. The novel new BAgr/LLB (Bachelor of Agriculture/Bachelor of Laws) double degree was developed over six months for 2004 enrolments.UNE has sparked the current of interdisciplinary development  by introducing a highly unique double degree program … which aims  to produce graduates equipped to analyses and deal with issues at the intersection of agricultural business, science, economics and the law.’ Good Universities Guide 2005

3. Staying in Front. Exciting plan to harness expertise toward for collaborative interdisciplinary Research, Publication and Teaching from 2004.

ABC National Rural News 26.6.03 Australia has its first centre for agricultural law, launched at the University of New England, at Armidale …. The AgLaw unit aims to create a new course, to improve the use and understanding of law amongst farmers and agribusinesses. Centre director, Dr Sandra Welsman, says agriculture is becoming increasingly tied up in regulation and litigation, and the new department will help industry keep up with the changes. The law’s getting more complex as agricultural industries move forward …

There’s no centre associated with a law school or faculty around Australia that looks at the issues of law relating to agriculture from a ‘forward agriculture’ perspective. The sector as a whole could be improved by having access to skills that are thinking forward five to ten years as well as looking at today’s issues.

4. The AgLaw Papers 2004. Interdisciplinary research concepts exploring agribusiness, science, law, economics frontlines. Teams organized to produce five papers as a boxed set distributed widely to industry and government. >>

5. Seminars: Think Big Apple! To inspire careers in agriculture, law, science, business with links to UG & MBA goals. Also: Problems at the Interface of Agriculture, Law, Science and Business.


Keeping Sheep Alive. Sustainable Control of Internal Parasites, full R&D Program Review 2001. A competitive tender for review of a complex long-term program involving many research parties across Australian institutions and locations. Market and international science issues, public and private sector consultation, 30 interviews, critical evaluation of research & extension, development of strategies. Peer reviewed, web published.

Referenced in various publications including: Anthelmintic resistance in sheep nematodes in Australia; Individual Sheep Management for Parasite Control; Accessible via the CSIRO library and databases. Agribusiness Sheep Updates 2003 – Husbandry presentations (WA Department of Agriculture database).


An Australian Sheep Genetics System 2000-2001 for Meat & Livestock Australia and Australian Wool Innovation. Review of markets, technologies, cultures. Implemented as Sheep Genetics Australia from 2005 >


Adoption of research and development findings – implementation issues. Three reviews.

  • Producer Initiated Research & Development – 9 year Strategic Review, 2001. For Meat & Livestock Australia. Analysis of adult learning principles, evaluation of effectiveness of group initiated and run PIRD projects for under-standing and adoption of research. Measures of value, whether investment worthwhile in terms of economic and people returns, links to MLA and other research and effective network building. published www.mla.com.au.

‘The Super PIRD option is being made widely available as a result of the 2001 Welsman review. This extensive review suggested that bigger or experienced groups could benefit …’ www.pird.com.au

  • Extension Projects and their evaluation-principles. For AWI. The issue of adoption; Technology Transfer aims and approaches; Augmenting the marketplace; New ways to hasten the natural flow of information; Groups: a key learning vehicle with some problems; Measuring extension success – degrees of understanding or adoption. Developed and evidenced a set of usable Principles for Extension project evaluation and funding. How to measure expectations and returns, costs of extension, mixed beneficiaries.
  • Review of AWI investment in Woolpro WA, 2001. Evaluated purpose and funding of ‘regional groups’ for education and R&D schemes.

Central Western Investment Project - project distillation report and workshop facilitator 1999. For Central West Regional Development Board and Balanced State Development Working Group, involving business operators, State and Local Government, bankers, project developers, regional advisers, educators.


Meat & Livestock Australia, Lambplan Division. Business Retool Strategy 1999. Market-science product review, income analysis, customer policies, redirections. Service Delivery Review. Roles, KPIs. Product Portfolio & Pricing 2000.


Snowy Mountains Authority Enterprise Restructuring 1990. Enterprise structural efficiency and management reform,  skills and industrial reshaping, work practices change. Snowy Scheme Environment – Principles Position Statement.


Australian Meat and Livestock Research & Development Corporation, Five Year Strategy and R&D Plan 1986. Regional interactions included:

  • Welsman: Developing the AMLRDC Research and Development Plan: Address to Meat Industry at the Annual General Meeting 1986.
  • Welsman: The Future of Livestock Industries, to NSW Dept of Agriculture, 1987 District Agronomists Conference.
  • Welsman: Research and Development and the future of Livestock Industries. Address, Northern Territory Cattlemens’ Association AGM, Darwin, 1987.finance-journalist-briefing

CSR Limited Energy Division, Oil & Gas Division - media interactions in regional areas: communication and issues handling during the 1980s resources boom – across coal, coal handling, oil and oil drilling, oil shale, uranium and oil processing.


Australian Wool Industry – objective measurement and clip preparation – with implementation of research across Australia and worldwide

  • Are universities, technical & agricultural colleges keeping abreast of developments and maintaining standards required to service new procedures? Welsman, International J Sheep & Wool Science 29.
  • 250 Woolgrower Field Days and Seminars on Objective Clip Preparation and Objective Measurement,across all States and regional areas, designed and co-ordinated extensive field days in sheds and halls, also workshops for TAFE educators, woolclassers, woolbrokers.
  • Minspec: The Minimum Specification Program report – R&D, logistics, implementation.
  • Sale with Additional Measurement (SAM) Project, Pilot Trial Plan towards Sale by Description.
  • International Technical Demonstrations: The Objective Measurement of Raw Wool: Nagoya, Japan . Demonstration design, coordination and report preparation, SJ Welsman. Also Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, Portland
  • Mill tours and Reviews for Wool Processor Associations, Australian Wool Corporation. Issues discussions with wool trade at meetings in Osaka and Nagoya in Japan, South Africa, Europe, Russia.
  • Wool Processor and Wool Customer Technical Notes: Series aiming to communicate and implement technical changes through visits to mills.
  • AWC Liaison with Wool Processors – The Japanese Technical Demonstration: Welsman (1977) International J of Sheep and Wool Science 25(2) 1, 4-6.
  • Objective Clip Preparation, AWC Extension to Wool Growers: Welsman (1976) International J of Sheep and Wool Science 23(3).