Champions of the Bush (COTB) has identified six key areas of interest for 2012. These are:

These areas of interest are being addressed via a number of planned strategies. More details are below:

Building on COTB's past achievements

2010 saw the launch of the Regional Executive Forum, a regionally-based networking and mentorship program for country-based Managing Directors and CEO to offer support and share skills and experiences  in order strengthen regional business and attract new investment and expertise.

Click here to learn more about the REF.

COTB also hosts the annual Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award.

The 2013 Award was held in Swan Hill in October 2013, to highlight the achievements of successful, regionally-based businesses and communities. The winner of the 2013 Spirit of Entrepreneurship was Flavorite.

Click here for more information about the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award.

Strengthening the COTB by increasing its membership

A number of positive discussions have already been held with regionally-based organisations that COTB members believe are a beneficial fit with the organisation's purpose and ethos.

This year, COTB hopes to add five new members to its base. Discussions held to date and those planned for coming months indicate this is a possible outcome for 2016. 

Increasing Government and public awareness of the food and beverage industry

It's no coincidence that most COTB members are involved in some way in the food and beverage industry.

This industry is Australia's largest manufacturing industry and the nation's second-placed earner or export income.

Like the mining industry, the food and beverage industry is largely based in regional Australia, ensuring the well-being of rural areas is closely linked to and dependent upon its prosperity.

COTB maintains concern there is minimal State and Federal Government appreciation of global trends in the food industry and the impact these could have on Australia, particularly outside the main metropolitan areas.

The organisation believes that this lack of appreciation is due in part to the low status food and agriculture holds within State and Federal cabinets.

This year COTB hopes to raise Government and community awareness of the global security issues facing Australia's food and beverage industry - and its importance to the nation's prosperity - by briefing the Victorian Premier and Leader of the Opposition on the emerging global food security problem and its significance to regional Australia.

Encouraging sustainable investment in rural and regional Australia

COTB has been involved in briefing the Victorian Government on ways and means to achieve sustainable regional investment.

This includes investigating the validity of fixed-interest security instruments such as bonds to fund small-scale regional and rural infrastructure.

Further research and Government submissions in relation to this is planned for 2011.

It also includes investigating the introduction of a High Speed Rail link along the east coast of Australia.

Air dominates the inter-capital travel market and intra-rural travel is almost exclusively car-based. Rail has a significant presence in the rural/city fringe commuter market, but inter-capital rail currently has low market share due to low speeds and infrequent service.

Studies and recommendations have asserted a HSR service between the major eastern capital cities could be a viable alternative to air. Although such studies have generated much interest from the private sector and captured the imagination of the general public upon their release, to date no private-sector proposal has been able to demonstrate financial viability without the need for Governmental taxation assistance.

Click here to download a briefing paper on this topic.

Influencing public policy on rural and regional matters

COTB strives to influence public policy on a number of issues its members consider vital to the future of regional Australia.

These include:

  • energy policy
  • climate change
  • communication
  • education and training
  • health
  • urban and rural planning
COTB has also sought to open discussion about new policy directions including the use of nuclear energy as a coal alternative.

Click here for more information about COTB position on this matter.

Via national media coverage, COTB has been able to comment on a range of regional issues. These include the implication of population growth for urban and regional planning and the state of the regional economy in light of the Global Financial Crisis.

COTB will also respond later this year to another Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry on regional matters.

Strengthening rural Australia by linking successful rural communities with regional communities in need

In 2011, COTB is striving to strengthen rural Australia by facilitating relationships between smaller rural communities.

In 2011, the organisation hopes to bring together the Marysville and Dunkeld communities in order to help support and inspire the Marysville population and businesses who are still rebuilding their town following the 2009 Black Saturday Bushfires.

Champions of the Bush believes a community such as Dunkeld, which has, over the past decade, used its greatest assets and strong community spirit to build a strong tourism and business sector, can offer people of Marysville with great support and advice about what can be achieved in the future.