Message from our Chair 2016

Regional South Australia is facing many challenges as the state continues to transition from manufacturing to new technologies and services. This change impacts on us all. We have lost small manufacturers along the south coast and unemployment has risen. There is considerable growth in those sectors that serve older Australians as more and more of us flock to the coastal regions. Agriculture through the region is an important part of the economy with the mainstay of dairy and viticulture still strong we have seen a growth in Alpacas, with increased interest from our northern neighbours. Tourism is a very important aspect of our economy and we continue to support the drive for investment in the regions infrastructure.

The natural beauty of Kangaroo Island continues to attract international acclaim. We support their need for renewal and upgrade of critical infrastructure for the island. This includes an upgrade to the airport, a deep sea port to expedite forestry and agricultural produce, improvement in energy infrastructure and due recognition of the costs associated crossing to the island.

The Adelaide Hills continues to provide an idyllic lifestyle whilst meeting the challenges of very high growth and the services necessary to satisfy healthy and sustainable communities. We are delighted to see the growth of companies in the hospitality industry, in cosmetics, horticulture, food specialities and much more.

We are so fortunate to live in one of the best regions in Australia.

I am delighted to say that the relationship between the RDA and its funding partners is as good as it has ever been. The federal government has committed resource to the RDAs for the next three years. Minister Brock on behalf of the state government has developed a funding model which provides certainty over the same period. We are in the middle of our three year funding agreement and work closely with all of the six councils in our region as well as their peak body the Southern and Hills Local Government Association.

During the year we made considerable progress in a number of areas. We signed an Memorandum of Understanding and then a service agreement with the Shanghai Small and Medium Enterprise for International Cooperation. We expect that this will provide us with both trade and investment opportunities in this important international market.

We completed a value and supply chain analysis of the apple industry. This identified the tremendous growth potential and opportunities for this industry. The work that they have done in recent years is a credit to all concerned. This work indicates the opportunity for the industry to martial all of its resources and be recognised as a true leader in our state.

During the year we visited China to gain an understanding of industry and local governments understanding of business opportunities in SA. We along with local government representatives were also part of the state government’s mission to Shandong Province.

Support programs for our youth and others who seek work continue to change at a dizzying pace. We are concerned about the frequent changes in programs and the associated changes in complexity and volume of reporting. We understand the need for accountability, but we do need a period of settled direction if we are to have a serious impact on these challenges.

Our board and staff have been stable over the last year. This has helped us all to focus on what needs to be done. I am enormously grateful to them all for their support and commitment to helping make our region an even better place to live.

Ann Ferguson

RDA Chair

Message from our Chair

I feel privileged that as Chair of the RDA, I have a chance to promote the diversity, the enterprise and the endeavours of the nearly 120,000 people who call this region home.  

We have two of the fastest growing communities in Australia with Mount Barker and the south coast set to grow by more than 50% over the coming years.  We have the Adelaide Hills, one of the nation’s most beautiful and prosperous regions where maintaining its quality of life is the number one consideration.  The region surrounding Strathalbyn is prime country producing fabulous wine, crunchy apples and bountiful harvests of grain and many other wholesome and delicious foods.  Yankalilla has excelled as a cultural centre led by the extraordinary Seahorse Festival.  Of course, Kangaroo Island is rightly known around the world for its beauty and natural charm.

Our region has some challenges too.  Kangaroo Island is remote; it struggles to meet the increased burdens that this places on society.  Yankalilla also suffers from having a small population and a large area to maintain.  Their needs cannot be ignored for ever.  The coastal region from Victor Harbor to Goolwa is renowned for its splendour but the increasing attractiveness for retirees and the loss of much of its manufacturing is changing the nature of the area.  There is no doubt that tourism and catering for an ever ageing population can lead to new prosperity but it won’t happen without a great deal of cooperation and enterprise by us all.  Of course we have Mount Barker, destined to be the regional centre in the Adelaide Hills.  This is a challenge we accept, but we must ensure that the charm and beauty which makes it such an attractive place are not lost.  We must also ensure that the services necessary to maintain the standards in Mount Barker are there when needed and not as an afterthought.  And this is why it is so important to have the RDA working with all levels of government and community to facilitate and advocate for sustainable development for all the parts of our society.

Many of you will know that RDAs in South Australia have been unique in that they have been a partnership between all levels of government.  Financial pressures on the state government have led to a significant reduction in our funding.  However we are a resilient organisation, we have restructured and refocused how we work.  Our new office in Strathalbyn is a great example of how we see ourselves at the heart of the community; not running lots of projects but identifying those issues and needs that will help to ensure that we can build on the skills and dreams of those around us and then to facilitate, to support and advocate on their behalf.

RDA have developed a fantastic relationship with the 6 councils in our region.  It is a true partnership where we collaborate on a whole range of issues which affect our community and our businesses. I am delighted that Minister Truss announced recently that they will support the application for a new aquatic centre on the south coast.  This was endorsed by the RDA as a priority project and I am so pleased that this can move forward. There are other infrastructure projects which are essential for our region.   We will continue to make the case that their implementation is agreed to at the first opportunity.  You would not be surprised if I told you that we have an enormous list; however there are a number of critical public infrastructure priorities:

  • Upgrade the airport at Kingscote on Kangaroo Island.  It is an important part of their plan to grow the tourist industry Victor Harbor and the south coast need a dual carriageway to link it to Adelaide and the southern suburbs.  Better connections are a crucial part of the region’s future development.
  • A new interchange on the south eastern freeway is essential to sustain Mount Barkers growth.
  • And of course the need for public transport is a growing necessity.   

RDA have recently launched the Investment Attraction toolkit as part of the Foreign Investment Attraction project which promotes and identifies investment opportunities throughout our region. In particular, the object is to identify a range of private and public investment opportunities, to offer assistance in preparing these to a level that attracts interest from prospective investors. 

To obtain the Investment Attraction toolkit please visit

Ann Ferguson
RDA Chair