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Connecting with small business

Last week AFSA attended the Family Business Australia (FBA) 20th National Conference, where we heard first hand from small businesses about many of the issues they encounter. 

This prompted me to reflect on the work we’ve been doing to support small business to understand and engage with the PPSR.

You might recall that the Review of the Personal Property Securities Act (PPSA) released an interim report which focussed on small business. This report noted that many small businesses were still unaware of the protection and benefits the PPSR can provide, and those that were aware, struggled with the complexity of the Act, the terminology and the Register itself.

Let’s look at each of these findings in turn.

Firstly, let’s discuss awareness-raising. Reaching small business is challenging. We know that small business operators are busy running their business. It’s for this reason that we took the deliberate approach to partner with existing trusted advisors who already support small businesses–such as accountants, business advisory services and others that provide guidance or that small business engage with regularly.

We also collaborate with other government agencies to help share important information about the PPSR—and this is why we like to attend events like ‘Start me, Grow me’–a free small business forum where real businesses share their experience, and government agencies provide a one minute pitch on how they can help small business.

Secondly let’s discuss the issue of complexity. The review of the PPS Act made a number of recommendations designed to simplify the legislation and the Register. The Attorney-General’s Department, which is responsible for the policy, is preparing a response to the review’s recommendations.

Some of the issues around complexity would be resolved by simplification of the PPS Act. In saying this, it is important to remember that a registration on the PPSR does not replace the need for a valid contract or agreement. This is where it's important to find a balance between ease of registration catering for the simple and complex transactions underpinning a registration on the PPSR – and on the other hand, providing for simple search results – as those who register ultimately wish their registration to be found as quickly and simply as possible, when relevant, to avoid potentially more complex legal proceedings after the fact.

It is for this reason we developed tailored resources that help explain different PPSR concepts. AFSA has collaborated with stakeholders, peak bodies and industry representatives to develop a number of sector specific information products. A good example is the small business guide, which was designed with small businesses and their advisors in mind. Further tailored information has been created with—and for—different industry groups and is available via the industry portal on our website.

But we know there is more to be done and we continue to look for opportunities to make it easier for small businesses to access information on how they can benefit from using the PPSR.

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) recently released a report which recommended further simplification of the Register. We know there are further opportunities to simplify the Register for small business and look forward to working collaboratively to understand and address specific concerns raised by the ASBFEO.

Personal Property Securities 

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