On-the-go only: Hospitality businesses are mixing up the way they do takeaway, encouraging social-distancing while people wait. Photo: EDWINA WILLIAMS

Businesses supported to walk untrodden ground

March 26, 2020 BY

AS COVID-19 news and recommendations change hourly, Commerce Ballarat CEO, Jodie Gillett said her team is working to keep business resources relevant and available to traders.

Following the $1.7 billion-dollar State government relief package announced last week, non-essential services have closed including pubs, clubs, gyms, places of worship, cinemas and entertainment venues. Restaurants and cafes can only run takeaway or delivery services.

Ms Gillett said it’s a “really difficult climate,” still so early in the pandemic. Not knowing the “world we’re going to be in tomorrow,” CB is finding it hard to give actionable advice that will be sustainable and correct in two days’ time, but they’re doing their utmost to keep local commerce alive.

“Every sector’s different and in a different stage, so the broad piece of advice we’re giving is that Commerce Ballarat has a whole resource page available to businesses for free,” she said.

“It’s updated as things change, and new information is added to that. It also includes development and support opportunities for employers, and employers dealing with their staff in the really difficult time.”

Commerce updates the latest guidelines from State and Federal governments daily, has specialty employer, hospitality, tourism, fitness and mental health resources, and video workshops and Facebook Q&As with business, financial, legal, psychological and wellbeing experts.

The Resource Connect Facebook group generates online job matching in response to supply and demand, there’s information about the Taxation Office’s response to the crisis, the Committee for Ballarat #sharethecare campaign, and Council’s #BeKindBallarat.

An FAQ section addresses workplace health and safety, social distancing and quarantine, and an exploration of the Federal government’s stimulus package aiming to keep businesses alive and people working.

Ms Gillett said it’s most important for towns and cities to be community minded and willing to support the adapting businesses around them.

“Keep an eye on businesses who may be doing things a little differently. You still may be able to have your favourite meal delivered from a restaurant. You may still be able to have your favourite wine delivered,” she said.

“You will be able to access the majority of products and services, just in a different manner.”

Living best practice is critical. Ms Gillett said part of that means staying connected.

“Keep an eye on what’s happening in the news and through our website, what’s happening on people’s Facebook pages, absorbing some of that communication.”

Inspire HQ HR strategist, Emma Baldwin presented a webinar via Facebook last week, reaching out to owners, employers and employees about managing health and wellbeing during the pandemic period.

Her team offers practical strategies for leaders and colleagues to thoughtfully monitor one another’s mental health, with one overriding message.

“Kindness will help us through from a mental health perspective, moving forward. Look after each other. Start your conversations with the question of, ‘are you ok?’ Continue to follow up with each other as much as you can,” Mrs Baldwin said.

It’s been devastating for the CB team to see the current pain of many, but the organisation is there for them.

“Communication, back to us, is critical about what the business community needs. We hope we’re getting it as right as we can,” Ms Gillett said.

“We’re all in unchartered waters here, but if we’re missing information or if there are things the businesses need, we just want them to communicate that to us.”

“Take care. Care for your neighbours and for your community. The quicker we can flatten this virus, the quicker we can start to rebuild.”

Head to commerceballarat.com.au and facebook.com/CommerceBallarat to access all resources curated by Commerce Ballarat.

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