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On-the-ground support for Victoria’s border communities

13/09/2021

The Victorian Government will set up a team of locally based Border Brokers to support local industries and businesses to help navigate the challenges caused by COVID-19 on Victoria’s borders with New South Wales and South Australia.

The Government understands that towns split by Victoria’s borders are used to living as one community and that local industries and businesses have unique needs.

Local solutions to the impacts of border restrictions are required and that’s why we are establishing this locally based team of Border Brokers to work alongside Victoria’s Cross Border Commissioner Luke Wilson.

The team will include eight brokers who will work in the Hume, Gippsland, Loddon Mallee, Grampians and Barwon South West regions, which have all been impacted by ongoing restrictions on their respective borders.

Brokers will be jointly led by Regional Development Victoria and Agriculture Victoria - which already have strong mechanisms in place to support their local communities and industry.

This team will ensure locals have a key contact to advocate on their behalf and will support businesses, industries and industry groups to address issues and challenges.

Border Brokers will work across state and local governments and with chambers of commerce, key agricultural stakeholders, industry, regional tourism boards and community groups to identify and triage issues.

The team will address challenges and enable opportunities including management of workforce impacts and support to ensure supply of necessary goods and services to local businesses.

This commitment recognises that border communities face unique challenges with restrictions put in place by both the Victorian, NSW and SA governments, in order to keep locals safe.


Questions and answers – Border Broker team announcement

What are you announcing today?

The Victorian Government will set up a team of locally based Border Brokers to work with and support local industries and business to manage the challenges caused by restrictions on Victoria’s borders with New South Wales and South Australia.

Why are you doing this?

We understand that towns split by Victoria’s borders are used to living as one community and that local industries and businesses have unique needs.

Our communities and businesses who live along and rely on our borders with NSW and SA have done it tough in the past year and a half, but I am pleased to announce that we are setting up a team to provide them with further support to help them navigate the challenges they face.

Local solutions to the impacts of border restrictions are required and that’s why we are establishing this locally based team of Border Brokers to work alongside Victoria’s Cross Border Commissioner Luke Wilson.

How big is the team and where are they based?

The team will include eight brokers who will work within Victoria’s Hume, Gippsland, Loddon Mallee, Grampians and Barwon South West regions, which have all been impacted by ongoing restrictions on their respective borders.

Brokers will be jointly led by Regional Development Victoria and Agriculture Victoria - which already have strong locally based mechanisms in place to support communities and industry.

Will they be part of the Cross Border Commissioner’s team?

The team of Border Brokers will work closely with Cross Border Commissioner Luke Wilson to ensure a local understanding of the issues and that these local needs are represented across government.

The team, comprising local Regional Development Victoria and Agriculture Victoria staff, already know and understand their unique communities and key sectors and understand their reliance on access to NSW and SA.

These teams are well placed to work directly with the businesses and communities - there in-depth local knowledge and understanding means they can support and enhance the work of the Cross Border Commissioner.

What will they do?

This team will ensure locals have a key contact to advocate on their behalf and will support businesses, industries and industry groups to address issues and challenges.

Border Brokers will work across state and local governments and  chambers of commerce, key agricultural stakeholders, industry, regional tourism boards and community groups to identify and triage issues.

The team will work to address challenges and enable opportunities including management of workforce impacts and support to ensure supply of necessary goods and services to local businesses.

What are these challenges and what can the Border Brokers do about them?

Since March 2020, border communities have experienced restrictions on the border that have impacted way of life for communities and operations for industry.

These restrictions have been imposed by governments on both sides of the border in order to keep communities safe, but they have at times caused challenges over and above other lockdowns imposed across the states.

These extra challenges are brought about because cross border economies are highly integrated and border closures have inhibited normal flows of people, goods and services. Business located along the border have experienced economic disruption to spending patterns, access to labour and work, and supply chains.

Border closures and restrictions have a compounding impact on the tourism sector.

These impacts have significantly affected many businesses along the border and the Border Broker Team will be a key point of contact to work specifically with these businesses to facilitate support and work on solutions with these businesses.

What does the Cross Border Commissioner do and how will they work together?

The Cross Border Commissioner’s role is to work with border residents, businesses and community organisations to identify and advocate for change along Victoria’s borders.

This involves working with Victoria’s government departments and agencies, as well as interstate counterparts including the NSW Cross Border Commissioner

The Border Broker team will support to the Cross Border Commissioner’s work to ensure a local understanding of the issues and that these local needs are represented across government.

Aren’t the problems local communities and businesses face caused by Victorian Government policies?

NSW is currently an extreme risk zone. Victoria’s border settings are always under review by the Chief Health Officer depending on COVID-19 risks at any given time and are subject to change.

Restrictions on Victoria’s border with NSW and SA have been in place from all respective governments at various times since NSW first closed the border with Victoria last year.

The SA Government currently has restrictions on its residents and workers entering Victoria.

These polices are designed to keep the community safe.

This commitment recognises that border communities have endured restrictions imposed by both the Victorian, NSW and SA governments, in order to keep locals safe.

Why has it taken until now to establish this team if it is so important?

Regional Development Victoria, Agriculture Victoria and the Cross Border Commissioner have been working with border communities to address challenges since March 2020. As the restrictions have continued to be necessary, impacts on communities and business have continued to compound.

This initiative is a dedicated, joined up approach between key agencies that support our border communities and industries. The Border Brokers will expand the capacity to engage and work with businesses, triage issues and identify solutions.

When will the workers be on board?

The Border Brokers are in place now and will be actively engaging with business from Monday 13 September.


Border Broker contact details

Gippsland Region: borderbroker.gippsland@ecodev.vic.gov.au

Hume Region: borderbroker.hume@ecodev.vic.gov.au

Grampians and Barwon South West Regions: borderbroker.grampiansbsw@ecodev.vic.gov.au

Loddon Mallee Region: borderbroker.loddonmallee@ecodev.vic.gov.au



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