COSBOA releases report on the lessons learned by small business from the time of COVID
During January and February 2021, the team at COSBOA were busy undertaking research into what industry association leaders thought about Australian government responses to COVID-19.
COSBOA surveyed leaders of 33 industry associations representing a diverse range of small businesses about their experiences of Australian government responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. They were asked about the impact of state and federal measures to stop the spread of the virus, the impact of assistance measures for small businesses, as well as their experiences with government consultation.
To read the full report: COSBOA – The Small Business Perspective
Key lessons from the report
- Consultation between government, the health sector and business groups was essential to the successful management of the crisis. The states with good consultation fared better; the state with the worst health outcome was the state with the worst consultation process.
- Associations with direct small business membership have a crucial role in communicating issues and actions to and from their membership.
- There is no doubt that the states performed well, yet they would have performed better and generated less confusion and fear if they had developed a more uniform approach for national consistency, particularly around border closures and the definition of an essential businesses.
- The success of the JobKeeper and Cash Flow Boost support measures cannot be overstated and should be ready to be rolled out when needed.
- The success of our health system must never be forgotten. Successful communication of health needs was amplified by consultation with industry leaders who could then communicate this to their members in a language best suited to their particular sector.
- There is now a need for lessons learned to be applied to plans for managing future inevitable crises.
- For example, we can develop special clauses to be placed into awards and industrial agreements that would be activated when a state of emergency is called for an area or for the country. This would save time in negotiating change when an emergency is happening.
- Consultation during a crisis is essential. By consultation we mean a two-way dialogue where information flows back and forth between government, health officials and the business community. We mean open, respectful, and frank conversations where questions can be asked and answered in good faith and with a view to community and economic health - not the ideological needs of individuals or groups.