Having restrictions lift is such a relief for all Victorians, including locals in Knox. Although many are still in place, after 100+ days of lockdown we can finally get back to some form of normality.
Knox City Shopping Centre is bustling again, the Burwood Highway congestion is back, businesses are opening, people are getting back to work, and the recovery is beginning.
Due to programs like JobKeeper we have avoided the worst of the economic and jobs crisis here, but it has still had a terrible impact on many in our community. In Knox, 6,200 local businesses have had to be supported by JobKeeper, which meant that had very considerable declines in their revenue. I have had people in tears having lost their job or seen their business destroyed.
Equally, the mental health impact has been extraordinary. Beyond Blue had a 77% increase in presentations compared to the previous year. Eating disorder presentations are up 40%.
This is the damage from which it will take time to recover. It may take years. For those who lost loved ones, the damage is irreparable.
Recovering from these restrictions, while maintaining Covid safety, is now our urgent mission.
We have massively boosted our mental health funding to support people. In particular, every person can now get 20 Medicare funded counselling sessions, double what it was previously. There is more money for Beyond Blue, Headspace and Lifeline.
But we can all have a role here in reaching out to those who we might know are struggling; connecting with your neighbour and assisting where we can.
At the Federal Government level, we have also put in place assistance to get the jobs back. Please look out for these if you think they might be relevant to you. It includes:
- Incentives to hire young people who are out of work.
- Up to $200 per week is available. This complements the existing schemes to hire mature workers.
- Encouraging businesses to invest and hire by allowing them to write-off any asset immediately. This can really boost cashflow. There is also a scheme to allow a loss to be offset against profits in previous years.
- Tax relief for 74,000 taxpayers in Knox, backdated to 1 July this year. This is designed to put more money into your pocket, which will then support further consumption, particularly in the retail sector.
- More funding for infrastructure, including for small projects that Knox Council will manage.
- For older Australians, please look out for the extra payments if you are on a pension.
We will see these challenges out like Australians have done many times before and on the other side we will be stronger. But it will take time.
My office is here to support you as always. My office has received thousands of calls and emails in recent months from people seeking assistance. Please do not hesitate to call.
Alan Tudge MP