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UPDATED: How Aussie businesses are helping you get through the virus crisis

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 19: Shoppers line up around the building waiting to enter at Costco Perth on March 19, 2020 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

This story is being regularly updated as more companies announce new ways to assist individuals and other businesses during the coronavirus crisis.

Australia is currently in crisis mode.

To rescue Australia from the worst of an inevitable economic downturn, the federal government is putting together the final touches on its second stimulus package little over a week after announcing its first one. Just yesterday, the Reserve Bank announced its $100 billion policy measures designed to keep the economy moving.

But Australian businesses, big and small, are also recognising the need to help out fellow Australians and have been pitching in too with their own initiatives.

Here’s what businesses around Australia are doing amid the coronavirus-induced chaos:

UPDATED: 27 March

Airbnb, UberEats give free food, accommodation to frontline responders

The short-term rental platform has pledged to house 100,000 Australians in healthcare and relief industries for free so frontline responders have access to convenient accommodation.

Meanwhile, the food delivery service Deliveroo has created a special code to provide GPs, emergency practitioners and ambulance personnel with 25,000 free meals.

20 March

Australian banks throw $100bn lifeline

Just this morning, Australian Banking Association CEO Anna Bligh announced a $100 billion relief package for small businesses and said banks would in place a fast track approval process so customers can receive help more quickly.

“This Assistance Package will apply to more than $100 billion of existing small business loans and depending on customer take up, could put as much as $8 billion back into the pockets of small businesses as they battle through these difficult times,” Bligh said on Friday morning.

ABA CEO Anna Bligh speaks to the media during a press conference in Sydney, Friday, March 20, 2020. (AAP Image/Paul Braven)

“This is a multi billion dollar lifeline for small businesses when they need it most, to help keep the doors open and keep people in jobs.”

To apply for it, small businesses should contact their banks if they haven’t been contacted already, the ABA advised. The ABA is made up of 22 member banks.

The major banks have been slashing their cash rates (to varying degrees) over the last few months following the RBA’s cuts.

Separately, most of the Big Four have also announced a number of other measures to support businesses and households.

Free delivery for Aussies

A number of eateries are helping out Aussies in self-isolation by slashing fees on food delivery. Guzman Y Gomez and DoorDash are some of them, while Uber Eats has pledged to deliver 25,000 meals to healthcare workers.

Uber: Cheaper rides, $5m fund, sick pay

Uber is offering 40 per cent off its ride-shares or 60 per cent if you join its Uber Rewards program (just remember to sit in the back seat, as per warnings from Prime Minister Scott Morrison).

It’s also creating a $5 million fund for independent restaurants in Australia and New Zealand.

“The multi-million dollar fund will allow restaurants to deploy promotions to attract customers and will help restaurants time promotions to suit their individual business needs,” said Uber Eats APAC region general manager Jodie Auster.

Drivers who fall sick with Covid-19 or are placed under quarantine will also receive paid sick leave for 14 days, the ride-share platform has announced.

Optus, Telstra offer free data

To help Australians cope with working from home, the major telcos have sent 10GB and 20GB of extra data for free to eligible Australian consumers and small businesses. Find out if you’re eligible here.

Telstra, Coles hire thousands

Telstra announced this morning that it would be hiring 1,000 temporary contractors to work in its call centres and put on hold job reductions that were slated for the next six months.

Earlier this week, supermarket giant Coles said it was hiring 5,000 casual team members to work across its stores as shopper numbers surged.

CBA, Wesfarmers, Telstra offer sick pay for casuals

At least three of Australia’s biggest employers have said they will pay casual staff who either contract Covid-19 or are required to self-isolate.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia is the nation’s biggest bank and employs around 52,000 people, while Woolworths – which employs around 55,000 casual workers – will pay casuals for shifts they would have otherwise worked.

Wesfarmers, which owns Bunnings, Kmart, Target and Officeworks, are “planning to provide support to casual workers impacted by coronavirus and will be communicating details to their teams in coming days," a spokeswoman said.

Telstra has said it will pay casual workers 14 days leave at their base rate.

Atlassian makes products free – forever

Atlassian co-CEO and co-founder Scott Farquhar, August 7, 2018. (AAP Image/Erik Anderson)

The tech giant’s co-founder and co-CO Scott Farquhar said in a blog post that it was making cloud-based versions of its Jira, Confluence, Jira Service Desk and Jira Core products free for teams of up to ten people.

“Unprecedented events are rapidly changing the way teams are working together,” Farquhar said.

“We know our products help teams work better together and move work forward, regardless of where members of a team are located.”

The free products can be accessed here.

Free online learning for all schools

Global education software provider Education Perfect will make its platform free for 1,800 schools across more than 30 countries until the 1st of May.

The platform helps teachers deliver curriculum-aligned lessons and assessments remotely and also helps teachers monitor students in real time.

More to come.

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