Coronavirus (COVID-19) – links & resources
The spread of a novel (new) coronavirus (COVID-19) continues in Australia. On this page you will find useful resources grouped under the various headings (health, food safety, financial assistance, workplace information, specific industry information).
According to SafeWork Australia, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause illnesses from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak of COVID-19 as a pandemic. You can find the latest news in our Australian and International sections, and Members can find a blog here, where we post regular updates.
Avocados Australia is compiling a list of national resources. Where possible, the links below go directly to the COVID-19 relevant page.
- Avocados Australia has further curated a list of suggestions for orchards and packsheds HERE.
- For a summary of national ag activities, visit the Department of Agriculture, Water & Environment website.
- For a summary of national health updates, visit the Department of Health.
- National Farmers Federation workplace guide, click here.
- Australian Government Department of Health
- Information for employers – Australian Government Department of Health (PDF link)
- Australian Medical Association
- Comcare – Australian Government
- Symptoms & prevention factsheet – Nursery and Garden Industry Queensland
- For mental health and wellbeing strategies, visit
- lifeline.org.au, or call 13 11 14 (24/7), text 0477 13 11 14 (6pm-midnight AEDT), chat online www.lifeline.org.au/crisis-chat (7pm-midnight)
- beyondblue.org.au, or call 1300 22 46 36 (24/7), chat online www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/get-immediate-support
On 1 April, the Australian Government announced support for air freight into key markets including Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, China and the UAE from Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. Read the release here. Exporters are strongly encouraged to fill out this online form as it will inform the freight coordination team as they prioritise routes. Horticulture (such as premium fruits and packaged salad or vegetables) is among the eligible produce. The Mechanism is intended to operate until ordinary commercial markets return, or for six months, whichever is the earlier. Austrade has more details here.
- Food safety and coronavirus – Food Standards Australia New Zealand
- Produce Marketing Association Australia-New Zealand – read their 20 March 2020 release here
- Wash your fresh produce with water not soap – Fresh Produce Safety Centre
- Scroll down to the workplace heading for more business-related content.
Financial assistance (Federal)
- Australian Government stimulus resources
- A full list of factsheets from the Treasury, including supporting businesses to retain jobs, JobKeeper payment details for employers and employees, support for business investment, relief for financially distressed businesses, support for sole traders, support for COVID-19 affected regions and more
- Stimulus package details
- Australian Tax Office details – direct link to stimulus information
- State by state summary of payroll tax stimulus measures, collated by KPMG.
- Household stimulus – (PDF factsheet)
- Boosting cashflow back to businesses (PDF factsheet – this measure provides up to $25,000 back to business, with a minimum payment of $2,000 for eligible businesses. The payment will provide temporary cash flow support to small and medium businesses that employ staff)
- Australian exporters impacted by the COVID-19 crisis will now have access to business-saving loans between $250,000 and $50 million under a new $500 million capital facility to be administered by Export Finance Australia. Click here for more.
- Australian Government business support
- Australian Banking Association
- Support available via the Australian Tax Office – you can also call 1800 806 218, or call 13 14 15 for help in languages other than English, and those with issues hearing or speaking can use the National Relay Service
The Government is making a number of changes to temporary visa holder arrangements during the coronavirus crisis in order to protect the health of our community, safeguard job opportunities for Australians, support critical industries, and assist with rapid recovery.
- Click here for details of visa changes (including seasonal and working holiday makers) from the Australian Government and how they apply to ag
- Click here for details for specific visas
- If you are a visa holder, click here for a FAQ page from the Australian Government
- Australian Government
- Fair Farms (PDF link)
- Freshcare updates & resources
- If it is possible for the auditor to conduct your on-site audit, it should be undertaken when scheduled.
- If restrictions do not permit your audit to be undertaken, Freshcare Certification Bodies have provisions in place to provide certificate extensions up six months. Click here to read more about when this is possible.
- Harmonised Australian Retailer Produce Scheme (HARPS)
- Close vs casual contact
- A casual contact is someone who has been in the same general area as someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus while infectious. Click here for the factsheet (PDF)
- A close contact is someone who has been face-to-face for at least 15 minutes or been in the same closed space for at least 2 hours, as someone who has tested positive for the COVID-19 when that person was infectious. Click here for the factsheet (PDF)
- Business continuity webinar series – Queensland Agriculture & BDO
- Business operations
- The National Farmers Federation has now released version 1 of its COVID-19 workplace guide. Click here to access. The guide covers: general practices, access to labour and workforce planning, WHS obligations, industrial relations, and a COVID-19 personal disclosure statement template.
- Click here for a base list of workplace safety measures from the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment
- COVID-19 and fresh produce – protecting your workforce (a PDF guide from PMA-ANZ, including tips for packshed and picking crews)
- COVID-19 and the fresh produce industry (a PDF guide from PMA-ANZ)
- Safe Food Queensland guidelines and checklist for reducing workplace impacts. These are generally applicable, but please note they are Queensland-based. The guidelines include examples with horticulture businesses.
- COVID-19 workplace guide (from Australian Pork, generally applicable)
- Example of a daily workplace health check from Brisbane Markets (please assess carefully if suitable for your own operations
- Workplace measures from the US and the UK (via HortiDaily)
- Click here for a curated list of resources from Hort Innovation
- Check the list below for ag specific materials from Safe Work Australia
- Fair Work Commission
- FairWork Ombudsman
- Coronavirus and Australian workplace laws
- FWO also has a special COVID-19 phone facility via its 13 13 94 hotline
- Inputs update
- Graingrowers is maintaining an update from input suppliers, with regard to supply. Click here.
- Safe Work Australia
- Collated agriculture resources
- Information on preparing for COVID-19 and managing risk
- Agriculture: minimising the risk
- Workplace checklist – to help employers identify what to do in the workplace
- How to keep workers safe – a fact sheet overview of what employers need to do
- Small business hub from Safe Work Australia
- World Health Organization
- Coronavirus and Australian Workplace Laws, as well as Candidate Pre-Screening and Pandemic Recruitment Contingency Plan (PDF link) – from AUSVEG and HR Global Solutions, Melbourne (Note: Avocados Australia recommends you do your own research and make your own business decisions on any services offered)
Managing the risks from COVID-19
The model Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws require a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of their workers and others at the workplace. This includes providing and maintaining a work environment that is without risk to health and safety.
To comply with the model WHS laws, PCBUs must identify hazards at the workplace and the associated risks, and do what is reasonably practicable to eliminate those risks, or where this is not reasonably practicable, to minimise those risks.
Whether a control measure is reasonably practicable to implement involves consideration of what is able to be done to manage a risk and whether it is reasonable in the circumstances to do so. The likelihood of the risk occurring, the degree of harm that might result and the availability and suitability of a control measure are key considerations in determining what measures are reasonable. Further general guidance is available in the model Code of Practice: Managing the work environment and facilities (LINK).
Exposure to COVID-19 is a potential hazard for workers and other people at workplaces. PCBUs must have measures in place to protect worker health and safety and manage these risks.
PCBUs need to keep up to date with the latest COVID-19 information and advice to ensure that any action taken is measured and appropriate. This includes closely monitoring the Australian Government Department of Health, the Smartraveller website and any advice from state or territory government agencies.
Depending on the workplace, an appropriate range of actions may include:
- providing clear advice to workers about actions staff members should take if they become unwell or think they may have the symptoms of coronavirus, in accordance with advice from the Australian Government Department of Health and state or territory health department
- eliminating or minimising international work travel, in line with the travel advice on the Australian Government’s Smartraveller website
- providing regular updates to workers about the situation and any changes to organisational policies or procedures
- contingency planning to manage staff absences.
Workers also have a duty to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and to not adversely affect the health and safety of others. Workers should be reminded to always practice good hygiene and other measures to protect themselves and other against infection. This includes:
- washing their hands often, with soap and water, or carrying hand sanitiser and using it as needed
- covering their mouth when coughing or sneezing, but not using their hands to do so
- seeing a health care professional if they start to feel unwell
- if unwell, avoiding contact with others (including shaking hands or other touching, such as hugging).
Date Published: 19/03/2020