The COVID-19 pandemic has left its mark on almost everyone. Many businesses have had to shut their doors to help ‘flatten the curve’. Employees, especially in hospitality and tourism, have seen their hours cut or been stood down altogether. For sole traders who can’t provide their services online, things are looking very precarious indeed.
If you’ve been affected by the downturn, take heart in the knowledge that you’re not alone. The sheer scale of the change has meant that the government has had to help. Several support packages have been unrolled, with assistance for employers and employees alike. State and Territories have also offered assistance.
The biggest of these packages is JobSeeker. Aimed at keeping employees on employers’ books, JobKeeper offers a $1500 wage subsidy per fortnight to eligible businesses. The subsidy is passed on from employer to employee in full, and also applies to sole traders who meet the eligibility requirements.
If JobKeeper isn’t available for you, JobSeeker might be. The retooled version of Newstart is available for anyone who is unemployed and meets certain income and asset thresholds. A coronavirus supplement effectively doubles the payment to a total of around $1100 per fortnight.
Once-off payments are also available for anyone receiving government benefits.
Navigating these packages can be confusing, so we’ve put together some fact sheets to help. Click on the one below, that applies to your situation to see what’s available. They will tell you what types of support are out there, if you’re eligible and how to apply.
If you’re struggling, remember that the government packages aren’t the only place to seek support. Get in touch with your bank, utility provers and creditors to discuss your options.
At this stage, the government packages are designed to last for six months. Will we need them for longer? Perhaps not.
In recent weeks, Australia has been showing very positive signs that it’s managing the spread of the virus extremely well. If those signs continue, we could see a cautious resurgence of the Australian economy by spring. However, the length of the shut down is up to all of us. Stay safe, and stay home. We’ll get through this together.