On this page
- Immediate assistance if you've been affected by a bushfire
- 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 and personal support, financial and legal support, and accomodation and housing support can be found can be found in the Business Recovery Services Guide (PDF 600.71 KB) or the accessible word version Business Recovery Services Guide (DOC 2633.73 KB).
Federal Government small business relief package
To build on the disaster recovery grants put in place by state governments, the Federal Government will provide top-up grants to eligible small businesses and non-profit organisations under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.
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).
To provide maximum flexibility for eligible businesses, loans of up to $500,000 will be offered for businesses that have suffered significant asset loss or a significant loss of revenue. The loan would be for up to 10 years and used for the purposes of restoring or replacing damaged assets and for working capital.
The loans will be available with a repayment holiday of up to two years, with no interest accruing during this period. The subsequent interest rate would be set at 50 per cent of the ten-year Commonwealth government bond rate (currently around 0.6%).
The Government will establish the Small Business Bushfire Financial Support Line as well as to fund 10 additional financial counsellors with the ability to provide advice to around 100 small businesses a day.
For full details, please see the official press release on the Prime Minister’s website.
Emergency services and immediate assistance
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.
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 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.
Bushfires may lead to road closures. You can find the latest information on the VicTraffic website.
Tax payment and lodgement deferrals
The ATO is offering deferrals for lodgments and in payments due to businesses in affected postcodes.
Stamp duty relief
The State Government has announced a series of measures including up to $2,100 in ex-gratia relief from the duty on up to two replacement vehicles for people who lost motor vehicles due to bushfires. The measures also include up to $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.
Bushfire Recovery Victoria
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.
Local council support
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.
- Alpine Shire
- East Gippsland Shire Council
- Mansfield Shire
- Rural City of Wangaratta
- Towong Shire
- Wellington Shire 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.
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 email@example.com.
The following organisations have support available for financial hardships after a fire. Major banks and some small banks also provide assistance.
- Australian Securities and Investment Commission Fee Relief
- Australian Taxation Office - bushfire support
- Centrelink/Department of Human Services crisis and special help assistance.
- Department of Human Services
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 provide advice on any leasing issues that may arise.
- Consumer Affairs Victoria
- CPA Australia Disaster Recovery Toolkit
- Federal Government Disaster Assist
- Financial Ombudsman Service Australia
- Rural Financial Counselling Service – Gippsland
- Small Business Mentoring Service
Mental health support
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
Further support is available for individuals including health and personal support, financial and legal support, and accommodation and legal support. Please download the Business Recovery Services Guide (PDF 600.71 KB) for a full list of support available to you and your business.
Tips and Tricks
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
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.