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  • The consultation process for a government review of the small business ombudsman has officially opened, allowing small and family business owners to have their say
  • The small business ombudsman, which was established in March 2016, is reviewed every four years to ensure it is doing its job properly
  • Essentially, the review will consider how effectively and efficiently the ombudsman is able to provide services for Australian small businesses
  • The ombudsman is designed to provide advocacy and assistance services to small and family business regarding government codes of practice, disputes with other businesses, and more
  • Small business owners are being asked for their feedback about how satisfied they are with the ombudsman's services as part of the upcoming review
  • Businesses that would like to give their feedback have until the end of April to send in submissions before an independent reviewer makes recommendations to the government

The consultation process for a government review of the small business ombudsman has officially opened, allowing small and family business owners to have their say.

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO), which was established in March 2016, is reviewed by the Federal Government once every four years. With its initial review completed one year after it was established, the ombudsman is now set to be scrutinised again.

Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, and Small and Family Business Stuart Robert said the review will consider how effectively and efficiently the ombudsman was able to provide assistance and advocacy services for Australian small businesses over the last four years.

"The review comes at a critical time when small and family businesses nationwide are rebuilding from the economic shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic," the Minister said.

"Small and family businesses are the engine room of the economy and the office of the Ombudsman plays a valuable role in ensuring that they have the necessary assistance to navigate the business landscape as and when they need it," he said.

Advocacy and assistance for small businesses

The purpose of the ASBFEO is to give small and family businesses an opportunity to share their views on government policies and programs and to make it easier for businesses to access assistance when they need it.

The small business ombudsman is meant to act as an advocate for businesses in relation to relevant legislation and policies.

At the same time, the ombudsman should assist small and family businesses resolve disputes with other businesses or government agencies.

This could be in relation to mandatory government codes, like dairy and oil codes of conduct, which regulate milk supply arrangements and the conduct of oil wholesalers and fuel resellers.

On the other hand, the ombudsman assistance could extend to facilitating discussions between businesses in dispute with each other and helping the parties work towards a resolution.

As part of the ASBFEO review, business owners are being asked to share how the ombudsman was able to help them resolve disputes — if at all — and how else the ombudsman benefitted the businesses.

Small and family business owners are also being asked to give their feedback regarding how the ASBFEO can improve its advocacy and assistance work and any other issues they may have had working with the ombudsman.

Businesses that would like to share their feedback as part of the review process have until the end of April to send in their feedback, which will then be examined by an independent reviewer before recommendations are made to the government to improve the small business ombudsman.

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