About Us

Who are we and what do we do?

At Regional Development Australia Murraylands and Riverland, our vision to 2030 is for the Murraylands and Riverland to be 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.

Our future is embedded in collaboration and partnership with regional stakeholders and international experts.

​We have worked closely with community and industry over many years to clarify our purpose to connect our region for a resilient and sustainable future and we will continue this work alongside our government partners (eight regional Councils, State and Federal), with a sharper focus on connecting with businesses, data sharing and driving the circular economy.

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Our Board & Staff

Jodie Hawkes


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.

Peter Walker

Deputy Chair

Peter comes to the RDAMR board with a wealth of knowledge and experience, as a self-employed horticulturist with a state of the art farm at Ramco in the Riverland. Peter is passionate about water security, primary production and the future development and sustainability of the region as a food and wine producing area for Australia and the world.

Keenly involved in many community bodies throughout his career, Peter is keen to build productive community and business relationships in the region in order to foster development and sustainability of infrastructure, services and industry. With an interest in regional tourism and its development in the region, Peter previously Chaired the Board of Destination Riverland. Peter is currently a Loxton Waikerie District Councillor and a Director of Central Irrigation Trust and is well placed to support the goals and strategy of the RDAMR.

Peter lives with his wife on a medium size citrus farm, growing traditional varieties of citrus and new varieties including Cara Cara Navels and Afourer mandarins. He is married to Carole and has three daughters and 8 grandchildren.

The Riverland offers opportunity to grow produce in one of the best growing regions in the State and the Murray River provides a diversity of experiences in a Community lifestyle.

Elaine Bensted
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.

Bridget Mather

Bridget Mather is 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.

Richard Fewster

Newly appointed Board Member, Richard Fewster, with a CV that bursts at the seams, including being the former co-owner of Australia’s largest outdoor commercial rose garden and President of the Royal Adelaide Show, Richard will bring a diverse skill set and experience in agriculture, communications, public relations, information technology, and governance to the Board.

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.

Contact:  bfee@rdamr.com.au

Lorena Lyon
Lorena Lyon

Director Workforce Development

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.

Contact:  llyon@rdamr.com.au

Kathy Stringer
Kathy Stringer

Finance and Administration 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.

Contact:  accounts@rdamr.com.au

Mandy Tennant
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.

Contact:  mtennant@rdamr.com.au

Julie Bates
Julie Bates

Director Business Development

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.

Contact:  jbates@rdamr.com.au

Claire Garner
Claire Garner

Manager Business Shared Services

After relocating to the Murraylands from the UK in 2007, Claire joined the RDA team in April 2022 as a strong advocate for regional living.

Owning her own photography and graphic design business, Claire brings her expertise in Business and Office Management to the organisation alongside extensive leadership and relationship-building skills.

Claire is excited to be part of the RDAMR team where she can continue to foster relationships within the community and support local businesses on their path to a better future.

Contact:  cgarner@rdamr.com.au

Our Partners

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

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.

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

Leadership organisations:

Industry and business associations

Community groups and organisations

All eight local councils in our region

Australian Government agencies

Murraylands and Riverland Local Government Association

South Australian Government agencies:

Department of Primary Industries and Regions SA

Department of State Development

Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure

South Australian Tourism Commission

Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources


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