Support for your business
The Victorian Government is supporting farm businesses through the Big Victorian Harvest.
Agriculture Resilience and Recovery Program
The Agriculture Resilience and Recovery Program is a $5.2 million program which supports farm and food processing businesses to develop long-term solutions to recover from the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
This program will help fast-track the recovery process for agriculture and food supply chain businesses as they adapt to new operating conditions, attract and retain their workforce and prepare for future challenges.
Grants of $10,000 to $300,000 are available to provide 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.
There has been significant demand for the Agriculture Resilience and Recovery Program.
The program is now closed.
Rural Finance is competitively assessing submissions in accordance with the Program guidelines and will advise applicants of the outcome of their application in due course.
Seasonal workforce coordinators
Our Seasonal Workforce Coordinators are working on the ground to help address workforce needs in key Victorian regions, including:
- Greater Sunraysia (including Mildura, Robinvale, Swan Hill)
- Goulburn Murray (including Greater Shepparton, Moira and Campaspe)
- South East and Gippsland (including outer Melbourne, Wellington)
- South West (including Werribee, Grampians).
Seasonal Agriculture CALD Engagement Officers are working with horticulture industries in northern and central-eastern Victoria to link agriculture businesses with CALD information, facilitate job connections and assist with communications.
Seasonal Workforce Industry support program
The Victorian Government is providing funding for peak industry bodies and organisations in priority harvest regions to help farm businesses recruit and retain workers.
Peak industry bodies and organisations in priority harvest regions and sectors will be invited to apply for grants for additional staff and resources to help Victorian farmers meet this year’s seasonal workforce challenges brought about by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
For further information, contact a Seasonal Workforce Coordinator.
Accessing accommodation and transport support
The Seasonal Workforce Accommodation Program (SWAP) provides financial support for COVIDSafe accommodation and transport of seasonal workers across Victoria. Expressions of Interest for the program are now closed. Applications are being assessed and successful applicants will be advised shortly.
The grants of between $10,000 and $1 million are for regional and local projects that boost COVIDSafe accommodation and transport supply for the 2020–21 harvest.
This includes works or activities that support:
- the supply of temporary and permanent COVIDSafe accommodation and transport for seasonal workers
- logistics and coordination services to develop, oversee and implement the COVIDSafe accommodation and transport of the seasonal workforce
- development of proposals and business cases that encourage private sector investment in accommodation for agricultural workers
- billeting coordination so it meets COVIDSafe standards
- facilities hire, such as portable accommodation, toilets, shower blocks, kitchens or other facilities that encourage COVIDSafe practices including physical distancing and hygiene
- seasonal worker support services, such as pastoral care to the seasonal workforce, particularly where temporary accommodation exists.
New on-farm accommodation planning rules
Recent changes 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.
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.
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 the attraction and retention of workers for this industry.
For more information visit Rural worker accommodation changes.
Summary of support available to agriculture businesses
Victorian Government financial support
Job seekers who take up a seasonal harvest job in the Victorian horticulture industry on or after Wednesday 17 February 2021 can apply for a Seasonal Harvest Sign-on Bonus of up to $2,430 for eight weeks’ work.
Seasonal Workforce Industry Support grants
The Victorian Government is providing funding for peak industry groups and organisations that support businesses in priority harvest sectors and regions.
Payroll Tax Relief
The State Revenue Office has payroll tax relief measures available for employers.
|Test Isolation Payment|
A $450 payment that provides financial support for Victorian workers required to self-isolate to wait for the results of a coronavirus (COVID-19) test.
Australian Government financial support
|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.
Temporary visa holders with general working rights like working holiday makers and some international students:
|Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program||Between $750 and $4000 is available to eligible employers to hire an apprentice.|
|Pandemic leave disaster payment||A $1500 lump sum payment supports workers who can't earn an income due to self-isolating or quarantine at home or are caring for someone with coronavirus (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.
Subsidies of up to $10,000 to hire and retain eligible jobseekers in ongoing and sustainable positions longer than six months.
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 provides crisis support and suicide prevention services. Call 131 114
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 is a 24/7 service for men with relationship and family concerns.
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 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.
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.
The AIIA provides tools, information and free services for businesses to keep functioning with minimal disruption through technology.
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
The VCCI has free annual membership and access to coronavirus (COVID-19) business resources.
Export Finance Australia provides support and resources for exporters during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Export Council has a suite of tools and resources for exporters and updates on supply chains and freight.