About Us

What is the FBN?

The Fitzgerald Business Network (FBN) is an initiative of the Community Resource Centres (CRCs) in the Fitzgerald Biosphere.

Our aim is to connect and support the 200 small-to-medium sized businesses in the region through training, networking, advocacy and promotions.

The network currently spans Hopetoun and Ravensthorpe with plans to incorporate Jerramungup and Bremer Bay in the future.

CRCs are not-for-profit, community-led organisations and form part of a larger network across WA providing important services, programs and initiatives that help regional communities remain connected, vibrant and healthy. Our deep local knowledge, strong partnerships with key stakeholders and existing structures/resources combined with our social development arm mean the CRCs are well placed to develop and facilitate the business network.

How the FBN came about?

The FBN was founded in 2020 with a view to strategically coordinating existing CRC business development activities and to provide enhanced connection and support to local businesses.

The four CRCs of the Fitzgerald Biosphere – Jerramungup, Bremer Bay, Hopetoun and Ravensthorpe – were initially brought together through the Fitzgerald Biosphere Community Collective. At this initial meeting, all representatives cited a disconnectedness across the region despite the commonalities.  With support and guidance from Wheatbelt Business Network and Goldfields Esperance Development Commission, the FBN launched within 5 months of the initial concept formation and within it’s foundation year has attracted over 100 members as well as significant funding to establish the network.

Thanks to support from Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, FQM, Galaxy, Medallion Metals and MACA, the FBN has been able to expand the service delivery for the benefit of the region.

How the FBN operates?

The FBN is an incorporated association whose membership comprises the management committees of the participating CRCs. Businesses and organisations operating in the Fitzgerald Biosphere may subscribe to the FBN to receive support and networking opportunities.

The structure of the FBN ensures that each CRC can assess the needs of its local business community and deliver tailored training, networking, advocacy and promotions.

The participating CRCs then work together to roll out region wide business activities. e.g. streamlined industry training opportunities, shop local campaigns in the region, business excellence awards, business branding and photography packages.



All our FBN staff are located within the Fitzgerald region.

Melanie Kerr

Melanie Kerr

 – FBN Senior Project Officer

Melanie lives in Hopetoun, she is originally from England, but has lived in Western Australia for over 8 years. Melanie has extensive Project Management and market research background, previously working in the pharmaceutical and healthcare field and more recently moving into the business area.  Melanie works at the Hopetoun CRC and was involved in the initial set up the Fitzgerald Business Network when it first launched and is supporting the continued development of the Network as well as being a direct contact for all FBN affiliate members and Hopetoun members.

Karrina Smallman

Karrina Smallman

 – Hopetoun Community Resource Centre (CRC) Manager

Karrina has been employed at the Hopetoun CRC for over 9 years, starting as a tourism trainee before being promoted to Manager in 2015. She leads a strong team at the Hopetoun CRC and has excellent working relationships with a wide variety of community groups and stakeholders.
Karrina has a great mixture of skills and qualifications including a Certificate IV in Training and Assessing as well as other qualifications in Visitor Information, Telecommunications and Information Technology.
Karrina thrives on collaboration, enjoying working with other strong community leaders to help support and connect her community through opportunities that promote a vibrant and healthy community.
Karrina is a very active member of the community who is passionate about the community and the environment.

Gabrielle Major

Gabrielle Major

– FBN Committee Member & Ravensthorpe CRC Manager

Gabrielle revels in the interconnectedness of business, community and family life that is inherent in small, rural towns. As a co-founder of the Fitzgerald Business Network, she believes the unique structure of the FBN will value-add to this aspect of rural life for the benefit of not only the business sector, but the entire Fitzgerald Biosphere.
Gabrielle has held management positions in the NFP and private sectors alongside many office bearing roles on community groups. She has worked at the Ravensthorpe CRC since 2015 and loves her role working with community-minded doers. She has a Bachelor of Arts (Mass Communication & Public Relations).

Liz Utting

Liz Utting

 – Ravensthorpe Community Resource Centre (CRC)

Originally from Perth, Liz has now been living in Ravensthorpe for about 7 years. Liz holds a Bachelor of Arts from UWA and has been working as a Project and Community Development Officer at Ravensthorpe Community Resource Centre for over 2 years. As a volunteer and committee member for multiple community groups, she is passionate about all things community, which has extended to the business community through her recent involvement with FBN.