Victorian Government’s new $534 million Business Support Package

13 July 2020 | Business Victoria
The Victorian Government has launched a new $534 million Business Support Package, providing more support to help businesses and workers through to the other side of the coronavirus pandemic.

The new package includes:

  • The expanded Business Support Fund providing more than 80,000 eligible businesses with a new $5,000 grant to support them through the renewed restrictions. This grant was previously made available to the 2 postcodes linked to outbreaks.  It will now apply to all areas under Stage 3 restrictions.
  • A $30 million dedicated fund for Victoria’s night-time economy to support the hardest hit businesses in hospitality.
  • A $26 million in mental health support will ensure Victorians dealing with the compounding challenges of running a small business can get the support they need as they navigate their way through the crisis.
  • A $10 million business mentoring program, pairing small business owners with experienced professionals who can help them navigate their way through the crisis.
  • A $40 million capped fund for regional tourism businesses to cover the costs of refunds, as well as marketing campaigns to boost region to region visitation while Melbourne is locked down. Eligible operators will be able to claim up to $225 per night for up to five nights for each and every room cancelled due to the return of Stage 3 restrictions, provided they refund the booking in full.
  • A $20 million fund to support small businesses in Melbourne’s CBD that are faced with a large and sustained shock to their trading environments.

Businesses will also benefit from an extended and expanded payroll tax deferral. Eligible businesses with payrolls up to $10 million can defer their liabilities for the first half of the 2020/21 financial year.

For more information and for registrations of interest, please visit the Business Victoria website.
Further details on how to apply will be provided over the coming days – see website

Barbara Cullen
Director | Small Business Victoria | Jobs, Innovation and Business Engagement

Business Victoria | COVID-19 Medical Equipment and PPE Supplier Directories.

6 July | Business Victoria
An issue raised by many as businesses emerge from restrictions is the equipment businesses need to help staff and customers address new operating requirements, including personal protective equipment (PPE). The attached supplier directories have been uploaded to a new page on the Business Victoria website Coronavirus (COVID-19) Medical Equipment and PPE Supplier Directories. Such supplies include: Hand Sanitiser, Material Garments/Gowns, Beds and Bottles.
Businesses can use these directories to find medical equipment and PPE. Businesses supplying products in the categories can email their interest in appearing on future directories.
See: https://www.business.vic.gov.au/disputes-disasters-and-succession-planning/coronavirus-covid-19/medical-ppe-supplier-directories

Barbara Cullen 
Director | Small Business Victoria | Jobs, Innovation and Business Engagement

 

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.

EXPEDITED 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.

ACCELERATED EXAMINATION VIA THE GPPH
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 cate.hamill@vsbc.vic.gov.au, or visit www.vsbc.vic.gov.au.

Kindest regards
Judy O’Connell | Victorian Small Business Commissioner

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 https://www.vsbc.vic.gov.au/your-rights-and-responsibilities/retail-tenants-and-landlords/ 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 cate.hamill@vsbc.vic.gov.au.

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

 

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 business.vic.gov.au/businesssupportfund.
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 business.vic.gov.au 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

Commercial tenancy relief scheme – COVID-19 Update

17 April 2020 | VSBC
On 15 April 2020, the Victorian Government announced details of a commercial tenancy relief scheme to alleviate financial hardship faced by tenants and landlords as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19). For commercial tenants and landlords, the scheme will provide the following support:

  • a six-month moratorium on commercial tenancy evictions for the non-payment of rent for small to medium enterprises with an annual turnover under $50 million that have experienced a minimum 30 per cent reduction in turnover due to coronavirus (COVID-19), commencing from 29 March 2020
  • a freeze on rent increases during the moratorium for commercial tenants
  • a rental payment waiver or deferral proportionate to commercial tenants’ income reduction due to coronavirus (COVID-19), to be negotiated between the tenant and landlord
  • a mediation service for commercial tenants and landlords to support fair tenancy negotiations.

See the full Victorian Small Business Commission information release