Coronavirus (COVID-19) reopening roadmap: Metro Melbourne

28 Sept 2020 | Victorian Government

Subject to public health advice and “trigger points” being met, some restrictions are being eased across Victoria. Metropolitan Melbourne has a specific reopening roadmap, relating to how many active coronavirus (COVID-19) cases are in the community and public health advice.
Read more
Do you live in Regional Victoria? View the Regional Victoria reopening roadmap.

New COVIDSafe Plan is now live

27 Sep 2020 | Barbara Cullen, Director Small Business Victoria

The Victorian Government has released roadmaps for reopening for how we live and work in both metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria, providing a long-term plan for our path out of restrictions and into COVID Normal.

As part of our plans to support industry to safely reopen and get Victorians back to work, the Victorian Government has developed a COVIDSafe Plan (PDF file) to reduce the risk of introduction and spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the workplace. Every Victorian business that is open for on-site operations must have a COVIDSafe Plan.

To ensure compliance, random spot checks are already underway in metropolitan Melbourne and will commence in regional Victoria from 29 September 2020.

If you own a business in a high-risk industry, you must have a High Risk COVIDSafe Plan.

High-risk industries include: construction, warehousing and distribution, supermarket and medical distribution centres, abattoirs and meat processing facilities.

A COVIDSafe Plan is one of the ways you can help prevent and manage outbreaks of coronavirus (COVID-19) at your workplace and in your community.

Business owners in Victoria are being asked to play their part in slowing the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) by developing a COVIDSafe Plan and adhering to other workplace requirements. Please share this messaging with your stakeholders and encourage them to communicate the important need for businesses to have a COVIDSafe Plan in place.

The Victorian Government is providing a range of resources and guidelines to support businesses to reopen safely. Please stay up-to-date on the latest advice for creating a COVIDSafe workplace at Business Victoria.

The Victorian Government has also announced a new $3 billion support package to help businesses survive and keep Victorians in jobs as we progress along the roadmap to COVID Normal. This includes cash grants, tax relief and cashflow support that will be delivered to Victorian businesses that have been most affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions.

For more information on the support available to Victorian businesses and how to apply, please visit Business Victoria.

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

Supporting Victorian Businesses On Our Road To COVID Normal (full)

13 Sep 2020 | Victorian State Government

A massive new support package will see $3 billion in cash grants, tax relief and cashflow support delivered to Victorian businesses as we work together to drive coronavirus cases down and progress along our roadmap to COVID Normal.
Premier Daniel Andrews today announced the multi-billion package to help businesses survive and keep Victorians in jobs – taking the Government’s total business support to over $6 billion.

Over $1.1 billion in cash grants will support small and medium sized businesses that are most affected by coronavirus restrictions including $822 million as part of the third round of the Business Support Fund. Around 75,000 eligible businesses with payrolls up to $10 million will receive grants of $10,000, $15,000 or $20,000 depending on their size. More than 108,000 businesses have already shared in $1.47 billion from the first two rounds of Business Support Fund grants.

Victoria’s hospitality businesses are the bedrock of our economy, but right now, many are going through a tough time. To support our bars, restaurants, pubs, clubs, hotels and reception centres, the Government will establish a $251 million dedicated Licenced Venue Fund, with grants of between $10,000 and $30,000 for licenced venues of all shapes and sizes. The Government is also providing further relief by waiving liquor license fees for 2021.

Trips to Victoria’s ski fields haven’t been possible for thousands of families this year, so the Government will give businesses in our alpine resorts the support they need with grants of up to $20,000 to help cover their resort fees, saving them a combined $4.3 million.

The Government will also partner with local business groups and chambers of commerce, with grants of up to $20,000 so they can help their members adapt and find their feet in a COVID Normal world.

To date, almost 20,000 Victorian businesses have received payroll tax refunds in the last financial year worth more than $540 million – and thousands more received a full waiver. To provide a much needed $1.7 billion cashflow boost for businesses, the Government will now defer payroll tax for businesses with payrolls up to $10 million for the full 2020-21 financial year.

Building on that support, the Government will also provide a further $137 million in waivers and deferrals of charges including liquor licence fees, the congestion levy and increases to the landfill levy. The 50 per cent stamp duty discount for commercial and industrial property across all of regional Victoria will be brought forward to 1 January 2021 and the Vacant Residential Land Tax will be waived for propertoes that are vacant in 2020.

Even after we reach COVID Normal, many businesses will be required to change the way they do things, so we can keep cases low and protect our hard-won gains. That’s why the Government will invest $44 million to equip businesses with the support they need to thrive under a COVID Normal. It includes $20 million for small businesses to access off-the-shelf digital programs such as Shopify or Squareonline, training and workshops designed to help businesses adapt to online operations.

Victoria is home to some of the best fresh food, wine, galleries and homewares in the world – but the pandemic has hit many small producers hard. The Government has already rolled out Click for Vic, a new website and campaign aimed at encouraging Victorians to support these hard-working local businesses. Already the website has generated 211,000 leads to businesses featured – now we’ll boost that effort with $8.5 million for more marketing and advertising, and expanding the digital platform and its partnerships with third-party e-commerce providers to sell these strengths far and wide.

Exports are vital to Victoria’s economy – contributing 12 per cent to Victoria’s GSP and 330,000 Victorian jobs. That’s why we’re launching a $15.7 million export recovery package to address logistics and supply chain issues caused by the pandemic, and establish new export channels. Businesses will be connected to international markets through virtual trade missions as well as assistance to adapt their export strategies to respond to the rapidly changing global market.

Additional details about support for businesses will be made available at www.business.vic.gov.au

 

Additional $10 Million in Support for Melbourne CBD Businesses

20 August 2020 | City of Melbourne

We recognise these are tough times, and that local businesses are facing unique challenges during COVID-19. In response the City of Melbourne has launched a local economic package to support city businesses, including grants, rent and rate relief. They are working with the Victorian Government to roll out an additional $10 million in support for CBD businesses, including $8 million in grants for small business transformation, plus $2 million in mentoring and business support services.

Grant applications are now open and will close 11.59pm Thursday 3 September.  APPLY HERE

Transformation grants of up to $5000 are now available for small businesses impacted by COVID-19 and located in the CBD (3000), Southbank (3006), Docklands (3008) and World Trade Centre (3005) postcodes. Grants are open to all sectors, excluding hospitality which are eligible for the Victorian Government’s CBD small hospitality grant, also open now.

Small business transformation grants are available through the City of Melbourne as part of the Victorian Government’s $534 million business support package, which includes $20 million for CBD business support.

If you’re a business owner or employee and need information or support, you can contact The City of Melbourne COVID-19 Business Concierge Hotline on 9658 9658 (press 1 for business)

For FAQ and latest information see:
https://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/business/grants-tenders/Pages/small-business-transformation-grants.aspx

 

MBN | Message to members and Community

7 August 2020 | Wendi Dawson: President, Melbourne Business Network

Dear MBN Members, Friends and Community,

As we commence the Stage 4 restrictions and a 6-week lockdown across Melbourne, there is no doubt a mixture of emotions that we are all experiencing. Some businesses have been able to find a way to thrive during this time. Sadly, many others are facing varying degrees of uncertainty, stress, and anxiety.

While there is no easy way to navigate this period, the Melbourne Business Network leadership team and I would like you to know that we are still working hard to be of service to all of you.

Whether it’s bringing you relevant content through our website, social media (especially LinkedIn) or via our communications and business-critical webinars – many of which are complimentary for members.

Please take note of the links, providing information that can assist you during this time, and much more information we have made available to you via the MBN website:  See: Business Resources Links | Upcoming Webinars/Events

The MBN team will always do what we can to assist and ensure that you stay connected. We are here for you. Reach out to us for support if you need. My details are below or you can contact Executive Officer, Anita Bowtell, at anita.bowtell@melbournebusinessnetwork.org.au

Looking forward to seeing you online. Until then, stay safe and well.

Kind regards,

Wendi Dawson
President, Melbourne Business Network
president@melbournebusinessnetwork.org.au

JobKeeper Extension beyond 28 September 2020

21 July | Australian Government: Treasury

On 21 July, the Government announced it is extending the JobKeeper Payment until 28 March 2021 and is targeting support to those organisations which continue to be significantly impacted by the Coronavirus. From 28 September 2020, eligibility for the JobKeeper Payment will be based on actual turnover in the relevant periods, the payment will be stepped down and paid at two rates.

Information about the operation of the existing JobKeeper Payment until 27 September 2020 is available on the ATO website.

Business eligibility

From 28 September 2020, organisations seeking to claim JobKeeper payments will be required to reassess their eligibility for the JobKeeper extension with reference to their actual turnover in the September quarter 2020. Organisations will need to demonstrate that they have met the relevant continuing decline in turnover test to be eligible for JobKeeper from 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021.

Organisations will need to further reassess their eligibility in January 2021 for the period from 4 January to 28 March 2021. Organisations will need to demonstrate that they have met the relevant continuing decline in turnover test in December quarter to remain eligible for the March 2021 quarter.

JobKeeper payment rates

The JobKeeper payment rate is to be reduced and paid at two rates:

  • From 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021, the payment rate will be $1,200 per fortnight for all eligible employees who, in the four weeks before the reference period, were working in the business for 20 hours or more a week on average and for business participants who were actively engaged in the business for more than 20 hours per week, and $750 per fortnight for employees who were working in the business for less than 20 hours a week on average and business participants who were actively engaged in the business less than 20 hours per week in the same period.
  • From 3 August the relevant employment date moved from 1 March, 2020 to 1 July 2020.
    From 4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021, the payment rate will be $1,000 per fortnight for all eligible employees who in the four weeks before the reference period were working for 20 hours or more a week on average and for business participants who were actively engaged in the business for more than 20 hours per week, and $650 per fortnight for employees who were working for less than 20 hours a week on average and business participants who were actively engaged in the business for less than 20 hours per week in the same period.

For Fact Sheet and Updates: https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus/jobkeeper/extension

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.