The Australian Government is continuing to work tirelessly to flatten the curve, contain the effects of COVID-19, and save lives and livelihoods. The Government is acting decisively in the national interest to support households and businesses to address the significant economic consequences of COVID-19.
I know that many small businesses have been impacted and many have had to significantly adapt to the changed circumstances brought on by COVID-19.
Given the success we are now seeing across the country to flatten the curve and reduce the impact, the Prime Minister has indicated that current restrictions will be reviewed within the next four weeks if certain conditions regarding testing, tracing and rapid response to outbreaks can be met.
The critical next step is to plan for how businesses can adjust their operations to safely operate in an environment where COVID-19 may persist at low levels within the community.
This is vital both for our economy and also our social wellbeing.
It is important to now focus on making the appropriate arrangements to ensure that small businesses bounce back as quickly as possible, in a COVID-19 safe manner.
I encourage you to prepare your business or your industry members, as we open up the economy, to:
Prepare comprehensive plans so employees and customers know what to expect both in undertaking daily business but also in the event of a COVID-19 related incident or outbreak
Develop workplace and business models to prevent the spread of COVID-19 which incorporate measures such as physical distancing or barriers and hygiene as appropriate depending on the nature of your business operations
Prepare plans to respond in the event of an incident involving an infected employee or customer including testing and isolation measures (as well as support for and information flow to employees and their families)
Prepare plans and protocols to recover after incidents including cleaning and testing the workplace.
I encourage you to visit the Safe Work Australia website for guidance material on operating in a COVID-19 safe manner safeworkaustralia.gov.au. This valuable resource includes industry-specific guidance, as well as links to the relevant work health and safety authority in your jurisdiction.
To help your business adapt to this new way of working more broadly, business.gov.au continues to be a trusted source of support for businesses in Australia.
I also encourage you to utilise the resources and assistance offered on its website, by phone on 13 28 46 or via webchat, to explore avenues of assistance that may be available to you.
It is important to acknowledge that developing the right mix of responses will not always be an easy or a straight forward task. However, I am encouraged by the many examples of small businesses adaptability that we have already seen across Australia.
The resilience of small business to bounce back has been proven time and again, and demonstrates why it is such a strong pillar and backbone of the Australian economy.
Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash
Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business
Senator for Western Australia