The Federal government has responded to the current global financial crisis in a variety of ways. Several of these measures are aimed at small business.
Small Business Support Line
A small business support line has been established. It operates Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time) except on Australian public holidays.
This telephone support line provides a point of contact or hub for small businesses to access relevant information and referral services. Areas of interest for small business clients include the following topics:
- Finance and cash flow management (including loan and banking products)
- Marketing and promotion, including research and statistics
- Business planning and diagnostic services
- Personal stress and hardship counseling
- Registration and licences
- E-Business and online assistance
- Government initiatives, grants and assistance
- Employing staff
- Home-based business
This support line is a valuable starting point. For specific advice on complex topics, such as importing and exporting, tenders and contracts, Intellectual Property rights and government regulations, it is indispensable to also seek professional legal advice that addresses your particular business situation.
Small Business Credit Complaints Clearing House
The Small Business Credit Complaints Clearing House, operated through the Support Line, provides an avenue for small businesses to direct their issues about access to and the cost of bank finance. Small Business credit complaints can be submitted online.
Small Business Online
The Small Business Online program will offer grants to service providers, typically ranging from $50,000 to $500,000, for projects that will provide “free or low cost” skills development, training and mentoring services to small and home-based businesses to assist them in developing an online presence or to improve their existing web presence and e-business capability.
Applications for the Small Business Online program close at 5 pm Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST) on Friday, 25 September 2009. Grants will be awarded through a competitive merit based process, to provide “free or low cost” IT skills development, training and mentoring services to small businesses. Small businesses will be able to access this service through these providers.
The $10 Million Small Business Online Program will run over two years and conclude on 30 June 2011. The objective of the program is to equip small businesses to go online and significantly enhance their web facilities, thus engaging in e-business capabilities, reducing their costs and improving market opportunities.
Community Development and Employment Program Work Experience Subsidy
The 1st July 2009 saw the introduction of a government program to provide wage subsidies to employers who offer paid work experience to new CDEP participants (on income support).
The subsidy is linked with the CDEP Work Readiness services stream and is funded through the Indigenous Employment Program (IEP).
Fresh Ideas for Work and Family Grants
The Australian Government has introduced the Fresh Ideas for Work and Family grants program to support Australian small businesses to implement practices that help employees balance their work and family obligations as well as improve employee retention and productivity.
The program provides grants of $5,000 to $15,000 (GST inclusive) to small businesses to help meet the set-up costs of family friendly arrangements.
In addition, the program supports small businesses through developing and distributing business and industry specific information to assist in implementing family friendly work arrangements. From January 2010, it will provide for experts within Fair Work Australia to assist in setting up these arrangements. The program is administered in funding rounds by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.
Information on family friendly work arrangements and this program is available at Workplace Info-line from 8 am to 7 pm Monday to Friday on 1300 363 264.