THE Victorian state government is backing more safe accommodation, transport and support services to help the agriculture industry as it manages seasonal workforce challenges.
Agriculture minister Mary-Anne Thomas has provided more than $400,000 to the Cobram and District Fruit Growers' Association to support its seasonal workforce.
The association received $429,000 to assist local growers to provide COVIDSafe transport and accommodation for up to 500 workers in the region through the government's Seasonal Workforce Accommodation Program (SWAP).
"Tackling issues such as accommodation, transport and recruitment through multiple programs is a good way to ensure farm businesses have greater access to seasonal workers now and in the future," Ms Thomas said.
"These are great examples of empowering industry organisations to create their own tailored workforce solutions."
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SWAP has provided $3.1 million to 13 regional projects to deliver COVIDSafe accommodation, transport and support services for up to 2,000 seasonal horticultural workers.
The Cobram and District Fruit Growers' Association also received $51,450 to employ an industry liaison officer to help farmers attract and retain workers, and to develop online training materials for new workers, and education programs to ensure safer workplaces.
The work is focused on young people in the region and is being delivered in coordination with Moira Shire and the Goulburn Murray Local Learning and Employment Networks.
Training materials are being produced in collaboration with Food and Fibre Gippsland.
This grant is part of the Government's $1 million Seasonal Workforce Industry Support Program (SWISP), which has assisted 13 organisations and groups that support businesses in priority harvest sectors and regions.
Fruit Growers Victoria has also benefited from both funding programs, receiving $100,000 through SWISP for an industry liaison officer to support farm businesses to attract and retain workers while ensuring the workplace is COVIDSafe.
Fruit Growers Victoria also received $365,000 as part of SWAP to boost transport and accommodation for seasonal workers as well as providing pastoral care to vulnerable workers including culturally and linguistically diverse community members.
The programs are focused on removing barriers that have traditionally prevented people from taking up what has proven to be a critical job in agriculture's seasonal harvest.
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The story Vic government helps with safe accommodation, transport and support services first appeared on Stock & Land.