Bushfire and drought support for Australian businesses
21 January 2020
At BDO our thoughts go out to those in our communities who have been directly affected by the devastating bushfires and the continuing drought taking place across large parts of our country.
Whether directly impacted by the disaster, or indirectly affected by the knock-on effects in the supply chain, thousands of Australian businesses are undoubtedly facing tough operating conditions at the moment, and uncertain financial futures.
A large number of resources have been developed by different agencies to help people during this time of crisis.
For those of you who need assistance:
- Insurance: If you have been impacted by fire, contact your insurer or the agencies below for assistance with the claims process. If you are not needing to make a claim, it is timely to check all of the terms and conditions of your policies – both personal and business.
- Insurance Council of Australia: 1300 728 228 or visit www.insurancecouncil.com.au
- The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (dedicated bushfire disaster support hotline): 1800 931 678
- Employee benefits: This is an important time to understand what your employees’ entitlements are in terms of leave, benefits, and workplace health and safety. The Fair Work Ombudsman has created a reference guide in relation to the bushfires.
- Mental health: Natural disasters can place great strain on people’s mental health – check in with your family, your employees, your fellow business owners and community members. Support is available 24/7 via services such as Beyond Blue and Lifeline.
- Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636
- Lifeline: 13 11 14
- Grants and loans: Depending on your state/territory, there are a number of grants and loans available. Refer to these Australian Government websites:
- Cash flow and business continuity: Your business may be affected by damage to trading premises or farming infrastructure and livestock, or by a downturn in customers or restricted supply of goods for sale. There will be both short- and long-term impacts on your cashflow to navigate, but there are services available to help you trade through these difficult times. Financial Counselling Australia offers confidential and free support over the phone, and there is a dedicated rural financial counselling service for primary producers and related small businesses affected by the bushfires and drought. You can also contact your credit provider to request a hardship variation.
- Operating expenses: In times of financial hardship, you may be able to access alternative or delayed payment options for expenses such as utilities, motor vehicle stamp duty (on vehicles written off in the disaster), company fees (e.g. ASIC), or tax lodgements and payments. Contact your service providers to ask the question, or contact the relevant ombudsman.
For those of you not directly impacted and wondering how to help, financial assistance is the most effective way to help right now, whether it is through donations or by buying from businesses in the regions affected.
Many worthy organisations are involved in the response, relief and recovery effort and are accepting donations or volunteers, among them State Rural Fire Services, the Australian Red Cross, St Vincent de Paul Society (Vinnies) and wildlife organisations.
From everyone at BDO – we thank all those involved in firefighting, relief and recovery efforts, and we extend our support to those who have been affected.