Circuit Breaker Action Business Support Package

23 February 2021 | Business Victoria

Victoria’s business community has been greatly impacted by the global pandemic.
To help businesses recover, the Victorian Government has announced a $143 million package to support eligible businesses impacted by the circuit breaker action to limit the spread of COVID-19.

This is a package of cash grants and direct payments to small businesses who were most impacted by the circuit breaker action, including businesses in hospitality, tourism, events, and selected retail.

The package is expected to help more than 50,000 Victorian businesses. These businesses include restaurants, florists, accommodation providers, musicians and performers, who incurred costs, such as the loss of perishable goods, flowers, cancellation fees and charges, because of the necessary public health actions.

It includes four initiatives to support small businesses, including sole traders.

The new $92 million Business Costs Assistance Program offers grants of $2000 for eligible businesses and sole traders in the most impacted sectors of hospitality, food wholesaling, tourism, events, and selected retail. Applications are open and will close on Tuesday 16 March 2021.

A $24.9 million injection to the Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund will give previous eligible recipients of this grant a $3000 one-off, per premises payment.

The $16.2 million Victorian Accommodation Support Program will assist accommodation providers that had bookings cancelled between Friday 12 February and Wednesday 17 February, due to the circuit breaker action.

The Victorian Accommodation Support Program will open soon. Registrations of interest are now open.

A further $10 million investment will expand and build on the success of the Regional Travel Voucher Scheme.  There will be a new Melbourne Travel Voucher Scheme offering 40,000 vouchers for greater Melbourne, and an additional 10,000 vouchers to support travel in regional Victoria.  This brings the total number of vouchers offered in Victoria to 200,000.

Further details on how to access the programs are available on the Business Victoria website:

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

Welcome to 2021! Your Business Recovery is our Focus.

19 Jan 2021 | MBN President’s Welcome to 2021

2021 is here and we know you would like to accelerate the profits, cash flows and quality leads in your business.  The Melbourne Business Network (MBN) has some important news that will impact you and your business.

The Melbourne Business Network is committed to the recovery of the Victorian economy. Through the Business Chambers and Trader Groups Program supported by the Victorian State Government, the MBN was successful in our proposal submission to create tools and a portal that will provide subject matter expertise and insights as well as drive connectivity between businesses to support their recovery.

Firstly, the MBN is investing in a business assessment tool. We listened to members who asked for a tool that assisted in reviewing all aspects of their business. A tool that allows you to self-assess areas that need attention. This will empower each business to prioritise what help they need to get their businesses back up and running. At the end of the assessment, they will know what their focus should be.

Secondly, we are investing in a new member portal. Here members will be able to engage with other businesses, create a profile to showcase their own business, and get access to free and ultimately paid content.

After businesses use the assessment tool, their results will drive them to seek answers in areas that need their attention over the next 12 months. The platform is also a social learning management system (LMS). This means that businesses will be able to collaborate and create partnerships with other members whilst working on their businesses.

This is such an exciting project and is scheduled for release by the end of February. We look forward to better supporting you and being a force in the recovery of businesses in Melbourne and Victoria.

Current MBN members will be emailed directly over the coming days about these exciting developments. To become a member Join Now

Wendi Dawson

Further measures to protect Victoria – 20 December 2020

20 December 2020 | Business Victoria

From 11:59pm 20 December, the Greater Sydney area and the Central Coast will be designated as a ‘red zone’. That means people who live in these communities, or have visited these communities since 11 December 2020, cannot enter Victoria.

Anyone from this zone found trying to enter Victoria in breach of this order will be subject to 14-day mandatory hotel quarantine.

Victorians who have recently visited or are currently in Greater Sydney and the Central Coast, other than those in the Northern Beaches area, will be given until 11:59 Monday 21 December to return home.

The rest of regional New South Wales remains a green zone, but residents in these areas will still need to apply for and receive a valid permit to enter Victoria.

Those living in local government areas along the border will not need a permit but will instead be able to use their driver’s license as a passport to travel between Victoria and New South Wales.

For more information, see the Premier’s media release.

It’s critical that every Victorian business continues to operate in a COVIDSafe way to help protect our community.
Please share these COVIDSafe messages with your networks:

  • Every Victorian business that is open must have a COVIDSafe Plan
  • Face masks are strongly recommended and must be carried at all times when outside the home
  • Keep records and act quickly if workers become unwell
  • Continue to practise good hygiene and physical distancing
  • Limit the number of people, workers who are in close contact where possible.

For more information, please visit the Coronavirus website or call the Business Victoria hotline on 13 22 15.

Kind regards

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

COVIDSafe Summer restrictions – 6 December 2020

7 Dec 2020 | State Government of Victoria

From 11:59pm on Sunday, 6 December 2020 Victoria moves to COVIDSafe Summer restrictions.
See: for latest details

In Summary: this means that:

  • You must carry a face mask with you when you leave home.
  • Wearing a face mask is only mandatory on public transport, while in taxis or ride share vehicles, or when going to large retail venues, including shopping centres, supermarkets and department stores.
  • Wearing a face mask is strongly recommended indoors and outdoors when you can’t keep 1.5 metres distance from other people.
  • You can have up to 30 visitors to your home per day. There is no limit on the number of households those people come from. Front and backyards are considered part of the home.
  • Up to 100 people can meet outdoors in a public place. There is no limit on the number of households those people come from.
  • Record keeping continues to be an important tool for helping Victoria to stay safe and stay open. Businesses that are required to record the details of visitors should use electronic record keeping or QR codes. The Victorian Government has a free QR code service.
  • Restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs can open for seated and unseated service. They must use electronic record keeping and apply the two square metre rule to ensure that customers have enough room to keep 1.5 metres between themselves and others. There are no other limits on the number of customers. Venues can have up to 25 people before the two square metre rule needs to be applied.
  • Weddings, funerals and religious gatherings can occur with no limits on the number of guests or attendees. To ensure people can keep 1.5 metres distance the venue must apply the two square metre rule. If a service is conducted in a private home, the private gathering limit applies (30 visitors).
  • Dance floors can reopen in bars and pubs as well as at weddings. The four-square metre rule must be applied to limit the number of people on the dance floor and there can only be up to 50 people on the dancefloor at one time, if space allows.
  • There are also changes to the number of people allowed at community facilities such as libraries, sporting facilities (such as gyms), and entertainment facilities (such as cinemas).


Registrations now open for the Small Business Digital Adaptation Program

17 November | Business Victoria

The Small Business Digital Adaptation Program will allow eligible businesses to trial and then receive access to digital products, tools and training they can use to build digital capability in their day-to-day operations.

Businesses will be able to register and trial selected digital products from suppliers who have partnered with the Victorian Government, then choose one of these products to purchase. Products currently available to businesses through this program include website, e-commerce, finance and digital business management tools. The program also offers free digital adaptation training and workshops to help registered businesses adopt and implement online tools in their business.

Before submitting an application, please check eligibility and read the program guidelines and the frequently asked questions (FAQs).



Victoria on track to reach the Last Step in the roadmap towards reopening on 22 November

9 Nov 2020 | Barbara Cullen – Director, Small Business Victoria

Premier Daniel Andrews has announced the further easing of restrictions from 11.59pm on Sunday 8 November with Victoria on track to reach the Last Step in the roadmap towards reopening on 22 November. Following is an overview of the key changes:

Metropolitan Melbourne to join regional Victoria on roadmap towards reopening
From 11:59pm on Sunday 8 November 2020:

  • The boundary between Melbourne and regional Victoria will come down.
  • The 25-kilometre limit will no longer be in place.
  • The rules that currently apply to regional Victoria will apply to the whole state – wherever you live.

What this means – changes to how we live and work in metropolitan Melbourne
From 11:59pm on Sunday 8 November:

  • Visits to the home will be relaxed a little. Households can still only have a maximum of two people (and their dependents) to visit per day, but those two people don’t need to be from the same household, and they will be able to come at different times.
  • Restaurants, pubs and cafes will be able to host up to 40 customers indoors and 70 outdoors.
  • Gyms and indoor sporting facilities can open with up to 20.
  • Indoor sport for those 18 and under can recommence.
  • Indoor religious ceremonies will be increased to 20, with 50 allowed outside. The same numbers will apply to funerals, but there’s no change to weddings – for now.
  • Community spaces like libraries or RSL clubs and neighbourhood houses can have up to 20 indoors, with groups of up to ten.
  • Accommodation will be able to open, with restrictions.

Additional changes to how we live and work across Victoria
From 11:59pm on Sunday 8 November:

  • Indoor entertainment venues will be able to open with 20 people per space – movie theatres, galleries, museums and music halls will now be able to open.
  • The rules around visiting aged care and hospitals will also be relaxed. Instead of a specific number of visitors – a household will be able to visit together. Once per day and limited to two hours.
  • Those under 16 will also be able to visit hospitals and the time limit for partners visiting maternity wards will no longer exist. Please note however, that individual hospitals and facilities may continue to have their own policies, reflecting the needs of their patients and whatever the virus might be doing in the community.
  • The State of Emergency will be extended until 6 December to allow the Chief Health Officer’s directions to remain in force.
  • The State of Disaster will not be renewed.

Key restrictions remaining in place at this time

  • If you can work from home, you must work from home.
  • A fitted face mask must be worn in public at all times (with specified exceptions).

Looking ahead – Victoria’s Last Step in the roadmap towards reopening
From 22 November, and in line with the public health advice, Victoria is on track to reach the Last Step in the roadmap towards reopening. Some key changes include:

  • Private gatherings will be able to increase to 10 people.
  • Gatherings for religious services, weddings and funerals will increase.
  • Hospitality venues will be able to have up to 100 indoors, 200 outside.
  • There will also be increases for other indoor venues like cinemas and gyms and galleries.

Stay safe, stay open – everyone has a role

  • Keep wearing a mask.
  • Keep maintaining your distance.
  • If you have symptoms, you must get tested immediately and stay home.

For a detailed summary of the restrictions for the Third Step and Last Step of the roadmap, access Victoria’s roadmap for reopening. Please note, all patron numbers are subject to strict density limits as outlined in the relevant sector guidance.

A range of templates, questionnaires, signage and posters is now also available to assist employers to promote a COVIDSafe workplace.
A reminder that every business that is open in Victoria must have a COVIDSafe Plan.

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

New fact sheet on extended supports for Victoria’s small business tenants

26 Oct 2020 | Victorian Small Business Commission

Following the Victorian Government’s changes to extend the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme until the end of this year, the Victorian Small Business Commission has developed a new fact sheet for tenants (click here).

The fact sheet offers leasing advice, responses to frequently asked questions, a scenario showing what rent relief negotiations can look like and a summary of the important changes that apply, including the following:

  • For rent relief requested for 29 September 2020 to 31 December 2020, a landlord is only required to offer rent relief from the date their tenant makes a written application to them during this period, supplying all of the required information (click here).
  • Rent relief must, at a minimum, be in proportion to an eligible tenant’s fall in turnover.

We would really appreciate you sharing this resource among the small business owners in your network.

Our website has a dedicated page with more information about the Scheme (click here), which gives access to:
the process for tenants and landlords

  • a letter that tenants can use to request rent relief (they just need to fill in the highlighted parts – click here to download)
  • information on how to apply for free mediation to resolve a rent relief dispute
  • responses to questions about the extended Scheme that we’re often asked.

Judy O’Connell
Victorian Small Business Commissioner

Changes to restrictions in Melbourne and Regional Victoria

20 Oct 2020 | Business Victoria
(Information as distributed  – State Government of Victoria 20/10/2020)

From Sunday 11:59pm on 18 October 2020 changes are being made to restrictions in both metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria.

In metropolitan Melbourne, these changes will see thousands more Victorians get back to work – particularly those who work outside. That includes tradespeople undertaking outdoor maintenance and repair work, mobile pet groomers and outdoor photographers. Outdoor real estate auctions will also be able to take place with up to 10 people (plus required staff), and hairdressers will be able to reopen with strict safety protocols in place.

In regional Victoria, more people will be allowed in restaurants and cafes. You can have up to 70 people outdoors (1 person per 2 square metres) and up to 10 people per indoor space (1 person per 4 square metres) with a maximum of 40 people per venue indoors. Indoor spaces must be separated by permanent structures (should reach floor to ceiling or be at least 2.1 metres high) or be a discrete area of the premises. Businesses in metropolitan Melbourne must continue to ensure that people do not eat-in.

Looking ahead, metropolitan Melbourne is scheduled to take the rest of the Third Step on our roadmap for reopening at 11.59pm on Sunday 1 November, subject to advice of the Victoria’s Chief Health Officer. This is a timeline that is based on the current advice of our public health team. The Third Step will be a significant milestone for Victorian businesses that will see retail, hospitality and personal care services open again.

For more information on Victoria’s roadmap for reopening, industry restriction levels and our path out of restrictions and into COVID Normal, visit

Budget assistance for businesses recovering from the pandemic

16 Oct 2020 | Australian Government –

The 2020-21 Budget includes a range of programs to help businesses recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and boost business confidence.  See this link to for a range of new initiatives covering:

  • Jobmaker Hiring Credit
  • Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements wage subsidy
  • Tax concessions
  • Loss carry back (for corporate entities)
  • FBT and other tax concessions
  • Digital business plan
  • Mental health
  • Women in business
  • Insolvency reforms





Extended supports for Victoria’s commercial tenants and landlords

5 Oct 2020 | Judy O’Connell – Victorian Small Business Commissioner

I am pleased to share with you changes that the Victorian Government has made to extend the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme (the Scheme) until the end of this year.  Under these changes, an eligible tenant who is seeking rent relief must apply to their landlord in writing with evidence that they are eligible for the Scheme as soon as possible. This is important as rent relief is only available from the date a tenant applies between 29 September 2020 and 31 December 2020.

The VSBC has published a news item with this important information.  See  extended-supports-for-victorias-commercial-tenants-and-landlords

Further changes include the following:

  • Commercial landlords will be required to provide rent relief in proportion to the fall in turnover being experienced by eligible tenants from the date a tenant makes a written application to their landlord within the period 29 September 2020 to 31 December 2020 (for example, if a tenant’s turnover has fallen by 40 per cent, the required rent relief is at least 40 per cent of the tenant’s current rent, with at least 50 per cent of the rent relief offered made up of a rent waiver).
  • Sole traders will be eligible for the Scheme.
  • Tenants can now apply to us for a binding order for rent relief if their landlord fails to respond to us or does not engage in mediation in good faith.
  • The VSBC will keep offering free mediation to tenants and landlords who cannot reach an agreement.

Agreements made before 29 September 2020 still apply. If a tenant seeks further rent relief for the period 29 September 2020 to 31 December 2020, then they will need to make a further request to their landlord providing the required information under the extended Scheme.

Judy O’Connell
Victorian Small Business Commissioner
VSBC publication of 2 October 2020