Ms VAGHELA (Western Metropolitan) (14:05): My constituency question is directed to the Minister for Local Government and Minister for Small Business, the Honourable Adem Somyurek. My question relates to the minister’s portfolio responsibility for small business. As a result of the recent COVID-19 health crisis, the measures that have been put in place due to public health concerns have left a lot of businesses struggling to cope. Most small businesses have reported a significant drop in revenue. Some have been able to quickly adapt to the changed circumstances, but for others adaptation options are limited. Even businesses which are in high demand and can continue to offer their traditional services are feeling the effects. In these difficult times any support for businesses can be significant. My question to the minister is: can the minister outline the relief and support measures that have been put in place for commercial tenancies that would be beneficial for the businesses and investors in my area of Western Metropolitan Region?
Thank you for your question regarding Victorian Government relief and support measures for commercial tenancies in the Western Metropolitan Region.
The Victorian Government is committed to ensuring our sole traders, micro- businesses and SMEs impacted by ongoing restrictions have access to the support they need to prepare for COVID Normal through cash grants, tax relief, skills programs, and mentoring and wellbeing assistance.
The Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme provides a valuable framework to help small to medium commercial tenants and landlords negotiate rent relief. The Victorian Government has extended the scheme to 31 December 2020 to provide businesses with certainty at this time. Both tenants and landlords are able to access free advice and mediation through the Victorian Small Business Commission to help them reach agreements on their leases – businesses can access support by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Business Recovery and Resilience Mentoring program and access to off the shelf digital products are helping businesses adapt their operations to the online environment and prepare them for new market conditions. We have also invested $26 million in the Wellbeing and Mental Health Support for Victorian Business program to help Victorians deal with the challenges of running a business through the crisis.
Small Business Victoria is continuing to offer support to businesses through capability building workshops, the virtual Small Business Bus and mentoring program that are available free of charge. The Business Victoria digital channels provide current COVID-19 business information including the Business Victoria Update free newsletter for businesses to stay informed of new support, grant applications and announcements as they are released.