Governance & Accountability
The Rural RDCs provide a range of services to the industries that they support and are funded through a mix of taxpayer and industry contributions. Their particular role and place within the rural innovation system as investment managers, custodians of public and private funds, and service providers to industry and government, means that there is a high regard for ensuring a strong focus on governance and accountability of funds being managed, on efficiency and effectiveness of process employed, and on delivering value and impact from activities.
Historically all of the RDCs were established as agencies of the government under Commonwealth legislation, the Primary Industries and Energy Research and Development Act 1989 (now the Primary Industries Research and Development Act. The Act outlines the expectations, functions, roles and responsibilities for the RDCs, including delivery of economic, environmental and social benefits to rural industries, rural and regional communities, and the nation, through strategic investments in research, development and technology transfer or adoption.
Over time many of the RDCs have transitioned to become independent, not-for-profit companies owned by the industries they serve. This has happened where industry has seen an opportunity to merge and streamline organisations and structures, and where flexibility was needed to provide services such as market development, market access and promotion. There are now 10 industry-owned company RDCs.
All RDCs are led by Boards of Directors to ensure the portfolio of investments and activities is balanced between short-, medium- and long-term needs of industry and government, and that proper governance and accountability frameworks are in place and operate effectively. All RDCs have a funding agreement with the Commonwealth Government to make explicit the government’s expectations and requirements. Under the funding agreements each RDC formally meets with the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources at least twice a year. Funding agreements can be found on the RDC websites.
The Council of Rural RDCs
The Rural RDCs are a network of organisations which have been formed under a partnership between different agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries and government to drive innovation and improvement in and for rural industries. The RDCs come together through a structure called the Council of Rural RDCs which provides a forum to discuss and work collectively on important issues.
The role of the Council is to support and facilitate the RDCs working together to fulfil their broad purpose and deliver economic, environmental and social benefits for rural industries and the broader community.The Council focuses it’s effort where collective action will deliver the best outcomes and greatest impact.
The aims of the Council are to:
- support, encourage and facilitate continual improvement in the delivery of efficient and effective services to rural industries and the community, particularly with regard to research, development, technology transfer and adoption
- effectively represent and position the Rural RDCs as participants in the rural innovation system
- influence national and rural innovation policy
- provide a unified voice for the RDCs on matters of national importance.
On 30 August 2016 the Council endorsed an updated Strategic Approach to guide Council activities.