Regional Development Victoria (RDV) is the Victorian Government’s lead agency responsible for rural and regional economic development.
RDV operates in partnership with regional businesses and communities, and all tiers of government to deliver the Government’s regional development agenda and instigate positive change for regional and rural Victorians.
Our work includes enabling businesses to invest to consolidate and grow jobs, strengthen regional economies and enrich the social fabric of Victoria’s regional cities and towns.
RDV provides this support through a series of funding mechanisms, most notably the Government’s $500 million Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund that is designed to deliver important place-based planning and infrastructure investment around the state.
Our work aligns closely with State Budget initiatives that include implementing better transport and digital connectivity, more affordable housing, comprehensive health, education and community infrastructure throughout rural and regional Victoria.
RDV helps facilitate such targeted outcomes via nine Regional Partnerships that are made up of local representatives from industry, government and the community. Our role with each partnership involves building consensus around regional priorities, assembling cases for action and investment, and supporting annual Regional Assemblies to ensure local priorities are shared directly with government.
RDV is also instrumental in helping regional Victorians manage life-changing events, from industry transition to natural disasters such as bushfires and floods.
Regional Victoria is vital to the state
Regional Victoria is a driving force behind the state’s ongoing economic prosperity.
Our regions are home to one in four Victorians, and account for 700,000 jobs and almost 40 per cent of the state’s small businesses.
Together they generate a $72 billion regional economy that contributes almost 20 per cent of the state’s overall economy and is responsible for a third of Victoria’s total exports.
Tourism contributes $11.5 billion to the regional economy. More than 80 per cent of Australia’s dairy exports, 48 per cent of horticultural exports and 39 per cent of prepared food exports come from Victoria.
RDV’s place in the Victorian Government
Created in 2003, 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 throughout regional Victoria. By agreement with the Commonwealth, RDV supports Regional Development Australia committees and their activities within Victoria.
RDV helps facilitate key Victorian Government funding 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. You can access RDV staff and services at Victorian Government Business Centres in Bairnsdale, Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, Horsham, Mildura, Seymour, Shepparton, Swan Hill, Traralgon, Wangaratta, Warrnambool and Wodonga. For contact details visit the Contacts and Assistance page.
RDV Executive Team
James Flintoft, Chief Executive, Regional Development Victoria
James 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
After starting out as an Air Traffic Control Officer with the Royal Australian Air Force, Unni 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, he also held tourism board positions, including the Whitsundays Tourism Board.
Unni has held previous positions as Director Policy and Planning within Tourism Queensland and at Jetstar where he was involved in projects including an international expansion strategy and the facilitation of key commercial relationships within the Asia Pacific region.
Other key roles included Executive General Manager Corporate and Industry Affairs at Air Services Australia and most recently a role at Linfox identifying and progressing future airline, airfreight and related business opportunities. Unni’s experience has generated strong networks across the Barwon South West region, particularly with the Geelong Authority and local governments.
Leigh Kennedy, Regional Director, Gippsland
Leigh Kennedy grew up in Gippsland and worked for 16 years throughout Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the United States.
Leigh 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, Leigh joined RDV as the Regional Director of Gippsland. During that time, she has built considerable networks across local government, community leaders and businesses and led 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 and acting Executive Director Infrastructure
Anthony 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, Anthony 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, Anthony 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.
Anthony’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 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 Matt joined RDV 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, Matt 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.
Matt 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 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
Before 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 - Deputy Director Infrastructure
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 joined RDV as Executive Director Regional Programs and Recovery in May 2017, bringing expertise in strategy and business planning, financial management, emergency management, customer engagement and stakeholder partnerships. Kate holds Bachelor and Master of Forest Science Degrees and has spent half her career in rural Regional Victoria leading operational teams and working as a Regional Manager based in Bendigo with Parks Victoria. During this time she worked across government, with Traditional Owners, stakeholders and the timber industry to establish a new network of National Parks along the Murray River. Kate has also led infrastructure, corporate services and strategic planning teams and run her own business providing strategic advice to organisations, including the Victorian Coastal Council and National Aerial Firefighting Centre.
Rob Byrne - Executive Director Regional Investment & Trade
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
Appointed as Director, Regional Communications and Engagement in March 2017, Melissa Arch has delivered strategic initiatives across the public service for more than 15 years. Related experience includes three years as Head of Communication and media spokesperson for the Victorian Bushfire Reconstruction and Recovery Authority and leadership roles within the Victorian Department of Education. Melissa has equivalent private sector experience, working in Corporate Affairs at Medibank and as a journalist with Fairfax Newspapers. Before joining RDV she operated a successful consultancy providing communications services to public and private sector clients.