By Cala Ahmed
With ‘Silly Season’ just around the corner, Victorians are more eager than ever to escape the confines of lockdown and spend time in bars, cafés and restaurants, and thankfully, high community vaccination rates have recently opened the door to increased freedoms for the state. There are further exciting prospects of more pop-up bars, parklets and streamlined council permit systems becoming available via the support of the Outdoor Economy Package. The $54.5 million package endeavours to support the costs of businesses setting up street trading and assist councils to provide the necessary infrastructure.
As part of this program, the $14.5 million COVIDSafe Outdoor Activation Voucher Program will provide thousands of Victorian businesses, community-based organisations, NFPs and trader associations with grants of $2000, conditional on them spending at least that same amount for outdoor entertainment and hospitality initiatives. The vouchers will be allocated to both Melbourne and regional areas of Victoria, with the latter expected to receive about 20 per cent of the available vouchers. Although the commencement date is uncertain, it is expected to be soon, and will be delivered by a partnership between Business Victoria and Service Victoria.
The vouchers will aid with costs associated with the hire and purchase of equipment such as marquees, screens, and umbrellas, as well as obtaining insurance and promoting outdoor operations.
Outdoor trading opportunities will be extended to hairdressers, beauty services, retail shops, dance studios and gyms, as the voucher initiative will also be made available to these industries.
The remaining $40 million of the program will be allocated as a COVIDSafe Outdoor Activation Fund, which will help councils repurpose more outdoor areas for Victorians’ enjoyment and to showcase local attractions. $20.5 million of that fund will be provided to councils to offer support to the outdoor operation of businesses including through environmental improvements and entertainment, to encourage the public to attend outdoor precincts and spaces. The allocation of funding to the councils will accord to business activity and location. The other $19.5 million of the fund will be given to councils to create outdoor precincts on a permanent or semi-permanent basis.
While they will not be applicable to all organisations, these initiatives provide additional support for the re-opening of Victorian businesses which operate in the outdoor space, with the aim of creating positive and innovative spaces to bring together local communities and businesses ready to flourish once again.
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Cala Ahmed is a Workplace Relations Advisor and assists a variety of clients via the Telephone Advisory Service. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Business/ Law.