Category Archives: COVID-19

Post-COVID cyber hygiene key for business

cyber security - laptop
cyber security - laptop

Thursday, 11 June 2020


Post-COVID cyber hygiene key for business

ACT businesses are gathering today for a virtual workshop on the critical issue of cyber security, delivered in partnership by the Canberra Business Chamber and AustCyber.

The new business landscape, after a large-scale transition to remote working, incorporates new work practices and greater reliance on digital infrastructure. The importance of maintaining business cyber hygiene, especially in terms of up-skilling staff and data management and protection, is greater than ever.

“As businesses grapple with post-COVID realities, the focus is shifting from access to support and survival to mitigating the risks attached to new business models and ways of working,” said Canberra Business Chamber CEO Graham Catt.

“So many people moved rapidly to working at home, and also to socialising online, often using the same devices and accessing a number of software platforms without formal training” Mr Catt said. “Small to medium businesses are now actively looking for support so that they can better understand and manage their risks.”

AustCyber CEO, Michelle Price said malicious cyber activity is a complex challenge for Australian business and having good cyber security practices is key to manages the risks – and by being a more trusted organisation, business can underscore future growth opportunities.

“Today’s workshop is a practical way for Canberra business to make a start on improving their cyber security and connect with experts in the field. Having the means to manage cyber risks in your organisation, and ensure your suppliers and partners are not exposing you to unnecessary cyber risk, is critical.

“When you have staff working remotely, or in a hybrid arrangement between the office and home, protecting your organisation and people from cyber attack is more important than ever.”

Featuring local expert presenters from Terra Schwartz, FifthDomain, Ionize and Cybermerc, the workshop will provide crucial information and guide businesses through this accelerated digital transformation, whether they operate locally or internationally.

Using virtual breakout room technology, the workshop will feature three streams to give businesses the tools they need to become cyber secure:

  • Cyber Health 101 – Active discussion on what to do to increase your business cyber resilience with simple practical actions
  • Cyber Skills Uplift – How to recognise cyber threats, maintain cyber resilience and upskill your employees
  • Threat Protection – Defensive and offensive strategies for having a more robust, cyber resilient business

Media Contacts:

  • Graham Catt, CEO, Canberra Business Chamber | E: | T: 02 6247 4199
  • Tom Finnigan, Media, Public Relations and Engagement Manager, AustCyber | E: | M: 0408 867 367

Canberra businesses map out a post-COVID future


Tuesday, 9 June 2020


Canberra businesses map out a post-COVID future

Canberra businesses are meeting over the next two weeks to map out the shape of the local economy in the post-COVID era.

The Canberra Business Chamber is convening a series of in-depth forums with the Territory’s other major industry associations – the first one commencing last Friday, 5 June.

“It’s clear that the future recovery of the ACT economy is going to have to be private sector led,” Chamber CEO Graham Catt said today. “Governments around the country are now heavily indebted and have limited capacity to spend their way out in the long term. Many jobs have already been lost. If we want to have full employment in the ACT, it’s now going to have to come from private enterprise.

“To do that, we need to identify both the current blockers and the future engines of growth, and work with the ACT government and industry groups on these. That’s what our forums will be doing,” said Mr Catt

Key issues raised within the first forum included the need for ongoing cashflow for businesses to survive in the post-COVID environment, JobKeeper continuation, ensuring the ACT economy remains competitive, and more support for startups and innovation, as well as the ACT tourism sector. A consistent theme has been the risk for many businesses of “falling off a cliff” when support runs out and they are left without a viable operation.

The results will be collated and presented to the business community and the ACT Government in the coming weeks.

Individual businesses that want to have their say can also email the chamber directly at

Media Contact:

Graham Catt, CEO, Canberra Business Chamber T: 02 6247 4199


First Trans-Tasman flight proposal released

Media Release originally distributed by the Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry on 4 June 2020

The opening of the Trans-Tasman bubble to allow Australians and New Zealanders to move freely between countries is proposed to begin with a symbolic pilot flight between capital and sisters cities Canberra and Wellington in July.

The Australian Chamber Tourism, Canberra Airport, Wellington Chamber of Commerce, Canberra Business Chamber and Auckland Business Chamber have united to create a proof of concept proposal for the first post-COVID-19 flight.

Keen travellers can now register to be part of the initial concept flights, with the goal to establish regular flights between the two capitals and other routes soon after.

Australian Chamber Tourism chair John Hart said: “The symbolic route will show we have developed a safe and effective method of air travel and encourage the extension of the aviation networks to other destinations across Australia and New Zealand over time.”

“The tourism opportunity for Australia is to tempt more of the 3.1 million New Zealanders that travel overseas to come to Australia this year. Pre-COVID we received around 1.3 million visitors from New Zealand, leaving about 1.8 million holidays up for grabs.

“Furthermore, we need to begin to restore consumer confidence that travel can be safe in a COVID-19 environment and elevate freight opportunities between the two countries.

“The positive impact on our economy would be staggering.”

Stephen Byron, Managing Director, Canberra Airport said that the Canberra and Wellington connection was a logical first step to reinvigorating international air travel and our regional economy.

“Canberra and Wellington have been COVID-19 free now for several weeks, they are also significant hubs for business and tourism, and with such a positive health situation on each side there would be no requirement for post-travel quarantine in either city,” Mr Byron said.

“Not only will this lead to re-employment of thousands in the tourism, accommodation and aviation industries but it will also provide the opportunity to be reunited for thousands of family and friends stuck apart on either side of the Tasman.

“There is already great demand for these flights to begin through what are safe, easy, and quick gateways for travel and we look forward to making this a reality for Canberrans and those in our region as soon as possible.”

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said that the success of Canberra in handling the COVID-19 pandemic means that the city is ideally suited to establish a Trans-Tasman bubble for quarantine free air travel between Australia and New Zealand.

“We have a world-class airport in Canberra and plenty to offer New Zealand residents looking to travel, as well as many Canberrans looking to take a well-deserved break. As one of the safest destinations in Australia, Canberra is ready and willing to accept travellers under a Trans-Tasman arrangement.”

Canberra Business Chamber CEO Graham Catt said there are already strong business linkages between Canberra and Wellington.

“New Zealand will be one of the top international markets for ACT and regional businesses. The synergies between our two economies create opportunities in important industry sectors like education and research, ICT, cyber security, renewable energy, and space science.”

John Milford, Wellington Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive said the bubble needed to be open as safe as it is to do so “for the sake of our small businesses, airport, and events sector.”

“Australians make up around 70 per cent of Wellington’s direct international arrivals – over 150,000 people. These tourists come specifically to spend time in the Wellington region.

“Getting those visitors back visiting our city for our hospitality, events, and shows will be important to helping our local economy recover and thrive once again.

Auckland Business Chamber chief executive Michael Barnett said the proposal was developed to help build momentum and give confidence the countries can get back to business.

“We feed each other and we need each other’s dollars urgently to help with economic recovery. New Zealand needs Aussies back here as our single most important visitors, all 1.5 million of them, supporting our tourism sector, our cafes and events decimated by the enforced shutdown.”

To register your interest for flights on July 1 and July 2, go to Canberra Airport’s dedicated page.

To download the proposal, go to the Australian Chamber’s COVID Business page.

For more information:
Marie Hogg | Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry | +61 431 299 518
Tim Dawson | Canberra Airport | +61 455 227 711

Restrictions eased in the ACT – Stage 2 decision to be made 29 May


Following the easing of restrictions from midnight on Friday 15 May, restaurants and cafes have been allowed to reopen, seating a maximum of 10 patrons.

The ACT Government have compiled a checklist for restaurants, cafes, pubs, clubs, RSL clubs and hotels, following the public health direction. More information available on their website.

The ACT Chief Minister announced today that a decision on the further easing of restrictions, in line with Stage 2 of the Federal Government’s Roadmap to a COVIDSafe Australia, would be made on Friday 29 May. This would allow up to 20 patrons at time. While many have welcomed the opportunity to reopen, the clear message from the hospitality industry is that even under Stage 2 and Stage 3 restrictions, for many businesses it will still not be viable to operate. The Chamber, industry groups and individual businesses have been in discussion with the ACT Government to explore options that provide more flexibility for businesses and deliver safe customer environments and workplaces.

CBC advocates for wage review to remain the same 

The Fair Work Commission takes annual submissions from employer and employee groups on increases to award and national minimum wages. Recent years have seen increases ranging from 2.4-3.5%. After extensive discussions with other state and territory chambers, the Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ACCI) and other industry associations, we have advocated for awards and the national minimum wage to remain as it currently stands.

Our economy and businesses are currently struggling due to bushfires, smoke haze and now COVID-19, and as such, we believe that a wage increase at this point in time is not in the best interest of Australia, and we should instead be focussing on recovering our economy.

Read ACCI’s media release

Restrictions on cafes and restaurants to be lifted in the ACT

Cafe or Restaurant

Chief Minister Andrew Barr has announced the ACT Government’s intention to further ease restrictions, including restrictions on cafes and restaurants, from midnight on Friday, 15 May.

This is in line with the Directions outlined in step one of the COVIDSafe Plan, endorsed by National Cabinet last week.

Venues will be allowed to seat up to 10 patrons at one time if they can follow physical distancing. The number of patrons will be gradually increased over the coming months in line with the national plan, making it economic for more businesses over time.

We understand from discussions with industry and local businesses that, for many, operating with a maximum of 10 patrons will not be viable. Local hospitality businesses are encouraged to reopen only if the model works for them. Choosing to remain closed or operate with take-away and/or delivery services only for now will have no impact on their ability to consider reopening later as the maximum seated occupancy increases in the coming months.

Those that do choose to open under these restrictions will help provide learnings as the ACT Government continue to work with the hospitality industry on COVID-safe transition planning.

For a full list of the measures to be introduced from midnight on Friday 15 May, visit the ACT Government’s COVID-19 website.

 Canberrans are reminded of the four requirements in any situation they face in the coming weeks:

  • Avoid large crowds – gather in groups of no more than 10 people
  • Keep 1.5 metres apart whenever possible
  • Continue good hand hygiene
  • Stay home if you are sick and get tested if you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms

ACCI Survey: Impact of COVID-19 on business

SURVEY: Impact of COVID-19 on business

The Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry invite you to participate in their latest survey on the impact of COVID-19 on business. Now that the phased reopening of the economy has begun, we’re interested in how social distancing has affected your business and what changes you are making to meet social distancing requirements and minimise the risk of transmission for your employees and customers. The survey will take only 8 minutes to complete. Take the survey.

ACCI’s previous survey results assisted Government in better targeting relief measures and begin the development of policies for the reopening of the economy and measures to drive the recovery. Click here to download the survey results.

Video message from our CEO, Graham Catt

CBC Update with CEO, Graham Catt

31 March 2020

Watch this message from our CEO, Graham Catt, with an update from the Canberra Business Chamber. It’s a challenging time right now for businesses in the ACT and the broader community. We’re here as a Chamber for our members, and believe that there’s never been a more important time for us to be supporting business.

We’ve been a voice and advocate on your behalf, with regular meetings held with the ACT Government and the Federal Government (through Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry), and speaking to the community through the media.

We know that information and resources are critical at a time like this, so we’re working hard to make sure our members get the latest and most relevant information for their business. For example, our Employer Guide which you can find at…/.

Connecting businesses and people is at the centre of what we do, bringing people together, helping businesses build their supply chain and connect as a community. Although we can’t do this face-to-face at the moment, we’re actively working towards ways in which we can continue to connect people through technology instead.

Our commitment to you is that we’ll continue to provide the value that we always have. Value through advocacy. Value through information & resources. And value through connection and access to networks.

We’re needed more than ever, so we want to especially thank our members for their support, and together, we’ll find our way through the next few months. They may be tough, but we’ll continue to be a strong and vibrant business community.

Media Release: Canberra Business Chamber says more support is needed for ACT business survival

sorry we're closed by still awesome sign
sorry we're closed by still awesome sign

Monday 23 March 2020


Canberra Business Chamber says more support is needed for ACT business survival

As “non-essential” businesses across the ACT take steps to shut down, more support will be needed to help businesses survive in the longer term, the Canberra Business Chamber said today.

“New restrictions that shut down “non-essential services” businesses such as clubs, hotels and restaurants will decimate an industry that has been dealing with a severe downturn for months,” said Chamber CEO Graham Catt. “There’s no way to sugar coat this, the business support measures that have been announced, while welcome, won’t go far enough for the tourism and hospitality industry, and the many small businesses that supply them.”

“Furthermore, targeted financial support will be needed,” said Mr. Catt. “Businesses can’t pay staff when there are no customers and no money coming through the door. We welcome Government assistance to help businesses keep their people, but now we have to face the difficult reality that we cannot save every business or every job.”

The Chamber said that, for many businesses, Government support for “mothballing” may be the best way to help survival.

“A local retailer might need to close their doors temporarily and be given support so that they can be reinvigorated when the health crisis is over,” said Mr. Catt. “To recover from this crisis, we’ll need businesses to still exist in some form and scale up quickly to provide the jobs, and goods and services we need”.

Canberra businesses, like the community as a whole, are facing an unprecedented crisis.

“Nearly two thirds of Canberrans in jobs are employed by the private sector,” said Mr. Catt. “Businesses and their people need information, options and flexibility to make the best decisions during this period. And the support measures announced by both the Federal and ACT Governments must flow urgently to help keep as many businesses as possible afloat.”

Media Release: ACT stimulus welcome, but more will be needed says Canberra Business Chamber

man in workshop
man in workshop

Friday, 20 March 2020


ACT stimulus welcome, but more will be needed says Canberra Business Chamber

The Canberra Business Chamber has welcomed the ACT Government’s announcement of a $137 million dollar stimulus package for the local economy. It has however warned that more stimulus measures may need to be fast tracked to support businesses and protect jobs.

“The ACT private sector provides almost two thirds of Canberra’s jobs,” said Canberra Business Chamber CEO Graham Catt. “Many businesses have been suffering from a severe downturn in trade since last December. Bushfires, smoke pollution and hailstorms have already taken a heavy toll economically and on mental health”.

A meeting of the Chamber’s Kindred members, including ACT industry and community groups, was convened on Wednesday 18 March 2020. “Our industry body and community group members made it clear that the impact of COVID-19 is accelerating rapidly, with new challenges facing their members each day,” said Mr. Catt.

The Chamber welcomed initiatives such as the deferral of payroll tax, rebates on commercial rates and targeted support for sectors such as hospitality, and believes these will offer some much-needed relief. But with business and community confidence at an all-time low, more support may be urgently needed.

“Businesses are telling the Chamber they need immediate financial support to survive, or they’ll have no choice but to lay off staff or even close down,” Mr. Catt said. “The initial stimulus package is welcome and will help the local economy, but the reality is many small businesses have been struggling for months and they are desperately looking for immediate and direct financial assistance”.

Mr. Catt concluded by saying, “We appreciate the steps the ACT Government has taken to engage with the business sector in developing this initial support package. The Chamber and the business community will continue to work with government so we can respond swiftly and as needed over what will be challenging weeks and months ahead”.

Chamber events postponed

Organisations around Australia, based on health advice, are introducing new policies on social contact to minimise health risks for their staff. Many Chamber members have advised that they are restricting travel and attendance at events until further notice.

The Chamber’s board of directors met today, and after consultation with ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr and other stakeholders, has decided to postpone the ACT Chief Minister’s State of the Territory Address to a later date.

We believe this decision reflects the views of our members that it is in the best interest of attendees and the broader population to avoid in-person gatherings.

We will also be postponing our upcoming Business After Business Networking Evening and International Business Connect.

If you’re a registered attendee at one of these events, we’ll be in touch with more information.

We are naturally disappointed that we need to make this decision, however, the safety of our members, staff and the community is our main concern and first responsibility. Like many organisations around Australia, we will be adapting the way we do business and while face-to-face events aren’t being held, our team are busy thinking of new and innovative ways we can keep delivering value to members in the coming months.

Practical continuity for Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

Coronavirus microscopic

By Matthew Harper, Resilient Results

There is no doubt that December – January has been a tough time for Canberra and surrounding area business.  With the fire and storm seasons still with us, we need to think about some practical steps we can take for the impact of Novel Coronavirus(2019-nCoV).

In previous coronavirus outbreaks (Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), human-to-human transmission occurred through droplets, contact and fomites (something that carries the disease from the host to the uninfected).  The World Health Organisation (WHO) has identified that the transmission modes of 2019-nCoV can be similar.

Fortunately, the practices for preventing the spread of 2019-nCoV are similar to most flu season precautions.  The following WHO suggested steps are easily implemented into business and home and can have a huge impact on the spread of both this disease and more common infections.

  1. Avoiding close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections.
  2. Frequent hand-washing, especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment.
  3. Avoiding unprotected contact with farm or wild animals.
  4. People with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practice cough etiquette (maintain distance, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, and wash hands).
  5. Within healthcare facilities, enhance standard infection prevention and control practices in hospitals, especially in emergency departments.

Source WHO Novel Coronavirus(2019-nCoV) Situation Report – 9

Easy practical steps almost all businesses can take are:

  • Revise your policy for people attending work with any form of respiratory infection. If people are sick, get them to stay at home and avoid transmission.  If they can work from home, encourage them to do so until they improve or need to seek medical attention.
  • Enforce good hand washing practices in toilets, kitchens and common areas. Simple tools such as hand sanitising stations in corridors and making it a requirement to use the station when you pass it can have significant results.
  • Ensure your workplace has tissues and bins which can be used if someone is coughing and sneezing. Have cough and sneeze hygiene signs and encourage compliance.
  • Don’t share phones, utensils, mugs, towels, pens. Anything that goes near a face should not be shared.
  • Ask customers to comply with the same standards you set for your staff, but provide the tools. If you are running a business where you directly serve customers (particularly food service), provide tissues and sanitiser stations.  If there are common use surfaces, wipe them regularly and practice good hygiene with the cleaning cloths.

Some other practical steps that can be taken:

  • Consider your response to a downturn in business if people start avoiding crowds. If you can receive orders by phone and arrange open air pick ups, you may capture a new market.
  • Be careful with social media comments and traditional media statements. This is a sensitive issue and commentary can be far reaching.
  • Discuss with your staff the impact of school, sport or transport disruptions. How can you work together to solve the problem.

While these steps cannot guarantee avoiding 2019-nCoV, sensible continuity arrangements have the ability to save your business and your family.  If you have a business continuity plan, now is the time to review it.

About the Author

Matthew Harper is the Managing Director of Resilient Results, a Canberra based crisis and continuity consultancy and member of the Canberra Business Chamber.  Matthew has been involved in emergency management for over 30 years which has included time with the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre as well as planning for the 2014 Ebola outbreak.

Resilient Results provides tailored business continuity services for all sizes of businesses, from initial consultations to planning and exercising services.

Contact us via email at or 0438 430 931

Additional Resources:


Image credit: Canberra Times