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Members of the KCCI Executive at the launch of the SMILE 4 BIZ program last year

The Kingaroy Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s mental wellbeing program, SMILE 4 BIZ, is set to be rolled out to more than 50 other Chambers throughout Queensland.

SMILE (Supporting Mental Wellbeing through Leadership, Education) was launched by the KCCI in June 2021.

Since then, the KCCI has held a number of workshops and other initiatives – including NICL (Noticing, Inquiring, Connecting and Linking) training – for local businesses in conjunction with Bunyarra Counselling.

The Chamber of Commerce & Industry Queensland (CCIQ) will receive $200,000 to facilitate the rollout of the SMILE 4 BIZ program to other Chambers, although the final details of the project are yet to be confirmed.

KCCI president Damien Martoo said the extension of the SMILE program had been achieved through a collaboration by the CCIQ with the Office of the Queensland Small Business Commissioner and the Queensland Mental Health Commission.

Employment and Small Business Minister Di Farmer made the announcement while unveiling a $6.75 million package to support the mental health and wellness of small business owners.

Minister Farmer described SMILE 4 BIZ as a fantastic program developed by the KCCI.

“They were sitting around one day with their businesses and saying ‘how is everybody?’ and everyone was going ‘yep, yep, we’re good, we’re good’ and then someone said ‘well, actually, I’m not good. I am really struggling. I am drowning’,” Minister Farmer said.

“They talked about how important it is to encourage people to speak out and know there’s support.

“As a result of the program they put in place, we will now be rolling out their program to 50 Chambers across the State.”

The funding announcement coincided with the start of Small Business Month in Queensland.

Minister Farmer said the Small Business Support and Wellness Package comprised four elements:

  • The appointment of six specialist Small Business Wellness Coaches across Queensland where they were needed most. These coaches would join an existing statewide network of 43 rural, tourism and small business financial counsellors to provide a complete package of support for small businesses,
  • Access to a $3 million Small Business Support Services Fund to assist small business owners in alleviating stresses of their current situation, such as cash flow, financial planning and minor works,
  • The extension of “SMILE 4 BIZ” developed by the KCCI to deliver local mental health supports through activation of the program by more Chambers of Commerce, and
  • A $1.6 million promotional campaign to raise awareness of the mental health, financial counselling and other support services available to small businesses.

Small Business Minister Di Farmer making the funding announcement at a media conference at the start of Small Business Week (Photo: Facebook)

Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington has congratulated the KCCI for leading the way when it came to mental health support for small business.

“The rolling out of the program across Queensland acknowledges that the KCCI’s Smile4Biz program is truly best practice when it comes to mental health support initiatives,” Mrs Frecklington said.

“We should all feel very proud of our local Kingaroy Chamber, and the implementation of this unique program that helps support small business with the mental health challenges faced by owners and their staff each and every day.

“SMILE has helped save lives. I want to thank KCCI president Damien Martoo and his committee for their hard work and foresight in offering this service to our local businesses, and congratulate them on having their program recognised for its success, and now extended to help business across Queensland.”

The KCCI plans to organise a new round of NICL training soon, with dates yet to be confirmed.