The business community’s BizRebuild initiative is working to quickly restore the jobs and small businesses that hold communities together to ensure bushfire affected towns do not fold and fade away.
BizRebuild, chaired by General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove (Retd), and members of his advisory committee, including Business Council of Australia Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott AO and President Tim Reed, today heard firsthand from around 50 mayors and local businesses from bushfire devastated communities.
Sir Peter told the community meeting at Parliament House: “We heard today the theme of disaster and setback repeated again and again across local communities. We also heard a very dire impression of the economic damage.”
“We won’t let your communities fold and fade away.
“We want to lead a business recovery and larger businesses are already working to help smaller ones. Whether it’s getting someone a job in the job in the short-term, whether it’s getting someone the tools they need to start working again, or providing a temporary shopfront for a gutted business.”
“Our job is to get money and action on the ground as fast as possible. We are not going to be bogged down by bureaucracy. We are not going to ask you to fill out complicated forms. We are not going to ask you to jump through numerous hoops. I want to make this as easy as possible,” Sir Peter said.
The meeting heard from communities, many in drought, how the bushfires had resulted in 100 per cent of holiday bookings evaporating, businesses shutting, and jobs disappearing. Others said their agriculture and forestry industries had been decimated.
Mayors said there was a desperate need to get cash and credit flowing back into their local economies, tourists returning, and larger companies buying more from regional businesses.
Ms Westacott said: “Members of the business community cannot begin to comprehend the trauma local communities are facing but we have undertaken to work alongside them, providing the on-the-ground assistance they need to recover and rebuild.”
“BizRebuild will launch “flying squads” giving case management support to small businesses who need advice and guidance as they prepare to rebuild for even stronger future.
Last week it matched Beach House Stairs in Batemans Bay with Bunnings which sourced and donated new tools from across the state.
Acting quickly and providing the tools meant a local business was able to stay afloat, nine tradesman stayed in work, earning wages and supporting their families and local communities.
BizRebuild aims to replicate these efforts across fire affected regions.
“We want to rekindle a sense of community in bushfire affected regions, give them a sense of hope and a road to recovery. Our response is designed to be practical and on-the-ground,” Ms Westacott said.
Mr Reed said: “This is about coordinating the resources that large companies have for impact. We want to help small businesses at the heart of these communities get back on track.”
“Business Council of Australia members have given more than $33 million in donations, and millions more in in-kind support,” he said.
“We have already encouraged larger businesses to waive or defer debts wherever possible to alleviate the pressure, and to make sure cash is coming in by paying invoices before they are due and holding corporate events in devastated communities.