The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) Bruce Billson is set to hold a number of feedback sessions as he visits natural disaster-hit areas across the country.
The sessions aim to gain some vital on-the-ground feedback from impacted small businesses, with the first ones to be held at Townsville and Rockhampton in Queensland today, 14 February.
The Ombudsman has also scheduled sessions across the country, from Northern Queensland to Kangaroo Island and Tasmania, to help inform the Small Business Natural Disaster Preparedness and Resilience Inquiry. He is encouraging small businesses to make their voices heard.
“We want to hear from small and family business owners who have lived experience of a natural disaster and have ideas about how best the government can support them to prepare and remain resilient in the case of an unavoidable event,” Billson said. “What we learn from small businesses on this tour, will help inform our recommendations to improve education and engagement programs to best target and assist small businesses in preparing for natural disasters such as fires, floods and drought.
“We know the impacts of natural disasters on small businesses can be devastating,” Billson added. “It can mean damaged and destroyed assets, reduced production and revenue streams, and sadly, a business-ending event in some cases that can have devastating personal impacts. Recovery can be lengthy – taking a heavy toll on small business owners, their staff and the broader community, but can be greatly assisted by good preparedness.”
The ASBFEO highlighted the cost of natural disasters and the fact that the time it takes for small businesses to get back on their feet could be reduced by being better prepared, taking sensible risk and impact mitigation action and bolstering resilience.
“Over the coming weeks, we will be visiting more than 20 areas across six states and territories that have been impacted by fires, floods and cyclones,” Billson said. “I encourage small and family business owners to take part in this important discussion.”