The Victorian Small Business Commission (VSBC) Annual Report released today highlights some impressive dispute resolution outcomes and new initiatives introduced to support small businesses.
Small Business Commissioner Judy O’Connell stressed the key role the VSBC’s dispute resolution service plays in saving small businesses the time and money involved in litigation.
“Just over 1700 dispute applications were referred to the VSBC in 2017-2018 with 34 per cent resolved by VSBC staff before going to mediation at no cost to small business,” Ms O’Connell said.
For those matters proceeding to mediation, the VSBC’s mediation success rate was over 78 per cent, with a customer satisfaction rating sitting at 95 per cent.
The top issues causing disputes for the year were:
- contractual disputes
- claims for unpaid monies
- money owed by tenants in retail leases
- repair and maintenance of retail premises
- refund of security deposits to retail tenants.
“Another important outcome was the initiatives arising from our increased focus on our engagement and advocacy functions,” Ms O’Connell said.
Key initiatives introduced during the year included:
- the Grow Your Business Together initiative which provided support to Latrobe Valley small business networks and included a free small business breakfasts in nine towns in a bid to boost membership of these organisations
- development of generic small business engagements guidelines for government agencies and other bodies to apply to infrastructure projects to minimise business disruption during these projects
- the launch of VSBC’s Mental Health Strategic Plan template to equip small businesses with a tool to help them look after their mental health and the health of their businesses
- the Victorian Government signing-up to the Australian Supplier Payment Code to commit to paying their small business suppliers within 30 days.
The Small Business Commission Act 2017 provides the power to publish details in the Annual Report of certificates issued where a party to a dispute has unreasonably refused to participate in alternative dispute resolution with the VSBC. During 2017-18, the VSBC issued two such ‘unreasonable refusal’ certificates, the details of which are listed in the Annual Report.
A copy of the report is available here: Victorian Small Business Commission Annual Report 2017-2018 [PDF 740KB]
The VSBC can be contacted on 13 VSBC (13 8722)
To arrange an interview with the Victorian Small Business Commissioner, contact:
Timothy Price, Victorian Small Business Commission, firstname.lastname@example.org or 03 9651 7619