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More support for bushfire-hit businesses as COVID-19 amplifies burden

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic and Grace Ormsby
Maja Garaca Djurdjevic and Grace Ormsby
20 April 2020 2 minute readShare
More support for bushfire

The NSW government has pledged a further $140 million to support forestry, horticulture and agriculture businesses impacted by the recent bushfires.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian and deputy John Barilaro have announced a new Bushfire Industry Recovery Package to help industries significantly impacted by bushfires to rebuild, recover, regrow and remain the heartbeat of regional economies.

“This funding will support the recovery and resilience of key industries by backing projects that retain and create jobs, strengthen local supply chains and support a return to production,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“Regional NSW relies on these key driver industries to help generate jobs and economic activity, and this funding will provide the direct help many businesses need to recover from devastating losses, which in turn will help their wider industry remain viable.”

The program is expected to focus on recovery in the short term and to support valuable investments in the longer term.

Details of funding criteria including amounts available for businesses under this package will be published with the release of program guidelines in the coming weeks.

Tough time for rural communities

Speaking to My Business sister title nestegg, Simone Palfreyman, the principal of Palfreyman Chartered Accountants, said that Australian rural businesses are going through an extremely tough time, having, in the space of months, suffered through drought, bushfires, floods and now a pandemic.

In her role as an accountant, Ms Palfreyman said she has seen a number of businesses suffering due to business closures.

The most common question she is receiving at the moment is, “Can you help me?”

“They are desperate for help to keep their businesses alive, to retain their valued staff and still have enough money to feed their families and save their home.”

From her perspective, “the role of being a trusted adviser has never been as onerous”.

While she has welcomed the introduction of government assistance measures, she explained that the lack of detail and delays have complicated the ability of her clients to plan how to keep their business, their families and their lives afloat. 

Business-owner clients “have been confused by what entitlements are available to them, what rules apply and how they go about registering for these”, she said.

On the other end of the stick, she said she also has clients who are concerned that their employers “are trying to use COVID-19 to reduce their entitlements, and need help to navigate the constantly changing employment rules and government entitlements”.

Ms Palfreyman has conceded that “so many” of her clients are facing the same issues.

“We are assisting our individual clients with advice on JobSeeker versus JobKeeper payments, as well as issues such as enforced stand-downs and annual leave. We are preparing cash-flow forecasts and business mentoring, and generally trying to assist our clients to survive COVID-19.”

Meanwhile, they are also working with business clients to ensure they apply for all government stimulus packages they are entitled to.

She said: “Clients need more assistance than ever in navigating the new COVID-19 environment, [especially where] the legislation and government stimulus opportunities are changing on a daily basis.

“Our aim is to help our clients to survive this pandemic and have a business or career to return to.”

More support for bushfire-hit businesses as COVID-19 amplifies burden
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Maja Garaca Djurdjevic and Grace Ormsby
Maja Garaca Djurdjevic and Grace Ormsby

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic is the editor of My Business. 

Maja has a decade-long career in journalism across finance, business and politics. Now a well-versed reporter in the SME and accounting arena, prior to joining Momentum Media, Maja reported for several established news outlets in Southeast Europe, scrutinising key processes in post-conflict societies and enabling citizens to influence decision-making.

You can email Maja on [email protected] 

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