Business Events and Support

Council have initiated the Darebin Business Webinar Series to help support you and your business through the current climate.

For sole traders, businesses and organisations, re-opening or adjusting to the 'new normal' is going to be a challenge. As part of Darebin City Council’s $11.3M Community and Business Resilience and Recovery Package, Council have initiated the Darebin Business Webinar Series to help support you and your business through the current climate.


The webinars, run by local Darebin businesses or residents, will cover topics including strengthening your financial position, pivoting your business model, think like an entrepreneur, digital marketing, eCommerce, SEO for your website and online store, leadership, wellbeing and much more.


For more information and to register go to Darebin Business Webinar Series.


More sessions will be added in the coming weeks, so keep up to date with the latest click the Follow button (top right corner) on Eventbrite link.


Webinar Resources

Session 1: Strengthening your financial position – Presentation Slides


Session 2: Pivoting your business: Case studies and conversation – Presentation Slides


Session 3: Making the change: Going digital – Presentation Slides


Session 4: How to stay connected with your customers during a crisis – Presentation Slides


Session 5: Think like an entrepreneur: Customer mindset opportunities – Presentation Slides


Session 6: Social media 101: Tips, tricks and timesavers Presentation Slides



Do you have a business idea to benefit the Darebin community? Can you pitch it under 5 minutes?

Darebin Pitch It is back…and bigger than ever!


Darebin Pitch It gives anyone from the community, including local students, graduates, entrepreneurs and businesses, the opportunity to turn innovative start-up ideas into a reality. The competition supports up-and-coming founders in the Darebin community to create and scale new and innovative sustainability and social impact start-ups that encourage our city, society and environment to be bolder, more connected and healthier. 


The competition includes four stages – Applications, Pitch It Day, Accelerator and an open to the public Grand Final event – and a chance to win the grand prize!


To be eligible to enter, individuals or teams must either live, work or study in the City of Darebin. 


For more information and to apply visit Darebin Pitch It website




Darebin City Council is committed to working with our community to promote women in leadership across local business, the community sector and our organisation.

Darebin Women and Leadership 2020 is an initiative of Council and is a funded pilot program. It will give women, from across sectors, the opportunity to expand their knowledge, skills and confidence. Participants will learn and share with other talented and successful women who have had a profound impact in their organisations, communities and wider society.

Who should take this program?

This program is for women living or working in the City of Darebin, across all industries. This includes anyone who identifies as women and non-binary people. Darebin is seeking expressions of interest to identify people who would like to participate in the pilot program.

This program is for you if:

• you want to harness your own unique leadership strengths and styles;

• you want to develop your capabilities to lead, influence and negotiate; and

• you want to be part of and learn from a talented and supportive network of women leaders.

Program outline:

Over five months, participants are expected to attend four capability-building workshops, an expert leadership panel and individual coaching.

Half-day action learning workshops
1. Authentic leadership
2. Communication, influence and negotiation 
3. Resilience and managing change
4. Creative leadership

Leadership panel
This panel of impressive women leaders from across the private, public and not-for-profit sectors will speak about their own personal journey. The panel will be followed by a networking lunch.
Specialist Coaching
Participants will receive two coaching sessions focused on an area nominated by each participant informed by their reflective practice throughout the program. 

Applications close 2 March 2020 and can be submitted via the survey here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Council doing this?
Council is committed to gender equity and the prevention of violence against women. One way of doing this is to ensure that women are better represented in leadership roles, across all sectors. Currently, women are underrepresented. Our aim is that, through this program, women (and non-binary people) will be able to develop their leadership capabilities and gain leadership positions in their career.
The program aligns with Council strategies and priorities including Goals 4, 5 and 6 of the Council Plan 2017-21 and Action Areas 1 and 3 of the Gender Equity and Preventing Violence Against Women Action Plan (2019-23)

Do I have to live in Darebin to participate?
You do not have to live in Darebin. However, you must show that your leadership will be benefiting the Darebin community. Those applying in the local business stream must work in or operate businesses in Darebin. Those applying for the community stream must be living, working, studying or playing in Darebin (or show how you are connected to the Darebin community).

How much will this program cost?
This is a pilot program and ten participants each from the local business community, our community organisations, and Council staff will be invited into the program. There is no cost to successful participants.

Why does the program include council staff, community members and local businesses?
We have structured the program in this way so that people from different sectors have an opportunity to learn from another. Our aim is that this structure will give all participants insight into areas and work that they may not otherwise be exposed to.

Do I need to currently be in a leadership position to apply?
No. People who are looking to expand their leadership capability are encouraged to apply.

Do I have to attend the whole program to be able to apply?
Yes, we will provide the dates to all workshops, panels and coaching sessions to successful participants. Attendance for all sessions will ensure that you receive maximum benefit and also graduate form the program.  

What is the selection criteria?
Applications will be panel reviewed and assessed based on responses to the online application form.

What if I am having difficulties in completing the form or have questions about the program?
Please feel welcome to contact 8470 8418 or email

Everything you need to know about starting a business in Darebin, including planning, regulations, and advice on managing and growing your business.

Whether you have a fantastic new business idea or you’re looking to take over an existing operation, it’s important to have accurate information about all aspects of starting a business.

We can help you understand the market you’re entering, your business obligations, the planning process, and more.

Useful Information
1. Planning – Planning permits are required for any land use or development.
2. Food, Health and Safety – Specific permits are required if you are operating a food or health business.
3. Local Laws – A permit is required if you intend to place permanent or temporary items, e.g. signs, tables, chairs, or merchandise, on public footpaths.
4. Building Planning – Building permits are required for any work that includes erection of canopies or signage.
5. Transport, Traffic and Parking Management – Permits are required for street closures, parking and filming in Darebin.

Darebin Enterprise Centre Ltd (DECL)
The Darebin Enterprise Centre is a non-profit organisation that can help with the start up and growth of your small business.

Further Information
Website: Darebin Enterprise Centre Ltd
Ph: 9499 9100

Business Victoria
The Business Victoria website is a comprehensive online resource offering a range of services. They can help you with starting or buying a business, finding the right licences, employing and managing people, and much more.

Further Information
Business Development
Ph: 8470 8344

We provide information and guidance, including mentoring and management advice, business connections, and education and training.

Online Resources

Support and Advice 

  • Darebin Enterprise Centre Ltd (DECL) is a non-profit organisation that can help with the start up and growth of your small business.
  • Enterprise Connect is an Australian Government initiative that offers advice and support to small and medium-sized businesses.
  • Small Business Mentoring Service is an independent non-profit organisation that provides one-on-one advice from an experienced mentor in your field.
  • Business Victoria is a comprehensive online resource offering a range of services such as starting or buying a business, finding the right licences, employing and managing people, and much more.
  • Social Traders is a non-profit organisation that supports and encourages the establishment of social enterprises Australia-wide. Social Enterprises take a number of forms and deliver outcomes as diverse as employment for the disadvantaged, production of important goods and services, or fundraising for other charitable activities and community projects.
  • NORTH Link is a northern regional partnership of industry, education and government established for the purposes of economic development, regional marketing and promotion of Melbourne’s north. NORTH Link also provides information to prospective business investors in Melbourne’s north.
  • Inner Northern Group Training was established by local government to promote employment through the apprenticeship and traineeship systems.
  • The Inner Northern Local Learning and Employment Network (INLLEN) is a non-profit organisation funded by the Victorian Government that aims to improve education, training and employment outcomes for young people aged 10-19 years in the municipalities of Darebin, Moreland and Yarra.

Education and Training

  • LaTrobe University run their courses in Entrepreneurship and Business at their Bundoora location. They also run an accelerator for startups and have expanded into a range of online and short courses.
  • Melbourne Polytechnic TAFE have industry-specific courses on Entrepreneurship, Business Management and short courses. For more information you can visit their Northland Skills and Jobs Centre.
  • Unemployed? Have a great business idea? Check out New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS). It’s a Commonwealth Government funded program that provides help to unemployed people who would like to start a small business.
  • APlus is a training company that help employers in the northern metropolitan area find the right staff. They also work with apprentices and trainees to find job opportunities.

Employment Services Providers 

Darebin is home to a number of employment and job services providers that can help your business find and keep the right people.

These are non-profit private organisations – Job Services – that can provide staff for any position as well as specialist support for job seekers with disabilities through Disability Employment Services.

Further Information  

Business Development 
Ph: 8470 8344 


Local businesses making a difference in Darebin.

Social enterprises are businesses that trade to intentionally tackle social problems, improve communities, provide people access to employment and training or help the environment (definition from Social Traders, an acknowledged provider of support and resources to the social enterprise community in Australia, including a supplier portal).

Darebin City Council has many social enterprises in a variety of industry sectors, from very well established ones such as Clean Force Property Services and the Fair Food division of the Ceres group through to those just getting established and working out their market sector.

Darebin's Economic Development team provides support and assistance to these as a priority from Council's Action Plan of 2018/ 2019.

This support culminated in the establishment of a social enterprise network which met for the first time in October 2018.

Many of Darebin's social enterprises can be found in our Business Directory and we invite others to register on this directory so that we can continue to grow the sector.

In addition to the support provided by Darebin's Economic Development team, there are also resources from the Victorian State government, deriving from the Social Enterprise Strategy launched in 2017 and the Social Procurement Framework launched in 2018.

Looking to export your product or service overseas? 

Our Export Program assists local businesses to diversify, maximise opportunities and increase capability to trade globally. Export can provide growth and profit however, operating in international markets can be complex and demanding. In this program you will receive free mentoring, business capability assessments and long term strategy advice to prepare your business for export. This program is open to all businesses from any sector.

What will the export program provide?

Through the Export Program, you will receive a one-on-one confidential service from an industry expert. This includes assessment, advice and an export strategy tailored to your business. During the program our industry expert will work with you to identify market opportunities, your business strengths and to develop strategies to expand future capacity.

Since 2014, we have supported a number of businesses to go global. To find out more and be involved, register your interest for first round by 20 December 2019 or for second round by 30 January 2020 via the Export Program Application Form.

Note: This program is open to Darebin businesses only.

We host a range of events for our business community here in Darebin.

To help you develop and grow your business in Darebin, we host a range of events that focus on areas such as networking, training, mentoring and much more.  These are all great opportunities to keep your business growing and connect you with our thriving business community.


Business Events in Darebin
Event Date Time Location Cost Booking details 

Taxation Workshop

Tax Essentials

Tuesday 21 May 5.30 - 7.30pm  Happy Hubbub, 239a Murray Rd, Preston Free  ATO workshops May 21
Social Enterprise Workshop 

Tuesday 28 May

Tuesday 29 May

10am - 1pm TBC, Preston Free


Pitch It Final   Thursday 30 May 5.30pm - 9.30pm Sycamore Meadows, 759 Gilbert Rd, Reservoir Free  Pitch It Grand Final
Northern Business Achievement Awards Thursday 6 June 7am - 9am Mantra Bell City Ballroom, 205 Bell St, Preston $60 NBAA tickets
Taxation Workshop

Single Touch Payroll

 Tuesday 9 July 5.30 - 6.30pm  Happy Hubbub, 239a Murray Rd, Preston Free  ATO workshop July 9

Further Information:
Phone: 8470 8344

Below are some current business opportunities including any current Tenders

A call to all Darebin artists!

Are you a graphic designer, artist, street artist or creative business? If you are interested in upcoming opportunities, commissions or projects within Darebin we want to hear from you. Please send your contact details, digital examples of your work and a brief description of your practice to


PaTH Program

Thinking of taking on a young person into your business?  The PaTH program has been specifically designed by the Department of Employment to make it easier and more attractive for business to employ 15 – 24 y.o. It does this by offering an incentive of $1000 for you to trial a young person for at least 4 weeks, then tops it off by providing a wage subsidy of at least $6500 if you offer ongoing employment to that person.  Additionally, the program provides job readiness training to people so that you can be confident the person you are taking on is ready to hit the ground running.  All the details can be found on the Department of Employment’s website.  What are waiting for – give a young person a chance today. 

Industry Capability Network

Industry Capability Network The Industry Capability Network (ICN) is a business network that introduces Australian and New Zealand companies to projects large and small.

The ICN is an independent organisation financially supported by Australian, New Zealand, state and territory governments. Since it started 30 years ago, ICN has helped local suppliers find $30 billion worth of contracts.

ICN bridges the information gap between buyers and sellers by providing advice and services to clients in all industries by:
  • Finding the best Australian products and suppliers
  • Facilitating import replacement
  • Assisting with Victorian Industry Participation Policy enquiries and plans (VIPP)
  • Supporting major industrial, energy and infrastructure projects
  • Accessing Global Supply Chains
  • Providing Tariff Concession Order applications services
  • Offering Enhanced Project By-Law Scheme research services
  • Administering industry and sectoral research

To find out more or to register go to the ICN website.

Respect the rule campaign

Every day young workers face humiliating and sexually suggestive remarks from customers, managers and co-workers, as well as being bullied, groped and threatened.  Hospitality workers have come together to develop a powerful campaign ‘Respect the Rule’ to make venues safe for everyone. Darebin strongly supports this campaign and encourages businesses to participate by:

  1. Signing a pledge stating you will only go to venues that have a zero tolerance policy on sexual harassment. Click here to sign.
  2. Venues can sign the ‘Respect Is the Rule’ Pledge to help create safe and respectful environments for their staff. Venues who pledge are listed on the campaign website. Click here to find out more info.

Everybody deserves to be safe at work. For more details

The Active Spaces in Darebin program works with real estate agents, property owners and creative business to transform areas which have an abundance of vacant shops, graffiti tagging and bill posters into economically stimulated and culturally charged destinations.

The Active Spaces in Darebin is delivered with a hands-on approach, providing support with:

  • Assistance in finding an appropriate property
  • Negotiating a reasonable rent with the real estate agent or the property owner
  • If required negotiating a short term lease agreement with the option to use our Exclusive Licence Agreement.
  • Business mentoring and business setup 101
  • Marketing , promotion and networking opportunities
  • Information and support with council permits and processes
  • Guidance to find suitable insurance
  • Promotion on our Facebook page and in other Council publications
  • Small one off grant to assist with start-up costs
  • Negotiating for the right property

Since the program launch we have worked with a broad range of creative businesses that have included:

  • Retail
  • Not-For-Profit projects
  • Social enterprises
  • Co-working spaces
  • Artist's requiring studio spaces, workshops & rehearsal spaces
  • Shop window galleries Art exhibitions/installations
  • Artists creating public art and murals

For a full list of creative businesses that have been involved in the program since 2012 click here.

For a full list of artists who have exhibited the work in vacant spaces throughout Darebin since 2012 click here.

The program has identified a number of priority areas for activation, the current priority areas are:

  • High Street Preston - from the Preston Council Offices to Bell Street.
  • High Street and Plenty Road, South Preston - from Bell Street to the Junction with Plenty Road
  • Plenty Road, South Reservoir - from Shakespeare Avenue to Ethel Grove (Tyler Street).

How to get involved:

Read the information sheet and contact us to discuss your creative project or business idea.

Further Information 
Brodie Butler-Robey 
Business Development

Ph: 8470 8480


NORTH Link and Northern Melbourne Regional Development Australia (RDA), proudly announce the launch of a unique report on the future workforce in Melbourne's North. Called "The Future Workforce: Melbourne’s North and the Food and Beverage Plan", the report has been prepared in collaboration with industry, education and local government in Melbourne’s North.

The Future Workforce: Melbourne's North 

The report was the vision of Northern Melbourne Regional Development Australia (RDA), the eight councils of Melbourne’s North, Metropolitan Planning Authority, NORTH Link, La Trobe University, RMIT University and the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development who also funded the project.

Launched by the Hon Colin Brooks MP and Parliamentary Secretary to Premier of Victoria on 18th November 2015, report identifies:

  1. Current composition and capabilities of the Melbourne’s North workforce. 
  2. Where the future opportunities are and the likely industry requirements.
  3. The infrastructure investments required to increase in-region employment.
  4. A 7 STEP employment and skills strategy for Melbourne’s North over the next decade.
A regional action plan is being developed with La Trobe University; RMIT University; Melbourne Polytechnic and Bendigo Kangan Institute with the aim of ensuring that local industry has access to a skilled workforce and modern infrastructure for innovation and growth.

An Executive Summary and Full Report are available for download at no cost.  

To order your copy of a printed report they may be purchased for $110 (incl. GST) by contacting Deb Redmond or (03) 9479 3339.

The Food and Beverage Plan

The Food and Beverage Growth Plan – Melbourne’s North has been prepared on behalf of the Northern Melbourne Regional Development Australia (RDA) Committee by McKINNA et al.

The report provides a detailed analysis of the food and beverage processing and distribution sector in the northern Melbourne region, covering seven local government areas. It concludes that there is a wealth of opportunity to be built on despite the many issues facing the industry and area.

Help in the form of Funding and Support is available for your business.

 Boost your Business vouchers

The Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport & Resources (DEDJTR) has established Boost Your Business Vouchers to support Victorian businesses to become more productive, employ more people, improve market access and in general, increase their scale, diversity and profitability.

Each Voucher Recipient may be able to receive up to:

  • $50,000 under the Advanced Victorian Manufacturing Stream
  • $50,000 under the Asia Gateway Stream
  • $50,000* under the Food Innovation Stream
    • *Up to $10,000 for early stage feasibility and testing vouchers
  • $25,000 under the Social Enterprise Capability Stream

Applicants should refer to each program guidelines for specific program eligibility criteria.

Program will be open for applications on 29 January. For full details of the program and eligibility criteria see the information at Business Victoria

Recycling Industry Transition Support Grants

$50,000 - $500,000 available

Round one expires Tuesday 8 May 2018 then continues monthly. 

Sustainability Victoria is offering grants to support Victoria's resource recovery sector to improve its capability in the wake of the recent announcements around waste imports.  The grants are available to recovery and reprocessing operators including those owned by local government authorities, not-for-profits and social enterprises. 

The grants are available for the following:

  • infrastructure, equipment and process upgrades at material recovery facilities (MRFs) to support greater sorting and decontamination of PPC waste
  • infrastructure and equipment upgrades to reprocess PPC waste (e.g. shred, wash, granulate, flake, pelletise) to a commercial grade to supply domestic manufacturers and export markets
  • storage and consolidation infrastructure (e.g. sheds, temporary cover) to allow for the short-term and safe storage of recovered PPC waste, that:
    • stores PPC waste materials for no more than 12 months; and
    • has a demonstrated path to reprocessing into commercial grade product

To access all details go to the Sustainability Victoria web page.


Workforce Training Innovation Fund (WTIF) 2018.

Up to $40m per annum available to fund innovative training initiatives

Hurry applications close 11 May.

Partnerships between industry and training providers can be established to apply for grants to fund industry based training.  Both Seed Funding and Grant Funding is available to initiatives that can demonstrate innovation either in their delivery or in what they want to achieve.

Training providers can either be TAFEs, private providers or Learn Locals and industry can include businesses of any size and scale, as long as they can demonstrate that they have been trading for a minimum of 3yrs.  However, groups of businesses can also come together to form consortia and apply on the basis of the training needs for the group. 

Funding applications can be submitted at any time.

For all information, fact sheets, case studies and updates, head to the State Government's Skills First site or call the Business Development team at Darebin Council to discuss your proposal: 8470 8344.


Sector Growth Program

$20 million Jobs Boost and Blueprint for Growth

2018 applications close midnight Wednesday 13 June.

This program builds on the Future Industries plans from the Victorian government and makes available grants of up to $1m per project. 

Two types of grants are available. 

1. Scoping, planning and feasibility studies:

Projects that will be considered for funding under Stream 1 of the program will focus on scoping, planning and feasibility studies directed at identifying opportunities aligned with the Future Industries Sector Strategies. Funding of up to $10,000 is available. Eligible activities can include:

  • Road mapping
  • Supply chain analysis
  • Sector capability audits
  • Economic impact analyses
  • Feasibility studies
  • Sector opportunity analysis
  • Pathway to market strategy

2. Project implementation:

Projects that will be considered will focus on the implementation of projects aligned with the Future Industries Sector Strategies that enhance the applicants’ and the sectors’ growth, productivity and competitiveness. Funding of up to $1 million will be available for projects in Stream 2. All funding must be matched by a minimum cash co-contribution of $1 for every $1 funded. Projects are to be completed within two (2) years of the negotiation of a suitable grant agreement. Relevant activities include but are not limited to:

  • Shared infrastructure solutions
  • Piloting new technologies, such as demonstration plant/equipment
  • Establishing consolidated industry capability.

To be eligible for either stream, applications must be submitted on behalf of a consortium with a lead applicant which can be either private sector businesses; not for profit organisations, such as educational or health institutions, Victorian local government authorities; Victorian public sector agencies.

For full details of the program and eligibility criteria see the information at Business Victoria

Local Industry Fund for Transition, Melbourne's North (LIFT)

The State Government has implemented this program, offering grants of up to $2 million to businesses based in the North. The fund replaces the established Melbourne's North Innovation and Investment Fund (MNIIF) and supports projects that create sustainable jobs and economic activity. Eligible project expenditure may include: purchase of equipment or machinery to assist business establishment or expansion, direct labour costs, construction or fit-out of a new building or extension to existing premises. There is a cash co-contribution of $3 for every $1 granted. Preference will be given to projects that create jobs for local workers facing retrenchment due to the closure of automotive manufacturing operations.

Read more about the programme on the Fact Sheet or submit an expression of interest.

Future Industries Manufacturing Program

The Victorian Government has established the $200m Future Industries Fund to support six high-growth sectors that have potential for extraordinary economic growth - to create jobs and attract investment in Victoria. Arising from this program is the Future Industries Manufacturing Program (FIMP) which offers generous grants for the manufacturing sector.


  • Grants of up to $500k per business called for. Grants of less than $100k will not be accepted.

Business should:

Have the ability to meet the co-contribution requirement ($3 for every $1 granted)

The program provides grants of up to 25 per cent of eligible project expenditure, with a maximum grant of $500,000. Applicants will need to demonstrate how the project outcomes justify the grant investment.

Eligible project expenditure includes the following activities relating to the proposed project:

  • Capital expenditure and other project-related non-capitalised expenditure (but does not include vehicles, internal costs or salaries)
  • Manufacturing product and process improvements (including significant improvements in technical specifications; components and materials; software in the project; user friendliness or other functional characteristics; and/or new or significantly improved production or delivery methods)
  • Prototyping, evaluation and testing of new products and manufacturing processes
  • Supply chain capability development
  • Tooling
  • Training specific to the technology (external costs only)
  • Labour and contractors (but does not include internal salaries)
  • Manufacturing machinery and equipment, (for example, repurposing state-of-the-art automotive manufacturing equipment), or
  • Minor building alterations and fit-out costs

Assessment Criteria

  1. Impact of the Project on Employment and Skills
  2. The Level of Economic Benefit the Proposed Project will bring to Victoria
  3. The Demonstrated Skills, Experience and Resources Available to the Business to Successfully Undertake the Project
  4. Value for Money
  5. Need for Government Support.

Victoria's Automotive Transition Plan

Towards Future Industries: Victoria's Automotive Transition Plan

The Victorian Government has announced its $46.5m Towards Future Industries: Victoria's Automotive Transition Plan to help businesses, workers and communities affected by the closure of automotive manufacturing operations to meet the challenges ahead and capitalise on emerging opportunities.

Assistance for businesses:

The Government has established the new $5m Automotive Supply Chain Transition Program to support Victorian automotive supply chain companies affected by the closure of passenger vehicle manufacturing in Victoria.

Assistance of up to $65,000 will be provided to eligible supply chain companies to help guide them through this period.

The funding will help companies develop a transition plan to identify new opportunities and target sectors and markets, and provide assistance to pursue those opportunities.

Find out more or apply for Automotive Supply Chain Transition Program.

Incubator Support Initiative

An initiative of the Federal Government, stemming out of the National Innovation and Science Agenda, this will support existing incubators and encourage the development of new ones.

The Incubator Support initiative provides funding through two components to deliver Incubator Support projects, both of which require matched funding from applicants.

The first is support for New and Existing Incubators:

  1. to help develop new incubators in regions or sectors with high potential for success in international trade, and
  2. to boost the effectiveness of high performing incubators, including funding support to expand their services and/or develop the innovation ecosystem.

The second is support for Expert-in-Residence:

  1. to provide access to top quality research, managerial and technical talent through secondments of national or international expert advisers who will improve their chance of commercial success in international markets.

Grant funding of up to 50 per cent of total Incubator Support Project Values will be available as follows:

  1. a minimum grant amount of $10,000 and a maximum grant amount of $500,000 for New and Existing Incubators per project with a maximum grant period of 24 months.
  2. a minimum grant amount of $1,000 and a maximum grant amount of $25,000 for Expert-In-Residence per project with a maximum grant period of 12 months

 More information, including application forms can be found on the National Science and Innovation Website.

New fund for small to medium business - Coles Nurture Fund

Coles is allocating $10m per year in grants and interest free loans to encourage small business to develop market leading products, technologies, systems and processes. Available to businesses that employ no more than 50 FTE with a turnover of less than $25m, this fund could be the difference in getting great ideas up and running.

 For all the details on this, visit the Coles Nurture Fund Guidelines.

Community Grants

Start up Finance Package for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander entrepreneurs

An initiative of Indigenous Business Australia, this package makes it easier to get your business idea off the ground. You can access up to 30% of a new business loan as a grant to purchase assets for your business which you will not have to repay. Additional support is also provided. For more details or to apply call 1800 107 107 or see the details on the Indigenous Business Australia site.

Sustainability Grants

Waste to Energy Infrastructure Fund

A $2m grant and investment facilitation program designed to support the installation of new or upgrades to existing waste to energy facilities or technology. With a particular emphasis on food waste from commercial and industrial businesses this grant is suitable for those that are able to have a project commissioned by 31 December 2019.

 For full details visit Sustainability Victoria.

Energy Assessment Grants

Boost productivity by reducing energy costs. These grants can provide either basic or detailed energy assessments from experts and are available to small to medium businesses - those employing less than 200 fte who spend over $20k on energy bills. Applications close 28 September 2018 unless funds are fully allocated before this date.

 For full details visit Sustainability Victoria .

Social Impact Investment for Sustainability Program

The Victorian Government is supporting investment-ready social enterprises to create new jobs and training opportunities, respond to climate change, avoid and recover waste and improve resource efficiency in the Victorian community.

The program provides a combination of grant and low interest loan. Investment-ready social enterprises can apply for up to $200,000 as a combination grant and low interest (2.5%) loan to scale up (expand) their operations.

Visit Sustainability Victoria for all details including application process, 

Energy Efficient Grants

Sustainability Victoria is calling for expressions of interest (EOI) from industry associations, business networks and registered training organisations (RTOs) wanting to apply for a grant to fund a project that builds the energy efficiency capability of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) or service providers. Projects need to deliver outcomes of big impact and long lasting change.

Visit Sustainability Victoria for all details including the application process.

Other Grant Opportunities

Find a grant for your business on the Business Victoria portal or with the Federal Government's grant finder there are hundreds of grants available for businesses to take advantage of.

Further Information:
Business Development
Ph: 8470 8344

Advice and support to help run a sustainable business

Sustainability Matters 2020 – now a series of online webinars

Sustainability Matters has been re-imagined and redesigned as a three week webinar series.  Each webinar will focus on a specific theme, Solar and Energy Efficiency, Reducing Waste and the Circular Economy. 

Sustainability Matters brings the stories of local businesses taking the lead in sustainability to other businesses, residents and interested community members. Hear about local businesses adopting green practices and cutting their costs, whilst reducing their carbon footprint, waste and often growing their business.  These webinars are designed to be interactive and will encourage you to get involved by participating in some quick informative polls, share your vision of what sustainable business in Darebin does and could look like as well and put your questions to our business leaders that will be presenting.

The first webinar will run on World Environment Day on Friday 5 June, as part of Darebin Council’s World Environment Day celebrations. The following dates, times and topics are:

  1. Fri 5 June at 2:30pm – 3.30 pm - Solar and energy efficiency - with Georgia Rose from the EnviroShop and Charles Sandford from Charles Sandford and McKay Joinery

  2. Thurs 11 June at 2:30pm – 3.30 pm - Reducing waste - with Chris Ennis from CERES Fair Food

  3. Thurs 18 June at 2:30pm – 3.30 pm - Circular economy - with Stephen Webster from Integrated Recycling

These events are proudly sponsored by the Victorian State Government.

Register here for one or all the events. If you can’t join us on the day you’ll be able to watch the webinars on the Sustainable Business Playlist after the event.

If you would like to be kept informed about this and other events sign up to our Business ENews monthly newsletter.  To hear about what some of last year's local Sustainability Matters speakers and panel members have been doing click on the links below:

- Joanne Schoof from A Little Light and her sustainability story (video)

- Sam Fisher from Moon Rabbit and their sustainability story (video)

- Rebecca Rose from a Exquisine and their sustainability story (video)

- Ryan O'Connor from Terra Madre and their sustainability story (video)

To view the stories of speakers and panel members in previous years go to our Sustainable Business Playlist on the CityofDarebin YouTube page.

Darebin businesses and organisations can now upgrade their lights to LED through Darebin's Light$mart Program for FREE (conditions apply)

All businesses in Darebin are now able to apply for our Light$mart program, which offers a free or subsidised LED lighting upgrade to local businesses and organisations (conditions apply). So far over 250 Darebin businesses/organisations have been upgraded through this program, saving an average of $420 a year on their electricity bills.

To find out more and register your interest please email and put 'Light$mart' in your subject heading.

Local Sustainability Business Leaders

Many businesses in Darebin are taking a lead in terms of environmental sustainability. Be inspired and learn more about how each are taking incremental steps to reduce their impact on the environment, reduce their carbon emissions whilst gaining local support in the process.

VIC Bag Ban

From November 2019 the Victorian State Government will be banning lightweight plastic shopping bags. For more details regarding the type of bags that will be banned and those that are allowed go to or call 1800 817 723. 

Darebin City Council supports sustainability in business

We can all make small changes within our business to reduce waste and our use of single use plastics. For retail, cafes, restaurants and food vendors alike, educating our customers and clients on the use of sustainable programs including Boomerang Bags , Retub, Trashless Takeaway and Responsible Cafes is a great place to start.


Remember though, food businesses have legal responsibilities to ensure all food is safe to consume. This includes ensuring that food is served in containers that are fit for purpose and have been cleaned and sanitised. To find out more, go to our Food Safety webpage, or watch our video on Cleanliness.

Want to stop sending recyclables to landfill?

We offer a fortnightly Business Recycling Service for a one-off fee of $96.00 per 240 litre bin, with a maximum of two bins available. All items recyclable in the Darebin residential recycling bins are accepted. To find out what you can put in your business recycling bin go to What can go in my recycling bin?.

To order your business recycling bin(s) go to

Want your organic waste to become a resource rather than go to landfill?

Support is available if you are a local business or organisation that wants to start recycling your organic waste.  For local cafes you might be interested in participating in our Cafe to Garden program that links you into customers and residents that will pick up your coffee grounds and in some instances other organic waste.  We currently have 13 local cafes participating in this program, to find out who they are go to

For all local businesses/organisations we also have support if you are interested in processing your organics on-site via a worm farm(s), or want to find out who might be able to pick up your organics and turn them into valuable compost or renewable energy.  If you are interested in starting to recycle your organics, or if you are already doing it and we don't know, drop us a line at

Want support and financial help to install solar and/or other energy and materials efficiency measures?

Register your interest in the Business Solar Saver Program and/or an Environmental Upgrades at

More and more businesses in Darebin are realising the financial, environmental and business benefits of installing solar on their rooftops. As energy prices continue to go up, solar for business becomes not just a good idea, but an excellent business proposition for reducing on-going costs in a very cost-effective way. The Darebin Business Solar Saver program is making it easy for you to join with over 120 other businesses who have installed solar locally. 

Darebin's Business Solar Saver program allows you to install a solar system of up to 99kw at no upfront cost.  Council will pay the upfront cost for the system, then you (or your landlord) pay it off over ten years, interest free, via a rates charge.  The savings you make on your energy bills will more than outweigh your repayments to Council.

For businesses interested in installing a system larger than 99kw or undertaking energy efficiency upgrades, we can help you to source funding to achieve this through an Environmental Upgrade Agreement.  Watch this short video to find out more about what an Environmental Upgrade Agreement is and how it works.

Want to connect with others interested in saving money and doing great stuff for the environment within their business/organisation?

CERES Fair Food hosted our last Green Business networking event in November 2019. If you missed this event, don't worry, you can find out about some of the great sustainability actions CERES Fair Food and Fair Wood have been undertaking by watching this great video.

The Green Business Network meets bi-annually. At least one of these events is held within a local business that showcases their sustainable actions and initiatives. It is a chance to network, share ideas, inspiration and resources.  Sign up for our Business ENews monthly newsletter to keep informed about future events and details.

Are you a local Sustainable Leader in Manufacturing or do you want to become one?

If so, join our SLIM (Sustainable Leaders in Manufacturing) program by emailing us at

We are working with over 30 local manufacturers to help them reduce their energy usage, greenhouse gas emissions and waste. Through their participation in SLIM all these businesses have saved thousands of dollars through making changes to help their businesses be more environmentally sustainable.

All our SLIM businesses have installed LED lighting, many have installed solar, some have formed industrial ecology business partnerships to turn their waste into a resource for others, and all have reduced their waste going to landfill.

We are also looking for businesses interested in accessing a highly subsidised Energy & Materials solutions assessment. If you are a local manufacturer and are interested in getting support to save money and reduce your energy usage, greenhouse gas emissions and waste and interested in connecting with other sustainable leaders in manufacturing email or call 8470 8550.

Want to stop wasting energy and money by installing a free timer on your non-perishable drinks fridge?

If you have fridges that contain non-perishable items, you could be saving between $400 - $500 a year by switching them off when your business is closed. We are offering food and beverage businesses free fridge timers as part of our Darebin Fridge Timer Program to reduce electricity consumption.

To register your interest email call 8470 8344.

Want to stop wasting energy and money by installing a timer on your coffee machine?

Commercial coffee machines use a lot of energy. It is estimated that over 50% of these machines are not turned off when businesses are closed. We are interested in working with businesses that would like to install a timer on their coffee machines to turn them off when they are not being used as part of our Darebin Coffee Timer Trial. This can save a business between $300 - $600 a year on their electricity bills.  As part of this trial Darebin Council will subsidise the cost of the timer by 50%.  The cost of installation of the timer to a business will be no more than $300.

To register your interest email or call 8470 8344.

Want to get a free bike rack on the nature strip outside your business?

Council is committed to encouraging green travel and will install a free bicycle parking hoop as part of our Bicycle Racks for Businesses program outside eligible local businesses.

To find out if your business meets the eligibility criteria for safety and accessibility please complete our online form and a transport officer will contact you.

Are you listed on our Darebin Green Business Directory, or do you want to be?

If your business sells ‘green’ products or services, or is actively working to reduce energy consumption, water usage and waste you may be eligible to be listed on our Green Business Directory.

Over 220 businesses, including cafes, accountants, retail shops, osteopaths, mechanics, solar power installers, manufacturers and more are listed on the Darebin Green Business Directory. These businesses are working to operate more sustainably and/or offering ‘green’ products and services that help reduce environmental impact.  Why not think about doing business with them!

To find out more email or call 8470 8344.

Do you have a "We are Greening our Business" sticker or certificate?

Does your business/organisation have solar, or are you recycling and working to reduce energy consumption, water usage and waste? If so, do you have your ‘We are Greening our Business’ sticker and are you listed and promoted in our Green Business Directory?

The ‘We are Greening our Business’ stickers have been developed to recognise and celebrate the effort you are making to reduce your environmental impact. A certificate can accompany the sticker to let your customers and peers know about your efforts.

Bronze, silver or gold stars are allocated to mark each area of action (lighting, energy efficiency, solar, water, waste, food, chemicals, transport, and sustainable products). The more actions you take, the more stars you get.

If you have taken action to reduce your environmental footprint and would like to participate in the program, email or call 8470 8344.  To find out which businesses in Darebin have a 'We are Greening our Business' sticker go to our Darebin Green Business Directory.

Want some financial help from the State and Federal Government to take action to reduce energy and waste within your business?

Sustainability Victoria has just released the following grants: E-waste Infrastructure;  Research, Development and Demonstration; Resource Recovery Infrastructure and Recycling Industry Transition Support.  Keep your eye on their Grants and Funding page to see what is currently on offer and available.  Also check out their broader directory/page to help you find funding (from a number of sources) to save energy in your business.  Sustainability Victoria also offers a range of case studies, tips and resources to help your business become more sustainable. 

The Federal Government's Energy Efficient Communities Grants will be open in early 2020 to help businesses and community organisations undertake energy efficiency projects.  Some funding may be available for installing solar pv, hot water and batteries for community organisations only through this grant program as well.

Other places to go for help on your sustainability journey?

The following websites offer some great tips and resources: 

Further information:
Sustainable Business Officer
Phone: 8470 8550

Darebin has a thriving economy based on a diverse range of new and long-established businesses.

We are home to a multitude of ‘micro businesses’ as well as unique and significant retail hubs such as the iconic Preston Market and the rapidly expanding Northland Shopping Centre.

Add to the mix an innovative manufacturing culture and the main campuses of two renowned Higher Educational institutions – La Trobe University and NMIT – and you have a vibrant, healthy business and economic climate.   

Council has developed profiles on its economy and employment that include detailed analyses of the Darebin economy, industry sectors and labour force.
Business Development Strategies 
These are the strategies that form and underpin our work, especially in relation to marketing, employment and skills, business and industry development, business support, and environmental sustainability.
Further Information 

Business Development

Ph: 8470 8344


Find industry contacts, employment programs and services, education and training, business associations, and other business resources.

Business Associations in Darebin
Association President Business and Address Phone Email
Northcote Business
Shelley Anderson The Phoenix and The Turtle
268 High St, Northcote
9489 9399 Email
Fairfield Village Business 


Biviano & Sons
98-100 Station St, Fairfield

9489 0087 Email
Reservoir Village Business 
Michael Love Love Real Estate
307 Spring St, Reservoir
9460 6511  Email
Preston Business Advisory 
Managed by Darebin City Council 8470 8418  Email

Business Associations work with businesses and Council to ensure the ongoing success of their local areas. The Business Associations range from formal, incorporated organisations that meet regularly, to casual groups of business owners who meet only occasionally. The following associations are located in Darebin:

  • Preston Business Advisory Committee
  • Reservoir Village Business Association
  • Northcote Business Association
  • Fairfield Village Business Association

All Business Associations and Advisory Committees in Darebin are listed on the Darebin Business Directory. Guidelines for Business Associations can be found here.

Special Rates & Charges

What is a special rate or charge?
A special rate or charge is an annual fee paid by business properties that is pooled into a central fund and is spent on encouraging commerce and retail activity in that area. A special rate is a rate raised in addition to the general rates and charges under the provisions of section 163 of the Local Government 1989. It is a property-related debt, the same as a general rate. Councils are able to levy a special rate or charge on property owners to help pay for any council service or activity that will be of special benefit to those particular property owners. In this case the levy is raised to pay for marketing and promotion of a business precinct. Council currently has several special rate schemes in place to raise funds to support local shopping centres in Reservoir, Northcote, Preston and Fairfield.

Public notice and consultation
By law, before finalising a special rate or charge, the council must undertake formal public consultation. Councils will often ask the community for comment before proposing the rate or charge, although this is not mandatory. People have the right to put in a formal submission before the council finalises a special rate or charge. Council is required to consider all submissions that are received within 28 days of the public notice. If council is proposing to raise more than two-thirds of the total cost of a project as a special rate or charge, the affected ratepayers must also be given a formal right to object. If objections are received from a majority of properties within 28 days, the council cannot approve the special rate or charge. Under certain conditions, people who are required to pay a special rate or special charge may appeal to the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

Intention to Declare special rates & charges
Please see below the public notices and proposed precinct boundary maps

Special Rates or Charge Scheme - Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to pay a special rate?
The property owner is liable to pay. However, some landlords have leasing arrangements that defer the special rate or charge to the tenant. If you are leasing and unsure, please check your leasing arrangement or contact your landlord to find out who is liable for the special rate or charge.  Special rates to cover marketing and promotional activities apply to commercial properties within the special rate areas in each of the following shopping precincts:

How much do I pay?
The basis for calculation is the declared special rate or charge in the dollar (different to the general rate) by the Capital Improved Value (CIV) of the property, unless a minimum or maximum cap applies. The benefit levels, maximums and minimums vary between schemes.

Will there be a separate account sent?
No. The special rates will be included on your annual rates notice. You can pay the rates and special rates either in four instalments or in full by 15 February.

How long does the current special rate or charge last?
The current declared special rate or charge scheme is effective from:

  • Reservoir Business Precinct: 2017-2022
  • Preston, Northcote and Fairfield Business Precincts from 1 July 2014 until 30 June 2019.

At a meeting on 18 March 2019, Council resolved to give notice of its intention to declare a new special rate on properties in the Northcote and Fairfield Business precincts to extend the special rate scheme for a further 5 years. The special rate scheme for the Preston Central Precinct business precinct expires on 30 June 2019.

Which properties are included in the special rate or charge scheme?
The following geographic maps provide the details of which commercial properties are included in the special rate schemes for each of the Business precincts concerned:

Who manages the funds collected?
Council monitors the expenditure and ensures that the funds are only spent in accordance with the special rate Levy agreement as stipulated by the Local Government Act 1989. 100% of the funds collected are directed towards:

  • Marketing events, advertising and social media
  • Promotional materials
  • Engaging a centre/events coordinator
  • Improving centre décor and displays
  • Enhancing the appearance of the centre to attract more customers

How can I be involved in the decision making of how the funds are spent?
Business Association committees welcome new members to be involved and to assist in the development of a 5 year strategic marketing plan. For more information please contact the Centre Manger of your shopping centre precinct:

  • Reservoir, Preston & Northcote: Penny Jamieson, 0417 580 009
  • Fairfield: Heidi Crundwell, 0417 580 009

Guidelines for Business Associations (September 2015)
The guidelines for Business Associations are designed to assist in the development of Business Associations that are sustainable and highly functioning and to promote practices that enable a co-operative approach to their management, promotion and marketing. It will also encourage best practice for new and existing Business Associations in Darebin. For more details download the Darebin City Council Guidelines for Business Associations (September 2015). For further information contact the City of Darebin Economic Development team on 8470 8888.

Good Access is Good Business
In Darebin, an estimated 20 per cent of residents identify as having a disability or caring for a person with a disability. The ‘Good Access is Good Business’ program aims to help businesses understand how to reach out to all of our residents by improving access for people with a disability.

Further Information
Ph: 8470 8344

The Business Connection is Darebin's Business newsletter aimed at providing 'news that business can use'.

Welcome to The Business Connection!

This newsletter has been designed specifically for the business community of Darebin, we hope you find it an interesting and insightful read. 

To submit your idea for future editions or to request a hard copy of the newsletter please contact Business Development on 8470 8344 or email

Previous editions:
Issue One

Issue Two

Issue Three

Issue Four

Issue Five

Issue Six

Issue Seven

Issue Eight

Issue Nine

Free public WiFi is now available in our major shopping strips. Next time you’re out and about you will be able to browse social media, webpages, search for local businesses and read your emails.

Free Wi-Fi is now fully operational in the following shopping centres:

  • High Street, Preston
  • Station Street, Fairfield
  • Broadway, Reservoir
  • High Street, Northcote and Westgarth
  • Edwardes Street, Reservoir
  • Spring Street, Reservoir

For more detail on coverage areas please see Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

How do I access the Free Wi-Fi service?

  • Turn on Wi-Fi
  • Select “Free Darebin Wi-Fi” (in Preston, Fairfield and Reservoir) or “Darebin Free Wi-Fi” (in Northcote and Westgarth) and connect
  • Click on your internet browser from your menu page and select “sign in to Wi-Fi” when prompted
  • Accept the terms and conditions
  • Enjoy free Wi-Fi!


If you have problems accessing the service and need help, there are service technicians available, at or by calling:

  • Ph: 1300 161 344 for Preston, Reservoir, Fairfield (please quote enquiry code 3004)
  • Ph: 1300 135 249 for Northcote and Westgarth

This free Wi-Fi service has been made available to you by Darebin City Council with the assistance of business owners and operators in the coverage areas and with the assistance of our industry partners Infrastructure Logic and Easyweb Digital.

Opportunities for Business

Businesses in all coverage areas are able to list and promote their businesses on a marketing portal.  To initiate this, follow the prompts once you log on to the Free Darebin WiFi, scrolling down to "Register your Business" on the front screen.   

If you would like to know how you can use the services to market your business products and services, please contact us.

Business Development

Ph: 8470 8344