Welcome to the first day of October. It’s been a busy and challenging time for most as we embark on our roadmap to reopening. Lockdowns will unfortunately keep happening from time to time which makes things incredibly difficult for many. We have just heard that Moorabool shire will be placed back into a seven-day lockdown from 11.59pm this evening. Businesses and residents will have to abide by the same rules as other locked-down areas in the state, including Melbourne.
In this update, we have included information on funding stream three of the small-scale and craft program, some free training from the Institute of Excellence, a link to workplace wellbeing, and some top Q & A’s regarding Covid-19 issues for business.
I’d also like to let everyone know that Steve is out of the hospital and recovering well at home. We look forward to seeing him back in the CEO role later this month.
Small-Scale and Craft Business Development – Stream Three is now open
The Victorian Government is supporting small-scale and craft food and beverage producers across Victoria to grow, increase market opportunities, improve resilience and strengthen Victoria’s regional offering to deliver flow-on benefits for jobs and tourism.
The Small-Scale and Craft Program is a four-year program that supports agribusinesses looking to scale-up operations, diversify product lines, expand exports, create new jobs and strengthen tourism in Victoria.
Stream Three is now open focussing on creating unique visitor or ongoing tourism experiences that involve and are directly linked to multiple small-scale and craft agribusinesses. Applications for Stream Three under the Small-Scale and Craft Program are now open with the closing date – 19 November 2021. The Grants of $25,000 to $100,000 are available to eligible small-scale and craft agribusinesses. For more details, click here.
Having worked the last couple months for the Victorian Tourism Industry Council (VTIC), I was impressed with the array of support material for tourism businesses including some free training. I found some great links you may be interested in around workplace wellbeing. Very insightful, particularly the video resources. Some great tips. There is also a link to the Small Business Wellbeing Project which is part of the Victorian Government’s $26 million Wellbeing and Mental Health Support program for small businesses. To find out more on workplace wellbeing and check out some of the videos, click here.
Free online training – Institute of Excellence
The Institute of Excellence is a school for small business with some great free modules for industry training and development solutions covering everything from customer service excellence, effective product development, tourism, social media and digital marketing solutions. The course is currently free until the end of December 2021, thanks to our friends at VTIC. You just need to put in a special code when signing up. It’s run by the wonderful Despina Karatzias. To find out more, click here.
Your Covid Questions Answered
Many of you have asked questions on what to do in certain situations. The following ten questions are some of the more popular ones. The answers have been curated with the support of DJPR. We hope you find them helpful.
- What do I need to do if my business is designated as a tier one or two exposure site?
If your business is identified as an exposure site and you are required to close, get tested and contact guests, we encourage you to promote other accommodation and eating options. By working together, we can try to keep visitors in region. For the most up to date information, visit the public exposure page on the Department of Health website. This includes exposure site information and what businesses need to do. Click here.
- Where can I find the latest information on exposure sites?
For the latest information on exposure sites, click here.
- There is a case in my region, but we are not in lockdown. What should be my response?
It is advisable to try and stay open if possible. We want visitors to continue to support local and small businesses and isolated cases should not be a reason to close operations unless your business has come into contact directly with a case or exposure site.
- Customers are cancelling bookings due to a case in my region. What should I be telling them?
If it’s an isolated case, explain that your business is still operational and following all cleanliness covid protocols. One case should not be a reason to avoid all the amazing businesses, experiences, and products in your region. If the guest still wants to cancel or postpone the booking, normal refund/rebooking procedures should be followed.
- What is my obligation to ask guests for proof of double vaccination?It is not advisable to ask guests for proof of double vaccination until such time as it becomes a direction under the Victorian Chief Health Officer. Such a direction is not expected to come until the Vaccination Economy Trials. These trials will enable government, businesses, and community organisations to work through the practical implementation of managing more permissive settings ahead of any broader state-wide implementation.
- Should I create a policy for mandatory vaccination for staff and/or guests?
It is not advisable to create any mandatory vaccination policy for staff or guests unless this is a mandated direction from the Chief Health Officer. Such a direction is not expected to come until the Vaccination Economy Trials. These trials will enable government, businesses, and community organisations to work through the practical implementation of managing more permissive settings ahead of any broader state-wide implementation.
- If one of my staff members refuses to get vaccinated, what are their rights?
If an employer makes vaccinations a mandatory condition of employment, or a service provider requires proof of vaccination to access a service, this could be discrimination if the staff member cannot be vaccinated due to a disability or other attribute protected under the Equal Opportunity Act. You will need to make an exception for these cases.If a person’s reason for not wanting the vaccine is not linked to a protected attribute under the Equal Opportunity Act, then this would not be discrimination. There are some great resources on the Human Rights website for further information on vaccinations. Click here.
- Should I be planning now to only serve vaccinated customers/ guests?
It is not advisable to preempt any health direction for mandatory vaccination for customers or staff until formal advice is received following the current Vaccinated Economy Trials.
- How do I handle customer/guests that refuse to wear a mask or check in?
Under the current restrictions, a business can refuse entry by law for a customer/guest not wearing a face mask with no medical exemption produced. Customers are also required to check in via the Services Victoria App (QR code) or manually record their visit in a logbook. More in check in obligations can be found here.
- What sectors require all staff to be fully vaccinated?
Only frontline healthcare workers, construction workers, commercial freight operators, Personal Trainers and teachers will be required to be fully vaccinated unless they have a medical exemption.The Road Map does flag other sectors with restriction limits on fully vaccinated guests. This includes pubs, clubs and entertainment venues, hairdressing and personal care, and events including weddings, funerals, and religious services.The Vaccinated Economy Trials will enable government, businesses, and community organisations to work through the practical implementation of managing more permissive settings in these sectors ahead of any broader state-wide implementation.
Thanks for those that have already filled out the short Customer Frame survey on helping our region develop new customer profiles. I know we may be at fatigue levels with the number of surveys going on but your help in contributing to the project will make it all the much better. Every opinion and piece of insight matters, so please take the time to complete the survey and have your say on who our customers are today, and who we’d like more of in the future. For those that haven’t done it yet, please click here for the link.
We will be in touch again next week with an update on an exciting business mentoring initiative that we will also be kicking off this month.
Until then, stay safe.
Paul and the DMT Team