Ten issues confronting bushfire-affected businesses …and where they can turn for help

Small businesses across bushfire-affected communities in southern NSW have reported a complete collapse in cashflow being the most pressing operational issue faced in the wake of the recent disaster.

As the regional chamber that supports businesses and local chambers across the South Coast, Snowy Mountains, Southern Highlands and the Shoalhaven, the Illawarra Business Chamber has been talking to businesses on the ground in bushfire affected communities to understand the immediate pressures they face.

Ten key themes emerged in these conversations (listed below), and businesses were also advised of a range of services immediately available to them from all levels of government, as well as the business chamber and other community organisations (also listed below).

Executive Director of the Illawarra Business Chamber, Adam Zarth, said that small businesses across the affected required immediate practical measures to address their cashflow alongside more long-term solutions.

“The viability of small businesses is integral to the survival and recovery of our bushfire-affected communities, but right now the situation is very fragile for many,” said Mr Zarth.

“The majority of businesses across the affected areas are tourism-dependent and many rely on the summer period – so they are now coming to terms with an entire year’s profit being written off following a bad year struggling through drought.”

“Many are concerned about finance; in either their ability to service existing loans or to obtain new loans to rebuild. Others are concerned about being uninsured, underinsured, having their premiums go up or the increased cost of rebuilding if fire ratings are enhanced.”

“In addition, they have been hit hard by costs incurred during the crisis, where many happily donated goods and services to emergency services personnel, tourists and members of the community.”

“Staffing is a worry for many, given the seasonality of trade, with many paying staff despite barely trading, and others believing that they won’t be able to attract workforce back to the region.”

“While its pleasing to see the mobilisation of government assistance, including the state government’s $15,000 recovery grants and the Australian Taxation Office’s lodgment and payment deferrals, there are concerns about how long it would take for other measures to come online and for visitation to resume.”

“In the next few days we will be talking to government about these issues, and will be advocating for all businesses affected through the coming weeks and months of recovery.”

/Public Release. View in full here.