Disaster response and recovery

Government agencies use ABR data to help and provide support for their communities, the environment, infrastructure and the economy during times of disaster.

ABR data case studies

The following case studies show how we have used ABR data to help communities:

Note: If you have had success using ABR data and would you like to share your story with other agencies, contact the ABR.

Service NSW – helping make it easier to do business

Service New South Wales (NSW) recently provided a range of support services to small businesses and people affected by the bushfires and COVID-19, with the help of the Australian Business Register (ABR) data.

ABR data, via the Identifier Search web service, has been integrated into Service NSW transactions to enhance fraud and security controls. It also helps business applicants’ complete online forms quicker and easier by prefilling the Australian business number (ABN) information held on the ABR.

Integrating ABR data has resulted in a more efficient application process. This meant a faster processing time, with some applications assessed automatically for Service NSW, NSW businesses and individuals.

ABR data also proved invaluable for Service NSW during the bushfires and COVID-19. The data played a major role in delivering timely support to NSW residents. To date in 2020, the ABR data has assisted in the delivery of:

  • 3,180 Volunteer Firefighter Payments
  • 3,490 Small Business Bushfire Recovery Grants
  • 20,120 Small Business Bushfire Support Grants
  • 57,738 Small Business COVID Support Grants
  • 36,454 Small Business COVID Recovery Grants

From January to August 2020, there were 120,982 grants and payments made to small business owners of NSW, which has totaled in excess of $880 million.

Cessnock City Council optimised supply chains for PPE during the COVID-19 period

The Cessnock City Council supported their community by using the Australian Business Register (ABR) data to assist essential service businesses in their region to rapidly source vital personal protective equipment (PPE) suppliers during the COVID-19 period.

The council was able to act proactively by accessing the ABR data to not only assess additional support that local essential service businesses would need to prepare for the effects of COVID-19, but also assess the local suppliers that could quickly meet these needs. To achieve this, the council used the Australia and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) codes in ABR data to accurately identify:

  • essential service businesses that may need to source vital (PPE) for their employees
  • local businesses and wholesalers, to connect with reliable manufacturers and importers, that could supply the PPE required.

Once identified the council surveyed the essential service businesses to understand what types of PPE were needed by:

  • medical centres
  • pharmacies
  • local schools
  • childcare services
  • aged care facilities
  • banks
  • post offices.

They then identified businesses that could supply the PPE needed to protect people working in and using essential services. These products included hand sanitiser, hand wash, soap, gloves, cleaning products, protective clothing and eyewear, swabs, masks, and paper products.

The council emailed essential businesses with an explanation of the council initiative, and  provided product information and contact details for each business selling the various PPE products and the quantities available for purchase.

In instances where suppliers had specific quantity ordering requirements, the council facilitated a collective purchase opportunity between multiple businesses. Businesses that had surplus products were able to resell them in the supply chain. This initiative also introduced and promoted new PPE suppliers.

During these challenging times, this council initiative provided benefits across the whole Cessnock and Hunter Region community. Essential service employers and employees felt protected and safe with essential service businesses continuing to provide services to the community. It also facilitated the establishment of new business connections and networks to help each other.

By thinking outside the box, the Cessnock City Council has successfully used ABR data to help protect the health of the local community against COVID-19 and support job retention in essential businesses.

Georges River Council - identified local food businesses during COVID-19

In response to the forced shutdown of non-essential and restricted businesses due to COVID-19, Georges River Council used Australian Business Register (ABR) data to communicate and engage with their local businesses. This shutdown heavily impacted the council’s hospitality sector, with some businesses forced to close overnight because of the crisis, while others had to quickly change and adapt to the new restrictions placed on them.

ABR data helped Georges River Council to locate cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services using the Australia and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification Codes (ANZSIC). They targeted this industry to provide immediate support and a more personalised service to these businesses impacted by COVID-19. Council redeployed staff to assist in phoning each business to inform them of the relief and stimulus packages provided by council, state and federal governments.

Posters were designed by council and hand delivered by the council environment health officers to the impacted businesses. The posters promoted the ‘Buy Local’ and ‘#WeAreInThisTogether’ campaign. Posters were displayed in shopfronts to let customers know of the changes to:

  • face to face dining
  • online contact details
  • takeaway/delivery options available to customers.

Council took further measures to help these struggling businesses, by:

  • allowing businesses to provide a take-away service even where their development consent did not allow for this
  • relaxed enforcement of parking to allow increased takeaway trading in shopping areas
  • easing enforcement of trading and delivery hours for food, beverage and grocery stores.

This meant significant changes to how council’s environmental health officers did their job. It provided the opportunity to be the face of council during the crisis and proactively engage with business owners. The environmental officers found having different conversations, providing support and answering questions, was an opportunity to build and strengthen relationships whilst working together for their community in challenging times.

Geoscience Australia - providing assistance in disaster and emergencies

ABR data is used to assist Geoscience Australia (GA) in providing spatial support and advice to the Crisis Coordination Centre (CCC). The CCC is an all-hazards, 24/7 facility located within Emergency Management Australia (EMA); they provide and coordinate Australian government assistance during disaster and emergency events.

In providing assistance during an event, EMA need to have an understanding of the demographics and location of buildings, businesses, institutions, agricultural, and infrastructure sites situated within an event footprint, geographical boundary or potentially threatened area. To assist EMA, GA uses extracted ABR data to design the Geoscience Australia Exposure Report that quickly documents this information for the CCC to use.

The data extracted for the report includes the ANZSIC codes within an area of interest that is then broken down into industry subdivisions to align the business types with the National Disaster Relief & Recovery categories for financial assistance.

Geoscience Australia is impressed with how they have been able to use ABR data at absolutely no cost to greatly improve the timeliness and accuracy of information used by the CCC.

The resulting exposure report provided to the CCC has greatly enhanced the government’s ability to make quick decisions, provide timely responses to disaster events and assists in understanding the extent of industry sectors that may qualify for financial assistance for recovery. 

Ipswich City Council - assisted local businesses after storm damage

ABR data helped Ipswich City Council contact local businesses after a severe storm passed through Ipswich in December 2016.

The Ipswich region gets its fair share of natural disasters, so the Economic Development team were well prepared. Using the email addresses contained in the ABR data an email was promptly sent to local businesses informing them to contact the council for immediate assistance.

Ipswich is in the top 20 of Australia’s fastest growing areas and is the fastest growing city in Queensland. It has a large manufacturing and construction industry which supports the city and the surroundings areas.

A spokesperson for the council said being prepared for these events and keeping in contact with the local community in a timely manner after the storm meant they could assist businesses that requested immediate help and give advice on the various local government assistance programs available.

In addition to receiving positive feedback from the business community, the council also gathered valuable information based on the email response rate.

Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries Northern Territory - managed a biological hazard

Australian Business Register (ABR) information was recently provided to the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (DPIF) Northern Territory to assist with the containment of an outbreak of banana freckle, a fungal disease threatening the NT banana industry. The disease was detected in NT in 2013.

Banana freckle causes blemishes on the fruit, reducing its commercial value. Although it is not a new disease in Australia, it is a declared disease under the NT’s Plant Health Act 2008 and is a serious threat to the Top End’s banana industry.

To avoid further spread of the disease, a quick quarantine response was required. The first step was to identify businesses in the NT that were connected with the banana industry. Staff from the DPIF contacted the ABR disaster response team requesting data that might be able to assist with their response.

To help identify potentially affected businesses, information on the register was refined by location and by using the relevant Australian New Zealand Standard Industry Classification (ANZSIC) codes.

This information was used to create a specialised ABR data extract which was provided to the DPIF in an excel spreadsheet, with a pivot table summary of statistical counts, for ease of use.

The ABR information helped the DPIF establish the size of the response required. It also provided a starting point for making contact with relevant businesses.

Using ABR data, the NT Government was able to respond quickly to the hazard, ensuring the disease did not spread to larger commercial banana growing regions in Australia.

Due to the positive outcome, the DPIF is currently looking at how ABR information can be used in other day-to-day business operations.

See also:

Last modified
18 Dec 2020