Business Events and Support

Join our Love Local campaign and support Darebin businesses by shopping and eating out in your neighbourhood.

We all know it’s been a tough 12 months for many local businesses, so let’s support the local restaurants and shops that make Darebin a great place to live, work and play.

By shopping local, you’re not only supporting local jobs, but you’re also helping small businesses to support recreational groups, community groups, sporting clubs and more. Whether it’s a beautiful bunch of flowers from your local florist, a new outfit from a nearby boutique, or a fresh haircut at your favourite barber, let’s keep local businesses in mind and keep it local.

We’ve launched initiatives to support local businesses – read about these below.

Extended Outdoor Dining
Council’s Extended Outdoor Dining Project has been made possible with support from the Victorian Government. To date, this program has added over 1,250 additional seats for cafes and restaurants across Darebin. This project allows cafes, bars and restaurants to serve more customers and employ more staff during this challenging time.
Find out more about our Extended Outdoor Dining Project.

Customer Loyalty
Council is committed to keeping our local retail shopping strips thriving and strong. We have developed the Customer Experience Survey to learn more about typical customer shopping habits throughout Darebin.
Learn more about the project and fill out the survey here.

Sustainability Matters 2021 - Business Opportunities - Sustainable Solution
Sustainability Matters brings the stories of local businesses taking the lead in sustainability to other businesses, residents and interested community members. Through them you will hear about local businesses adopting green practices and cutting their costs, whilst reducing their carbon footprint, waste and often growing their business.
Join us this year on Tuesday 27th of April from 2pm - 3.30pm – find out more and register here.


Information about outdoor dining can be found here.

Council’s Extended Outdoor Dining Project has been made possible with support from the Victorian Government. To date, this program has added over 1,000 additional seats for cafes and restaurants across Darebin in less than four months.

With COVID-19 restrictions easing once again, we are all looking forward to socialising outdoors again and being able to enjoy Darebin’s wide-ranging street life.

This program has been designed to actively support hospitality venues safely expand outdoor dining areas into approved public spaces and operate within the health restrictions advised by the Victorian Government. The Checklist and Frequently Asked Questions provide details about the application process, assessment criteria and decision-making framework.

Parklet Expression of Interest

Darebin Council is seeking expressions of interest from hospitality businesses who would like to install a “parklet” or a temporary outdoor space as part of the State Government’s outdoor dining and entertaining package. A parklet is where a car park space is repurposed to create a new area for outdoor dining.

Darebin has many hospitality businesses across the municipality and we are keen to ensure that there is a good spread of innovative outdoor dining spaces across all of our suburbs.

If you would like to apply, you will need to provide us with:

  • Permission from your neighbouring businesses (see the FAQ document here for an example letter)
  • Public liability insurance which outlines City of Darebin as an interested party
  • Complete our online form which can be found here

We will also assist you to fast track any red line additional permit requirements.

See below for examples of parklets.

Important things to consider:

  • Parklets cannot be constructed in car park spaces that are subject to a clearway at any time of the day.
  • They also cannot be constructed within 10 metres of an intersection or within 20 meters of an intersection with traffic signals.
  • They cannot be adjacent to a no parking sign.

We’d like to see our new parklets and outdoor dining spaces be busy across the day, so we preference will be given to locations where the parklet can be used for the whole day day – either by a business that’s open for both lunch and dinner, or through a partnership – for example a café that serves breakfast and lunch could share a parklet with a neighbouring restaurant that is only open for dinner.

We will strongly support the creation of new outdoor dining and entertaining in neighbourhoods that don’t currently have many outdoor dining opportunities.

If you are interested in applying for a parklet for your business, complete the application form below (see "How do I apply?").

If you have a great idea for an unconventional outdoor dining or entertaining space, write us a proposal and be sure to include the information as listed above.

We will assess each application and proposal on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration amenity, safety and site-specific conditions such as impacts on residents, as well as the need to maintain social distancing and provide ease of access for pedestrians and essential vehicles.

How do I apply?

Applications are open  – apply online now. Businesses can also contact the Better Approvals team on 8470 8344 or at for further information and support. We will begin reviewing applications from 30 March 2021.

Make sure that you look at our Footpath Activities Policy and Trading Booklet to consider safety and furniture design requirements and principles, plus access on footpaths and amenity. Examples of footpath trading floor plans can be viewed below.

We will assess permit application and proposals on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration amenity, safety and site-specific conditions such as impacts on residents, as well as the need to maintain social distancing and provide ease of access for pedestrians and essential vehicles.

COVID Safe Plans
Any business wishing to provide table service in outdoor dining areas will be required to have a COVID Safe Plan and comply with patron limits designated for outdoor spaces Please view Victoria’s current restrictions levels for the latest information on COVID-19 business restrictions.

For some businesses and sole traders, the bravest decision is to ask for help. On this page you’ll find a great range of free and accessible resources, provided by Council and other organisations, to support the wellbeing of you, your family and your employees to support your business. Listen to some calming podcasts, read about how to support your staff, and find someone to talk to – all for free!

Welcome to our Business Health Hub. 

The Business Health Hub is an initiative of Darebin City Council’s $11.8m Community and Business Resilience and Recovery Package.

Darebin’s health and wellbeing program

Darebin is pleased to make available a host of health and wellbeing resources through Converge International. Supports available include:

  • Free counselling sessions for you, employees and your immediate family. Discussions can cover a range of areas including management, career, personal and financial advice.
  • A great set of resources available via the portal, including webinars, workshops and easy to read factsheets covering topics like:
    • Balancing Work and Home Life
    • Mindfulness Tip Sheet
    • Taking Positive Steps through Change
  • For more resources or to book a counselling session, log in to the Portal with Username: darebinbusiness Password: converge

You can call 1300 687 327 for more information or to organise a counselling session. We’re pleased to share the service also offers specialist support for:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander – 1300 287 432
  • LGBTIQ+ - 1300 542 874
  • Domestic and Family Violence Helpline - 1300 338 465
  • Eldercare Helpline - 1300 035 337
  • Disability and Carers Helpline - 1300 243 543

Business owner wellbeing

Many of our local small business owners are focusing on their businesses and trying to look after loved ones and employees. You might not have prioritised your own mental wellbeing. Now, more than ever, small business owner wellbeing is important.

The Victorian Small Business Commission has a number of resources to help small business owners develop a mental health plan. The easy to use guide sets out how to identify changes in yourself and what actions you can take in response.

You can also visit Ahead for Business for a quick 2 minute survey to gauge your business stress levels and receive tips and tools, based on your response, to help you get ahead in business. 

Wellbeing in the workplace

Looking for some ideas on how to support your team to feel well and connected during this time? Take a look at Heads Up for lots of information about wellbeing in the workplace, including for small businesses, employees and employers. The page, developed in partnership with BeyondBlue, includes free online training sessions that you can do at your own pace, as well as resources and guides to help you navigate mental health.

Immediate support

If you need immediate help and want to talk to someone now, there is help at hand,

  • 13 11 14 - Lifeline Call 24/7 for crisis support and suicide prevention services
  • 1300 375 330 –Partners in Mental Health Support Hotline for partners including NEAMI, EACH and ACSO

Looking to further strengthen, develop and grow your business?

Our Business Recovery Program assists Darebin businesses to grow, develop and maximise opportunities to support local employment and sustainable businesses.

Continuous innovation and development are key factors in building a sustainable, resilient and successful business. In this program you will receive free one on one mentoring, business capability assessments and tailored long term strategy advice to grow and develop, or improve local employment, workforce and export capacity. This program is open to all Darebin businesses from any sector.

What will the Business Recovery Program provide?

Through the Business Recovery Program, you will receive a one-on-one confidential service from an industry expert. This includes assessment, advice and a development 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, particularly to go global. To find out more and be involved, register your interest in the Darebin Business Recovery Program. Applications close 5pm, Monday 7 December 2020.

Please note this program is open to Darebin businesses only.


Past participants have said:

“[The Darebin Business Mentor] is a great asset to any business who engages with the program. [Their] work, networks, business expertise, and advice are excellent. [They are also] proactive, intelligent and go-getter[s] that will expedite any business to their goals.” – Penny Weber, Owner of Recovawear

“ [The Darebin Business Mentor] encouraged us to manufacture our own product rather than just providing a bespoke service, because we have all the facilities already in place. [They] opened our eyes to the possibility of exporting product as an additional income stream." – Charles Sandford, Owner of Charles Sandford

“[The Darebin Business Mentor] has a wealth of knowledge, [and] I have learnt many valuable tips which have benefited me in the course of my business. I would highly recommend this program.” – John Akkary, Owner of Akkary Fine Foods



On this page you will find free resources, ideas and training to help fine tune, strengthen or grow your business. Learn how to manage your cashflow and free one on one business mentoring – everything you need to make your business shine!

Welcome to our Business Strengthening page. 

One on one free mentoring

Melbourne Innovation Centre, Darebin’s leading business incubator hub, is offering a free Business Resilience program, specifically designed to assist small businesses suffering the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. You can access free virtual mentoring, tailored to your needs, as well as online workshops, and resources.

Small Business Victoria is also offering free small business mentoring. Whether you're new to running a business or a seasoned business owner, an experienced mentor can help you refine your business strategy, map out some directions and set goals for your business to succeed.

The Victorian Chamber of Commerce is currently calling for expressions of interests for businesses to be involved in their Business Resilience and Recovery mentoring program. Detailed information can be found on their website. This Program will be open to businesses with 20 or less employees.

Council is offering two hours of free personalised mentoring for those businesses that have more than 20 employees and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led businesses. To express your interest please email

If you’re looking for additional, specific mentoring, please call our Business Support Line on 8470 8888 to discuss your needs and options.

Holistic business development

Looking to better manage your business overall? Below are a number of resources available to help you manage cashflow, develop business contingency plans and learn new skills to excel and be inspired.

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led businesses Kinaway, the Aboriginal Business Chamber of Commerce, offer business coaching and support through a paid membership.

Visit My Business Health for some tools to help you get your business going from strength to strength. This includes cash flow tips, information on managing your staff, ideas on marketing and where to get expert advice.

The impacts of coronavirus are being felt by many of Darebin businesses. Get practical help with free online courses and events to help you prepare for a strong recovery. Upskill My Business connects you to resources from the state’s top education providers and industry experts.

If you’re looking to join an association, Victorian Chamber Commerce and Industry (VCCI) is currently offering free memberships to local businesses which gives you access to regular webinars, industry information and mental health support.

There is a lot of COVID-19 specific assistance available for business, for example you can visit the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia for a summary.

If you’re looking to better understand what you can access, call Darebin’s Business Support line on 8470 8888. We can help you through the many offers from Council, State and Federal government.


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 $11.8M 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


Session 7: How to setup your own Shopify store – Presentation Slides


Session 8: How to optimise your website and online store with SEO – Presentation Slides


Session 9: How to understand eCommerce data – Presentation Slides


Session 11: Leadership during difficult times – Presentation Slides


Session 12: How to bring the best out of your employees – Presentation Slides

Session 13: Benefits for all: Growing food in the workplace – Presentation Slides


Council is committed to keeping our local retail shopping strips thriving and strong. As part of the ongoing project Love Local, we have developed the Customer Experience Survey to learn more about typical customer shopping habits throughout Darebin.

We will be running a month long campaign to encourage community members to complete this survey. This campaign will include offering a number of $50 vouchers to local independent stores. All responses will be anonymous but contact information is required.

Data and insights will be shared with precincts and associations to assist develop customer loyalty programs, marketing and promotional plans.

If you shop in our local retail shopping strips, please fill out the short Customer Experience Survey.

Survey closes Thursday 15 April 5PM AEST. Vouchers will be awarded by Friday 2 May 5pm (AEST). Terms and Conditions apply.

Want support to further strengthen, develop and grow your food, beverage and/or fibre manufacturing business?

Darebin City Council is pleased to offer a select number of our local businesses a twelve-month membership to Melbourne’s North Food Group (MNFG). This is an initiative of Darebin City Council’s $11.8M Community and Business Resilience and Recovery Package.

What is Melbourne’s North Food Group (MNFG)?

MNFG is an active and dynamic industry group that represents food, beverage and fibre manufacturing businesses across Melbourne. It has a strong focus on assisting businesses to improve their productivity and competitiveness.

Why join?

By becoming a partner of the Melbourne’s North Food Group you will have the opportunity to:

  • Save money through group buying and equipment sharing opportunities
  • Build business capability through individual business reviews and skills development sessions
  • Become export ready
  • Access new markets through trade shows and in-bound buyer missions
  • Work with tertiary institutions to improve the skills of your workforce
  • Stay informed on supplier opportunities, up to date resources and government grants
  • Connections to research and development options

How do I express my interest for a membership?

This offer is available exclusively to businesses registered in the City of Darebin. If you are a Darebin business and would like a membership supported by Darebin City Council, please complete the Melbourne’s North Food Group Memberships EOI Form by 11.59pm on Friday 5 March 2021. We will then assess your application and if you are eligible for membership, we will contact you.

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

Providing industry, business and employment resources, support, training and connections.

Webinar recordings 

  •  'When Jobkeeper ends: Employer rights and obligations' In March 2021presented by Darebin Business with Victorian Chamber of Commerce responding to the topic covering; identifying which flexibilities will end; exploring how an employer may make changes to the workforce; and an overview of redundancy process. Watch the recording and access the presentation slides from this webinar to learn more. 

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.

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.

Encouraging the Darebin and wider community to shop and eat locally, source supplies from local businesses and to engage local professionals.

The past year has presented Darebin’s local business community with unprecedented challenges. Council have been working on numerous initiatives to help support local industry and businesses, as well as supporting the wider economic recovery of the greater Darebin community.

As part of our Love Local campaign, we have built the Darebin Business Map to encourage the Darebin and wider community to shop and eat locally, source supplies from local businesses and to engage local professionals.

The online map will be launched to the community in May, with over 1100 business registered to date.

It is not too late to add your business to this directory. Please read over the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) before filling out the Add Your Business Form to add your business listing to the map.


Advice and support to help run a sustainable business

Sustainability Matters 2021 - Business Opportunities - Sustainable Solutions: Evolving problems into business opportunities with sustainable solutions.


Join us this year on Tuesday 27th of April from 2 pm - 3.30 pm for another fantastic Sustainability Matters on-line webinar.  You will be hearing from Abigail Forsyth, KeepCup Cofounder and Managing Director, who will share with you how she seized the business opportunity of a waste problem (disposable cups ending up in landfill) to create a robust and thriving business that offers a fantastic sustainable solution; the reusable coffee cup.  KeepCups are now used in more than 65 countries around the world, diverting millions of disposable cups from landfill every day.  They are locally manufactured, in Australia for the Australian Market, with their Australian office being solar powered since 2015 and the company committed to being part of the circular economy. 

You will also hear from three local businesses/organisations: Hiruni Peiris, co-owner of Northcote Bakeshop and founder of the WANGIM Cup program; Alex Kung, co-owner of Reducing our Footprint and Katherine Barraclough, parent of Fairfield Primary school.  Register here for this FREE on-line event. 

Sign up to our Business ENews monthly newsletter to ensure you are emailed details about this and other Darebin Business events.

Sustainability Matters brings the stories of local businesses taking the lead in sustainability to other businesses, residents and interested community members. Through them you will hear about local businesses adopting green practices and cutting their costs, whilst reducing their carbon footprint, waste and often growing their business. 

To get a taste for this year's event you can view our 2020 Sustainability Matters online webinars here.  We have webinars on Solar and Energy Efficiency, Reducing Waste and the Circular Economy

Within these webinars you will hear from local businesses A Little Light, CERES Fair Food & Fair Wood, Charles Sandford & McKay Joinery, EnviroShop, Exquisine, Integrated Recycling, Moon Rabbit, Show Works, Suntory (formerly Mocopan), Terra Madre and The Northcote Bakeshop.  These webinars also include the work of local artists Maria Coviello and Bec James and live sketching from Mathew Magain of Sketch Group. Our 2020 Sustainability Matters webinars were proudly sponsored by the Victorian State Government.

To view the individual stories of some speakers from this year and previous years go to our Sustainable Business Playlist on the CityofDarebin YouTube page.

Light$mart - Free LED lighting upgrades for Darebin businesses and organisations (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.

Getting the best energy deal using Energy Compare

The Victorian Government Energy Compare website can help you find a cheaper deal for your energy supply, including Green Power options.  Over 85% of small business users typically find savings of around $700 a year by using this site.

Sustainable Darebin Map


Sustainable Darebin Map features businesses that are single-use plastic free, local recycling stations, organics grocers and much more. To view the map and support sustainable Darebin businesses, go to the Sustainable Darebin Map. You can also request to add your business by using the ‘add your business’ button.


Green Business Networking Events

Our December 2020 Building Business Resilience through Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Green Business Networking event featured local businesses, 3 Ravens, Charles Sandford & McKay Joinery and CERES Fair Food , all of whom are building their business resilience by saving money through reducing their energy use and bills.  Jon Fettes of Regenerate Engineering also spoke on how you can take advantage of the opportunities to purchase renewable energy and offsets to move your business towards zero carbon. 


If you would like to access the case studies from this event and the Energy Purchasing Guide for the City of Darebin, produced by Regenerate Engineering email


The Green Business Network meets annually. These events are typically 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.

Local Sustainability Business Leaders

Many businesses in Darebin are taking a lead in terms of environmental sustainability. Be inspired and learn more about they are taking incremental steps to reduce their impact on the environment, reduce their carbon emissions whilst gaining local support in the process, through viewing these 10 Sustainable Business Leader videos.

1. A Little Light

2. CERES Fair Food & CERES Fair Wood

3. Charles Sandford & McKay Joinery

4. Exquisine

5. Fairfield Phyisotherapy

6. Moon Rabbit

7. Shiny Embroidery

8. Show Works

9. Terra Madre

10. The Northcote Bakeshop


Business Recycling Bins

We offer a fortnightly Business Recycling Service for a one-off fee of $100.10 (GST exempt) 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

Business Organic Waste Recycling

There are a number of options available to Darebin businesses for recycling organic waste; some of these are outlined here. Options include: recycling your organic waste via on-site worm farms, participating in a range of community schemes like sharewaste in which local residents and customers may come and collect some or all of your organic waste and setting up an organic waste collection service with a private contractor.

For local cafes you might be interested in participating in our Cafe to Garden program that links you to customers and residents that will pick up your coffee grounds.  We currently have 21 local cafes participating in this program, to find out who they are go to

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

The Circular Economy and Sustainable Purchasing

More and more businesses are making the shift from a Take -> Make -> Waste model to the Borrow -> Use -> Return -> model of the circular economy.  Watch our short video or longer webinar on what some Darebin businesses are doing in this space. 

Participating in the Circular Economy requires us to be purchasing products that are made from reused and recycled materials.  Sustainability Victoria has released their Buy Recycled Directory to make it easier to make purchasing decisions that support the circular economy.

Solar Bulk Buy Program for Darebin Businesses


Take advantage of great prices, good quality products and installers by participating our Darebin Solar Bulk Buy program to put solar on your rooftop. Register your interest in the Solar Bulk Buy program at

Solar Victoria - Solar for Small Businesses

The Victorian government from May 2021 will be introducing their Solar for Small Business Program.  This program will enable 15,000 businesses, over 3 years, of 19 staff or less, to receive up to a $3,500 rebate for installing up to a 30 kw rooftop solar system.  Rebates will cover up to 50% of the cost of rooftop solar to reduce the upfront costs.  Find out more and register your interest now at 


Environmental Upgrade Agreements for Darebin businesses

For businesses interested in installing large solar system 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. Register your interest in an Environmental Upgrade at


Sustainable Leaders in Manufacturing - Building Business Resilience by reducing costs

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.

Free timers for non-perishable drinks fridges and other equipment

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.  You may also be able to access free timers for other equipment which doesn't need to kept on 24/7, including sandwich presses and hot bain-maries.

To request a timer for your business email call 8470 8888.

Free bike racks for customer parking

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.

Green Business Directory

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 8888.

Efficiency & Sustainability Health Checks

If you are interested in reducing your energy bills, waste and environmental impact and making your business more resilient you can request an Efficiency & Sustainability Health Check.  Through this one-on-one consultation we will assess your current sustainability status and help you identify further actions you can take.  In addition to the possible cost savings, if your business is assessed as taking significant energy efficiency, waste reduction and sustainability actions it will become a Certified Darebin Green Business and will be promoted in our Darebin Green Business Directory and Sustainable Darebin Map.

If you would like to access a free Efficiency & Sustainability Health Check, email or call 8470 8888.  To find Certified Green Businesses in Darebin go to our Darebin Green Business Directory.

VIC Bag Ban

Lightweight plastic shopping bags are now banned in Victoria.  This ban was brought in by the Victorian State Government in November 2019. For details regarding the type of bags that are banned and those that are allowed go to or call 1800 817 723. 

Single Use Plastics

Single-use straws, cutlery, plates, drink-stirrers, expanded polystyrene food and drink containers, and cotton bud sticks will be banned from sale or supply in Victoria by February 2023. The ban will help reduce plastic pollution. Business can choose reusables instead, or eliminate the use of certain items altogether. For a practical guide for your business, download Council’s new resource, Plastic Free Darebin Business Guide.

There are a range of other programs available to support you reduce your use of single use plastics, these include: Boomerang Bags , RetubTrashless Takeaway and Responsible Cafes. 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.

WANGIM reusable coffee cup program

Join a growing number of local cafes and customers that are participating in the WANGIM  Borrow.  Use.  Return  Reusable Cup Program.  WANGIM is the local Woiwurrung word for boomerang, and, just like a boomerang, the program works by having customers collect their coffee in a special takeaway Wangim mug (at no additional cost), and then return it to a participating café on their next trip.  Wangim, initiated by Hiruni Peiris of the Northcote Bakeshop is a community-led initiative funded by Darebin City Council which aims to remove the need for single-use cups.

Other places to go for help on your sustainability journey

You can get support from other local businesses and find out about a range of sustainable business programs on the Darebin Business Zero Waste Network Facebook Group.

The following sustainability programs offer support (for relevant sectors) and a chance to connect with others who share your vision:

The following websites also offer some great tips and resources: 

The following books are also inspirational and great reads:

The following movies are also inspirational and if you are interested in sustainability great films to view:

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