WRI entered 2015 focussed on strengthening its core consulting business and servicing regional Australia with credible research to support decision making. Key objectives included strengthening the research team, targeting higher education providers, local councils and organisations submitting funding applications as well as leveraging previous research projects.

During 2015 WRI completed 17 research projects with eight of these commissioned by new clients. In the third quarter of 2015, WRI undertook a major client and stakeholder survey to inform the next stage of its revised organisational structure and business plan. With the planned launch of new Consulting Services in 2016, and the publication of new regional reports, we expect that WRI will continue to make a positive difference in rural and regional Australia, contributing to growth in jobs, economic activity and sustainable growth in our communities.

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WRI entered 2014 with a renewed Strategic Plan which focussed on strengthening WRI’s core consulting business and servicing regional Australia with credible research to support decision making. Key objectives included strengthening the research team, targeting higher education providers, local councils and organisations submitting funding applications, leveraging previous research projects.

WRI completed 30 research projects in 2014. A third of all projects completed in 2014 were commissioned by new clients and significantly, a number of projects completed in 2014 (for both new and returning clients) were focused in the Murray-Murrumbidgee region of NSW.  This represents a significant expansion to WRI’s recent research footprint. Both the level of new clients and our expanded geographic reach indicate that our profile is benefitting from recent, well received studies we have completed as well as from the beginnings of a reinvigorated business development approach.

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WRI completed 37 research projects during 2013. Economic impact projects continue to form the mainstay of WRI’s researchwork, however in 2013 economic impact projects were enhanced with the incorporation of human capital contribution studies and benefit-cost analysis. Furthermore, economic impact studies often formed one component of more extensive research requiring the examination of regional issues and opportunities, the development of case studies, literature reviews and collection of primary data through stakeholder and workforce surveys.

WRI meets 2014 with a strong focus on continuing to build upon current research staff capacity as well as expanding our team slightly. Alongside this, targeting specific business development opportunities to broaden our research experience, clientbase and geographic reach will be prioritised. Enhancing business development capacity to further develop key and new relationships will also be a focus of 2014.

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Managing change is a critical factor in the success of any business, and managing change was a significant theme for the yearfor both the Board of Directors and staff at WRI. Signifi cant changes included WRI’s relocation from the Bathurst campus ofCharles Sturt University to a newly built, state of the art sustainable building, The Flannery Centre, and sound management ofsuccession of the CEO.

WRI research contributed a number of tangible, positive, regional impacts in 2012. Specifi cally WRI reports underpinned twosuccessful Regional Development Australia (RDA) applications for a state of the art, regional centre for athletics in Dubbo and amajor upgrade to the airport at Orange in New South Wales.

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WRI research contributed significantly to a number of nationwide/statewide policy debates concerning regional Australia in 2011. These included the role of regional universities, the live cattle export trade, regional air services and the impact of water use reform in the Murray Darling Basin. WRI participated in these debates by:

  • undertaking research for key stakeholders,
  • responding to reports released by organisations, via the media including Campus Review; and
  • presenting a keynote presentation at Regional Tertiary Education Conference in Cairns.

WRI research also focused on a number of local regional issues including the road links between sydney and the west, the effects of fly-in fly-out and drive-in drive-out by the mining industry, and the evaluation of a climate adaption project.

WRI's ability to contribute to these debates was enhanced by its independent status secured in mid-2010 and its focus on more sophisticated analysis. This included investment in new economic modelling software (SIRE) with Professor Guy West and extending our research tools to include cost benefit and cost effectiveness analysis.

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WRI has long held the view that debate and research about regional Australia needs to improve if it is to secure its fair share of government and private sector investment and services. Consequently in 2010 the WRI focused on developing more advanced research methods particularly in input-output modelling, demand and supply analysis and surveys. This focus has paid dividends with WRI successfully completing a number of complex projects that have good potential to ultimately make a difference to regional Australia.

In terms of impact, WRI reports have contributed to establishing ancillary health courses at Charles Sturt University (CSU); policy on live cattle exports; regional funding for the arts; relations between a mining company and its near neighbours; and policy on access of western NSW to Sydney.

In 2010 WRI reviewed its relationship with CSU. While WRI was a controlled entity of CSU, WRI was subject to grouping with CSU for payroll tax and auditing by the NSW Auditor General. This imposed significant costs on WRI. Consequently WRI and CSU changed WRI’s relationship from controlled entity to affiliated organisation in mid 2010. In this way WRI maintains its important links with CSU without the costs.

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WRI celebrated its 10th anniversary on the 23rd of February in 2009. The occasion was marked by a function in the Rafter’s Bar at CSU and attended by staff, board members, clients, supporters and friends of WRI. The focus in 2009 was strengthening WRI’s financial position by returning the accounts to surplus, formalising WRI’s Australian Taxation Office (ATO) status as a charity and preparing for the cessation of the current financial support arrangement between Charles Sturt University (CSU) and WRI. The result was a healthy surplus and WRI was endorsed for charity status tax concessions by the ATO on the 6 November 2009.

In 2009 WRI successfully completed 32 economic and social projects including 9 surveys, 8 economic impact studies, 5 industry and regional profiles and 10 other more general consultation/presentation projects. Overall 20 of the projects completed were commissioned from repeat clients. WRI secured a number of new clients in 2009. These included Griffith University, NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet, OCTEC Inc, RDA Murray, Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council, Agrifoods Skills Australia, and the Victorian Government Department of Innovation, Industry and Regional Development.

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The focus for the WRI in 2008 was internal strengthening and consolidation including formalising the WRI’s Australian Taxation Office status as a charity, working towards ISO 20252 Quality Assurance accreditation and generally streamlining and improving efficiency and productivity. Good progress has been achieved on all of the activities with the Charity status in particular, almost complete.

In 2008 WRI successfully completed 22 economic and social projects including 15 business, community and industry surveys and two economic impact studies. A further four economic impact studies, commissioned in 2008, are due for completion in early 2009. Overall, 14 of the 22 projects completed were commissioned by repeat clients. WRI secured a number of new clients in 2008. These included: Bond University, Tweed Economic Development Corporation, Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council, Albury-Wodonga Development Corporation and Chifley Business School. In addition, a number of ecology projects were completed by Professor David Goldney and Dr Anne Kerle.

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In 2007, both the size of the WRI and the number of projects increased sharply. The WRI secured the national Westpac-CSU Agribusiness Survey, secured repeat economic impact work with Australian Pork Limited, won the contract to conduct a series of surveys with Cotton Consultants Australia, continued to conduct the Regional Business Survey and won the contract to conduct an audit of television stations licences in regional Australia.

In addition, the WRI conducted 10 community or business surveys, economic impact studies for 3 universities and delivered seven presentations for business and university groups. Overall, the WRI completed 29 projects in 2007, excluding the quarterly Agribusiness and Regional Business surveys. Of the completed projects, 13 or 45% were from repeat clients.

For copies of earlier Annual Reports, please contact WRI.

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