Small businesses are being encouraged to contribute to an independent review of the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) throughout April.
The review is a statutory requirement and will consider whether ASBFEO has helped and advocated for small businesses in an effective and efficient way.
Carmel McGregor has been appointed to lead the review, of which the public consultation period will run until April 30.
The review followed a similar process in 2017, which examined the first 12 months’ of the ASBFEO’s operations and made several recommendations. This year’s review will consider how the Ombudsman’s office responded to those recommendations, as well as any need for additional legislative or administrative support for the Ombudsman.
It will also consider the work of Kate Carnell, who served as the inaugural small business ombudsman between 2016 and March 2021, and Bruce Billson’s first month in the role.
Peter Strong, chief executive of the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia, tells SmartCompany he has already shared his views with the review and suggested ASBFEO needs more resources to continue its “great” work.
Carnell went “above and beyond” during her time as Ombudsman, Strong adds.
In a statement, Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business Stuart Robert said the timing of the review is “critical” as many of the country’s small businesses continue to recover from the economic fallout of COVID-19.
This is because ASBFEO is tasked with making sure small and family businesses can access available assistance programs, as well as advocating for the sector and “ensuring the interests and views of the industry are represented at all levels”, said Robert.
More information about the review, including how to contribute, is available here.