Industry Advocacy

In our report to the Australian Treasury’s Small Business Wellbeing team (one of our funding partners back in 2021), we put forth program and industry recommendations for the government to consider, with key points including:

  • Continued funding to assist in the promotion and delivery of CoU training to business advisers (BAs) and other SME intermediaries, including the development of resources aimed at building BAs’ confidence in initiating a conversation about mental health: The number of registrations for our training research project, positive satisfaction ratings, and encouraging outcomes suggest there is a demand and need for this type of workplace mental health training. However, cost and time commitments are key barriers to training uptake. Further funding will help the CoU team to not only support BAs with helpful resources and reach more accountants and bookkeepers, but crucially will also put us in a good position to reach other key intermediaries working with SMEs such as banks and statutory authorities, as well target other sectors where SME owners have reported higher levels of mental health conditions such as construction and retail with flexible, adaptable versions of training.
  • Development and funding of support services for BAs and other key SME intermediaries: Our research highlighted there is lack of support services currently available to BAs, as they are often small business owners themselves or working within small organisations with limited resources. CoU participants report that it would be beneficial if they could access services where they can seek advice regarding clients experiencing distress, as well as seek support for their own wellbeing. Accordingly, we recommend continued funding for one-on-one CoU coaching sessions or the development of a hotline or employee assistance program for BAs to receive advice and support.
  • Continued support and funding for counselling and coaching services for SMEs.
  • Continue providing relevant monetary relief to SMEs.
  • Support the establishment of CoU training as an industry ‘benchmark’ for all BAs working with SMEs. Deakin would like to further involve government agencies and peak bodies in the elevating the conversation around workplace mental health to an industry level. Collaboration and support from organisations such as the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA), the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), and ASIC towards this end will also help organisations to meet the expectations of recently established Australian psychosocial health and safety regulations.
  • Support the incorporation of CoU training into higher education courses as well as the education programs of accounting and bookkeeping member bodies