From the CEO

From the halls of power in Canberra to the shores of historic Cooktown, the past few weeks have been an exercise in contrasts – and a reflection of the diversity of the Far North region Advance Cairns represents.

We kicked off with a deep dive into how elite sport leadership can translate into the boardroom with a conversation with Greg Swann, CEO of the Brisbane Lions. The Lions, of course, went on to put on a sterling performance at the AFL Grand Final, narrowly missing out on the flag and did the state very proud.

Keeping with the Aussie Rules theme, we are delighted to welcome new members AFL Cape York House Foundation and the great work they do focusing on wellbeing and education of kids from across the Torres Strait and Cape York right here in Cairns.

We also took the opportunity to celebrate life in regional Australia and joined hundreds from across the nation at the Regional Australia Institute’s (RAI) ‘Regions Rising’ summit in Canberra as well as a number of important meetings at Parliament House. As part of this push to promote the regions, we were delighted to secure a live broadcast with the Today show on a glorious morning along the Esplanade which featured a number of our members.

However, the month finished on a sombre note as the city lost Kevin Byrne, our former Cairns Mayor and principal architect of Advance Cairns.

As the year draws to a close, we are gearing up for significant events, including our upcoming annual general meeting and cocktail function on November 2. You’ll see the notice with further details come out later this week.


Best Regards,

Jacinta Reddan
Chief Executive Officer
Advance Cairns

Month in review

Canberra Chronicles: Parliament and RAI’s Regions Rising Summit

Jacinta Reddan, CEO, and Taylor Moy, Government Relations and Policy Manager, met with the offices of the Minister for Northern Australia ahead of the Northern Ministerial Forum meeting here in Cairns, the office of the Minister for Climate Change and Energy, as well as the Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch at Parliament House in Canberra.

During their time in Canberra, the team participated in the Regional Australia Institute Regions Rising National Summit joining over 300 of Australia’s regional leaders from across the private and public sector. The summit highlighted crucial subjects, including the demographic shift and the challenges, energy transition, workforce, housing, health and national productivity growth. The Institute unveiled the first progress report of Regionalisation Ambition, and we heard from political leaders across the board including the Minister for Regional Development, the Opposition Leader and others about the challenges and opportunities for those living in regional Australia.

Live on Today Show: A Tropical Forecast Experience

We were delighted to promote regional living with Channel 9’s Today Show live weather crosses featuring Cairns and our members as part of the RAI’s national campaign to celebrate the regions.

It was terrific to have members Experience Co. and AFL Cairns join us on camera to promote the opportunities available in our region and the work-life balance and sense of community that comes with life outside the big smoke. Thank you also to our community friends in the ‘She Spoke’ cycling team – a terrific showcase of the love of outdoors that drives so many here.

Jobs & Skills

We were pleased to meet with the Federal Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor and Queensland Senator Nita Green together with other key stakeholders to discuss challenges and workforce issues facing the region.

Cooktown Visit: Unlocking Economic Potential

CEO Jacinta Reddan travelled to Cooktown to meet with Cook Shire Council and to learn more about the region’s potential economic growth opportunities including the proposed Lakeland dam project. There’s no better tour guide than Mayor Cr Peter Scott who is so proud of the beautiful region.

Art Acquisition: Looking to The Future

We’ve added a unique piece of art to our collection from local Indigenous artist, Jedess Hudson. This work symbolises the collaboration and shared purpose that is at the heart of Advance Cairns.

‘Circles are the meaning of life that are constant, each subtly varying in shape and size as they continually evolve, grow and adapt to the challenges that shape our path into the future. Within this composition, the trio of circles signifies unity, collaboration, and a vision of what lies ahead.

The expanding ripples radiate the potency of collective effort, attentive dialogue, and effective communication in fortifying the region. The dots represent the harmonious partnership of diverse stakeholders who serve as the dynamic force propelling these constructive outcomes forward.’

Jedess Hudson, 2023

NBN Digital Connectivity

The future of technology in the region and the impacts on regional and rural workforce, enabling technology, innovation, health and education were the key discussion points of a member roundtable with one the nation’s foremost leaders on digital connectivity, Gavin Williams, Chief Development Officer for Regional and Remote at NBN Co.

Bridging the digital divide in regional Australia is a multifaceted challenge that requires a coordinated effort from government, industry and local communities. Post-Covid realities, climate change considerations, shifting geopolitics and the ongoing digitisation process have seen major shifts in business and society and call for a new approach.

NBN Co., as a critical player in the nation’s telecommunications landscape, is playing a pivotal role in bridging the digital divide by expanding high-speed broadband access to regional and remote areas, and support and infrastructure for businesses equal to those in metropolitan centres thereby enabling equitable access to digital services and opportunities for all Australians.

Opportunity 2032

Pleased to hear of the commitment to ensuring the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games will be the games for all Queensland with the Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk MP at the new Convention Centre to highlight business opportunities.

The region has a nine-year runway to capitalise on the Games with the Premier and Member for Cairns Michael Healy encouraging regional businesses to start planning now.

The government wants to showcase the state during the Games and support regions through procurement opportunities and participation in supply chains.

Advocacy wins

Cairns Convention Centre

Premier and Minister for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Annastacia Palaszczuk joined Cairns MP Michael Healy to officially open the $176 million Cairns Convention Centre upgrade and expansion. The world-class centre is a stunning design which sets the region apart and will act as a major drawcard for the lucrative business events sector.

Fast facts:

  • More than 1000 local workers inducted on to the site during works
  • More than 1000 local workers inducted on to the site during works
  • 86 apprentices and 7 trainees were trained during construction and are now part of the regions industrial workforce
  • Expanded facilities to host more than 60 events and conferences
  • Expected to bring more than 35,000 delegates to Cairns annually
  • Estimated to boost the region’s economy by $100 million annually

Funding: $176 million state government

Member spotlight

Building Positive Futures for young Indigenous Australians

A warm welcome to AFL Cape York House Foundation, our new community member. Since its establishment in 2016, the foundation has been dedicated to its primary mission: providing essential support to students and families engaged in AFL Cape York coordinated programs. These programs offer residential care, education, well-being support, AFL pathways, careers, transition, and outreach programs. As CEO Rick Hanlon told a recent Advance Cairns event, it’s not just about education alone, it’s about the whole student and their wellbeing.

Sea Swift: Revolutionising Shipping in Northern Australia

On September 26th, Sea Swift, the foremost shipping company in Northern Australia, welcomed the Newcastle Bay II, a specially designed cargo vessel. This remarkable addition is set to redefine transportation in Far North Queensland’s remote communities.

The Newcastle Bay II will be strategically deployed to maintain schedules connecting Cairns, Horn Island, and Weipa. It will also play a pivotal role in guaranteeing the timely delivery of food and essential supplies to the Outer Torres Strait Islands.

Triumph of Excellence: TAFE Queensland awarded Large Training Provider of the Year

For a third consecutive year, Premier member TAFE Queensland has won the Large Training Provider of the Year Award at the Queensland Training Awards.

A great achievement that shines a spotlight on the organisation’s innovative, progressive and authentic training opportunities.

Upcoming events

‘Stand Up Against Domestic and Family Violence’ High Tea | 15 October, AFL Cape York Boys House
An Auction will be held, raising proceeds for Domestic and Family Violence services within the Cairns, Cape York and Torres Strait Island regions.
Book now >>

Mayor’s Christmas Cheer Appeal | 3 November, Pullman Cairns International
Enjoy a glamourous evening of fine food prepared by four outstanding Executive Chefs from Pullman Reef Hotel Casino, Shangri-La Cairns, Hilton Cairns and Pullman Cairns International. Take a chance to bid on one off experiences and priceless memorabilia.
Donate >>
Book now >>

80’s Rewind: Trinity Anglican School 2023 annual Gala Ball | 14 October, Cairns Convention Centre
Dust off those shoulder pads, buy that professional grade hair spray and rewind to 1983 for a not-to-be missed evening of fine food, entertainment, dancing and auctions. All proceeds go toward the Trinity Anglican School Principal’s Opportunity Scholarship Fund.
Book now >>


Community Survey – Resource Recovery 2024 (RR2040)
In response to the Australian and Queensland Governments commitment to half food waste and the amount of organic waste going to landfill by 2030 the Cairns Regional Council has launched the Resource Recovery 2040 (RR2040) project to investigate options for Cairns. How do you manage your food and garden waste and how do you want it to be managed in the future?
Start survey >>

Queensland Business Energy Saving and Transformation (QBEST)
The $16 million Queensland Business Energy Saving and Transformation (QBEST) program will target the state’s more than 450,000 small-to-medium businesses, allowing them to claim up $12,500 cash back on electrical appliances and helping them to save money off power bills.
Find out more >>

Made in Queensland Round 6 | Matched funding grants of $50,000 to $2.5 million | Close 11 December 2023
Made in Queensland (MIQ) is a $101.5 million Queensland Government program helping small and medium sized manufacturers to increase international competitiveness, productivity and innovation, and to generate high-skilled jobs for the future.
Find out more >>

2024 AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award | $15,000 | Closes 25 October

Sustainability grant for farmer groups | $5,000 – $20, 000 | Closes 27 October