Bushfire recovery for business

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

This page will be updated as new information becomes available.

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You can find a full list of business support featured on this page, as well as health, personal, financial, legal, accommodation and housing support in the Business Recovery Services Guide.

Download the guide as a PDF or accessible Word version:

Emergency services and immediate assistance

VicEmergency

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

Download the VicEmergency app at the Apple App store for iOS or Google Play for Android.

Victorian State Emergency Services (VICSES)

Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES) is a volunteer-based organisation that provides emergency assistance to minimise the impact of emergencies and strengthen the community’s ability 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. Find the latest information on the VicTraffic website or download the VicTraffic app for iOS or Android.

Grants

$10,000 grants for small businesses

The $10,000 grant is to help small businesses cover the costs associated with bushfire recovery. For example, expenses such as:

  • salaries
  • wages
  • utilities
  • fuel
  • financial advice.

Applications opened 16 March 2020.

Eligibility

To be eligible, you must be a small businesses in one of the following fire-affected local government areas:

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

Your revenue must have dropped by 40% over a 3-month period, compared to the previous year, as a result of the bushfires. You can be directly or indirectly affected by the bushfires.

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

Small Business Bushfire Recovery Grants

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 following eligible affected areas:

  • 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: This grants program does not cover loss of income.

Apply now

Emergency Bushfire Response in Primary Industries Grants

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

The support is available in the following local government areas:

  • Ararat
  • Alpine
  • Ballarat
  • East Gippsland
  • Glenelg
  • Golden Plains
  • Indigo
  • Mansfield
  • Northern Grampians
  • Pyrenees
  • Southern Grampians
  • Towong
  • Wangaratta
  • Wellington
  • Wodonga.

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

2020 Bushfire Emergency Response Grant for Indigenous corporations

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 help Indigenous corporations to immediately secure and clean up damaged properties.

Indigenous corporations who were directly impacted by the 2019–2020 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 7 days a week, from 9 am to 8 pm (AEDT).

Victorian Bushfire Concessional Loans

Concessional loans of up to $500,000 are available to help entities that have suffered significant damage to their assets or significant loss of income. The Victorian Bushfire Concessional Loans are intended to be used to restore or replace damaged assets or to meet working capital expenses.

The concessional loans are jointly funded by the Commonwealth and Victorian State Government under the Disaster Recovery Arrangements and are administered by Rural Finance.

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.

Visit the Rural Finance website to apply for a concessional loan or contact Rural Finance on 1800 260 425 for more information.

Business Recovery Advisory Service and Community Recovery Hubs

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:

State Government relief for bushfire affected businesses and communities

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% of the metropolitan rate
  • a 50% 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.

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.

Business and industry support

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

Tourism industry support

  • 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 and 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.

Contract advice including retail leases

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 87 22 (13 VSBC)
Email: enquiries@vsbc.vic.gov.au
Visit the VSBC website

Insurance claims and disputes

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

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

Financial support

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

Small Business Bushfire Financial support line

If you're a small business owner or sole trader who has been affected by the bushfires, you can get free and independent financial counselling through the Small Business Bushfire Financial Counselling support line.

Call the support line on 1800 413 828 for confidential and professional advice about your options.

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 Mental health 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.

Individual support

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) for a full list of support available to you and your business.

Other resources