A new call centre is assisting Indigenous business owners to navigate their way through COVID-19 and helping them to avoid becoming overwhelmed by constantly evolving information, rules and restrictions.
A Queensland government initiative, Indigenous Business to Business Support Service has been running for a month now. In that time, it has helped hundreds of Indigenous businesses with specific information that caters to their services.
Leesa Watego of the South East Queensland Indigenous Chamber of Commerce told NITV's The Point that she helped develop the service into a hotline and social media platform, where business owners can go to access up-to-date information.
With a team of call centre agents spread across the state, Ms Watego said the call centre staff had been trained to make sure they are across the “local, state and federal government policies and initiatives that are designed to support business.”
“You can call them up and find out information about COVID safe work practices, information about JobKeeper and JobSeeker, and a whole range of other things,” said Ms Watego.
Ms Watego said the pandemic had had serious impacts for Indigenous businesses in all categories, especially across the tourism sector.
“We know that people have been impacted and we have a lot of businesses in the tourism sector who are reliant on overseas visitors and interstate visitors and they’ve been fairly decimated,” she said.
Ngyiampaa woman and photography business owner Claudine Thornton has been working as an agent for the hotline and told NITV’s The Point on Tuesday that people call with all kinds of questions.
“We’ve had a big, diverse array of enquiries, from apprenticeships to arts questions and there’s micro businesses and we’ve also got businesses that are 20 plus employees as well. So there's a big, diverse range of people calling in,” said Ms Thornton.
“We’re there to support anyone who wants information on anything."