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First shire COVID-19 support measures now available

SUPPORT measures in the first phase of South Gippsland Shire Council’s $2 million COVID-19 package are now available, following their adoption by the municipality’s administration panel at a special meeting held on Wednesday July 8, 2020.

The 10 measures, with a combined value of $1 million, include COVID-19 business, community support and community group grants, refunded and reduced business registration fees, and the waiving of one garbage charge fee increase.

The shire is also distributing Community Restarter Packs of personal protective equipment and sanitiser to local community groups to help with reopening requirements.

South Gippsland Shire Council’s administration panel chair, Julie Eisenbise said she “expect the support package will help the community and stimulate the local economy.

“The different components making up the support package have a combined aim; to support the community and business to respond to and recover from the impacts of COVID-19,” she said.

“In light of [last] Tuesday’s announcement regarding the reinstatement of Stage Three restrictions across metropolitan Melbourne, the release of the COVID-19 support package is particularly timely.

“Although the restrictions do not directly apply to residents in South Gippsland, the indirect impacts of the Melbourne restrictions will be felt across the state through reduced regional visitation.

“We know that many people, businesses and community groups have experienced – and continue to experience – hardship as a result of COVID-19,” Ms Eisenbise said.

“The support package is a way for us to provide an economic stimulus for South Gippsland through the allocation of business and community grants and to remove some of the fees that may limit regional recovery.

“We are also determined to assist community groups where we can,” she said.

“Boosting our economy is important but it is also important that we help people to safely get back to the groups, sports and clubs that they enjoy.

“Returning to regular hobbies and activities – when safe to do so – is good for the community and good for people’s mental health.”

The support package’s first phase includes $300,000 for COVID-19 Business Grants, which are open to any business with a shop front in South Gippsland that has turnover of up to $250,000, less than 20 employees and has experienced a financial downturn as a result of COVID-19.

A funding pool of $100,000 is available to community groups via the COVID-19 Community Grants, which are open to all community and not-for-profit groups in South Gippsland.

These will be run concurrently with the annual Community Grants program but have a more dedicated recovery focus.

A maximum of $1000 will be allocated per business or group in both the COVID-19 business grants and the community grants.

The $100,000 COVID-19 Community Support Grants program is available to service providers in the local community to help them deliver projects that encourage social connection or community adaptation.

Local businesses will also benefit from refunded and reduced business and registration permits and fees, such as Prescribed Accommodation fees and Food Registration. The refunds will be applied to all eligible businesses.

Many local residents will also benefit from the decision by the panel to waive a garbage charge increase linked to the State Government’s Victorian Landfill Levy.

The fee increase, being applied by the State Government to help reduce waste, would have been reflected in the municipality’s 2020/21 rates notices.

“The phase one initiatives might well be considered logical steps to recovery,” Ms Eisenbise said.

“We are reducing fees where we can and providing local business and groups with funding that can then be used in other local businesses and help to keep our economy moving. 

“Council is committed to helping our region recover from COVID-19 by working alongside communities and by supporting and building the capacity of individuals, communities, businesses and organisations,” she said.

“We are conscious that there are many other grants and initiatives that are available through State and Federal Governments. Our aim is not to replicate these initiatives but to identify areas that have not been supported,” Ms Eisenbise said.

“We want to fill in the gaps, so to speak.”

For more information on South Gippsland Shire’s COVID-19 Support Package and grant applications, visit www.southgippsland.vic.gov.au/covidsupport

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