The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has welcomed a suite of government announcements aimed at building retailer resilience.
Yesterday (20 November), the federal government announced a $7.2 million voluntary cyber health check program, allowing businesses to undertake a free, tailored self-assessment of their cyber security maturity.
The ARA had previously advocated for support in this area, among a raft of broader resilience measures to help business work with governments to navigate these critical challenges.
In the past week, the NSW government has also proposed reform to the Emergency Services Levy, reducing the cost of insurance premiums for SMBs.
Further to this, the federal government has recently passed legislation allowing SMBs a $20,000 instant asset write-off and 20% in bonus tax deductions to invest in energy efficient assets and upgrades to improve their long-term resilience and to save on their energy bills.
ARA CEO Paul Zahra says it’s pleasing to see governments prioritise SMBs.
“For small businesses, it’s certainly a period of economic crisis – off the back of a brutal few years of disruption,” he says.
“Our small retail community is feeling the crunch as shoppers scrutinise their spending and costs continue to increase across the board – wages, rent, utilities, insurances, and supply chain costs.
“Amid such pressure, it’s very difficult for SMBs to find the time or money to invest in cyber security – making [yesterday’s] announcement very beneficial.
“It’s clear that weather events will continue to impact Australian communities and retailers play a critical role in supporting those communities. To do that successfully, they need to have plans in place to allow them to survive and manage in such a crisis.
“The NSW government has also taken admirable strides to reform the Emergency Services Levy to ease the cost of insurance premiums for small businesses.
“Such changes all play their part in easing pressure on an industry that is under siege.”
While the recent announcements are welcome, Mr Zahra hopes to see continued government action in support of resilience measures for business.
“Looking forward, we need extensive improvement around risk mitigation, undertaken between government and industry,” he says.
“This includes emergency planning and procedures, but also awareness building and education.
“Our digital infrastructure remains vulnerable and demonstrates the need for all businesses to have a backup and crisis plan. All entities using technologies are susceptible to technical outages.
“Both state and federal governments have shown that SMB viability is on their radar, so we hope they’ll use this momentum to continue to provide support and relief for struggling small retailers.”