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Victoria launches COVID-19 online chat room for rural women

An online support network is encouraging rural women to put the kettle on or have a splash of wine whilst having a virtual chat to share ideas and experiences in staying connected during the coronavirus pandemic.

Victoria’s Minister for Agriculture on 12 May 2020 launched the Virtual Country Cuppas to support rural women in combatting feelings of isolation and stress whilst physical distancing.

Coordinated by the Victorian Rural Women’s Network (VRWN), the event is based on the VRWN’s successful face-to-face Country Cuppas that attracted 600 rural women to 32 events across Victoria in October.

This year participants are invited to host a virtual morning or afternoon tea, after-work drinks, or another form of an online catch-up with their favourite community members or group.

While staying at home and limiting physical interaction has been vital to slowing the spread of the virus, it can be difficult for people’s mental health and wellbeing – particularly for those already experiencing mental health conditions or who live in isolated areas.

The Country Cuppas is a relaxed and comforting environment for participants to reconnect and share their experiences whilst meeting other rural women.

Anyone wanting to host a Virtual Country Cuppa will receive a hosting pack from the VRWN, which includes a free Zoom training webinar and personal development resources.

Virtual Country Cuppas will be held from 23 May to 31 May and is just one of several virtual initiatives that are being developed by the VRWN to upskill and support rural women.

For additional information or to register, visit the Victorian Rural Women’s Network website.

The Minister for Agriculture stated that drought, bushfires, and coronavirus have all created an even greater need for more communication and connections to support rural Victorian women.

The Virtual Country Cuppas initiative is a great way for women to be able to stay in touch and talk about the things that matter to them and their families in these challenging times.

Upskilling Workers to Boost Victoria’s Dairy Workforce

Job seekers matched with Victorian dairy farmers looking for help will be brought up to speed with specific training as part of a new program run by Dairy Australia and backed by the Victorian Government.

The Minister for Agriculture recently stated that $715,000 for the Dairy Farm Induction Program, which will help job seekers rapidly upskill and provide employers with training to induct new workers into their farm business.

The Program is part of the $50 million Agriculture Workforce Plan which seeks to support Victoria’s agricultural industries and provide job-ready workers to meet labour demands.

The new Program highlights an important component of the Workforce Plan in making sure incoming workers have access to rapid and high-quality training, to ensure agricultural roles can be taken up quickly.

As part of the Dairy Farm Induction Program, an online learning package will be offered to help job seekers understand the culture of the workplace and important day-to-day tasks such as machinery operation and handling stock.

Consultants will also be available to support farmers by providing training support on their farms for a smooth worker induction.

The Victorian Government is working closely with the state’s agricultural sector to ensure its crucial supply chains can continue during the coronavirus pandemic.

This includes continuing to test Victorians with even mild symptoms through new rapid response outbreak squads proactively visiting high-risk facilities, businesses and industries, and through pop-up testing sites.

Agriculture Victoria is also meeting weekly with the Victorian Agriculture Industry Reference Group to share information from the Government, ensure they have the most up-to-date health and business advice and directly respond to feedback and concerns.

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