Southern Dirt is working to help Farmers across our membership deal with COVID-19 spreads throughout WA.  As issues arise from our members Southern Dirt will work to source, develop and share agriculture-specific resources to assist where possible. Please ring me on 0428 579 947 or email ceo@southerndirt.com.au if you would like some help.

DPIRD Communique Latest Click here

Social Distancing
What is social distancing and why is it important?
Social distancing includes ways to stop or slow the spread of infectious diseases. It means less contact between you and other people.

Social distancing is important because COVID-19 is most likely to spread from person-to-person
through:

  • direct close contact with a person while they are infectious or in the 24 hours before their
    symptoms appeared
  • close contact with a person with a confirmed infection who coughs or sneezes, or
  • touching objects or surfaces (such as door handles or tables) contaminated from a cough or sneeze from a person with a confirmed infection, and then touching your mouth or face.

So, the more space between you and others, the harder it is for the virus to spread.

What can I do?

If you are sick, stay away from others – that is the most important thing you can do.

You should also practise good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene:

  • wash your hands frequently with soap and water, before and after eating, and after going to the toilet
  • cover your cough and sneeze, dispose of tissues, and use alcohol-based hand sanitiser,
    and
  •  if unwell, avoid contact with others (stay more than 1.5 metres from people).

As well as these, you can start a range of social distancing and low cost hygiene actions now. These simple, common sense actions help reduce risk to you and to others. They will help to slow the spread of disease in the community – and you can use them every day – in your home, workplace, school and while out in public. Click here for more detailed information

Hygiene

To help with both the slowing of the virus and health of our workers and families, strict guidelines for hygiene are the best form of management along with social distancing, washing hands frequently and self-isolating when sick or returning from travel.

The length of time that SARS-COV-2 (the cause of COVID-19) survives on inanimate surfaces will vary depending on factors such as the amount of contaminated body fluid – such as respiratory droplets – present and environmental temperature and humidity.  To help with developing up procedures the Australian Government has put out a guide titled ‘Environmental cleaning and disinfection principles for COVID-19.

Use of bleach or other disinfectants to disinfect all surfaces that are regularly touched will be especially important during seeding. Spray bottles with disposable cloth, cleaning liquid and hand sanitiser should be on hand in every vehicle and a cleaning procedure on vehicle exit introduced. Also increased emphasis on cleaning of lunch rooms and other common facilities. Remember that you are responsible for the health of everyone in your employment. Set up your procedure to minimise all infectious contact.

Download the guide here and let us know if you need help putting in policy or procedures.

Seasonal and off-farm workers

The government policy is quite clear around cross border management of backpackers and other seasonal workers – all need to self isolate for 14 days before coming to work. But what does this mean for those coming in who have no accommodation other than what you provide? And also what if workers are coming from Perth, Margaret River or other WA locations?

You can require your workers to self isolate before coming on farm. However for some this is just not practical. If you have accommodation set up and willing to have them on farm then you must make sure you have enough food, water, sanitiser etc… for them to be comfortable for the 14 day isolation period or set up online deliveries where possible to minimise all contact.

Create or use the policy we have provided in this link  to maximise any risk to yourselves, other workers and your community.

Advice from government is to treat all  workers as if they have the disease and act accordingly so as to minimise any transmission. Click here for official advice.

Regional Travel Restrictions

Border access for regions has now come into affect. $50,000 is the fine that will be imposed if you don’t meet cross border travel criteria. Members of the Agriculture Industry are exempt from this but will require justifying supporting documentation at border locations WA Police will be in place to manage the new restrictions.

Official Inter Regional Travel guideline document: https://www.wa.gov.au/government/publications/prohibition-regional-travel-directions

The Good2Go online inter regional travel permit system from the West Australian Police Force is now live. Known as the g2gpass, applications can be made via the web address https://g2gpass.com.au/ 
 
Search your app store for the phone app. 

Planning

ASHEEP have developed a set of questions you can use to build on this policy and develop a COVID-19 plan for your business Click here.

For farmers there is a range of things to consider such as backpackers coming to work for you during seeding. How are you going to cope and what are the policies that you will adopt to take care of your staff and family. At Southern Dirt we instituted our policy on Friday last week but you as employers must do the same or you could be held liable if a case is contracted on your farm, factory, packaging shed. The FairWork website outlines your obligations here.

Health

Beyond Blue have created a set of resources for looking after your mental health through this testing period. It is important you take this serious while still maintaining a calm and practical approach. Click here

This link will give you advice on managing a self-quarantine situation. Click here

There is also a collection of resources on the Department of Health website which tells you how this is unfolding and how to protect yourself here.

Business

The Federal Government have already announced a multibillion Dollar economic stimulus package with $1Billion for a regional and community fund to support agriculture and other industries affected here. This includes boosting cash flow for employers and an increase in the instant asset write off which may be of interest to you. Click here.

Additional Links

Official up-to-date information from the WHO: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

Official up-to-date information from the Australian Department of Health: https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert

Downloadable workplace poster – Good Hygiene
https://www.health.act.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-03/CV_Good%20hygiene_Poster_Accessible_1.pdf

Downloadable workplace poster – Hand Hygiene
https://www.health.act.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-03/CV_Hand%20hygiene_Poster_Accessible_1.pdf

Job site to connect unemployed to farm employment in WA – https://www.jobsinwafoodandag.com/

Safe Work Australia – Advice for Employers
https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/doc/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-employers

Advice for Visa Holders
Department of Home Affairs provides updates for visa holders regarding conditions on their visa, rules regarding where they can work and who is allowed to enter Australia. This website also has advice on what visa holders should do if their visa is due to expire shortly. Employers utilising workers on visas should ascertain their expiry date and provide this link to the visa holder to ensure they stay lawful. Visit website

Small Business Development Corporation
Small Business Development Corporation is available to assist. This service is provided by the WA government to help businesses with timely advice. Visit website

COVID-19 Guide for Grain Growers
Download here