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From the Commissioner

I’m going to just jump straight to it, seemingly 2022 is determined to throw everything at us. For everyone affected by the flood in the South East corner up to the Gympie region:

  • keep an eye on this page for updates regarding small business disaster relief specific to this event
  • if you can, please compete this short survey to help inform the Queensland Government about how your business has been impacted and what you need
  • download the disaster hub app (available free on Apple | Google) which was created from lessons learned in the 2019 monsoon trough event in the Townsville region, you can use it to access advice, tips and practical checklists.

I’ve detailed more on disaster relief below, including CCIQ’s HR and Export helpline they have made available free of charge to anyone who needs it this week. Thank you also to the many callers today, that have volunteered their time and expertise to help small businesses. It was completely unexpected and honestly just so overwhelming to receive such a level of support. Stay tuned, we will be back in touch to harness your offers of assistance.

We are continuing to monitor for announcements of further COVID related small business support. Please stay in touch via our social media channels or check in with your local chamber or business group to ensure you don’t miss an opportunity to access what your business needs.

Understandably not an immediate priority for those who have been flood affected, but for everyone else, please be aware the Australian Cyber Security Centre has published a high alert to urgently adopt an enhanced cyber security position. You will find more information about that below.

You may have heard there are some COVID restrictions easing at the end of this week which we have set out below. We have received enquiries regarding the ongoing use of the Check in Qld app to confirm vaccination status where that is still required, and we have conveyed to the Department of Health your feedback and requests to cease the requirement to check for vaccination status. At this stage there is no change to those restrictions however we will continue to monitor closely and will share news of any updates as soon as we know.

One of the many challenges for small business that has been amplified by COVID is embracing digitisation. I am not just talking about having a great website, or using e-commerce to sell products and services online. Embracing digitisation is about enhancing how your business functions internally and interacts with suppliers to save you time and money, and respond to customers in ways that meets their new and changing needs. Particularly as they choose to engage less and less outside of the home – fully interacting with and providing that full customer experience digitally. If you need help to figure out how or where to start, we have good news. The Australian Government has subsidised a low cost service that can connect you with the right know-how and tools to suit your particular business needs.

Sourcing readily available supplies is also a challenge amplified by COVID for many businesses, so I thought I’d highlight the Capability Connection in case you hadn’t heard of it. Scroll down to find out more.

Maree Adshead
Queensland Small Business Commissioner

Disaster relief for small businesses

Whilst there has been nothing officially announced at the time of publishing this newsletter, we understand that all small business disaster relief announcements will be published on this page. We encourage you to monitor this page for updates.

In the interim, there are a range of key supports available for impacted individuals and families, including:

  • Emergency Hardship Assistance Grants available of up to $180 per person, or $900 for a family of five or more residents located within targeted areas in Gympie and Dallarnil who have been impacted by severe flooding over recent days. These grants help cover the costs of essential items, such as food, medication and clothing.
  • Essential Household Contents Grants of up to $1765 for single adults and up to $5,300 for couples/families are available. These grants are for those who are uninsured, or unable to claim insurance. If eligible you may receive financial assistance towards replacing or repairing essential household contents, such as beds, linen and white goods, that have been lost or damaged in a disaster

The Small Business Disaster Hub contains resources to assist small business with a range of disasters (including flooding) to help them prepare, respond, recover and communicate so they can get back to business sooner. The Hub is also available as a free app via Apple or Google.

Cyber security update

The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) recently published an Alert and Advisory to encourage businesses to urgently adopt an enhanced cyber security position. Whilst there is no immediate threat to Australian businesses, it is a timely reminder for businesses to adopt or enhance their cybersecurity position to protect their business.

ACSC has published a Small Business Cyber Security Guide to help small businesses protect themselves from the most common cyber security incidents. You can access the guide here.

COVID update

From 6pm on Friday 4 March there will be an easing of restrictions for many businesses, which can be found here. Please note, masks are still recommended whenever you can’t socially distance.

If your business falls within any of the below categories you must continue to use the Check in Qld app where vaccination is a condition of entry:

  • hospitality venues (including cafés, restaurants, pubs, clubs etc.
  • entertainment venues including nightclubs, indoor live music venues etc.)
  • stadiums (all indoor and outdoor major sporting matches)
  • festivals
  • Government owned galleries, museums and libraries
  • wedding ceremonies and receptions
  • vulnerable settings (hospitals , residential aged care and disability accommodation services)

More information can be found here.

Staff returning to work after COVID
If you have a staff member who has completed their period of isolation and no longer have symptoms they can return to work. More information on dealing with COVID-19 in the workplace can be found here.

Digital Solutions program

Business Station is an organisation which helps small businesses thrive by providing resources and connections through a range of services including digital advisory, business coaching, and small business workshops.

For $44 you can access 7 hours of business mentorship through the Commonwealth Government’s Digital Solutions program. This program is made up of 3 hours of personalised, on-to-one business advice and an additional 4 hours of group workshops.

The Digital Solutions program connects you with experts who are highly experienced in everything from social media and marketing to business plans and financial management.

The experts can help with:

  • Social Media & Digital Marketing
  • Websites & Selling Online
  • Online Security & Data Privacy
  • Using Business Software
  • Financial Management
  • Managing Staff
  • Connecting with Customers
  • Developing Resilience
  • Applying for Grants & Tenders

Initially you will have a face-to-face session with an expert to establish what you, and your business need to succeed. Then you’ll be provided with hand-select experts, workshops, and webinars based on what your business needs, as outlined in your first session. When your journey is complete the Digital Solutions team reviews everything you’ve learnt and sets you up with a plan for moving forward.

You can register to access the program here.

Capability Connection – promoting and connecting local businesses

The Capability Connection has been set-up to help businesses supply or redistribute their products or services to help meet local supply chain needs via a simple register and search platform.

As this is a pilot program it is currently only available to  businesses in Townsville and South-East Qld. Businesses in these locations can now register their business details to connect with other businesses who may need their products or services.

Register your business here.