Regional Development VictoriaRDA Hume

State Government of Victoria

About RDA Hume

RDA Hume Committee Members

Acting Chair

Susan Benedyka

Susan Benedyka

Susan established a regional consulting company in 1997, and continues to direct and lead The Regional Development Company as Managing Director.

A Board member of regional, state and national organisations for the past 20 years, Susan’s board portfolio includes:

  • The Telstra Foundation (current)
  • Chair, Telstra Kids Fund (current)
  • North East Catchment Management Authority (2009-2013)
  • North East Water Board (2004-2007)
  • Charles Sturt University Council (1996-2008)
  • National Rural Advisory Council (1999-2002)
  • Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (member of Human Capital, Communications and Information Panel) (1998-2001)
  • National Rural Women’s Advisory Group (1995-1999) Ministerial appointment

Additionally, Susan has served on an array of board committees including Audit Finance and Risk, Health and Safety, Governance and Nominations, Finance, and Executive committees.

Committee members

Ben Hardman

Ben Hardman

Now entering his second term on the Hume RDA Committee, Ben is a reading recovery teacher at Seymour College and was previously Principal at Flowerdale Primary School.

From 1999-2010 Ben was the Member for Seymour in the Victorian Parliament, during this time he was Chair of the joint parliamentary Rural and Regional Services and Development Committee, Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, and Parliamentary Secretary for Community Development and Bushfire Reconstruction.

Ben is a member of the Assumption College Kilmore College Council, and Tallarook CFA, and has a Bachelor of Education in Educational Administration and a Diploma of Teaching.

Doug Sharp

Doug Sharp

A returning member to the Hume RDA Committee, Doug has worked in various local government consultancy roles over the past two years.

Doug held the role of Chief Executive Officer with both Rural City of Wangaratta and Alpine Shire, and has an extensive career in local government spanning over 30 years.

He was instrumental in coordinating response to the 2003 and 2006 bushfires and 2010 flood crisis in the region and heavily involved in the extensive recovery process that followed.

Doug was a driving force in the establishment of governance for the development of regional strategic planning for the region and prominent in numerous regional activities.  His many roles have included: Chair of the Regional Cities Victoria group, Hume Region Local Government Network and the Hume Regional Growth Plan Steering Committee, as well as Chair, and Deputy Chair, of the Hume Regional Management Forum.

Doug has a Bachelor of Business, CPA and is a Fellow of LGPro and the Australian Institute of Management.

Dennis O'Brien

Dennis O'Brien

A graduate in Agricultural Science from the University of Sydney, Dennis and his wife Gail operate a small Wagyu and Wagyu cross cattle property at Stewarton, near Benalla.

He has a Master of Science from the University of Manitoba in Canada and a PhD in Agricultural and Resource Economics from Oregon State University in the United States.

Post-graduation, Dennis worked for five years on development projects in the Philippines and Indonesia.  He has also worked in Bangladesh, Singapore, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea and China.

Dennis returned to Australia in 1985, with Gail and their three children, and held academic positions with the University of Wollongong, Southern Cross University and the University of Melbourne over the next 25 years until 2010.  In 2002 he was appointed Associate Professor and Head of the University of Melbourne - Dookie Campus and was the founding Director for the Postgraduate Program at Marcus Oldham College from 2009 to 2010.

Dennis continues to teach part time in the undergraduate and postgraduate programs at the College where he is also a Fellow of the Centre for the Study of Rural Australia.

Juliana Phelps

Juliana commenced employment with Towong Shire Council in April 1999 and was appointed Chief Executive Officer in May 2009.

A Chartered Accountant, Juliana has experience in auditing a wide range of private and public organisations and held senior management positions in the manufacturing sector in Albury/Wodonga and Melbourne prior to joining the Local Government sector.

In addition to holding a Masters of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Business (Accounting and Economics), she is also a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Juliana is passionate about rural and regional communities and represents the Hume Region on the executive of Rural Councils Victoria.

Patience Harrington

Patience Harrington

Patience joined Wodonga City Council in 2000, was appointed CEO ion 2012, and is an active member of Regional Cities Victoria and the recently established Regional Transport Advisory Group.

With extensive experience in planning, financial management, service delivery and evaluation, Patience has a career-long history of fostering effective partnerships, forming strategic alliances and leading and developing teams.

Through years of experience, she has developed a sound knowledge of all three levels of government, the community, business and services sectors.

Patience has a commitment to ensuring best outcomes for initiatives at local, regional, state and federal levels.

Peter Gray

Peter Gray

A freelance accountant, Peter works with small and medium sized enterprises assisting with strategic direction and financial management.  With a long history in agricultural economics he has worked with horticultural industries over many years, and facilitated strategic plans for their future direction.

Peter has a keen interest in regional development and capacity-building through his association with the Committee for Greater Shepparton.  He is a member of Agriculture Institute Australia and Director and Company Secretary for Goulburn Murray Hume AgCare

Tony Thompson

Tony Thompson

Returning for a second term on the committee, Tony has owned and operated hospitality related businesses in Melbourne and regional Victoria for over 28 years.
For the past 15 years he and his wife Penni have owned and successfully run Maryton Park B & B Country Cottages and the Marysville Beer and Platter Garden.
Since the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009, Tony has been the Chairman of the Community Recovery Committee, dealing with matters in relation to the recovery of the Marysville and Triangle Area with a focus on tourism, economic development and mental health.
Tony is currently Chair of Lake Mountain Alpine Resort and Marysville and Triangle Community Foundation, and holds board positions on Alpine Resorts Co-ordinating Council and Dandenong Ranges Bendigo Bank Community Banking Group as well as ongoing involvement with other community and Government committees.

Contact details

1st Floor, 62 Ovens Street,
Wangaratta, VIC, 3677

Phone: +613 5722 7101
Fax: +613 5722 7109


To find out more about the Hume RDA Hume Committee’s recent activities and achievements please visit here

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Last Updated: 04 June 2018