The NSW State Government has announced the formation of a Hardship Review Panel to support businesses that are currently not eligible to receive any current Covid-19 business support measures.

The purpose of the panel is to assess businesses that are currently experiencing financial hardship but do not meet the criteria for either the Covid-19 Business Grant, JobSaver payments or the micro-business grant.

NSW Businesses are able to apply to the panel through Service NSW if they have had their other applications rejected, or do not meet the eligibility criteria for other support measures.

The hardship panel will make decisions on each application on a case-by-case basis, considering a large range of factors to determine whether a business has experienced financial hardship. Following this, the panel will make recommendations on businesses’ eligibility for relevant support payments and grants.

The panel will include representatives from Revenue NSW, NSW Treasury and Service NSW. However, the Chief Commissioner of Revenue NSW will be ultimately responsible for the final decision.

“COVID-19 has affected so many businesses in NSW and even though we have a number of support measures in place, there are still some businesses under severe financial strain that aren’t eligible for assistance for a number of reasons. We want to plug that gap as much as we can,” said NSW Minister for Finance and Small Business Damien Tudehope.

Applications for JobSaver are now open and hardship COVID-19 business grants and micro-business grants are due to open in late October.

Abuse Towards Retail Staff Increases In Sydney During LockdownHardship Review Panel

Newly published data has shown that abuse towards retail staff in Sydney has skyrocketed during the covid-19 pandemic.

Threats, violence and verbal abuse has increased by almost 80 percent in some parts of Sydney over the past 12 months.

The research indicates that the abuse has been the most frequent to occur in areas in the south-western areas of Sydney such as Campbelltown. This region has been placed under some of the strictest lockdown laws in the country, thus placing more pressure and stress on the people living in the region.

Stalking, intimidation and harassment in retail and wholesale outlets increased by 24 percent in Fairfield, 44 percent in the CBD and 78 percent in Campbelltown.

Hardship review panel, Bernie Smith the NSW Secretary of the SDA, the union for retail, fast food and warehouse workers has said that the new figures are alarming.

“These increases are as alarming as they are predictable, especially as shops prepare to re-open and face a rapid influx of shoppers. As the retail sector prepares for a burst of pent-up activity heading into the festive season, these figures show that retail workers have genuine reason to fear that ‘vaccine passports’ and QR codes could prove a flashpoint for customer abuse as retail reopens,” said Bernie Smith.

Bernie Smith believes that it is not the responsibility of retail to workers to ensure that public health orders are complied with and warned that staff will face major challenges in weeks after NSW opens up.

“It is not the responsibility of retail workers as restrictions are lifted to enforce shopper compliance with government regulations and requirements,” he said.

“Enforcement is the responsibility of government which imposed them and employers. As the economy opens up and we head toward the Christmas shopping crush we need to respect and protect these essential retail workers. No one deserves a serve,” says Bernie Smith.