At Regional Development Australia Murraylands and Riverland, our vision for the next decade is that the Murraylands and Riverland is recognised internationally as a vibrant, world leading circular economy with high-performing businesses, resilient communities and individuals with a deep sense of wellbeing and connection with the world around us.

We are part of a national network of 52 organisations aiming to grow and strengthen Australia’s regions, through advocacy, facilitation and funded service delivery.

We raise organisational capabilities, enable more targeted and productive collaboration, encourage priority infrastructure investment to be brought forward through government support, advocate to address regional constraints, and help to close the gap on workforce planning needs.

Our Board

Our board of local businesses and community leaders brings specialised skills and regional expertise in economic development. With their insight, passion and support we are well poised to deliver relevant and tangible outcomes for the region.

Jodie Hawkes, Chair

Jodie Hawkes Chair

Jodie has been a member of the RDAMR Board since 2018, becoming RDAMR Chair in 2021, and is Chief Finance Officer and co-owner alongside husband Jeremy, at Bowhill Engineering, one of the largest manufacturing businesses in the region. Jodie is passionate about giving back to our region and enjoys advocating for regional living and working.

As a second-generation family business owner and a mum to four teenagers, Jodie is determined to prove to regional youth that you do not need to leave the region to be successful and that there are great opportunities to live and work within the region.

With a home base in beautiful Bowhill, and family spread across the Riverland, Jodie feels a real sense of belonging to the region.

When she’s not supporting her team at Bowhill Engineering or leading the RDAMR Board, you can find her hanging out with her kids at home, sharing a pack of tim tams or enjoying a long lunch of local food and wine with friends and family.

Elaine Bensted

Elaine Bensted
Click to learn more about Elaine Bensted

Elaine Bensted is well known across the State for her position as Chief Executive of Zoos SA, which incorporates the iconic Monarto Safari Park, the largest open-range safari experience outside of Africa, located just 15 minutes out of Murray Bridge and less than an hour from Adelaide.

With skills in business planning, financial management, marketing, community engagement and tourism, combined with her experience running a Zoos SA operation, Elaine has been a fantastic addition to the RDAMR Board from 2018.

Elaine is passionate about ensuring the future prosperity of our State and region develop in a way that considers environmental sustainability and social inclusion. Her focus while serving on the RDAMR Board is to ensure tourism is included as a key sector for future growth and that RDAMR continues to successfully drive development and support business to improve profitability and sustainability.

When Elaine is not contributing to the region’s success or poking her head into the lion’s den, you can find her appreciating the great outdoors with her much-loved German shepherd, Xeva, by her side, or enjoying the company of friends and family with some local food and wine.

Every day is different for Elaine, but what doesn’t change is her passion and commitment to the region and her love for a good cup of tea and a walk with her dog every morning.

Margaret Howie

Margaret Howie

Margaret owns and operates Nelwood Estate and Nursery, is an Export Advisor for Tradestart and is the Chairperson of the SA Rural Women Gathering Riverland.

Sheridan Alm

Newly appointed member of the Board, Sheridan Alm, Director & Business Manager of Yatco Pty Ltd.

Steven Walker

Newly appointed Board Member, Steven Walker is passionate about giving back to the community and helping youth find their way in life, as well as working in a dynamic team to turn multiple businesses like Harvey Norman and most recently Kookaburra Homes into a multi-million-dollar success story.

Peter Walker, Deputy Chair

Peter Walker

A Riverland horticulturalist, Peter is passionate about water security and the sustainable development of regional food and wine production. Peter is Chair of Destination Riverland and Board member of the Murray River Lakes & Coorong Tourism Alliance.

Andrew Kassebaum

Andrew Kassebaum

Since retiring from the Royal Australian Air Force, Andrew has invested in two vineyards and now serves on the Berri Barmera Council. He is a member of the South Australian Murray Darling Basin NRM Board and the Berri Hotel group.

Petrina Coventry

Newly appointed Board Member, Prof. Petrina Coventry, an experienced business ethicist has worked in Asia, the United States and Europe in global leadership roles for The General Electric Company, The Coca Cola Company and Proctor and Gamble. In parallel to her role as a Professor she is a Non-executive director of Beston Global Food Company Ltd, The Australian Human Resource Institute and the Australasian Association of Philosophy.

Bridget Mather

Newly appointed Board Member, Bridget Mather, an experienced senior executive and board member in a variety of settings. A graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors along with being an experienced mentor.

Sandy Iosefellis

Newly appointed Board Member, Sandy Iosefellis, owner operator of YFRESH Pty Ltd home of the Autumn Fruits brand. A Murray Darling Basin irrigator and natural resource manager, she is  focused on balancing sustainable and responsible food production with value chain growth, farm business resilience, and the role of family farms in building vibrant regional communities

Our Staff

Our staff are highly skilled professionals who are passionate about the future of our region. We strive to provide timely information and assistance to industry, business and the local community on a range of topics and issues with the aim to create a region that is resilient, forward thinking and prosperous.

We encourage you to contact is to find out how we can assist you to get the most out of your region.

Ben Fee, Chief Executive

With a strong background and extensive understanding of the region, built throughout his twelve-year career in South Australian Government, Ben is passionate about sustainable development throughout the regions. 

In addition to roles in State Government, Ben has run his own business, commenced a PhD in resources economics focusing on Murray-Darling Basin water recovery programs and took on the role of Acting CEO of RDAMR in February/March of 2018.

Spencer Hameister, Executive Assistant to the Board and Chief Executive

Spencer joined the RDAMR team in August 2019, initially as an Administration and Marketing Support Trainee. 18 months later, after successfully completing her studies locally, she took on an exciting new challenge as Executive Assistant to the Board and Chief Executive where her skills in customer service and team support flourished.

Growing up and living in the Murraylands, Spencer is passionate about her local community and helping the region thrive. Spencer has a bright future ahead with RDAMR.

Kathy Stringer, Finance and Operations Manager

Kathy started with the RDA in September 2015, bringing over three decades of experience in administration roles, mostly within the farming and agribusiness sector. Kathy uses her broad knowledge of bookkeeping to keep our financial systems running smoothly, while implementing continuous improvement measures to contribute to the organisation’s efficiency.

Having lived in Murray Bridge all of her life, Kathy has a keen interest in and passion for the local community, and enjoys working with RDA to build a better and brighter regional future.

Analise Gates, Marketing and Communications Manager

Analise joined the RDA team in July 2019 bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience in practical business operations and event management having owned and operated her own small business and a range of community events across the Murraylands.

Growing up in a farming family and now raising her own family in Murray Bridge, Analise is passionate about showcasing the many benefits generated from living, working and enjoying the region.

Vanessa Leigh, Regional Manager - Skills

Vanessa joined the RDA team in April 2016, and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in practical business operations having owned and operated her own small business in regional South Australia.

Qualified in International Business and International Trade, she is passionate about building regional capability and assisting business to grow and be sustainable in a competitive market.

Shaun Harris, Strategic Policy Advisor

Commencing in August 2016 in both Project Support and Career Connections Practitioner roles, Shaun has now taken the lead of our employment and training projects. Shaun is excited about fostering community development and running initiatives that bring positive results for our community and economy.

Shaun started his career as a printing apprentice and worked his way into management, and has run his own successful café and catering business. With a Bachelor of Social Work, Shaun has been fortunate to work with Aboriginal communities on the APY lands for the SANFL.

Jarrod Bielby, Regional Manager - Infrastructure

Jarrod joined the team in February 2017. With a strong work history in personal and business banking, real estate, management and sales, Jarrod provides a high level of quality business advisory services.

Jarrod has a wealth of experience in helping established businesses to grow, and has a keen passion for assisting start-up and small businesses. Jarrod is excited about delivering sustainable initiatives that create positive and transformative change in the region.

Julie Bates, Regional Manager - Business

Joining the team in May 2016, Julie is passionate about representing the region and supporting regional businesses.

With previous experience in management roles including the South Australian Tourism Commission, School & Beyond, Majestic Apartments and Bridge Aluminium, Julie has expertise in tourism, community engagement, business and local government.

Lorena Lyon, Programs Manager

Joining the team in January 2021, Lorena has a keen interest in working to support and develop the indigenous community and a passion for assisting business.

With 22 years in media and advertising, coupled with her most recent experience in the employment services sector and her own small hobby business, Lorena has a solid understanding of regional business needs and requirements, both right now and for future planning.

Living in Waikerie with her family, Lorena is looking forward to using her skills to support and assist local businesses to grow and develop.

Sheree Cameron, Regional Manager

Sheree Cameron

Sheree has been an integral part of many RDAMR successful past programs as a consultant and permanently joined the team in 2020 bringing with her 20 years experience within the Employment, Property Investment, Accommodation and Coaching industries.

Business Management and farming are in Sheree’s genetic makeup. As a small business owner and qualified personal and business coaching practitioner, Sheree flourishes when given opportunities to help businesses reach their potential and strengthen business relationships.

We are delighted that her skills and passion for the Murraylands & Riverland now form part of our dynamic team.

Emma Gwiazda, Project Manager


Emma joined the RDA Team in May 2018. Emma brings experience from starting and continuing to run a small local business in the Riverland with her husband, and is passionate about small businesses and expanding local business owners knowledge to help them grow to achieve their goals. Emma has come with experience working in the Federal Government Human Services Department, as well as working for a national company in a coordinating and Project Managing role with subcontractors and building supervisors in the Building Industry. Emma’s interests include Horse Riding and helping her husband make their leather products in the workshop.

Daniel Gutteridge, Project Officer

Daniel joined the team in October 2020, bringing experience from the education and retail sectors. Qualified in Project Management and I.T, Daniel’s experience involves a wide array of projects including the implementation of digital workflows, infrastructure master planning, community engagement, and media technology.

Growing up in the Murraylands, Daniel knows the importance of community and the strength in local knowledge. He hopes to use his skills along with the strengths of the community to help shape a prosperous region.

Bill Nehmy, Tourism Development Manager - Murray River, Lakes & Coorong

Joining the team in late 2020, Bill is responsible for the overall growth of tourism in the Murray River, Lakes & Coorong region, including marketing, destination development and strategic direction for the tourism industry.

Growing up in Mannum, Bill has great knowledge of our region’s tourism offerings and with decades of experience in national tourism, transport and wine marketing industries, Bill is a strong advocate for the region.

Mandy Tennant, Project Manager

Joining the team in May 2021, Mandy brings 20 years experience within the Agriculture, Manufacturing and Employment industries.

Mandy has a passion for her local community and thrives in being able to assist business and producers with opportunities to help reach their potential.

Mandy is excited to be working in an environment where she can support many industry sectors.

Tammy O'Malley, Project Officer

Tammy joined the RDA team in May 2021. Born and raised in the Murraylands Tammy has a true passion for our regions and all its potential. A Mallee farmer, Tammy and her husband run a dryland cropping & sheep enterprise.
Tammy comes to the team with 16 years of Local Government experience in the Corporate & Community sector and most recently drought support and resilience.
She is used to working in a diverse environment and is excited to be supporting many different projects within RDAMR.

Our Partners

We have earned a reputation for delivering exceptional outcomes through productive partnerships.

To get the best results for our region, we are working closely with leadership organisations like:

• Industry and business associations

• Community groups and organisations

• All eight local councils in our region

• Murraylands and Riverland Local Government Association

• Australian Government agencies

• South Australian Government agencies, including:

– Department of Primary Industries and Regions SA

– Department of State Development

– Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure

– Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources

– South Australian Tourism Commission

Our partners value our extensive regional knowledge and networks, our ability to deliver services that exceed expectations, and our creative approach to enabling economic development. If you need a trusted partner in the Murraylands and Riverland, contact our team today.

An Australian Government Initiative
Government of South Australia
Renmark Paringa District Council
District Council of Loxton Wailerie
Southern Mallee District Council
Karoonda East Murray District Council
Rural City of Murray Bridge
Mid Murray Council
Coorong District Council
Berri Barmera Council
RDA Murraylands Riverland South Australia

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RDA Murraylands Riverland South Australia