Victorian businesses that hire new employees from key priority groups are now able to claim wage subsidies of up to $20,000 under a new program launched by the Victorian government on Friday. 

The $250 million Jobs Victoria Fund forms part of the state government’s broader $619.4 million Jobs Victoria program, and is designed to both support businesses as they recover from the pandemic and help more Victorians secure work. 

The announcement comes just days before the federal government’s JobKeeper wage subsidy program is due to end and in the same week it was revealed that the federal JobMaker program, which is designed to encourage businesses to hire young people, has only supported 609 jobs so far.

From today, Victorian employers will be able to apply for the wage subsidies if they hire new eligible workers in either part-time or full-time positions, for a minimum of 19 hours a week, to help cover the cost of their employment for 12 months. 

Subsidies will be available for up to 20 full-time equivalent employees, or up to a maximum 20% increase on a business’ current staffing levels. 

The subsidies are available for all businesses operating in Victoria with annual payrolls of up to $20 million, including sole traders. Social enterprises and charities will also be eligible.

Employees must be hired before the business applies for the subsidies, and they must come from one of the priority groups nominated by the government, which are listed in full below. There will be two tiers of subsidies, depending on which group the employee comes from. 

Supporting women who have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic will be a key objective of the program, with at least 60% of the jobs supported by the Jobs Victoria Fund to be for women. 

Of the $250 million, $150 million will be allocated to positions for women, including $50 million for women over the age of 45.

Other priority groups include people who have been unemployed for more than six months, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, workers with disabilities, newly arrived migrants from non-English speaking backgrounds, and workers aged under 25 or over 45. 

The government said it has chosen these groups because their employment has been considerably affected by the pandemic and it expects the fund to support at least 10,000 jobs.  

“This fund is new and different, and it needs to be to help those people who face extra barriers to finding secure and rewarding work,” said Victorian Small Business Minister Jaala Pulford in a statement.

“Wage subsidies will help thousands of women, and older women especially, get back on their feet and into jobs. Other priority groups like young people and the long-term unemployed will also be a focus.”

The priority groups for the Jobs Victoria Fund are:

  • Women, with a focus on women aged over 45 years;
  • Jobseekers who are long-term unemployed (unemployed for six months or more);
  • Jobseekers registered with a Jobs Victoria partner; 
  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people;
  • People with disabilities;
  • People seeking asylum or refugees;
  • Newly-arrived migrants from non-English speaking backgrounds;
  • Young people aged under 25;
  • People over 45 years;
  • Veterans; and
  • People employed under the Working for Victoria initiative.

Additional information about eligibility and the application process is available from this website.