Mental health program for small business receives $6.7 million funding boost

Small businesses have born the brunt of the Omicron outbreak, and business owners and their staff are under pressure.

In recognition of this, the Australian Government has renewed funding for Beyond Blue’s New Access for Small Business. Acting Minister for Small and Family Business Anne Ruston announced an additional $4.6 million in funding. Small business owners and sole traders can access six one-on-one sessions with specialised coaches who are also former business owners.

The government will also provide $2.1 million to Financial Counselling Australia to support the continuation of their Small Business Debt Helpline in 2022. The Small Business Debt Helpline helps business owners understand processes like payment plans, debt waivers, insolvency and bankruptcy.

Acting Small Business Minister Anne Rushton acknowledged that “small businesses are going it tough right now, whether that is because of having to self-isolate, workforce disruption, rapid changes to business models or the impacts of natural disaster season.”

The funding was welcomed by Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Bruce Billson. He told press: “Small business owners have endured so much over the past two years, pummelled by the pandemic and natural disasters. The road to recovery has been lengthy and challenging and that has understandably taken a toll on the bottom line and wellbeing.”

Bruce Billson emphasized the importance of having mental health support from individuals with experience of business ownership. “Being able to speak to someone who understands the mental load of running a small business makes a big difference. Small-business owners who look after their mental health, can also help their business.” He also addressed the importance of small business owners seeking specialized debt-management advice, acknowledging that many small businesses owners have loans secured against their homes. “We know the stakes are incredibly high and that losing the business often means also losing the home,” Bilson said.

You can find more information about the New Access for Small Business Owners program by calling 1300 945 301 or visiting the Beyond Blue website.

You can contact the Small Business Debt Helpline by calling 1800 413 828 or visiting Small Business Debt Helpline website.

If you or anyone you know requires urgent mental health support you can contact the Beyond Blue hotline on 1300 22 4636, or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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