Small business natural disaster preparedness and resilience
25 February 2022
On 15 February 2022, the Law Council provided a submission to the Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman in response to its inquiry into small business natural disaster preparedness and resilience. With input from the Business Law Section’s SME Committee and the Law Council’s Access to Justice Committee, the submission focused on how legal assistance can be made more accessible for small businesses in the wake of a natural disaster, noting the wide ranging immediate and longer-term legal issues that are likely to arise for small businesses in affected communities.
The Law Council called for greater resourcing to allow legal assistance services to quickly respond to natural disasters, and improved support for practitioners seeking to undertake pro bono work for those affected. Particular recognition was given to regional lawyers, who face tremendous burdens in the immediate aftermath of natural disasters in trying to assist those in their community, and the Ombudsman was asked to consider initiatives such as a government-funded ‘voucher’ system to allow small businesses affected by natural disasters to access legal advice when attempting to navigate their compliance obligations in the aftermath of a relevant disaster.