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11 July 2016

It’s never too late to seek help

Kate Carnell – the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) – has welcomed the launch of a new initiative designed to provide support to small business people experiencing mental health issues.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has unveiled a new mental health plan, aimed at helping alleviate the stress that some small business people experience at tax time.

“One in four will experience mental health problems at some point in their lives.  For small business people, conditions such as anxiety and depression can often be compounded by the pressures they’re facing at work, and can significantly affect their ability to run their enterprise and meet their various obligations, including tax and super contributions,” Ms Carnell said.

“Faced with these circumstances, tax time can become an incredibly stressful period, so it’s vital there are mechanisms in place that take this into account.

“By establishing a support system that allows small business owners experiencing mental health difficulties to perhaps tailor or defer their payments depending on their individual circumstances, the ATO is showing vital leadership in this area and I congratulate them for providing a positive example to others.

“Unfortunately some business owners avoid addressing their financial difficulties and are apprehensive about contacting the ATO, which only compounds the issue and elevates their mental health difficulties, so I certainly encourage anyone experiencing problems to get in touch with the ATO as soon as possible, and talk about their options.

“A mentally healthy workplace can make the world of difference to the success of a small business, its owners, employees and clients; education and awareness is paramount when it comes to ensuring everyone plays their part in creating a productive and thriving working environment,” she said.

Information on the ATO initiative can be found at:

The mental health plan was unveiled at the Council of Small Business of Australia’s (COSBOA) Vodafone National Small Business Summit, which brings government, big business and the voice of small businesses together for an exchange of ideas on improving the small business environment in Australia.