The competitiveness of the agribusiness sector is critical to the social and economic sustainability of regional Australia, where agribusiness is directly responsible for one in five jobs (DNRE, 2002). Although it is recognised that environmental issues must be considered in order to 'sustain' the natural resources used to produce food, this paper focuses on the social and economic issues relating to sustainability (Cocklin et at., 2001). Social sustainability has only recently been upheld as an aim of agricultural and regional policy in Australia, however, it has typically been considered less important than economic and ecological sustainability (Cocklin et al., 2001). In rural Australia, social sustainability is typically reflected in the maintenance of social networks among residents of a rural area, the viability of the rural towns and the associated provision of infrastructure, facilities and services. The State Government of Victoria is actively encouraging the development and maintenance of sustainable networks of agribusiness-related entities in regional and rural Victoria. The Victoria Agribusiness Networks program is an example of how government is engaging agribusiness communities in regional Victoria.


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