Advance Cessnock City has compiled the following information to assist businesses that may be affected by the bush fires over 2019 and 2020.
Practical support is available to all businesses affected by the NSW bushfires, from damaged or destroyed property to disrupted business and reduced income.
At the moment we continue to collate resources to assist bush fire affected businesses whilst conditions stabilise, as the focus continues to be on safety and recovery. Council is also strategically raising awareness of local business needs to support a strategic response by NSW and Australian Government.
What is Cessnock City Council doing?
Cessnock City Mayor, Councillor Bob Pynsent attended a Community Rebuilding Roundtable at Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday 28 January to advocate for local businesses impacted by bush fires. Council’s submission collated feedback of all the Advance Cessnock City partners, our local chambers of commerce and industry networks, to build a strategic case for lobbying funds and leadership from our governments. Council’s submission advocates for a buy local ‘open for business’ marketing campaign and funding to be allocated to Destination NSW to coordinate a regional and international marketing campaigns. It also includes a proposal for providing a local tourism stimulus package, funding for local events to stimulate visitation and more investment in soft infrastructure to support regional and inter-regional bookings.
Council will continue to lobby for greater outcomes and leadership response for our business community.
Information and Resources:
The following will be updated as details emerge. Please click to expand the sections you wish to read more about.
We’re encouraging our business community to use the assistance that has been made available in the recovery efforts. A Support Line is being set up by the Federal Government. The Support Line will be staffed by small business specialist financial counsellors who will be able to provide information on the assistance and support available to small businesses in bushfire affected regions. For more information businesses can visit www.business.gov.au or call 13 28 46.
NSW Government is also delivering bushfire recovery assistance to help people and businesses impacted by bushfires. The Service NSW bushfire customer care service has specialists to help guide you every step of the way via https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/campaign/bushfire-customer-care-service or call 137788.
Support for all businesses, including lost trade or disruption
Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO)
Advocate that it is important that businesses seek support as soon as you need it. They urge all small business owners, directly and indirectly, affected by the bushfires to ACT EARLY – seek advice from your small business advisor, accountant or bookkeeper.
Support for Bushfire Hit Wine-Grape Growers
Bushfire affected wine-grape growers across NSW will have access to free smoke taint tests, through a new program funded by the NSW Government.
Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for Disaster Recovery John Barilaro said NSW businesses were heavily impacted by the bushfires and the NSW Government is acting quickly to ensure communities and industries get back on their feet. Read more...
How can you best support your staff?
If you need to temporarily close, you may be able to stand down staff in some circumstances. Detailed information can be found on the Fair Work Ombudsman website.
What support is available for farmers?
The National Farmers' Federation’s FarmHub is a one-stop shop for details on assistance with fodder, water, transport, everyday living expenses, health and more. Bushfire assistance contacts and resources are regularly updated.
More from the ASFBEO: https://www.asbfeo.gov.au/resources/bushfire-assist
Business Concierge Service
The Business Concierge Service can help you in:
- identifying what support is available for you
- completing any financial relief application forms that are relevant to your situation.
Note: Business concierges will be onboard our Mobile Service Centres if you're not able to get to a Service NSW Centre.
Solving Problems and Dispute Resolution Service
Access a confidential and free dispute resolution service which has been set up to help small businesses needing assistance to work through problems with other businesses or government. The NSW Small Business Commission helps parties talk about their problems and work towards a solution through negotiation and communication. We can also assist small businesses with issues in relation to insurance and regulatory concerns. Call 1300 795 534 or visit https://www.smallbusiness.nsw.gov.au/dispute-resolution
Free Business Advice Service
A free mobile advisory service is available to small businesses through Business Connect. Advice is offered about managing cash flow, planning the next steps, accessing financial support schemes and connecting to additional support. A trusted local business advisor can meet you at your business premises or another convenient location. Register at http://industry.nsw.gov.au/businessconnect or call 1300 134 359 to book a session with a local advisor.
For businesses affected by natural disasters, Revenue NSW can help with payroll tax. Call 1300 139 815 to find out more.
The Australian Tax Office is offering support to businesses affected by the bushfires and can waive interest charged, set up payment plans with interest free periods and give you more time to pay. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is also providing automatic deferral of lodgement and payment obligations for individuals and businesses in bushfire-affected communities. The ATO Emergency Support Infoline is 1800 806 218.
Complaints on credit, finance, loans, insurance, payments or financial advice
When problems with financial products, services or advice arise they can be time consuming and expensive. In instances where you think your small business might be treated unfairly, such as denial of an insurance claim (such as car, building), or if you have difficulty repaying loans, credit cards or short term finance where your financial position has changed, the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) can help. AFCA is an independent, not-for-profit, non-government organisation. Their service is free and independent and anyone who has an unresolved complaint with a financial firm can lodge a complaint.
Find out more: Assisting SMEs with financial services complaints
Export Finance Australia
If your business has been affected by the bushfires and you need finance, talk to us.
Export Finance Australia provides a range of loans and guarantees for exporters, including tourism businesses.
Find out more:
Fair trading can provide information on credit matters to assist people in negotiating repayments with their lenders and fund regional based financial counselling and legal services for people in financial hardship. Provides assistance to businesses regarding fair and ethical practices. Call 13 32 20 or visit www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au
Credit/Mortgage Hardship Lines
ANZ Bank P: 1800 252 845
Commonwealth Bank Hardship P: 1300 720 814
National Australia Bank Care P: 1800 701 599
St George Bank Assist P: 1800 629 795
Summerland Credit Union P: 1300 802 222
Newcastle Permanent P: 13 19 87
Regional Australia Bank Hardship P: 132 067
Bank of Queensland P: 1800 079 866
Westpac Assist P: 1800 067 497
Southern Cross Credit Union P: 1300 360 744
Financial Counselling Australia is free, independent and confidential support to people in financial difficulty. P: 1800 007 007 or visit www.financialcounsellingaustralia.org.au
Financial Rights Legal Centre offers advice and advocacy for consumers in financial distress. P: 1300 663 464 or visit www.financialrights.org.au
Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC)
ASIC is offering assistance to small businesses that are facing disruption or severe hardship due to the bushfires, including reviewing fees or considering payment options. More information available at https://asic.gov.au/for-business/payments-fees-and-invoices/bushfire-relief/.
Utility Payments Hardship Support
Customers experiencing any form of long term or temporary hardship with management of utility accounts are advised to contact their retail provider to discuss payment options as soon as possible. Get help paying energy bills – http://www.resourcesandenergy.nsw.gov.au/?a=295483
Energy and Water Ombudsman
The Energy and Water Ombudsman NSW, provides a free, fair and independent dispute resolution service for all electricity and gas customers in NSW, and some water customers. Call 1800 246 545 or visit https://www.ewon.com.au
The following are free services available 24 hours a day, seven days a week:
Mental Health Line – 1800 011 511
Lifeline – 13 11 14
Mensline – 1300 789 978
Kids Helpline – 1800 55 1800
Beyondblue – 1300 22 4636
What about the wellbeing of your business?
Many small business owners directly or indirectly impacted by the bushfires will be eager to get back on their feet, so keeping on top of the business basics and maintaining mental wellbeing is paramount. The ASBFEO's My Business Health portal provides links and resources to help support small business owners experiencing mental health issues as a result of day-to-day concerns about their business.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger call 000.
Support for businesses that have had premises or equipment damaged or destroyed
Various Assistance and grants
Call the NSW Rural Assistance Authority on 1800 678 593 for:
Primary producer assistance – up to $15,000 recovery grants (33 LGAs), concessional loans and transport subsidies for eligible primary producers
Small business assistance – up to $15,000 recovery grants (33 LGAs), concessional loans and transport subsidies for eligible primary producers
Sporting club assistance – concessional loans for eligible sporting clubs
Church and non-profit organisation assistance – up to $15,000 recovery grants (33 LGAs) and concessional loans for eligible churches and non-profit organisations.
Disaster Recovery Grants
Grants are available if your business has been directly affected by bush fire. Applications can be made to the Rural Assistance Authority on 1800 678 593 or visit https://www.raa.nsw.gov.au/disaster-assistance/disaster-recovery-grants for eligibility criteria.
Natural Disaster Relief Loans
The Natural Disaster Relief Scheme assists Small Business Operators directly affected by a declared natural disaster. Small businesses who have been directly affected by a declared natural disaster including floods, fires or storm damage, may be eligible for low interest loans. Loans can be for replacing assets that were damaged, road closures, reduced visitor numbers, etc. The requirement to re-establish or carry on business in the same location or the same Local Government Area.
Visit https://www.raa.nsw.gov.au/disaster-assistance/disaster-recovery-loans/small-business for more information and loan guidelines.
Not sure? Use the Disaster Assistance Finder
Our Disaster Assistance Finder can help you find relevant support.
- Just click through 6 simple questions.
- We'll give you a personalised list of available programs and services.
- You can then apply for the support you need.
Australian Government Emergency Information Line
The Australian Government Disaster Recovery Allowance (AGDRA) is a short-term payment that is available to eligible Australian citizens whose income has been directly impacted by a declared or widespread disaster. An allowance paid for a maximum of 13 weeks is available to eligible individuals, including employees, sole traders and primary producers, whose income has been directly affected by a declared disaster. Call 180 2266 or visit https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/help-emergency
For businesses: https://www.humanservices.gov.au/organisations/business
Insurance Council of Australia
Can assist policy holders determine which insurer they are with and assisting with general inquiries about the claims process. Call 1300 728 228 or visit www.insurancecouncil.com.au
Safe Work NSW
Will replace NSW licences at no cost to those affected by natural disasters. Call 13 10 50 or visit www.safework.nsw.gov.au
Will replace certificates and drivers licences at no cost to those affected by natural disasters. Call 13 77 88 or visit: https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/campaign/bushfire-customer-care-service
Motor Vehicle Stamp Duty Relief
Motorists whose cars have been written off as a result of a natural disaster may be eligible for a stamp duty refund on their replacement vehicle. Call 1300 139 814 or visit https://www.revenue.nsw.gov.au
The NSW Government is coordinating the clean-up of NSW residences and businesses impacted by the NSW bushfires. This includes both insured and uninsured properties.
Visit https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/transaction/nsw-bushfire-clean-register-now to register for help with your clean-up.
NSW Procurement Portal
NSW Procurement have launched a portal through which small businesses can register their interest in bushfire work. The aim of this portal is to ensure enough contractors for the rebuilding work and to help provide local jobs and incomes for affected communities.
Visit https://tenders.nsw.gov.au/?event=public.scheme.show&RFTUUID=B9A30F09-99EC-D33A-810D5B89C5B8A71C to access the portal.
Business Surveys: ‘Bushfire impacts on your small business’
Survey from the NSW Small Business Commission
The survey is crucial in assisting Government, Councils, community and business groups understand the impact of bushfires on small businesses. There is still time to have your say by completing the survey – visit: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SBbushfireimpacts.
More Resources and Guides on what to do following a disaster
Get back to Business Guide after a natural disaster
After a disaster, the process of recovery can seem overwhelming, particularly when you don’t have a plan. Whether it’s flood, fire or a cyber-attack, the consequences can be devastating. This guide contains five phases of disaster recovery you would generally expect – from the moment the disaster has hit, to the actions you could take over the days, weeks and months ahead. Read the Guide by the NSW Small Business Commissioner: View the Guide
Get Ready Business: five steps to preparing for disasters
Every year, businesses in NSW are devastated by disasters. If a disaster strikes, your business may be unable to operate and unable to generate revenue. However, fixed costs will still need to be paid. On top of this, you may incur significant costs in your effort to rebuild your business. Download the resource: https://www.industry.nsw.gov.au/business-and-industry-in-nsw/assistance-and-support/get-ready-business
Property Hazards following bush fire – SafeWork NSW
Houses, sheds and other buildings or structures that are burnt in a bushfire can leave potential health and safety hazards in the remaining rubble and ash. Review the fact sheet;
Information and Resources for Tourism and Wine Businesses
This week Destination NSW recommenced marketing activities including social media content, search and It’s On website marketing, while work on a comprehensive disaster recovery plan continues. DNSW have said they are encouraging visitors not to cancel forward travel plans and also to support affected communities by taking a holiday or short getaway now. This position is now reflected across Destination NSW’s many marketing and publicity channels including a new travel alert page on both VisitNSW.com and Sydney.com, the DNSW corporate website that includes the latest advice on NSW’s tourism regions.
Be reminded to encourage your visitors to seek the most up to date information prior to travel, and always follow the instruction and advice of authorities and useful links including:
- Rural Fire Service
- National Parks
- NSW Police
- Bureau of Meteorology
- Live Traffic
- Fires near me
- Tourism Australia
Further, two new factsheets have been developed by DNSW:
- Visitor Factsheet: to inform visitors about how to say safe and rights regarding cancellations and refunds,
- Factsheet for Tourism Businesses: navigate obligations toward customers, employees, contractors and suppliers.
You can find more information on the Destination NSW corporate website.
There has also been feedback of the Destination Sydney Surrounds Network who want businesses to know the other practical thing that we can do while we wait for national and state campaign details is encourage businesses to update their Get Connected / ATDW listings, all traffic will be pushed to visitnsw or using ATDW which is translated for export ready product too, so it will be important to have this up to date, particularly with fresh imagery. Businesses can contact the Hunter Valley Visitor Information Centre for assistance with their listings if they need on email@example.com.
Destination Sydney Surrounds Network (DSSN)
DSSN have been putting out Bushfire Disaster Recovery emails which businesses can subscribe to. They have compiled this list of hashtag campaigns for businesses to use.
If you’re a local operator or destination, be sure to share on your social media with the hashtags where appropriate and get in touch with the campaigns to be featured.
Holiday Here This Year
Spend With Them
- @spendwiththem | #spendwiththem
- Help rebuild towns and businesses affected by fire
- Email to be featured: firstname.lastname@example.org
Roadtrip For Good
- @roadtripforgood | #roadtripforgood
- Plan your own #roadtripforgood to support bushfire affected communities on their website
- Add your business to their online map
- @emptyesky | #emptyesky
- A movement of foodies + adventurers supporting local businesses affected by the #australianfires
- Email to be featured: email@example.com
More Than A Good Drop
- @morethanagooddrop | #morethanagooddrop
- Shining a spotlight on food, wine + tourism affected by Australian bushfires
- @discover.here | #westayhere
- Stay local in these hidden paradises once it is safe, support smaller communities and discover here
- DM to be featured
Visit With Them
- @visitwiththem | #visitwiththem
- Showcasing events & celebrations
- DM to be featured.
Tourism Australia have announced a domestic marketing campaign Holiday Here This Year as part of the Federal Government's $76 million tourism recovery package for tourism businesses and fire-affected communities across Australia.
The industry ‘toolkit’ which contains information on what this campaign is all about. Download the toolkit: http://www.tourism.australia.com/content/dam/assets/document/1/7/9/j/n/2018579.pdf
View more on the campaign: http://www.tourism.australia.com/en/about/our-campaigns/holiday-here-this-year.html
Tourism Australia will coordinate the following programs:
- Temporarily re-enter the domestic marketing space, coordinating a national campaign in partnership with the states and territories ($20 million);
- International recovery campaign funding boost ($25 million);
- Increase their international media hosting activities ($9.5 million);
- Increase support for the Australian Tourism Exchange ($6.5 million).
On 28 January, Tourism Australia also released their Business Events campaign ‘Event here this year’ on http://businessevents.australia.com
NSW Business Chamber is asking for corporates to pledge to host their conference/ meeting in regional NSW. https://www.backingthebush.com.au/
All MICE operators should also update their listings with https://www.meetinnsw.com.au/
Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC)
The Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) advises that a positive campaign highlighting that Australia is ‘open for business’ needs to be at the core of Australia’s bushfire recovery initiatives. ATEC has estimated that tourism will see at least a 10% decline in international visitor numbers which will make a significant impact on Australia’s $45 billion tourism export industry.
ATEC is getting behind the industry by promoting products around Australia that are open for business and ready to welcome international visitors through its social media campaign #bushfirebounceback.
Wine Australia have announced they are working with Australian Grape & Wine, the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) and viticultural experts, backed by the Federal Government, and state and regional wine agencies to offer support and advice.
Wine Australia also have information on smoke taint: https://www.wineaustralia.com/fireandsmokeassessment
The Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI)
There is a fact sheet prepared by the AWRI on the impacts of smoke taint when vineyards and grapes are exposed to smoke. The AWRI helpdesk is also available on (08) 8313 6600 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Tourism Tribe are also running free post disaster recovery marketing workshops to support operators, with practical tips which may be useful to tourism businesses. https://www.tourismtribe.com/product/road-to-recovery-post-disaster-marketing/
Support your business networks and chambers of commerce
When businesses and residents make a commitment to support local businesses, it provides a much needed economic boost back into the community and buoys community spirit, especially in the aftermath of disaster recovery.
Once immediate conditions stabilise, your local chambers of commerce and membership based networks will play a key role in promoting and supporting businesses through the recovery phase. Get involved in your local chamber today!
Stay up to date: official sites, apps, and resources
NSW support information
Service NSW has a dedicated website to communities affected by bushfires. The site allows you to choose the right Disaster Recovery Grant for your needs as well as financial loans that are available through Drought Assistance rebates or subsidies: https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/assistance-bushfire-affected-communities#financial-assistance
NSW Disaster Recovery are posting updates for Hunter, Greater Sydney, and South Eastern NSW. Community Recovery Information is a recovery newsletter, which aims to support you or anyone you know affected by the fires in Hunter, Greater Sydney and South Eastern NSW regions.
Find information on:
- Emergency temporary accommodation
- Replacing personal documents
- Animal welfare
- Clean up considerations
- Disaster Relief Grants
Read the latest news from:
Fires Near Me
Australian Government support information
Each day the government is releasing new information on the bushfire recovery. The federal government now has a dedicated website for bushfire recovery, get all the latest information on assistance from here.
Information on what the federal government is doing to help individuals, businesses, communities and local governments recover from the bushfires, including disaster recovery payments, can be found on the DisasterAssist website.
Support for Primary Producers
Support for Mental Health
Government looks at a national approach
Immediate support for communities
Support for volunteer fire fighters
Support for small business
Support for tourism stimulus package.
Be wary of scams
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has warned that small business scams are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and unfortunately there are currently a wide range of appeals raising funds for people and animals affected by the bushfires. Unfortunately, some of these are scams.
People can make a report on the Scamwatch website, or find more information about where to get help. The ACCC has also set up a dedicated phone number for the public to report bushfire related scams. People can call 1300 795 995 to report these scams. The ACCC provides the following information:
If you wish to make a donation towards those affected by the bushfires, please protect yourself with the following information by the ACCC: https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/news/bushfires-and-scams