With Lord Mayor Sally Capp

As more businesses are given the green light to reopen and more restrictions are eased, many businesses will still face ongoing challenges in the recovery.

Melbourne has a unique and diverse range of offerings and attractions that will be crucial in our economic recovery. In this exclusive COVID-19 Business Webinar for the Victorian Chamber, Lord Mayor Sally Capp discusses how we can retain and support our vibrant scene when operating in very different circumstances.

Our discussion will cover how businesses can get up and running again, where the likely challenges will be in the recovery and the opportunities for Melbourne on the international stage off the back of our success managing the COVID-19 outbreak. Hosted by Victorian Chamber CEO Paul Guerra, members will also have the opportunity to ask questions.

Supporting partners



Victoria Pavilion Melbourne Showgrounds


This session was originally recorded on 3 June 2020.

This information was correct at the time of broadcast. This does not constitute formal legal advice. The Victorian Chamber accepts no liability for actions taken as a result of this broadcast.


Questions for Lord Mayor Sally Capp


Q. What initiatives are the City of Melbourne introducing to support Social Enterprise in our city? 

A. City of Melbourne has two key financial support programs for social enterprises:

Social enterprise program

  • Offers one funding round per year
  • Grants of up to $30,000 available to eligible social enterprise
  • Managed by the Economic Development Branch
  • More details on the program is on our website

Social Innovation program

  • Offers two year project funding from $15,000 to $80,000 per year to support not-for-profit organisations, social enterprises and B Corporations
  • Next funding round opens later this year – dates to be confirmed
  • Managed by our Community Services Branch
  • More details on the program is on our website

Q. Could we use the Commercial Passenger Vehicles to transport workers into the City and the suburbs in conjunction with other public transport vehicles to comply with social distancing transport rules? This could also support the taxi-cab & hire car industry who are all also small businesses who have struggled.

A. This is an interesting idea and at a time like this, the need to thinking outside the box is critical for us to get through this crisis with as little damage to businesses and the economy as possible. Commercial Passenger Vehicles Victoria is the peak body for the taxi and cab industry so I will have the team at City of Melbourne reach out to them and provide this idea as a way they can contribute to a successful return of workers.

Q. Could you please advise where to locate the statistics referred to during the presentation i.e. number of people in the city, commercial vacancies, rent returns etc.

A. City of Melbourne gathers and maintains a range of data that is available on our website. Below is a table of data that may be of interest to members;


Census of Land Use and Employment (CLUE)
Business and employment data including industry, building information, venue and capacity and floor space.
City of Melbourne Economic Profile
Economic indicators and activity.
City of Melbourne Development Activity Model
Key property statistics and indicators including buildings under construction, approved for development and those in the application process.
Pedestrian Counting System
Counts of pedestrians captured by sensors across the city; available in an online visualisation and downloadable on Open Data.
Melbourne Facts and Figures
Table of key statistics for City of Melbourne.
Resident Profiles
Statistics on City of Melbourne residents and households; based on latest ABS Census data and available by small area.
Community Profiles
Statistics on younger people, older people, students, workers, families with children, high rise residents and multicultural community within the City of Melbourne; based on latest ABS Census data.
Population Forecasts
Forecast number of City of Melbourne residents and households over the next 25 years; available by small area and by age and gender.
Daily Population Estimates and Forecasts
Average daily city users estimates and forecasts on including residents, workers, students, metropolitan/ regional/ interstate/ international visitors.
Social Indicators
Data from the 2018 City of Melbourne Social Indicator Survey (CoMSIS) including health, well-being, safety, food security, diversity, physical activity, participation in learning and in activities. 

Q. One of the major impediments to planning is the refusal of the State Government to provide a clear schedule of lockdown easing. Is the COM putting any pressure on the State Government to do this?

A. The challenge that government at all levels face is trying to predict when and how the current restrictions will ease, and the impact of that easing. As can be seen very recently, a single source of infection appears to have developed into a very significant spike in transmissions within a short timeframe and in a very specific area that borders and crosses into the City of Melbourne. We want to see people return to the city as soon as possible, however this needs to happen in a controlled and safe manner. We are communicating with the State Government daily on how the City can play its part in reopening in a safe and planned manner.

Q. We are currently being directed to work from home. Are there dates being discussed as to when people can start returning to work in the city?

A. See the answer to Question 4 (above).

Q. Do you have any advice on what practices businesses should be implementing to introduce their staff back to the workplace? Where do we start?

A. The challenges of getting staff back into workplaces in a safe and controlled manner is something we are all grappling with. The best advice is to ensure that when it is safe for staff to return to workplaces, the recommended control techniques, such as social distancing, regular washing of hands or use of hand sanitiser, etc., continue to take place. At this point in time City of Melbourne only have essential staff attending the office on a regular basis. We will be taking a staged approach to returning staff into our workplace and have appointed a project manager to direct our return. There are numerous online resources available for businesses to use to assist in returning staff to their workplaces safely.

Q. What about our homeless people? Just wondering, given many went to hotels, and they are incredibly vulnerable what we can do better moving forward?

A. City of Melbourne officers are working closely with DHHS and a broad range of homelessness agencies to support a large number of homeless and rough sleepers. There are approximately 1000 people in emergency accommodation in the inner city. This includes provision of support services such as counselling and medical assistance. The City is actively involved in coordination of those services across the various agencies that provide services in the city.

Ongoing supported housing is the best way to assist people out of homelessness and the City is also working hard with our partners to develop longer term housing options as the emergency accommodation currently in place is only intended as a short term solution. 

Q. How can we adjust funding levels to better support international students and the knowledge economy, as well as those suffering from social isolation and homelessness? Thanks, Lord Mayor and the team at VCCI.

A. City of Melbourne has stood up a range programs to support international students during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. These include an International Education Virtual Workshop, a food voucher system, online wellbeing initiatives, pathways for students to employment and advocacy to other governments to increase their support for international students.

In the 2020-2021 financial year, City of Melbourne has introduced an Annual Plan Initiative to develop and implement a program of engagement for international students to support Melbourne in retaining and improving its international standing as a global destination for international education. We will enhance the international student experience of Melbourne in areas including social engagement and integration, accommodation, employment pathways, mentoring and educational offering.

Further funding will be leveraged to support new initiatives such as the reactivation of The Couch – International Student Centre in partnership with the Salvation Army 614.

Q. Given that it is Victoria’s largest export, what else will the city of Melbourne be doing for international students? Great effort so far btw but in the chaos it was a little slow off the ground.

A. In addition to the initiatives noted above, City of Melbourne has initiated partnerships such as ‘Friday Nights Live At Home’ (one hour live entertainment showcasing international students and interviews with industry representatives) and wellness programs, including cooking and dance workshops, and online wellbeing courses and resources. The City has been a leader in the field of creating pathways to employment for international students, including the NexStar program which matches start-up founders and international students on projects while learning entrepreneurial skills, and providing resume and LinkedIn profile training and online English conversation sessions. These have been enhanced in response to the increasing needs of students. The City of Melbourne will also introduce the Runway Virtual Platform linking communities of students with business owners, entrepreneurs and mentors

Q. How do we better measure productivity in the age of automation? Does this create barriers to job creation? Thanks, Sally and the team at VCCI.

A. This is for each business owner to measure in their own way.

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