View advice about community inclusion and food relief during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

COVIDSafe Settings are now in place across Victoria.

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Boost to food relief activity in Victoria

The Victorian Government has announced a package of initiatives to expand support for food relief activities in Victoria and ensure no one is left behind during the pandemic. 

In June 2021, $2.8 million has been provided to state-wide food relief providers and key regional charities and distribution centres to deliver more food to Victorians in need, support local hospitality businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic, and keep more Victorians in work.

Community Food Relief Fund

The Community Food Relief Fund supports local community organisations supplying food to Victorians in need during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

One-off grants of up to $75,000 will increase the state’s capacity to source and distribute food relief.

Community organisations are using grants to increase and improve their capacity to deliver and store food, support COVIDSafe business operations and recruit volunteers to help with business operations.

Applications for the grants closed at 2:00pm on Monday 26 October 2020.

Successful grant recipient organisations are listed in the document below:

Building Regional Food Relief Networks Program (Regional Hubs)

Five designated regional food relief hubs have been funded to increase the capacity of food relief storage and distribution services in regional Victoria. The hubs will ensure food gets to where it’s needed by strengthening the link between suppliers and those experiencing food insecurity.

In partnership with Foodbank Victoria, the Government has selected Albury-Wodonga Regional Foodshare, Bendigo Foodshare, Geelong Relief Centre, Mildura Foodshare and Warrnambool and District Foodshare to provide food relief hub services.

The $3.5 million allocated to the regional food relief hubs builds on $10 million already being invested by the Labor Government for new Foodbank distribution centres in Ballarat and Morwell. Once complete in late 2022, the new centres will enable a coordinated food relief response across the state.

The Victorian Government is providing additional support to the Food Relief Distribution agencies listed in the document below. Should your organisation deliver a food relief program and require increased access to donated and low-cost food, you may be eligible to receive regular food donations from one of the agencies listed.

Food Relief Taskforce 

The Food Relief Taskforce (the Taskforce) will be responsible for providing advice to government on key strategies and initiatives to strengthen Victoria’s food relief system.

The Taskforce brings together senior representatives of the food relief sector, peak bodies and key government officers to ensure food supply and distribution is coordinated and targeted to areas most in need. 

The Taskforce will provide important recommendations to improve the coordination of food supply and distribution so that the food relief system can respond to meet demand during the coronavirus (COVID-19) response and recovery period.

A list of organisations with membership on the Taskforce is listed the document below:

For further enquiries please email us at foodrelief.team@dhhs.vic.gov.au.

Victorian neighbourhood house sector guidance

The neighbourhood house sector provides services to many vulnerable Victorians. People who are disadvantaged or vulnerable may be especially impacted by the current pandemic due to their lack of personal, social and financial resources.

Volunteering during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Volunteers willingly dedicate their time for the common good and without financial gain. A strong volunteering culture improves outcomes for people, communities and the environment, supports the delivery of services and improves mental health and wellbeing for volunteers themselves.

  • Information for current and prospective volunteers about how to support the community and stay safe is available on the Volunteer.vic website.

Boost to Emergency Relief For Victoria’s Most Vulnerable

The Victorian Government has announced further funding to provide emergency food relief. This $4.5 million package of initiatives will deliver more food to Victorians in need, facilitate partnerships between food relief providers and local businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic, and boost the capacity of key community food relief organisations. The package includes:

  • $2.2 million to provide food sourcing and distribution grants to regional and metropolitan food relief providers to be able to purchase and transport more food for Victorians in need, and to support partnerships between food relief providers and local business impacted by the pandemic.
  • $1.5 million in grants to support priority regional and metropolitan food relief providers to meet demand and employ workers until volunteer programs are re-established.
  • $600,000 to extend Foodbank’s international student supermarket at 230 La Trobe Street Melbourne through to December 2021.
  • $200,000 to extend the operating hours of Foodbank’s mobile food relief store from one day a week to three days a week.

Read the Emergency Relief for Victorian communities during the pandemic - frequently asked questions (Word) for more information.

Extreme Hardship Support Program

The Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH) has extended the Extreme Hardship Support Program to October 2021.

DFFH has funded Red Cross to deliver an Extreme Hardship Support Program to provide financial assistance, information and referrals to Victorians who are experiencing significant hardship as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, but who do not have access to Commonwealth income support (including JobSeeker and the Temporary COVID Disaster Payment). 

The program provides support to the most vulnerable temporary and provisional visa holders and undocumented migrants who have zero or very limited income, savings or community support. All international students experiencing extreme financial hardship are also eligible to apply, even if they had previously received assistance through the International Student Emergency Relief Fund.

To be eligible for the program people must

  • live in Victoria, and
  • not receive income from the Commonwealth (such as JobSeeker or the Temporary COVID Disaster Payment), and
  • have zero or very limited income, savings or community support, and
  • be a temporary or provisional visa holder, or an undocumented migrant.

Applicants apply through a portal on the Red Cross website, or a dedicated phone line 1800 855 240​.

Read the COVID-19 Extreme Hardship Support Program frequently asked questions for the Victorian community (Word).