As lockdowns in greater Sydney, central west New South Wales, South Australia, and Victoria continue this week, small businesses are crippling under the pressure, and female dominated industries like beauty are being overlooked.
On Sunday, NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet made a public appeal to the federal government to provide extra financial support to businesses in locked down areas, and said JobKeeper needed to be reinstated in NSW.
“As case numbers escalate or remain stubborn, there will need to be extra financial support from the federal government. We believe that JobKeeper was instrumental in keeping the nexus between workers and businesses,” Perrottet told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Female dominated sectors like the hairdressing and beauty industries have been hit hard by lockdowns throughout the pandemic, and have received a fraction of the attention of other decimated industries like hospitality.
The beauty services industry is one that is unable to pivot easily when lockdowns are imposed and, as it is considered non-essential, is unable to find other ways to generate revenue.
Iman Davamoni, founder and chief executive of Purely Polished, a tech platform to book on demand mobile beauty and wellness treatments to have in your home or office, said the stress and anxiety of business owners in the beauty services industry is at breaking point.
Davamoni believes the lack of support for business owners in the beauty services industry is a gendered issue. There are 35,000 hairdressing and beauty services businesses in Australia, employing 80,000 workers, with 97% being female.
Davamoni notes that many beauty workers operate as sole traders and are self-employed, working as freelance make-up artists, hair stylists, nail technicians, mobile massage and beauty therapists, and many operate salons from their homes.
“Governments have forgotten the industry, they perceive beauty as frivolous and non-essential, however it’s hugely associated with wellbeing, self-confidence and self-worth,” Davamoni told Women’s Agenda.
“The hospitality industry is mostly male owned; they are speaking up are and being heard by both the government and media. Women owned and run salons, or sole traders, have less of a collective voice.”
Without the JobKeeper wage subsidy in place, the government stimulus being provided to small businesses does not scratch the surface of the revenue lost to businesses, Davamoni says. The COVID-19 Disaster Payment provided by the federal government does not help all workers, with strict eligibility criteria meaning some are missing out. A lack of rent relief is also an ongoing burden for salon owners.
While other industries have received tailored initiatives to help boost small businesses — for example the NSW government’s Dine & Discover voucher initiative — the beauty services and hairdressing industries have not benefitted from any similar initiatives.
The Aesthetics and Beauty Industry Council raised $30,00 through a GoFundMe Campaign and has created 300 vouchers valued at $100 each to give away to beauty industry professionals in Victoria who are in need of essentials and food supplies.
Davamoni says while the initiative is welcome, the onus should be on the state and federal governments who need to step up to support the industry.
This article was first published by Women’s Agenda.