The following is from an update sent out on September 7 to RDA Loddon Mallee stakeholders.
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Dear valued stakeholders
There has never been a more challenging time for our regional business community. I want to update you on the significant Victorian and Australian government support that is available to eligible local businesses. This support includes:
- Financial help: relief and support for businesses impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Tourism accommodation support: specific support for regional tourism accommodation providers
- Finding workers: how to source agricultural workers
- Mental health and wellbeing: managing yours and your workers’ mental health
- Staying safe: Preparing a COVIDSafe Plan, particularly if you are a high risk workplace, like an abattoir or meat processing facility
- Other ways to find support: links to mentoring, training and other helpful tools
Please find further detail below for your information. I encourage you to reach out to the Loddon Mallee team on 03 4433 8050 if you have further questions.
We are here to support you and all regional Victorian businesses during this challenging time.
Chair, RDA Loddon Mallee
Business Support Fund Expansion program
The Victorian Government is providing significant economic support to help Victorian businesses and workers through to the other side of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, including the Business Support Fund (BSF) - Expansion program.
Eligible businesses in regional Victoria, including those in Loddon Mallee, will receive grants of $5,000 to support businesses operations impacted by the return to Stage 3 Stay at Home restrictions.
Hospitality Business Grant Program
The Victorian Government recently announced the Hospitality Business Grant Program to support food service businesses impacted by Stage 3 Stay at Home restrictions.
Eligible businesses will be provided with a one-off, $25,000 grant to support continued business operation.
Business Recovery and Resilience Mentoring
The Business Recovery and Resilience Mentoring program provides small businesses with mentoring sessions to help them navigate the economic challenges posed by restrictions to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Eligible businesses can receive up to four 2-hour mentoring sessions with an experienced professional who will help them make informed decisions about the future of their business.
Financial Counselling Support for small regional businesses
The Australian Government has expanded its Rural Financial Counselling program to assist small regional and rural businesses affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) to access free and confidential financial counselling.
Small business financial counsellors can help you to understand your business’ financial position, develop budgets and cash flows, create goals, access dispute resolution services, identify grants and further support.
This expanded program will run until 30 June 2021.
More information about Australian Government support for businesses and workers can also be found at the Australian Government’s business information website.
Victorian Rural Financial Counsellors across the Loddon Mallee Region
Tourism accommodation support
Regional Tourism Accommodation Support Program
The Regional Tourism Accommodation Support Program provides direct financial support to accommodation businesses in regional Victoria impacted by cancellations due to coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions across Victoria.
Accommodation businesses are strongly encouraged to download and read the program guidelines, available from Business Victoria.
The Victorian Government’s $50 million Agriculture Workforce Plan provides targeted support to agriculture, food processing and critical food supply chain businesses in rural, regional and outer metropolitan areas in Victoria, who need assistance to meet their labour and operational needs during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The plan assists with recruitment support and financial support for:
- worker relocation and transport (worker accommodation and travel-to-work transport)
- worker induction and retraining; and
- business adaptation.
Mental health and wellbeing
We understand that the impacts of coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused disruptions to many business owners across the region. These are challenging times and it is important you know how to look after your own mental health, as well as that of your employees.
The Australian Government will provide 10 additional Medicare-subsidised psychological therapy sessions to help people to continue to access their essential mental health treatment and support, while they self-isolate or their movement is restricted under public health directions. This includes those of us in regional Victoria.
The Victorian Government’s $26 million Wellbeing and Mental Health Support program provides Victorians dealing with the challenges of running a small business with the mental health support they need to navigate the impacts of coronavirus (COVID-19). This includes crisis support training by St John Ambulance and an expansion to the Partners in Wellbeing hotline to cater to business owners.
Business Victoria can connect business owners and employees with mental health support resources.
You can talk to your GP about how to access these sessions, or in general if your mental health is suffering.
To access support and more information, visit:
- Beyond Blue - Looking after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak
- Australian Psychological Society - Tips for coping with coronavirus anxiety
- Headspace - How to cope with stress related to coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Black Dog Institute - Coronavirus anxiety resources
- Lifeline — Information and support
We would like to remind you that regional Victoria is currently in Stage 3 restrictions and workplaces are advised to have a COVIDSafe Plan. If you are a high risk workplace, such as an abattoir or meat processing business, you must have a High Risk COVIDSafe Plan.
- For information about restrictions in regional Victoria, please visit the Department of Health and Human Services.
- For COVIDSafe Plan templates and preparation guidance, visit Business Victoria.
Other ways to find support
- Business Victoria has a business support and financial assistance finder tool to help businesses find a range of Australian and Victorian Government support initiatives.
- The Victorian Government has launched the Upskill My Business platform to give businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic, free access to top online short courses and training events so they can plan for a stronger future.
- Small businesses are encouraged to access the Victorian Government’s mentoring program to help refine their business strategy, map out the direction their business can take and assist in setting goals to succeed.
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