GRANTS from South Gippsland Shire Council are still available to eligible community groups and service providers through the municipality’s COVID-19 Community Support Package.
About a quarter of the $2 million-worth of the COVID-19 support funding set aside by the council’s administration panel to help community groups and local small businesses through the pandemic remains unallocated to date.
The shire’s administration panel received an update on the progress of the COVID-19 Community Support Package at the virtual ordinary council meeting held on Wednesday October 28. 2020.
Eight initiatives, including two stages of business grants, are now complete and a further nine are currently in progress.
The update noted that $83,000 in community grants had been awarded, which includes support for 30 community groups and 14 service providers.
The package has given $133,000 in business grants including support for businesses with a shop front and for tourism businesses, while 366 businesses are benefiting from credited or refunded business registration fees.
Street trading permits are being waived until July 31, 2021.
The COVID-19 support package has also seen a total of 829 free flu vaccinations provided.
Administration panel chair Julie Eisenbise said she and her fellow administrators were pleased with how the package was progressing.
“The aim of the Community Support Package is to provide meaningful assistance to our community,” she said.
“We understand that COVID-19 has affected everyone in our community in some way but we also acknowledge that the impacts have been disproportionate.
“Some people and some businesses will be doing it tougher than others,” Ms Eisenbise said.
“What we have been doing – and what we will continue to do – is to work with the resources we have to try and help those that need it most and be flexible with how we respond.”
At last week’s meeting the panel also endorsed funding of $126,000 for recreation reserve annual maintenance grants, a new grant stream for home-based businesses, and $40,000 of funding to encourage people to shop locally in South Gippsland.
Under the COVID-19 restrictions, all community sport was cancelled during the winter season, which has resulted in financial challenges for recreation reserve committees.
The committees were faced with the possibility of having to charge clubs for facilities that they were unable to use or to drastically reduce maintenance works.
The one-off increase to the existing maintenance grants provided by the council to recreation reserve committees will help to ensure sporting facilities can continue to be maintained to their usual high standard and that sporting clubs are not adversely affected.
The Shop Local initiatives include a television commercial that will be featured on Gippsland stations to encourage people to continue to shop locally, and updated advertising will continue into the new year.
“The council is determined to do what we can to match the enthusiasm of the local community for supporting local businesses at this difficult time, Ms Eisenbise said.
“Many local residents are doing what they can to support local traders through what they purchase and how they direct their expenditure,” she said.
“We want to encourage this to continue both in the lead-up to Christmas and beyond, which will be vitally important for local traders.”
The COVID-19 Community Support Package’s current balance is $504,390. For more information on the COVID-19 package and on how to apply for grants, visit www.southgippsland.vic.gov.au/covidsupport.