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About RDA Barwon South West

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Twelve Apostles on the Great Ocean Road

The RDA Barwon South West committee drives prosperity by identifying and advocating for regional growth and investment.

From working with Avalon Airport to develop its Master Plan and become an international airport to sponsoring industry events, the committee create jobs and get infrastructure and community projects off the ground.

Freight truck

Who We Are

RDA Barwon South West committee members are selected for their business expertise in the region’s key economic areas.  The high calibre team has global, national and local experience in advanced manufacturing, agriculture, education, tourism and energy. The team has extensive networks and experience supporting economic outcomes.

Our Committee members

RDA Barwon South West Committee

Elaine Carbines AM - Deputy Chair

Elain Carbines

Elaine is a true regional devotee, having lived and worked in Barwon South West for 27 years.

She is CEO of G21 Geelong Region Alliance, as well as being a Director of Barwon Water, AWA Alliance Bank, G-Force and a former member of State Parliament.

In 2020, Elaine was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to conservation and the environment.

As a former Parliamentary Secretary for Environment, she oversaw several key conservation projects and the implementation of policy including the establishment of Marine Parks and Sanctuaries in Victoria and the creation of the Great Otway National Park.

Whilst working for Parks Victoria, she was responsible for the community consultation for the redevelopment of the Queenscliff and Portarlington Harbours and the establishment of a kiosk at the Twelve Apostles.

At G21, Elaine led consultation for the development of the G21 Regional Growth Plan and led advocacy for the Geelong City Deal for Geelong and the Great Ocean Road region.

Peter Dorling

Peter DorlingPeter has over a quarter century of experience in local government, primarily in economic and strategic development.

He was previously Executive Director of the Committee for Geelong and is currently the Business Manager for Avalon Airport, where he’s responsible  for harnessing local and international business development. Through his connections from around the globe at Avalon Airport, he’s well placed to advise on ways to increase the tourism output of the South-West region.

Peter holds a Masters in Business Management from RMIT and has extensive lived experience, having studied city development in the United States, England, Scotland, New Zealand and China.

He played a key role in driving the CBD redevelopment of the Greater City of Geelong through Vision II, which was initiated by the Greater City of Geelong.

Dr Michael King

Michael KingDr Michael King is a proven business and community leader who has played a significant role in business development, particularly in Victoria.

Born in Geelong, he has worked there continuously since 1983 following positions in the Premier’s Department in Melbourne and the Agent General’s office in London.

Michael has taken on board chairmanships and directorships for large community interest, sports administration and public utility organisations and his board experience is underpinned by a strong track record of building and running successful businesses.

Previous titles include Chair of Barwon Water, Director of Cricket Victoria, Deputy Mayor of the City of Geelong, Director of G21, Director of the Gordon Institute and Deputy Chair of St Laurence (since merged and renamed GenU).

Michael holds a Doctorate of Business Administration (RMIT), a Master of Business Administration (Deakin) and a Master of Leadership (Deakin), plus he’s a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

With strong contacts across government, community, industry and educational bodies, he’s well placed to help deliver projects across the full remit of RDA, particularly in building partnerships with business and increasing their digital capacity.

Darryl Mohr

Darryl MohrA committee member since 2015, Darryl brings over 30 years’ experience in financial services to the role, including time spent as COO, State General Manager and National Industry Segment Head (Agribusiness).

He is currently Deputy Chair at The Gordon TAFE in Geelong.

Darryl has held executive leadership positions during the past 18 years with several Top 10 ASX listed companies. He holds CPA accreditation, is an Australian Institute of Company Directors graduate and in 2019, completed the prestigious Wharton Business School – Global Advanced Risk Management program in Philadelphia. Other strings to his bow include completing the Harvard Business School Global Agribusiness seminar in Boston USA (2012) and in Shanghai (2014).

With that background, Darryl is well equipped to offer insight into the key economic drivers needed to deliver enhanced community and regional outcomes for all stakeholders in Barwon South West.

Brendan Ryan

Brendan RyanBrendan Ryan, a former Councillor and Mayor of Corangamite Shire, works as a Contract Manager for Pacific Hydro wind farms.

He joined the wind industry in its infancy in Australia as a technician at Yambuk wind farm back in 2004. In 2006 he became part of the construction management team for five wind farm builds in the Mid North of South Australia before joining joined AGL Energy in 2012 as Victorian Wind Farm Operations Manager, which encompassed the $1 billion-dollar Macarthur Wind Farm and $300 billion Oaklands Hill Wind Farm.

In 2016 at TW Power Services he managed a contract for three wind farms, which has recently expanded to capture another three wind farms throughout Western Victoria.

By working in the wind industry for over 16 years, Brendan has cultivated an extensive regional, national and international network, and as a local government councillor, he has worked as part of a team to successfully lobby for natural gas connection to Camperdown and Terang.

Brendan’s core strengths are in helping local industry develop manufacturing and service offerings for new technologies.

Alison McLeod

Alison McLeodA general manager with multi-disciplinary commercial experience at a national level, Alison’s services involve strategically advising the residential property sector.

Her work sees her often liaising with the development and finance industries, the disability sector and public policy advisors - particularly in terms of housing affordability, rentals and Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA).

An accomplished Property Valuer through formal education and experience across multiple asset classes with significant experience in both metropolitan and regional markets, Alison sits on the board of Unison, and is a member of the API National Educational Standards, the Property Council of Australia’s Residential Developers, and Housing Affordability Committees.

Andrew Westlake

Andrew WestlakeHaving worked in Warrnambool for 23 years and in Geelong for the past three, Portland-born Andrew Westlake has deep personal insight into the needs of regional communities.

He has notched up a quarter century of experience in senior executive roles in the food processing and animal nutrition sector, including extensive external stakeholder engagement in project management, business leadership, new business development, land planning, OHS, environment and industrial relations.

Andrew’s current position at Ridley Agri – one of the largest animal feed nutrition manufacturers in Australia – involves travelling throughout regional Victoria and New South Wales visiting major red meat and poultry food processing facilities, and engaging with industry leaders in metropolitan Melbourne.

Involved for 40 years in small, medium and large enterprises, Andrew brings skills in international and local relationship building and economic recovery and growth. He also knows how to advocate for new and sustainable employment opportunities and how to encourage business confidence.

He has been a Committee Member of Regional Development Australia (Barwon South West) since 2012.

Grant Sutherland

Grant SutherlandGrant, who has lived and worked in Barwon South West for most of his life, is currently CEO of South West Victoria at Deakin University.

Prior to this, he was the CEO of Kangan Institute, CEO of The Gordon Institute and a Business Development Manager at Boeing Australia.

International postings have played a big role in his career. In the education sector, he has worked in Hong Kong, Vietnam and China while in aviation he has gained experience in North America, Europe and the Middle East.

Grant has also held a number of regional board appointments including Director of the Great South Coast Group Board, President of the Geelong Chamber of Commerce, Chair of VECCI Regional Committee and Board Member at Barwon Health Foundation, Skilling the Bay, Committee for Geelong, Northern Futures and Geelong Manufacturing Council.

In terms of skill set, he is adept at collaboratively leveraging the strengths and capabilities of the region to create new jobs and transition local sectors to a more high value, high yield economy with enhanced employment opportunities for all members of the community.

Liz Price

Liz PriceAs well as being the inaugural General Manager of Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism Board, Liz is Chair and Director of Great Southern Touring Route and a Member of the Victorian Tourism Industry Council Destination Policy Committee.

A natural leader, her previous titles include General Manager Australia at Club Tourism Publishing, CEO of Destination Melbourne and a Board Member of Western Melbourne Tourism.

Liz began work with the Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism Board in 2014 and moved to the region in 2015. Although based in Torquay, her role enables her to traverse the region in its entirety.

Her strength lies in deep tourism and business events experience, having worked in that realm for three decades. Career highlights include establishing Destination Melbourne as the regional tourism association for Melbourne in 2001 and managing the merger of AAA Tourism and AA Travel in New Zealand.

Armed with a Masters of Marketing and Masters of Business Administration, and with extensive networks across the region and through the state and national tourism sector, Liz is keen to support the development of a more sustainable region across key industry sectors.

Anita Rank

Anita RankAnita Ranks brings a wealth of experience in business, industry and health services to the RDA table.

In 2012, she was elected to Glenelg Shire Council, where she has held the title of Mayor for four consecutive years.

Not only does she represent the RDA on the Great South Coast Regional Partnership, she also holds Directorships with Portland District Health, Active Health Portland, The Committee for Portland and Great Ocean Road Regional Marketing.

In addition, she chairs the Community Advisory Committee for Portland District Health, Headspace Portland, the Great South Coast Suicide Prevention Taskforce and the Rail Freight Alliance and has been been Executive Officer at Portland YMCA for the past decade.

Anita has lived and worked for 20 years in the Great South Coast Region, as well as spending 10 years in Ballarat and 20 years in Bendigo. She is well versed in how to make rural and regional Victoria an attractive place to do business, and understands the importance of promoting manufacturing, digital connectivity, mental health strategies plus food and fibre in regional communities.

Anne Howard

Anne HowardChief Executive Officer of Colac Otway Shire Council, Anne Howard has 20 years’ experience in Local Government with qualifications that include a Master of Business Administration, Master of Infrastructure Engineering and a Bachelor of Engineering.

Prior to joining Colac Otway Shire Council, Anne served as Acting CEO of Surf Coast Shire Council and was also a member of their executive team covering a diverse portfolio that included finance, governance and risk, information management, civil infrastructure and waste, strategic asset management and digital transformation.

Anne has been a member of the executive at Campaspe Shire Council responsible for economic development and tourism, corporate planning, community development, strategic land use planning, infrastructure services, asset management and the program management office.

Prior to joining local government in 2001, Anne’s private sector experience included environmental consulting, water, wastewater and stormwater design and construction, project management and delivery of environmental health infrastructure in remote aboriginal communities across the Northern Territory and Queensland.

David Spear

David SpearDavid – a senior executive who holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Queensland (Mt. Eliza Business School) – has established and led regional development organisations in Victoria, Queensland and Canberra. He enjoys delivering projects that create positive humanitarian, social, economic and environmental outcomes.

As well as being the founding Executive Officer of Geelong Sustainability Inc.’s new social enterprise, GreenLight, he’s an advisor to global not-for-profit Talent Beyond Boundaries (TBB), which puts skilled refugees into jobs in safe countries like Australia, the UK and Canada.

Geelong born and a student at The Geelong College, David was instrumental in the development of the ‘G21 Region Plan: A Sustainable Growth Strategy’ plan when working as Manager of Strategy and Research at the G21 Geelong Region Alliance (G21).

He has also served as a Senior Officer of Local Government, reporting to the CEO and Council at the Golden Plains Shire on economic development initiatives.

Other roles include founding CEO of Fraser Coast Opportunities in Queensland and General Manager at The Regional Australia Institute (RAI), a Canberra-based economic development think tank.

Sculptures on Geelong waterfront

What We Do

The committee realises economic opportunity by creating a level playing field for private sector investment. It engages across agencies, industry bodies and the private sector to leverage and coordinate regional effort and influence state and federal government policy. It draws upon the data, knowledge, experience and opinions of regional alliances, partnerships and networks to support small-scale projects through to the development of economic sectors.

The Barwon South West region is positioned to capitalise on new energy, advanced manufacturing, tourism and intensified agriculture production. The committee works with the region to drive and leverage investment for:

  • Implementation of the region’s Digital Plan including the development of digital infrastructure to support improved connectivity.
  • Major projects that support economic diversification in the region, such as high-value agriculture to deliver sustainable food precincts critical to the nation’s food security.
  • Deakin University’s Warrnambool campus Hycel Technology Hub. The new hydrogen research precinct aims to decarbonise the heavy vehicle industry and is developing hydrogen safety training, evaluation, testing and certification. The project aligns with Warrnambool’s goal to be carbon-neutral by 2040.
  • The implementation of the Shipwreck Coast Master Plan including investment in the Twelve Apostles precinct with upgraded and new infrastructure and the development of tourism opportunities to capture increased visitation spend.
  • A National Centre of Composite Materials at Deakin University’s Geelong Future Economy Precinct, to leverage the region’s strength in advanced manufacturing.

Kardinia Park sport stadium in Geelong

Who We Work With

The RDA Barwon South West committee collaborates with businesses, not-for-profits, industry bodies and agencies to build sector strengths, promote regional capabilities and leverage regional advantages. It works with:

  • Barwon South West local government areas of Greater Geelong, Queenscliffe, Surf Coast, Colac Otway, Corangamite, Moyne, Warrnambool, Southern Grampians and Glenelg.
  • Like-minded organisations including the Geelong Region Alliance (G21), the Great South Coast Group and the Barwon and Great South Coast Regional Partnerships.
  • RDA Committees across Victoria and bordering RDA committees in South Australia to identify synergistic opportunities to leverage regional effort and boost economic activity.

The video below explains how RDA Barwon South West executes its principles in a collaborative, practical and efficient way to achieve regional prosperity.

Sunset over the Twelve Apostles

Our Region

Fast Facts

  • 428,551 people live within the Barwon South West region
  • The Great Ocean Road is 243 kilometres in length
  • Barwon South West produces $23.439 billion gross regional product
  • Grovedale (suburb of Geelong), Ocean Grove – Barwon Heads (Bellarine Peninsula) and Torquay (Surf Coast) are three of Victoria's top five fastest growing areas outside of Greater Melbourne.

RDA Barwon South West region map

The region borders the nation’s largest population growth corridor in the west of Melbourne and is expected to reach more than 480,000 residents by 2022. Barwon South West has three economies - inland agriculture, coastal tourism and a manufacturing and social base in Geelong.

Key employment sectors across the region are manufacturing, health and retail and there are significant emerging opportunities in new energy, advanced manufacturing and food security industries. Regional tertiary education institutions include Deakin University, South West TAFE, The Gordon Institute of TAFE and various private providers.

Deep-sea ports in Portland and Geelong and extensive road and rail networks provide strong international and interstate market connections. The significant Great Ocean Road visitor economy is supported by the expansion of the Avalon Airport, near Geelong.

Major state and federal government regional investment includes the Geelong City Deal and the Shipwreck Coast Master Plan.

Business success stories: Innovation and resilience in Barwon South West

Nurturing and celebrating the economic potential of the Great Ocean Road and its surrounds is a key strategic focus of the Regional Development Australia (RDA) Barwon South West committee.

As the region bounces back from the COVID-19 pandemic, RDA Barwon South West visited five local businesses who have adapted following the unique circumstances of 2020, and are focusing on innovation and growth.

Revitalising history: Apollo Bay Distillery and Lorne Hotel

Andrew Noseda is the owner of Apollo Bay Distillery. Born and bred in the town, he is passionate about celebrating the past and sharing those stories with visitors.

Having started multiple succesful businesses in the area, he recently converted the old Post Office building into a new gin distillery.

All the distillery’s products are rooted in the history of Apollo Bay - the gins are linked to the ships that sailed off the coast many years ago and serve as a reminder of the town’s nautical past.

Further east, Paul Upham has revitalised the iconic Lorne Hotel.

After taking over the family business from his father in 2015, Paul was determined to make the most of the sprawling building and its prime location on the Great Ocean Road.

He worked with a local interior designer to give the building a chic new aesthetic, and came up with the unique idea to import Melbourne restaraunts to the space.

Melbourne fine-dining stalwarts Movida and Coda now have a permanent home in Barwon South West.

Both Paul and Andrew say their commitment to innovating is key to attracting domestic tourism as Australia emerges from the pandemic.

A video transcript will be available soon

A video transcript will be available soon

The innovators: Great Ocean Road Resort and Wildlife Wonders

One of the most exciting new attractions to arrive in Barwon South West is Wildlife Wonders, a unique ecotourism initiative with a strong social purpose.

Designed and created by Brian Massey, an Art Director on ‘The Hobbit’ films and landscape designer of the award-winning ‘Hobbiton’ in New Zealand, Wildlife Wonders offers visitors educational and fun guided tours of the spectacular landscapes and wildlife on site.

Founded by the team behind the Conservation Ecology Centre, all the ticket sales contribute to the conservation of the unique plants and animals across the Otways.

Back down the coast is the Great Ocean Resort in Anglesea, founded by Damien Cerantonio.

In recent times, Damien and his team have focused on transforming the Resort in a variety of ways, shifting Anglesea from a day trip to an overnight and multi-day experience.

The Resort now offers fine dining with a relaxed atmosphere at The Coast restaurant.

Damien also used the lockdown period of 2020 to revitalise the Resort’s spa, Lux Spa and Wellness, making it a destination in of itself.

Working closely with the Spa’s therapists, the team worked together to fully redesign the space and offering.

Off the back of this, the Resort has had strong growth, with 32 new employees on deck since last year.

A video transcript will be available soon

A video transcript will be available soon

The new kids on the block: The Perch

The Barwon South West region has undergone significant transformation in recent years, and is now moving towards further growth.

More and more city-dwellers are relocating to the region to discover for themselves what makes the area such a great place to live, work and invest.

A prime example of this is Oksana, Dean and Nathan – the new team at The Perch bar and restaurant.

After their business in Melbourne went quiet during lockdown, they came across the opportunity to restore an old property in Laver’s Hill and create the Perch.

After their grand opening late last year, the team is already a part of the local community in Lavers Hill. They use locally sourced, small-batch ingredients in their food and are focused on sustainability as they restore the small rainforest at the back of the property.

While 2020 may have thrown up challenges for the businesses in our region, the resilience and commitment to innovation shown in this series highlights how impressive our community is.

The future of Barwon South West is bright.

A video transcript will be available soon

Case Studies

Influencing policy decisions

RDA Barwon South West committee played a key role in facilitating and assisting in the development of Victoria’s first Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA) in Warrnambool. The committee identified a declining and aging population was creating critical labour shortages in the region. Through private sector and government consultation it drove the development of analysis and reports demonstrating a projected a shortfall of 7000 workers in Victoria’s south west by 2023.

In June 2018, RDA Barwon South West committee chair, Bruce Anson, raised the issue with local member for Wannon, Dan Tehan. The Commonwealth responded by inviting the region to apply for a DAMA to attract migrant skilled and semi-skilled workers. The RDA Barwon South West committee financially assisted Warrnambool City Council’s successful DAMA application.

Covering the Glenelg, Moyne, Southern Grampians, Warrnambool, Corangamite and Colac-Otway municipalities, the DAMA began operating in January 2020 and has supported 18 businesses to attract 68 workers to the region. An advocate of place-based migration initiatives, the RDA Barwon South West committee played a key role in the Great South Coast Workforce Supply and Population Working Group to address population attraction and workforce challenges, including attracting and retaining youth.

Seizing economic opportunities

Realising the full economic potential of the Twelve Apostles on Victoria’s Great Ocean Road was an early strategic focus of the RDA Barwon South West committee.

In 2016, the committee commissioned analysis to identity the reputational risks threatening the $860 million generated annually from the attraction. It highlighted overcrowding and lack of amenity at the Twelve Apostles created a negative visitor experience. With more than 2.2 million people visiting the natural attraction annually it was well ahead of high-profile destinations such as Stonehenge which has 1.2 million yearly visitors.

During peak season the 15,000 daily visitors shared minimal facilities at the Twelve Apostles. Viewing platforms were overcrowded and visitors, unable to access full car parks, were forced to walk long distances from vehicles parked on the side of the Great Ocean Road. Without adequate wayfinding along each site visitors walked dangerously close to cliff edges.

The insights were used to work with local government , G21, and Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism to lobby the Commonwealth and State for investment in the Twelve Apostles and the implementation of the Shipwreck Coast Master Plan (2015).

The three-stage Victorian Government plan set out a comprehensive program to protect the fragile coastline and create employment opportunities by shifting the Great Ocean Road from a day trip to an overnight and multi-day experience.

The Commonwealth Government is investing $108 million for the plan’s second stage which includes the development of a Twelve Apostles Visitor Experience Centre at Glenample to disperse visitors throughout the region. In 2019 the Shipwreck Coast plan was incorporated in the $370 million Geelong City Deal. The high rate of investment return of $5 for every $1 spent on the Shipwreck Coast was integral to the formation of the City Deal as it significantly added to its return on investment.

The development of the Shipwreck Coast Master Plan has spurred significant investment with $700,000 million in new accommodation planned along the Great Ocean Road. The City Deal will drive further growth in the 11,000 jobs reliant on tourism along the scenic coastal road.

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