Victorian Small Business Commission
The Victorian Small Business Commission (VSBC) responded to a staggering 13,206 enquiries in 2019–20, many of which were from small business owners and landlords needing advice about rent relief as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19).
2,790 Victorians lodged an application for help to resolve a dispute and more than one third of these matters were resolved early on – often just over the phone.
Of the disputes that couldn’t be resolved this way and needed mediation, 82 per cent had a successful outcome, where an agreement was reached that both sides accepted.
After rent relief and retail leases, the big issues causing disputes were:
- small businesses not being paid
- a disagreement over rights and obligations in a signed contract
- goods or services that weren’t delivered or were thought to be of poor quality.
Commissioner Judy O’Connell said the VSBC’s efforts are working.
“We’re engaging more and more people in small business about what their rights and responsibilities are and how we can help resolve disputes without the stress, delays and costs that come with going to court,” Commissioner O’Connell said.
The VSBC has also strengthened its work on the advocacy front by:
- showing local councils and other government agencies how they can minimise disruption to small business trade when infrastructure works are happening
- offering rent relief advice and other guidance to over 4,400 people through workshops and other events
- giving small business owners practical tools to look after their mental health at this time.