Natural disasters and emergency situations can strike without warning. It’s important to be ready for all sorts of emergencies, whether:

  • natural – such as floods, drought, fire, landslides and storms
  • human caused – such as crime, terrorism or riots
  • technological – such as explosions, building or bridge collapse

Follow our steps to help keep you, your employees and business safe.

1. Follow emergency procedures


When faced with an emergency situation – in addition to following your business’s emergency procedures, you may wish to use our take action checklist. This is designed to be completed when an emergency happens.

Download the take action checklist.

2. Think safety first


Be guided by emergency services personnel. It's important to listen to their advice if you need to evacuate.

If you do evacuate, take your emergency kit and ensure everyone is accounted for and in a safe location. Check in with the people on your emergency contacts list.

Depending on the emergency, you may have time to:

  • switch off electricity, gas and water
  • board up windows
  • sandbag entryways

3. Know the emergency risks


Be aware of any immediate emergency risks by following government social media channels and websites such as the:

If you can, listen to your local radio or television for updates. Ensure you and your staff are aware of all emergency warning systems in your area.

4. Assess the impact on your business


If a natural disaster impacts your business, the business recovery checklist can help you check what to do. Use the checklist and your business emergency management plan to:

  • assess the impact on your business
  • prioritise your efforts in your business recovery
  • understand what you need to consider before you can return to business

Download the Business recovery checklist.

5. Decide what to do with your business


Once you have assessed the impact on your business, you'll have to consider what it will take to recover your business. If you're not sure your business can recover, it's a good idea to seek advice and support from an accountant or business adviser.

If there is no option but to close your business, our information on closing your business can help you understand what you need to do.

Get expert advice

Consider talking to a business adviser to help you through your process. Use our adviser search tool to find an adviser in your area.

6. Help your employees


If a natural disaster affects your business, it’s likely to impact on your employees too. You and your employees can get help from personal counselling services, and may be eligible for the Australian Government's Disaster Recovery Allowance (DRA). The DRA provides short-term income support to people with a demonstrated loss of income as a direct result of a major disaster.

For useful advice on paying your employees when they're not working read the Fair Work Ombudsman's Pay during stand down and severe weather.

7. Re-establish your business


You may need to relocate your business to a temporary location such as:

  • a temporary business centre
  • hotel
  • someone's home
  • an office provided by a service provider

Consider arranging a virtual office service such as:

  • a telephone answering service
  • mail forwarding
  • a remote secretarial service

Arrange a start date with employees. Consider arrangements so they can work from home or a temporary location while you rebuild.

8. Seek advice to boost your recovery


A range of small business services can advise you on business recovery:

  • Find your nearest business adviser by using our search tool.
  • Find your nearest Business Enterprise Centre.
  • Get tips on how to recover from disasters, as well as current information on disaster recovery assistance by visiting the Disaster Assist website.
  • Contact your industry association for specific information, or your local council to see if there are seminars, workshops or networking events for local businesses.

9. Improve your cash flow


There are a range of ways to improve your cash flow, such as:

  • Make an insurance claim – make a claim as soon as possible, so the insurance company can process it quickly. If you aren't the only person affected, expect additional delays as your insurance company processes numerous claims. Talk to the Financial Ombudsman Service if there is a dispute about your insurance claim.
  • Talk to your creditors – explain your current financial situation to your creditors. Your bank or building society may agree to freeze your loan or offer you an interest only arrangement until you're able to recover.
  • Chase up your debtors – contact as many debtors as you can and explain your current financial situation. Chase up any money owing to you.

10. Get financial help


Find government financial support

The level of assistance available may depend on the severity of the disaster and where you’re located.

You can also search our Grants and assistance tool to find grants that apply to your situation.

Natural disaster funding

Urgent financial assistance from the Australian Government may be available to disaster-affected communities. This is delivered through state and territory governments. You can find information on the local government areas eligible for assistance and the types of assistance available on the Disaster Assist website. Check the website regularly – it is updated as disasters unfold.

Financial counselling services

Go to the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) MoneySmart website for a list of free financial counselling services.

You may be eligible for financial counselling services through the Rural Financial Counselling Service. Find out more on the Rural Financial Counselling Service website or by calling 1800 686 175.

Tax and lodgement help

Visit the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) website for information for businesses dealing with natural disasters. For help deferring outstanding taxes or reconstructing your tax records, call the ATO emergency support information line on 1800 806 218.

Having trouble paying?

If you're a company having difficulties with lodgements, notifications, and fee payment, speak to ASIC. You can also speak to ASIC if you lose or damage your company records. Contact ASIC on 1300 300 630 or through the ASIC website.

11. Protect your business online


To protect your business from scams after an emergency, visit the SCAMwatch website and learn how to protect yourself from scams.

For detailed advice and tips on how to protect your business online, visit the Stay Smart Online website.

 

12. Consider counselling


Lifeline Australia provides free, confidential and anonymous, 24-hour telephone counselling for business owners needing emotional support. Call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit Lifeline Australia's their website.

13. Celebrate your recovery


Once your business recovers from an emergency, it is important to re-connect with your customers. Check our marketing information and use our free marketing plan template to help create your marketing efforts.

State and territory emergency resources


Find information on what to do in an emergency in your state or territory.

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