The continuing aftermath of the bushfires is truly terrible with the profound human tragedy seeing many homes, businesses, and indeed lives lost.

We pass on our deepest sympathies to those impacted and hope your strength and community networks can help you get through these times. The impact on regional businesses in the Snowy Valleys and Upper Murray has been devastating, not only for those directly impacted, but almost every business in the proximity of the fires.

Although we have seen enormous and generous commitment to support funds and mechanisms to assist families and businesses get back on their feet, we are hearing of many issues with the practicality and eligibility, mostly for those indirectly impacted.

The funding has rightly been prioritised to those who have lost property, but time and finances are pressing for many small businesses who have lost income, perishable stock and customers for their peak season.

Most have been left high and dry with cash flow issues, and many staff have been laid off or are unable to be paid. The NSW Business Chamber is working closely with local, state and federal governments to ensure we get some tangible recovery efforts pointed towards these impacted business operators.

Through our urging more practical and available funding programs, we have been pleased to see the NSW Government announce a concierge program through Service NSW, which will guide NSW small businesses to all available support programs.

The federal and NSW Governments have also announced a suite of financial assistance programs including grants, working capital loans, and low interest loans for bushfire impacted businesses. Further details can be found here: service.NSW.gov.au

Business Backing the Bush

Knowing it is critical to get money flowing back around these communities, the NSW Business Chamber has launched a campaign, Business Backing the Bush where businesses large and small pledge to hold meetings or visits to spend money in affected communities.

More than 60 major businesses pledged in the first week, including NRL, Qantas, NAB , KPMG, Westpac, and Woolworths – just to name a few. As the year rolls on, we will see many additional visitors arriving from the city to spend much needed cash in our regions hard hit towns.

We have also sent three of our regional staff to support charity GIVIT, facilitating donated gifts for impacted communities to be purchased in those same towns and regions.

Finally, we must also acknowledge we are in continuing drought, and must ensure we support these regional businesses who are doing it tough.

We have a very strong and resilient business community in the Murray Riverina region, and I am confident we can all pull together and come out of this tragic period stronger and better than before.

Kind regards,

Andrew Cottrill – Regional Manager Murray Riverina, NSW Business Chamber