Regional Development VictoriaRDA Northern Melbourne

State Government of Victoria


NMRDA is involved in a range of regional activities that aim to address issues faced by Melbourne’s North.

  • Northern Horizons Update 2016: The 2016 update to this major report ensures that regional infrastructure priorities are current and align with federal and state government planning. MORE…

  • The Future Workforce: Melbourne’s North: This regional workforce planning report identifies and anticipates future industry, employment and training requirements in northern Melbourne over the period 2015 to 2024. MORE…

  • Regional Food Plan: Food and Beverage Growth Plan – Melbourne’s North is a strategic document that describes the region’s food processing advantages and recommends strategies for new investment and growth in this important sector. MORE…

  • Major infrastructure report: A major NMRDA project identifies and prioritises the region’s current and future strategic infrastructure needs to meet the demands of high population growth. MORE…

  • Manufacturing workshops: A series of manufacturing workshops held in Melbourne’s North were designed to increase productivity and competitiveness in local manufacturing firms. MORE…

  • Melbourne’s North Regional Summit: This summit, held in conjunction with La Trobe University, sought feedback on key issues from over 200 leading regional stakeholders. MORE…

  • Regional forum of local government: CEOs from each of the councils in Melbourne’s North now meet regularly in a group facilitated by NMRDA to address issues of regional interest. MORE…

  • Regional approach to Ford closure: NMRDA is working with all stakeholders to minimise damage to the regional economy through closure of the Ford plant and maximise opportunities for business and jobs growth. MORE…

  • Regional digital charter and strategy: This project, facilitated by NMRDA, is driving productivity and better outcomes for business, community and public services by encouraging the use of digital platforms across the region. MORE…

  • Digital technology survey and workshops: NMRDA’s survey of businesses across the region to identify current gaps and barriers to digital technology utilisation was followed up by targeted workshops. MORE…

  • Regional manufacturing research: With the manufacturing sector still a critical industry for this region, this major NMRDA research report was welcomed by local stakeholders. MORE…

  • Plenty Food Group: NMRDA is working with this food manufacturing industry network, (employing more than 5000 people) to maximise the sector’s future growth. MORE…

  • Business incubators: NMRDA is working to establish new business incubators, including a digital technology incubator, based on successful models already operating in the region. MORE…

  • Melbourne Wholesale Market: With a new major employer moving into Epping, NMRDA is working to ensure that economic benefits to the region are maximised. MORE…

  • Industry Innovation Food Precinct in the north: Melbourne’s North was successful in gaining a strategic national secretariat for the region, in a growth sector of its declining manufacturing industry. MORE…

  • Northern JobReach: Matching job seekers to employers in areas of skill shortage was the focus of this NMRDA project, which concentrated on the manufacturing industry. MORE…

  • Community health screening: This project identified the health needs of Centrelink clients in the region, such as under and unemployed people, migrants and refugees, with a focus on health barriers to employment. MORE…

  • Hurstbridge Community Precinct: The region was successful in obtaining funding in RDAF Round 3 to support this proposal from Nillumbik Shire Council. MORE…

  • Advocacy for regional high speed broadband rollout: NMRDA, NORTH Link and local government are working together to advocate for early high speed broadband rollout across our entire region. MORE…

  • Response to Plan Melbourne: NMRDA coordinated a regional response to the new Plan Melbourne document. MORE…

  • Training students to meet industry needs: Two local Trade Training Centres are creating new pathways for young people and addressing local skill shortages. MORE…

  • Comprehensive regional research: Key reports on the region are leading development and providing reference information for local stakeholders. MORE…

  • Melbourne’s North working group: Economic development representatives from all councils in the region are working together to address key issues. MORE…

  • Sponsoring the NBAA Innovation and Education award: The Northern Business Achievement Awards encourage regional business innovation and excellence. MORE…

  • Business Improvement Grants: A program to assist small manufacturing businesses to improve is being advocated by NMRDA. MORE…

  • Leadership program for disadvantaged young women: NMRDA partnered with the Inner Northern LLEN to deliver a leadership and mentoring program for young women. MORE …

  • Real industry job interviews: Over 600 students benefited from a new program that provided information, preparation, a simulated job interview and feedback. MORE…

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Northern Horizons Update was prepared to ensure that infrastructure priorities identified in the original Northern Horizons report are still a true representation of the needs of the region. Also, it responds to and incorporates current federal and state governance arrangements, infrastructure commitments and priorities, projected demand for infrastructure and observed and projected population growth. Progress on implementation of the regional priorities over the previous two years is documented, new data is added and newly emerging priorities are included. It is important to note that Northern Horizons Update does not replace and should be read in conjunction with the original report.

Download the update (PDF 16.7 MB)
Download the original report (PDF 23.1 MB)

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The Future Workforce: Melbourne’s North is a comprehensive report providing an evidence-based understanding of the region’s future workforce needs over the next 10 years. It identifies strategies to develop the skills of the local workforce to meet future business and industry demand and includes an action plan involving industry, the three levels of government, and education and training stakeholders.

Download the report (PDF 6.7 MB)
Download the original report (PDF 23.1 MB)

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Food and Beverage Growth Plan – Melbourne’s North is a major report that assesses the region’s food sector and identifies strategies required for growth in domestic and export markets. This includes establishing a regional industry organisation, building better linkages between local businesses and R&D institutions to improve innovation and productivity, and between businesses and education and training institutions to ensure appropriate skills development. It will also provide an improved environment to attract new investments into the local food industry.

Download the report (PDF 2.0 MB)

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NMRDA initiated this significant project and worked with NORTH Link, La Trobe University, all councils and other stakeholders across the region to look at infrastructure needs and prioritise from a regional perspective so that this information can feed directly into Victorian Government and Australian Government planning. The project covers all types of infrastructure, including transport, health, education and land use planning. Report findings were fed into the Victorian Government’s Plan Melbourne process.

The first stage of the project provides an audit of current infrastructure and benchmarks with other regions. The second stage focuses on future infrastructure needs and identifies high priority infrastructure projects that will have the most significant economic and social impact at the regional, state and national levels.

Download the report summary (PDF 1.1 MB) 
Download the full report (PDF 23.1 MB)

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A series of manufacturing workshops held in Melbourne’s North by NMRDA and NORTH Link were designed to increase productivity and competitiveness in local manufacturing firms. They covered a range of topics. The first workshop, which targeted food manufacturers and involved Food Innovation Australia Limited, involved participants looking at issues and opportunities and coming up with three activities to pilot and implement. A second workshop was held on additive manufacturing (or 3D printing), an innovation that is set to revolutionise manufacturing over the next decade. Other workshops covered topics such as opportunities available in the redevelopment of Christchurch, defence, green industry and collaboration between industry and research institutions, universities and TAFE.

The workshops were developed as a result of recommendations in Manufacturing in Melbourne’s North: now and into the future (PDF 3.3 MB) a major report commissioned by NMRDA and NORTH Link.

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NMRDA partnered with La Trobe University, NORTH Link and the seven local councils to deliver the Summit in July 2013. Its aim was to bring business, community and government leaders together to develop a shared vision for the region and identify the challenges and opportunities to build a strong and vibrant future.

Over 200 leaders from all sectors across Melbourne’s North attended to discuss current issues and challenges and identify the key goals, priorities and opportunities that will drive future prosperity and liveability in the region. A final report has been sent to all participants and results informed the NMRDA Regional Plan.

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NMRDA and NORTH Link facilitated the formation of this CEOs and Mayors Forum and the group continues to meet bi-monthly to address issues of regional interest. The Forum has organised several regional delegations to Canberra to advocate for regional initiatives and has been instrumental in supporting the Regional Digital Economy Strategy, the Regional Infrastructure Project and the Regional Summit.

Local government is now focused on the benefits of a collaborative regional approach and has been effective in the development and support of regional initiatives.

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NMRDA has facilitated a regional response and action plan to address the significant negative impact that closure of the Ford plant will have on Melbourne’s North. Gathering stakeholders together to agree on required initiatives – the Melbourne’s North Ford Response Joint Taskforce - NMRDA has played a lead role in developing a response paper that is endorsed by all seven councils in the region and business organisation NORTH Link. It also takes into account experiences derived from Business Reviews with over 160 manufacturers in the region undertaken as part of the Australian Government’s Enterprise Connect program.

Regional agreement has been reached on actions that need to be taken to create new jobs and minimise the effects of the closure on the region, and a response paper has been developed for consideration by all levels of government. Regional support is being provided to Federal and State Governments to ensure effective implementation of government responses.

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All seven council CEOs and Mayors in the region, plus NORTH Link and other stakeholders, worked together on this important charter and strategy that was initiated by NMRDA. The potential benefits of growing a regional digital economy are huge. Businesses will become more competitive, healthcare and education delivery will be improved and people will be able to communicate more easily, regardless of location.

The outcome was a comprehensive strategy used by regional stakeholders and all levels of government to leverage projects, advocacy and support. Innovative projects have already been developed based on recommendations from the strategy – a business ICT survey, two digital business incubators and a regional business portal.

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NMRDA developed this project to help businesses of all sizes to maximise the opportunities offered by digital technology. The final report summarises the outcomes of a survey completed by 1527 businesses around Melbourne. It revealed three areas where organisations can leverage technology to increase productivity, improve customer relations and share information with staff and suppliers or customers – mobility, managed services and Cloud technology. Free workshops were held across Melbourne as a result of this project, delivered by highly-rated digital technology experts.

Download the Melbourne ebusiness report - How Melbourne organisations use information and communication technology (PDF 779.8 KB)

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This major NMRDA research report was welcomed by local stakeholders, the Victorian Government and the Australian Government taskforce on manufacturing. Manufacturing is critical to this region. It’s the largest employing sector, it provides well-paid jobs, and skills related to manufacturing cannot be easily transferred to other sectors. Reduction in the number of manufacturing jobs often leads to workers being stranded in lower paid, less permanent positions, which impacts adversely across the whole economy. The report identifies strategies for sustaining and growing sectors of manufacturing, particularly food processing and advanced manufacturing. The report is particularly timely given the Ford closure announcement.

This report fed into Australian Government taskforce on manufacturing and the Victorian Government VCEC inquiry into manufacturing. A recommendation for the Australian Government’s Enterprise Connect program to lower its eligibility limit to include smaller businesses was accepted. A series of workshops, including strategies to assist manufacturers to diversify and innovate, were held. Projects that resulted from this research include the Regional Food Plan and the Melbourne’s North Workforce Master Plan.

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The Plenty Food Group is a food manufacturing industry network representing over 150 businesses and currently employing over 5000 people. NMRDA worked with this group and the Cities of Whittlesea and Hume to conduct a major review of the Group’s activities so far, survey all participants, conduct industry consultations and make recommendations that will ensure the sustainability of local food manufacturers. The report covered issues such as logistics, target markets, accreditations, industry organisations, financial expenses, business forecasts, export growth, skill shortages, training, and sustainability. There is significant potential for food exports as outlined in the Asian Century White Paper and the National Food Plan.

A number of opportunities for future growth were identified and NMRDA is working with the Group on implementation of the recommendations.

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NMRDA was instrumental in working with partners to set up the successful Brunswick Business Incubator (BBI) and ArtDECL, a digital arts incubator in Northcote. Independent modelling has shown that BBI incubating firms (both current tenants and graduates) have made a total value added contribution to Victorian Gross Regional Product (GRP) in the region of $27.32 million per annum and that since it was established, BBI has been responsible for creating 948 jobs.

BBI is looking at the feasibility of establishing a digital incubator on site, and the feasibility of incubators in the fast-growing outer areas of Hume and Whittlesea are also being investigated.

In partnership with the City of Banyule, Darebin Enterprise Centre and Australia Post, a new digital business incubator – Banyule digiDECL – opened in West Heidelberg in June 2014.

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NMRDA is a member of the working group that is planning the new Melbourne Wholesale Fruit and Vegetable Market development and relocation, due for completion in 2014. The current market is to be relocated to a new site and redeveloped into a modern, innovative fresh produce trading and distribution precinct. An important part of the state’s economic infrastructure, it has an annual turnover in excess of $1.6 billion. The new precinct will also include an extensive, complementary development accommodating facilities and businesses that improve and develop the transportation, handling and marketing of fresh produce. NMRDA is keen to ensure that opportunities for diverse employment are maximised and that transport infrastructure is adequate to meet the market’s current and future needs.

NMRDA continues to work with Melbourne Market Authority, City of Whittlesea, Victorian Government and NORTH Link to assist in planning for an effective transition and to maximise the economic benefits that will be generated for the region and the state.

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Australia’s first Industry Innovation Food Precinct (FIAL) is now located in Melbourne’s North, the result of a project and advocacy initiated by NMRDA and local business group NORTH Link. They facilitated a partnership between La Trobe University and RMIT University, both providers of education and training to the food industry. This was the first time that the two universities had worked together on such a project. Industry Innovation Precincts, led by industry, help businesses and researchers collaborate, share knowledge, deploy technology, create products and services and take advantage of business opportunities. They provide new tools and services to enable businesses to invest, innovate and grow.

NMRDA is working closely with the national food precinct and partners to develop strategic initiatives that can be replicated across the nation.

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Northern JobReach and i-STEP, joint initiatives of NMRDA and NORTH Link, assisted over 550 jobseekers and exceeded the targets set by placing 111 people in jobs with local manufacturers. The program offered real value to both employers and jobseekers. It matched the skill requirements of employers to the interests, aptitudes and aspirations of jobseekers, saving employers time and resources.

Gaps identified in the current unemployed job matching process were fed back to relevant Victorian and Australian Government departments. The project is continuing to operate due to its success.

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NMRDA and Centrelink provided 2000 free, confidential health screenings during April 2013 for Centrelink clients to ascertain the health needs of this cohort. People who have poor health are unable to fully participate in the workforce and life generally. Unemployment and under-employment can contribute to depression, substance abuse and other health issues like obesity, which in turn make it harder to get work. Screenings targeted people who find it hard to access healthcare for reasons (such as financial, language and cultural barriers) and were conducted by University of Melbourne medical students.

Data showed that Centrelink clients in Melbourne’s North present with a range of health indicators that show health levels well below the national average. This data will be an important base for future action by all levels of government and community organisations. It is also being used to develop local health education strategies. A forum was held in August 2013 to share the findings of this important research.

Download the Community Health Screening report (PDF 4.7 MB)

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NMRDA supported the successful RDAF Round 3 application from Nillumbik Shire Council. The Hurstbridge Community Precinct project combines the implementation of a coordinated approach to water management through construction of water storage and treatment with recreational opportunities for the residents of the rural township of Hurstbridge.

The project involves harvesting stormwater from an existing council drain, sourced from a 30 hectare suburban catchment. A floating wetland system and storage lake will be constructed, providing water savings of approximately 15 megalitres per year.

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As part of the Regional Digital Strategy, Melbourne’s North is advocating for a regional high speed broadband rollout. If successful, this will be one of the first full regional rollouts in Australia.

Melbourne’s North is ideally placed to host a regional pilot for several reasons. Brunswick South was the first metropolitan site in Australia to receive high speed broadband, and facilities are underway in South Morang and Tullamarine. The strategy outlines detailed plans on how stakeholders will use high speed broadband to improve their services to business and community. Importantly, all stakeholders are united in their commitment to the pilot.

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NMRDA coordinated a regional response to Melbourne’s Plan Melbourne strategy. Involving all local councils, NORTH Link and other stakeholders, the response outlined regional infrastructure, transport, economic and social requirements. Plan Melbourne will guide Melbourne’s growth and change over the next 30 to 40 years, covering areas such as housing choice, transport accessibility, economic growth, environmental protection, and infrastructure and services to support growth. Recommendations from the Infrastructure Melbourne’s North: report card and future directions were also used to inform the Plan Melbourne process.

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NMRDA has been a key partner with local secondary colleges in attracting funding. As a result, training in trades across the region had a major boost with the opening of enhanced training facilities at the Northern College of the Arts and Technology (NCAT) and the Outer Northern trade training centre in Epping.

The NCAT trade training centre is fully operational and approximately 300 students from over 30 schools attend to develop trade skills in demand from local and regional industry. ONTTC is a $6.4 million state-of-the-art centre that provides students with hands-on experiential learning to Certificate III standard in VET Automotive and VET Building and Construction. It opened in February 2013.

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Key NMRDA reports have led regional development across Melbourne’s North over recent years, providing reference information for governments at all levels, business, educational institutions and other regional stakeholders.

  • In 2015, Melbourne’s North: the Future Workforce was launched. This comprehensive publication identifies issues facing the region and anticipates future industry, employment and training requirements in Melbourne’s North over the next 20 years.
  • In 2014, Food and Beverage Growth Plan – Melbourne’s North was released. This major report assesses the region’s food and beverage processing sector and identifies strategies required for growth in domestic and export markets. This is particularly important given the decline in manufacturing, the region’s main employer.
  • In 2014, a major report on infrastructure in Melbourne’s North – Northern Horizons: 50 Year Infrastructure Strategy for Melbourne's North – was published. It audits current infrastructure and assesses future needs, particularly in relation to the massive population growth being faced by the region. The project covers all types of infrastructure, including transport, health, education and land use planning.
  • In 2012, the Manufacturing in Melbourne’s North: Now and into the future report was released, providing a practical roadmap for the region’s manufacturing industry’s survival and growth. There has been significant interest from both federal and state governments in its recommendations, with Minister for Industry and Innovation Greg Combet visiting the region to gain feedback for the Prime Minister’s manufacturing taskforce. Adopting this important report’s recommendations will give the region the best chance of moving into the future with a strong local manufacturing industry that’s efficient, productive and competitive.
  • In 2009 local partners (including NMRDA) published Melbourne’s North: the new knowledge economy, a detailed analysis of today’s regional economy. This report provides a framework for policy and action, detailing issues and actions that stakeholders must take to ensure the region grows and prospers. It offers a detailed analysis of the region’s economy that is intended as a catalyst for discussion, strategic thinking, and formal planning and policy processes. 
  • The significant shortage of office and commercial accommodation across Melbourne’s North continues to be an issue of concern and requires a concerted effort by local stakeholders to ensure that local businesses continue to grow. Northern Exposure: an analysis of office and commercial accommodation issues in Melbourne’s North is a detailed report that offers a range of recommendations to address barriers to development of the required accommodation.
  • Growing Melbourne’s North: developing an integrated economy was published in 2003 by NMRDA’s predecessor, the Northern Melbourne Area Consultative Committee. It provided stakeholders with a research document on which to base their plans for the future and was widely accepted and used within the region.

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NMRDA facilitated formation of this group, which comprises economic development representatives from all local councils in the region. The group meets several times a year to work on collaborative regional activities.

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The Northern Business Achievement Awards acknowledge and celebrate the successes and achievements of small to medium sized enterprises in Melbourne's North. The awards recognise local business achievement, encourage innovation and excellence and provide valuable networks and opportunities for enterprise growth and development. NMRDA is proud to annually sponsor the NBAA Innovation and Education Business Achiever Award.

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Following on from recommendations made by the Manufacturing in Melbourne’s North: now and into the future report, NMRDA supported NORTH Link’s Business Improvement Grant and Business Improvement Graduate Employment Grant projects, which give local manufacturing firms improvement options and the opportunity to host process and production engineers, marketers and others in their business for a short period to facilitate change.

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NMRDA partnered with the Inner Northern Local Learning and Employment Network to deliver a leadership and mentoring program for 15 young women with an Indigenous or culturally and linguistically diverse background. The 20-week program matched them with high-profile female mentors who support them in pursuing their vocational interests. They attend a series of workshops and at the end of the program have a clear plan for the future. With below-average education outcomes and a higher than average youth unemployment rate, this project aimed to assist young women to overcome barriers they may face to a skilled career, including differences in cultural values, gender roles, family pressures and community expectations.

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In 2012, over 600 students benefited from a program that provided them with information and preparation and culminated in a simulated job interview with a real employer followed by structured feedback. NMRDA partnered with RMIT University and the Hume Whittlesea and Inner Northern Local Learning and Employment Networks to deliver this project, which gave Year 10 and Year 11 students practical experience in writing resumes and job applications. It culminated in a one-on-one simulated interview scenario with an industry-based employer. Evaluation of the program showed very positive results, with students, teachers and employers awarding it 4.5, 4.68 and 4.66 out of 5 respectively.

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Regional Matters Spotlight

Last Updated: 05 December 2016