The Council of Rural Research and Development Corporations meets twice a year, usually in March and September. The most recent meeting was held on Tuesday 30 August 2016.
Update from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
The Council was pleased to welcome Deputy Secretary David Williamson from the Department for an update on priorities within the department and government. Mr Williamson advised the Council that the department has just released its Corporate Plan 2016-17 which provides some detail on key priorities and performance measures. He noted the opportunity for the department and RDCs to work more closely together on some collaborative projects and activities, and highlighted biosecurity as an area of interest. The department and RDCs should also be working together with regards to the role and place of rural innovation within the National Innovation and Science Agenda, and the Council noted a key role for the RDCs in supporting the Department Secretary in his participation in the National Science and Technology Committee which reports to the Commonwealth Science Council. Mr Williamson also noted that the Primary Industries Levies and Collections Amendment Bill is scheduled for reintroduction into Parliament during this session. The bill has not been amended from the version previously considered.
The Council confirmed its support for a strategic approach which aims to deliver value for the RDCs, with a strong focus on the areas where collective effort and engagement will increase impact. The identified areas of focus are:
• Articulation of an overall performance story for the Rural RDCs and the industry-government partnership (Rural RDC) model
• Aggregation and analysis of data and information relating to the role and performance of the RDCs within the rural innovation system
• Coordination and brokerage for more effective partnerships and collaborations, and to leverage investments made across the RDCs for greatest impact and benefit
• Representation on the benefits of the RDC model and the impacts of the RDCs, including a strong focus on engagement within the National Innovation and Science Agenda and interaction with the National Farmers’ Federation.
The ambition of the Council is that rural industries are thriving through innovation, now and into the future. It will deliver on this ambition by building on the efforts of the Rural RDCs, and is continuing to invest in improving collaboration and partnerships, impact assessment and performance, and communications and positioning.
Impact Assessment and Performance
The Council was provided with the findings of an updated aggregated analysis of economic evaluations across the RDCs. A report will now be prepared for publication of the results, supported by a communications program to interpret and promote the outcomes.
Council also noted that a detailed report had been received for stage 2 of this work which reviewed the current approach to impact assessment and reporting, and identified a number of options for improvement. The evaluation working group will be assessing this report and will prepare a response for consideration by Council for future action.
Stakeholder Engagement and Communications
An extensive update was provided of activity through the stakeholder engagement and communications project, and noted the progress being made. The next stage of the project is to activate an engagement strategy, and this relies on the involvement and support of the RDCs.
The Council agreed to make a financial contribution to the upcoming GrowAg Summit in Albury.
Collaboration is a priority area of activity for the Council, and it is pleased to note active engagement across the RDCs in progressing this item. A cross-RDC collaboration forum to review and report on outcomes from collaboration will be held in November, and then annually. The Council will also prepare an annual statement reporting on collaborative
Levy payer databases
The Council noted a number of developments across the RDCs relating to the management of information about levy payers, and the potential impact of the proposed amendments to the legislation. The RDCs have agreed to continue exploring opportunities to work together on this issue.
Leadership and capacity building
The Council noted the number of investments being made across the RDCs on industry leadership. The Council is to investigate the scale of these investments in order to understand where there may be opportunities for improved outcomes.
The next meeting of the Council will be held in Canberra on Monday 6 March 2017. The next meeting of the RDC CEOs will be held on Tuesday 13 December 2016.