Judy O’Connell – Victoria’s passionate supporter of regional and metropolitan small businesses – will be retiring from her role as Victorian Small Business Commissioner in June 2021.
Over the past four and a half years, Judy has advocated on the real issues affecting business owners – from not getting paid on time to having major infrastructure works disrupt trade – and championed their right to a fair and inclusive operating environment.
A core focus for Judy has been building awareness of rights and obligations when it comes to retail leases and other contracts, and helping businesses to resolve disputes quickly and effectively through mediation.
With unprecedented pressures on the sector emerging in 2020 as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19), Judy was quick to respond, leading her team in:
- informing commercial tenants and landlords about how to negotiate rent relief and reach a fair agreement under the Victorian Government’s Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme
- resolving 2,593 disputes over rent through early help or free mediation, achieving a success rate of 85.9 per cent
- helping to resolve disputes over other matters such as substandard goods or services
- responding to a staggering 17,026 pandemic-related enquiries
- giving business owners practical tools to identify their mental health stressors, recognise changes that signal they might need extra help and plan actions they can take.
Judy has driven projects that will have lasting impacts on the sector, including the Grow Your Business, Together initiative in the Latrobe Valley and the Small Business Friendly Council initiative that is currently being rolled out across the state.
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