Business Relief and Recovery Forum Conversation Summaries

Yarra Ranges Council, in partnership with emergency services and state government, held a series of Storm Recovery Business Meetings to provide an update on storm and flood recovery and answer your questions.

On 7, 8, 13 and 15 of July 2021, we visited Monbulk, Upwey, Healesville and Yarra Junction to hear from business owners and representatives who were impacted by the recent storms and floods.

The purpose of the business meeting was to provide a safe space for business owners and representatives to share their stories, ask questions and tell us what support they need.

You said

  • Businesses were already suffering from 15 months of coronavirus restrictions and multiple lockdowns.
  • Coronavirus pandemic has compounded impacts on community and business
  • Mental health and wellbeing are a concern.
  • Loss of connectivity and telecommunications meant businesses didn’t receive emergency information, couldn’t trade and many people were isolated.
  • With the power outage came loss of product, income, customers, tourists and communication.
  • Some business owners are running at a loss just to keep staff employed.
  • More needs to be done to support businesses.
  • Small businesses aren’t always GST registered so they miss out on Coronavirus relief funding
  • Insurance won’t cover this kind of loss.
  • Many businesses are still working through the devastation mentally – a lot of people won’t be ready to talk about or process what ‘damage’ the storms  and floods mean to their businesses for many weeks to come.
  • There is a lack of public awareness of the weather event.
  • Emergency planning for storms and floods are just as important as emergency plans for bushfires.
  • All sorts of businesses were impacted (hospitality, specialist retail, tourism, horticulture, agriculture, small and home based) which means all sorts of support solutions are required.
  • It’s important to treat residents in caravan parks as individuals rather than a whole group.
  • The Yarra River has a large amount of woody causing localised flooding impacting community
  • Grants and financial support should consider small businesses when developing eligibility criteria, because often small businesses aren’t registered for GST.

You suggested

  • Marketing support to help promote local business.
  • Businesses be provided with more accurate timing for road access.
  • Township specific resourcing for future emergency events.
  • Promoting stories of local businesses and what they’ve done to support community during the initial relief and response activities during the storm and floods.
  • Converting a mobile library to an information centre during emergency events.
  • Communities will need support throughout recovery but especially when the landscape of each town begins to change – people have an emotional connection with country and the trees, when the impact of the storm becomes more visible community will react differently.

We heard

  • Connectivity is a priority.
  • You’re interested in capturing lessons learned from this event to assist with planning for future emergencies.
  • All businesses are at a different stage in recovery and some may not be ready to talk about it yet, let alone get started on recovery.
  • You need help and support for the whole recovery journey.
  • Businesses have been suffering for over 15 months which has a compounded impact on the storm and flood event.
  • More support is needed for vulnerable people.
  • Having hardcopy communications shouldn’t be overlooked in emergency planning.
  • You would like a centralised place for all the storm recovery information, including contact details.

What's happening 

We gathered all relevant relief and recovery agencies in one place so you could hear from them.

Council is:

  • working with state government, relief and recovery agencies to provide a coordinated response to the storm.
  • committed to community safety and supporting businesses.
  • working closely with businesses to understand their specific needs and support their recovery. 
  • working with Partners in Wellbeing to provide Yarra Ranges business owners personal support, financial counselling and business advisory services.

 What's next

  • We’ll consult with local businesses and community to inform plans for programs that support community-led recovery.
  • We’ll establish ‘Community Recovery Committees’ that will help individuals and communities including businesses over the short to medium term recover from impacts of both COVID-19 and the storm.
  • We’ll continue to provide the community with relevant and updated information as the recovery from the storm event carries on.
  • We’ll advocate for better telecommunications infrastructure to mitigate black spots.

More information

If you or someone you love was impacted by the storm and needs help, please call 1300 368 333