Help to plan for disasters

DISASTER PLANNING: Russell Trainor is a business analyst with Rural Business Support.

DISASTER PLANNING: Russell Trainor is a business analyst with Rural Business Support.

A new Rural Business Support (RBS) program aims to ensure small businesses are more proactive about preparing for unforeseen natural disaster events and minimising overall risks to ensure they can recover and continue operating if the worst occurs.

In the past decade natural disasters have devastated parts of the state, most recently with fires and hail storms contributing to heavy financial losses for many small business operators in affected areas. The RBS Business Readiness Program gets participants thinking about the vulnerable areas of their business against a range of risk scenarios, as well as actions that can be taken to reduce or avoid the impact of each possible threat.

The Business Readiness Program involves 27 free workshops across South Australia, including four in the Upper North at Port Pirie, Jamestown, Peterborough and Port Augusta from March 18-20.

RBS chief executive officer Brett Smith said the organisation had worked extensively with small rural businesses through its Rural Financial Counselling Service, but this new project would assist other regional businesses as well, beyond those with an agricultural focus.

“The need to prepare properties ahead of the fire danger season is well publicised, however there is little focus on helping business owners to understand the potential impacts a natural disaster can have on their own operations and the wider community,” Mr Smith said.

“Events including fires, floods and even short-term power outages can all result in business closures, reduced hours for employees and, in some cases, an extensive and costly period of recovery.”

Mr Smith said a key part of the Business Readiness workshops was a new risk planning tool which would equip business owners with a Business Readiness Plan that could be saved, shared and updated.

“The tool allows users to identify their critical business resources, infrastructure, plant and equipment and forecasts how the business would likely be affected if it was impacted by a natural disaster or other unforeseen risk event,” he said.

“The tool ensures business owners and managers are able to plan out key actions that can be taken before, during and after a natural disaster, and works to help reduce or avoid the risks it may have to their businesses.”

The Business Readiness Program is funded under the Natural Disaster Resilience Program by the South Australian government and the Commonwealth Department of Home Affairs.

Upper North small business owners can register for the workshops at the following locations:

Port Pirie

18 March: 1pm    

Port Pirie Library

3 Wandearah Rd, Port Pirie

Jamestown

19 March: 10am

Jamestown Medical Centre

66 Irvine St, Jamestown

Peterborough

19 March: 6pm

Council Meeting Room

108 Main St, Peterborough

Port Augusta

20 March: 10am

Port Augusta Business Centre

2a Stirling Rd, Port Augusta

To register and find out more please visit www.ruralbusinesssupport.org.au email brp@ruralbusinesssupport.org.au or call (08) 8364 2577.