Legal

Social media “witch hunt” forces regional small-business owner to shut up shop

Matthew Elmas /

A small-business owner is closing the doors on her neighbourhood fish-and-chip shop, claiming to have fallen victim to a “witch hunt” by not-for-profit groups.

Carolyn Kerr, owner of The Battered Wife Fish And Chips in Far North Queensland, courted national controversy last year over the name of her business, which has been criticised as offensive to victims of domestic violence.

A former police officer, Kerr has previously defended the name, saying it was designed to raise awareness about the issue.

But in a video posted to social media, Kerr says she’s been forced to put up a for-sale sign and cease trading after several months of sustained abuse.

“It’s with deep, deep sadness I inform you we will cease trading next week,” Kerr says in the video.

“I’ve been the subject of an abusive witch hunt by a not-for-profit organisation — well, more than one — who are anti-abuse, however, they threatened to throw bricks through my window.”

It is with a heavy heart that I inform you that The Battered Wife will cease trading on Monday 28/1… thank you to all of our awesome customers and everyone for your amazing support .. video explanation attached ????????

Posted by The Battered Wife FISH & CHIPS on Monday, 21 January 2019

Kerr also claimed she has spent the last few months jumping through regulatory hoops after her business name was reported to ASIC and child protective services received a complaint she was exploiting children.

“Last week I was informed that anonymous complaints were made to the Department of Fair Work, who is now acting on it and doing an audit on my business for staff wages,” she said.

“I don’t know how much the accountant is going to cost me to get the information together to jump through the hoops … I just can’t see any way I can trade my way through it.”

Kerr claims to have spent $150,000 renovating her shop, which was a former butcher, but is now selling it for just $69,000, or for $330,000 with an adjoining residential property.

“Who wants to buy a shop? It’s called The Battered Wife Fish and Chips, you don’t have to name it that, but this is what you are going to get,” Kerr said.

The video has been viewed over 58,000 times on Facebook, with many commenters rallying behind the business owner.

“This poor lady is only trying to run a business in a small town, who frankly don’t see a problem with the name,” one commenter said.

A Go Fund Me page set up to support Kerr has received $1,429 in donations from supporters so far.

“After a horrible campaign to destroy a woman’s dream, a no named non-for-profit organisation has finally done there [sic] damage,” the Go Fund Me description reads.

“I’ve set this go fund me up on my own accord. I don’t know how much is needed but I’m hoping the people of Australia can find it inside of themselves to dig deep to help keep this wonderful shop alive.”

SmartCompany has been unable to confirm the identity of the Go Fund Me organiser or the authenticity of the campaign.

One Facebook user who appears to have started the campaign commented that she has so far been unable to get in contact with Kerr.

The Fair Work Ombudsman confirmed it is conducting inquiries into the business, but did not respond to a question about whether any consideration was being given to the authenticity of the complaint.

“The Fair Work Ombudsman is conducting enquiries in relation to The Battered Wife Fish and Chips shop. As this matter is ongoing, it is not appropriate to comment further at this time,” a spokesperson said.

SmartCompany contacted Kerr for comment but did not receive a response prior to publication.

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Matthew Elmas

Matthew is the news editor at SmartCompany. You can contact him at [email protected].

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