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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?

To allocate the funding, the Deputy Prime Minister chaired a Ministerial Advisory Group, which met to consider proposals submitted from across a number of portfolios.

Funding has been channeled through existing mechanisms where possible to ensure support is provided quickly. New funding mechanisms were established where critical need was identified.

Initiatives under the Fund are administered by the department or agency with the relevant sector responsibilities. The Fund is now fully allocated.

What kinds of support have been funded?

Support has been tailored to meet the needs of communities and industries that needed assistance during the crisis and into recovery. This includes:

  • fee or levy relief - 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.

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 provided up to $100 million in 2020 to assist smaller regional domestic air operators to manage cash flow issues they may be experiencing as a result of the impacts of the Coronavirus. This supported these service providers to maintain essential connectivity for regional and remote communities.

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 Airline Network Support

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 has supported 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 is providing $110 million for the 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 supports 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

Levy Relief for Commonwealth Fisheries

The Australian Government waived $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 has supported fishers' cash flow during the outbreak, helping 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 provided an immediate cash flow boost to eligible Export Market Development Grant (EMDG) applicants, with almost $50 million 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.

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 Art Centres

The $7 million contribution to the Indigenous Visual Arts Industry Support (IVAIS) Program is supporting Indigenous Art Centres and Indigenous Art Fairs during the Coronavirus crisis and beyond. Payments have been made directly to IVAIS-funded Indigenous Art Centres and IVAIS-funded Art Fairs to assist them in maintaining operations so that they are ready to re-establish their markets as soon as possible.

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 assists 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 waived $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 provides 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 allows 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.

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 is providing $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 has been 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 has provided $4.8 million for the delivery of free financial counselling services to small regional businesses facing hardship due to COVID-19.

Delivered nationally through the existing 12 Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) providers, the program aims 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 visit www.agriculture.gov.au/rfcs or call 1300 771 741.

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

This initiative has provided $4 million to Seafood Industry Australia (SIA) to deliver a 12-month national awareness campaign that encourages Australians to eat healthier, sustainable Australian seafood which will support the survival and recovery of Australia’s seafood sector.

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 is providing $39 million to reimburse eligible expenditure and alleviate the cash flow pressures of agricultural show societies and field day organisers who have had to cancel their events in 2020 due to COVID-19.

  • Up to $26 million has been made available to Royal Capital City shows, with a maximum funding cap specified for each capital city.
  • Up to $10.235 million is being made available to local agricultural shows and $2.59 million for field day organisers. Caps on funding will apply based on event attendance: small shows $10,000, medium shows $15,000 and large shows $70,000.

$100,000 has been made available to Agricultural Shows Australia to fund its National Rural Ambassador competition for 2020 and 2021.

$100,000 has also been made available to the Association of Agricultural Field Days of Australasia to run its next annual conference and provide training and assistance for members on recovery management planning.

For further information, contact the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment's agricultural show programs section: sasfd.program@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 is providing $10 million in funding to Australia's forestry industries in New South Wales and Victoria 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 has provided $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 have been 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.

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 which are heavily reliant on international tourism. The program helps the regions retain and create jobs by driving visitation, spurring demand and improving product quality to attract interstate visitors. This has helped regions achieve greater leverage from the domestic tourism market and ensures there is a vibrant, internationally focused tourism industry still in place when international visitors return.

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 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 provides a degree of business continuity for the Reef tourism industry through engaging marine tourism operators to undertake in-water conservation and monitoring activities. This ensures tourism sites are properly maintained and ready to welcome guests as COVID-19 travel restrictions are eased.

Reef Builder - The Coastal Communities Recovery Project

The Australian Government is providing $20 million to restore 13 natural shellfish reefs that once stretched along much of Australia's coastline. The project is being delivered in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, who will look to secure additional co-funding from state governments. 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 involves 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