Hot topics

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This week's topicS:

Seasonal Work Incentives Trial Information Sessions




What is the Seasonal Work Incentives for Job Seekers Trial?

The Australian Government is introducing the Seasonal Work Incentives Trial (the trial) on 1 July 2017 to help meet the seasonal labour demands of horticultural growers.
The two-year trial aims to encourage job seekers to take up short-term work placements of six weeks by providing them with an opportunity to earn additional income, without affecting their income support payment. 

Job seekers can also receive a travel and living away allowance if the work is located more than 120 km from their home.

How can I participate in the trial?

The trial will be managed from 1 July 2017 by jobactive - Transition to Work and Disability Employment Services providers.  Providers will receive a weekly incentive payment for up to six weeks for placing an eligible job seeker into seasonal horticultural work.  They will work closely with you to ensure that they are matching the right workers to your jobs.

If you want to participate in the Trial you should contact a provider to discuss your labour needs. Providers are located across Australia, and their contact details are available here at (search by provider type and location).

Where can I find more information?

The Department of Employment is conducting morning and afternoon tea information sessions during May and June for horticultural growers and employment service providers across Australia.  These sessions will provide further information on the Trial as well as a great opportunity for growers to network with employment service providers to discuss their labour needs.

The sessions are expected to run for around 1.5 hours. 

*Please note: Venues for the sessions are being confirmed and will be advised as soon as possible*

Date:                        Location 
Day 1 –1 June 2017 Mildura
Day 2 –2 June 2017 Shepparton, Warragul

To register your interest you can do so by contacting the Department of Employment via – registrations close Friday 26 May 2017.

Black Economy Taskforce industry consultation

The Black Economy Taskforce is looking to consult industry associations and broader public in capital cities and some regional centres.
Mildura has been identified for the first consultations which are proposed for June 14 2017.
The taskforce’s interim report to government was released on budget night. A copy of the report is available here and the key recommendations are extracted below:
Consultation will take the following format:
Industry roundtable
One session, likely to be an hour long, with the chair of the taskforce to lead an open group conversation. It would be ideal to get 10-15 people along to this roundtable from VFF membership.
Public forum
One to two sessions, also an hour long each, inviting members of the general public to come and learn about the taskforce and provide feedback direct to the chair and the secretariat. It would be ideal to get 15-20 along to that session, pending public interest.
Key recommendations of the taskforce:
1. Access to Australian Government procurement opportunities should be limited to firms which have a good tax record and do not engage in bribery or corruption. By taking a lead on this, the government will send a clear signal to private sector supply chain managers. Responsible supply chain management must become the new norm and should be consistent with parallel initiatives across different levels of government.
2. The taskforce should consult on the idea of providing tax and other incentives for small businesses who adopt a non-cash business model. A proposal will be developed in time for consideration by the government for MYEFO later this year.
3. The Taxable Payment Reporting System (TPRS), which currently only applies to the building and construction industry, should be expanded to the cleaning and courier sectors. The taskforce will consider whether the TPRS should be applied more broadly in its final report.
4 Businesses should not be able to claim deductions on cash wage payment where they did not make or report Pay As You Go (PAYG) payments, issue payment summaries or statements of earnings, or make applicable superannuation contributions. Similarly, businesses should not be able to claim deductions for payments to contractors where a valid Australian Business Number (ABN) is not quoted and the payer has not withheld part of the payment under the ‘no-ABN withholding’ requirements. These payments should not be included in cost bases for capital gains tax or depreciation purposes. The taskforce will consult on this proposal before finalising its position.
5. A ban on sales suppression technology. This technology allows businesses to hide cash takings to avoid paying income tax.
6. Australia needs a robust, real-time business identification and verification system in order to reduce red tape, generate valuable data for government and businesses (for example simple verification of their counterparts) and improve delivery of relevant services. The taskforce will work with relevant agencies on ways to rationalise business registries and strengthen business registration and verification arrangements (for example, to address the misuse of ABNs).
7. The government should work cooperatively with state, territory and local governments, given their common interest in countering the black economy.
8. The government should consult with the states and territories on the idea of including tax literacy modules in vocational education training (VET), small business courses and in new migrant communities. The taskforce will work with the Department of Education and Training on this.
9. The provision of funding to the Australian Taxation Office audit and compliance programs to better target black economy activities, including by strengthening its use of technology, buttress its ABN monitoring and public education activities.
More details will be made public prior to the first session on 14 June.


With submissions being finalised for the 2017 Minimum Wage Decision – now is the time to subscribe to the VFF Employment Handbook and service packages.

A decision on the National Minimum Wage is expected late May, early June 2017 and VFF Employment Handbook subscribers will be notified well in advance of any increases of wages prior to the 1 July 2017 commencement.

VFF Employment Handbook subscribers will obtain industry specific wage information mailed to their door prior to the effective date – so make sure you have a current subscription with this great service.

Love your sister - big heart project

This week's hot topic, is more about amazing community spirit and our staff's involvement in this fundraising project.

Our staff here are not only brilliant at what they do, they love getting involved in community projects.

Many of you will know Lisa Gervasoni, one of our senior policy advisers.  Lisa, is a Daylesford girl, Samuel and Connie Johnston were also brought up in the town. An instant connection.

Having been involved in LYS from its infancy, Lisa feels she has adopted Sam and was there for the start of his 2016 uni-cycle ride around Australia, hosted him during it and planned his local homecoming, complete with brass band.  

Here's a letter from Samuel Johnson which explains the birth of this latest Love Your Sister project:

BEHIND HER HEART - written by the most chuffed little brother in the land, Samuel Johnson.

Why this pic? Partly because I can't stop looking at it. Partly because it showcases the togetherness shown at Connie's Big Heart Project yesterday. But mostly because we aren't a fluffy charity. Sure, we swim in the joy and hope, but true hearts contain more than fluffy bits, right? So let's swing gently past the fairy floss if that's cool?

About a year ago, Love Your Sister was in a different place. We were dying fast, basically. Once my unicycling odyssey was complete, I took on 3 acting projects back to back. A 6 part doco on Hipsters for SBS, a touring production with my now defunct theatre company and a Molly Meldrum telemovie. During all this I still pounded the pavement at community fundraisers every weekend and did as much as possible in between (including writing our book with Con), but the fundraising was tanking and we were cactus without a significant turnaround. Too many failed campaigns in a row. Too many hours playing pretend on telly. To be a chance, something had to give. I felt retirement offered the only solution. I have a full understanding of what it takes to raise a single mill and the $10M wasn't going to raise itself. It was all in or fold. It was a no brainer that required no thought. Just one clear path.

I rang Connie in despair. I challenged her to start exploiting her profile. She was a very well known cancer advocate with a huge support base and she was doing wonderful things in advocacy and science, but the fact remained that we needed cash to both survive and reach our fundraising target. I remember saying to her 'pick a number. Any number. Just make it higher than $100,000, and call me when you know how you're going to raise it.'

She rang me the very next morning, no less, and pitched her idea. Before she had even gotten half way through, I knew she had it. It was perfect. I couldn't offer any improvements, which I'm always on the lookout for. It was beautiful. Quirky. Simple. The ask was tiny. It would market itself and had all the hooks the media require. I told Connie it was simply flawless and proudly labelled her a serial genius.

So began what is now Connie's Big Heart Project. We pitched it to our mates at Questacon (a science and tech centre in Canberra run through the Dept Of Innovation and Science) and they signed on immediately. They had contacts at The Royal Australian Mint, so we went together and pitched it successfully there. Bendigo Bank loved it and jumped on board too. It was the most seamless team-build I've ever experienced. Why? Because Connie's epic masterplan was truly sublime.

For me, yesterday wasn't just a fundraising campaign. It wasn't just a chance for the villagers to say goodbye to Connie. It wasn't just her way of saying thanks to all who choose to care about the cancer conundrum and have supported her along the way. For me, yesterday will always be the day that Connie saved our village with a five cent piece. She built this place with a unicycle. And saved it with a five cent piece. That's my sister. Straight up.

But all of this is nought without you. Without you we have no heart. No village. No millions towards a cure. No togethernesses, like the one pictured here.

I hope this goes some way towards explaining just why you have my heartmost thanks for helping my sister find joy and hope during the most trying of circumstances.

I'm indebted and very truly yours.

Samuel Johnson xx

Workplace relations update - fair work app

Read more below:



A new app just released by the Fair Work Ombudsman aims to prevent exploitation of young and migrant workers. ‘Record My Hours’, will help workers keep a record of their hours worked.  The app uses geofencing technology to register when the workers arrive at work and when they leave.

The aim is to tackle the persistent problem of underpayment of young workers and migrant workers around the country.
However, this app has a number of features that will also benefit the business community. It allows rosters and work-related notifications and reminders to be imported to a worker’s phone, reducing the number of late starts and absenteeism. The app is also available in 12 different languages which is particularly useful for those members who employ workers from migrant backgrounds. According to the Ombudsman, businesses can use the app to complement their own records, rather than replace them entirely.
Members are reminded that workplace laws require employers to keep accurate records of the hours their employees have worked. The Fair Work Ombudsman issues Infringement Notices to employers for contraventions of record-keeping and pay slip laws. Thus it is important to be proactive in your record keeping. If you fail to meet your legal obligations as an employer, this app is a tool that may be used by your employees to substantiate any claims.
For assistance regarding this matter, please contact the VFF Workplace Relations Department on 1300 442 481.

Penalty Rates Decision - Fair Work Commission

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has announced that they will reduce penalty rates in Hospitality and Retail awards.

The Full Bench of the FWC received over 5,900 submissions and 128 witnesses were cross examined over a 39 day period culminating on 23 February 2017.

The Full Bench determined that existing Saturday penalty rates, met the modern awards objective as set by legislation, but notably, found that current Sunday and public holiday penalty rates within these awards do not meet the same objectives and do not provide a fair and relevant minimum safety net.

The awards that the Decision affects are:

Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2010
Fast Food Industry Award 2010
General Retail Industry Award 2010
Pharmacy Industry Award 2010

The reduction in Sunday penalty rates are anticipated to take place in a series of annual adjustments on 1 July each year (commencing July 2017) to coincide with any increases in modern award minimum wages arising from Annual Wage Review decisions.

It is unclear how many annual instalments will be used in line with the decision.

Any changes to public holiday penalty rates is anticipated to commence in July 2017. No instalments have been specified with the reduction in public holiday penalties.

National Training Wage gets a makeover

In a welcome move that will please members who hire trainees, the Fair Work Commission also this week expressed a provisional view that the National Training Wage schedules found in modern awards should be tailored to only show wages from the NTW schedule that is relevant for that modern award.

To date, the NTW Schedule is a uniform schedule that is identical in all modern awards (otherwise known as a “model term”). As a consequence, wages that apply to other industries are also included in the uniform schedule in the modern award.

The Decision will see more specific information on wage information for trainees being inserted in the respective modern award for your industry – which will assist in the identification of minimum wages for trainees in Agriculture.

Members with any questions surrounding the above decisions from the FWC are urged to call VFF Workplace Relations on 1300 442 481.


This year the VFF is taking a new approach to connecting with our members.
Instead of an annual conference, we will be holding 17 dinners in towns across Victoria.
We want your feedback and ideas to shape our policy so that we can represent your interests.
Come along to your regional forums, network with other farmers and agricultural professionals and tell us the policy areas that are most important to you.
The regional forums will take place at the following locations:

7 March - Tallangatta
8 March - Mansfield
April - Bendigo (Date to be confirmed)
27 April - Cobram
9 May - Mildura
10 May - Cohuna
14 June - Mornington Peninsula
15 June - Leongatha
20 June - Bairnsdale
21 June - Omeo
11 July - Warracknabeal
12 July - Hamilton
18 July - Ballarat
19 July - Terang
2 August - Yarra Valley
8 August - Geelong
9 August - Werribee

ACCC Dairy Forums venues and times

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has invited dairy farmers and other workers in the dairy industry to be involved in a number of public forums being held around the country.

The times and venues of the three forums being held in regional Victoria have been announced:

Tuesday 14 February 2017 - Traralgon Golf Club, Princes Hwy, Traralgon, 11.30am - 2.00pm
Monday 27 February 2017 - Warrnambool Golf Club, Younger St, Warrnambool, 11.30am - 2.00pm
Tuesday 28 February 2017 - Shepparton Golf Club, Golf Drive, Shepparton, 6.30pm - 8.30pm

The ACCC would appreciate RSVPs to assist with catering, although farmers are welcome to just come on the day. Click here to register your interest

The meetings will be chaired by ACCC Commissioner Mick Keogh and give farmers the opportunity to raise their concerns regarding competition between milk processors, contracting and pricing practices, retail pricing, transparency, and other areas of interest to the Inquiry.

This inquiry is separate from the ACCC inquiry into the actions of Murray Goulburn and Fonterra. There is also a separate Senate Inquiry that is being waged into contractual fairness across the dairy supply chain. Click here to see our explanation of the three different inquiries. 

The ACCC forums are an important opportunity for farmers to have an input into the way their industry runs, and the UDV encourages all interested members to attend their nearest meeting. However, all those who are unable to attend these forums but still want to have their say can still contribute and are encouraged to call or email the ACCC.

Where can I find more information?
Visit the ACCC website to find more information about the inquiry and forums, and also for ACCC contact details.

Native Vegetation Regulations – Your help needed

The Victorian Government has released its proposed changes to the Native Vegetation Regulations. It is likely that these changes will not improve outcomes for landholders. Click here to go the website.

The VFF has commenced discussions with Government about future projects to simplify outcomes in agricultural areas.  This will include a working group between DELWP, VFF and the Municipal Association. 
How can you help?

  • If you wish to make a submission contact who can send you out key issues from the VFF submission which you may wish to include in a submission and the submission form.
  • Think about what vegetation you might need to remove in the next 5 to 10 years? What would you be prepared to protect and / or offset.  Make a copy of your farm from google and mark what is to be removed, protected and where revegetation could be.  Send a photo / scan to – this will then be ‘delocated’ and used to test the new system. 

Victorian Public Holidays penalty rates update

VFF members are reminded that the following days are declared as public holidays in the State of Victoria and workers must be paid penalty rates, as below:
Christmas Day - Sunday 25 December 2016
Boxing Day  - Monday 26 December 2016
Christmas Day (Additional) - Tuesday  27 December 2016
New Year’s Day - Sunday 1 January 2017
New Year’s Day (Additional) - Monday 2 January 2017
Australia Day – Thursday 26 January 2017

Penalty rates
As follows under these Federal Awards:

Award Rate
Pastoral Award 2010 Double time (Dairy, Grains, Livestock, Chickens, Eggs)
Pastoral Award 2010 Double time and a half (Pigs)
Horticulture Award 2010 Double time
Wine Award 2010 Double time and a half

Details on other modern awards and entitlements can be provided by the VFF Workplace Relations Department on 1300 442 481 or email 

class o field bin exemption

VicRoads have published a Gazette Notice for Class O Field Bins that came into operation as of yesterday. The Gazette Notice will provide an exemption from the need for a permit, previously required, to tow a field bin with a ute (or vehicle weighing less than 4.5mt), subject to conditions stipulated in the exemption. The Gazette Notice can be view via the following link;
While Gazette Notice is a technical document it does reference the need for signage, flags, lights and other additional requirements. A more user-friendly explanatory note is expected to be issued by VicRoads, however the current Gazette Notice works effectively to bring the exemption into force prior to the Christmas period.   
Under the new Gazette Notice the Class O Field Bin combination is restricted to travel unladen within the boundaries of the Board Acre and Flat areas of the network.   The oversize Agricultural Vehicles network map, which specifies the Broad Acre and Flat areas, has been uploaded on VicRoads' website (see the Green & Yellow shaded areas).  A link to the map has been included in the Gazette Notice and is also be viewed via the following link for easy reference; 

Fair Work Ombudsman regional campaign

Shepparton & Latrobe Valley/Gippsland   The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) will shortly commence a regional campaign in the Shepparton and Latrobe Valley/Gippsland regions, involving audits of businesses in industries such as agriculture, forestry and fishing, manufacturing, retail, dairy, accommodation and food services and construction.

A series of such campaigns are run each year in different regions around the county based on an assessment of internal FWO data and external demographic data.
FWO has received an increase in Request for Assistance from employees (and particularly younger employees) in the dairy farming industry around the region, hence its inclusion as a small part of this broader campaign. All businesses are randomly selected. It is expected that over 400 businesses will be audited as part of this campaign.
VFF members who receive contact about this campaign can contact the VFF Workplace Relations Hotline 1300 442 481.

Native Vegetation Regulations released for comment

The VFF is urging all farmers to take the time to look at how the proposed changes to native vegetation will impact their operations. 

We are disappointed that many opportunities to streamline the system were not outlined within the proposed regulations, but are willing to work with the Government to ensure that not only is a demonstration project undertaken to look at tools in the agricultural landscapes but that the government funds this work to reduce regulatory burden on farmers.
VFF is requesting an extension of time to allow full consideration of the document by our members.  We encourage members to register their interest in the issue so that we can facilitate provision of information to members, incorporate member views in to the VFF submission and assist members in identifying high level issues for inclusion in individual submissions. Contact Lisa Gervasoni for more information or to register your interest on
Link to submission docs

Read media release here:


The Victorian Government has opened the call for members of the Wild Dog Management Advisory Committee. Expression of Interest close at 11:59pm on 18 January 2017.  

The successful candidates will be required to demonstrate one or more of the following key skills and experience:
- demonstrated experience and knowledge of wild dog problems and management in: the north east region of Victoria; the Gippsland region of Victoria; or the north west region of Victoria
- demonstrated experience and knowledge of social welfare and response issues in wild dog affected regions of Victoria
- demonstrated experience and knowledge of biodiversity conservation, conservation ecology or threatened species management in Victoria
- demonstrated experience and knowledge of catchment management
- demonstrated experience and knowledge of the science of wild dog management in Victoria.

Further information and expression of interest forms can be found at

More information on wild dog management can be found here:


In 2015 the Victorian Government instigated a review of the 2010 Climate Change Act. 

The review findings were tabled earlier this year and a Bill to make significant changes to the legislation has been presented to Parliament.  

The key changes are:

A goal of net zero emissions by 2050 with five yearly interim targets.

New policy objectives and duties on government and ministers.

The creation of a Climate Change Strategy to be delivered by government and sector pledges (agriculture is a sector) as well as Adaptation Action Plans (one for Primary Industry – agriculture, aquaculture, forestry and mining).


Australian Farmers' Regional Wellbeing Survey

The Regional Wellbeing Survey’s mission is to improve the wellbeing and quality of life of people living in rural and regional Australia. 

Taking part lets you have your say on issues ranging from your access to the internet and key services, to how events such as floods and drought are affecting you, and how your community is changing. This year we also have some questions for people who care for others, about experiences of caring and the types of support needed by carers.

The results of the previous survey are being used by organisations across Australia to help improve quality of life in rural and regional communities, including local governments, farming organisations and community groups, as well as government agencies.
Do the survey online at
Call us on 1800 981 499 if you’d like a paper survey posted to you.
The survey is voluntary, confidential and anonymous. Thank you for taking the time to participate and sharing your valuable insights.



Recent media reports and court cases have highlighted the risks associated with utilising labour hire providers who undercut statutory wages and conditions of workers they supply to farms.

 The VFF Workplace Relations Department has been active over the past two and a half years warning members of the legal risks associated with commercial labour hire arrangements that may lead to non-compliance of workplace laws.
The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) is routinely demonstrating its willingness to use accessorial liability provisions under the Fair Work Act to penalise rogue labour hire operators in Victoria and in turn prosecute host farms.
Recently, a Victorian business in the cleaning industry had to recoup more than $130,000 dollars in underpayments and a sole director and HR Manager of the host company were handed more than $25,000 in individual penalties, despite the underpayments relating to the contractor.
The contracting business had made illegal deductions and falsified documents to conceal the deductions.
What this decision shows however, is that the FWO will use accessorial liability provisions of the Fair Work Act to penalise host employers and to individually target directors and staff of businesses who engage in illegal practices.
Recent media exposure has also highlighted that negative media exposure on the issue can have a detrimental impact on your business.
The Fair Work Ombudsman and the Court system hold an extremely dim view of labour hire arrangements that result in workers not receiving their statutory entitlements.
What VFF members should take away from recent court decisions and media exposure is that: 
The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) is increasing their use of accessorial liability provisions to target employers who use dodgy labour hire suppliers
In order to act as a deterrent, the FWO is specifically targeting and fining individuals who are party to the underpayment of workers; and
The FWO and other parties will name and shame businesses under suspicion of non-compliance. They will pursue any businesses that involve themselves with labour hire operators who do not pay statutory entitlements to their own workers.
 VFF members must be aware that even though you are not the legal employer of workers supplied by labour hire – accessorial liability provisions can rope you into the non-compliance of a labour hire provider.
VFF members must also be aware that reputational risk is also associated with dodgy labour hire providers.
Members must exercise caution whether or not commercial service fees and charge rates issued to them by the contractor/labour hire provider are adequate for the contractor to meet their obligations under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) to their own staff.
For more information all members are urged to contact the VFF Workplace Relations Department on 1300 442 481.
Be wary of charge rates offered to you by contract labour suppliers- and remember "if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is". 


The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) will shortly commence a regional campaign in the Shepparton region, involving audits of businesses in industries such as agriculture, forestry and fishing, manufacturing, retail, dairy, accommodation and food services and construction. A series of such campaigns are run each year in different regions around the county based on an assessment of internal FWO data and external demographic data.
FWO has received an increase in Request for Assistance from employees (and particularly younger employees) in the dairy farming industry around the region, hence its inclusion as a small part of this broader campaign. All businesses are randomly selected.
VFF members who receive contact about this campaign can contact the VFF Industrial Relations Hotline 1300 442 481.

monit's cloud based app

Monit is excited and proud to announce the launch of its cloud based app using smart phones to drive the system.

World firsts behind the app include:

• Use your smart phone, any type, to take photos, as many as you wish, of your premises, the answers to your checklist questions, supporting documentation and more with no interference to your phone plan
• Your photos will be reviewed by a permanent & qualified OHS/WHS person on receipt we call a support rep. Your support rep is your virtual consultant…what you see they see and can offer assistance remotely
• Your data is securely stored on the cloud, available for recall at any time for any reason
• Your photos are stored with no degradation of pixel definition, ensuring their availability to be used as court evidence, if needed
• OHS/WHS Guidelines and training videos are all accessible from your phone
• To see how the Monit app works, go to: and view the Monit video.


The Victorian government recently established the Regional Partnerships program, to engage with people who live within regional Victoria, to explore the priorities for the region and discuss their ideas to address the opportunities and challenges facing their region. 

Regional Assemblies are the first part of the process for developing ideas for input in the advice that will be provided back to government. 

Regional Partnership members will be joined by representatives of the Victorian Government at the Assemblies, including ministers and senior department officials, as well as representatives from local government. It’s a unique opportunity to bring together government with a broader group from different sections of the community in each region and have a genuine conversation at a local level. Following the Assemblies, each Partnership will deliver key recommendations straight into the heart of government through the new Rural and Regional Ministerial Committee made up of seven members of Cabinet and chaired by Minister Pulford. 


• The people who live in the region know the opportunities and challenges facing their communities better than anyone
• The Regional Partnership is your voice direct into the heart of Victorian Government, and this is your chance to tell them what you think really matters
• Share your thoughts and offer ideas about local opportunities and issues affecting your region at 
• Your feedback here will be a key input into the Regional Assemblies being held across regional Victoria 
• There’s been a lot of great work done over the years by state and local government, committees, planning bodies and boards to identify what we need to do to address the challenges and opportunities in our region
• The Regional Partnerships are bringing that together and asking the community to tell us what’s right, what’s wrong and what’s missing
• Over the coming weeks, the Regional Partnership members will also be engaging with key community representatives across the region
• If you don’t have access to the internet, you can send in your written feedback via your local Regional Development Victoria office ( 

Assembly and engagement details

Central Highlands
Assembly: 15 November in Ballarat
Register EOI:

Assembly: 17 November in Moe
Register EOI:

Ovens Murray
Assembly: 30 November in Benalla
Register EOI:

Assembly: 1 December in Mildura
Register EOI:

Assembly: 15 December in Shepparton
Register EOI:
Engagement: (opening soon)


Want to develop tourism on your farm? Tiny Houses are the answer.

Introducing Shacky – tiny houses specially designed to accommodate short-term visitors on rural properties. Capitalising on the tourism potential of rural land - showcasing the beautiful Australian landscape. 

Shacky was first started by Joep Pennartz, a 26-year-old Dutchman with a passion for tiny buildings and sustainable forms of tourism. The one-man-band was later joined by Rosie Downie to accelerate its development. 

Experiencing city life in Melbourne for the past five years, after growing up in rural Tasmania, highlighted to Rosie the disconnect between country and city living. 

“I believe Shacky’s tiny houses have the ability to help bridge this disconnect. Our Tiny Houses are deliberately tiny, which encourages visitors to completely immerse themselves in the surrounding landscape, whilst remaining warm, dry and cosy,” she said.

The Shacky encourages users to adopt a minimalistic mindset and go back to basics. Guests have commented on the little things; the pleasure that comes from reading a non-digital book, from watching the sheep graze in the paddocks and from escaping the distractions of city life. Like everything with Shacky, it’s the little things that make the experience. 

Shacky are looking for a new generation of young and innovative landowners to join their community. Their Tiny Houses are off-grid, with solar powered electricity, a state-approved composting toilet and a hot outdoor shower. All you need is a water connection. 

The Shackys are also relocatable, using certified footings for a secure foundation. 

A Shacky costs around $40,000 and based on previous trials, will provide a return on investment within two years. 

Shacky know it’s the small things that count. They want to make the process as easy as possible for you, which is why they offer additional services such as marketing your tiny house and managing your bookings. 

Your Shacky can be installed within a day, which means you can begin hosting guests the next morning.

It’s time to shack up! Feel inspired? E-mail and get your free Shacky brochure.  See a tiny house in action here: Complete the survey here.


DAIRY farmers across Victoria and NSW will benefit from the first grants the Victorian Farmers Federation’s Farmers Fund initiative. COLES Supermarkets donated the $1 million for this first round from its Nurture Fund.

More than 600 applications for the grants were received with 60 of these selected to receive grants of between $5,000 and $20,000. 

The successful applications were chosen by an advisory panel chaired by VFF President David Jochinke and including members of the National Farmers Federation and the United Dairyfarmers of Victoria. The selection process was conducted anonymously with all applications being de-identified before being assessed by the panel

“It was a tough ask to select the best applications from 600, but all projects were considered on their merit, how they would sustain the dairy business and the commitment of the applicants to improving their farm practices over time,” Mr Jochinke said.

The selected projects covered a diverse range including; 

• Upgrades to effluent ponds
• Building calf rearing facilities
• Irrigation infrastructure
• Succession planning
• Establishing shelter belts
• Dairy equipment
• Feeding systems.

The range of projects put forward and the sheer number of applications made to the Fund demonstrates the challenges farmers are facing as they manage a significant drop in income as a result of the global milk price decrease.  

“With a finite amount of funding available, hard choices had to be made,” Mr Jochinke said. “No doubt some farmers will be disappointed to miss out on this round but we are opening the second round and will be able to distribute more grants early next year.”

The amount of funding available in the next round of grants will be determined by the sales of the Farmers Fund milk in Coles Supermarkets. 

Applications for the next round of funding are open now and will close on December 31.

Labour Hire Licensing Scheme to be Established

The Victorian Government has just released its final report on the Victorian Inquiry into the Labour Hire Industry and Insecure Work (the Victorian Report).  The report has recommended to the State Government that it introduce a labour hire licensing scheme for labour hire suppliers to the horticultural, meat and cleaning industries.

The report also recommended that Victoria advocate through COAG for a national sector-specific licensing scheme. While a national scheme may take some time to develop, the state of Victoria should take the lead by the introduction of its own sector-specific licensing scheme. The South Australian, Parliamentary Economic and Finance Committee released its final report on 18 October 2016, to the Inquiry into the Labour Hire Industry. 

The South Australian report also recommends a national licensing and registration scheme. 

The Victoria report is very lengthy, with thirty five recommendations. In the report, the role of piece rates in the horticultural industry is discussed.

Members can call the VFF Workplace Relations Department for further information.


Members are reminded that the time frame for challenging a land valuation they have received this year is coming to a close.   If farmers believe that the valuation that has been provided for their property is too high or too low, and objection can be lodged with two months of receiving your rates notice. For many councils this time period is just around the corner.   You may object to the land valuation you have been provided on the following grounds:

 the value assigned is too high or too low;
 interests in the land have not been correctly apportioned;
 the apportionment of the valuation is incorrect;
 lands that should have been included in one valuation have been valued separately;
 lands that should have been valued separately have been included in one valuation;
 the person named in the notice of valuation, assessment notice or other document is not liable to be so named; and/or
 the area, dimensions or description of the land are incorrectly stated
The VFF has produced a factsheet on the process. Click here:

paddock trees

The Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, the Hon Lily D’Ambrosio visited Geoff and Lin Postlethwaite at their farm in Coonooer West.  VFF Vice President Brett Hosking and the Postlethwaites discussed the impact of the current native vegetation controls on farming and the need for a simpler system that balances agricultural production and long term environmental outcomes.  

The VFF is continuing discussions with DELWP prior to the release of the proposed changes to the Native Vegetation Regulations.  DELWP is also currently reviewing its Biodiversity Strategy and the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act. 

30 year strategy report

Infrastructure Victoria have released a draft 30 year strategy report, on future infrastructure in Victoria. This outlines a series of infrastructure priorities for Victoria. Following a period of community consultation, this report will be presented to government. 

The report can be accessed here As an individual, you can provided comments directly back into the report online.

The VFF will be providing a submission to the process (by 31 October) and are calling for feedback on the priorities you wish to see invested in in the future. Please provide any comments to Melanie Gordon at

Shaping The Future - Central Highlands Region

Minister for Regional Development Jaala Pulford announced the start of online consultation for the Central Highlands Regional Partnership community ahead of their first Regional Assembly to be held in Ballarat on November 15.

A new website recently launched by the Andrews Labor Government now gives people living, working and studying in Central Highlands the chance to share their thoughts on local opportunities and challenges that span every government portfolio.

Each of the nine Regional Partnerships will host an assembly involving at least 100 people, including community members, government representatives and local government, to discuss priorities for each region.

They can also use the website to register their interest in attending the Central Highlands Regional Assembly.

Following the assemblies, each Partnership will deliver key recommendations straight into the heart of government through the new Rural and Regional Ministerial Committee made up of seven members of Cabinet and chaired by Ms Pulford.

The Central Highlands Regional Partnership includes the shires of Golden Plains, Hepburn, Moorabool and Pyrenees, as well as the City of Ballarat and Ararat Rural City.

Capitalising on tourism opportunities, and ideas and actions that will make the region an even greater place to live – driving jobs and economic growth – are likely to be among the issues addressed by the Central Highlands Regional Partnership.

Be part of the conversation by visiting

animal welfare submission template

To Whom It May Concern,

I wanted to express my concerns on the Draft Animal Action Plan released by the Victorian Government. As a farmer who looks after animals on a daily basis, I am acutely aware of the need to ensure my animals are cared for and protected.

I’m concerned about the general nature of the plan. The lack of detail makes it unclear if current, established regulatory review processes and programs which promote animal welfare will be continued to be used or whether the entire system will be overhauled.

I have witnessed that our current system for reviewing codes of practice at a national level is a good system which balances the different concerns of the industry, scientists and the community.

I am also concerned about the emphasis on meeting community expectations. As producers for consumers we take consume expectations of the quality of our welfare systems into direct account when making decisions on the farm. However I have seen that consumers don’t necessarily understand the purpose behind some of our practices. Some practices which are for the long term benefit of the animal are seen as being a poor animal welfare outcome by consumers. 

Rather than focusing solely on community expectations any animal welfare legislative framework needs to be complimented by educating the community on the choices farmers need to make between short term benefit and long term benefit for our animals. Industry is looking to better inform consumers and this should be complimented by government education if community expectations are to hold such weight in government legislation.

Any plan should take into account the following:

The agricultural industry has had a long term commitment to improving animal welfare outcomes for production animals.

The Australian environment is unique, farmers and industry strive to minimise the impacts of this environment on animal welfare outcomes.

Our society has very different expectations for animal welfare between production and companion animals. This difference in expectations needs to be reflected in legislation.
The productive sector has always worked closely with all stakeholders to produce an acceptable legislative framework and would be keen to continue this process. 
Australian farmers continue to supply funding towards improving animal welfare as we see the benefit to funding cutting edge science to support their on farm practices.

Thank you for considering my submission.