We could have never anticipated the challenges COVID-19 would present to bushfire-affected communities. This is especially true for primary producers and small businesses around the country. To combat this and make sure no one is left behind, we’re constantly adapting to give new solutions to communities impacted by the bushfires.
When I was announced as the National Bushfire Recovery Agency Coordinator in early January, I promised we would not be confined to an office. I promised we’d be on the ground, working directly with communities to get them the support they need. Importantly, we’ve been focused on listening to people’s stories, concerns, and hopes for the future.
While money has been flowing into communities, we've heard cases of assistance not reaching some genuine primary production businesses in need. In response, the Australian Government has announced changes to a number of bushfire recovery support programs.
Together with the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, we’ve addressed feedback to make it easier for more primary producers to get assistance. Improvements to the Emergency Bushfire Response in Primary Industries Grant Program include:
- expanded eligibility
- extended timeframes
- made application processes easier
We made a specific point to make sure applicants who have already applied for the grant, and were unsuccessful, do not need to re-apply if they satisfy the new criteria.
Our Primary Producer Factsheet has the details on exactly what is changing, plus information on other support programs.
Our strong relationship with small business representatives continues and has ensured we are kept up to date with what small business owners need to help with their recovery. We know times are tough, and we want to ensure all bushfire-affected communities have time to get the support they need. We welcome the Australian Government’s decision to extend application periods for small business grants and concessional loans to 31 December 2020.
The grants are worth $10,000 and $50,000, and the concessional loans are valued up to $500,000. More information on small business support is available on our website. I urge people to avoid self-assessing and to instead get in touch with your local Recovery Support Officer to see what support is available tailored to your specific circumstances.
We’ll continue adapting to make sure your recovery journey is supported.