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Ombudsman launches small-business natural disaster preparedness inquiry

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Bruce Billson has launched an inquiry into small-business natural disaster preparedness and resilience.

Ombudsman launches small-business natural disaster preparedness inquiry
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The inquiry, referred to the ombudsman by Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business, Stuart Robert, will examine and make recommendations to improve education and engagement programs to best target and assist small businesses in preparing for natural disasters such as fires, floods and drought.

The inquiry follows a recommendation in the 2020 Royal Commission into Natural Disaster Arrangements that “State and territory governments should continue to deliver, evaluate and improve education and engagement programs aimed at promoting disaster resilience for individuals and communities”.

A recent Deloitte Access Economics report found that 97 per cent of government disaster-related expenditure was used for repairs and recovery and just 3 per cent on disaster preparation and mitigation.  

Mr Billson said the impacts of natural disasters on small businesses can be devastating with damaged and destroyed assets, reduced production and revenue streams and governments of all levels had a key role to play in ensuring people have the right information to make informed decisions about the risk they faced from natural disasters.

“Recovery can be lengthy – taking a heavy toll on small business owners, their staff and the broader community, but can be greatly assisted by good preparedness,” he said.

“The cost of natural disasters and the time it takes for small businesses to get back on their feet could be reduced by being better prepared, taking sensible risk and impact mitigation action and bolstering resilience.

“Our inquiry will make recommendations about the types of supports that could be targeted to small business and how to achieve the best outcomes from those resources.

“We will also make recommendations around the development of targeted resources that could be used by small business and government agencies to better support small business preparedness and resilience.”

Read the full terms of reference at https://www.asbfeo.gov.au/policy-advocacy/policy-insights/small-business-natural-disaster-preparedness-and-resilience.

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