Financial Counsellors activated as cost of north Queensland Flooding on Small businesses begins to show

The real impact of North Queensland flooding on small businesses is beginning to emerge more than six months after water swept a destructive path through the community. 

Two Small Business Financial Counsellors have been appointed to support and assist small to medium-sized enterprises whose physical business or balance sheets have been directly or indirectly damaged by the North and North-West Monsoon Trough (25 January – 14 February 2019).

Counsellor Gerard Byrne says the real impact on businesses is only becoming evident now as tax returns and business activity statements have been lodged.

Gerard Byrne small business counsellor image8

“In the first few months, people were getting their personal lives back on track and dealing with basics, clean up or finding somewhere to live but now they are turning their efforts to their business and the real damage is emerging,” Mr Byrne said.

He says businesses don’t have to have had water go through them to be impacted and eligible for support.

“In some instances, the physical business may have been unaffected, but the customers have moved away and now traffic to the business has declined steeply and it’s starting to show in the books,” he said.

Mr Byrne cautions these impacts are unlikely to go away or resolve in the next year or two without the businesses taking action or getting assistance.

“If business performance is down it's imperative small business owners seek help from a small business counsellor now,” he said.

The dedicated small business counsellors have extensive experience in accounting and business and will be able to provide financial counselling to small or medium businesses free of charge.

“When you are in small business during a crisis, you are working in the business and may not be able to find the time to work on the business.  Financial counsellors can help by looking at your balance sheet, identify options, developing a medium- and long-term plan, as well as connecting you to government assistance or support services,” Mr Byrne said.  

Shelley’s Story – Nourishing Bites

Budd 0131 UDD6633In 2013, Shelley Grainger and her husband launched their indigenous-owned, home-grown business selling healthy treats to their community at the Townsville markets. Shelley built up Nourishing Bites business to supply cafes, health food stores and supermarkets throughout North Queensland and had firm plans to extend into New South Wales and Victoria.  But earlier this year they lost their home in the Townsville floods and the commercial kitchen Shelley had created to make the treats was water damaged as was much of the electrical equipment.

“The last few months have been very, very hard getting our life back on track and now trying to get the business back on track,” she said.

The local woman has just started working with Small Business Counsellor Gerard Byrne to help prepare financials to support her case for grants and further assistance.  He’s also assisting her to re-evaluate the businesses’ strategic plan.

“With Gerard’s assistance I’m cautiously optimistic about the future, we are not only looking to recover but to build and grow,”

Shelley is also working with business coach Jayne Arlett and food industry expert Steve Shaw from Growth Pantry in Melbourne who are funded under the State government’s resilience funding grant.

“Having the benefit of Gerard, Jayne’s and Steve’s experience and connections I feel so supported and ready to move out of clean up mode and start making my business even better than before the flood,” she said.

The service is being delivered through the Rural Financial Counselling Service North Queensland and has been funded by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for small to medium enterprises in the following local government areas; Burdekin Shire Council, Burke Shire Council, Cloncurry Shire Council, Carpentaria Shire Council, Douglas Shire Council, Finders Shire Council, Hinchinbrook Shire Council, Townsville City Council, McKinlay Shire Council, Richmond Shire Council and Winton Shire Council.

Download PDF here

To make an appointment with Gerard Byrne email  or call 0438 664 560,

for an appointment with Russell Lowry email  or call 0477 122 123.


Photos courtesy of Roslyn Budd.

First Photo - Gerard Byrne Small Business Financial Counsellor

Second Photo - Shelley Grainger, husband Daniel Grainger and son Pacey-James Grainger