THIS WEEK'S FEATURE ARTICLES
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Local businesses learn to adapt
After the disruption to businesses during 2020, we hear sayings like “the new normal” rather than “business as usual”. Scott Dufty of the Kingborough and Huon Business Enterprise Centre (KHBEC) said another emphasis for businesses large and small should be “learning to adapt”.
KHBEC is continuing on its tried-and-true path of supporting local businesses – with adjustments to the new business scenario. They have been something of an island of help and advice in the stormy seas everyone has had to weather.
With the support of the state government and Kingborough and Huon Valley Councils, KHBEC is funded to offer a free service to local businesses and intenders. The service can help owners make key decisions and fulfil their business’s potential.
“Overall, local businesses in Kingborough and the Huon have come through ok since Covid commenced,” said Mr Dufty.
“Financial packages such as JobSeeker and JobKeeper eased the burden on reduced business cash flow.
“However, there were circumstances where some businesses made the decision to close their doors and have not reopened, with the financial and personal burden affecting the business owners. When this occurred, we endeavoured to ensure those businesses that worked with us received proper advice in terms of the finalisation of their business affairs.
Some businesses that initially closed their door have been able to open again.
“There has been a reduction in the number of businesses relying on JobKeeper. However, this package is to cease on 31 March.
“Coming to grips with something [business owners] couldn’t control was a big challenge, as was understanding and then processing data on a monthly basis for the Taxation Office to receive
“The challenge for the food service industry was cafes and restaurants adapting to be able to create takeaway options in the initial lockdown phase. Most did this very well. Of course, tourism and hospitality are probably the most affected industries and uncertainty still surrounds them as even recently people from New South Wales or Brisbane have booked to come down here, and now have to cancel at the last moment.”
An example of a local business that has adapted to the changing times is the Little Garden Farm, a small family-run farm on Bruny Island owned and operated by Ben Pavy and Rachel Jardine. When steady interstate bookings for their farm-stay accommodation dried up, they stabilised business income to adapt to local markets by adapting and upgrading their farm gate stall (which started as a little tool shed in March 2019), offering a range of popular preserves and treats along with fresh vegetables harvested that morning.
KHBEC is continuing to assist businesses in the ongoing process of learning to adapt. Their first workshops for the year, titled Planning for Success in 2021, were held at Margate and Franklin and were well attended. The guest speaker was Jane Clark of Jane Clark Financial Management, supported by Mr Dufty.
KHBEC has other workshops planned this year, together with its longstanding regular networking events. These get-togethers have been extremely important for local businesses owners to see how others are adapting their operations, facilitating discussion in a relaxed, social environment.
A wealth of support
In the new climate, more personalised service is available, including one-on-one visits to businesses. Advisors Mr Dufty and Kerry Muller have many years’ experience assisting businesses, both at KHBEC and in their former roles as business banking managers. Both have also owned businesses. They relate to and understand the joys and frustrations and understand what it takes to succeed in business. They provide confidential and personalised guidance and support on: business planning, financial forecasting, HR, marketing, insurance, and legal matters, GST and taxation, government programs and grants. They also provide cccess to low-cost or free business training and small-business tools and templates, and can make referrals to local specialists.
KHBEC is helping businesses by working with them on their Covid grant applications. It is presently providing assistance with the Business Growth Loan Scheme, which is aimed at helping Tasmanian businesses develop and transition to sustainable post-Covid operating models.
Visit www.khbec.com.au/stay-in-touch to join the KHBEC mailing list and receive updates about local training opportunities, networking events, as well as information on grants and other need-to-
Times do change attitudes
Following a discussion on the ABC’s The Drum about a controversial new statue of Mary Wollstonecraft in the UK, I learnt that only 3% of public statues in Australia honour non-fictional, non-royal women: the vast majority are of dead white men – indeed there are more of animals than women.
The story of another British Mary, Mary Frances Heaton, really shows how times have changed for women – although I hasten to add, there is still much room for improvement.
Heaton was born into an affluent family in Doncaster in 1801.
But her father went bankrupt when she was 11, and she had to make her own way in life, becoming
a music teacher.
After her father’s death, she had among her pupils the daughter of the Rev John Sharpe of St George’s, Doncaster.
The clergyman failed to pay for the twice-weekly lessons, and eventually Mary had had enough. Interrupting one of the preacher’s sermons, she accused him of being “a whited sepulchre, a thief, a villain, a liar and a hypocrite”.
Mary was taken to court where she was judged to be “a lunatic insane and dangerous idiot” and committed to the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum in Wakefield.
Sarah Cobham was among those working on the Forgotten Women of Wakefield project. She researched Mary’s life.
“She’s a reminder that women were very quickly assumed insane or hysterical. Mary didn’t stand a chance. Women were deemed dangerous and insane during the 1830s for all sorts of reasons, none of which had anything to do with their actual mental health but had more to do with the lack of their perceived ‘womanly attributes’. Speaking out, getting excited, challenging male authority, and refusing to conform would quickly be used as evidence of insanity. Such ‘irrationality’ was thought to be connected to women’s menstrual cycles.
“Hysteria was also believed to be the result of unsatisfied maternal drive, sexual desire, and bad habits. It was much easier to blame hysteria for these things than to investigate women’s intellectual frustration, lack of mobility or needs for autonomy and control.
The trio of men who sentenced Mary decided she was insane simply because she was a woman.”
In the asylum, Heaton was subjected to years of “treatments”, including electric shocks to her pelvis, purging concoctions, and the ingestion of mercury.
Her medical records describe her at various times as wild, flighty, excitable, ungovernable, extravagant, violent, and abusive.
Over time, Heaton’s mental and physical health deteriorated.
Eventually, after a failed escape attempt and with her spirit broken, she became docile and “took to quietly embroidering her story as
a way of preserving her memories,” according to Cobham.
On one she stitched the words: “I wish the vicar would submit to arbitration my claim against him for music lessons given to his daughter, regularly, twice a week, during the years 1834 and 1835.”
Other samplers included references to people and events in her life before she was incarcerated. Only a handful of samplers have survived, but Mary made many that she presented as gifts to staff at the asylum and others.
Towards the end of her life, Mary was transferred to another asylum in South Yorkshire, where she died in 1878 at the age of 77. She was buried in a pauper’s grave.
In the UK, blue plaques are displayed on buildings where significant people lived.
“Nationally less than 13% of blue plaques represent women,” says Cobham.
“Ultimately this makes it harder for women to be seen as having contributed to public life and normalises the concept that women are not as important as men.”
But now Mary’s life has been acknowledged with a blue plaque to “the tragic patient” thanks to the Forgotten Women of Wakefield project. One wrong acknowledged. Many more to go.
Every so often in life we must downsize. When we emigrated from the UK to Australia years ago, we had to calculate whether it was worth bringing various things with us. At £1 per cubic foot that was a hard one.
Helping my mother move into
a nursing home (we do not call them that now – have you noticed?) when she reached 90 was a challenge. But not as much as having to clear a house in the one weekend available after the occupant had gone ‘into care’.
Whether it be because you are moving to a smaller house, moving interstate or just need a clearout, the same rules apply. Start earlier than you think you need to. And do
plan to fail by failing to plan.
So be realistic. Moving to a smaller place means there will be less room for things. Over time, we all tend to accumulate stuff - lots of stuff. We have drawers full of stuff, gifts that we have never used (and never will), furniture we do not really need but keep “just in case”, and items we have had for years which may be difficult to part with due to nothing more than familiarity.
If you are contemplating a move, now is the time to get rid of excess baggage (literally) and pare down to the essentials. Even a rough
floor plan for your new home would help you know what furniture will fit. Measure up your furniture and list the items to keep as you go. You will then know what storage space you are taking with you.
Take a walk through your house and evaluate everything you come across (furniture, books, ornaments, travel mementos, etc.).
If you are methodical, you will list them in a notebook or on your tablet. Ask yourself if you have used them in the past year and, if so, how often? Be honest with yourself. I had terrible problems with books, CDs, and DVDs until I convinced myself that I was being selfish keeping many of them sitting on my shelves whilst others could enjoy them. The same goes for about three quarters of the clothes, shoes, handbags, and scarves in my wardrobes.
Start collecting some of the equipment you will need to declutter: strong bin bags or garden sacks, cardboard boxes from the supermarket, rubber gloves, a spray cleaner and cloth and a vacuum cleaner.
Use your boxes and label them ‘keep’, ‘garage sale’, ‘charity’, ‘take to the tip’, ready for easy sorting. Then go room to room and decide which box each item is going into. Work out a system. For each item ask yourself: “Is this something I cannot live without, or is it something that could go to a garage sale (if you have the energy for one), to a charity shop to be recycled, or that just needs taking to the tip?”
Hopefully you will have offered things to family and friends long before this time but beware, they might not see your ‘treasures’
Organise some help. Young people might like to earn a few dollars and could save you lots of bending.
It is essential to pace yourself.
It is going to take a while, which is why one should start sooner rather than later. Work for a maximum of an hour, then have a cup of tea or coffee (and a chocolate biscuit). This is where friends might come in, offering to keep you supplied with food and drink. Do not wait until you are overtired and fed up or you will be less likely to start
up again after the break and it still must be done.
One hold up for many is coming across old photographs, a favourite book or school reports. It is very tempting to stop and reminisce, but this is the downfall of many
We had never heard of a ‘muck drawer’ until we came to Australia. You know the one I mean? I am sure there is one in every house.
It is where you store everything from spare buttons, charging cords, batteries and old phones to unidentified keys. Maybe the tip shop could use some items as people often need spare parts.
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