Farewell from Paddi Creevey, Peel Development Commission Chair
It’s hard to believe that my time as Peel Development Commission Chair began almost four years ago. Time really does fly when you’re doing work you love and are surrounded by talented, dynamic people committed to achieving great things for our region.
Just last week I was out at the Peel Business Park for a briefing and tour with David Caddy, Jodi Cant, Nicole Lucas-Smith and Nicholas Dufty from the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage. They were most impressed with the progress at the park and with the Bushfire Centre of Excellence, which is a fantastic meeting venue and an impressive building in its own right.
This kind of collaboration is one of the things I’ve enjoyed seeing the most during my time with the Commission. Collaboration between local governments, government agencies and industry organisations, for example, the Peel Harvey Catchment Council, Peel Community Development Group, Regional Development Australia and our regional local government Shires and City, and meetings like the one with DPLH, are great examples of our regional entities working together and building on the hard work that’s gone before to create thriving industries and strong and resilient communities.
These deliberate efforts to work with commerce and industry is something we do very well in the Peel. However, recognising that ‘business as usual’ isn’t going to achieve the necessary outcomes for the region was a critical shift. Creating a range of employment options, new industries, and new jobs that support our population growth requires a much more focused approach. So the Commission has been on a path to work more closely with people and industry to generate different ideas on how to link our regional needs with government objectives. Creating stronger local economies gives regional families vibrant places to work, learn and live and achieving these outcomes is good for the Peel and good for WA.
The introduction of the Regional Economic Development (RED) Grants has brought a closer relationship between industry and government and provided 24 regional projects with $2.2 million in funding over the past two years. That funding provides a clear pathway for developing new initiatives and new industries that create real economic impact and employment opportunities in the Peel. These projects contribute to our local communities economically and socially and demonstrate the industry diversity that strengthens the Peel region as a thriving and sustainable place to live, work, and visit.
During the COVID-19 restrictions of 2020, the Commission played a key role in collecting critical regional intelligence to help the government develop and focus support efforts. The Perth and Peel lockdown grants are examples of some of the tailored support available to our region. I’ve been amazed by the way our communities respond and cope with challenges, their innovation in thinking and their willingness to reach out to others and collaborate to achieve outcomes that make our communities stronger. This has seen many of our regional businesses recover well, but despite this, we still have a stubborn unemployment rate and other challenges unique to our region.
We welcomed TAFE’s close collaboration with industry to deliver reduced fee and no-fee courses. This is another terrific example of the cooperation and partnership in our region and helps in understanding our current and future needs to deliver training and courses that fit Peel’s specific industry requirements.
One of the major achievements during my time as Chair of the Commission was the Stage One development and completion of the Peel Business Park. After many years of background planning, agonising groundwork, and relentless commitment to a vision, I would like to acknowledge the previous Chair and Board. We’ve now seen the fruits of that hard work and genuine innovation in the construction of the business park.
The partnership between the Commission, Development WA, and the Shire of Murray has been fundamental in this achievement and forms the cornerstone for ongoing relationships. The partnership with Murdoch University in the game-changing WA Food Innovation Precinct epitomises the benefits of working together to achieve great outcomes.
We’re incredibly fortunate that Minister MacTiernan, Minister for Regional Development; Agriculture and Food; Hydrogen Industry, has such a profound knowledge and understanding of the importance of agriculture and primary production in the Peel region. Her support of initiatives that improve best practices and continually improve Peel’s capability to grow food demonstrates the importance of Peel’s agri-innovation at a state level.
Southern Dirt’s establishment of the Peel Growers Hub was designed to connect agriculture and food producers in the region with leading research and innovations and strengthen the network of local producers across Western Australia. With a focus on productivity, diversification and export, the hub has direct synergies with Transform Peel objectives and the WA Food Innovation Precinct program. The Commission strongly supports initiatives that provide farmers with and stimulates the development of innovative solutions and the ability to access growing markets through innovation.
The Peel is high on the scale for innovation and progressive capability, and it’s amazing to discover the export capability of the region and our potential to access these markets through technological and collaborative innovation. I only have to look at the capability of the incoming Chair, David Doepel as an embodiment of that.
As I finish my term with the Commission, I find it an absolute pleasure and a privilege to be involved with such a great organisation and wholeheartedly welcome the appointment of David Doepel as Chair. With his wealth of experience in so many areas, including Founding Director of Western Australia’s first Trade & Investment office in the Americas, his significant involvement in agriculture and aquaculture in Africa, as well as his experience in water having been Interim CEO for the National Centre of Excellence in Desalination, David brings knowledge, innovation and commitment to the role. His experience will enhance the Board and Staff’s already capable focus on making sure this region has jobs, a resilient community and a sustainable environment both now and for future generations.
Thank you and I hope you enjoy reading this newsletter.