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RDA engages business about support needs

Saturday, 5th September, 2020

Sprint Auto Parts owner Don Martin, whose main problem since the pandemic crisis  began was the border issues and accessing goods for his store, said he was happy about participating in Regional Development Australia Far West’s survey of businesses. Seen pictured outside the store is employee Harry Smith. PICTURE: Annette Northey Sprint Auto Parts owner Don Martin, whose main problem since the pandemic crisis began was the border issues and accessing goods for his store, said he was happy about participating in Regional Development Australia Far West’s survey of businesses. Seen pictured outside the store is employee Harry Smith. PICTURE: Annette Northey

By Annette Northey

Local businesses in the Far West region will have the opportunity to voice their concerns and needs directly to the state and federal governments by participating in a survey being conducted by Regional Development Australia Far West (RDAFW).

RDAFW is undertaking a second survey of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on businesses here and will lobby government for support targeted to the unique needs of businesses in this region.

They acknowledge that everyone is impacted by current world events, and whilst many businesses are going through the same challenges, understand that there are a lot of different personal and business experiences.

RDAFW Director Michael Williams said the survey was about building an understanding of the differences in need, and seeing how businesses have been impacted since the last survey.

Outcomes from the survey will form the basis of a submission to the state and Commonwealth governments regarding the type of support and level of stimulus required in the region to support businesses through and beyond COVID-19.

“We have a semi-regular teleconference with Minister Nola Marino (Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories), so if we’ve got an evidence base of what our current issues are, it’s a fantastic opportunity to be able to raise them directly with the minister,” RDAFW Director Michael Williams said. 

“And, obviously, the ‘one size’ support doesn’t fit everybody. I’m certainly not critical of the different support packages, but if we need something that is very specific to our region and different to everybody else.

“The great thing is, we will have that evidence base and demonstrate that to the Commonwealth government, and be able to tell them this is what employers have told us and this is the type of thing that we need,” he said.

Mr Williams is hoping for as many businesses as possible to complete the survey.

“I really hope it is supported. We had about 140 complete the first survey back in April, but I really hope we get that many or more this time. The more people that complete it, the bigger picture we get.

“We’re also hoping to be able to use some of the outcomes of this survey to work with other agencies. 

“So, one of the questions we’ve asked in the survey is:  what support do you need right now, and, over the next six months what’s the type of thing that you need?” Mr Williams said.

“Hopefully, if we can get that type of data we can work with different agencies.

“We can say, for example, we’ve got 20 businesses out here that categorically need accounting support for the next three months.

“Really, being able to nail it down to say this is categorically what our employers need and ask them, how are you going to address it?”

The results of the first survey released in May 2020 showed that up to that point 64% of respondents had sought assistance through government funding; 30% had reported a reduction in staff; 35% of businesses surveyed had closed temporarily; and 23% had adapted to the disruption by developing new income streams. Only 8% of respondents reported having enough cash flow to last them over the six months ahead.

People can access the new survey from the RDAFW website or by clicking on this link https://bit.ly/2Gp968u

Businesses who cannot access the survey online can call RDAFW on 8087 8383 to request a hard copy.

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