Recently, we’ve travelled through rural and remote communities across Queensland. We have visited Toowoomba, Dalby, Roma, Charleville, Quilpie, Thargomindah, Cunnamulla, St George, Karumba, and Normanton.
We’ve heard that in these communities, and other Queensland regions, the top three challenges experienced by small businesses include skills shortages, housing, and the cost of living specifically costs associated with freight, fuel, electricity, insurance and access to childcare.
Remarkably, the small business community is showing incredible resilience in the face of these challenges, especially when supported by their local council and chambers/tourism and business associations. We learned how they provide technical support to one another when equipment fails, share staff, and pick up freight from other towns for free, making the lives of their fellow business owners easier and keeping their communities connected. It was also heartening to meet young women, often mothers of young children, successfully running businesses across industries in the outback – we can’t wait to watch them grow.
Another highlight of our tour was visiting the new facilities, backed and funded by councils, that assist students engaged in higher learning. These facilities give young people the opportunity to stay and work in their communities, supporting industry and growth, often within family businesses.
The awe that I have for the grit and courage our small businesses show right across our vast state is why I’m determined to ensure all our communities can be heard, even those who may be harder to reach. For that reason, we’ve created a Small Business Regional Roundtable based on the Modified Monash Model, which identifies the most disadvantaged locations across Queensland and the most advantaged, as well as those in between. We’ve invited small business leaders from these locations to share their experiences and ideas for their communities to help deliver better outcomes for small business everywhere.
This month we attended the National Small Business Commissioner Forum (hosted by the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman) and learned the other commissioners are hearing very similar challenges across the country. We were also collectively able to advocate to the ATO, ACCC, ASIC and the RBA in relation to the relief that small businesses need across the country, especially in relation to the cost of living.
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Photo: Enjoying a brew at Unstable Coffee in Quilpie – local business owners with Small Business Commissioner, Dominique Lamb (middle), Cr Lyn Barnes (2nd from right) and QSBC Strategy and Engagement Director, Luke Forster (far right).
Queensland Small Business Commissioner
For more details, read the QSBC newsletter August 2023