GREAT MINDS: Regional Development director Tim Williamson with RDA Northern Rivers committee member Jenny Dowell and NSW Business Chamber's Jane Laverty at the Future Northern Rivers Think Tank.
GREAT MINDS: Regional Development director Tim Williamson with RDA Northern Rivers committee member Jenny Dowell and NSW Business Chamber's Jane Laverty at the Future Northern Rivers Think Tank. Contributed

Regional committee's 'outrageous ambitions' for the region

NORTHERN Rivers regional leaders and youth came together at the 'Future Northern Rivers Think Tank' to develop their "outrageously ambitious” ideas for the future of the Northern Rivers.

Regional Development Australia Northern Rivers, in collaboration with Future Northern Rivers partners, Northern Rivers Joint Organisation, Southern Cross University and the NSW Business Chamber, brought together community leaders, including youth, young Indigenous leaders, business, government and community representatives from across all local government areas, at a forum at the Southern Cross Enterprise Lab earlier this month.

The focus of the day was to workshop ideas for a healthy and prosperous Northern Rivers into goals and actions, following demographer Bernard Salt's challenge for the Northern Rivers region to be "outrageously ambitious” when planning for the future.

Mr Salt addressed a sold-out crowd at SCU in June as part of the Northern Star's 'Future Northern Rivers' campaign, and started a conversation about what the Northern Rivers region would look like in 30 to 50 years.

Regional Development director Tim Williamson said Mr Salt's research into the region "uncovered a world of potential”, such as harnessing the entrepreneurial spirit of the region, driving the knowledge sector and creating jobs.

"However, his vision and challenge will achieve nothing if we don't take up the torch and take ideas into action,” Mr Williamson said.

Led by facilitator and leading strategist Steve Tighe, Mr Williamson said three themes - social, environment and economic - were taken up across six tables of community leaders and innovators.

Following the think tank, the resolved goals include that by 2040 the Northern Rivers;

  • is globally recognised for its regenerative culture and deep adaptation.
  • is a 100 per cent regenerative regional prototype.
  • has 20,000 extra social housing and affordable housing units.
  • has established, accessible, holistic, social and educational pathways so that everyone in the Northern Rivers can contribute, participate and thrive.
  • has established "Water Security NR” to lead an integrated strategy for securing water across the Northern Rivers.
  • is a global technology region actively fostering innovation in all Northern Rivers' industries.

Mr Williamson said this think tank marks the start of the journey to "turn our 'outrageously ambitious' ideas into real projects and outcomes for the region”.



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