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Support for small businesses and primary producers

The help available for bushfire affected small businesses has been boosted, to provide extra help and make it easier to apply.

Call your state hotline and check what’s available to you. It might be more than you think.

  • In New South Wales call 13 77 88
  • In Victoria call 1800 560 760
  • In South Australia call 1800 302 787

New $10,000 grants for small businesses 

This new grant was announced on 11 March 2020. It is funded by the Australian Government.

It is for small businesses in selected fire-affected Local Government Areas, as determined by state governments.

Applications open the week commencing 16 March 2020. 

You can apply through your state government.

Purpose: Help you cover the costs associated with recovery following the fires.

Key points: Your revenue must have dropped, compared to the previous year, as a result of the bushfires. You can be directly or indirectly affected by the bushfires.

Spend it on: Expenses such as salaries, wages, utilities, fuel and/or financial advice.

The $10,000 grant is available to small businesses in the following Local Government Areas, which were determined by the relevant state government.

  • In Victoria: East Gippsland, Towong, Alpine
  • In New South Wales: Snowy Valleys, Snowy Monaro, Eurobodalla, Hawkesbury, Shoalhaven, Bega Valley, Blue Mountains, Lithgow, Wingecarribee, Port Macquarie, Clarence Valley, Queanbeyan, Mid Coast, Wollondilly, Kempsey, Richmond Valley, Nambucca
  • In South Australia: Kangaroo Island

The Agency highly recommends that individuals resist 'self-assessment' and talk to their state service centre.

We're making it easier to apply 

We know filling in forms takes time and energy.

We are working to cut down the number of documents you need to provide when you apply, and made it easier to prove the impact of the bushfires on your business.

Governments announced a commitment on 11 March 2020 to make application processes easier, and you’ll see changes in the coming weeks.

You can get help filling in application forms for bushfire support, from extra staff in Recovery Centres.

Recovery Centres are established by state governments in fire affected regions, with support from the Australian Government. The centres provide a one-stop-shop for small business owners to ensure they have access to expert support.

Find your nearest Recovery Centre at the web pages below:

Recovery grants (small business)

This support was announced in January 2020.

The application process and required documents are being simplified.

It is for small businesses and not-for-profit organisations in fire affected Local Government Areas (areas declared Category C).

Directly affected businesses only.

Purpose: Help with direct impacts of the bushfire, including damage from fire or smoke.

Key points: Grants of up to $50,000.

Spend it on: Clean up and reinstatement activities, including replacement of goods and products.

You apply for recovery grants through your state government.

For more information on recovery grants for small business visit the bushfire support page on the Australian Government Business website.

Recovery grants (primary producers)

This support was announced in January 2020.

The application process and required documents are being simplified.

It is for primary producers in fire affected Local Government Areas (Category C).

Directly affected primary producers only (including farmers, fishers, private foresters and beekeepers).

Purpose: Help with direct impacts of the bushfire (damage from fire or smoke).

Key points: Grants of up to $75,000. This includes the $15,000 grant available to primary producers under Category C arrangements.

Spend it on: Cleaning up and harvesting damaged crops.

Fodder and water, sheds, fencing and agricultural equipment, where those needs are not covered by existing insurance policies.

You apply for the primary producer grants through your state government.

Primary producers can also visit Farm Hub for information on available bushfire assistance.

To be eligible for a primary producer grant, you must:

  • earn more than 50 per cent of your income from primary production
  • spend part of your labour on primary production
  • have been carrying on your business at the time of the fires
  • not be a corporation.

If you don’t earn more than 50 per cent of your income from primary production, you may still be eligible if:

  • you can show you will earn 50 per cent of your income from primary production within 3 years, or
  • you can show you would ordinarily earn more than 50 per cent of your income from primary production but this has been affected by drought, or is due to long lead times to full production and
  • in both cases, you earn less than $100,000 in “off-farm” income.

Should an initial application be for less than the maximum grant amount, additional applications may be submitted.

Additional support for Indigenous corporations 

Staff of the National Indigenous Australians Agency are available to assist Indigenous Australians and their communities, organisations and businesses get access to supports and services – contact details are on the National Indigenous Australians Agency Support to bushfire affected communities page.

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.

The ILSC will also make available a grant to assist Indigenous land management groups and contractors assisting the vital recovery efforts with much needed equipment.

Indigenous corporations should contact the ILSC on 1800 818 490 or EDOAdmin@ilcorp.gov.au. ILSC staff will be available to take enquiries seven days a week, from 9am to 8pm (AEDT).

Concessional loans

This support was announced in January 2020.

The application process and required documents are being simplified.

It is for small businesses (including primary producers) and not-for-profit organisations in fire affected Local Government Areas (areas declared Category B).

Directly and indirectly affected businesses.

Purpose: Low cost finance to help you get back on your feet.

Key points: Loans of up to $500,000. No repayments or interest for the first 2 years, and a concessional rate for the remaining term of the loan.

Spend it on: Restoration and replacement of assets damaged by the bushfires

Working capital expenses where a business has suffered revenue losses due to the bushfires.

You apply for a concessional loan through your state government.

For more information on concessional loans visit the bushfire support page on the Australian Government Business website.

Tax Relief Assistance

Businesses in identified bushfire-impacted postcodes are eligible for support and assistance through the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), including:

  • deferring the due date to lodge and pay money owed as a result of business activity statements, income tax returns, fringe benefits tax returns and excise returns to 28 May 2020;
  • allowing businesses that pay their Pay As You Go (PAYG) instalments quarterly to vary their instalments without penalty, and also claim credits for instalment amounts already paid; and
  • allowing businesses to opt in to monthly GST reporting from the start of a quarter (such as 1 April 2020), in order to get quicker access to GST refunds.

If you've been affected by this disaster and need assistance with your tax affairs, or your address is outside the identified postcode list, you can call the ATO Emergency Support Infoline on 1800 806 218 (8am-6pm Monday-Friday) to discuss your circumstances.

Individuals and businesses impacted by the bushfires are not required to pay tax on any relief and recovery payments or benefits provided by the Australian Government in relation to the 2019-20 bushfires.

Financial advice

Getting some financial advice can decide what recovery will look like for your business.

The Rural Financial Counselling Service can provide free, confidential financial counselling to farmers, foresters, fishers and small related businesses, who are suffering financial hardship.

Check your eligibility and be referred to your nearest RFSC office by calling on 1800 686 175.

They can help you:

  • identify your financial and business options
  • negotiate with your lenders
  • identify other assistance schemes
  • apply for Farm Household Allowance.

The Small Business Financial Support Line is on 1800 413 828. It is staffed by specialist financial counsellors. They can provide advice on the assistance available in bushfire affected areas.

Bushfire clean up assistance

The Australian Government is working with the NSW, VIC and SA governments to share the cost of clean-up for residential and commercial properties destroyed by this season’s bushfires. This is a big task, and it’s going to take time.

This service is at no cost to property owners, and is available for insured and uninsured homes.

To register your property for clean up: