Support for your business

The Victorian Government is supporting farm businesses through the Big Victorian Harvest and through ongoing training opportunities, which can be viewed on the Seasonal harvest training page.

Speak to a seasonal workforce coordinator

Our Seasonal Workforce Coordinators are working on the ground to help address workforce needs in key horticulture regions, including:

  • Greater Sunraysia (including Mildura, Robinvale, Swan Hill)
  • Goulburn Murray (including Greater Shepparton, Moira and Campaspe)
  • South East metro and Gippsland (including outer Melbourne, Yarra Valley and Wellington)
  • South West metro (including Werribee, Grampians).

If you would like to talk to a Seasonal Workforce Coordinator about seasonal workforce challenges, provide your details and someone will contact you directly.

Speak to a Seasonal Workforce Coordinator

Horticulture Farm Monitor pilot

The Horticulture Farm Monitor Pilot will support businesses recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic by providing insights into how they are performing against broader industry trends.

Through careful data collection from horticulture businesses, this pilot will share de-identified information about key metrics including cash position, return on assets and profitability.

Outcomes from the pilot will be used to support businesses to make informed decisions in farm operations and inform decision-makers in the horticulture sector, including industry groups and government on policy and strategic program design.

If you would like to know more about the pilot or become involved, contact Andy Clark on 0436 804 656 or andy.clark@agriculture.vic.gov.au.

Workforce Planning support for Agriculture businesses

With the seasonal workforce challenges brought about by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, workforce planning and management has never been more important for the horticulture industry.

As part of the Victorian Government’s support to horticulture businesses, a new booklet and webinar is available to help them manage workforce challenges during harvest.

The Business Workforce Planning for your next harvest’ booklet is a tool to assist businesses in managing their workforces as well as review their current ways of working and finding new ways to attract and retain workers. This outlines valuable human resource management and workforce planning tips for the horticulture industry.

New on-farm accommodation planning rules

Worker accommodation on-farm is an essential part of attracting and retaining workers. Recent changes to the Victoria Planning Provisions has now defined ‘Rural worker accommodation’. This provides farmers who wish to invest in on-farm accommodation with the opportunity to develop new or upgrade old on-farm accommodation to house rural workers.

Changes for investing in on-farm accommodation for up to 10 rural workers

A further change to the Victoria Planning Provisions means that farmers who want to invest in on-farm accommodation for up to 10 agricultural workers no longer need a planning permit (appropriate building permits are still required).

The planning permit exemption is available exclusively for accommodation for workers engaged in agriculture, must be on at least 40 hectares of land on a property within the Farming Zone and meet other conditions including access to electricity, potable water, wastewater infrastructure and an all-weather road.

For more information visit Rural worker accommodation changes.

What if I want to install accommodation for more than 10 workers?

On-farm accommodation for in excess of 10 people is allowed. Building on-farm accommodation for more than 10 people will require a planning permit.

This will help farm businesses provide suitable on-farm accommodation for their vital seasonal workforces, removing one of the common barriers to attract and retain workers for this industry.

For more information visit All schemes Planning Scheme - Amendments.

Seasonal Workforce Industry support program

The Victorian Government has provided funding to 13 industry bodies and organisations in priority harvest regions to help farm businesses recruit and retain workers.

This funding provided organisations with additional staff and resources to help Victoria’s farmers meet the seasonal workforce challenges brought about by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Examples of how Victorian agriculture organisations have used their SWISP funding, to produce resources that support businesses:

  • The Australian Table Grape Association has created a video series called ‘Harvesting Greatness’ that gives job seekers insight into work on farm harvesting table grapes. Jobseekers can see what a ‘day on the farm’ entails and be more work ready.
  • Citrus Australia has developed a guide to ‘Planning your seasonal workforce’ which provides information on how to become an Approved Employer to access Pacific workers through the Commonwealth Government’s Pacific Australia Labour Mobility program. The Guide also provides information on how to train and retain workers, and how to operate in a COVIDSafe environment. Citrus businesses now have targeted and practical information for assist with attracting and caring for their workforce.
  • Agribusiness Yarra Valley created the Yarra Valley Seasonal Employment Hub which includes resources for recruitment, information about accommodation and training videos. Many local businesses and jobseekers are now being connected through the platform.

Accessing accommodation and transport support

The Seasonal Workforce Accommodation Program (SWAP) provides financial support for COVIDSafe accommodation, transport and pastoral care services for seasonal workers across Victoria. This program is now closed to new applications.

The grants of between $10,000 and $1 million were offered for regional and local projects that boost COVIDSafe accommodation, transport supply and support for workers in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Examples of how SWAP has provided support to upgrade and build accommodation in key horticulture regions include:

  • Mildura City Backpackers built an outdoor, all-weather food preparation and dining area which enabled the accommodation to operate in a COVIDSafe way, making 20 additional beds available for use.
  • Boundary Bend Olives built 12 additional caravan sites and installed temporary toilet and shower facilities, and a communal laundry to support their seasonal harvest.
  • Boort Lakes Holiday Park undertook upgrades that meant 77 additional workers could reside in improved existing cabins, and 16 new cabins were installed.
  • Sunraysia Mallee Ethnic Communities Council (SMECC) provided pastoral care to vulnerable workers, including vaccination busses that provided 2,252 vaccinations to workers in the Sunraysia region.

Agriculture Resilience and Recovery program

The Agriculture Resilience and Recovery Program (ARRP) is a $5.2 million program that supports farm and food processing businesses to develop long-term solutions to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This program is now closed to new applications.

This program has helped fast-track the recovery process for agriculture and food supply chain businesses as they adapted to new operating conditions, sought to attract and retain their workforce, and prepared for future challenges.

Grants of $10,000 to $300,000 were provided for on-farm infrastructure, business upgrades or new facilities, as well as accommodation and support services for the agricultural workforce to adapt to changing environments and meet COVIDSafe standards.

For more information about existing applications or the ARRP, contact Rural Finance.

Summary of support available to agriculture businesses

Victorian Government financial support

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Payroll Tax Relief

The State Revenue Office has payroll tax relief measures available for employers.

Australian Government financial support

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AgMove relocation assistance

If you relocate to take up short-term harvest work in a harvest, regional or remote area, the Australian Government's AgMove will help pay your relocation costs.

Australian workers:

  • Up to $2000 relocation costs covered after completing 40 hours of work in at least two weeks.
  • A further $4000 of relocation costs after completing 120 hours of work in at least four weeks.

Temporary visa holders with general working rights like working holiday makers and some international students:

  • Up to $650 relocation costs after completing 40 hours of work in at least two weeks.
  • Up to a further $1350 for relocation costs after completing 120 hours of work in at least four weeks.
Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program

The Australian Government provides a number of incentives to eligible apprentices and employers.

Pandemic leave disaster paymentSupport if you can't earn an income because you or someone you’re caring for has to self-isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19.
JobMaker Hiring Credit

The Australian Government has implemented the JobMaker Hiring Credit for businesses to employ additional young job seekers aged 16–35.

Eligible employers can access the credit for each eligible additional employee they hire between 7 October 2020 and 6 October 2021.

Wage subsidies

Subsidies of up to $10,000 to hire and retain eligible jobseekers in ongoing and sustainable positions longer than six months.

Useful resources

Support

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Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS)

The RFCS provides free financial counselling to farmers and related small businesses that are in, or at risk of, financial hardship.

Call 1800 686 175 (toll free).

Lifeline 24/7

Lifeline provides crisis support and suicide prevention services. Call 131 114

Beyondblue

Beyondblue provides 24/7 telephone information and support, to help everyone in Australia achieve their best possible mental health. Call 1300 224 636

MensLine Australia

MensLine Australia is a 24/7 service for men with relationship and family concerns.

Wellbeing and mental health support for small businesses

Victorians who run a small business can access mental health support to navigate the impacts of coronavirus (COVID-19). Current support includes St John Ambulance Mental Health and Crisis Support Training.

Partners in Wellbeing helpline: 1300 375 330

WorkSafe Victoria

WorkSafe Victoria has the latest information about coronavirus (COVID-19), and support for employers and employees to prevent workplace exposure. It also has industry specific and multilingual information.

WorkSafe Victoria is offering free workplace safety consultation services through the OHS Essentials program. It provides advice on COVIDSafe Plans and practices, delivered by independent occupational health and safety (OHS) experts.

Victorian Skills Gateway

Through the Victorian Skills Gateway, Victorian TAFEs and registered training organisations are offering free, short, accredited training courses (Skill Sets) to upskill workers to administer and implement infection control policies and procedures in workplaces.

Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA)

The AIIA provides tools, information and free services for businesses to keep functioning with minimal disruption through technology.

Business Victoria

Find tips on how to create a continuity plan and evaluate risk. Learn how to respond and recover. Book a low-cost appointment with a mentor to help you work through or develop a business recovery plan. 13 22 15

Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI)

The VCCI has free annual membership and access to coronavirus (COVID-19) business resources.

Export Finance Australia

Export Finance Australia provides support and resources for exporters during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Export Council of Australia

The Export Council has a suite of tools and resources for exporters and updates on supply chains and freight.

Page last updated: 31 May 2022