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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.

Our main objectives are to facilitate regional economic development outcomes, investment, jobs and local procurement. To promote greater regional awareness of and engagement with Australian Government policies, grant programs and research and to contribute to Commonwealth regional policy making by providing intelligence and evidence-based advice to the Australian Government on regional development issues.

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, digital access and capability gaps, key worker housing, skill and workforce shortages, tourism and energy. The team has extensive networks and experience supporting economic outcomes.

Our committee members

RDA Barwon South West Committee

Anita Rank - Chair

Anita Rank Anita is Mayor of Glenelg Shire Council and the first to serve five consecutive terms at the Shire. Anita is also the RDA representative on the Great South Coast Regional Partnership.

Anita is actively involved in a number of community organisations and chairs Headspace Portland and the Southwest Suicide Prevention Taskforce. Other Board positions include Great Ocean Road Regional Marketing,

The SouthWest Alliance, The Rail Freight Alliance and Committee for Portland. In her spare time, Anita teaches swimming and volunteers for the Tyrendarra Women's Football Team.


Grant Sutherland – A/Deputy Chair

Grant SutherlandGrant Sutherland is the CEO South West Victoria at Deakin University.  Grant also Chairs the Great South Coast Economic Futures Project Steering Group and has lived and worked in Barwon South West for most of his life.

Grant has been 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 Grant’s 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. Board Member at Barwon Health Foundation, Skilling the Bay, Committee for Geelong, Northern Futures and Geelong Manufacturing Council.

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


Keith Baillie

Keith BailieKeith Baillie joined gforce employment + recruitment as Chief Executive in September 2020 and lives with his family in Torquay. After growing up in Geelong, Keith returned to the region in 2015 as Chief Executive for Surf Coast Shire Council. Prior to that he was the Chief Executive for the Shire of Campaspe.

Keith spent the first 20 years of his career in the commercial sector, with senior roles in project management, information technology and financial management.

With a Bachelor of Economics from the Australian National University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of New England, Keith is also a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and Fellow of CPA Australia.

Keith is committed to improving the lives of people in our communities and is Board Chair for Gateways Support Services. Keith is also a Director for G21 Geelong Region Alliance.


Mary-Ann Brown

Mary-Ann BrownMary-Ann Brown was born and educated in Tasmania and has lived at Dunkeld for over 30 years. As well as being a partner in a financial services business in Hamilton, Mary-Ann was a partner in a merino sheep stud.

Mary-Ann has held a variety of roles including Chair and Committee Member Rural Councils Victoria, Western District Health Service, Chair Dunkeld Community Centre, Councillor and 3 time Mayor of Southern Grampians Shire.

Mary-Ann is passionate and committed about promoting rural communities and ensuring that all communities have equity of access to opportunities and essential services, such as health, digital connectivity, public transport and housing.


Peter Dorling

Peter DorlingPeter Dorling has over a quarter century of experience in local government, primarily in economic and strategic development and is also a member of the Barwon Regional Partnership.

Peter 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, Peter’s well placed to advise on ways to increase the tourism output of the South-West region. Peter also 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.

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


Anne Howard

Anne HowardAnne Howard is CEO Colac Otway Shire, has 20 years of experience in Local Government and brings a diverse range of skills to the RDA Committee. Anne is also a member of the Barwon Regional Partnership.

During her time at Surf Cost Shire Council, Anne led the progressive environmental initiative that introduced Council’s four-bin system (FOGO and glass) in advance of Victoria releasing its Circular Economy Policy, including representation to Commonwealth and State Governments and securing support of Council.

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.


Brett Ince

Brett InceBrett Ince is the Executive Director for Tourism Greater Geelong and The Bellarine and has strong networks across the region with an excellent knowledge of the Visitor Economy and Geelong as a regional city.

Previous roles included Acting Director Economy, Investment and Attraction at the City of Greater Geelong; Director Tourism and Visitor Experience at Parks Victoria and Deputy Executive Director at Tourism Greater Geelong and The Bellarine.

Brett enjoys giving back to the community and using his background and skills gained through various representation on various Boards and Committees.


Alison McLeod

Alison McLeodAlison McLeod is a highly accomplished general manager with multi-disciplinary commercial experience on 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.


Darryl Mohr

Darryl MohrDarryl Mohr 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).

Darryl is currently Deputy Chair at The Gordon TAFE in Geelong and is also the Chair Audit & Risk Management Committee.

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.


Liz Price

Liz PriceLiz Price is the General Manager of Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism Board, Chair and Director of Great Southern Touring Route and a Member of the Victorian Tourism Industry Council Destination Policy Committee. Liz is also a member on the Great South Coast Partnership.

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 Master of Marketing and Master 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.


Clive Pugh

Clive PughClive Pugh is CEO of Winchester Australia Limited and Chair of Committee for Geelong with business experience in mining, process manufacturing and wholesale distribution and finance background in management accounting and project evaluation.

Clive believes the best way to achieve things is through people and allowing decision making to be made at the lowest level in an organisation.
Clive has developed strategic and operating plans for medium sized business and as part of listed companies. He likes to evaluate performance using quantitative and qualitative data.

Clive holds a Master in Business (Durham University), Commerce Degree (Deakin) and Cert IV Training and Assessment (Swinburne).


David Spear

David SpearDavid Spear is 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 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

  • 434,619 people live within the Barwon South West region
  • The Great Ocean Road is 243 kilometres in length
  • Barwon South West produces $26.098 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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