Queensland’s Small Business Commissioner role made permanent to help SMEs facing hardship

Di Farmer

Queensland Employment and Small Business Minister Di Farmer. Source: AAP/Dan Peled.

The Palaszczuk government’s decision to make permanent the role of Queensland Small Business Commissioner recognises the ongoing hardship SMEs have endured during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Employment and small business minister Di Farmer issued a statement on Monday outlining new support that the government would be offering small businesses.

On top of financial assistance schemes, Farmer said the government wanted to ensure SME owners received a ‘strong health response’ also.

“COVID has had a devastating impact, and small business owners are doing it incredibly tough,” Farmer said. 

“I know from speaking directly with small business owners, as well as to our peak bodies that represent them, that the last 18 months have been amongst the most difficult many businesses have ever faced.”

Speaking about the importance of supporting the mental health and wellbeing of small business owners and staff, Farmer said a new guide had been created to help small businesses navigate this challenging time. 

Together with the Department of Employment, Small Business and Training, the Queensland Mental Health Commission and Beyond Blue, she said the Queensland Small Business Commissioner Maree Adshead had developed the practical guide.

The guide assists SMEs identify errors and red flags, and helps people find available support, and develop practical strategies.

SMEs can also access mental health and wellbeing resources on the Business Queensland website, which contains links to Beyond Blue materials.

“The stress involved in running your own business through these uncertain and changing times cannot be understated, and I want to thank small business owners for everything they’re doing and remind them of the ways the government might be able to help,” Farmer said. 

Other government programs available to SMEs include tailored financial and support packages, a free ‘Mentoring for Growth’ program, and small business financial counsellors.

“This is in addition to our $260 million COVID-19 Business Support Grants, our $25 million small business grant program, our Big Plans for Small Business package, and $460 million for our flagship employment programs,” Farmer said. 

“To help things be as quick and as easy as possible for small business owners we have our online Business Assistance Finder — which helps businesses see what local, state, and federal support is available to them — and Business Health Check tools, as well as personalised support to take on apprentices and trainees.

‘A small business owner’s guide to creating a mental health and wellbeing plan’ can be accessed online

For anyone seeking help, Lifeline is on 13 11 14 and Beyond Blue is 1300 22 4636.

This article was first published by The Mandarin

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