AUSTRALIA is set to get its first dedicated Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman following the appointment of Australian Chamber CEO Ms Kate Carnell AO to the inaugural role.

Minister for Small Business Kelly O’Dwyer announced yesterday that Ms Carnell will commence the role on 11 March for a five-year period.

As an independent Obmudsman, Ms Carnell will act as a:

  • Commonwealth advocate for small businesses and family enterprises;
  • Concierge for dispute resolution service to allow businesses to resolve disputes without resorting to costly litigation; and
  • Contributor to the development of small business Commonwealth laws and regulations.

“Today’s appointment is a major win for small business owners who will have access to advice and support, and an independent advocate to ensure the government creates the right conditions for small businesses to grow,” Minister O’Dwyer said.

Ms Carnell has been CEO of the Australian Chamber (recently rebranded from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry – ACCI) since 2014.

Her prior experience includes CEO roles with beyondblue, the Australian Food and Grocery Council, and the Australian General Practice Network. She was also ACT Chief Minister from 1995 – 2000 and formerly owned her own pharmacy business.

AMMA chief executive Steve Knott, as a member of the Australian Chamber Board, congratulated Ms Carnell on her appointment.

“I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing both Ms Carnell’s impressive leadership skills and her outstanding advocacy for Australian business,” Mr Knott said.

“As Australian Chamber CEO, Ms Carnell has been unwavering in her dedication to building an environment where businesses of all sizes can succeed to grow our economy and create employment opportunities.

“Her appointment to this important role reflects in part the impact she has had on shaping business policy and supporting the key role of small businesses across Australia.”

Mr Knott also acknowledged the dedication Ms Carnell has shown in raising awareness of mental health issues in Australia.

“Ms Carnell has spoken passionately on the topic at numerous AMMA conferences in her roles as both CEO of beyondblue and CEO of the ACCI. This has played a crucial role in the growing engagement of Australian businesses of all sizes with the mental health and well-being of working Australians,” he said.

The Australian Chamber Board is now conducting a search for Ms Carnell’s replacement.