Bushfire-affected businesses in the Cessnock, Singleton and Midcoast local government areas are among those eligible for Disaster Recovery Grants through the Rural Assistance Authority. 

Businesses in eligible areas that have suffered direct damage to premises or tools of trade from bushfire can claim up to $15,000 to help with clean-up and immediate restoration costs. 

The Hunter Business Chamber has urged businesses that have been affected by the fires to check their eligibility for assistance. 

“Results from a government bushfire impact survey show that a majority of business owners are not aware of grants and support available to help them through this crisis, with less than two per cent of small businesses surveyed in fire-affected areas applying for available assistance packages,” Policy and Public Affairs Manager Amy De Lore said.  

“The NSW and Federal Governments are providing financial assistance to those impacted, with the latest announcement from the State Government of $1 billion in recovery funding over the next two years to assist in restoring key infrastructure and support the hardest-hit local economies.” 

The Hunter and NSW Business Chambers have been collecting information on damage and disruption to businesses in bushfire-affected areas.  The NSW Business Chamber will participate in the Federal Government Small Business recovery roundtable in Canberra today and will meet with the NSW State Government to help highlight the issues on the ground and find feasible solutions for those affected. 

The NSW Business Chamber has collated information on bushfire support and assistance on its website and has opened its advice lines to bushfire-affected businesses. 

 Where to turn for help

Government assistance for business:

1. Rural Assistance Authority recovery grants of up to $15,000 for impacted small businesses and primary producers. They also offer low interest loans of up to $130,000. Call them on 1800 678 593. Information here: https://www.raa.nsw.gov.au/grants/disaster-recoverygrants/bushfires

2. The Australian Taxation Office has granted automatic exemptions from activity statements lodgements and payments for businesses in bushfire affected postcodes. For more information: https://www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/Dealing-with-disasters/In-detail/Specificdisasters/Bushfires-2019-20/

3. Lost vehicle registrations and other documents are being supported through Service NSW. Details here: https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/assistance-bushfire-affected-communities

(This fact sheet contains further details: https://www.nswbusinesschamber.com.au/NSWBC/media/GeneralMediaLibrary/BushfireAssistance-Support-7-January-2020.pdf)

Assistance from the Business Chamber:

1. We are offering free employment law advice to all bushfire affected-employers on 13 29 59. We may be able to provide support in relation to employer obligations, so that they can feel confident that you are doing the right thing by their employees. 

2. For other issues, businesses can contact our Business Hotline on 13 26 96 for additional support regarding practical or operational matters.