Thousands of employers and staff members in Ballarat are anxiously waiting to hear what the future of the Government's JobKeeper scheme will be.
One person preparing for the announcement is Victorian president of the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) David Canny.
Operating in two of the hardest hit industries thus far, tourism and hospitality, Mr Canny said he believes the JobKeeper scheme needs to be extended until March 2021 for businesses to get back on their feet.
"It's vital that JobKeeper keeps going... not only beyond September, it has to go through until the end of March," he told The Courier on Monday afternoon.
"For our industry to recover we still need a good six months of wage subsidies for these businesses to get back on their feet.
"Otherwise they're just going to be going from day-to-day on survival mode and that's not good. We need this support, because the last thing anyone wants is for people to lose hope and throw in the towel."
The region has seen more than 6000 people lose their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as over 2500 businesses in the region apply for the JobKeeper scheme.
Mr Canny's sentiments were echoed by Commerce Ballarat chief executive Jodie Gillett, who said financial support needs to continue as long as businesses continue to be restricted in their trade.
"(The Government) need to see JobKeeper through to March," she said.
"The number one priority for Commerce Ballarat is the extension of the scheme for businesses that are still restricted or under pressure. Businesses need support as long as they've got some kind of restricted trade."
An aspect both Mr Canny and Ms Gillett highlighted was the potential for increased flexibility in the criteria for what sort of staff can qualify for JobKeeper.
Mr Canny said making the scheme more inclusive will help bring people back into the workforce.
"What we want to see is for the new scheme to be focussed on the employer, not just the employee," he continued.
"JobKeeper did a fantastic job... but it needs to be focussed on getting people back to work. We want to see that there is an incentive to get people back to work and also that an expansion so it applies to all staff, not just those employed for 12 months.
"It needs to be opened up to Visa staff and casuals, because a lot of people within hospitality and tourism have been displaced and we need new employees to come in and fill those holes."
Ms Gillett added some provisions need to be added for new businesses who have opened during the pandemic.
"We also have to consider how this support can help new businesses," she said.
"We've seen a number of new businesses pop up in Ballarat during what is possibly the most difficult time to open... we'd love for them to be able to access the scheme."
The federal member for Ballarat Catherine King has also called for the scheme to be extended.
As reported by The Courier last week, Ms King said up to 18,182 workers could be forced out of work and that 4,782 businesses were at risk in the Ballarat electorate.
Ms King said the changing situation in Victoria, with metropolitan Melbourne returning to lockdown last Wednesday, meant companies and employees in the region were even more likely to be badly hit.
"Cancelling JobKeeper too early would have a devastating impact on local businesses and households," she said in a media release.
Some details have already been revealed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who will use Thursday's economic update to announce the future of JobKeeper and the boosted JobSeeker unemployment benefit.
Both are legislated to end on September 27, six months after the coronavirus support measures started.
Mr Morrison said businesses would get several months to adjust to the next phase of support.
"It will be targeted, it will be temporary, it will be effective as the first round has been," he told reporters in Sydney.
Mr Morrison added government support packages had avoided people falling into poverty.
"It is still tough, it is extremely tough out there. But at a time like this, I think all Australians will be pleased they're in Australia and nowhere else."
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