City of the future – How has this crisis changed your perspective on the future of Melbourne?

3 July 2020 | City of Melbourne

The City of Melbourne is looking to uncover what people value most about the city and how COVID-19 has influenced people’s thoughts of the future. We are inviting you to reflect and share with us how COVID-19 has changed your perspective and priorities. As we emerge from the pandemic we are asking you to tell us what is now most important to you and the way you experience Melbourne?

After implementing an immediate response to COVID-19 the City of Melbourne is now starting to look at a more long-term path to recovery so that we can begin to plan for a stronger and more resilient Melbourne.This work will capture an important moment in time and will contribute to further extensive engagement across our community as we prepare our new four year council plan in February next year.

Have your say
The final of two Melbourne Conversations events with industry thought-leaders who will be speaking on a range of topics in coming up.  You can also share your ideas on what you imagine the future of Melbourne will be like in the ideas forum by 19 July.


Next Event: City of Futures 2 |  Registration & Information here 
Thursday 9 July 2020 3:00pm – 5:00pm

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COVID-19 Business Fact Sheets

29 June 2020 | Barbara Cullen: SBV
To help Victorian businesses adapt to current restrictions and slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), the Victorian Government has designed a range of targeted fact sheets.
These one-page (PDF) fact sheets outline the current restrictions applicable across different industries in clear language, to help both employers and staff reduce the risk of infection in the workplace.

As more of Victoria’s restrictions ease, we still need to stay vigilant. To keep yourself, your friends and your family safe, there are three key actions that all Victorians are being asked to continue.
1. Stay at home and get tested if you have symptoms of coronavirus, however mild.
2. Practise good hygiene by washing your hands and coughing and sneezing into a tissue or your elbow.
3. Keep your distance – stay 1.5 metres away from people you don’t live with.
For guidance on dealing with coronavirus (COVID-19) and the support available to businesses, please visit the Business Victoria website or call the Business Victoria hotline on 13 22 15. During this challenging time, I thank you and your members for your diligence in following the directions of Victoria’s Chief Health Officer and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Translated fact sheets will be available soon for those who prefer to read in a language other than English.

Kind regards
Barbara Cullen
Director | Small Business Victoria | Jobs, Innovation and Business Engagement
Release: 27 July 2020

‘Fast-Tracking’ Your Australian Patent Applications to Overcome Delays in Examination

26 June | Wrays
Over the past few months if not years, applicants may have observed delays in the commencement of examination after filing their patent application in Australia. These delays do not appear to be COVID-19 related. Rather, they appear to be a function of ordinary business operations. Gaining patent protection in Australia may have positive benefits to the applicant’s overall patent strategy, and therefore, applicants may be interested in utilising one of two options to “fast-track” patent examination at IP Australia. These options are: (1) expedited examination; and (2) accelerated examination.

Examination of applications may be expedited where there are special circumstances requiring an expedited process (such as commercial reasons to receive grant). The cost of requesting expedited examination is the same as requesting standard examination. Where expedited examination is requested, IP Australia will generally issue an examination report within 8 weeks. It is also possible to submit voluntary amendments to the claims at this time.

Alternatively, examination may be accelerated through the Global Patent Prosecution Highway (GPPH) route, relying on an allowed or granted patent on a corresponding application in an approved country. The cost of requesting accelerated examination does not require an additional official fee. However, additional costs associated with the preparation of supporting documentation and proposed amendments to the claims will be incurred. IP Australia usually issues an examination report within 4 to 6 weeks.

If you would like to have your application examined sooner rather than later, please contact Wrays.

IP Australia to Offer Free Extensions of Time Until 31 July 2020

23 June 2020 | Wrays
On 22 April 2020, IP Australia implemented a simplified system designed to assist IP owners meet deadlines that would otherwise be missed due to COVID-19. The system provides free extensions of time for up to three months for patents, trade marks and design matters, including extensions of time to file evidence in oppositions.
To get an extension all that is required is a one-sentence declaration that the applicant is unable to meet the deadline due to disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic. On 17 June 2020, IP Australia announced that the free extensions of time to assist customers impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak will be continued until 31 July 2020. IP Australia advised that this arrangement is temporary and its continuation is under regular review, taking into consideration the severity of the pandemic disruptions.

If you have any questions regarding an extension of time for your application, please contact your patent or trade mark attorney at Wrays.

Small business owner’s guide to creating a mental health plan in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)

9 June 2020 | Judy O’Connell : VSBC
We’re really pleased to share with you our new small business owner’s guide to creating a mental health plan in response to coronavirus (COVID-19). With many small business owners focused on trying to get their businesses through this difficult period and looking after their family and staff, they might not have prioritised their own mental health.

Creating a mental health plan is one way to make sure they have practical strategies they can call on to look after themselves and their staff as they plan for business continuity and recovery.  To develop the guide, we consulted with stakeholders including Beyond Blue, the outcome of which is a user-friendly guide that helps business owners:

  • identify stressors that might come up
  • recognise changes in themselves that signal when they might need extra support
  • plan actions they can take in response like getting accurate information about supports, including help to resolve a small business dispute or a rent dispute between a commercial tenant and landlord.

It comes with an easy to use template for small business owners to build their own tailored plan and an example plan to use as a guide point.

We have promoted across our social media sites (links in my signature block). We would appreciate it if you could consider sharing our posts to your sites where appropriate or raising awareness in other ways (e.g. linking to our news item in a stakeholder information pack or in an e-bulletin, or promoting as part of a webinar seeking to reach small business owners etc.).

If you would like more information about our resource or other supports we provide, please contact Cate Hamill on 9651 9114 or at, or visit

Kindest regards
Judy O’Connell | Victorian Small Business Commissioner

City of Melbourne | Draft Annual Plan and Budget: feedback

5 June 2020 | City of Melbourne
The draft Annual Plan and Budget 2020–21 is the final of the four-year Council Plan for 2017–21. This is a COVID-19 Recovery Budget, designed to support jobs and businesses, protect rate-payers and rebuild our local economy.

The draft Annual Plan and Budget outlines $632 million worth of programs and initiatives in the 2020–21 financial year. This includes a freeze on rates for residents and businesses, a $50 million COVID-19 Recovery Package, a major focus on capital works projects, transport and on our climate emergency response. These are designed to help support Melbourne’s community and respond to the unprecedented economic and social challenges we are facing due to COVID-19.

The Council would like to hear your feedback on what we’re planning to deliver in the year ahead. Learn more in the draft Annual Plan and Budget 2020–21 overview and have your say below.

Submissions close Wednesday 17 June.

To register to attend the Thursday 11 June (12.30pm-1.00pm) lunchtime Q& A session or to make a Submission: Read more


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VSBC | COVID-19 Tenant and Landlord Support

1 June 2020 | VSBC: Tenant and Landlord Support

The VSBC supports for tenants and landlords who have been impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic; the VSBC has developed a stakeholder toolkit.

This information includes:

  • the steps VSBC recommend tenants and landlords take
  • a proforma letter tenants can use to start the conversation with their landlord
  • how to access free mediation through VSBC to support fair tenancy negotiations under the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme
  • scenarios showing how VSBC office can help tenants and landlords that do and do not fall under the Scheme.

The VSBC’s has updated their web page for commercial tenants and landlords and have published FAQs on the Scheme, drawing on VSBC responses to the questions our team is most commonly asked at the moment.

If you would like VSBC to deliver a presentation on the Scheme or provide any further information, please contact Cate Hamill on 9651 9114 or at

Judy O’Connell | Victorian Small Business Commissioner
As updated 29 May 2020


VSBC | COVID-19 Tenant and Landlord Support – Leasing advice

VSBC advice at 29 May 2020, please check VSBC links for latest information

To ease financial hardship faced by some tenants and landlords as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Victorian Government has introduced the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme (the Scheme).

The Regulations for the Scheme have been made under the COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Act 2020. Under the Scheme, the Victorian Small Business Commission (VSBC) is providing commercial tenants and landlords with access to free mediation to support fair tenancy negotiations.

What steps can tenants and landlords take to resolve tenancy matters?

If a commercial tenant is having trouble paying rent as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the VSBC recommends:

  • tenants keep paying what they can afford
  • tenants work out their financial situation (i.e. their reduction in turnover) and
  • both tenants and landlords talk to each other to try and reach an agreement on rent relief.

It is important for tenants and landlords to communicate with each other about their situation early on and if they require further information, they can contact the VSBC. If they cannot reach an agreement or get a response from the other party, the tenant or landlord can apply for free mediation with the VSBC for help to resolve their rent dispute.

Visit the VSBC’s website to:


Scenario 1: A restaurant in Melbourne’s CBD

Due to restrictions in place to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and surrounding businesses closing, the business owner has experienced a 40 per cent downturn in trade.

Access to JobKeeper
The business owner (the tenant) is eligible for and is accessing JobKeeper payments.

Access to rent relief
The tenant writes to the landlord providing evidence they are a small or medium sized enterprise (SME) who is participating in JobKeeper and is therefore eligible for the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme (the Scheme).

The tenant requests a reduction in rent (currently $4,000 per month) to the landlord that is equivalent to the tenant’s downturn in trade (40 per cent).

The landlord responds to the tenant’s request within the required 14 days. The tenant and landlord come to an agreement for a rent reduction of $1,600 per month – equivalent to the 40 per cent downturn in the tenant’s business trade – within the period of 29 March to 29 September 2020. This is made up of $800 in rent per month being waived (the minimum 50 per cent of rent reduction that must be made up of rent waivers) and $800 per month being deferred until 29 September 2020.

The landlord and tenant agree on a payment schedule for the deferred part of the rent ($4,800) to be paid over 24 months.

The tenant’s lease was to end on 30 June 2021. Under the Regulations for the Scheme, the landlord must offer the tenant an extension of the lease equal to the length of time that rent is deferred.

As the rent is deferred for six months, the landlord offers the tenant a six-month extension. The tenant has the option to accept the six-month extension or request to negotiate further.

The tenant accepts the offer.

Scenario 2: A clothing and footwear retailer located on a suburban street 

Due to restrictions in place to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and a decrease in customers, the business owner has experienced a 50 per cent downturn in trade.

Access to JobKeeper
The business owner (the tenant) is not eligible to participate in the JobKeeper scheme.

Access to rent relief
The tenant is not eligible to participate in the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme because they are not eligible to participate in the JobKeeper scheme.

However, businesses not covered by the the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme can still access dispute resolution services from the VSBC to help resolve their rent relief dispute – at no cost.

The tenant contacts the landlord to discuss their situation and negotiate rent reduction, as guided by the Australian Government’s Mandatory Code of Conduct for commercial tenancies to support SMEs affected by coronavirus (the Code). The tenant is unable to reach agreement with the landlord and applies for mediation with the VSBC.

At mediation, the landlord and tenant were provided with a safe environment where they were able to use the Code and were supported by a mediator to discuss their differences and recognise that genuine hardship has occurred.

The parties negotiated a binding agreement, where the landlord agreed to accept a reduced rent amount and defer part of the rent for six months.

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Business Support Fund officially close on Monday 1 June

21 May 2020 | Barbara Cullen
Applications for the $500 million Business Support Fund officially close on Monday 1 June and I urge you to submit applications ahead of this cut-off date.
Since it launched, the Business Support Fund has helped tens of thousands of Victorian small businesses impacted by restrictions put in place to slow the spread of coronavirus pay important operational costs and help keep people in work.
Eligible businesses can still apply for a one-off $10,000 grant through the fund. To be eligible, businesses must already employ staff, have payroll of less than $650,000 and a turnover of more than $75,000. Full details on eligibility and how to apply are set out on the Business Support Fund webpage
Further information about the Victorian Government’s Economic Survival Package can be viewed here (PDF document). Businesses needing guidance on dealing with coronavirus can also check the Business Victoria website or call the Business Victoria hotline 13 22 15.
I understand how difficult this period is for those small businesses; the Victorian Government remains committed to helping get them to the other side of this crisis in good shape.

Barbara Cullen, Director, Small Business Victoria
Jobs, Innovation and Business Engagement |
Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions

Strong link between IP Rights and Business Profitability

14 May 2020 | WRAYS
IP Australia has recently published the results of its first longitudinal research project on the impact of IP rights on Australian business profitability as part of its annual 8th edition of the Australian Intellectual Property Report 2020. Access Report
It is no surprise to Wrays that the study finds that ownership of patents, trade marks and designs is strongly and positively associated with profitability. Read more
Mary Turonek, Principal, Wrays

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