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Rural Assistance Authority

Advisory Board

The RAA Advisory Board consists of the Chief Executive and part-time members who are appointed by the Minister for Primary Industries. In accordance with the Rural Assistance Act 1989, the part-time members are appointed to represent farmers and have specific qualifications and experience in banking or finance, farm management or an associated area and/or backgrounds in social welfare, rural counselling, conservation or other areas the Minister considers necessary to enable the Board to carry out its functions.

The Advisory Board members, are all independent from the NSW Government and are appointed following an externally advertised application process. A Declaration of Interests register is maintained, and at each meeting, Board members must disclose any conflicts of interest in relation to their role or the matters under discussion in the Board meeting.

The term of office for appointed members is for a period not exceeding three years with members eligible for re-appointment for a further three year term.

Darren Budworth, RAA Chief Executive Officer

Darren Budworth, RAA CEO

Darren is the CEO of the NSW RAA and serves as an Executive Director on the RAA Advisory Board.

Darren has over 10 years’ experience in senior executive roles in Australia’s largest rural research and development provider, the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI), working across agriculture, biosecurity, food safety, fisheries, policy and cabinet, business performance, industry and economic policy analysis and finance.

Darren’s experience combined with his diverse technical skills, lends itself to a unique perspective in developing and delivering targeted policy and programs that maximise outcomes for rural communities.

Appointed – October 2022

Contact email:

Louise Clarke, RAA Advisory Board Member

Louise Clarke, RAA Advisory Board Member

Louise is an Executive Leadership Coach with over 35 years of senior executive experience in banking and finance, social services and leadership roles.

Louise is a graduate and member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, is the current chair of Centacare New England North West and is a non-executive director and risk and governance committee member for PN Bank and a non-executive director of Hastings Co Op.

In addition, Louise is a board member of Yarrowitch Hall and Trustees and a member of the Yarrowitch Community Group and the Walcha Tourism committee.

Louise is a grazier in the Walcha district in the New England Tableland, running a property using regen principles.

Appointed – 1 January 2023
Term end – 31 December 2025

Derek Schoen, RAA Advisory Board Member

Derek Schoen, RAA Advisory Board Member

After finishing the HSC Derek started an apprenticeship as an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer with TAA, graduating as a Licenced Aircraft Maintenance Engineer. He returned to the family's mixed farming business in 1983 to run beef cattle, prime lambs, winter cropping and irrigated summer crops at Corowa in the southern Riverina.

Derek has been a councillor on the Corowa Shire Council and was deputy Mayor. Board experience started with a local farmers co-op and later NSW Farmers Association serving as President for 3 years. Other board membership have included the Cattle Council of Australia, National Farmers Federation and he is currently on the board of Agstewardship and Beyond Blue.

Derek is passionate about sustainable agriculture, planning and building resilience into farm businesses and a strong advocate of early succession planning.

Appointed – 1 February 2020
Term end – 31 December 2025