Victorian flood situation and support

We’re continuing to urge farmers and regional communities to monitor the current flooding situation.

FLOOD SUPPORT

For any urgent animal welfare needs or to report any agricultural losses and damages resulting from the floods, please contact the VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226


For regional issues relating permits or any other agriculture issues please use the following email addresses:
– For the Loddon Mallee region: [email protected]
– For the Hume region: [email protected]


For information to support farmers mitigate the risk of increased mosquito numbers, please visit please visit the Agriculture Victoria website


For information on emergency warnings, visit emergency.vic.gov.au and refer to local emergency broadcasters for the latest accurate information.

FUNDING ASSISTANCE

On 19 October 2022, the Victorian Government announced a funding package to support primary producers and small businesses across Victoria affected by flooding to assist the relief effort.

Primary Producer Flood Relief Program

  • The $19.5 million Primary Producer Flood Relief Program will deliver a one-off $10,000 payment – administered by Rural Finance – to primary producers directly affected by the floods to help them clean up, re-establish their properties, and get their businesses up and running again.

  • The grants will cover activities like the removal and disposal of debris and injured or dead livestock, repairing essential equipment, fixing and replacing fencing, buying fodder, water and water storage, salvaging damaged crops, grain or feed, and hiring or purchasing materials to clean up a property or equipment.

  • Primary producers whose properties have been directly hit are also eligible for concessional loans of up to $250,000 to restore or replace damaged assets, and meet general expenses incurred while the clean-up is underway.

  • Flood-affected primary producers can also claim up to 50 per cent of transport costs – up to $15,000 – for the transport of emergency fodder or stock drinking water, and moving stock to agistment, sale or slaughter.

  • For support and information relating to the Primary Producer Flood Relief Program please contact Rural Finance on 1800 260 425 or visit the Rural Finance website

Primary Producer Recovery Grants: Recovery grants of up to $75,000 are available for eligible primary producers to help with recovery and reinstatement activities.

For information on available recovery assistance, visit the VIC Emergency website.

For further information on recovery arrangements, visit Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.

BUSINESS SUPPORT

Business owners will be supported through the $54 million Business Flood Relief Program.

  • Directly impacted businesses will be eligible for a one-off payment of $5,000 to support clean-up, safety inspections, repairs, the hiring of equipment and purchase of stock that businesses need to get back in business as quickly as possible.

  • The program will also support a dedicated Business Relief Service – with dedicated mentors to guide business owners through the available Commonwealth, state and local supports, manage insurance and landlord issues and build a strong recovery strategy.

  • For support and more information relating to the Business Flood Relief Program, please visit Business Victoria or call the Business Victoria hotline on 132 215.

MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT

It’s always important to prioritise your mental health and those of others, especially in trying times like these.

A reminder, the below mental health support services are available to you:

National Centre for Farmer Health

Beyond Blue

RUOK?

Rural Aid

FLOOD INFORMATION

VicTraffic– road closures

VicEmergency– warnings

Bureau of Meteorology– forecasts

Agriculture Victoria– flood resources (http://agriculture.vic.gov.au/floods)

SAFETY ADVICE

Whilst the farmers that are the worst affected by the Victorian floods will have enough on their plates in coming weeks and months, all farmers will need to be wary of increased safety risks that have been created when they prepare to get back into their paddocks.

Farmers preparing for their grain harvests and silage cutting will need to be particularly careful when they put their heavy farm machinery into potentially muddy and waterlogged paddocks.

In June this year, the VFF Making Our Farms Safer (MOFS) team featured in an ABC Country Hour radio interview to discuss the safety precautions farmers need to take when needing to pull their bogged machinery. The interview came on the back of a spate of farming incidents that occurred around that time.

With the very recent floods the risks of bogged farm machinery will loom large on the horizon. The key message for farms is the need to be ready for such situations to arise and to plan carefully and not rush.

You can listen to the interview from 32:50 onwards here.

Farmers should delay putting machinery out into the paddock until the conditions improve sufficiently.

The MOFS team strongly encourages farmers to carefully plan for risks of bogged machinery in consultation with their employees.

If the machinery has not yet been taken into the paddock it may be worthwhile to conduct a simulated exercise with your employees around the sheds before the risk eventuates.

  • Slings and chains need to be properly inspected. A set of slings may have been sitting in the shed unused for long periods of time and can deteriorate, even without use due to moisture and dirt.
  • Only use straps and attachments that are correctly rated for the weight and type of work involved
  • Ensure that persons that are not immediately needed in the vicinity are removed to a safe distance whiles the machinery is being pulled (i.e. create an exclusion zone). Only the vehicle operator and those necessary in the recovery should be allowed inside the exclusion zone
  • Ensure an effective communication method is established between them (voice, radio, hand signals)
  • Ensure that anyone within the exclusion zone is standing at 90 degrees to the axis of the tow line
  • Do not stand at either end of the tow line as you are at higher risk of injury if the tow line breaks
  • Only use anchor points on vehicles and machinery approved by the manufacturer. Some instances have occurred where the vehicle towing the bogged machine has toppled over because the slings have been placed to high.
  • Farmers should also think about the piece of machinery that they are going to use to tow. Tractors that have an enclosed cabin and laminated glass and external structural protection are preferred.
  • Make sure that you have adequate emergency procedures in place.

The NSW Farmers Federation created an excellent tip sheet on farm machinery recover which can be found here.

Safe Work News South Wales also issued an Alert in June this year following a number of incidents.

Another useful  safety resource comes from an organisation, Real Agriculture, out of Canada. Appreciating that some of the language is terminology that is used in Canada and the US, the MOFS team will look to adopt some of this material to create a resource that is suitable for Victorian farmers over the next few months for future similar events

The Real Agriculture 17-point tip list has been extracted from a much more comprehensive 96 page guide created by the Canadian University of Purdue.  

Falling trees and tree branches

Farmers will also need to be aware of the risks of trees falling over, particularly along creek and river front areas, also the risk of waterlogged tree branches snapping.

The heavy rains will have washed away a lot of the ground soil that support trees and there is a risk of these trees collapsing.

Saturated tree branches may also become excessively heavy and snap. Branches may also snap in the days and weeks ahead.

Farmers are urged to consult with their employees and to be conscious of these risks when undertaking their work activities.


Entering and repairing flood damaged houses with asbestos

WorkSafe Victoria have also released a Safety Alert to alert property owners and renters on the dangers of exposure to asbestos containing materials when cleaning up after a flood.
https://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/safety-alerts/flood-recovery-asbestos-flood-damaged-homes-and-buildings
 
 If you would like to find more up-to date flood support information, please visit the Victorian Farmers Federation website dedicated information page here

CONTACT THE VFF

You can contact the VFF by phone on 1300 882 833 or email on [email protected]