New jobs to support sustainable agriculture

4 June 2020

Minister for Agriculture and Regional Development, Jaclyn Symes, announced on Wednesday 3 June that funding from the Victorian Government’s $50 million Agriculture Workforce Plan will go towards a number of projects to be initiated by Victoria’s Catchment Management Authorities. 

Collectively, these projects will create more than 80 full-time equivalent jobs that benefit the agriculture industry. These new jobs will focus on delivering projects that benefit Victorian farmers and the wider agricultural industry – a focus that is particularly important given the impacts of recent bushfires and seasonal conditions.

Two of the projects will be rolled out in the rural areas surrounding Melbourne and be delivered through the Port Phillip & Westernport Catchment Management Authority (PPWCMA).

The first project will employ three new FarmSchool Coordinators to help connect kids with farming in the rural areas around Melbourne.

They coordinators will arrange and lead school incursions and excursions that enhance school children’s knowledge, understanding and appreciation of local farming systems through direct interaction with farmers and farm business operators.  

The coordinators will be initially employed for six months to undertake the program throughout the remainder of 2020. The incursions and excursions will involve various farms around Melbourne, tailoring the interactions to farming types that occur in a school’s nearby area.

The PPWCMA will soon begin communicating with farming enterprises and associated agricultural businesses, and with schools, to identify those interested in joining this innovative program. The incursions are anticipated to begin in August while excursions will likely begin later in the school year, depending on coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions.

In the meantime, farmers and schools can register their early interest with the PPWCMA’s Regional Agriculture Coordinator, Karen Thomas, at karen.thomas@ppwcma.vic.gov.au.

The second project will employ 15 new workers for six months (working in three work crew of five people) to directly assist farms with a range of sustainable agriculture services.

These services will include weed control, planting/guarding of new native vegetation and supporting bushfire recovery work in parts of the region, such as the Bunyip area which is in a recovery phase after major bushfire events in March 2019.

It is expected that the crews will operate in the peri-urban and rural farming areas of the western (Werribee and Maribyrnong catchments), northern (Yarra catchment) and south-eastern (Mornington Peninsula and Dandenong and Western Port catchments) areas around Melbourne – one crew per area. 

The PPWCMA will manage a process to select and roster the farms to be worked at and the work to be undertaken. This will involve consultation with farming organisations, such as agriculture industry associations, to identify potential sites.

The work may also include assisting other organisations, such as Landcare networks and groups, that have planned work on farms but are facing difficulties delivering them due to coronavirus (COVID-19). 

The crews are expected to begin work in August. Farmers in the proposed project areas can register their early interest with the PPWCMA’s Regional Agriculture Coordinator, Karen Thomas, at karen.thomas@ppwcma.vic.gov.au.

Workers for the new jobs created by these projects will be matched through Working for Victoria, the Victorian Government’s initiative to help job seekers find work and employers find workers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. People interested in these jobs, and other jobs being created through various projects in Victoria, can register at vic.gov.au/workingforvictoria.