For a community already coping with the crippling effects of drought, the bush fires that devastated the Gold Coast hinterland in 2019 forced many businesses to close their doors, as workers united to fight the fires side-by-side with emergency services.

Owner of Canungra Books and Art, Jan McGregor was one of the businesses who put their operations on hold during the bush fires and said her focus shifted, like many, to her family and community.

“The town was in the centre of operations for the bush fires and the focus was on the unfolding disaster, so I only opened the shop for very limited hours in order to join the community as we rallied together to support the front-line workers,” Ms McGregor said.

“Running my small business was not the focus at this time as my own house was also in a fire zone.”

It’s now been almost a year since the bush fires and Ms McGregor said a significant and pivotal point in her recovery process was participating in TAFE Queensland’s Scenic Rim Business Growth and Recovery Program – a State Government funded program designed to help local businesses on their path to recovery.

“I was grateful for the financial support from the State Government and for the opportunity to upskill through TAFE Queensland as I attempted to get my business back up and running again after putting everything on hold,” Ms McGregor said.

“I found the social media marketing and strategic planning components particularly helpful as well as the digital security section, which was a good reminder of the importance of cyber security."

“I am already benefiting from a general awareness of what I need to do going forward and have already implemented some of the social media strategies with great success,” she said.

President of the Mount Tambourine Botanic Gardens, Denby Browning was also a participant in the Program and said he enjoyed interacting with other small business owners who helped inspire his own businesses recovery strategy.

“The interaction between participants and hearing their stories about rapid adaptation and change was inspiring. I learned a great deal that I was quickly able to apply to our organisation,” Mr Browning said.

“The leadership segment has helped me to work better with our committee, to lead them in some difficult decisions."

TAFE Queensland General Manger on the Gold Coast, Karen Dickinson said the Scenic Rim Business Growth and Recovery Program has provided hope and opportunities to dozens of business across the Scenic Rim and helped them to further diversify and grow their businesses throughout an extremely tough time for the community.

“We know the power of vocational education and training and are privileged to have supported more than 35 local businesses including, KD Antiques & Collectables, Canungra Hub Café, Mount Tambourine Botanical Gardens and Canungra Books and Art - who all had their livelihoods turned upside down by the fires – to successful business outcomes,” said Ms Dickinson.

“Notably, more than 100 business owners and their employees have participated in the program to date and their newfound skills are transferable which will not only play a fundamental role in rebuilding their businesses, but most importantly rebuilding their community as a whole.”

The Program is subsidised through the Queensland Government’s Regional Skills Adjustment Strategy (RSAS).


For more information about TAFE Queensland’s Scenic Rim Business Growth and Recovery Program call 1300 308 233 or visit tafeqld.edu.au.

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