Australia has experienced some of the worst natural disasters on record in recent times with devastation from droughts, floods, cyclones, and now bushfires.
We have made a donation to the Bendigo Bank National Bushfire Appeal and hope to find ways in the coming weeks and months to help these communities further.
We have put together a range of services available to businesses who are impacted by the recent bushfires, as well as some ways that you can help support these businesses and communities going forward.
Financial help for business owners
ATO lodgement and payment deferrals
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has granted an automatic two-month deferral for lodgements and payments to those impacted by the ongoing bushfire crisis.
You do not need to apply for a deferral. Full details of these deferrals and a list of impacted postcodes by state are available here.
If you are impacted by the bushfires but not covered under the impacted postcode please call the ATO’s emergency support hotline on 1800 806 218.
Small Business Bushfire Recovery Grants (Victoria)
Grants of up to $50,000 are available to eligible Victorian small businesses and not-for-profit organisations impacted by the Victorian bushfires that started on 21 November 2019.
Businesses and organisations that have suffered direct damage as a result of the fires can access up to $50,000 in grant funding, tax free. Small Business Bushfire Recovery Grants are intended for small business owners to help pay for costs of clean-up and reinstatement of their businesses.
Australian Banking Association assistance package
The Australian Banking Association can help affected customers experiencing financial difficulties. Several Australian banks have hardship teams ready to assist you with your financial arrangements, depending on your circumstances.
Assistance in the package can include:
- deferred loan payments,
- waiving fees and charges,
- helping with debt consolidation,
- waiving penalties for early withdrawal of a term deposit or
- deferring upcoming credit card payments and increasing emergency limits
For more details visit: Australian Banking Association (ABA) assistance package
Victorian business assistance from Victorian Chamber and Tourism Industry Council
The Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) have established a 12 month support package to assist businesses affected by the Victorian bushfires.
All services under this support package will be provided at no cost to any business in a Victorian natural disaster declared area, including:
- Mental health support with access to a confidential counselling services
- Access to VCCI local training and business mentoring, with a focus on health, safety and wellbeing courses and business restoration
- Access to VCCI Workplace Relations Advice Line
- Membership fee waiver for Victorian Chamber and VTIC members for the next 12 months (this will be automatically applied for eligible members).
To access any of the above services please call 03 8662 5442 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Government funding and emergency grants
- Disaster Recovery Allowance – up to 13 weeks income support for those impacted.
- Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment – a one-off payment for people who have been seriously injured, have lost their homes or whose homes have been directly damaged.
- Red Cross Emergency Grants – provide $5,000 per household for people whose primary place of residence has been destroyed or rendered uninhabitable.
MYOB Emergency Relief Package
MYOB provides an Emergency Relief Package for all customers who are suffering hardship as a result of the recent natural disasters.
For businesses impacted by the recent bushfires, they are offering all affected customers the next two months subscription-free. For more information and to submit a hardship application visit: www.myob.com/au/support/bushfire-relief-package
CAANZ natural disaster checklist for small business
Are you ready if a disaster strikes? Many small businesses don’t have a business continuity plan for when natural disasters occur.
Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand (CAANZ) have provided a checklist for small business that addresses some practical issues small business operators should consider to be prepared in an emergency.
Even if you are not directly impacted, it is a timely reminder to be fire ready especially as we are only at the beginning of bushfire season.
Download the checklist HERE.
How can you support impacted businesses and communities?
In the months to come, when the immediate crisis subsides and life returns to normal for many Australians, residents of fire-ravaged areas will only be beginning the long journey towards rebuilding. Supporting local and small businesses in these communities helps them bounce back now, and keep them afloat later on.
Some fantastic campaigns have surfaced in light of these horrific fires and the current Australian droughts. For those who are asking “What can I do?” Here are some ways you can help.
Spend with Them
Spend with Them is an Instagram account connecting you with bush fire affected businesses. When the fires subside, residents and businesses in fire-ravaged areas are just beginning to navigate the road to recovery. Spend with Them helps you buy direct from clothing labels, surf shops, farms, wineries, distilleries and more.
Go with Empty Eskies
#GoWithEmptyEskies is a campaign that encourages people to travel to impacted communities (once it’s safe to do so) with empty eskies and to spend money in these impacted communities. Stay in their hotels, buy from their shops, camp at their campgrounds and buy their gifts, fuel, bread and milk.
Or sign up to be notified of Empty Esky trips: empty-esky.carrd.co
Buy from the Bush
The Buy from the Bush initiative was launched with the aim to give rural and regional businesses hope during the devastating droughts. The campaign encourages consumers from all over Australia to buy from rural and regional businesses in the drought stricken communities.
It’s my shout
It’s my shout is an online platform which lets you pay for virtual products to support businesses in East Gippsland, Victoria impacted by the lack of tourism amid the bushfires.
You can choose to buy a variety of virtual items like coffee, beer, clothes, dinner or even accommodation, with all the proceeds being donated to the respective businesses.
Shop 2 Support
Created by Bendigo local Leah Rinaldi, Shop 2 Support, is a Facebook group that links small businesses in bushfire affected communities with potential customers. Businesses can post information about their brands and products so others can find and buy from them.
Although it doesn’t feel like enough from where we are, we send a big sincere THANK YOU to everyone helping in these awful situations. To the firefighters and emergency services who put their lives at risk to save lives, our beautiful countryside, and the wildlife that calls it home. We are so grateful for your bravery.
If you are impacted by a natural disaster please get in touch to see if there’s any way we can help you with understanding where to from here.
Call Dennis Barnett, Partner at AFS and CFA volunteer on 03 5443 0344.