Support for your business

The Victorian Government is supporting farm businesses through the Big Victorian Harvest.

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, Yarra Valley and Wellington)
  • South West (including Werribee, Grampians).

Horticulture Farm Monitor pilot

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

Through careful data collection and monitoring of a sample of farm businesses, this pilot will share de-identified information about key metrics including cash position, return on assets and net wealth.

Outcomes from the pilot will be used to inform decision-makers in the horticulture sector, including industry groups, government, and individual businesses. These shared learnings will help businesses improve their operations and contribute to targeted and strategic programs and policy.

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 shortage of seasonal workers due to 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.

The webinar features an informative presentation by agriculture HR specialists Meridian Agriculture which outlines valuable human resource management and workforce planning tips for the horticulture industry.

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.

Seasonal Workforce Industry support program (closed)

This program is now closed.

The Victorian Government provided funding to 13 peak 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.

Accessing accommodation and transport support (closed)

This program is now closed.

The Seasonal Workforce Accommodation Program (SWAP) provided financial support for COVIDSafe accommodation, transport and pastoral care services for seasonal workers across Victoria.

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.

Successful projects included 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
  • upgrades to accommodation so that 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.

Agriculture Resilience and Recovery program (closed)

This program is now closed.

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

This program 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 prepare for future challenges.

Grants of $10,000 to $300,000 provided 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.

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: 09 May 2022