Opportunities for CALD communities in agriculture

Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities have a strong potential to fill skills gaps in Victoria's agriculture industry.

People CALD backgrounds make up a minimum of 11% of Victoria’s agricultural workforce. However, an opportunity exists to capture their diverse skills, experience and ideas to fill skills gaps in agriculture and strengthen the industry for the future.

During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 – where Victorian agricultural business navigated border closures, supply chain disruptions and workforce uncertainty – Agriculture Victoria commissioned a social research study to capture critical insights of CALD communities and their interest in working in agriculture as part of its Smarter Safer Farms.

Project approach

Our team conducted a mapping exercise to establish where large CALD populations overlapped with significant areas of potential agriculture employment across the state. Four areas of Victoria were chosen for further study – Gippsland, Mildura/Swan Hill, Shepparton and South West Victoria.

A desktop review and interviews were then conducted with CALD settlement agencies and individuals, agricultural industry bodies and businesses and educational institutions.

The project considered the existing skills and workforce gaps for the agricultural sector, the barriers preventing CALD communities from pursuing a career in agriculture and the opportunities to overcome those barriers.

As agricultural areas and jobs are mostly found in rural and regional areas, we also investigated the importance of settlement and support services in those regions and how they are a key factor in encouraging CALD communities into a career in agriculture.

Click here to read the final report.

A follow-on project will identify the skills gaps in Victorian agriculture with a focus on dairy and horticulture. The findings will be compared with the skills that current and potential CALD employees can bring to these industries, with the aim to pave the way forward for the success of agriculture and people from CALD backgrounds.

Find out more about our expertise in workforce development and planning.

CALD agriculture workers


Deb Prentice

Deb Prentice

Senior Consultant

B.A., G.Dip.Bus., Dip.NRM.

Deb’s key areas of expertise are in community engagement, facilitation and strategic thinking. She has experience in both public sector and corporate organisations and her relevant training underlies a commitment to build team and community capacity, sustainable health and wellbeing and improving equity and diversity. Deb has led regional and corporate teams, formally and informally, in community engagement and activation to reach decisions and efficiencies around strategic action planning, cultural diversity, performance planning, workforce diversity and inclusion and stakeholder mapping. Her experience in working with diverse communities including people with disabilities, Aboriginal staff members, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Communities to roll out programs and enable joint direction setting provide her with a deeper understanding into people’s values, experiences and needs.

Emily Tee

Emily Tee

Senior Consultant

B.Ag.Sci., Grad.Dip.App.Sci. (Hort), Dip.Bus.

Emily is a multi-skilled professional with experience in design, delivery and review of programs and projects in the environmental and agricultural sectors. She combines excellent strategic thinking skills with a proven ability to problem-solve and effectively communicate with colleagues and stakeholders. Emily has particular skills in relationship building and collaboration with individuals, teams and industry groups to lead and implement change and deliver on outcomes.

Adrian Kennelly

Adrian Kennelly


B.Ag.Sci. (Hons), M.Ag.Sci., CPAg.

Adrian has more than 30 years’ experience in agricultural business and natural resource management research, policy, education and extension. He is a specialist farm business management adviser, who consults to medium to large-scale private farmers, agribusiness investors, agricultural industry groups and government agencies.

Adrian has specific skills and experience in strategic planning, business analysis, impact and loss assessment, facilitation, and training and education in rural Australia.  Adrian chairs the advisory boards of a number of family farming operations in south-eastern Australia and has undertaken due diligence exercises for several domestic and international investors.

In addition to this, his most recent industry project work includes the development of an Investment Attraction Program for Rural Councils Victoria, an agricultural impact assessment of the Western Highway bypass of Ararat and the development of a business planning program (Our farm, our plan) for the Australian dairy industry.