The scheme provides a subsidy for businesses to keep paying eligible staff, but the subsidy is provided in arrears, meaning it’s only a realistic option for businesses that can find the cash upfront.

“We’ve been operating for nearly 38 years, teaching students adaptability and resilience through experiences from camping to mountain climbing. We’ve been through some challenges, but never anything close to this,” says executive director Richard Thornton.

“Some of our venues were badly hit by bushfire over summer and we’d worked really hard to relocate programs so they could go ahead. We moved one program only for the new venue to be flooded, and then this. The first calls from schools concerned they may have to cancel bookings came in March. Soon we had 50 cancellations in one week. All up now nearly 80 of our programs have been cancelled and nearly 200 are postponed. We’re pretty good at working through a crisis, but this came as a huge blow.”

OEG started the year with about 400 staff, including casuals. In some of the towns where they operate programs, they are the biggest employer. 

“We were pretty excited when we heard about JobKeeper,” Richard says. “Then we realised we’d have to pay staff the $1500 per fortnight upfront, taking on the risk of them not being eligible for the subsidy.”

Risk aside, without programs running, OEG simply did not have the cashflow to make those upfront payments, so they looked to CommBank for help.

Finance Director Jamie Williams says there was a lot of analysis to work out the best way forward.

“The outflows don’t stop because the tap is turned off for incoming revenue. We had to look at our obligations and think about when and how we expect to emerge from all this.”

OEG worked with CommBank to set up a separate facility from which they can make their regular payments to staff. When the Job Keeper payment comes in, it gets tipped back into the facility to pay it down.

“It’s tricky because the payments go out every fortnight but the inflows from government can be staggered. We needed a partner who was ready to be a bit pioneering and act quickly so we could be sure we would be able to participate in the scheme.”

He and Richard say their CommBank bankers went above and beyond. “They really worked hard for us. My banker was emailing me on Easter Saturday,” Jamie says.

The facility was approved and up and running in time for staff to receive their first payment as soon as JobKeeper was launched. Over 200 OEG staff are now enrolled in the JobKeeper scheme, and Richard says the team is raring to get going as soon as they can.

“What we do in our programs is take people into challenging circumstances where they don’t always know what is coming next. We’ve been calling on all our skills around resilience and adaptability to get through this and now we are chomping at the bit to start working with schools again.”

For more about OEG, visit

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  • This article represents opinions and views of the customer's personal experiences only and has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness to your circumstances.  Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124.