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It is my pleasure to join you today to launch an important website designed to help small business owners manage stress and mental health issues – The My Business Health website.
Can I acknowledge our Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, as well as Leanne Faulkner from the Council of Small Business Australia. Leanne has done some fantastic work in our mental health working groups in her capacity as COSBOA’s ambassador for mental health.
And our hosts today at Altina Drinks – Dr Christina Delay and Alan Tse.
Altina Drinks is one of the Morrison Government’s Small Business Digital Champions.
They are working to change Australian drinking culture by creating cocktails that ‘pack the punch – without the alcohol’.
Another great example of an Australian small business having a go and doing great things! Congratulations to Christina and Alan for all you have achieved.
And of course, can I acknowledge all the small and family business operators here today!
When I first became the Minister for Small and Family Business I travelled around Australia speaking to small and family business people from all walks of life – I have had the fortune to meet amazing people like Christina and Alan who are doing extraordinary things.
Something that has really stood out to me during these conversations was the fact that small businesspeople never complain – there aren’t enough hours in the day.
Whether you’re a digital printer in Hobart, a carpenter in Melbourne or bringing a new product to the market here in Canberra, being a small businessperson isn’t a job, it’s a way of life.
It’s a life that can mean working long hours – often 7 days a week – having the responsibilities of managing staff – having to work when you or your child is sick at home.
There is no ‘off-switch’ in small business. And when you walk in the door at home you are dealing with the financial pressures of not only providing for your family, but providing for the families of your staff and suppliers as well.
Unfortunately, with all that pressure looking after your business, sometimes it’s hard to find the time to look after yourself.
If you Google ‘business coach’, you will find thousands of results. But when it comes to dealing the stress and anxiety of running your own business it can be hard to know where to turn for help.
Everyone in this room knows the importance of mental health and that’s why I am so proud to launch My Business Health today.
The My Business Health website is designed to be the first step for small business owners; and provide the tools and resources so you can look after your business’ greatest asset – you.
It can be hard to describe the pressures of being in business to people who haven’t been in your situation before. That’s why the The My Business Health website is hosted by the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman and offers targeted support for small business owners that considers the unique challenges that all small businesspeople are confronted with.
It offers user-friendly, easy to understand resources on how to manage your business, while also looking after your wellbeing.
This is important on so many levels – for the small business person themselves – their family – their staff (if they have them) – and ultimately the economy.
The economic impact of poor mental health on Australia’s small businesses is costing an estimated $19.1 billion each year.
We also know that small business operators have a higher prevalence of depression than the national average.
Seeking help is not always easy and research shows that there is a need for more specialised support to address mental ill-health within the sector.
That is why the Morrison Government is taking practical steps to respond to this.
Late last year, I announced the first ever Small Business Mental Health package, with $3.7 million allocated to key projects including roundtables targeted at mental health promotion and assistance for small business owners.
The My Business Health portal was funded as part of this package.
At the first roundtable I hosted, attendees from mental health organisations, industry groups and small businesses all identified that there was nothing providing a single source of advice for small business on business and mental health.
We collaborated with key stakeholders including: Everymind; Beyond Blue; the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman; and small business owner and wellbeing advocate Leanne Faulkner, to work on what we needed to do to respond to this need.
And as a result of this collaboration – My Business Health was created.
It will provide targeted information for small business owners, their family and friends as well as those in their network of trusted advisors - integrating small business mental health with business health.
When using the site you can click onto a topic and it will give you quick tips, as well as long term planning advice.
Importantly, there is also information on how to access immediate assistance via a phone number, chat line, or referral to other services if in crisis.
My Business Health also links to existing information from sites such as Ahead for Business; Heads Up; Head to Health; the ATO and business.gov.au.
This is all about making sure small businesses can access the help they need, when they need it.
It is just another way we are supporting small business in this country, because we know when they do well, we all do well.
Small businesses are an important part of our economy. And they should also be an important part of our national conversation on mental health.
One of the key messages when using these tools is that it is OK to feel overwhelmed by your business – you are not alone in this.
But the only way we can break the stigma and shame around mental health is to have these conversations, enable strong support networks and make sure the help is there.
I encourage everyone to visit My Business Health and to tell anyone you know who would benefit from this great resource about it.