Being a fourth generation resident of really small towns sparked a passion for their economic, environmental and social well-being and a lifetime of seeking to facilitate change within communities and to gain recognition by policymakers of the intrinsic value of very small towns to the well-being of Australia. Professionally Neil has worked for state and local government, state-wide and local community organisations, tertiary institutions as well as being a small business owner in areas as diverse as consultancy, tourism and second-hand dealer. In his community capacity, Neil has been instrumental in establishing and supporting community-owned newspapers, community banks, re-use enterprises and the Centre for Rural Communities.
Professionally Neil has had a wide variety of roles – employers include the Youth Affairs Council of Victoria, Rural Enterprise Victoria, a group of small hospitals (Yarram; Tallangatta; Orbost; Corryong; Heathcote and Beaufort), a group of 6 Area Consultative Committees, the Regional Studies Institute of Monash University, a Regional Waste Management Group and the Brotherhood of St Laurence. These positions had a developmental focus on community and microeconomic development.
For the last 10 years, Neil and his partner owned the Nowa Nowa Caravan Park (sold 2018). Other ventures (business and community) now occupy Neil’s time – stall holder at the Bairnsdale Bazaar (retro and collectables), bespoke assemblages of homewares (sold through Foundry) and a partnership specialising in decluttering (The Sorters).