Crisis Council Of Cabinet Set Up To Combat Coronavirus

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is something that our state and our nation has not faced in our lifetimes and it presents an unprecedented challenge to the operation of Government.

It has already disrupted our lives in ways we could not have imagined, even four weeks ago.

As a Government, it is our job to respond to this health emergency now to keep Victorians safe, and then ensure our state is best placed to recover and rebuild when we get to the other side of this crisis.

Just as I said that Victorians needed to prepare to combat this virus, the Government has been preparing too.

That is why I have today established a Crisis Council of Cabinet (CCC) the core decision making forum for the Victorian Government on all matters related to the coronavirus emergency, including implementing the outcomes of the National Cabinet.

It will operate initially until 30 September 2020 and will then be reviewed.

I will chair the CCC and it will include:

  • James Merlino: Minister for the Coordination of Education and Training – COVID-19
  • Tim Pallas: Minister for the Coordination of Treasury and Finance – COVID-19
  • Jacinta Allan: Minister for the Coordination of Transport – COVID-19
  • Jenny Mikakos: Minister for the Coordination of Health and Human Services – COVID-19
  • Jill Hennessy: Minister for the Coordination of Justice and Community Safety – COVID-19
  • Martin Pakula: Minister for the Coordination of Jobs, Precincts and Regions – COVID 19
  • Lisa Neville: Minister for the Coordination of Environment, Land, Water and Planning – COVID-19

These seven Ministers have been sworn-in with new portfolios with responsibility for leading all COVID-19 response activities in their respective departments, while keeping their current portfolio responsibilities.

Other Ministers will continue to administer their current portfolios and the full Cabinet will continue to meet each week to manage the general business of government.

The most senior levels of the Victorian Public Service will also be structured to align with these new coordinating responsibilities, with a focus on eight core missions that will help us respond appropriately and effectively to the coronavirus emergency.

Departmental Secretaries will appoint Associate Secretaries to run the day-to-day administration of their departments, allowing the Secretaries to lead teams focused on the pandemic response.

These arrangements are temporary, but they’re absolutely necessary so we can save Victorian lives and support Victorian workers and businesses to the other side of this crisis.

The coronavirus emergency is testing Victorians unlike anything we have experienced before.

And as we ask Victorians to take unprecedented measures, it also demands from government a new way of operating.

In short: we need the Government and the public service to be as fast and agile as possible. And that’s exactly what these new arrangements provide.

Source: Press Release from Victorian Premier

Giving Victorians Easier Access To Life-Saving Vaccines

The Victorian Government has struck a deal with the state’s major private hospital operators to ensure they can continue to care for Victorians during the coronavirus pandemic.

Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos today finalised the agreement to support Victorian private hospitals, including St Vincent’s Private Hospital, Epworth HealthCare, Cabrini Health, Ramsay Health Care, St John of God Health Care, Healthscope and Healthe Care Australia.

The deal will see Victoria’s public and private hospitals work together to relieve pressure on public hospitals and ensure the entire health system is operating at full capacity.

Victoria’s healthcare professionals are on the frontline of this deadly virus and this agreement will ensure our private hospital medical workforce and hospital staff, including porters, cleaners, cooks and security guards keep their jobs and remain in the healthcare system for the duration of the pandemic – when we need them most.

The deal follows a guarantee from the Commonwealth to ensure the viability of all private hospitals after the suspension of all non-urgent surgery tomorrow.

Significant work is underway to prepare Victoria’s hospitals for the prolonged increase in demand during this coronavirus pandemic as the numbers of cases increase daily.

The Victorian Government has also recently hired 200 nurses from Epworth and Cabrini hospitals to undertake important contact-tracing work – identifying public exposure sites and close contacts.

Healthcare specialists, including retired doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics and allied health professionals, have also been called upon to return to work as part of the Government’s coronavirus response.

The Victorian Government is continuing to talk to smaller private hospitals and day procedure centres about extra capacity they might be able to provide when the peak of the pandemic hits.

Victoria’s health system will receive a massive $1.3 billion injection to quickly establish an extra 4,000 ICU beds and purchase millions more masks, gloves and gowns to meet the expected surge in cases during the peak of the pandemic.

The package is in addition to the $537 million the Victorian Government has already invested in our health system as part of our coronavirus response to keep our dedicated health care workers safe.

For the latest information and advice on coronavirus visitdhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos

“This agreement we have secured will ensure our health system is working at full capacity during the pandemic.”

“Our whole healthcare sector has a vital role to play in fighting coronavirus – and this deal ensures we have one system of care.”

“We look forward to working in partnership with our private and public healthcare providers to ensure Victoria is ready to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.”

Source: Press Release from Victorian Premier (PDF)

Healthcare System To Work As One During Pandemic

The Victorian Government has struck a deal with the state’s major private hospital operators to ensure they can continue to care for Victorians during the coronavirus pandemic.

Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos today finalised the agreement to support Victorian private hospitals, including St Vincent’s Private Hospital, Epworth HealthCare, Cabrini Health, Ramsay Health Care, St John of God Health Care, Healthscope and Healthe Care Australia.

The deal will see Victoria’s public and private hospitals work together to relieve pressure on public hospitals and ensure the entire health system is operating at full capacity.

Victoria’s healthcare professionals are on the frontline of this deadly virus and this agreement will ensure our private hospital medical workforce and hospital staff, including porters, cleaners, cooks and security guards keep their jobs and remain in the healthcare system for the duration of the pandemic – when we need them most.

The deal follows a guarantee from the Commonwealth to ensure the viability of all private hospitals after the suspension of all non-urgent surgery tomorrow.

Significant work is underway to prepare Victoria’s hospitals for the prolonged increase in demand during this coronavirus pandemic as the numbers of cases increase daily.

The Victorian Government has also recently hired 200 nurses from Epworth and Cabrini hospitals to undertake important contact-tracing work – identifying public exposure sites and close contacts.

Healthcare specialists, including retired doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics and allied health professionals, have also been called upon to return to work as part of the Government’s coronavirus response.

The Victorian Government is continuing to talk to smaller private hospitals and day procedure centres about extra capacity they might be able to provide when the peak of the pandemic hits.

Victoria’s health system will receive a massive $1.3 billion injection to quickly establish an extra 4,000 ICU beds and purchase millions more masks, gloves and gowns to meet the expected surge in cases during the peak of the pandemic.

The package is in addition to the $537 million the Victorian Government has already invested in our health system as part of our coronavirus response to keep our dedicated health care workers safe.

For the latest information and advice on coronavirus visit dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos

“This agreement we have secured will ensure our health system is working at full capacity during the pandemic.”

“Our whole healthcare sector has a vital role to play in fighting coronavirus – and this deal ensures we have one system of care.”

“We look forward to working in partnership with our private and public healthcare providers to ensure Victoria is ready to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.”

Source: Press Release from Victorian Premier (PDF)

Huge Expansion Of Our Health System To Fight Coronavirus

Victoria’s health system will receive a massive $1.3 billion injection to quickly establish an extra 4,000 ICU beds as we respond to the coronavirus pandemic and protect Victorian lives.

Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos announced the boost, which will secure the ICU equipment, staff and space we need to meet the expected surge in case load at the peak of the pandemic.

At present, Victoria’s public and private health services have approximately 450 fully equipped and staffed ICU beds, but we know that won’t be nearly enough if the spread of the coronavirus continues.

To be ready for the pandemic peak, we are ordering $1.2 billion worth of equipment and consumables we need, as well as investing over $65 million for capital works and workforce training – securing record capacity for our intensive care system.

The order will also see additional personal protective equipment (PPE) purchased, including 551 million gloves, 100 million masks and 14.5 million gowns.

None of us want to see the scenes from Milan, New York and other parts of the world happening here in Victoria.

This is a massive task, but we are preparing Victoria’s healthcare system to rise to the challenge.

Although we are acting quickly to slow the spread of coronavirus, the Government is ordering enough equipment to ensure we have supplies for the worst case scenario.

This investment follows the Victorian Government reaching an in-principle agreement with the state’s major private hospital operators so they can continue to care for Victorians during the coronavirus pandemic and ensure the entire health system is operating at full capacity.

This package is in addition to the $537 million the Victorian Government has already invested in our health system as part of our coronavirus response which has included more beds, ICU equipment and PPE to keep our dedicated health care workers safe.

More information can be found at www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus.

Quotes attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews

“All Victorians have to play their part in helping to flatten the curve – everything we do now gives us vital time to prepare our health system for what is to come.”

“We are preparing for the worst – but if Victorians stay at home and protect the health system, won’t need all of this extra capacity, and we’ll save lives.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos

“This type of investment has never been made in Victoria before and shows the magnitude of what we are preparing to deal with.”

“We are making the investments we need to support our hospitals and our healthcare workers to save lives and help us get to the other side of this crisis.”

Source: Press Release from Victorian Premier (PDF)

Better Weather Data To Give Farmers More Certainty

Farmers across the Wimmera and Southern Mallee can now make vital management decisions with more confidence, as the new Rainbow weather radar begins to transmit real-time data across the region.

The new Doppler radar fills a gap in the radar network, giving farmers more accurate data so they can make more informed, time-critical decisions about harvesting, crop planting and the use of chemicals and fertilisers.

The radar will also provide better short-term rainfall forecasts and additional information for emergency services and Bureau of Meteorology experts during severe weather events.

The $9.3 million Rainbow Radar project is a partnership between the local community, Wimmera Development Association (WDA), the Andrews Labor Government and the Bureau of Meteorology.

The Government provided $5 million for the construction of the Rainbow radar and the Bureau of Meteorology have committed $4.3 million for its maintenance and operating costs for the next 15 years.

The dual-polarised radar’s construction was in response to a WDA business case, which highlighted the significant cost savings and productivity benefits the radar would bring to the Wimmera and Southern Mallee.

Data from the Rainbow Radar is now available at agriculture.vic.gov.au/rainbowradar.

Quotes attributable to Victorian Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes

“The Rainbow radar will make a real difference to farmers across the Wimmera and Southern Mallee regions, as well as emergency services – who’d previously had to rely on data from radars in Mount Gambier and Mildura.”

“Accurate weather information is critical to making good faming decisions. We’re proud to partner with the Bureau of Meteorology and the local community, who passionately advocated for this project.”

Quotes attributable to Federal Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley

“The new radar underlines the Federal Government’s strong commitment to strengthening the Bureau of Meteorology’s national observations network and will benefit farmers in Victoria and into southern NSW, including I note, a key corner of Farrer.”

“We know just how vital radar and weather information is when farmers, emergency services and the broader community need to make critical decisions and that is why we’re making significant budget commitments focused on supporting regional Australia and the Bureau of Meteorology’s national observations network.”

Source: miragenews.com

Suspending Non-Urgent Public Dental For Coronavirus

All non-urgent public dental procedures across Victoria will be placed on hold for the next three months to limit the spread of coronavirus and to protect patients and staff.

Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos said the suspension of public dental will take effect immediately for three months and will then be reassessed to determine if a further extension is required.

This is consistent with advice of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee and includes treatments and checkups as part of the Government’s Smile Squad school dental program, which provides free dental care to Victorian public primary and secondary school students.

Victorians can continue to access emergency and urgent dental care at the Royal Dental Hospital of Melbourne, and many community-based dental services across the state. Health screening procedures will be in place at these clinics to protect staff and patients.

Postponing all non-urgent dental services will help limit the spread of coronavirus in line with other current measures, such as scaling back elective surgery in public and private hospitals. It will also free up personal protective equipment for front line health workers, and ensure supplies are available for critical dental services.

Suspended services include general dental care, routine denture services, specialist care, oral health promotion, teaching clinics and day surgery procedures. All patients with existing dental appointments in the next three months will be contacted to discuss their treatment plans and make new appointments when services re-commence.

The Victorian Government has so far invested an additional $537 million in our health system as part of our
coronavrius response, including more beds, ICU equipment and personal protective equipment to keep our dedicated health care workers safe.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos

“We need to postpone non-urgent public dental care to help slow the spread of the coronavirus and allow our health services to prepare for this unprecedented challenge.”

“We’re putting the safety of patients and health care workers first by ensuring health care professionals have the equipment they need when they need it.”

“I urge all Victorians to maintain their oral health by eating well, drinking tap water, and brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.”

Source: Suspending Non-Urgent Public Dental For Coronavirus – Victorian Minister of Health Press Release

Call For Skilled Health Professionals To Join Frontline

Healthcare specialists, including retired doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics and allied health professionals, are being called on to return to work as part of the Victorian Government’s coronavirus response.

Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos today launched a new website where people with a wide range of skill sets can express their interest to work as part of Victoria’s health system, with the aim of boosting our workforce and response during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Victorian Government will also be seeking expressions of interest from patient care assistants, assistants-in-nursing, and undergraduate students in health-related disciplines to provide essential support to our doctors, nurses and midwives.

To support this recruitment, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF Victorian Branch) this week commenced updated workshops for nurses eager to return to the workforce as part of efforts to battle coronavirus, training an additional 32 nurses this week with many more to come.

Victoria’s health services are also taking the opportunity to refresh and skill up nurses and midwives across the state with the support of the government’s $50 million Nursing and Midwifery Workforce Development Fund.

The Victorian Government has so far invested an additional $537 million in our health system as part of our coronavirus response, including more beds, ICU equipment and personal protective equipment to keep our dedicated health care workers safe.

Health professionals who believe they have the drive and skills to be part of Victoria’s frontline coronavirus responsive, can register their interest via the Department of Health and Human Services coronavirus website  dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos

“Our healthcare workers are heroes on the frontline of this crisis and we need all hands on deck as we face this unprecedented challenge.”

“We’re doing everything we can to slow the spread of coronavirus and save lives. But additional support may be needed, which is why we’re asking for skilled health professionals to come back to work and help care for
Victorians.”

“Everybody has a role to play in slowing the spread of coronavirus and to take the pressure off our health system. Our message is clear: if you can stay at home, you must stay at home.”

Source: Victorian Premier – Press Release

Enforced Quarantine For Returned Travellers To Combat Coronavirus

Following agreement by the National Cabinet, all travellers returning from overseas to Victoria will be placed in enforced quarantine for a self-isolation period of 14-days to slow the spread of coronavirus.

While Victoria has seen some community transmission of this virus, most cases have been the result of travellers returning from overseas who then pass it onto their close contacts.

To ensure this no longer happens, National Cabinet has agreed that all states and territories will put in place enforced quarantine measures.

This will see returned travellers housed in hotels, motels, caravan parks, and student accommodation for their 14-day self-isolation period.

These measures will not only help slow the spread of coronavirus, they will also support hospitality workers who are facing significant challenges during this time.

The new measures will be operational from 11.59pm on Saturday 28 March, with the Victorian Government already securing 5000 hotel rooms.

We will try to accommodate returned travellers close to their homes, but in some instances that may not be possible. Each person will also receive self-isolation care packages of food and other essentials.

The costs of accommodation, public health and security will be covered by each individual jurisdiction, and there will be reciprocal arrangements in place to house the residents of other states and territories.

It has also been agreed that the Australian Defence Force will be engaged to support the implementation of these arrangements.

The Victorian Government is working closely with the Australian Hotels Association and other organisations so all returned travellers can be housed safely and securely.

As we take this extra step to slow the spread of coronavirus, our message to every other Victorian remains the same: Stay at home, protect our health system, save lives.

If you can stay home, you must stay home.

If you don’t, people will die.

Source: Press Release from Victorian Premier

Statement From The Premier

Last night, National Cabinet took another big step. I want to tell you why and let you know what we need you to do right now.

The Prime Minister and other first ministers recognised that Victoria is currently grappling with a more imminent threat than most other states – because we have more cases.

Because of this, we agreed states and territories will soon need to take individual measures – because this is moving at a different speed in different places.

I am pleased that National Cabinet has made that decision – and tonight we’ll discuss it further.

We said there would be a Stage 2 and that’s what we’re doing today. But I’ll be up front with you, there will also be a Stage 3.

We need more time to get our health system ready for what’s coming. Every country in the world that is running ahead of us would give anything to have had more time.

Last night, the Prime Minister went through the details of Stage 2 restrictions on non-essential venues and activities. In Victoria, those will begin at midnight tonight.

We don’t take these actions lightly but to put it bluntly: if we don’t slow this thing down, we won’t just have people waiting in line for Centrelink – we’ll have people waiting in line for machines to help them breathe.

I know this is stressful and I know this is scary.

The measures we already have in place are difficult, and these will be harder again.

I want to reassure you that things like supermarkets, petrol stations, banks, post offices and bottle shops – and a number of other essential services – will be staying open.

But I want to be very clear: the more people ignore the rules and ignore the advice – the more this virus will continue to spread.

There is no social occasion or celebration that’s worth more than a human life.

For Victorians that means if you can stay home, you must stay home.

We are all being asked to make sacrifices. Because if we don’t, people will die.

A full list of Stage 1 and 2 restrictions will be available at coronavirus.vic.gov.au
Businesses seeking advice about whether they are affected can also call the Business Victoria coronavirus hotline on 13 22 15.

Source: Statement from the Premier

New COVID-19 restrictions begin as schools move towards online learning

The NSW Government has taken significant new steps to increase restrictions across the state – triggering the next level of enforcement necessary to fight COVID-19.

Following the decisions made by National Cabinet, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian confirmed the shutdown to protect NSW citizens.

“I understand many in the community are worried, and these changes will affect everyday lives, and may be upsetting,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“But these decisions will make us all safer, they are taken with the health of all citizens in mind, and they must be taken now.

“If you have the capacity to work from home, you should do so.”

In line with health advice, from midday today, the following non-essential activities and businesses will be temporarily shut down:

  • Pubs, registered clubs
  • Gyms, indoor sporting venues
  • Cinemas, entertainment venues, casinos, and night clubs
  • Restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeaway and/or home delivery
  • Religious gatherings, places of worship (excluding small weddings and funerals that comply with the 4m2 rule, which can proceed).
  • It is important to note essential gatherings at places such as hospitals, workplaces, constructions sites and for public transport are exempt and will continue.

As confirmed last night by the Prime Minister schools will remain open, based on health advice, which has not changed.

But from tomorrow, in NSW, for practical reasons, parents are encouraged to keep their children at home.

“Because nearly 30 per cent of children are already being kept out of school, for practical reasons NSW is encouraging parents to keep their children at home,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“This will ensure there is only one unit of work, whether the student is at home or at school.

“No child will be turned away from school.”

Source: Media releases from NSW Premier

Young Farmers Shaping The Future Of Agriculture

Young farmers are again being invited to help shape the future of Victoria’s vibrant agriculture sector, with applications now open to join the Young Farmers Advisory Council.

Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes encouraged young people from all agricultural industries to apply.

The council is seeking six members with a balance of representation by gender, industry and region to sign up for a three-year term.

Applicants will have a broad range of skills and like experience in farm management, agribusiness, finance, education, international markets and regional development.

The council provides a direct voice to government on a wide range of issues that impact young people working in agriculture. This has ranged from market access and barriers, skills and workforce issues, animal welfare, and mental health and wellbeing.

Council members also act as young ambassadors to attract new entrants to the agricultural sector.

The current council members have provided important advice to government on key issues such as workplace and farm safety, mental health, pathways for young people in agriculture and more recently climate change.

Expressions of Interest to join the council are now open and close on 22 March. To find out more visit agriculture.vic.gov.au.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes

“If you’re passionate about agriculture and want to make a difference for young farmers in Victoria, this is the opportunity for you.”

“Previous members have helped enormously in informing us and other government officials of their priorities and issues – they’ve truly shaped the industry for the years to come.”

Source: Victorian government

Look Up And Live

In February 2018, a 55-year-old truck driver was killed in a property in Kergunyah, south of Wodonga. The truck’s trailer was raised when it hit powerlines and brought them down onto the truck, which caught fire. It is believed the driver tried to escape, got out of the truck and in the process was electrocuted.

Energy Safe Victoria supported WorkSafe’s investigation of the incident.

This tragic accident serves as a reminder to farm workers and heavy machinery operators about the importance of safe working conditions around powerlines and electricity infrastructure. The message is clear to farmers and other workers: Look Up and Live.

In 2019 Energy Safe Victoria has revitalised its long-running ‘Look Up and Live’ campaign with a focus on raising awareness in regional and rural areas.

The campaign theme “Don’t expect a warning” is paired with an overhead safety gantry, familiar to all truck drivers in an outback setting. The image is designed to remind drivers and heavy machinery operators to think about safety as if there was a physical gantry in place to guide operations.

The Look Up and Live awareness campaign has been in place since 2006 when three people were killed in similar but separate incidents involving a tipper hitting powerlines. In 2010 there was a further tragedy when a father and son were killed when a windmill they were moving came into contact with powerlines. The death last year and frequent near-misses demonstrate the need for increased awareness about this issue.

Trucks and powerlines on farms

Farmers are more likely to die at work than any other Victorian worker – about thirty per cent of work place deaths occur on farms. Farmers work long hours and often are highly skilled in operating farm machinery. While it’s tempting to jump in and get the job done, you could be putting your life and the life of others at risk.

    Safety tips when working around powerlines on farms:

  • identify all areas where powerlines cross properties
  • identify all electrical hazards before starting work – if in any doubt contact the local electricity distribution company
  • relocate bulk delivery storage sites to a safe area away from powerlines
  • suppliers of bulk materials must ascertain, when taking orders, the delivery point on the farm for the load, the proximity of powerlines and what safety precautions are in place should there be powerlines in the vicinity
  • never raise the tray of tipper trucks when underneath powerlines
  • drivers should refuse to deliver loads if their safety is compromised in any way
  • ensure a spotter is on hand when working near overhead powerlines
  • display Look up and live stickers on any machinery or equipment that is raised overhead
  • monitor weather conditions closely – remember powerlines can sag in extreme heat and sway in strong winds
  • powerlines are more difficult to see at dawn and dusk
  • remember that electricity can jump gaps.
  • Use ESV Warning Signage on areas where there is risk on the farm (Farm Sign).

No Go Zones

  • Observe No Go Zones which prescribe a safe working distance from powerlines.
  • Remember, if you are not sure about the location of powerlines, check with your electricity distribution business. A list is on the ESV website.

powerlines on farms

Victorian electricity distributors have very extensive rural networks, totalling 84,000 km of power lines. Much of the rural network is made up of SWER powerlines.

SWER is a single wire High Voltage line which supplies single-phase electric power from an electrical grid, with all equipment grounded to earth and with the earth used as the return path for the load currents.

Because SWER powerlines have only one line, they can be hard to spot. Often there are long distances between poles, bush vegetation and even the time of day can cloud your vision. You might lose track of the grid or think that the powerline is not in the area you’re working in.

Accidents can be prevented if you take the time to look up and check your work area. Don’t forget working in remote areas, it can be difficult for emergency services to access the site and it takes time for help arrive due to the large distances involved in the Australian bush.

Electricity jumps

Trucks and machinery don’t actually have to touch the powerlines for injury or electrocution to occur. Electricity can jump gaps. This is why there are established No go zones around powerlines.

Even if you have scouted out powerlines and other safety risks, you need to make a final check before operating in the headspace above you.
Wherever you spot powerlines on poles or towers, be aware of the following No go zones:

  • Never work within 3 metres of overhead powerlines or poles
  • Use a spotter when working between 3 and 6.4 metres of powerlines
  • Never work within 8 metres of powerline towers
  • Use a spotter when working in-between 8 and 10 metres of powerline towers.

Spotters

Spotters are licenced workers who ensure safety standards by observing the operation of workers and equipment. The role of a spotter is to minimise risk of electrocution, contact with pipelines, vicinity to power lines and electrical conductors.

Spotters are accredited and can prove they are qualified by producing a spotter card. The course covers techniques and develops skills relating to observing and warning against any risky approaches towards overhead and underground equipment.

While spotters are an additional cost and consideration for major construction works, it’s worth being aware of the role and remembering if you’re a farmer or an operator working on a farm that in some circumstances there might be someone whose sole responsibility is to look up for you.

OverHead-powerlines-1

What do to if something goes wrong

The best thing to do is to avoid the accident by taking the time to survey the site. Identify all electricity infrastructure including poles, towers and powerlines. Remember that the position and height can change with the impacts of weather and construction. Don’t assume because you’ve done it once that things will stay the same. Do it each time you are about to operate at the site.

If equipment comes into contact with powerlines call the relevant power company immediately and do not move from the vehicle until you can confirm that the power has been switched off.

If there is anyone else nearby, they should not approach the vehicle closer than 8-10 metres.

You should stay in the vehicle. If you have to leave the vehicle because of some other life threatening situation developing such as fire, jump clear of the vehicle – don’t not step off – and keep both feet together. Hop or shuffle away. Contact with the ground and the vehicle at the same time could kill you.

If when exiting the accident you fall over, don’t stand up. You should roll away to minimise the risk.

Be aware of what is above you

  • Using tall machinery, such as cranes or augers
  • Driving high vehicles
  • Raising the tipper tray of trucks
  • Raising equipment such as irrigation pipes overhead
  • Climbing on top of machinery or storage silos

About Us

We are Victoria’s safety regulator for electricity, gas and pipelines.

Our role is to ensure that Victorian gas and electricity industries are safe and meet community expectations. We are also responsible for licensing and registering electricians, and educating the community about energy safety.

More information is available on the Energy Safe Victoria website: http://www.esv.vic.gov.au.. To order Farm Safety signs and stickers, go to https://www.esv.vic.gov.au/ merchandise/.
For more information visit www.esv.vic.gov.au

Farm Safety 1

Plant the seed of success with Bendigo TAFE

The career opportunities for individuals within the Animals, Plants and Sciences sectors are set to grow as agribusinesses within Victoria prepare to respond and meet the demands for food and fibre production in both local and international markets.

In Victoria alone, the sector employs over 190,000 people and industry requires workers ranging from unskilled labour through to highly-qualified and experienced academic researchers.

With continued population growth in Australian and overseas, that inevitably increases the need for food, feed, fibre and other agriculture products. Already the sector is seeing increased demand as recent Free Trade Agreements across Asia come into operation. Victoria is also recognised for producing safe clean crops and products, integrating the importance of animal welfare and implementing on-farm and regional biosecurity measures.

The introduction of the Victorian Government’s Free TAFE* incentive enables students to develop the skills they require for these in-demand jobs. Free TAFE allows people to consider courses that are linked to jobs in sectors where employment demand is increasing. From 1 January 2019, the Free TAFE for Priority Courses initiative will cover the cost of tuition fees for priority courses for students who are eligible for government-subsidised training.

So as an individual or business owner, where should you start your training journey?
Choose a training provider that has experience and the links with industry – Bendigo TAFE and its new Food and Fibre Centre of Excellence and engaged Industry Advisory Board. With over 155 years of experience in the region, as well as programs that extend beyond the local area, they can support you in both working out what you need to do, and how to do it.

Bendigo TAFE’s Food and Fibre Centre of Excellence delivers courses through a variety of industry programs and simulated experiences in the state of the art, purpose- built facilities to prepare students with real-world job skills. From learning necessary farming skills in agriculture to laboratory analytical testing and science, Bendigo TAFE’s Food and Fibre Centre at its Charleston Road campus offers a range of nationally accredited courses in agriculture, horticulture, conservation and land management, laboratory and animal studies.

Bendigo Tafe -1

Bendigo TAFE’s programs, including short courses focusing on specific skill sets and full qualifications are designed to meet the needs of industry focusing on a wide range of skills and knowledge on the topics needed to build a viable, sustainable and environmentally responsible agriculture sector.

The skills and knowledge developed by undertaking our programs can be used in a wide variety of industry settings, such as:

  •  Cropping
  • Livestock production
  • Agribusiness
  • Chemical use
  • Irrigation
  • Machinery operation and maintenance
  • Merchandising and sales
  • Pest management
  • Soils
  • Wool

Recent studies have shown that 69.5% of graduates of the agriculture, environmental and related studies field of education (at certificate IV qualification levels) reported an improved employment status such as finding new employment, transferring to a new job, a promotion, pay increase or setup of their own business or expanding an existing business.

A high number of graduates also reported being satisfied with their training with the national average sitting at 92.8%, with many finding career pathways.

Bendigo TAFE is committed to working with the agriculture sector to develop workforce strategies and training to support small, medium and large business’s workforce development.

“Through our Food and Fibre Centre of Excellence our expertise and our flexibility set us apart from other training providers,” said Trevor Schwenke, CEO, Bendigo TAFE. “We can arrange training and assessment that is tailored specifically to meet industry needs. We already work with several industry sectors through our Industry Advisory Board, designing and delivering training that suits what they need.”

There is an opportunity for agribusiness operators to work directly with training providers to ensure training delivery matches their needs. A typical qualification being adapted to market demands is the Certificate III in Agriculture (AHC30116). It is a relevant and recognised qualification that allows individuals to develop post-trade skills and knowledge to become specialists within the agriculture industry. It is designed to meet the needs of supervisors or team leaders in the agriculture industry.

Importantly, one-way industry can meet demand is by investing in the development of skills in its current workforce. The opportunity to upskill and reskill staff is often overlooked but has the potential to provide great returns for any business that decides to invest. There will also be new careers created as the sector continues to see mechanisation, automation and a broader range of individual skills required to cover work from the paddock to the office. Preparing for this scenario means workforce planning and development is an important factor in any agribusiness plan.

The food and fibre sector is poised for growth and Bendigo TAFE through its Food and Fibre Centre of Excellence can provide both accredited and non-accredited training; short courses through to a full qualification, with a structure that suits both individuals and organisations. Get ready to grow, contact Bendigo TAFE today.

*Free TAFE on selected courses only. Eligibility criteria apply. Other fees and charges may apply. Find out more at freetafe.vic.gov.au

Article kindly provided by Bendigo TAFE.

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Services and support for farmers

The Victorian Government is providing support for farm businesses and rural communities affected by drought and dry seasonal conditions.

Drought and dry seasonal conditions are a challenge for any farm business and the ability to make early decisions is important.

Agriculture Victoria has resources and information available to assist with many areas of farm management and a range of programs to assist farmers to make informed decisions.

Decision Making Support

Decision making workshops and services delivered by Agriculture Victoria and industry partners provide technical support to assist farm businesses manage dry seasonal conditions. Workshops provide information and advice on a range of topics including the design of stock containment areas, feeding livestock, farm water management, animal welfare, irrigation, whole farm planning and climate change risk management.

Network groups across the State also support farmers and industry groups to upskill and share information and ideas with fellow farmers. The Young Farmer Business Network and groups such as BestWool/BestLamb, BetterBeef and the Horticulture Industry Network are examples of these programs.

Farm Debt Mediation – Talk can be cheaper

Under Victorian legislation, banks and other creditors must offer to undertake mediation with farmers before they can initiate debt recovery on farm mortgages.

The service is low cost (currently $195 per session, per party), confidential, independent and can help avoid the costs and other consequences of expensive and potentially unnecessary litigation. Farm debt mediation is a structured negotiation process where a neutral and independent mediator assists the farmer and the creditor to try and reach agreement about current and future debt arrangements.

Agriculture Victoria administers the scheme and the Victorian Small Business Commission arranges the mediation service.

For more information please contact a farm debt mediation officer on 136 186 or email farm.debt.@ecodev.vic.gov.au

Rural Financial Counselling Service

The Rural Financial Counselling Service is a free independent and confidential service staffed by qualified and experienced Rural Financial Counsellors who understand farming and business.

A Rural Financial counsellor can help you understand your financial position, the viability of your enterprise and identify options to improve your financial position. The counsellor can also provide referrals and options for accessing government or industry grants and programs.

Counsellors are available to come to your place of business and have offices located across the State.
For more information call 1800 686 175 or visit www.agriculture.gov.au/rfcs

Agriculture Victoria contacts

For further information on the services and support Agriculture Victoria can provide call 136 186, visit agriculture.vic.gov.au/dryseasons or speak to staff at your local Agriculture Victoria office.

Article kindly provided by Agriculture Victoria.Agriculture Victoria

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Fencing Upgrades To Help Landholders Recover From Fire

The Victorian Government will help landholders in bushfire-affected communities repair damaged or destroyed fences between private land and National Parks, State Parks and State forests.

The funding announced today by Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes gives farmers the flexibility to not just replace their boundary fences with a standard fence – as per the existing Government program – but to upgrade them, making them fire-resistant with concrete posts and better able to exclude pests such as wild dogs.

The Government will pay half the cost of these boundary fencing upgrades, up to $5,000 per kilometre.

The announcement will help boost local jobs, with Agriculture Victoria to encourage landowners to engage the services of local contractors.

The Government will also continue to pay 100 per cent of the restoration costs of fences damaged on private land as a result of machinery used by fire agencies to control bushfires, or fire agency staff cutting through fences to allow access for suppression efforts.

A dedicated fencing coordinator in the Department of Environment, Land Water and Planning (DELWP) will help landowners decide what option will suit them and arrange payment.

An assessment of the property and the fence damage must be completed before works are undertaken or any payments can be made, and landholders will continue to pay labour costs and half the cost of materials. Landholders can call the DELWP Contact Centre Team on 136 186, Monday to Friday, 8:00am to 6:00pm.

One million dollars – provided through BlazeAid – is being made available through the Victorian Bushfire Appeal to assist farmers in replacing fences destroyed by the bushfires on their private property.

The Victorian and Commonwealth governments have also made grants of up to $75,000 available to farmers through Rural Finance to help with the costs of rebuilding, including fences and sheds. For more information visit www.vic.gov.au/bushfire-recovery-victoria

Quotes attributable to Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes

“This is great news for our hardworking farmers who have lost so much – helping them rebuild from this devastation and set them up to respond to the modern challenges facing their farms”

“We know that tearing up fencing that’s been damaged by fire is backbreaking work. It’s our job to make sure we’re lending a hand to farmers and landowners as they rebuild.”

Quote attributable to Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio

“This is about helping bushfire affected communities get back on their feet and giving landowners an opportunity to improve boundary fences, rebuilding them to be more fire resistant.”

Quote attributable to Bushfire Recovery Victoria chair Ken Lay

“Every time we’ve visited a fire-affected community, fencing has been raised as a major issue for farmers. It’s great their feedback has been listened to and important steps are being taken to support them.”

Source: Victorian Premier – Minister of Agriculture

Disaster Assistance Extended For Bushfire Affected Communities In Victoria

Bushfire assistance of up to $1960 per family has been extended to communities in 14 Victorian council areas to help relieve personal hardship and distress.

People in the Ararat, Alpine, Ballarat, Glenelg, Golden Plains, Indigo, Mansfield, Northern Grampians, Pyrenees, Southern Grampians, Wangaratta, Wellington and Wodonga council areas can now access the support package.

Minister for Natural Disaster and Emergency Management David Littleproud said these payments will give people dignity and help communities return to normal life even sooner.

“This gives payments of up to $560 per adult and $280 per child – to a maximum of $1,960 per family,” Minister Littleproud said.

“The payments are to help meet immediate needs of those wort-hit through over next few days.

“This could be used for expenses such as such as food, emergency shelter, medicine and clothing.

“We will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with impacted individuals and communities and provide further assistance as it is needed.”

Victorian Minister for Police and Emergency Services Lisa Neville said a number of communities have been significantly affected across the State, in particular the North-East and Gippsland, and need assistance.

“Recovery support is available for people experiencing personal hardship to help with their immediate emergency needs,” Minister Neville said.

“The package also included personal and financial counselling, to support those suffering in hardship as a direct result of the fires.”

Assistance is being provided through the jointly funded Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA).

Anyone who has been affected by the bushfires and is suffering personal hardship and distress should visit an Emergency Relief Centre or call the Payment Assistance Helpline on 1800 961 054 for advice and support.


Information on disaster assistance is available on:
the Australian Government’s Disaster Assist website at disasterassist.gov.au
the Department of Health and Human Services website at https://services.dhhs.vic.gov.au/financial-crisis-support and
the VicEmergency website at emergency.vic.gov.au/relief

Source: Victorian Minister of Police and Emergency Services Press Release

Farm Machinery Improvement Grants Now Open

Farmers in the north-west Millewa region can now apply for a farm machinery grant to help them maintain on-farm machinery and equipment and prepare for future seasons, thanks to the Andrews Labor Government.

Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes today opened applications for the Farm Machinery Improvement Grants Program as part of the Labor Government’s $31.6m drought assistance package, announced in October.

The program will be delivered by the Victorian Farmers Federation and will provide grants of up to $10,000 to eligible dryland farm businesses in the Millewa and surrounding areas.

Farm owners, operators, share farmers or leaseholders can apply for a grant to undertake essential maintenance and repair of machinery including tractors, harvesters, seeders and hay baling equipment – including maintenance and repairs to meet safety standards and repairs to fix or replace broken parts.

The Labor Government’s $31.6 million drought package takes its total support for drought-affected farmers since September 2018 to over $81 million.

For more information about the program and to apply for support, visit agriculture.vic.gov.au/dryseasons or call 136 186.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes

“I encourage all dryland farmers in the Millewa to get in touch and apply for these grants to repair and maintain essential farming machinery to ensure they have what they need for the 2020 growing season and beyond.”

“This is part of our immediate, targeted support for farmers in the Millewa – and we’ll continue to work closely with farming communities to help them stay resilient as climate change makes drought more frequent and severe.”

Quote attributable to Victorian Farmers Federation President David Jochinke

“These grants will provide much needed assistance for farmers, allowing them to make the necessary preparations for what I hope will be a strong 2020/21 season.”

Celebrating the rich tapestry of life in the Australian Outback

As a renowned rural photographer and author, BEFA Entrepreneur of the year, keynote speaker and TED Talk presenter, Alice Mabin has astonished readers with her best-selling publications and photographs that celebrate the rich tapestry of life in the Australian Outback.

At a national level she is passionate about influencing the agricultural industry to stand up, be proud and get on with the challenges of securing our future for generations to come. Her agricultural books and videos make you think twice about the way “life has to be done”. Alice Mabin’s unfailing persistence and tenacity is inspiring. She is right – life is too short not to do what you love.

She believes that part of the solution is inspiring people to believe that what they do matters, that they are appreciated, and that we are all connected to each other in ways that make us interdependent. She helps bridge the city-country divide by showing how interconnected we all are. Intertwining the adventures and revelations of life in Al’s typical cheeky style, she helps people to uncover what it really takes to be successful in an everchanging environment.

Recently she teamed up with Agricultural magnate John Nicoletti- donating 4000 copies of The Grower books to schools across Australia. This represented the largest private donation to the education system. Each set is valued at $200.

“I grew up in a marginal area in the wheat belt of WA, I’ve probably seen more droughts than good years but I still managed to put together a big chunk of land,” Nicoletti said. “I want to encourage our young people, if we can give 10 or 50 or 100 people the inspiration to get out there and have a real crack – this is what it’s about.”

“I saw the passion and perseverance that Aussie growers put into their animals and produce, but I also saw the disconnect between this industry and the people who are fed and clothed because of it,” Mabin said.

“I knew I needed to somehow bridge that divide between those who are involved and those who aren’t, the country and the city, and get recognition for our farmers and John took it one step further by making sure as many school kids as possible can get their hands on these books. Ag is the heart of our country, and with these books, school kids will get a better understanding of how and why that is.”

This month she releases her new book, The Winding Road. A behind the scenes look at the production of her four books The Drover, The Driver and The Grower series, while intertwining secrets to uncovering your brilliance, fulfilling your dreams and creating success, even when you don’t know how.

Article kindly provided by Alice Mabin.

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Safety First when digging – Dial Before You Dig, SA

The Dial Before You Dig service plays a very important part in farm safety. Dial Before You Dig is the free national service designed to prevent damage and disruption to underground pipe and cable networks around Australia.

Being a farmer, you may know that enquiries are easy to lodge online at www.1100.com.au (mobile device compatible) or by calling 1100 during business hours. If you are planning any kind of work on your property that involves digging, such as fencing, planting, constructing a dam or shed, or even burying life stock you should contact Dial Before You Dig.

But safe excavation is not just about getting the plans!

Once you have lodged your enquiry with Dial Before You Dig and received the plans, you should also ensure you work safely once on site. To ensure you are excavating safely when digging on your property, there are several key messages that need to be considered.

Key messages to remember when excavating:

  • Asset owners send you information directly, generally in the form of plans. They also provide contact details within their response should you require further information or onsite assistance. If you need assistance, let them know!
  • Follow any instructions provided by asset owners. These are often found in Duty of Care Statements accompanying plans.
  • Look for clues that underground infrastructure is present, such as marker posts, water meters, inspection points and warning signs.
  • Use the services of a DBYD certified locator to identify assets. Where appropriate and safe to do so, it is the excavator’s responsibility to visually expose the cable or pipe using hand tools.
  • Plans provided by asset owners detail the presence of underground infrastructure rather than the exact location. Remain mindful that plans generally do not show the entire domestic connection.
  • Take note of any required permits.
  • Be aware of any exclusion zones around assets.

Always remember Dial Before You Dig and these key messages. Visit www.1100.com.au to lodge your enquiry and for more information on excavating safely.

Article kindly provided by Dial Before You Dig.

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Is it fit to load?

Animal welfare legislation & livestock transport

The Australian Animal Welfare Standards for the Land Transport of Livestock (the Standards) define specific requirements in relation to livestock transport in Australia.The Standards are enforceable. It is an offence to load and transport an animal in a way that causes, or is likely to cause, it unnecessary harm.

These Standards replace the individual state/territory livestock transport provisions of the Australian model codes of practice for the welfare of animals, so there are now the same rules nationwide for livestock transport.

This Is it fit to load guide will help producers, agents, buyers, transporters meet their legal obligations under the new Standards.

Preparing livestock for transport

Preparing livestock for transport correctly is a vital element of any journey. Well-prepared stock travel better, are less stressed and associated animal welfare issues are avoided.

    Steps for preparing livestock for transport:

  • plan the journey including rest stops and inspections
  • know who to contact in case of an emergency
  • make sure the facilities including yards, races, loading ramps and vehicles are well constructed and will not injure livestock
  • handle livestock quietly and with minimum force – stress is cumulative
  • segregate animals appropriately (e.g. horned animals, mothers with young, etc.)
  • rest recently mustered livestock prior to loading
  • It is the responsibility of the person in charge to ensure that animals are prepared correctly and will cope well with the entire journey.

Preparing livestock for transport – feed & water

Maximum time off water. The Standards determine the maximum period of time that each species can be held off water during transport. See the table overleaf for more information. This period includes mustering and any time off water in yards, as well as the journey itself. But, these are maximum limits – certain classes of animals, such as pregnant or young animals, or conditions such as hot dry weather could mean animals need even more regular access to water.

Journey log. Transporters, drivers and agents should always seek information about how long animals have been off feed and water before loading. If it is likely that the journey will take more than 24 hours, then the date and time when animals last had access to water and when they were last inspected must be recorded by the person in charge. Written information about who to contact in an emergency must also be provided.

Feed and water during curfews.Dry feed such as hay but not green feed can be offered prior to loading even if water has been withheld. While food and/or water is on offer, make sure that there is enough space for every animal to access it, as shy feeders become an issue when space is limited. Consider giving electrolytes to animals during the preparation period as it may help prevent physical stress during a long journey.

Article kindly provided by Meat & Livestock Australia. For more information visit mla.com.au – Site of Meat & Livestock Australia.