Businesses Supported Financially and Emotionally

Cairns Chamber of Commerce
Businesses Supported Financially and Emotionally

Patricia O’Neill
: (07) 4031 1838

Chief Executive Officer
Cairns Chamber of Commerce

We have all heard the saying at the start of the year “YES, we hit the ground running!”

I’m sure many of you reading this column have never left the ground since mid-December and are still running!

The 12 days of Christmas are normally full of fun and frivolity, however this seemed to skip many businesses across our region in 2023.

Our number one priority both during and following the December floods, was to do what we do best, listen to and advocate for our business community.

We had to do everything in our power to ensure businesses that had been affected by the adverse weather conditions following Tropical Cyclone Jasper, could and would receive all the support they needed both financially and emotionally to recover from this natural disaster.

Sadly, some of our business community lost everything they had spent years tirelessly working to build, providing employment to our local community. It was and still is in some cases absolutely heartbreaking!

At times like these, we witness first-hand the collaboration across all key stakeholders in our region. We dropped everything to ensure we had the ear of Government, at all levels, to ensure they listened to us as we shared the urgent needs of our business community.

A cavalcade of politicians, which included the Premier and the Prime Minister, rode into town to try and understand the enormity of the loss and devastation. Seeing it first-hand ensured action was taken to release funding. However, it is not over yet. There are loopholes that still need addressing. We are continuing to advocate by participating in the Economic Recovery Committee, (led by the Cairns Regional Council) to ensure we can address these loopholes and build back better and stronger as we navigate another year of summer in the tropics.

In other news, the Queensland Government has commended the Cairns Chamber of Commerce for the outcomes achieved by the Cairns Regional Jobs Committee (RJC) over the first two years of the program.

The RJC is an initiative of the Queensland Government designed to be led by local representatives from the business community and education sectors who contribute their knowledge, skills, insight and passion for the region to develop solutions to address our local skills and workforce needs. This was a key action of the 2022-2032 Queensland Workforce Strategy, and we are pleased to share that the Cairns Regional program has been extended for a further 18 months, which is great news for all industries across our region.

It is critical for the region that we educate the workforce through upskilling and reskilling to retain talent in the region as well as striving to be the region of choice when skilled individuals are looking to relocate as we know workforce challenges continue to be an issue across the nation.

The Cairns Chamber of Commerce has now launched our 2024 Emerging Leaders Program. We have accepted 16 of the region’s up-and-coming leaders into this prestigious program. The Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) is designed to develop globally relevant and locally connected leaders in a manner that supports the future economic, social and environmental prosperity of Far North Queensland. They will participate in their first industry immersion day which will be focused on the construction and manufacturing industry as part of the fabric of our economy.

In closing and whilst on the topic of talent, in February I was honoured and humbled to be invited by former Cairns Mayor Terry James to MC the Cairns Regional Council Citizen of the Year awards. These annual awards showcase some of the quiet achievers across our community. Names you never hear of with talents and generosity that stretch across many. Cairns Chamber of Commerce congratulates all winners and finalists.