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About RDA Loddon Mallee

Bendigo in Autumn

Who we are

The Loddon Mallee Regionl Development Australia (RDA) committee comprises members with expertise across our region’s industries and a deep understanding or how our communities’ function. The high calibre team has global, national and local experience in horticulture, agriculture research, mineral sands and rare earth mining, renewable energy, defence and machinery manufacturing, housing policy and planning. The Chair, Leonie Burrows is chair of the Mallee Research and Innovation Centre, a former CEO of Mildura Rural City Council and a board member of the Murray Primary Health Network (PHN).

Committee members

RDA Loddon Mallee Committee

Leonie Burrows – Chair

Leonie BurrowsCommittee Chair Leonie Burrows is a management consultant with extensive CEO roles and board experience with particular expertise in Finance and Audit, Governance, Nomination and Remuneration, Risk and Project Management.

The Mildura-based businesswoman was Local Government CEO at Mildura Rural City Council and CEO of Citrus Australia, Australian Tablegrape Growers, Alliance of Councils for Rail Freight Development and Sunraysia Institute of TAFE.

Currently, Leonie is Chair of Sunraysia Community Health Service, Deputy Chair of the Murray Primary Health Network and Chair of the Mallee Regional Innovation Centre Strategic Advisory Panel. She has also served as Chair of Sunraysia Institute of TAFE, Chair of the Victorian TAFE Association and Chair of Lower Murray Water.

This is Leonie’s third term as member and first term as Chair, and she hopes to continue her passion and commitment to building resilient, sustainable and healthy communities across the region.


Craig Niemann

Craig NiemannCraig is the CEO of the City of Greater Bendigo and has been a Loddon Mallee local all his life.

He is an inaugural member of the Loddon Mallee RDA and has more than 35 years’ experience working in local government with a Bachelor Business - Local Government, MBA and AICD qualifications.

Craig has helped shape Bendigo’s physical and cultural landscape leading many projects including the expansion of Bendigo Airport, enhancement of Bendigo’s Chinese precinct, construction of Ulumbarra Theatre, Edwards Street Carpark, and Gurri Wanyarra Wellbeing Centre, expansion of Bendigo’s Art Gallery, Bendigo Stadium and development of Galkangu – an office for State and Local Government staff.

Whilst growing the influence of Bendigo has also pursued opportunities to grow the whole region.


Andrea Tomkinson

Andrea TomkinsonAndrea is the Managing Director of Tomkinson. The company has four offices across regional Victoria and provides strategic and statutory planning, surveying and civil engineering services for urban and regional projects including re-zoning, estate development, and density infill. Prior to joining Tomkinson, Andrea spent several years working on socio-economic projects in Bangkok and Canberra.

Andrea holds a Bachelor of Art (Hons) and Graduate Diploma Urban and Regional Planning.

Andrea is the Chair of the Regional Committee, Urban Development Institute of Australia (Vic), where she works to ensure that regional issues and ramifications have a voice across development industry platforms.

As an RDA committee member, Andrea brings experience that will be invaluable in helping to identify and support region initiatives that provide complementary opportunities for government funding.


Anne Mansell

Anne MansellAnne has lived in the Mildura for most of her life and has been involved in the horticultural industry for well on 40 years.

Anne recently resigned as the CEO of Dried Fruits Australia, a role that she has used to promote innovation and to advocate for improved biosecurity arrangements and expanded exports. And previously, was the CEO of Mildura Development Corporation.

Currently, Anne serves as Chair of the Northern Mallee Local Learning and Employment Network (NMLLEN), Board member of Murray Valley Wine Growers Industry Development Committee, and Panel member on the Advisory Boards for Mallee Regional Innovation Centre (MRIC) and La Trobe University Mildura Campus.

As an RDA committee member, Anne will be a voice for the growing horticultural sector and will bring valuable insights on education, jobs, skills, and how water policy affects the region.


Deanne Armstrong

Deanne ArmstrongDeanne is CEO of Committee for Echuca Moama, providing critical advocacy for businesses with all levels of government, and develops partnerships with key stakeholders to achieve its vision for our communities and projects. In this role she connects communities and business, supports growth and innovation, upskilling and market development and facilitates change to build strong and resilient communities.

Deanne was recently involved in the Victorian Skills Taskforce consultation around skills and workforce shortages now and what the skills need are into the future. She brought together the Echuca Moama Food & Fibre group to help support this industry specifically through Covid lockdowns, highlighting the impacts on industry to government.

Deanne is Board member of RDA Murray, Goulburn Murray Community Leadership, Goulburn Murray Resilience Taskforce, Bridge Arts Project and a local Champion of the Goulburn Murray Regional Prosperity Plan.

As an RDA committee member, Deanne will be a voice for cross border communities and will bring valuable insights in relation to tourism, education, workforce and the agri-food sectors within our region.


Dr Julie Rudner

Julie RudnerJulie is the Campus Director at La Trobe University in Bendigo. Her career in tertiary education demonstrates strengths in strategic planning, governance and community development.

Julie holds a Doctorate in Architecture Building and Planning from Melbourne University, and has extensive experience in planning, research and teaching.  She was previously the Convenor of the Community Planning and Development Program within La Trobe University.

Julie serves as a Board member of Bendigo Tech School Advisory Committee, Bendigo Education Plan Reference Group and the Victorian Skills Authority - Loddon Campaspe Regional Taskforce.

As an RDA committee member, Julie’s experience will be invaluable in helping to identify and support regional initiatives with a focus on urban planning and housing. She will also bring vital insights regarding the role of the tertiary sector in growing the economy of the region.


Mandy Hutchinson

Mandy HutchinsonMandy is the CEO of the Northern District Community Health delivering primary care, allied health, nursing, community support, counselling and health promotion, across multiple local government areas.

Mandy has extensive leadership experience and has worked in community health care for well on 26 years in Loddon Mallee region.

Through her current role, Mandy has represented her community to highlight the impacts of the pandemic and has made a name for herself in her creative approaches to attracting GPs to the region.

Previously, Mandy was the Director of Community Wellbeing at the Gannawarra Shire Council and is currently a Director of the You Thrive an organisation established to support, empower and develop young people.

As an RDA committee member, Mandy will be a voice for health care, youth and will bring valuable insights related to life in the rural parts of the region.


Steve Tinker

Steve TinkerSteve is the Regional General Manager, Western Victoria for Telstra. Through this role, Steve has developed a great appreciation for the varied communities across the region.

Steve brings a wealth of experience and knowledge of the telecommunications industry and has a deep understanding of the connectivity challenges faced in regional areas. He has hands on experience in the establishment of telehealth services and in addressing mobile phone black spots.

Steve is also a member of the Governance Committee on the Murray Primary Health Network (PHN).

As an RDA committee member, Steve brings valuable experience and insights in relation to digital and telecommunications and how digital connectivity policy affects the region.


Windsor Main

Windsor MainWindsor is the Site Manager for Edlyn Foods in Maryborough and is responsible for the operation of the manufacturing plant that was established in 2016. Windsor has extensive experience in the manufacturing sector, one of the most important sectors in the region’s economy.

Through the establishment of the Edlyn Foods site, Windsor has encouraged people into employment through sponsorships and encouraged local businesses to work together.

Windsor has served as Board member of the Committee for Maryborough and Maryborough District Health Services and is passionate about encouraging work readiness and ensuring that his community thrives.

As an RDA committee member, Windsor will bring valuable insights in relation to community development, work readiness and the needs of the manufacturing sector in the region.


Sunbathed Vineyard

What we do

The committee coordinates the alignment of regional 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 supports economic growth by facilitating access to data and knowledge, and creates regional alliances, partnerships and networks to support public and private investment.

The Loddon Mallee region is positioned to capitalise on energy, advanced manufacturing and intensified agriculture production. The committee is working with the region to drive and leverage investment for:

  • Improved Digital connectivity - including business-grade broadband to support the uptake of the Internet of Things to automate farming and food processing.
  • Renewable energy projects - through the expansion of solar farms and emerging hydrogen industries.
  • Agriculture, beverage and food production supply chain opportunities.
  • The development of an international tourist brand to capitalise on Bendigo becoming a UNESCO Creative City of gastronomy and seeking World Heritage listing for the Central Victorian Goldfields and the Grampians region.
  • Local TAFE and universities to align training with industry needs to address a lack of skilled labour in the region.

harvesting wheat

Who we work with

The RDA Loddon Mallee committee collaborates with businesses, not-for-profits, industry bodies and agencies to build sector strengths, promote regional capabilities and leverage regional advantages. We work with:

  • Local Federal Members of Parliament
  • Loddon Mallee local government areas of Buloke Shire, Gannawarra Shire, Central Goldfields Shire, City of Swan Hill, Campaspe Shire, City of Greater Mildura, City of Greater Bendigo, Loddon Shire, Macedon Ranges Shire and Mount Alexander Shire.
  • Regional organisations including Mildura Regional Development, Be.Bendigo, Committee for Maryborough and Committee for Echuca-Moama.
  • Like-minded Regional Committees including the Loddon Campaspe and Mallee Regional Partnerships
  • RDA Committees across Victoria and RDA South Australia and NSW border committees.

Citrus orchard in Mildura

Our region

Fast facts

  • 342,164 population in Loddon Mallee Region.
  • $17.013 billion Gross Regional Product for the Loddon Mallee Region
  • 129,417 jobs in the Loddon Mallee region.
  • Healthcare and social assistance, retail and manufacturing are Loddon Mallee’s three largest employment sectors.

RDA Loddon Mallee region map

Loddon Mallee has two diverse regional economies.  Anchored by the City of Mildura the northern region has horticulture, dairying, broad acre cropping, mineral sand and rare earth mining and renewable energy sectors.  The Murray River is a tourism drawcard and the north west corner is an entry point to Australia’s outback.  Emerging northern tourist attractions include the Silo Art Trail and Lake Tyrrell.

The City of Bendigo is in the more densely populated southern part of the region which has a strong defence, machinery and food manufacturing base. Advances in technology are shaping the future of the agricultural and manufacturing sectors in both regions with the Internet of Things and greater cohesion within supply chains delivering efficiencies. Major growth is expected along the Regional Employment and Innovation Corridor which runs between Gisborne through Bendigo to Echuca.

Other significant employers across the region are healthcare and social assistance and financial and insurance services. The Calder and Sunraysia Highway are major freight routes providing access across the region to markets and ports.

Significant State and Commonwealth government investment in the region include the Bendigo GovHub and new Law Courts.  In the north Mildura, Swan Hill, Koondrook and Echuca have received funding to enhance their frontages to the Murray River..

Case studies

Seizing economic opportunities

Photographic opportunities created by the reflective shallow saltwater of Lake Tyrrell in Victoria’s north west made it a social media hit in 2015.

The Loddon Mallee RDA capitalised on the unexpected Asian tourist interest in Lake Tyrrell located north of Sea Lake and a four-hour drive from Melbourne. It worked with Buloke Shire Council and Advance Sea Lake Inc. to engage the community, indigenous groups, businesses and local and state government departments to develop a strategy to protect the lake’s environment and deliver a tourist experience that encouraged overnight stays and spending within the Sea Lake community.

The committee provided funding for the Lake Tyrrell Tourism Strategy which identified the economic potential of the unique attraction with its 42,000 annual visitors projected to grow to 192,000 over 10 years. This analysis drove the development of the $3.575 million Lake Tyrrell Infrastructure Project.  Regional Development Victoria’s Regional Tourism Infrastructure Fund provided $2.805 million for project which includes a viewing platform, board walk, walking paths, toilet facilities, landscaping, car and bus parking facilities with a bus turning circle and a new turning lane to Lake Tyrrell from the Calder Highway.

International interest in the lake has underpinned Sea Lake’s development as an emerging tourist destination being part of the northern Victoria Silo Art Trail. Over the past five years the town has transformed with an art gallery and the local pub, the Royal Hotel being brought by 30 locals and fully refurbished.

Influencing policy decisions - Hydrogen and renewable energy

Identifying the economic potential of hydrogen and renewable energy in the Loddon Mallee is the focus of research commissioned by the Loddon Mallee RDA and the Mallee Regional Partnership.

Energy and carbon advisory service provider Energetics Pty Ltd will analyse local, national and international hydrogen markets to advise on the opportunities and constraints in developing a green hydrogen energy sector in the Mallee.

The work will inform the development of a Mallee Hydrogen Roadmap which aims to capitalise on the region’s fast-growing solar energy sector with 19 large-scale solar projects underway. With a combined energy capacity of 2380 MW these projects exceed the capacity of Victoria’s largest coal fired power station Loy Yang. In addition, a further 13 solar farms producing 2,950 MW are being planned for the region.

A steering group comprising academic, business and regional representatives are overseeing the development of the green hydrogen produced through the electrolysis of water using a renewable energy source.

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