As we return to work this new year, many of us are still struggling to come to terms with the devastation of the Australian bushfires, which have left (and continue to leave) communities shattered and industry sectors crippled.
My family was lucky. While we lost 100 per cent of our vines in the Adelaide Hills just days before Christmas, we didn’t lose our wine inventory, our home, or our health. We will move forward and rebuild.
Many other family owned businesses across the country are not as fortunate. For their, and our collective benefit, I’d like to suggest a few ways in which we can help to protect and support the continuance of local business into the longer term.
1. Buy local
Get online and buy directly from local businesses. This will not only help the local economy, but it will also help to maintain cash flow, keeping businesses in operation and protecting the distinctive richness of flavours and experiences that regionality offers.
2. Visit local
When it is safe to do so, return to local communities and buy from businesses that have, and have not been bushfire affected. In the Adelaide Hills, we are already seeing a significant drop in visitation, including to those businesses that have not been visibly impacted by the fires. This is understandable as road closures and dangers remain, however, once the fires are controlled, all businesses will need to be supported to rebuild the community.
3. Give local
As the fires rage on, I would encourage us all to give to our local fire services, if capacity allows. Their commitment and care for the wellbeing of our community is remarkable.
Country Fire Service SA
NSW Rural Fire Service
Victorian Bushfire Appeal
4. Ensure those affected seek advice and assistance
For those rebuilding, resources may be scarce and insurance may not cover all remediation costs. It is imperative that you understand your business’s key drivers, and direct resources to their restoration. For many that may be straight forward. For others, when so much has been destroyed, it may not be easy. Speak to your trusted advisor, or one of the advisors at the recovery centres. They can direct you to further assistance, addressing your specific needs so you can get you get back on your feet as soon as possible.
There is also a large amount of government and non-government (both financial and non-financial) support available for those affected, including:
Australian Government drought and rural support
NSW drought assistance
Australian Government drought communities program
Australian Government disaster assist
SA Government disaster recovery
Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) drought support
Many of us have watched on in horror as the catastrophic fire conditions have taken their painful toll. When the flames are extinguished, our local business owners will continue to need our support more than ever. We must all remember to support local businesses (and seek support if you operate your own business).