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Payment redirection scams cost Australian businesses $128 million in 2020

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Payment redirection scams cost Australian businesses $128 million in 2020
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Payment redirection scams cost Australian businesses $128 million in 2020

Payment redirection scams were the most financially damaging scams for Australian businesses in 2020 according to the ACCC’s latest Targeting Scams report. Combined losses reported to Scamwatch, other government agencies, banks and payment platforms totalled $128 million in 2020.
Reports to Scamwatch show that Australian businesses lost $18 million to scams in 2020, a 260 per cent increase on losses reported in 2019.
“Small and micro businesses made most of the reports to Scamwatch and experienced an increase in losses in 2020, although larger businesses reported the highest losses,” ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh said.
Based on Scamwatch data alone, false billing scams were the most commonly reported scam by businesses and accounted for three quarters of total losses to businesses. Small and micro businesses accounted for almost 60 per cent of these false billing reports.
There are a range of false billing scams, but the most common type was payment redirection scams, also known as business email compromise (BEC) scams, with 1,300 reports and $14 million in losses. This is a substantial increase from the 900 reports and $5 million in losses reported in 2019.
In a payment redirection scam, scammers impersonate a business or its employees via email and request an upcoming payment be redirected to a fraudulent account.
Scamwatch also observed a new type of scam in 2020 that targeted farmers looking for a good deal on tractors and farm machinery. Scammers advertised equipment at prices well below market value, and told farmers that they couldn’t view the tractors prior to purchase due to government restrictions from the pandemic. Farmers made payments to secure these special deals, when in reality the equipment never existed. Farmers were conned out of $1.1 million in these scams.
“One thing we know about scammers is that they will take advantage of a crisis,” Mr Keogh said.
Businesses were also targeted by health and medical scams in 2020. About half of the $3.9 million in total losses reported to health and medical scams were from businesses, as they attempted to procure personal protective equipment for their staff to comply with government guidelines during the pandemic.
Other scam types that impacted businesses throughout the year included phishing, identity theft and hacking scams.
“It is so important for businesses to stay informed about scams so they can protect themselves,” Mr Keogh said.
“The ACCC provides a range of resources for businesses on how to avoid scams on the Scamwatch website and in our media releases throughout the year.”
Businesses that have been scammed should contact their bank as soon as possible. If the scam occurred on a platform such as Facebook, contact them directly to report it.
Businesses can also report a scam to ReportCyber, which is run by the Australian Cyber Security Centre and passes reports to law enforcement agencies for assessment and intelligence purposes.
The Small Business Information Network also provides details about new or updated resources, enforcement action, changes to Australia’s competition and consumer laws, events, surveys and scams relevant to the small business sector.

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How Australian Women Entrepreneurs are Defying the Odds to Build Successful Businesses

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How Australian Women Entrepreneurs are Defying the Odds to Build Successful Businesses

 

One-third of Australian businesses are led by women, and this number is steadily increasing. Women entrepreneurs in Australia are not only more educated than their male counterparts but are also pioneering innovations in social impact and environmental sustainability. However, significant barriers persist, including gaps in opportunities, networks, resources, and investment.

Key Findings from the Women’s Agenda Report

A new report from Women’s Agenda, in partnership with Commonwealth Bank and CommBank Women in Focus, sheds light on the challenges and opportunities for women entrepreneurs in Australia. The report, which surveyed over 1,000 women business owners and startup founders in April 2024, highlights the following:

  1. Optimism and Determination: Despite the challenges, 75% of respondents are focused on expansion, and over half plan to hire new talent within the next year.
  2. Social Impact: A significant 56% of women-led businesses are dedicated to making a positive impact in areas such as care, health, social justice, and combating family violence.
  3. Economic Challenges: Inflation and the cost of living are major hurdles, with 74% citing these as primary challenges to growth. Additionally, over a third of respondents feel that current government policies negatively impact their businesses.
  4. Talent Shortages: More than one in five women entrepreneurs are struggling with finding and retaining talent.
  5. Gender-Based Barriers: Bias from prospective investors and unpaid care obligations are additional burdens for women founders.

Expert Insights and Strategies

Julie Mathers, CEO of Snuggle Hunny, sees current economic challenges as opportunities for entrepreneurs to become more focused on their businesses. She believes that surviving the current “storm” will make businesses stronger and more resilient.

Dr. Elaine Stead, a venture capitalist with Main Sequence, emphasizes the importance of networks. She advises women entrepreneurs to leverage their networks for support and survival during tough economic times. She underscores that the first priority for small business owners should be to survive the immediate challenges before focusing on growth.

Opportunities and Support Networks

The report highlights that access to networks is the top driver of success for female founders. Over 80% of respondents identified their biggest support as a network that includes other women entrepreneurs, stakeholders invested in their success, and supportive personal connections. This finding underscores the importance of relationship-building in business.

Conclusion

Despite facing numerous challenges, Australian women entrepreneurs are demonstrating resilience and optimism. Their commitment to innovation and social impact, combined with their determination to overcome barriers, is driving their businesses forward. The findings from the Women’s Agenda report reveal that with the right support, networks, and resources, women-led businesses can thrive even in challenging economic climates.

 

For more business news, click here.

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Fair Work Commission Upholds 3.75% Increase in Australia’s Minimum and Award Wages to Tackle Cost-of-Living Pressures

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Fair Work Commission Upholds 3.75% Increase in Australia’s Minimum and Award Wages to Tackle Cost-of-Living Pressures

 

In a significant move aimed at bolstering the economic security of Australian workers, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) has announced a 3.75% increase in both the minimum and award wages, effective from July 1. This decision, following extensive deliberation, reflects a multifaceted approach to address prevailing cost-of-living challenges while fostering equitable economic growth.

The national minimum wage is set to rise to $24.10 per hour and $915.91 per week, based on a standard 38-hour workweek. This increment, amounting to approximately $33 extra per week, is poised to benefit approximately 2.6 million workers nationwide, constituting approximately 20.7% of the Australian workforce.

The FWC’s decision is underpinned by a thorough assessment of prevailing economic conditions, with a keen focus on ensuring that wage adjustments align with forecasted wages growth for the year 2024. This strategic approach seeks to strike a balance between addressing immediate cost-of-living pressures and facilitating sustainable wage growth in the long term.

Furthermore, the commission’s rationale acknowledges the unique vulnerabilities faced by workers reliant on modern award minimum wages. These employees, often engaged in part-time, casual, or predominantly female-dominated roles, constitute a significant portion of those affected by the wage increase. By providing a modest real wage boost, the decision aims to uplift the economic wellbeing of these segments of the workforce, thereby fostering greater income equality.

However, the FWC’s deliberations also took into account the broader economic landscape, recognizing the diverse impacts of the wage increase across different industries and sectors. While overall labour market conditions remain robust, certain sectors face distinct challenges, necessitating a nuanced approach to wage adjustments to ensure sustained growth and stability.

In response to the ruling, stakeholders from various quarters have articulated their perspectives. The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has welcomed the decision, hailing it as a significant victory for workers’ rights and economic justice. Conversely, business organisations have expressed apprehensions regarding the potential impact on operational costs, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) grappling with existing margin pressures.

For SME owners like Edward Clayton, the wage increase presents a dual-edged dilemma. While recognising the imperative of fair wages to address cost-of-living pressures and retain a motivated workforce, he also confronts the challenge of balancing increased labor costs with maintaining competitive pricing strategies.

Against this backdrop, Treasury Secretary Steven Kennedy has emphasised the importance of ensuring that wage growth remains in line with inflation, thereby safeguarding macroeconomic stability. While the wage increase serves as a crucial mechanism to address immediate affordability concerns for workers, policymakers remain vigilant against potential inflationary risks, underscoring the imperative of productivity-driven growth to support sustainable economic outcomes.

As the wage increase takes effect, its ripple effects are poised to reverberate across the economic landscape, shaping consumer spending patterns, business operations, and overall market dynamics. While providing much-needed relief for workers grappling with escalating living expenses, the decision underscores the intricate interplay between wage policies, economic resilience, and the pursuit of inclusive prosperity for all Australians.

 

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Organic Growth: Toby O’Grady’s journey from volunteer farmer to sustainable agriculture business owner

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Organic Growth: Toby O’Grady’s journey from volunteer farmer to sustainable agriculture business owner

 

By Sarah Waters

The closest Toby O’Grady got to farming when he was young, was kicking a soccer ball behind the cane fields in Condong.

He wasn’t born into farming and didn’t really think about it until he travelled to Europe at the age of 20 and an opportunity to volunteer on a crop farm came up.

“2015 was when I first discovered farming, and that was via traveling as a way to see the world but in a really affordable way by volunteering,” Toby said.

“I just happened to have some really good volunteers around me, who taught me about what agriculture is and how important it is.”

For two years Toby worked on farms in England, including orchards, egg production farms and mixed vegetable farms, which all focused on selling direct to customers.

When he arrived home, he sought job opportunities on farms in NSW which focused on regenerative agriculture.

As his experience and passion in land rehabilitation and sustainable organic farming practices grew, he decided it was time to start his own farm.

In 2022, he put out a call to landowners in the Northern Rivers looking for land to lease for his ‘Ag-Venture’ which would produce certified organic fruit and vegetables, he could sell.

“I always wanted to do it myself – put into practice the things that I’ve learnt and do different trials and innovations.

“Even though we’ve been farming as a civilisation for many thousands of years, we still haven’t fully figured it out.

“I also wanted to get into the environmental side of it and the clean food side of it.”

Toby received more than 30 offers from landowners, but he decided to choose a three-acre plot of land at ‘Johny’s Garden’ in Duranbah to farm.

The area is known for its ferrosols (krasnozem) soil, which has favourable agronomic properties.

Toby put together a strategy on how he could make an income, while practising new farming methods and focusing on research and development.

He drove up and down the coast talking to people who he thought might be interested in buying directly from him.

Then there were crop rotation plans, the purchasing of equipment, seed orders and an irrigation system that had to be set up.

Toby O’Grady is a first-generation farmer, who started his organic vegetable farm two years ago

Toby O’Grady is a first-generation farmer, who started his organic vegetable farm two years ago

Soil samples were tested to see what the soils were lacking for optimum plant and soil health.

“This was all then considered for how to implement growing organic vegetables,” Toby said.

“I ordered compost and organic amendments to be applied to the soil to correct mineral deficiencies within the soil.

“Some areas we began planting in immediately, however most of the farm was planted out with a mixed species cover crop.”

Toby had a strong focus on producing nutrient-dense organic produce and used compost and bio stimulants to increase biological activity in the soil.

These practices encourage vigorous root growth, nutrient uptake and weather-resilient growing conditions.

Cover cropping was used to help with soil fertility, weeds, pests, disease and biodiversity.

A few months after Toby started to work the land, he had his first harvest of root vegetables, leafy greens and a range of herbs, which he supplied to local health shops.

He was encouraged to apply for the Mur’bah (Murwillumbah) Market, which he began to sell at each Wednesday, and it has since become the highlight of his week.

Fast forward two years later, and he now fills up his ute with about 50 crates of produce each week that he supplies to six local health shops.

Eventually, he plans to scale-up his business, but not until he has refined his farming practices and new methodologies.

In the meantime, he said his organic farming business brings in a relatively comfortable income.

“I can do this because I have a great lease agreement that’s super affordable.

“The owners, who are retired farmers, are sentimental about keeping the land and the soil productive – producing quality food, supporting the community, dreams and livelihoods.

“I’d also like to note how important the supporters, buyers and retails shops, are in making this business possible.

“Supporting local and regenerative farms, makes for a more abundant and rich ecology – cleaner rivers, air and food.”

Despite access to land being inextricably linked to having a farm, Toby wants to show farming can be an accessible career even if you’re not born into it.

“You can do an apprenticeship for a plumber, you can go be an electrician, but there’s not really any clear path for farming – for first generation farmers – which is what I’ve found.

“I’d like to advocate for better opportunities in the future for new people who are keen to start farming, because there are a lot of people who are.”

You’ll find Toby O’Grady and his organic produce, sold under the banner of Johny’s Garden at Murwillumbah Farmers Market each Wednesday.

You can follow more of his organic farming journey on Instagram @ag_venture.

Toby O’Grady is also available for available for home garden, small farm designs and consultations.

 

For more rural news, click here.

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