Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, CPA Australia and the Institute of Public Accountants (professional accounting bodies) made a submission to Australia’s National Bushfire Recovery Agency on 26 November 2020 in response to its request for feedback on unmet recovery needs.
The professional accounting bodies made six key recommendations:
- Expedite support to small businesses by consulting and engaging with local accountants, tax agents and lawyers (local business advisers), to determine how they can be the primary provider of services and professional advice to businesses in impacted areas, in cooperation with other organisations
- Provide government funding to enable small businesses to obtain professional advice from local business advisers to assess their financial position, viability and recovery prospects and assist with business continuity planning
- Equip local recovery hubs with a Guide to help frontline recovery staff support businesses by explaining how a professional accountant can assist with recovery; what types of services professional accountants can provide; how to refer people to a professional accountant if they don’t already have one; and where to find useful tools and resources
- Improve coordination of recovery support to small businesses across multiple service providers by developing a single-point of access to obtain assistance and connect with appropriate service providers and Government departments/agencies
- Invite the professional accounting bodies to contribute to future scenario planning as part of the government’s national disaster exercises across the full spectrum of services required, not only emergency management but also what to do and where to seek advice following a disaster, and
- Support a collective, coordinated approach to early identification, management and prevention of mental health conditions, recognising that the significant mental health challenges facing small businesses and their professional advisers as a result of the bushfires have been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.