About ARDA

The Agribusiness Regional Development Association (ARDA) was initially established through a pilot project in the RDA’s Northern Inland region of NSW, working in collaboration with key government departments spanning Regional Development Australia (Northern Inland), NSW Trade and Investment and local government economic development departments.

ARDA has since expanded to Southern NSW and the Capital Region, where it has won Federal Government funding to introduce initiatives including the Capital Region Export Hub and the Capital Region Export Alliance, which are actively building sustainable regional communities through knowledge sharing, capacity building and direct introductions between Australian producers and manufacturers and export markets.

The association is regionally run, and its programs will be scalable to benefit other regions.

ARDA has adopted the structure of the Australian Government’s Regional Development Australia initiative and aims to build strong connections between Australia’s regional agribusiness community and the world.


The ARDA board comprises a team of individuals with many years of agribusiness experience and proven track record in key areas including:

  • Agribusiness support & skills development
  • Bilateral trade support – Export focus
  • Regional Investment development
  • Digital innovation – Accessing global markets
  • Developing human capital
  • Developing Tourism through Cultural exchange

The board provides vision, directives and oversight of progress relative to initiative objectives.


Will Holmes à Court
B.E. Civil, B.Ec. (Accounting)


Mr Holmes à Court is a highly experienced and accomplished leader who has held senior executive positions as Chief Executive Officer for National Trust of Australia, Chief Financial Officer for Ernst & Young and MD for Captura. He has been instrumental in numerous business start-ups particularly with a focus on fin-tech and business process. Will has a passion for community and for building sustainability. As National Trust (NSW) CEO he was highly regarded in regional NSW and was instrumental in establishing the annual Bush Week in the Cities campaign.
The Holmes à Court family has been associated with agriculture and entrepreneurship since colonial days.
Will has Bachelors degrees in Engineering and Economics and post graduate programs in Computer Science and Accounting. He was awarded a Fellow of the CPAs in 1998.

Noel O’Brien

Vice President

Mr Noel O’Brien is a highly respected regional community leader who has served on many boards and is a previous Mayor of the Gunnedah region. He has an astute knowledge of local government legislation and understands how to effectively communicate with a range of stakeholders in business and the broader community. He has worked on many regional economic development projects ranging from exploration and mining,health ,emergency management. Noel is highly entrepreneurial and has established numerous successful businesses, providing a solid understanding of human resources, financial management and the business life cycle. He is a member of Transparency International Australia and is a passionate anti corruption advocate. Mr O’Brien is an Order of Australia Medal recipient, in recognition of his outstanding contributions to rural communities and regional economic development.

Russell Stewart
Adv Dip. Ag. (Tocal)

Committee Member

Mr Russell Stewart is a highly respected regional community leader. Russell was born and raised in Bellata near Narrabri and is the son of a Soldier Settler. He is a self-employed consultant and businessman after many years in Local Government. Russell is a passionate advocate of training and employment pathways that retain our young people in the region and is committed to the economic development of the 13 Local Government Areas in Northern Inland.

Russell has extensive experience across all three levels of government as well as the private sector. He is currently the President of the Narrabri & District Chamber of Commerce, Chair of Regional Development Australia Northern Inland, Chair of the Narrabri Coal Community Consultancy Committee, and a member of the Narrabri Gas Community Consultancy Committee. Russell lives in Narrabri with his wife Louise and is the proud father of two adult children, Thomas and Ashleigh, who remain in regional Australia working in their professional capacities.

Michael McHugh
BA LLB (Hons), Acc Spec (Prop)

Committee Member & Public Officer

Barrister and solicitor of the High Court of Australia and the Supreme Courts of Victoria and Tasmania, Solicitor of the Supremes Courts of New South Wales and Queensland. Accredited specialist in property law (mortages and securities). Michael also practices in the areas of company law, business law and commercial litigation finance.
A member of the Law Society of NSW and the Property Investors Association of Australia. Articulate and assertive manner, Michael’s considerable experience includes many Supreme Court civil litigation matters as well as those involving business law and commercial litigation.

Daryl Young
Dip. Ag, Ag. Comm. Marketing (Monash) Dip Ag. (Tocal)

Vice President

Mr Daryl Young has a well-established knowledge of agricultural principles, having managed farming enterprises for over 20 years. Daryl has built complex agricultural businesses offering clients agricultural inputs, consultancy on cropping choices through to marketing choices for commodities grown.

Become an ARDA Member

By becoming an ARDA Member, you can access a huge array of business services. See our Membership page for more information.