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In pursuit of regional excellence

Posted: 1pm 29 Mar 2022

Boosting skills and creating local employment will be an important part of the region’s growth in coming years, according to Regional Development Australia Moreton Bay director of regional development Julia Callaghan.

Since taking on the role almost a year ago, Julia continues to be impressed by opportunities in the region.

“I knew there was so much potential here,” she says.

“I could see there’s an opportunity to be part of something really big and grow the region.”

She’s also been impressed by the number and variety of entrepreneurs in Moreton Bay.

“They’re very optimistic, with so much get up and go, so much energy – to meet so many has just been fantastic,” she says.

“There’s so many under the surface, they’re just doing their own thing – you don’t hear about them.

“I’m impressed by their ingenuity and ability to see the opportunities.”

Julia says having more people working from home is changing how communities operate, and combined with a push by RDA Moreton Bay and Moreton Bay Regional Council to attract more industries to the area will boost the number of people working within the region.

“Lots of people work outside the region and we’re working with all levels of government to help funnel investment in the right place so they can work here.

“It’s about letting people know what jobs are available and that it’s a good opportunity to work in Moreton Bay.

“It’s really important that people can live, work and play here.”

Focus on training

Julia says there’s also a need for training and education and while the USC campus at Petrie is filling the gap at a university level, it is also important to ensure other forms of tertiary education such as TAFE keep pace with the changing needs of industry.

She says tailoring training to mirror needs will enable more people to find work locally.

“With Brisbane moving a lot of manufacturing out of the city, it’s going to come here and we need people to have the skills.

“A lot of training through employment programs is not necessarily (teaching) the right things – we need to be making sure people are working with TAFE and getting into the right courses and skills and look at what are the jobs of the future and what training and development people will need.”

Julia says Regional Development Australia (RDA) has an important role to play as a conduit between communities and the Commonwealth.

“One aspect is to let people know what Commonwealth Government programs are available, like advanced manufacturing and recycling,” she says.

“Another is that we take regional issues back to the Commonwealth.”

She says while there is quite rightly a focus on attracting manufacturing, agribusiness and other industries to regions to stimulate the economy and generate employment, there must also be a robust array of support services that provide employment opportunities in their own right, creating a diverse business network.

Strong support

“There’s also a need for professional services, lawyers, accountants, management,” Julia says.

“It’s really important for the professional services to support people in other industries.

“I don’t think we give them enough profile sometimes, for the support they provide.”

Julia sees the Moreton Bay Region – with greenfield development sites – as the land of opportunity, with the chance to develop a well-planned region that supports the people who live here.

“There’s 12 growth areas, so getting the mix of industry and jobs right is the biggest opportunity because you want spaces for everybody to do their thing.
“If you develop in the right way, it’s about how much liveability it adds to the economy.

“I think it’s really important that people realise they can pursue globally relevant careers right here in Moreton Bay.”

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