Business Events and Support


Business Events

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

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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 here in Darebin.

Business Events Listing
Date Time Venue Event Cost


23 July

6:00pm - 8:30pm

CH James

89 Station Street, Fairfield.

Speed Networking

$22 includes drink on arrival and canapés


6 August

12noon - 2:30pm

Mantra Bell City

215 Bell Street, Preston

Lunch with Rosie Batty - Family Violence is Everyone's Business

$60 includes 2 course meal, soft drink, tea and coffee.


29 September

27 October

24 November

10am - 10:45am

11am - 11:45am

12:30pm - 1:15pm

1:30pm - 2:15pm

City of Darebin - Interview Room 2, 274 Gower Street, Preston

Art DECL - 43 James Street Northcote

Small Business Mentoring

Free to Darebin local businesses. Places are limited and filling fast.

Please check your venue prior to booking.

For further information please contact:


8470 8677

Business Opportunities

Below are some current business opportunities.

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2015 Fine Food Australia - Co Exhibit with PFG

20 to 23 September 2015, Sydney.

Fine Food Australia is the largest industry event in Australia. Plenty Food Group has committed to its largest pavilion of 108m2 of floor space to showcase our regions products and food manufacturers.  This is an opportunity to meet directly with national and international buyers for retail, hospitality and food service.

Expressions of Interest

Business Events

We are currently reviewing the content and providers of the 2015/16 Darebin Business Event Program. We are looking for businesses or consultants that can provide information that Darebin businesses can use to enhance or improve their operations. To be considered please provide a one page document that outlines the following:

  • Business Topic
  • Audience range - beginner, intermediate, advanced
  • Key messages for participants 
  • Points of difference (why you?)
  • Cost to participants (if any)
  • Cost to host event (if any)
  • Total cost of event
  • Number of participants
  • Venue requirements
  • Contact details

  Darebin based businesses will be considered. Note: This is not a forum to sell or promote your product or services.

Active Spaces in Darebin

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

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We do this by welcoming and incubating a range of creative business options in vacant shops and properties, encouraging short term occupancy, which lead to long term leases.

The program has worked with a broad range of creative business options in vacant shops & properties including: retail, not for profit projects, studio spaces, product designers, workshops, rehearsal spaces, art exhibitions, shop window galleries, installations and performances.

After nearly three years, we have found that short term occupancy allows time for a small business to trial its business idea to determine if it is sustainable, and also allows time to conduct one off creative projects in otherwise vacant properties, while at the same time, stimulating the space and the economy around it.

The program supports: the process of negotiating the rent with the property owner/real estate agent; providing a short term lease agreement; assisting in sourcing a vacant property; sourcing public liability insurance; information about other expected costs and other Council department requirements; marketing and promotional opportunities.

Council has identified specific ‘priority areas’ which are in high need of street activation. We encourage you to visualise your new creative business idea in one of these areas: 

  • Preston - Along High Street from Dundas to Murray Road.
  • Reservoir - Oakhill Village: on Plenty Rd, either side of Tyler St.

Up until May 2015 the Program has facilitated a total of 19 short term leases: 10 short term leases and 9 short term leases which led into long term leases. This has generated over 60 jobs, over $80,000 in rent for landlords of vacant shops, 27 print and online media articles and 1,000 Facebook followers.  Over 53 artists have exhibited their artworks in vacant shop windows.

Benefits to our community:

  • The Program was a finalist in the 2013 & 2014 EDA National Awards for Economic Development Excellence in Business and Industry.
  • In 2014 the Program won the Mainstreet Australia Award for Mainstreet Activation.
  • In February 2015 the Program won an LGPro Award for Excellence for a Service Delivery Initiative.

Current Active Business in Darebin:

How to get involved:

Read the Information Sheet and contact us by phone, email or Facebook and have a conversation with us about your creative project or business idea.

Further Information
Business Development
Ph: 8470 8480

Business Grants

State and Federal Government provide a range of grants you can apply for to help your business.

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Melbourne’s North Innovation and Investment Fund (MNIIF)

Round 2 Closing Soon.

The Melbourne's North Innovation and Investment Fund (MNIIF) is a $24.5 million competitive, merit-based grants programme. Under the MNIIF, eligible projects will focus on encouraging new investment to create new or additional business capacity that results in sustainable jobs. The minimum grant will be $50,000.

The Australian and Victorian Governments have established the MNIIF in response to the announcement by Ford Australia that it will cease its vehicle and engine manufacturing operations in Australia from October 2016. Click here to find out more.

Other funding opportunities 

Business Victoria’s ‘Employment Start Up for Business’ program encourages small to medium-sized businesses across Victoria to employ young people and offers grants of up to $4,000 for each successful employment opportunity.

Business Victoria Grants offers financial support, advice, education and training programs.

Australian Government provides information about federal funding and grants available to help you start, manage and grow your business.

Further Information

Business Development

Ph: 8470 8344


Sustainable Business

We support businesses who are working to reduce their environmental impact with the Green Business Network, Green Business Directory, free business support training and funding opportunities.

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Business Recycling

We run a fortnightly recycling service for business waste so that your recyclables won’t end up in landfill. 

Please contact to find out more.

Light$mart – Energy Efficient Lighting Program

You can save $1,350 a year on your electricity bills. That’s the average amount that the 75 businesses who upgraded their lights through the Darebin Light$mart Program have saved.

Light$mart works with local businesses, organisations and practitioners to retrofit and install energy efficient lighting. Council is offering a rebate of up to $1,000 on LED lighting upgrades. To find out more please contact

Check out what some Light$mart businesses are already doing.

Darebin Fridge Timer Program

If you have fridges that contain non-perishable items you could be saving between $390 - $470 a year by switching them off when your business is closed. We are offering food and beverage businesses free fridge timers to reduce electricity consumption. To receive a free fridge timer, contact your local Environmental Health Officer phone: 8470 8658.

We are Greening our Business

Is your business 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, water, waste, food, chemicals, transport, and sustainable products). The more actions you take, the more stars you get. 
  • Colour of the star indicates how comprehensive your action has been. 

If you have taken action to reduce your environmental footprint and would like to participate in the program, please contact us.

• Stars are gold for business – Preston Leader article

• We are Greening our Business – certificate sample

Darebin Green Business Network

The Network meets quarterly to develop new sustainable business initiatives and share news, inspiration and resources.  Register your interest in joining the network and/or being notified of upcoming events by contacting us.

• VECCI presentation – Solar PV and Your Business

• EnviroGroup Presentation – Commercial Solar PV Case Studies

Darebin Green Business Directory

The businesses listed the Darebin Green Business Directory include cafes, accountants, osteopaths, mechanics, solar power installers . They are all working to operate more sustainably or are offering ‘green’ products and services that can help you reduce your environmental impact.

Green Business Support

If your business sells ‘green’ products or services, or is actively working to reduce energy consumption, water usage and waste, in addition to joining our Green Business Network and Directory you can access our free business support training and mentoring.

Attracting Green Businesses

Green Business Attraction Strategy outlines how Council is planning to increase the number of green businesses in Darebin.

Tips and resources

The following websites offer some great tips and resources:

Positive Charge – the top five energy saving tips for businesses in retail, cafés or restaurants, hotels or motels, manufacturers, office or professional organisations.

Positive Charge – short videos on how to cut the cost of your energy bills.

Energy Efficiency Assist – short videos covering topics such as energy efficiency, optimisation and management, and energy saving technologies/options.

Carbon Compass – improve your energy efficiency, reduce costs and lower carbon emissions by providing real and practical information. Links to grants and funding are also provided.

Other Programs
If you own or lease a commercial office take a look at CitySwitch. It’s a high-value no-cost service that helps commercial office tenants improve office energy efficiency.

Further Information:
Sustainable Business Officer
Ph: 8470 8550

Starting a Business

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

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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

Business Support and Advice

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

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It's Tax Time

Are you a home-based business or do you work from home?

The ATO has provided this information just for you highlighting deductions and exemptions that may apply to you.

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.

Online Resources

  • Choose the right business structure and understand the director's responsibilities with the new online resource to help small business operators make key decisions regarding the running of your business. To read ASIC's guide for small business directors, visit

Education and Training

  • If you are unemployed and have a great business idea, you should definitely look into the 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 focuses on apprenticeships and traineeships in the northern metropolitan area. They help employers find the right staff and also work with apprentices and trainees to find job opportunities.
  • Melbourne Polytechnic has expertise in developing industry-specific courses and the Preston Business Enterprise Centre.
  • La Trobe University’s Melbourne campus is located in Bundoora. 

Business and Development

  • 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.


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 that can provide staff for any position (Job Services) , as well as specialist support for job seekers with disabilities (Disability Employment Services).

Further Information
Business Development
Ph: 8470 8344

Darebin Business Profile

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

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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


Business Associations

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

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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.  

All Business Associations and Advisory Committees in Darebin are listed on the Darebin Business Directory.

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

Special Rate Schemes
These schemes are aimed at improving the performance of traditional retail shopping strips. Funds raised are used to develop and implement marketing plans, promotional activities, general management and administration.

There are currently four schemes operating within the City of Darebin.

  • Preston Central Special Rate Scheme
  • Reservoir Village Special Rate Scheme
  • Station Street Fairfield Special Rate Scheme
  • High Street Northcote Special Charge Scheme

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

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

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Welcome to the first edition of 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. If you or a business you know would like to be involved in future editions or would like to receive a copy of the newsletter please contact Business Development on 8470 8344 or

Edition One

Social Media Snapshot

Below are three links to useful social media sites that will provide you with useful guidelines about the various social media forms:

Free Public WiFi

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.

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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
Free Wi-Fi will be available in the following areas from 22 June 2015:
  • 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, call:

  • Ph: 1300 765 543 for Preston, Reservoir, Fairfield
  • 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 Preston, Reservoir and Fairfield will be able to list and promote their businesses on a marketing portal (coming soon), this is already available in Northcote and Westgarth. 

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