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Image of the countryside located in the Derwent Valley area.

About Us

Our Advisory Board

A photo of Andrew Benson – Chairman of the SWN Advisory Board and Deputy General Manager at Southern Midlands Council.

Andrew Benson

Chairman of SWN  Advisory Board

Deputy General Manager at Southern Midlands Council

Andrew has worked in both the Private Sector and the Public Sector in senior roles.  He was Chief Executive Officer with the Local Government Training Board Ltd (LGTB) for ten years where the LGTB operated as a Registered Training Organisation, developed traineeship and para professional curriculum, as well as the development of competency standards across the industry.  As a Level Two Broker under the Jobskills and Landcare & Environment Action Program, Labour Market Programs, the LGTB facilitated the placement of over four thousand five hundred long term unemployed people in work placements in both the public sector as well as the private sector, eg Incat where a 98% retention rate into full employment was achieved.  During his employment with the LGTB Andrew undertook a staff exchange in England at the Local Government Management Board for six months as well as travelling to Belfast and Vienna sharing human resource management practices.


Andrew was ‘head hunted’ for the role of Tasmanian State Sales Manager for SKILLED Engineering Pty Ltd (a labour hire company) and was in that role for five years.  In Tasmania, SKILLED employed and hired out over 1,200 people every working day.  He also established the SKILLED Group Training Company across Australia, managing their quality assurance registration and audits. During the time with SKILLED he worked as a Project Manager for Japanese company Voith Fuji, in Tasmania and Japan on the frontend planning & logistics for the refurbishment of the Gordon Power Station. 


Andrew has a trade qualification in Carpentry & Joinery, a Diploma in Building, a Graduate Diploma in Urban & Regional Planning and is currently studying at UTAS for a Batchelor of Architecture & Built Environment.  He was appointed by the Premier of Tasmania as the inaugural Chairman of the Manufacturing Industry Council. He was a Fellow in the Australian Institute of Management, and also a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

A photo of Elliott Booth – Member of the SWN Advisory Board and CEO at Andrew Walter Construction.

Elliott Booth

CEO at Andrew Walter Construction

Deputy Chair of SWN Advisory Board

Elliott is the PCBU and Chief Executive Officer of Andrew Walter Construction (AWC). He has overall responsibility of all plant and the labour force or AWC; project management and contract administration; estimating / tendering; involves liaising with all stakeholders including clients, subcontractors and their representatives.

Elliott has extensive project management experience obtained over twenty five years employment in the industry. This includes project management staff supervision, plant operations, drafting, surveying and financial management and stakeholder liaison.

Elliott is highly regarded in the industry for his knowledge and personal skills and is actively involved in all aspects of civil construction.

Dianne Booth.jpg

Dianne Booth

Coordinator at Derwent Valley Community House


Dianne has co-managed the Derwent Valley Community House (DVCH) for eight years, having been with the organisation in varying roles since 2006. 

DVCH is part of the network of 35 Community and Neighbourhood Houses around the state. 

Houses are individually incorporated not-for-profit organisations, primarily funded by the Tasmanian Government through the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

Whilst each House provides different programs and services relative to their community’s needs, all work under a community development principle.

Dianne sits mainly in the finance, management and administration space, holding qualifications in both accounting and business.

Prior to raising her family, Dianne held positions with an industrial automation firm and the (then) Hydro-Electric Commission.

A Derwent Valley resident for more than 30 years, Dianne has strong connections with and knowledge of the local community.

A photo of Janine Banks – Member of the SWN Advisory Board and Director of Governance & Regulatory Services at Brighton Council.

Janine Banks

Director of Governance & Regulatory Services at Brighton Council

Janine is the Director of Governance and Regulatory Services with Brighton Council, a position she has held for fifteen years. She began her career in local government in the mid 1980’s and has been a loyal servant of Brighton Council for 37 years.

Janine has held a passion for self-development during her working life and she currently holds a Graduate Diploma in Local Government Management, a Masters of Education Degree, Diploma of Fraud and a Diploma of Government Investigations.

Janine has always been careful to ensure that every Brighton Council recruitment process is completed thoroughly to ensure the most suitable employee is selected. This has resulted in Brighton having the lowest staff attrition rate of any Tasmanian Council. Janine’s governance style has had a positive impact on the culture within the organisation and the productivity of every Brighton Council employee.

A photo of Susie Parsons – Member of the SWN Advisory Board and Owner of 28 Gates Farm Stay and Fishery at Gretna, Derwent Valley.

Susie Parsons

Owner Operator at 28 Gates Farm Stay & Fishery

Susie and her husband Michael are the owner operators of 28 Gates Farm Stay & Fishery at Gretna in Tasmania’s Derwent Valley. The 5,000 acre, 7th generation “Bloomfield” property, has been in the Parsons family since 1862 and produces high quality merino wool.  “28 Gates” was successful established by Susie in 2011 and provides a unique and intimate experience to its guests. Susie has also created an online fashion business which offers items produced by the Australian Wool Network made from wool grown on the property.

Susie, a mother to three adult children, is passionate about the tourism and agriculture sectors and is also a highly regarded member of the Derwent Valley Tasmanian Tourism committee.   In her own words “I love my community and am always willing to help out in any way to support a sense of belonging”

A photo of Mike Frost – Member of the SWN Advisory Board and an Education and Training consultant.

Mike Frost

Education & Training Consultant

Mike Frost is one of the ‘true believers’ in the positive impact vocational education and training can have on young people still at school. From directing some of the earliest and most durable VET programs at Rosny College in Hobart, Tasmania, in the early 1990s Mike has gone on to be an enduring and influential voice in school-based VET. This has included leading the establishment of VET in school’s peak professional body, VETnetwork Australia, project managing the establishment of the former Tasmanian Qualifications Authority, leading reform legislation Guaranteeing Futures to secure the successful transition of senior students from school to working life and driving the successful reform of the Tasmanian Certificate of Education to include VET in senior secondary certification.

 Since establishing Mike Frost and Associates, a consultancy specialising in a range of services across VET but with a particular focus on school-based VET, in 2010 he has gone on to provide policy advice, executive, evaluative and program review services for the Australian Government, the Tasmanian Government, the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Certification Authorities (ACACA), the Australian Education Union and to VETnetwork Australia.

 He has written extensively about VET in Schools and was founding editor for national publications The Vetnetworker and VOCAL. He has convened major conferences over many years for VETnetwork Australia, the Tasmanian Government, and more recently for the Australian Government’s School to Work section on Trade Training Centres.

He has chaired the Southern Central Trade Training Centre’s Advisory Committee since 2015 and been a strong advocate for the growth and development of the centre and the Jordan River Learning Federation’s senior school particularly in relation to building a supportive industry and stakeholder network. He currently is providing support and advice as a VET consultant to Independent Schools Tasmania for schools wishing to establish VET programs.

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Lauren Sheppard

Managing Director at Moo Brew

Lauren is the current Managing Director of Moo Brew, Tasmania’s largest independent craft brewery which is based in Bridgewater. When she commenced her role as General Manager, Lauren was the first female to hold that position in the company’s history.  Lauren’s list of managerial roles is extensive and as well as the brewing sector, her appointments span across the wine, finance, superannuation and automotive industries. They include:

Managing Director - Moo Brew

General Manager - Moo Brew

Business Operations Manager – Morilla Estate Pty Ltd

Business Manager – Domaine A Stoney Vineyard

Mobile Lending Manager – Xeon Finance

Business Manager – Jackson Motor Company


Lauren also currently sits on the Executive of Tasmanian Icon MONA.

The Southcentral Workforce Network

Providing workforce opportunities and solutions to the community throughout the Southern Central Subregion.

The Southcentral Workforce Network (SWN) is a workforce development project operating in the Derwent Valley, Brighton, Southern Midlands and Central Highlands council areas.

Our aim is to:

  1. Increase the workforce participation of local people through access to meaningful and appropriate qualifications.

  2. Help local businesses better connect with employment services as well as training systems.

  3. Improve productivity and business growth across the region.  

We work closely with employers, industry groups, registered training organisations, local job seekers, and educators to support, train and encourage local employment from within the region. We are proudly supported by the Tasmanian Community Fund until the 30th of June 2023 and more recently the Tasmanian State Government. 

The project revolves around the implementation of the strategies and initiatives recommended in the Southern Central Subregion Regional Workforce Planning Report undertaken by KPMG on behalf of the four subregion councils (Brighton, Central Highlands, Derwent Valley and Southern Midlands) and released at the end of 2017.

It encouraged greater collaboration between the region’s councils, education providers training organisations, Job Actives and Industry leaders to collaborate collectively and innovatively address shared regional workforce issues. It recommended an employer services model, matching job seekers with vacancies via appropriate training.

Given the region’s low socio economic profile (three of the four council areas are in the bottom five SEIFA * rankings for Tasmania, and all four in the bottom 25% in Australia), the Report concluded there is a significant potential in the region that, because of social and educational disadvantage, have been unable to take advantage of the growing employment opportunities in the region. Conversely, the report  found that employers in existing and emerging industries are frustrated at not being able to find enough suitably trained and qualified local employees.

The project commenced on the 7th of September 2020 and in its first 12 months of operation assisted 138 people find employment in the region (19 traineeships / apprenticeships), held 22 training courses for community members or students in the subregion. It connected subregion schools to industry held 19 information sessions for students covering Construction, Early Learning, Career Planning, Civil Construction Trades, Agriculture / Horticulture. The project also held forty two pre employment sessions with jobseekers aligned to Transition to Work, Job Active and Disability Employment Service providers.

* SEIFA, Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas, provides measures of socio-economic conditions by geographic area. is a product developed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) that ranks areas in Australia according to relative socio-economic advantage and disadvantage. The indexes are based on information from the five-yearly Census.

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