Fostering financial fortitude in
drought-affected businesses

Wheat irrigation

Supporting farming and family businesses in Central West Queensland’s drought-affected regions is the focus of a pioneering partnership co-led by The University of Queensland, the Remote Area Planning and Development Board (RAPAD) and the Rural Financial Counselling Service North Queensland.

UQ Law School Senior Lecturer and chartered accountant Dr Thea Voogt said the three-year integrated pilot study was the first of its kind and would investigate how the law and accounting intersects in small business structures.

“We’ve been working with primary producers, small business owners and community leaders to determine how businesses in the region are structured, looking at whether they are sole traders, partnerships, companies, trusts, or a combination of these,” Dr Voogt said.

“These different structures impact each business in unique ways, and can influence cashflow or make it difficult to restructure or change ownership as part of succession planning without significant cost and a lot of red tape.”

Drawing from UQ Business School Deputy Head Professor Martie-Louise Verreynne’s world-leading research in innovation in small businesses, the team aims to investigate how the structure of farm-based and town-based small businesses can make rural and remote business operations easier.

The insights and data generated by the study will allow the research team to develop best-practice ways for primary producers and small businesses to maximise cashflow to support their long-term viability, while also helping inform policy recommendations for government.

Dr Thea Voogt

UQ Law School Senior Lecturer and chartered accountant Dr Thea Voogt

UQ Law School Senior Lecturer and chartered accountant Dr Thea Voogt

RAPAD Chief Executive Officer David Arnold said in a time of significant natural disasters, the need to support businesses and communities in the region has never been greater.

“Small businesses, whether agricultural or town-based, are the lifeblood of rural communities, and are vital to ensuring people stay in the regions,” Mr Arnold said.

“What we learn from Dr Voogt’s work will be instrumental in supporting individual graziers and whole communities.”

Read more inspiring research partnership stories from the 2019 BEL Research Profile.