The Cobram and District Fruit Growers’ Association (CDFGA) has received $430,000 from the Victorian state government to support 30 farm businesses in the region to attract and provide for the workforce they need.
The grant, as part of Government’s $6 million Seasonal Workforce Accommodation Program (SWAP), will ensure up to 500 workers will have suitable accommodation and transport, in a COVIDSafe environment.
“We are so pleased and relieved to receive this support. This funding will enable the CDFGA to attract extra seasonal labour to Cobram and ensure existing labour stays for the rest of the season,” Cobram and District Fruit Growers’ Association General Manager Karen Abberfield said.
Photo: A group of Cobram farmers launching the 'Peach on a Beach' campaign in December. Source: Thomas Panna
In total, more than 1,000 workers will benefit from additional accommodation, transport and support services in the state’s major horticulture regions, with the first grant recipients.
“This funding will help farm businesses provide the accommodation, transport and support services that contribute to a safe workplace,” Member for Northern Victoria, Mark Gepp, said.
In the Sunraysia Mallee region, up to 600 workers will be supported with a grant for the Sunraysia Mallee Ethnic Communities Council (SMECC). This not-for-profit organisation has received $450,000 to provide pastoral care to workers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
The grant will support communication of COVIDSafe regulations, connection to community support and faith leaders, accommodation and transport advice, education, driver education, employment assistance, youth engagement and playgroups. The SWAP provides financial support for regional organisations and communities to deliver COVIDSafe accommodation, transport and support services for seasonal horticultural workers.
“These projects are great examples of ideas driven by locals who have the knowledge to meet the needs of local farmers and employers,” Minister for Agriculture Mary-Anne Thomas said.
SWAP is helping organisations overcome common barriers that prevent local jobseekers from taking up seasonal work such as a lack of accommodation, and is one part of the Government’s support for industry and farm employers as they adapt to meet the challenges bought about by the coronavirus pandemic. This support includes more than $27 million in assistance for farm businesses and communities which has helped businesses attract local workers.
Source: Victorian Government Press Release