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.

Neil Martinson, Chair

RDAMR Board - Neil Martinson

Inaugural Chair of RDAMR and Mayor of Renmark Paringa District Council, Neil has a proud history of service within local government, is passionate about regional development, and is a dedicated member of his local community.

Trevor Norton

RDAMR Board - Trevor Norton

A Riverland based horticultural consultant specialising in water management, biosecurity and environmental issues, Trevor is the Deputy Mayor of the Loxton Waikerie District Council and Co-chair of the Yatco Wetland Landcare Group.

Elaine Bensted

Elected to the RDMAR board in 2018 and the Chief Executive Officer of Zoos SA, Elaine is committed to conservation projects across our region and state, having Monarto Zoological Park as an asset for the Murraylands region. Elaine is an elected member of a number of different Boards including the Children’s University Board and UniSA Undergraduate Advisory Board.

Garry Hansen

Director of Hansen Farms and Chairman of the Australia Growers Direct Garry has a long lived passion and wealth of knowledge for primary production.

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.

Jerry Wilson, Deputy Chair

RDAMR Board - Jerry Wilson

An avid entrepreneur, Jerry has started and oversees several small businesses. Jerry is also actively involved in numerous community organisations including Rotary and the Community Wetlands.

Andrew Kassebaum

RDAMR Board - 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.

Peter Walker

RDAMR Board - 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.

Jodie Hawkes

An advocate for regional living and working, owning one of the largest manufacturing businesses in the region with her husband, Bowhill Engineering, Jodie is a welcome addition to the RDAMR board. Jodie is the Chief Finance Officer at Bowhill Engineering but shares her skills with a number of different community groups including the Karoonda Area School Governing Council and the Bowhill Progress Association.

Danny Macmahon

Danny is an experienced wine and spirit industry leader currently working as the CEO of Byrne Vineyards in the Riverland region bringing significant interest and experience in the international business and exporting markets to the RDAMR board.

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.

Kathy Stringer, Finance and Operations Manager

RDAMR Staff Kathy Stringer

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.

Jarrod Bielby, Regional Manager - Infrastructure

RDAMR staff Jarrod Bielby

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, Tourism Development Manager Murray River, Lakes & Coorong

RDAMR Staff Julie Bates

Joining the team in May 2016, Julie 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.

Julie’s previous experience in management roles includes the South Australian Tourism Commission, School & Beyond, Majestic Apartments and Bridge Aluminium. Julie has expertise in tourism, community engagement, business and local government. She is passionate about growing the tourism industry and representing the region to the world.

Shaun Harris, Strategic Policy Advisor

RDAMR Staff Shaun Harris

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.

Rachel Butterworth, Employment and Training Manager

RDAMR staff Rachel Thiele

Rachel is a qualified Career Development Practitioner and has qualifications in Career Development Practice, Front Line Management and Training and Assessment. She recognises each client has different needs, strengths and ambitions, and enjoys helping people achieve their career goals.

Rachel works with the community to identify training gaps and trends, and advocates for clients to have their skills formally recognised. She is passionate about helping clients to promote their transferable skills for application in other sectors and roles, creating new pathways for people who never thought a change in direction was possible.

Bruce Mellett, Regional Manager - Community

RDAMR staff Bruce Mellett

Bruce started with RDAMR in October 2016, bringing more than 30 years of media and leadership experience as the former Regional Manager of the ABC in the Riverland. Bruce is passionate about enabling long-term positive change in the community through elevating individual and regional capabilities.

Bruce is an Australia Day Ambassador for South Australia. He has won national awards for innovation and mentoring, South Australian awards for community involvement, and has long associations with schools, service and sporting clubs in the region.

Emma Gwiazda, Project Manager

Emma Gwiazda

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.

Alissa Thompson, Administration and Project Support Officer

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Catherine Hughes, Project Officer and Marketing Support

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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