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Restrictions bring on farm requirements

FARMING has never been a better place to be than right now, mid pandemic. Whilst our lives can continue on with some inconveniences, we still have an income and a few hundred acres more to isolate on than the average Aussie.

Farmers don’t farm for the recognition, appreciation, and praise. In fact, we often cop a lot of flak from those we feed, but who have little understanding of what we do an a day-to-day basis.

However, as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of the country last March, it soon became glaringly obvious that farming is pretty darn important.

Suddenly climate change has become less significant, and the focus has shifted back to the simple things such as eating, a roof over our heads, and our health.

With chaos in our supermarkets at the sight of bare shelves, consumers who have previously taken food security for granted started to rethink their assumptions that safe, nutritious, cheap food will always be available freely and cheaply to them.

Whilst there is no question that farmers can continue to farm, there are a few things we are now required to do in order to have our businesses compliant. These include:

  • Keeping a register of all those that attend the workplace
  • Having a COVIDSafe Plan in place
  • Issuing staff an Authorised Worker Permit

Visitors register
ALL businesses in Victoria are required to keep a register of people that attend the workplace. Most businesses are required to use the State Government’s QR code system, however farms are exempt from this requirement, but must still be keeping a register in some form.

COVIDSafe Plan
IT is mandatory for every Victorian business with on-site operations to have a COVIDSafe Plan. To ensure compliance, random spot checks are occurring throughout Victoria.

Your COVIDSafe Plan must demonstrate:

  • your actions to help prevent the introduction of COVID-19 to your workplace
  • the type of face mask or personal protective equipment (PPE) required for your workforce
  • how you will prepare for, and respond to, a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 in your workplace
  • how you will meet all the requirements set out by the Victorian Government. Some industries or workplaces are subject to additional industry obligations and have additional requirements of employers and employees.

Businesses must review and update their COVIDSafe Plans regularly, especially when restrictions or public health advice changes. Organisations with multiple worksites must complete a COVIDSafe Plan for each worksite.
COVIDSafe Plan templates can be found at coronavirus.vic.gov.au/covidsafe-plan.

Authorised Worker Permits
In the latest round of lockdowns, a new requirement for Authorised Worker Permits came about. Farm businesses are required to issue permits to all staff, stating the location, days and hours that staff members work.
Employees then have to carry this permit and present it if required as a reason for leaving home. Unless we are advised otherwise, we can only assume farmers should also issue themselves permits (even if the work hours listed are quite broad!) as it may be requested when travelling to get supplies or between properties.

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