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Regional Development Victoria

About Regional Development Victoria

Regional Development Victoria (RDV) is the Victorian Government's lead agency in developing rural and regional Victoria and is responsible to the Minister for Regional Development, Jaala Pulford MP.

RDV is a statutory agency within the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources.  In accordance with the Regional Development Victoria Act 2002, RDV works closely with various Victorian Government agencies to facilitate economic, infrastructure and community development to improve the quality of life for regional Victorians.

With a focus on building stronger economies and communities through employment, investment and infrastructure, RDV supports regional Victoria to:

  • create vibrant and dynamic regional communities through economic development
  • facilitate new investment by funding infrastructure for strategic projects
  • deliver integrated programs and strategies to grow a sustainable business economy and industries
  • support the implementation of integrated regional plans
  • deliver jobs and investment across Victoria through resilient, competitive and productive regional economies.

Funding is largely delivered to:

  • provide better infrastructure, facilities and services
  • strengthen the economic and social base of communities
  • create jobs and improve career opportunities for regional Victorians
  • support local project development and planning.

RDV offices are based throughout regional Victoria.  Regionally-based staff foster key networks and work closely with their local organisations, businesses and communities.  RDV offices are a local contact point for businesses, local government, not for profit and community groups wanting to access the programs and services provided by RDV.  RDV offices can also provide information about other government services, grants and contacts that may assist regional businesses and organisations.

By agreement with the Commonwealth, RDV supports Regional Development Australia committees and their activities within Victoria.

RDV has regional Business Centres and offices located in Bairnsdale, Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, Horsham, Mildura, Seymour, Shepparton, Swan Hill, Traralgon, Wangaratta, Warrnambool and Wodonga.

View Regional Development Victoria's Annual Reports

RDV Executive Team

James Flintoft, Chief Executive, Regional Development Victoria

James FlintoftJames Flintoft has substantial leadership experience in the Victorian and Australian Governments and in the private sector. He was appointed Chief Executive of Regional Development Victoria in November 2015.

He was previously Deputy Secretary, Agriculture with the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, responsible for agriculture and rural policy; agriculture research and development; and trade and investment. He worked in the federal Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet as First Assistant Secretary, Cabinet Implementation Division; was Chair of the Commonwealth's emergency task force on live cattle exports; and Deputy Secretary at the federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. He helped establish the Department of Regional Australia in 2011.

Before joining the public service, James spent over 20 years working in the private sector. He has been a senior executive at ANZ (including Managing Director, Business Banking covering metropolitan and regional Australia); a consultant at McKinsey & Company; and lawyer at Allens Arthur Robinson.

He has served on various private sector, government and not for profit boards including Biosciences Research Centre Pty Ltd, Agriculture Victoria Services Pty Ltd and the Royal Melbourne Showgrounds Joint Venture Board. He was formerly Treasurer of the Mirabel Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation that provides support and counselling services to children orphaned or abandoned due to parental drug abuse.

He is married with three boys. He and his wife run a small cattle farm outside Melbourne.

Unni Menon, Regional Director, Barwon South West

Unni MenonUnni Menon has over 30 years of experience in the aviation, tourism and transport sectors in the private and public sectors.

After starting out as an Air Traffic Control Officer with the Royal Australian Air Force, Mr Menon held a number of government management roles in aviation and tourism in Queensland. As General Manager, Port Hedland International Airport, he lived in the region and managed the development of the airport, leading to a role as Deputy Director Aviation within the Department of Transport, Northern Territory. At the same time, Mr Menon also held tourism board positions, including the Whitsundays Tourism Board.

Mr Menon moved to a position Director Policy and Planning within Tourism Queensland, where his remit included the aviation industry, as well as bringing the industry together to develop tourism opportunities, such as the cruise industry.

Following on from his position with Tourism Queensland, Mr Menon joined Jetstar where he was involved in a number of key strategic projects including the development of the international expansion strategy and the facilitation of key commercial relationships within the Asia Pacific and lead high level engagement with governments nationally and internationally on regulatory and selected commercial matters related to its international and domestic operations.

He then joined Air Services Australia as Executive General Manager Corporate and Industry Affairs, where he was responsible for reputation and brand management particularly with external stakeholders and international engagement with aviation regulators.

His most recent role has been at Linfox, where Mr Menon was responsible for identifying and progressing future international and domestic airline, airfreight and related business opportunities for the company. His work has given him strong networks across the Barwon South West region, particularly with the Geelong Authority and local governments.

Leigh Kennedy, Regional Director, Gippsland

Leigh KennedyLeigh Kennedy grew up in Gippsland and recently returned to Australia after 16 years of working throughout Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the United States.

Ms Kennedy has extensive experience leading in Banking, Consulting, Strategy and Research and Analytics.

This includes work with Standard Chartered Bank, where she held a variety of roles responsible for strategic planning, financial and operational analytics, client research and inorganic growth opportunities throughout the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan. Ms Kennedy has also held roles with Accenture and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu providing strategy and research solutions to financial services clients.

In 2014, Ms Kennedy joined Regional Development Victoria as the Regional Director of Gippsland. During that time, she has built considerable networks across local government, community leaders and businesses and lead a number of key initiatives for the region, including the recent launch of Invest Gippsland, designed to promote Gippsland as an attractive investment destination.

Anthony Schinck, Regional Director, Grampians

Anthony SchinckAnthony Schinck has worked in the local government and not-for-profit sectors since 1998, with a variety of senior local government positions at metropolitan, rural and regional municipalities, including roles in policy, finance, infrastructure and planning.

After initial roles in Business Development and Corporate Services for the City of Hobsons Bay Council and South Gippsland Shire, Mr Schinck moved on to be the Chief Executive of Sense Wide Services, a small not-for-profit providing services for people with vision impairment.

In 2005 he joined the City of Ballarat, first as Manager Executive Projects and then General Manager City Marketing and Strategy. This focused on tourism marketing, including management of the City's tourism program. He then took on the role of General Manager City Infrastructure and Development, responsible for all planning, design and maintenance service.

In 2008, Mr Schinck was appointed CEO of the City of Ballarat, where he has focused on managing sustainable growth, building stronger communities and attracting and delivering major events and projects for Ballarat.

He also gives his time to local not-for-profit groups including United Way / Ballarat Foundation.

Mr Schinck’s  work has given him a strong regional networks and a depth of knowledge of the challenges and opportunities in the Grampians region.

Matt Nelson, Regional Director, Hume

Matt NelsonMatt Nelson has worked in regional development across state and local government, with a focus on economic development and community engagement.

He has worked in numerous local government Shires and Cities in regional New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria.

In 2008 he joined Regional Development Victoria to work with Foodbowl Unlimited and the six Goulburn Murray Irrigation District councils to implement the Capitalising on Victoria's Food Bowl project and went on to become Assistant Regional Director for the Hume Region. He has also served as a board member if the Murray Dairy Board and Fairley Leadership Program.

In 2013, Mr Nelson joined the Committee for Shepparton as CEO, where the focus is on Product, Creative, Connected Community, and Inclusive Social Support.

He has a wealth of knowledge of regional development and economic planning at a local, state and national level and understands the complex issues faced by regional Victorians and the services available to them.

Mr Nelson has strong networks within Greater Shepparton, including with business and a depth of understanding of the economic development issues within the Hume region.

Rachel Lee – Regional Director, Loddon Mallee

Rachel Lee, Executive Director Infrastructure, Regional Development VictoriaRachel joined Regional Development Victoria in July 2017 as Executive Director Infrastructure, having come from from the City of Greater Bendigo (CoGB) where she was Manager of Major Projects. At CoGB Rachel led a team that oversaw delivery of a portfolio of transformational city projects as well as management of Bendigo Airport operations and development.

Previously Rachel has held senior roles with City of Greater Bendigo, Bendigo TAFE and La Trobe University Bendigo in economic and commercial development, communications and marketing respectively. Rachel has worked in media communications, lectured in marketing off-shore, and holds qualifications in Business / Marketing.

Ben Ferguson, Executive Director, Policy & Planning

Ben Ferguson

Prior to joining RDV Ben was a Director in the Energy Policy and Programs Division with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning - leading work on wholesale electricity and gas markets, renewable energy, network pricing and emergency management.

Ben brings deep and wide policy experience, having previously worked at both the Victorian and Commonwealth Treasuries where he led teams across a range of policy areas, including: water, agriculture, resources, climate change and macroeconomic policy . He also spent a number of years as the Senior Economist at the Business Council of Australia.

Anthony Walkley, acting Executive Director Infrastructure

Anthony Walkley

Anthony comes to the position with over 10 years experience in delivering large multi facetted infrastructure projects across regional Victoria, including five years delivering Major Projects in the Regional Development Victoria Infrastructure team.  

He also brings to the role extensive experience across State and Local Government and previous management experience in the Financial Services Industry.

Kate Millar, Executive Director Regional Programs & Recovery

Kate Millar

Kate has held senior management positions at Parks Victoria including General Manger of Park Planning and Bendigo Regional Manager, and most recently as a strategic advisor to the Victorian Coastal Council.  She comes to RDV with particular expertise in strategy and business planning, financial management and emergency management.  She has worked extensively with key stakeholders.

Rob Byrne, Executive Director Regional Investment & Trade

Rob Byrne

Rob has worked for Victorian Government in a number of senior investment and regional development roles for 15 years, including Acting Director positions in Gippsland, Grampians and the Barwon South West regions. Rob has also worked in Canberra in the Australian Government Public Service and as academic staff with the University of Melbourne, Department of Medicine.

Rob leads RDV’s engagement with business and investors in relation to significant new investment opportunities for regional Victoria, and the role that the Victorian Government can play in attracting and facilitating new investment in regional Victoria that will generate new jobs and exports.

Rob also has the role of ensuring that Department’s Business Engagement Model is successfully delivered in regional Victoria, and that stronger relationships are developed between government and the business sector.

Rob is responsible for business intelligence reporting in regional Victoria from engagement with businesses, and the subsequent actions to help resolve identified issues, with a focus on the specific areas of investment, infrastructure, skills, trade and regulation in order to improve firm level productivity and competitiveness.

Melissa Arch, Director, Communications and Engagement

Melissa Arch

© Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, State Government of Victoria

Last Updated: 28 June 2018