Australian Small Business and Family Business Ombudsman (ASBFEO), Bruce Billson, will be traveling to natural disaster-affected areas across the country, conducting feedback sessions with affected communities as part of his investigation to help the sector to deal with future disasters.
Mr Billson said in a statement today that the tour would kick off in Townsville and Rockhampton on Monday.
His mission to collect information for the Small Business Natural Disaster Preparedness and Resilience Inquiry will also take him to Kangaroo Island and Tasmania.
“Over the next few weeks, we will visit more than 20 areas in six states and territories that have been affected by fires, floods and cyclones,” Billson said.
“I encourage small business and family business owners to participate in this important discussion. »
The inquiry was launched last month after the Minister for Jobs, Labour, Skills, Small and Home Business, Stuart Robert, referred it to the Ombudsman, who aims to make account of its findings by 18 March at the latest.
Mr. Billson says he wants to hear from small family business owners who have suffered a natural disaster and have ideas on how the government can best help them prepare and stay resilient in the event of an unavoidable event.
“What we learn from small businesses on this tour will help inform our recommendations for improving education and engagement programs to better target and help small businesses prepare for natural disasters such as fires, floods and drought,” he said.
The survey follows a recommendation from the 2020 Royal Commission on Natural Disaster Arrangements that “state and territory governments should continue to provide, evaluate and improve education and engagement programs aimed at promote resilience to disasters for individuals and communities”.
Billson says the impacts of natural disasters on small businesses can be devastating. They can mean damaged and destroyed assets, reduced production and revenue streams and, unfortunately, a business ending event in some cases which can have devastating personal effects.
“Recovery can be long – which takes a heavy toll on small business owners, their staff and the wider community, but can be made much easier with the right preparation,” he said.
When asked if the Ombudsman wanted to hear about insurance matters, a spokesperson said the inquiry was primarily focused on ways to deploy preparedness and planning to build resilience in the event of a natural disaster. .
“Small business access to insurance is a key part of preparing for a natural disaster, and has been widely called for in reviews by the [Australian Competition and Consumer Commission]this office and other entities,” the ASBFEO spokesperson told insuranceNEWS.com.au.