How to be COVIDSafe when visiting Grant Thornton offices. Find out how

Bushfire Recovery Guide

Communities across Australia have been ravaged by bushfires and extreme heatwave conditions since October. We have witnessed the tragic loss of lives, property, wildlife and livelihoods with more devastation expected over the remainder of the summer.

Our thoughts are with all those affected by these recent events.

As the fires continue, crisis management and clean up are clearly at the forefront for the relevant government agencies, volunteers and the communities affected.

This guide is designed to give you a high level checklist to help you start the recovery process alongside your advisor, whether that be Grant Thornton or another.

Grant Thornton will continuously update this guide as further information and support resources are identified for the duration of the fire season.

Talk to your bank

Your banker will be invaluable in helping you over the next couple of months.

Many banks have already begun to roll out additional funding packages and relief packages for businesses affected by the disasters – make sure you know what your bank is offering and consider what might be right for you.

Plan early if you are going to need additional funding to get restarted. Make sure your banker is across your plans and understands where you are going.

Most banks have hardship teams offering a range of services to help customers affected by bushfires.

Services can include:

  • A deferral of scheduled loan repayments
  • Waiving fees and charges, including break costs on early redemption of Farm Management Deposits
  • Debt consolidation to help make repayments more manageable
  • Restructuring existing loans free of the usual establishment fees
  • Deferring interest payments on a case-by-case basis
  • Offering additional finance to help cover cash flow shortages
  • Deferring upcoming credit card payments
  • Increasing emergency credit card limits.
  • Deferring or re-prioritising (where possible) major items of expenditure

For more information, or to find the number for your bank’s hardship team go to https://www.ausbanking.org.au/campaigns/financial-hardship/.

Find your bank’s financial hardship teams on the web or on the phone numbers listed hereunder:

Bank

Phone Number

Website

AMP

1300 130 191

Experiencing financial hardship

ANZ

1800 252 845

Customer Connect

Arab Bank

1800 64 64 84

Hardship Assistance

Bank Australia

132 888

Contact Us

Bank of Sydney

13 95 00

Financial Hardship

BOQ

1800 079 866

Financial Hardship Assistance

BankSA

1800 679 461

BankSA Assist

Bankwest

1300 769 173

Experiencing financial hardship

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank

1300 652 146

Financial difficulty assistance

Citibank

1800 722 879

Hardship assistance

Commonwealth Bank

1300 720 814

Emergency assistance

HSBC

1300 555 988

Financial difficulty

ING

1300 349 166

Financial Hardship

Macquarie Bank

1300 363 330

Financial Hardship

ME Bank

1300 500 520

ME Bank financial hardship

MyState

13 800 1

MyState financial hardship

NAB

1800 701 599

Financial Hardship

Rabobank

1800 025 484

Financial Hardship

Rural Bank

1800 660 115

Financial Hardship

St. George Bank

1800 629 795

St. George Assist

Suncorp Bank

1800 225 223

Suncorp Customer Assist

Westpac

1800 067 497

Westpac Assist

Understand your tax obligations and what assistance is available

Australian Taxation Office

Australian Taxation Office

The ATO does not want individuals and businesses who have been impacted to face additional stress related to their tax obligations during this time. They will give you time to recover offering various forms of support.

Details are available on the ATO’s dedicated bushfire page.  

Identified impacted postcodes across New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia will be granted an automatic two-month deferral for activity statement lodgements and payments due.

Full details of these deferrals and a list of impacted postcodes by state are available: Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia, and Victoria

The ATO has advised that those impacted by the disaster but not covered by the listed postcodes should contact the ATO’s emergency support hotline on 1800 806 218 for assistance based on individual circumstances. Your Grant Thornton adviser can also provide assistance.

Office of State Revenue

For support pertaining to Payroll Tax, Land Tax and other commitments administered by the respective Offices of State Revenue, the relevant links are listed here and we will add to these as they become available: New South Wales or Queensland

Fringe Benefits Tax

An exemption from FBT applies for emergency assistance provided by an employer to an employee where:

  • the person is, or is at immediate risk of becoming, the victim of an emergency;
  • the assistance is granted to the person solely in order to provide immediate relief;
  • the assistance is in respect of all or any of the following matters:
  • first aid or other emergency health care
  • emergency meals or food supplies
  • emergency clothing
  • emergency transport
  • emergency accommodation
  • emergency use of household goods
  • temporary repairs
  • any similar matter

Superannuation Guarantee Charge

The ATO cannot legally vary the contribution due date or waive the super guarantee charge on late super guarantee payments, however it will provide additional support by way of fast-tracking refunds, allowing affected taxpayers to vary pay-as-you-go instalments, and processing the change of a GST reporting cycle to monthly.

Business continuity plans and crisis management

Once the current scenario stabilises future business continuity plans and crisis management strategies should be considered. 

Areas to consider include:

  • Access to business premises and critical business equipment/machinery - evaluating how to overcome these difficulties by establishing disaster recovery/back up sites and offices, and establishing an infrastructure for staff to work remotely.
  • Access to, and effective start-up of, IT, telecommunications and back-ups.
  • Effectiveness of emergency communication channels with staff, customers and suppliers ensuring that you have access to the contact information for staff, customers and Emergency delegations – establishing an emergency response group to whom important responsibilities are delegated during the crisis and immediate aftermath.
  • Re-assessing insurance coverage – businesses may have insurance coverage to protect certain assets, however, they should ensure they are covered for the business interruption expenses that natural disasters can cause.
  • Document storage and recovery – it is critical for businesses to have access to key business documents, customer lists, insurance policies and contracts by ensuring that copies are retained in a secure off-site location.

Review your customers and suppliers

Just as you have been affected and are re-planning, remember your customers and suppliers will be doing the same. Which customers will need extended terms from you and which suppliers might require different arrangements? Liaise with your suppliers to determine how they can support you.

Insurance claims and review

Just as you begin to rebuild, ensure you have organized all the insurance claims that you need. In some situations claims, such as business interruption insurance, will take time – so starting early will help you get on top of what you need to do.

Businesses and insurers/brokers will be preparing, reviewing and potentially challenging insurance assessments made as a consequence of claims, and businesses may need assistance in verifying losses incurred (both direct loss and business interruption).

You may need to consult an advisor for assistance in the completion of some of these claims.

Revisit your strategy

In situations where there has been an extreme change in the business environment, it is necessary to reconsider your strategy. Look at whether or not you are in a position to continue to deliver your current service or product, or whether new pathways have arisen. We encourage you to consult your advisor for assistance in developing your short, medium and long term strategy.

Government grants

The establishment of the National Bushfire Recovery Agency has been announced, together with an initial $2 billion allocation to the National Bushfire Recovery Fund that will support all recovery efforts across Australia over the next 2 years. Click through to see the various grants available from national and state organisations and government departments. 

Stakeholder management

During these difficult periods, proactive stakeholder management becomes extremely important, in particular with financiers, shareholders, customers and employees. Communicate with these groups early and often!

 

Get advice and look after yourself and your people

Many service providers want to help those affected so don’t be afraid to reach out when you need further help. In addition take care of yourself and your people – never underestimate the strain that this can put on everyone – including you! Make sure you use your advisors so you don’t feel alone in dealing with this process.

Bushfire Recovery Guide

This guide is designed to give you a high-level checklist to help you start the recovery process alongside your advisor, whether that be Grant Thornton or another.