Yarra City Council funds support package for local businesses and community

Monday 06 April 2020

Yarra Council has today announced a $7.46 million package of immediate financial assistance and medium-term support for our community and local businesses to ensure that they are supported during this unparalleled COVID-19 pandemic and through the recovery phase.


The Yarra COVID-19 Community and Economic Support Package will provide immediate assistance for the residents and businesses hardest hit by forced workplace closures, ensure ongoing support for Yarra’s creative and sporting communities, and promote community wellbeing during the challenging months ahead.

City of Yarra Mayor, Cr Misha Coleman said, “Many local businesses, the creative sector, residential and commercial property owners are feeling the enormous strain of forced closures in response to the COVID-19 situation.”

With this package, significant support will be provided directly to members of our community through immediate financial assistance and services to reduce social isolation. Medium-term measures will help the community to regenerate once we enter the recovery phase. We are also committed to actively supporting our much-loved arts, cultural and recreation sectors so that they can survive,” Cr Coleman said.

The community and economic support package will provide $7.46 million in direct support through donations, grants and fee waivers alongside a significant commitment to delivering support services over the next 15 months.

We don’t want to add to the burden many businesses, community organisations and households are facing, so waiving fees and redirecting existing grant funding is a practical way that Yarra can help,” Cr Coleman said.

Central also to this support package is to provide greater rates payment flexibility for those that need it the most. This is available to both commercial and residential ratepayers who may be experiencing financial hardship.

In addition, all interest on COVID-19 related rates payment plans will be deferred from March 2020 until June 2021, and in cases of financial hardship, rates payments can be deferred without interest during the same period

This is one way that we can support those in our community that are facing genuine financial hardship. If you believe you will have difficulty paying your rates, we urge you to contact us to discuss your individual circumstances,” Cr Coleman said.

Our investment complements the funding and services announced by the Federal and State governments and aims to help relieve the immediate pressure points for residents and businesses not met by the current support packages on offer. It reinforces the important role that all levels of government to support community in need."

In the coming months, we’ll continue to work closely with our community to understand their needs, monitor the impact of this package and adapt our support as needed. We’re going to have to be flexible over the next 3-18 months as the true picture of the COVID-19 impact emerges.”

I want to acknowledge and thank the Yarra community - which includes many of our staff - for the patience and strength they’ve shown so far. We have a long road ahead of us, and the community-led initiatives that I see every day gives me confidence that Yarra is well-positioned for the months ahead,” Cr Coleman said.

Council is also committed to longer-term actions that will help to stabilise the local economy during the recovery phase and beyond. This will include a comprehensive campaign to support shopping local, and when possible, bringing people back to Yarra’s retail and hospitality precincts.

More information on the rollout of the Package will be made available over the coming weeks.

Highlights from the Yarra COVID-19 Community and Economic Support Package

  • Greater flexibility for rates payments for those experiencing financial hardship for both commercial and residential ratepayers.

Support for business

  • Refund six months of certain business permits and licence fees.
  • A recovery fund to help support our most effected retail precincts.
  • An online directory promoting those businesses that are still open, or that have a new online offering.

Support for households facing financial hardship 

  • Emergency Community Support Fund to support individuals, businesses and groups in need, but who don’t meet the criteria for Commonwealth or state government support.
  • A donation to the Inner North Community COVID-19 Fund to support emergency relief.
  • Expand existing meal delivery service for those unable to attend shops or those in severe financial hardship.
  • Food vouchers for families in financial distress and people experiencing homelessness.

Support for creative, cultural and recreational sectors 

  • Grants for artists, creative organisations and live music venues to adapt, create and develop during this period of physical isolation.
  • Six month rent waiver for creative tenants in Council-owned buildings. 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates information hub

Please visit our Coronavirus (COVID-19) information hub to find out more about how Yarra is supporting residents and businesses during this time.

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