Victorian Small Business Commissioner leads new business webinar on resolving disputes

The City of Greater Bendigo is delighted to announce that Victorian Small Business Commissioner Judy O’Connell will lead a free regional webinar to help guide small businesses facing unresolved disputes and other issues.

The Victorian Small Business Commission (VSBC) advocates on issues affecting people in small business, raises awareness of their rights and responsibilities and helps them to avoid or resolve disputes.

The VSBC provides support, advice and information on wide a range of matters, from rent relief negotiations between commercial tenants and landlords to small business disputes over matters such as the quality of goods or services and unpaid supplier invoices.

Director Strategy and Growth Bernie O’Sullivan has welcomed the Commissioner’s participation in the webinar.

“We are delighted that Commissioner O’Connell is able to contribute her insights to this webinar, given her wealth of experience dealing with small businesses and the many challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Businesses dealing with unresolved disputes or ongoing issues may not realise that there is a lot of free support and expert guidance available and this webinar may help save a lot of time, worry and expense.”

Commissioner O’Connell said the webinar was a must for businesses across regional Victoria.

“It’s a great opportunity for regional business owners to learn more about their rights and obligations, the supports they can access at this time and how the VSBC can help resolve disputes,” Commissioner O’Connell said.

The VSBC resolves nearly 40 per cent of matters raised with their team early on, often just over the phone, and where disputes can’t be resolved this way, they progress the matter to mediation.

“Mediation isn’t like going to court, rather it’s a process where an experienced and impartial professional – the mediator – guides both parties in fair and honest negotiations with the aim of reaching an outcome that they determine and can both accept.”

“With the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme scheduled to finish on March 28, it’s important to know that the VSBC will keep offering guidance in negotiating a fair rent agreement going forward and free mediation for tenants and landlords who can’t reach an agreement.”

Joining the Commissioner on the panel will be Glenn Barnfield, Regional Manager from the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria, based here in Bendigo.

The settlement centre offers mediation where there are conflicts between staff or between staff and managers. The confidential service provides mediation between parties so that a negotiated workable agreement can be found.

Other panellists will be two speakers from La Trobe University Law School. Dr Lola Akin Ojelabi is a nationally-accredited mediator and lawyer with a focus on a collaborative approach to help avoid disputes from escalating.

John Zeleznikow is a Professor of Law and Technology and he will explain how artificial intelligence is becoming a vital tool to help with disputes and conflicts.

The City of Greater Bendigo in partnership with Be.Bendigo has been hosting a series of free Business Support Webinars to help businesses navigate the rapidly changing environment during the COVID-19 pandemic and provide information on available support and resources.

The webinar, Talking COVID-19: Disputes and issues and how to resolve them effectively, will be broadcast on Tuesday March 30 at 12 noon. To register for the free webinar, please visit:


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