$1m milestone for bushfire affected communities

The Business Council’s BizRebuild initiative will reach a milestone this weekend handing out one million dollars in direct assistance to bushfire ravaged communities since the beginning of the year.

BizRebuild’s voucher program has helped more than 770 businesses and their workers stay afloat, keep people employed and local economies ticking over, Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said.

“Giving businesses the chance to re-tool and re-equip themselves quickly means they can get back to work quickly and keep workers in jobs.

BizRebuild chair Sir Peter Cosgrove said the program was crucial to keeping local communities strong as they deal with the double blow caused by this year’s bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Whether it is bushfires or global pandemics, we need businesses to pull through and keep communities alive and that’s why building resilience is absolutely crucial. In the wake of bushfires it was clear we needed to solve the immediate problem of cash flow, so that’s exactly what we did,” Sir Peter said.

CEO of Harvey Norman and BizRebuild advisory committee member, Katie Page, is on the ground in Tumut this weekend, seeing first-hand the impact on the community and the progress of a new pop-up Harvey Norman store for locals.

“Harvey Norman has been proud to support BizRebuild because we know that business is crucial to sustaining resilient local communities,” Ms Page said.

For local Batlow business owner David McEwan the impact has been extraordinary. During the fires his local café was cut off from power costing him thousands in lost stock made worse by a decline in visitors.

“The bushfire was tough on our business, made worse by corona restrictions because we couldn't welcome people to our beautiful town. This voucher will help us meet with our accountant to reassess our finances and make sure we come out of this stronger so we can continue to play a role in this community. Thank you BizRebuild,” Mr McEwan said.

Eligible businesses can claim either a $2,000 re-tooling voucher to replace tools and equipment lost in the bushfire, or a $500 service voucher to cover the cost of important local advisory services such as accounting or legal advice.

To further assist with immediate relief efforts, BizRebuild has sent ‘flying squads’ of business recovery, financial, mental health and other experts into many affected communities to help locals plan for their recovery.

BizRebuild is designed to run for five years specifically to help businesses recover to create jobs, rebuild stronger communities and restore thriving local economies. On top of immediate on the ground relief, a number of recovery and rebuilding projects are underway to build and maintain long-term resilience.

Eligible businesses who are looking for assistance can email voucher@bca.com.au. To learn more visit: www.bizrebuild.com.au.