2013 Regional Leaders' Forum Posted on February 14, 2014

At the recent Regional Leaders' Forum hosted at The Arts Centre Gold Coast by RDA Gold Coast, over 100 business and community leaders, government representatives, not for profit leaders, teachers and students, had the opportunity speak openly about their vision for the Gold Coast and what they see as the issues.

There were also presentations on Flexible Work Centres (Dr Lucy Cameron) and the recently announced Gold Coast Cultural Precinct and 'The Reveal' (Tory Jones and Virginia Rigney).

Facilitator Saleena Ham led the plenary session - how can the RDA support the objectives for the Gold Coast in terms of regional and urban development? What outcome would serve our community? A summary of discussions follows below.

Following the Forum there was a lunch in which Mayor Tom Tate welcomed guests and Bernard Salt, the leading commentator and advisor to corporate Australia on consumer, cultural and demographic trends, was the guest speaker. He shared his well renowned and unique insights of the Gold Coast with the guests.

Summary - Conversation with the Community

Safety & Security

  • We need to focus on ensuring people feel safe.
  • Alcohol is too great a focus in our social activities.
  • Look at the Newcastle Strategy – close the Hotels at a nominated time and prevent people from wandering around drunk in the early hours of the morning.
  • Dead quiet in the evenings in Newcastle and that is fantastic.
  • http://www.newcastle.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0015/116421/Newcastle_Urban_Strategy_Update_2012.pdf
  • The recent increased police presence has been very positive
  • Police presence has made a noticeable difference effectively preventing and reducing crime
  • Police presence may only be a short-term thing as a reaction to recent trouble.
  • Need a longer term commitment.

Recreational Options/Image

  • We are more than Schoolies.
  • We are more than sun, sand and party, party.
  • What about parks for adults?

Public Transport

  • Sustainable public transport is an important objective
  • Must be affordable and accessible
  • Translink prices are high and need to be discussed.

Avoiding Commuting

  • Relocating government personel to offices on the gold Coast to prevent a commute is a great idea.
  • Heavy rail to the Gold Coast airport is required.
  • Light rail is an adjunct to the heavy rail, not a replacement.
  • Still need to travel to Brisbane for a range of reasons
  • Interconnetivity within the Gold Coast needs public transport options.


  • Use school infrastructure as centres for learning after school and on weekends and in holidays.
  • Make more efficient use of the facilities which are otherwise closed.
  • Teach young people about Business Etiquette and life planning
  • Foster internships
  • Find opportunities for businesses to interface with schools.
  • Could the RDA facilitate workshops for career development for young people
  • Could they facilitate internships?
  • Provide more information to youth entrepreneurs – mentoring.
  • Keeping young people on the Gold Coast means a focus on more than just party, party.
  • Make it more culturally diverse and rich
  • Emphasis on the unique life style.
  • More than sun, surf and drinking.

Rates and Charges

  • Urgent attention is needed to the impact on small businesses of rates and charges.
  • Foster innovation and entrepreneurial initiatives
  • Provide incentives.
  • Need Smart Systems – too much regulation.
  • Foster a process that is friendly to business and new ideas.
  • Start drafting legislation to solve the problems – don’t wait for the government staff to do this.
  • Infrastructure charges need some innovative attention – too much of a burden.


Sustainable Communities

  • Adopt a commitment to renewable energy.
  • Aim for total self-reliance in energy consumption.
  • Remember the Triple Bottom Line in all planning and decision making.
  • Share and educate about these concepts.
  • We have lost our sense of vision for the Gold Coast
  • We need to focus on the sustainability of what we build and how we live.
  • Sydney has adopted an aggressive sustainability policy
  • This requires leadership and bold planning.
  • Ther is potential for renewable energy options to be adopted on the Gold Coast.
  • We must overcome negative thinking and blockages

Demographics & Jobs

  • Fly-in Fly-out workers are an economic opportunity but they come with unique social needs
  • High value workers
  • We must accommodate those unique social requirements or we will suffer a downside.
  • Foster social networks, support.
  • Cultural change and mindset need to adapt.
  • Social impacts of FIFO have downsides if we don’t plan to address them.
  • Understanding what is sustainable is a core aspect of good planning.
  • We have good connectivity, good educational institutions
  • Transport to the airport could be improved.
  • FIFO is more than a transport plan, though.
  • We have 600 health related students on the Gold Coast – how are we harnessing them?
  • Provide greater diversity of employment opportunities for young people.
  • Think about this: WHY ARE YOU HERE?

Economic Diversity

  • Businesses are moving from southern states to Queensland
  • Make the Gold Coast attractive and pitch for their location.
  • Brisbane CBD leases are coming to an end – pitch for relocation.
  • Some are looking for a change in layout – campus style.
  • We have the space.
  • Brainstorm incentive packages (RDA) – make it worth their while.
  • Include focus on our health/lifestyle aspects.
  • Promote the great things happening on the Gold Coast
  • Create a Start-Up Gold Coast package.
  • Cruise Ship Terminal – a great opportunity for economic flow-on
  • Hub for Australia – an age-related industry and has a great future.
  • Daylight saving would bring economic benefits.
  • Robina has much to offer – we have already the connectivity and a workforce and it is underutilised.
  • Genuine revitalisation of State Government Agencies in electronic connectivity.
  • Options here to provide face-to-face service online.
  • Embrace ways to promote innovative businesses.
  • Business Awards are an option
  • Good ideas need avenues for being supported.
  • Foster functions where people can get together and share ideas with potential investors, mentors and researchers.
  • Needs to be a Business Attracting Strategy.


  • We are not making the best use of the Arts Facilities we have available.
  • Precinct is a great step forward.
  • Bring the Big Shows to the Gold Coast.


Promotion of the Gold Coast

  • More positive stories about who we are
  • Gold Coast Bulletin is too negative – doesn’t celebrate or promote our positives
  • Need to have a more sophisticated approach in how we define Recreational Options on the Gold Coast
  • Commonwealth Games are a major opportunity for positive promotion.
  • Needs a focussed strategy.


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