COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund

The Australian Government has established a $1 billion COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund to support regions, communities and industry sectors that have been disproportionately affected by the Coronavirus crisis. The initiatives announced under the Fund are supporting industries including aviation, agriculture, fisheries, tourism and the arts.

How does the Fund work?

The Deputy Prime Minister chairs a Ministerial Advisory Group, which meets regularly to consider proposals submitted from across a number of portfolios.

Funding is channelled through existing mechanisms where possible to ensure support is provided quickly. New funding mechanisms are established where there is a critical need.

Initiatives under the Fund are administered by the department or agency with the relevant sector responsibilities.

What kinds of support are available?

Support is tailored to meet the needs of communities and industries that need assistance during the crisis and into recovery. This may include:

  • fee or levy relief—this can be applied through existing mechanisms, requiring little or no action by businesses;
  • increasing payments through existing grant programs—in ways that are quick and simple to deliver; or
  • establishing targeted new programs to support the particular needs of an industry sector.

How can industry groups, regional bodies or communities apply for assistance?

Information on how businesses, industry groups, regional bodies and individuals can access or apply for assistance under each initiative is available on the implementing department's website.

For more information about the COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund, email reliefandrecoveryfund@infrastructure.gov.au.

What initiatives are currently part of the Fund?

The following initiatives are part of the COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund:

Regional Airlines Funding Assistance

The Australian Government is providing $100 million to financially assist smaller regional domestic air service providers to help manage cash flow issues they may be experiencing as a result of the impacts of the Coronavirus. This will help these service providers to maintain essential connectivity for regional and remote communities. Air service providers can apply to the Government to be considered for support for assistance on a month-by-month basis, where there is a demonstrated need.

For more information go to Assistance to the aviation sector or refer to the grant guidelines on the GrantConnect website: www.grants.gov.au.

Regional Air Network Assistance

The Australian Government is providing $198 million to assist domestic commercial airlines to maintain a basic level of connectivity across their network of regional routes. This will support critical air services connecting regional Australia to freight, medical testing, supplies and essential personnel.

For more information go to Assistance to the aviation sector or refer to the grant guidelines on the GrantConnect website: www.grants.gov.au.

Airfreight Support

The Australian Government has set up a $110 million International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM) to keep open key international freight links with trading partners for goods coming into and going out of Australia.

IFAM will support the efforts of businesses trading internationally, including in the agricultural, seafood and healthcare sectors, to re-establish key global supply chains, which have been disrupted by COVID-19, supporting the international economic recovery. IFAM is essential to helping secure items critical to the ongoing health response in Australia, such as essential medical supplies, medicines and personal protective equipment.

IFAM is a targeted, emergency and temporary measure helping Australian business in its efforts to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

Businesses in the agricultural and seafood sectors wishing to access the mechanism can register their interest at haveyoursay.agriculture.gov.au/international-freight-assistance or by calling the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment on (02) 6272 2444.

Levy Relief for Commonwealth Fisheries

The Australian Government is waiving $10.3 million across the final two instalments of levies for Commonwealth managed fisheries, reducing levies for the 2019–20 financial year by two thirds. This will support fishers' cash flow during the outbreak, and help them remain viable and able to return to full production when the outbreak subsides.

For more information, visit www.afma.gov.au/afma-covid-19-update or contact the levies area of AFMA: Phone 1300 723 621 or email levies@afma.gov.au.

Additional Funding for the Export Market Development Grant Scheme

The Australian Government is providing an immediate cash flow boost to eligible Export Market Development Grant (EMDG) applicants in the 2019–20 financial year.

The EMDG scheme reimburses small and medium-sized businesses up to 50 per cent of their eligible overseas market-promotion and export-development activities, to a maximum of $150,000. This new measure will increase funding for the 2019–20 financial year by almost $50 million so that eligible applicants receive their full entitlement.

For more information visit www.austrade.gov.au/Australian/Export/Export-Grants or contact the EMDG team at Austrade: emdg.help@austrade.gov.au.

Supporting Indigenous Visual Arts Centres

The $7 million contribution to the Indigenous Visual Arts Industry Support (IVAIS) Program supports Indigenous Art Centres and Indigenous Art Fairs during the Coronavirus crisis and beyond. Payments will be made directly to IVAIS-funded Indigenous Art Centres and IVAIS-funded Art Fairs to maintain operations and employment levels, ensuring that they continue to support artists and their communities.

For more information phone 1800 006 992, email ivais@arts.gov.au, or visit www.arts.gov.au/covid-19-update.

Crisis Relief for Regional Arts

The $10 million initiative for the Regional Arts Fund provides crisis relief and targeted support to organisations, artists and arts workers that are critical to delivering the arts to communities in regional and remote areas.

For more information email regional@arts.gov.au or visit www.arts.gov.au/covid-19-update.

Support Act: Crisis Relief to Artists, Crew and Music Workers

The $10 million contribution to the performing arts industry charity Support Act enables it to provide immediate crisis relief to artists, crew and music workers affected by the Coronavirus crisis.

For more information email music@arts.gov.au or visit www.arts.gov.au/covid-19-update.

Supporting Australia's Exhibiting Zoos and Aquariums

This $94.6 million initiative provides vital funding to exhibiting zoos and aquariums whose tourism revenue stream has stopped as a result of the travel and social distancing restrictions in place to limit the spread of Coronavirus. Funding will assist these businesses with the fixed operational costs associated with caring for animals, and will help exhibiting zoos and aquariums to remain viable and ready to welcome tourists when restrictions are eased.

For more information visit www.austrade.gov.au/Australian/Tourism/Tourism-and-business/Grants/supporting-australias-exhibiting-zoos-aquariums-program/zoosandaquariums or contact the Austrade Programs Team by emailing ZandAGrants@austrade.gov.au or calling 1800 048 155.

Commonwealth National Parks—Support for Tourism—Fee Waivers

From 16 March to 31 December, 2020, the Australian Government is waiving up to $11.2 million in entry fees to the following national parks managed by Parks Australia:

  • Booderee National Park
  • Kakadu National Park
  • Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

Free park entry will provide additional incentives for travelers to visit these must see destinations once travel restrictions are relaxed.

The Australian National Botanic Gardens, Christmas Island National Park, Pulu Keeling National Park and Norfolk Island National Park do not charge entry fees and remain free to visitors.

In addition, up to $772,000 is available to assist businesses operating in Commonwealth National Parks by:

  • Providing temporary relief from licence fees and permit charges levied by the Director of National Parks for the period of 1 January 2020 to 31 March 2021. Aside from the immediate respite from some ongoing operating costs, this will also allow business to re-commence operations without having to pay for licences and permits.
  • Providing rent relief to tenants of the Australian National Botanic Gardens in accordance with the Australian Government's Rent Relief Policy

For more information email parksonlinefeedback@awe.gov.au; or visit www.parksaustralia.gov.au/covid-19.

Temporary waiver of Environmental Management Change for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park

This $8.1 million initiative temporarily waives the Environmental Management Charge for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park until 31 December 2020.

For more information, visit www.gbrmpa.gov.au or email emc@gbrmpa.gov.au and for media enquiries email media@gbrmpa.gov.au.

Renewing Reef HQ Aquarium

This initiative provides $2.6 million for Reef HQ Aquarium to ensure the critical systems that control the environment within the aquarium are upgraded and maintained, supporting the health and wellbeing of the living exhibits while the aquarium is closed.

A further $5 million is being provided for capital works at Reef HQ, creating up to 20 local jobs and helping to drive further tourism numbers by enhancing access and visitor experiences at the aquarium and education centre.

For further information, visit www.reefhq.com.au or contact the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's Marketing Team on 0488 073 281 or email media@gbrmpa.gov.au.

Financial Counselling to Support Small Regional Businesses

This initiative provides over $4.7 million for financial counselling to help eligible small businesses understand their financial position, identify options and implement plans to improve their long-term financial viability.

The funding also helps small businesses to access the immediate assistance they need to keep afloat and navigate the road to recovery.

For further information on the Regional Recovery Small Business Support Program, visit www.agriculture.gov.au/rfcs.

Regional small businesses can register their interest now by calling 1300 771 741.

Seafood sector COVID-19 support—“Eat Seafood Australia” Campaign

This initiative provides $4 million to Seafood Industry Australia (SIA) to support the survival and recovery of Australia's seafood sector by delivering a 12-month national awareness campaign that encourages Australians to eat more healthy, sustainable Australian seafood.

For further information, please contact the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment—Fisheries Branch on 1800 900 090.

Supporting Agricultural Shows and Field Days

This initiative provides $36.3 million to agricultural show societies to cover fixed cost expenditure in the 2020 calendar year if their event was cancelled because of Coronavirus restrictions or uncertainties.

The initiative consists of three components of assistance—for local show societies, for capital city Royal Agricultural Show (RAS) societies, and for Agricultural Shows Australia (ASA).

ASA, the national peak body, will be able to seek funding for its National Rural Ambassador competition for 2020 and 2021.

An additional $2.7 million has been committed to agricultural field days to reimburse the fixed costs of field days that were cancelled in 2020 as a result of the Coronavirus.

Grants will be made available directly to eligible agricultural field day organisers and the Association of Agricultural Field Days of Australasia from the Community Grants Hub. 

For further information, contact the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment's agricultural show programs section: agshowgrants@agriculture.gov.au or 02 6272 5603, or for more information on the Supporting Agricultural Shows and Field Days program, visit www.agriculture.gov.au/ag-farm-food/infrastructure/supporting-ag-shows.

Securing Forestry Resources for Economic Recovery

This initiative provides $10 million in funding to Australia's forestry industries to help manage the compounding effects of the Coronavirus crisis and the 2019–20 bushfire season.

Further information about this initiative is available at www.agriculture.gov.au/forestry/bushfirerecovery. For queries, please contact forestry.enquiries@awe.gov.au.

Temporary Oil Recycling Sector Support

This initiative provides $7.8 million to temporarily increase the benefit paid to oil recyclers under the Product Stewardship Oil Scheme for category one oil from 50 cents per litre to 62 cents per litre. The Product Stewardship (Oil) Regulations 2000 will be amended to increase the Category 1 benefit for the period 1 July 2020 to 31 December 2020.

For further information about the Product Stewardship Oil Scheme and the increased benefit please contact the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment on 1800 900 090.

Business Events Grants Program

The Australian Government is providing $50 million to assist Australia's business events sector by supporting businesses to participate at pre-approved events, exhibitions and trade shows. This funding will help cover the costs associated with participating such as space hire, design and manufacture, plus travel and accommodation.

Australian businesses participating at an approved business event in 2021 will be able to apply for upfront grants to cover up to 50 per cent of their costs.

For more information visit www.austrade.gov.au/BusinessEventsGrants.

Recovery for Regional Tourism

The Australian Government is providing $50 million to assist nine tourism regions adapt their products, experiences and marketing strategies to better target the domestic tourism market. The funding will be delivered in regions that are highly reliant on international tourism. Working closely with state, territory and regional tourism stakeholders, the program will develop integrated packages of assistance tailored to the needs, visitor demographic and geography of the nominated regions.

For more information visit www.austrade.gov.au/Australian/Tourism/Tourism-and-business/grants

Regional Recovery Partnerships

The Australian Government has committed $100 million over two years to fund Regional Recovery Partnerships. The Partnerships will coordinate investments with other levels of government to support recovery and growth in 10 investment regions. The partnerships seek to back-in existing regional plans by developing a package of targeted initiatives with contributions from all levels of government to deliver jobs, economic recovery and economic diversification. The first year of funding is drawn from the COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund.

For further information visit www.regional.gov.au/regional/recovery-partnerships/

Great Barrier Reef Tourism Activation

The Australian Government is providing $3.2 million to keep the Great Barrier Reef tourism industry activated and help conserve and protect high-value reef tourism sites. The initiative will provide a degree of business continuity for the Reef tourism industry through engaging marine tourism operators to undertake in-water conservation and monitoring activities. This will ensure tourism sites are properly maintained and ready to welcome guests as COVID-19 travel restrictions are eased.

Reef Builder - The Coastal Communities Recovery Project

$20 million will be delivered in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, who will look to secure additional co-funding from state governments, to restore at least 11 natural shellfish reefs that once stretched along much of Australia's coastline. This initiative will rescue native marine ecosystems from the risk of local extinction, rejuvenate local fish stocks and create spectacular tourism dive sites, as well as boosting local economies and delivering up to 170 new direct and indirect jobs.

Sustaining Tourism at Australia's Iconic World and National Heritage Sites

The Australian Government is providing $33.5 million to fund conservation work and infrastructure upgrades across 23 national and world heritage sites, preserving and enhancing them while creating jobs and lasting benefits for our tourism industry.

This initiative will involve additional co-contributions of at least $16.9 million from states and the Northern Territory, covering 33 projects across 23 sites and creating an estimated 550 jobs to boost regional economies.

For more information email media@awe.gov.au or heritage@awe.gov.au, or visit www.awe.gov.au/heritage

Contact us

For more information on the COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund, go to treasury.gov.au/coronavirus/resources

For more information about the COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund, email reliefandrecoveryfund@infrastructure.gov.au.