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Local MP Darren Chester has again urged struggling small businesses in Gippsland to take up offers of assistance from the Federal Government to help their recovery from drought, bushfires and the coronavirus pandemic.

The Australian Government has announced more than $4.7 million to provide small regional businesses affected by the pandemic with access to free, confidential financial counselling.

“The monetary losses have been enormous for our local businesses over just the past six months and I hope the range of assistance measures available will help them get through this tough period,” Mr Chester said.

“Free financial advice can provide the professional assistance businesses need to see a clear way forward and get back on track.

“There is support available and I want to again urge people not to self-assess and assume they won’t be able to receive government help.”

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud said eligible small businesses could access the immediate advice and assistance.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our regional communities and we know many are struggling through drought and trying to recover from this season’s devastating bushfires,” Mr Littleproud said.

“This measure is designed to ensure businesses remain resilient through the coronavirus downturn and are able to rebound when normal trading conditions resume.

“This funding is in addition to the $7 million already provided for small business financial counselling services in drought-affected communities.”

The financial counselling help is part of the Federal Government’s $1 billion Relief and Recovery Fund, which is delivering targeted assistance to regions, communities and industry sectors disproportionately affected by the coronavirus.

Counselling is available to businesses with 19 employees or less which are experiencing, or at risk of, financial hardship due to the impacts of drought or coronavirus and are not located within 20 kilometres of a town with a population greater than 50,000.

More details are available at https://www.agriculture.gov.au/ag-farm-food/drought/assistance/rural-financial-counselling-service

Anyone needing help after the summer bushfires should visit www.recovery.servicesconnect.gov.au

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