Regional Development VictoriaRegional Development Victoria

State Government of Victoria

Supporting small businesses in dairy communities

The Victorian dairy industry is currently experiencing challenging economic and seasonal conditions.

The Victorian Government, the dairy industry and local government are working together to support small businesses in the dairy community through this tough period.

The Victorian Government has announced a $11.4 million package, including $5.2 million of industry funding, to roll out of further support for our dairy farmers.  This incorporates a specific $1.5 million government assistance package to ensure there are more services available to dairy farmers experiencing emotional and financial stress.

As part of the $11.4 million Dairy Response Package, $4.5 million was set aside to provide further support following stakeholder and community consultation.

Following the consultation, on 3 August 2016 the Victorian Government announced it is going beyond the $4.5 million commitment made in May and providing $6.7 million more support for dairy farmers and impacted communities.

New support measures include:

  • Dairy Development Grants program ($1.8 million) to assist dairy farmers implement farm improvements to support business rebuilding for the future
  • Rural Skills Connect Program ($750,000) to use the transferable skills in dairy communities to meet rural industry skill gaps, reskilling and providing opportunities for traineeships
  • Kindergarten Fee Subsidy for dairy farming families to receive 15 hours of free kindergarten in the year before school ($1.4 million)
  • Additional payments for dairy farm families under the Camps, Sports and Excursions Fund ($1.5 million)
  • Dedicated Small Business Counsellors in the Rural Financial Counselling Service ($320,000)
  • Increased support for the Rural Financial Counselling Service ($340,000)
  • Increased Targeted Dairy Technical Support ($600,000) provided by Agriculture Victoria
  • The Department of Education and Training also provides a range of services that can be accessed to support the skills and training needs of farmers, impacted farm workers and other small businesses.

Small Business Victoria and Regional Development Victoria are working with Councils to provide free Small Business Workshops and confidential Small Business Mentoring support for businesses in dairy communities. While the immediate focus is on supporting dairy farmers, the dairy farm supply chain businesses will have access to Workshops and Mentoring:

  • Small Business Resilience Workshops - 2 hour workshop focused on creating business resilience and how to conduct a financial health check
  • Individual Small Business Mentoring - access to individual and confidential Mentoring from an experienced small business mentor in a private session, following the Workshops.

A new workshop is scheduled for Shepparton, as below. Please check back here regularly for further updates.

Region Where Event date and booking details
Gippsland Leongatha (South Gippsland) Workshop occurred 30 June,
Mentoring occurred 1 July
Please email the Victorian Government for additional Workshop or Mentoring enquiries
Bairnsdale (East Gippsland) Workshop occurred 7 July,
Additional workshop and mentoring date to be advised
Maffra (Wellington) Workshop occurred 21 June,
Mentoring occurred 21, 22 June
Drouin (Baw Baw) Workshop occurred 22 June,
Mentoring occurred 23 June
Loddon Mallee Cohuna (Gannawarra) Workshop occurred 24 June,
Mentoring occurred 24 June
Please email the Victorian Government for additional Workshop or Mentoring enquiries
Kerang (Gannawarra)
Workshop occurred 23 June,
Mentoring occurred 24 June
Rochester (Campaspe) Workshop occurred 14 July,
Mentoring occurred 14 July
Hume Shepparton Workshop occurred 7 September,
Mentoring occurred 7 September
Please email the Victorian Government for additional Workshop or Mentoring enquiries
Strathmerton (Moira) Workshop occurred 21 June,
Mentoring occurred 22 June 
Kiewa/Tangambalanga (Indigo)
Workshop occurred 23 June,
Mentoring occurred 23 June
Barwon South West Cobden (Corangamite) Workshop occurred 14 June,
Mentoring occurred 15 June
Please email the Victorian Government for additional Workshop or Mentoring enquiries
Colac (Colac Otway) Workshop occurred 16 June,
Mentoring occurred 17 June
Warrnambool (Warrnambool) Workshop occurred 15 June,
Mentoring occurred 16 and 17 June
  Other locations may be added and additional workshops and mentoring may be scheduled based on demand.

Help shape dairy support

Farm Debt Mediation

Victorian law provides that a farmer in default on a farm debt must be given the opportunity by the creditor to participate in a mediation conducted by the Victorian Small Business Commissioner. Farmers can also initiate this process.  A creditor cannot pursue any legal avenues to recover its security interests when this process is underway.  The Victorian Small Business Commissioner has conducted over 400 mediations between farmers and creditors in the past four years, with terms of settlement agreed between the parties in 96% of cases. 

Contact the Victorian Small Business Commissioner on 13 VSBC (13 8722) or visit the website at

Farmers with other commercial disputes

The Victorian Small Business Commissioner provides a quick, low cost dispute resolution service for small and medium businesses (including farmers) in a commercial dispute with another business. Any type of commercial dispute can be referred to the Commissioner, and there is no constraint on the size of a business or the amount in dispute.  Referring a commercial dispute to the Commissioner can lead to quick, pragmatic resolution of the problem and avoid matters escalating to litigation.  The Commissioner's service has high resolution rates and high customer satisfaction ratings.

Contact the Victorian Small Business Commissioner on 13 VSBC (13 8722) or visit the website at

Other Government Support

Increased support is being provided to help farmers make decisions, including through:

Increased support is also focusing on ensuring the health and wellbeing of farmers and communities, including through:

  • The Look Over the Farm Gate program, which is providing extra community wellbeing workshops and community events.
  • Mental Health First Aid Training, which is giving the community valuable information about mental health issues and where to get help for themselves, their friends or family.
  • Lifeline on 13 11 14
  • Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636

For further information about the support that is available, please call 136 186.

Initiative/Service Description More Information
Dairy Industry Support for farmers, farm businesses and post farm gate businesses

Tactics for Tight Times

Delivers programs and information for dairy farmers and service providers with clear messages, information, tools and resources to support key decision making on-farm. This includes:

  • Taking Stock
  • Seasonal Update Information Sessions
  • Feed Budgeting & Purchasing Risk Management
  • DairyBase
  • Dairy Discussion Groups

Dairy Australia: (03) 9694 3777

West VicDairy: (03) 5557 1000

Murray Dairy: (03) 5833 5312

GippsDairy: (03) 5624 3900

Dairy Australia

Rural Financial Counselling

Free and independent financial information, options, decision support and referral services.

Rural Financial Counselling

Call 1800 686 175 (toll free) or call:

Western RFCS: 1300 735 578 
Eastern RFCS: (03) 5662 2566
North East RFCS: 1300 834 775
North West RFCS: 1300 769 489

Farming & drought information
(farmers only)

Information to assist farmers with a broad range of agricultural issues, including animal health and welfare information and upcoming workshops and events.

Call 136 186 or visit:

Farm Household Allowance
(farmers only)

Income support payment, available to eligible farmers & their families experiencing financial hardship.

Call 13 23 16 or visit:

Farm Debt Mediation
(farmers only)

The scheme makes it compulsory for banks & other creditors to offer mediation to farmers before commencing debt recovery proceedings on farm mortgages.

Call 136 186


Australian Government Farmer Assistance hotline

Information on the Commonwealth Government's support services available to farmers and rural communities (e.g. Farm Household Allowance).

Farmer Assistance Hotline: 132 316

Farm Management Deposits
(farmers only)

Assists primary producers to deal more effectively with fluctuations in cash flows.

Farm Management Deposits

Look over the farm gate

Community events & activities that bring people together.

Look over the farm gate

National Centre for Farmer Health

Workshops to improve the health, safety and well-being of farm men and women, farm workers, their families and communities across Australia.

For further information, call (03) 5551 8533 or visit

Emotional and health support


24/7 telephone counselling – Connect with someone who cares.

13 11 14


Information about issues associated with depression & anxiety.

1300 224 636


24/7 phone service that provides immediate, expert health advice from a registered nurse.

1300 60 60 24

Mensline Australia

24/7 service for men with relationship & family concerns.

1300 78 99 78

Kids Help Line

24/7 telephone & online counselling service for young people.

1800 55 1800
Kids Help

Family Relationship Service

Providing families with access to information about family relationship issues.

1800 050 321
Family Relationships

Victorian Better Health Channel

Health & medical information that is quality assured, reliable, up to date, easy to understand, regularly reviewed & locally relevant.

Better Health

Find a mental health service

Mental health consultations

Contact your local GP for a referral

Building Emotional Resilience fact sheet

The fact sheet includes practical ways to help build mental and emotional resilience and signposting to further resources.

Dairy Australia

Building emotional resilience fact sheet

Personal assistance

Victorian State Concessions

The Victorian Government offers a number of concessions designed to assist & improve the affordability of essential services for low-income Victorian households.

Foodbank Victoria

Foodbank distributes meals to individuals and families across regional, rural and metro areas of Victoria, helping to feed over 100,000 Victorians each month.

Foodbank Victoria
(03) 9362 8300

Back to School

Children from disadvantaged families attending Victorian Government Schools are provided with uniforms, shoes and other essential items.

Contact your School Principal, Assistant Principal or Welfare Coordinator.

Kindergarten Concessions

Kindergarten fee subsidy to enable eligible children to attend a funded kindergarten program in the year before school free of charge or at minimal cost.

Contact your local kindergarten or call: 1800 809 834

Camps, Sports & Excursions Fund (CSEF)

To eligible students in specified areas that are currently enrolled in government and non-government schools.

Parents/Guardians should contact their child's school in the first instance.

Camps, Sports and Excursions Fund

Or phone the Department of Education and Training's CSEF Helpdesk: 1800 060 970


Regional Matters Spotlight

Last Updated: 04 October 2016