How Restaurant Workers Impacted by Coronavirus Can Get Help

Many restaurant workers impacted by coronavirus are struggling
| 6 min read Financial Assistance

Are you one of the many restaurant workers impacted by coronavirus? With many service workers left with very unstable shifts, or none at all, their ability to make a living is dwindling. The Guardian reported that almost 300,000 Australians working in the hospitality industry have lost their jobs since COVID-19 began, with more to follow as restrictions are anticipated to come and go in the longer term.

With more than 700,000 Australians unemployed in 2020 and analysts at Goldman Sachs predicting that unemployment rates across Australia could become as high as 19%, individuals who have lost their jobs face an increasing need for funds to pay for rent, food, electricity, water, and other necessities. While the path forward may be unclear, there are several ways for restaurant workers impacted by coronavirus to find support during this challenging time.

Six resources for restaurant workers affected by COVID-19

Under the Morrison government’s $130 billion JobKeeper scheme, payments have been distributed to those who are suffering from loss of employment due to their employer also losing business from coronavirus social restrictions. The scheme provides relief for hourly-paid workers and help businesses maintain a working relationship with current employees.

If you’re one of the thousands of restaurant workers affected by COVID-19, here is a list of options that can help you pay your bills during this difficult time. 

Start a GoFundMe

1. File for unemployment

If you haven’t yet filed for unemployment, now is the time to take that step. The first round of payments for the JobKeeper allowance has already been distributed, but here are some key dates to be aware of from now. Those who are working for businesses who are not eligible for JobKeeper may still apply for JobSeeker allowances through Services Australia should they meet the criteria.

2. Reach out to a relief fund for restaurant workers

In an effort to provide emergency financial assistance for restaurant and bar workers, organisations and individuals have started a number of relief funds across the country. Relief funds can operate in different ways, but generally, they serve as a centralised location for community members to donate to a specific cause. We’ve curated a list of relief funds specifically dedicated to financially assisting restaurant workers, bartenders, or other industry workers who are wondering how to get financial assistance in light of the coronavirus crisis.


  • Restaurant owners like Rachel Jelley from Hearth And Soul in Sydney’s Newtown fundraised to pay for meals to feed hospitality workers who found themselves out of work. This movement spread across the country. Why not take a leaf out of Rachel’s book and start a new fundraiser in your own local community?
  • United Workers Union is fighting for the rights of those working for hospitality-focused companies and restaurants to ensure that if any Australian loses their job due to COVID-19, they do not lose pay
  • Employees in the creative industries – think chefs, bartenders, caterers and more can contact I Lost My Gig and report how they have been impacted. The data is being collated and used as an official source on industry impact

3. Start a fundraiser to share with your loved ones

One of the quickest and easiest ways to receive financial help during the coronavirus is to start a personal fundraiser of your own. Through crowdfunding, you can inform your loved ones of your current situation and explain why you need financial assistance now more than ever. Once donations start coming in, you can withdraw funds to your bank account and they’ll arrive in 2-5 business days. Then, you can use donations to buy food or pay rent, among other expenses.

Additionally, restaurants and bars everywhere have been starting fundraisers to support their staff. If you prefer not to start a fundraiser for yourself, you could consider starting a fundraiser for both you and your co-workers. Here are a few examples of fundraisers for restaurant workers started during the coronavirus pandemic:

If you’re a small business owner and you want to support your staff, you can start a small business relief fundraiser today. Also, read our fundraising tips for small businesses before you get started. 

4. Launch or donate to a virtual tip jar for your local

Virtual tip jars are popping up to help supplement reduced income for restaurant workers and bartenders affected by COVID-19. Virtual tip jars come in many different forms — but the most popular format has seen locals and bar owners launch fundraising pages for their employees, encouraging loyal customers to throw in a tip.

Many people are looking for ways to support restaurant workers impacted by the coronavirus, so don’t hesitate to put a call out to those who have backed you to help out and donate. The Bearded Tit in Redfern, Sydney, raised over $13k with customers chipping in to buy virtual drinks for its bartenders after coronavirus forced closure.

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5. Get involved with an industry advocacy group

Numerous restaurant industry advocacy groups and startups have been started in response to the coronavirus pandemic affecting restaurants and their staff, like Keep Your Cafe. In most situations, these advocacy groups advocate for specific financial assistance. Get involved with an advocacy group or organisation and make sure your voice is heard.

6. Take care of your mental health

It’s important to take care of your mental health if you’re feeling any sort of anxiety about the loss of your job. The good news is that there are a few or cost-reduced apps and therapy programs that can help you prioritise your mental health during the coronavirus. We’ve also created seven ways to find mental health financial assistance to get you on the right track to staying mentally well.

  • The Aussie meditation app Insight Timer offers guided meditations to help people find simple moments of calm.
  • Corepower Yoga is offering a selection of online yoga classes during this crisis. Exercise can be a great way to reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Lifeline Text is a text message support service that provides access to free, direct access to LifeLine’s Crisis Support team when you are not in a position to call the helpline on 13 11 14.
  • Beyond Blue launched a dedicated coronavirus hub, offering a hotline with access to counsellors, online community forum and resources to help you through this difficult period. eheadspace exists for those aged 12-25, and their families and friends.

Let your community help you get back on your feet

With the entire world facing uncertainty around what life may look like after the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to make sure you have the support you need to move forward. With fundraising options like GoFundMe, you can sign up and start receiving donations to help you with your bills in a matter of minutes. If you’re a restaurant worker or a bartender who has been negatively impacted by the coronavirus, know that there are options available to you. Start a fundraiser to get the help you need right away.

Start a GoFundMe