There are many resources available to you and your business to assist you in navigating through the current challenges in the wake of COVID-19, whilst ensuring the health and wellbeing of your staff and visitors.
What are we doing?
Everyday we are fighting for the survival of our members and the industry. We are working hard to ensure your issues, your priorities and your crises are presented to government in the state and federal arenas. There is not a more critical time to be part of your industry association and know that VTIC is here to support you, to advocate for you and to present the single voice that’s needed to drive home our critical messages right now.
We are regularly updating our members with messages from our Chief Executive, Felicia Mariani. You can view past messages here.
You are now able to join VTIC as an In the Loop or Essentials member FREE until 31 December 2020. We are stronger together. Visit the VTIC website and click ‘JOIN NOW‘. Once you have completed your details a member of the team will be in touch to assist you with your FREE membership.
Please continue to follow the advice from the Department of Health and Human Services regarding hygiene and sanitation, self-isolation and physical distancing.
The Coronavirus Australia app allows you to stay up to date with official information and advice about the coronavirus situation. You can check your symptoms and get notified when urgent information and updates are published.
Business Victoria has a comprehensive website covering:
For advice specific to your business, call Business Victoria on 13 22 15.
FOR ALL BUSINESSES
Jobkeeper is a fortnightly payment made by the ATO of $1,500 per eligible employee, for a maximum period of 6 months. This is available to business that:
– Has an annual turnover of less than $1 billion and they estimate their turnover has fallen or will likely fall by 30 per cent or more, OR
– Has an annual turnover of $1 billion or more (or is part of a consolidated group for income tax purposes with turnover of $1 billion or more) and they estimate their turnover has fallen or will likely fall by 50 per cent or more.
Self-employed individuals will be eligible to receive the JobKeeper Payment where they meet the relevant turnover test outlined above.
For charities registered with the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profit Commission (ACNC), they will be eligible for the subsidy if they estimate their turnover has or will likely fall by 15 per cent or more relative to a comparable period.
The Victorian and Australian Chambers have also developed a > Quick Employer Guide
Licensing, land tax and rent relief for business
– Liquor licensing fees for 2020 will be waived for affected venues and small businesses
– Commercial tenants in government buildings can apply for rent relief
– 2020 land tax payments will be deferred for eligible small businesses
Commonwealth guaranteed unsecured loans
Commonwealth will guarantee unsecured loans of up to $250,000 for a term of three years with no repayments for the first 6 months.
For owners or directors of a business that are currently struggling due to the Coronavirus, the ATO will assist their circumstances, including temporary reduction of payments or deferrals, or withholding enforcement actions.
Australian bank loan repayment deferrals
Australian banks will defer loan repayments for small businesses affected by COVID-19 for six months.
Increase in instant asset write-off
Increase in instant asset write-off threshold from $30,000 to $150,000 for businesses with turnover of less than $500 million. In addition, if purchasing new depreciable assets, there is access to time limited 15–month investment incentives to accelerate depreciation deductions.
Commercial Tenancies Code of Conduct
The Code of Conduct imposes a set of good faith leasing principles for application to commercial tenancies (including retail, office and industrial) between owners/operators/other landlords and tenants, where the tenant is an eligible business for the JobKeeper program.
These principles will apply to negotiating amendments to existing leasing arrangements, aiding the management of cashflow for SME tenants
and landlords, as a result of the impact and commercial disruption caused by coronavirus.
This Code applies to all tenancies that are suffering financial stress or hardship as a result of coronavirus as defined by their eligibility for the Commonwealth Government’s JobKeeper program, with an annual turnover of up to $50 million.
Support is also available to you and your family from Lifeline (13 11 14) and Beyond Blue (1300 22 4636 or online chat).
BUSINESSES THAT EMPLOY PEOPLE
Boosting Cash Flow for Employers
Cash payments of between $20,000 and $100,000 for SME businesses with annual turnover of up to $50 million. These payments will be delivered by the ATO upon lodgement of business activity statements (BAS).
Apprentice and trainee wage subsidies
Apprentice and trainee wage subsidies are available for small businesses employing fewer than 20 full-time employees who retain an apprentice or trainee. Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50% of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage paid during the nine months from 1 January – 30 September 2020.
Payroll Tax Relief
Payroll Tax Relief for eligible businesses with payroll under $3 million and backdated to 1 July 2019, plus deferral of future tax for the current financial year
Business Support Fund
The $500 million Business Support Fund will assist industries hardest hit by impacts of coronavirus, including tourism, hospitality, accommodation, events and the arts. Funding of $10,000 per business is now available for businesses with a turnover of more than $75,000 and a payroll of less than $650,000.
Boosting Cash Flow for Employers
Cash payments of between $20,000 and $100,000 for Not-for-Profit organisations with annual turnover of up to $50 million that employ people. These payments will be delivered by the ATO upon lodgement of business activity statements (BAS).
SOLE TRADERS AND SELF-EMPLOYED
Those who meet the income test will be eligible to receive $1100 a fortnight via new JobSeeker Allowance payments. For those who don’t already deal with Services Australia, you will need to set up a myGov account.
Access to superannuation
Access of up to $10,000 of superannuation in FY 2019-20 and a further $10,000 in FY 2020-21. Individuals will not need to pay tax on amounts released and the money they withdraw will not affect income support payments.
For more information on support available for Sole Traders, visit business.gov.au
LOCAL COUNCIL SUPPORT
City of Melbourne
Release of 500 grants worth up to $4,000 for individual artists or small organisations. The grants are available to develop new work, or for digital presentation of artistic works and performances and to provide support during the time when restrictions are in place.
If your property is within the City of Melbourne, there is an opportunity to defer, reduce or waive rates and charges levied on a property depending on the severity of the financial impact. For further information visit
Grants are available to provide financial assistance so businesses can quickly adapt to offering products online, providing services virtually and offering take-away and delivery of goods. Grants include:
– Projects matched dollar-for-dollar for up to $10,000 to help businesses adapt to the changed conditions this could include investing in new equipment, upgrading shop fittings or investing in IT and vehicles
– Up to $5000 is available for 400 businesses investing in online and e-commerce activities such as purchasing hardware and software, developing website and ecommerce, creating online content, online and e-commerce training, and digital marketing
– Up to $2000 is available for training and professional development for 500 organisations to equip staff with new and enhanced skills to prepare for changing conditions or recovery, such as attending training courses, and undertaking online learning and webinars
For further information visit > City of Melbourne
During this time, it is likely your customers and guests will be cancelling. You may be wondering what happens if they are cancelling due to COVID-19, and whether you can claim cancellation costs.
To answer this question, it is useful to think of two scenarios. In the first example, the health authorities have issued explicit advice, under the State of Emergency declaration, restricting non-essential travel to your area. Such an instance would trigger a ‘frustrated contract’ under the Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading Act 2012, which means it is impossible to perform or carry out a contract due to events beyond all parties’ control.
In this scenario, the customer would be entitled to a refund of any payments already made. However, the law may also entitle you to any reasonable expenses you incurred before the customer cancelled.
If there are no restrictions on domestic travel and your business is still operating, the contract is still valid and your cancellation policy can be applied.
The best solution in both of these circumstances is to talk to the customer to negotiate alternative arrangements. For example, hold the deposit over to be used at a different time. This is a frequently used strategy by tourism operators who have been through a crisis – a postponement or a deferment of a booking means you can hold onto the deposit at a time when every dollar counts.
This advice should be read in conjunction with Consumer Affairs Victoria’s online factsheet When customers cancel – guidance for tourism businesses.
We encourage employees and employers to work together to find appropriate solutions that suit the needs of individual workplaces and staff.
The Australian and Victorian Chambers have produced an Employer Guide for managing the workplace in the face of the outbreak which includes; understanding your risks, employer obligations, working from home, changing or scaling down operations and business shut down.
For information and assistance on any aspect of your employment obligations, the Victorian Chamber Workplace Relations Advice Line (03) 8662 5222 can help.
The Victorian Chamber also has information available on working from home and links to information from Worksafe Victoria >click here.
Safe Work Australia has information on work health and safety including a business resource kit and guides on preparing your workplace >click here.
TOURISM AUSTRALIA: For the latest updates from Tourism Australia visit their website.
VISIT VICTORIA: For the latest updates from Visit Victoria visit their website.
VISITOR INFORMATION CENTRES: Increasingly, Visitor Centres across the state are moving to online and over the phone provision of information. Click here to see the latest update of information available through visitor services across the state.
TOURISM GREATER GEELONG & THE BELLARINE: For businesses in the Greater Geelong and Bellarine regions, Tourism Greater Geelong and The Bellarine have a dedicated resource to assist you via their website.
GRAMPIANS TOURISM: For businesses operating in the Grampians region, Grampians Tourism has information available here.
PHILLIP ISLAND: For tourism businesses in Phillip Island, Destination Phillip Island has information and industry updates available on their website.
EXPORT MARKET DEVELOPMENT GRANT (EMDG) SCHEME: On 1 April 2020, the Federal Government announced an increase in funding for the Export Market Development Grants (EMDG) scheme. Funding for the scheme will increase by $49.8 million in the 2019-20 financial year, allowing exporters and tourism businesses to get additional reimbursements for costs incurred in marketing their products and services around the world. More information is available here.