CityLife BUSINESS | Breaking Down Barriers For Business


Breaking Down Barriers For Business

Patricia O’Neill
Chief Executive Officer
Cairns Chamber of Commerce

The Cairns Chamber of Commerce joins with every business in the excitement of welcoming the first of international visitation in over a year. We look forward to the financial stimulus this will bring to our economy as well as families and friends from across the ditch being able to once again reunite.

During COVID-19 we witnessed the departure of many thousands of skilled and unskilled workers. As many of you would already know the CCoC has been the official certifying body for the Skilled Employer Sponsored visa program (formerly RCB) for Far North Queensland for several years, assisting businesses to access hard to fill positions. The reality is, despite the tough economic times and rising unemployment, skilled and unskilled migrants still exist within Australia on temporary visas and there are many industries desperate to engage with them. The unfortunate situation that our local businesses continuously find themselves in, is that despite consistent attempts at advertising these positions in an attempt to provide employment for Australians first, the appetite is just not there to pick up the work previously carried out by our migrant workers.

CCoC is awaiting final sign off from the Federal Government on our Far North Queensland Designated Area Migration Agreement (FNQ DAMA), which will allow a wider geographical coverage and include critical occupations not currently on the approved list. This will allow for various sectors of business including but not limited to, the professional sector, hospitality and agricultural industry, to have the ability to engage with these migrant workers and deliver greater economic outcomes for our region. We are also actively working with DESBT (Dept Employment, Small Business & Training) to contribute to a regional jobs committee which will highlight key areas where we are experiencing regional skills and workforce shortages.

In March we consolidated an already effective partnership with myself and President Sally Mlikota co-signing the Small Business Friendly Councils Charter (SBFC) with Mayor Bob Manning. The Small Business Friendly Councils (SBFC) initiative recognises a commitment by councils to be mindful of small businesses, their issues and priorities when making decisions for the local community.

In May we will be hosting various events in celebration of Queensland small business month. There is sure to be topics that will relate to all business sectors, so watch this space! To ensure you don’t miss any of these opportunities, visit We will be posting regular event updates.

The Cairns Chamber of Commerce is here to help business. That is our primary focus. We take our responsibility as the peak body for business representation in the Cairns region very seriously. Serving our members is at the very heart of all that we do. Assisting businesses grow by connecting them to opportunities, and to act in the best interests of the Cairns regional business community by advocating on their behalf to all three levels of government. We will continue to fight for business.

Double exposure image of business people handshake on city office building in background showing partnership success of business deal. Concept of corporate teamwork, trust partner and work agreement.