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Bushfire recovery

Improve your chances of a quick recovery after a bushfire

On this page

  • Immediate assistance if you've been affected by a bushfire
  • Small Business Bushfire Recovery Grants
  • Business Recovery Advisory Service
  • Recovering quickly from a bushfire

Bushfire recovery for business

Support, services and information are available to assist businesses affected by and recovering from the recent Victorian bushfires.

This page will be kept up to date as information and updates become available.

To be notified of updates, please follow Business Victoria on Facebook and Twitter and subscribe to the Business Victoria Update newsletter.

A full list of business support featured on this page, as well as health, personal, financial, legal, accommodation and housing support, can be found in the Business Recovery Services Guide (PDF 657.9 KB)PDF icon or the accessible word version Business Recovery Services Guide (DOC 56899.41 KB)DOC icon.

Vic Emergency

Vic Emergency is a centralised website for Victorians to find emergency information and warnings. You can also access preparedness and recovery information related to emergencies.

You can download the Vic Emergency apps for iOS on the Apple App store or on Google Play for Android devices.

Victorian State Emergency Services (VICSES)

Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES) is a volunteer-based organisation, providing emergency assistance to minimise the impact of emergencies and strengthen the community’s capacity to plan, respond and recover, when emergencies occur.

BlazeAid

BlazeAid is a volunteer-based organisation that works with families and individuals in rural Australia after natural disasters such as fires and floods. Working alongside the rural families, volunteers help to rebuild fences and other structures that have been damaged or destroyed.

Air quality monitoring

If you or your employees are required to work outside or travel during times of bushfire, smoke from fires can affect air quality and provide a health and safety risk. EPA Victoria provides information on air quality in your region and across the state.

Road closures

Bushfires may lead to road closures. You can find the latest information on the VicTraffic website.

Download the VicTraffic app for iOS or Android.

This grant is for small businesses in three fire-affected Local Government Areas:

  • East Gippsland Shire
  • Towong Shire
  • Alpine Shire (including Alpine Resorts)
  • Mansfield Shire
  • The Rural City of Wangaratta
  • Wellington Shire
  • Indigo Shire

Applications opened the week commencing 16 March 2020.

These grants help cover the costs associated with recovery following the fires. To be eligible, your revenue must have dropped by 40 per cent over a three-month period, compared to the previous year, as a result of the bushfires. You can be directly or indirectly affected by the bushfires. Spend this grant on expenses such as salaries, wages, utilities, fuel and/or financial advice.

For full eligibility criteria and to apply, visit the Rural Finance website.

Grants of up to $50,000 are now available to eligible Victorian small businesses and non-profit organisations (NPOs) affected by the Victorian bushfires commencing 21 November 2019.

This program is uncapped and means that businesses and organisations that have sustained damage as a result of the fires can access up to $50,000 in grant funding (tax free).

These grants are available in the eligible affected areas of:

  • Alpine Shire (including Falls Creek, Mount Hotham and Mount Stirling)
  • Ararat Rural City
  • City of Ballarat
  • City of Wodonga
  • East Gippsland Shire
  • Glenelg Shire
  • Golden Plains Shire
  • Greater Bendigo
  • Indigo Shire
  • Mansfield Shire (including Mount Buller)
  • Moyne Shire
  • Northern Grampians Shire
  • Pyrenees Shire
  • Rural City of Wangaratta
  • Shire of Strathbogie
  • Southern Grampians Shire
  • Towong Shire
  • Wellington Shire.

Please note: Loss of income is not covered under this grants program

Apply now

Grants of up to $75,000 are available to eligible primary producers directly impacted by the Victorian Bushfires commencing 21 November 2019.

The support is available to bushfire affected primary producers in the local government areas of Ararat, Alpine, Ballarat, East Gippsland, Glenelg, Golden Plains, Indigo, Mansfield, Northern Grampians, Pyrenees, Southern Grampians, Towong, Wangaratta, Wellington and Wodonga.

For more details or to make an application, please visit the Rural Finance website.

The Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (ILSC) has established an emergency response grant for any Indigenous corporation whose property has been directly affected by the recent bushfires. A grant of up to $20,000 will be available to assist Indigenous corporations to immediately secure and clean up damaged properties.

Indigenous corporations who have been directly impacted by the current bushfire emergency and are seeking assistance should contact the ILSC on 1800 818 490 or email EDOAdmin@ilcorp.gov.au.

During this immediate period ILSC staff will be available to take enquiries seven days a week, from 9am to 8pm (AEDT).

The Victorian Bushfire Concessional Loans are jointly funded by the Commonwealth and Victorian State Government under the Disaster Recovery Arrangements. Rural Finance are the administering agency for the Loans.

Concessional Loans of up to $500,000 are available to assist those entities which have suffered significant damage to their assets and/or significant loss of income.

The loans are intended to be used for the purposes of restoring and/or replacing damaged assets and/or to meet working capital expenses

The applicable concessional interest rate for loans is 0.82% for the 2019/20 financial year. This rate is subject to an annual review over the 10 year concessional interest rate period.

These loans are available in the local council areas of:

  • Ararat
  • Alpine (including Mount Hotham, Mount Stirling and Falls Creek)
  • Ballarat
  • East Gippsland
  • Glenelg
  • Golden Plains
  • Greater Bendigo
  • Indigo
  • Mansfield (including Mount Buller)
  • Moyne
  • Northern Grampians
  • Pyrenees
  • Southern Grampians
  • Strathbogie
  • Towong
  • Wangaratta
  • Wellington
  • Wodonga

To apply for a Concessional Loan please visit the Rural Finance website.

For further information please contact Rural Finance on 1800 260 425.

The Business Recovery Advisory Service is available to any business owner/operator in East Gippsland and the North East Victoria that have been impacted by the bushfires. 

A Business Recovery Adviser provides free, one-on-one support to assist with business impact assessments, developing recovery plans and resilience mentoring. These strategies can help you reactivate your business and develop sustainable business models to strengthen and grow through the recovery period and beyond.

To book a free, one-on-one session with a Business Recovery Adviser:

The Victorian Government has announced a $64 million package which includes additional support for businesses in bushfire affected communities.

The package includes:

  • immediate regional payroll tax relief in “State of Disaster” areas, so that regional employers only pay 25 per cent of the metropolitan rate
  • a 50 per cent concession on stamp duty for eligible properties, allowing businesses to relocate, expand or move into the fire-affected areas – sending a clear signal that these destinations are open for business
  • waiving water rates for 12 months for all homes or businesses destroyed or significantly damaged by fire, and providing rebates for customers affected by interruptions to their water supply
  • $500,000 for grants to regional industry groups and chambers of commerce to facilitate vital networking events, tourism opportunities and pro-bono business partnerships.
  • small business advisers stationed at relief centres to give businesses the support and advice they need
  • support for the wine industry to access technical advice so it’s best placed for this years’ vintage.

As part of the package, administration fees associated with VicRoads registration refunds for vehicles that have been damaged or destroyed will be waived, saving owners up to $60. This is in addition to a motor vehicle duty discount of $2,100 that may be applied for up to two replacement vehicles destroyed in the fires.

Read the full press release on the Premier's website.

These measures are in addition to a previous announcement from 13 January 2020 which included $55,000 stamp duty relief for those who have lost a home and choose to buy in another area rather than rebuild, and $7.3 million provided to Councils to put in place dedicated local teams to coordinate and drive bushfire recovery efforts.

Small Business Bushfire Financial Counselling Support Line. Free financial counselling is available by calling the Support Line on 1800 413 828. The financial counsellors can talk to small business owners and sole traders affected by the bushfires about all their options. Their services are non-judgmental, free, independent and confidential.

Visit smallbusinessbushfire.org.au

Bushfire Recovery Victoria (BRV) is a new permanent and dedicated agency being established to work directly with local communities impacted by our state’s devastating bushfires. Visit the Bushfire Recovery Victoria website for more details and to contact BRV.

An $86 million communities recovery package has been announced including up to $75,000 for farmers in bushfire affected regions.

See the BRV website for more details and to register your eligibility/interest.

Your local council will have bushfire response, relief and recovery information specific to your local government area.

Follow the links below to find the websites of a number of councils affected by the recent bushfire crisis or visit the Know Your Council website to find your local council.

Small Business Mentoring Service (SBMS)

SBMS is an incorporated not-for-profit association that provides mentoring and business recovery advice to small business. Visit their website or call 1300 816 817 to book a session.

SBMS has also made its Are U Ready? Surviving a small business disatster ebook available for free download.

Agriculture Victoria

Agriculture Victoria can provide information related to farm recovery.

Regional Development Victoria (RDV)

RDV offices are based throughout regional Victoria and are a local contact point for businesses wanting to access the programs and services provided by RDV. RDV offices can also provide information about other government services, grants and contacts that may assist regional businesses and organisations.

Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI)

VCCI is on standby to assist business, including advice on workplace relations provisions for businesses and workers affected by the fires and lost patronage.

VCCI Workplace Relations Advice Line: 03 9662 5222

VCCI is also operating a dedicated email for businesses to provide information on the extent of the impact, which will support the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments to provide appropriate assistance. Email disaster@victorianchamber.com.au.

  • A $200,000 grant is being provided to both Tourism North East and Destination Gippsland to provide a staff member to work directly with tourism operators and to coordinate campaigns, and help harness e-commerce opportunities to connect with potential visitors.
  • A Visit Victoria marketing campaign is rolling out advertising across television, print, radio and online using the slogan “A short visit goes a long way” to encourage Victorians to travel to all parts of the state.
  • The Government’s Business & Sport for Bushfire Recovery program has seen more than 150 organisations - including the Victorian Trades Hall Council and Cricket Australia - taking the pledge to hold conferences and events in regional Victoria. Visit Victoria will hold a management team conference over two nights in Lakes Entrance as part of the program.

The following organisations have support available for financial hardships after a fire. Major banks and some small banks also provide assistance.

Talk to your insurance company as soon as possible about how to make a claim. The contact numbers for major insurers are:

  • NRMA: 132 132
  • Suncorp: 132 524
  • QBE: 133 723
  • Allianz: 131 013
  • Zurich: 132 687

The Insurance Council of Australia is also operating a 24 hour hotline on 1800 734 621 to help with information about claims and recovery.

The Victorian Small Business Commission (VSBC) is available to help with any issues that may arise with business contracts including retail leases.

The VSBC is offering bushfire-affected small business owners help in resolving disputes quickly and at no cost. Examples of support include providing early help or arranging mediation where there is a dispute over a retail lease or where a business may not have been paid for the goods and services they supplied.

13 VSBC (13 8722)
Email: enquiries@vsbc.vic.gov.au
Visit the VSBC website

If your business has been affected by bushfire, it is important to look after your mental health as well as your physical wellbeing. Please visit our Stress savvy in business page for information on how to identify the signs of stress and the support services that are available if you and those around you need someone to talk to.

Further support is available for individuals including health and personal support, financial and legal support, and accommodation. Please download the  Business Recovery Services Guide (PDF 657.9 KB)PDF icon for a full list of support available to you and your business.

Assuming you are open for business after an emergency, implementing these tasks in the weeks and months following will substantially assist with the recovery process.

Monitor your cash flow

Monitor your budget carefully in the weeks and months following a crisis. Compare your estimated turnover with actual figures so you can modify outgoing expenses accordingly.

Review the products or services you have to sell

If your business has been directly affected by the emergency, confirm the products/services that you do have to sell. You may need to come up with new options if your existing product has been damaged. Be creative and flexible. Allow yourself to venture into new territory. Look at ways of adding extra value to your existing products/services to encourage people to visit your business. Develop packages and remove minimum stay requirements. As a number of products and experiences in your region may no longer be operating, do some research to identify alternative options for visitors.

Revise your target markets

Reconsider your target markets in light of the product you have to sell. Identify markets that are most likely to visit your region/business after an emergency, such as your previous guests. You may need to devise new experiences to appeal to new markets if your normal markets are staying away.

Promote your business

Prepare a brief marketing action plan to guide your promotional activities. Promote your business as soon as it is open for trade again. Consider low-cost options, such as public relations activities, email blasts to your guest database, Google AdWords, regional marketing initiatives, etc.

Keep staff engaged

Involve your staff in the process of restoring your business to normal. Regular communication can help them to feel part of the team and to understand the reasons behind any tough decisions.

Review your staffing arrangements

Assess whether you need to restructure your staffing arrangements to cut down costs.

Review your emergency plan

Review your plan after an emergency and incorporate what you have learnt from your experiences into your future planning. Crisis preparedness is an ongoing process and your plans should be regularly reviewed and updated to reflect the changing circumstances of your business and the areas in which you operate.

Case Study: Recovering after a bushfire

'We were very lucky to have comprehensive insurance. Particularly as a new business it can sometimes be hard to get business insurance without being able to prove establishment and stability. Without our cover, it really would have been 50:50 if we could have kept on going.'

Kerrie Livingstone, Crumbs Gourmet Biscuits

Read more about Recovering after a bushfire.

 

Recovering after bushfire