ILLAWARRA BUSINESSES IN 2020: A YEAR OF HARDSHIP, INNOVATION, ACHIEVEMENT AND COMPASSION

Ms Bird (Cunningham) (19:28): A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a function that I regularly go to in my electorate, the Illawarra Business Chamber's annual business awards. For so many businesses in my electorate, as in all of my colleagues' electorates, I'm sure, it's been a really tough year. This was an opportunity to particularly acknowledge a range of businesses who, even in the toughest of times, have been able to really make significant achievements in their businesses.

The Illawarra Business Chamber has a very rigorous process to determine the winners of the categories. A panel with very esteemed local people goes through a whole process of application and interview to decide who the winners are.

I would like to acknowledge the winners of this year's awards. The Excellence in Customer Service Argyle Professionals award was won by Easy Agile and Ericom M2K; Excellence in Innovation & Adaptability was won by His Boy Elroy; Excellence in Import & Export was won by Itree; Excellence in Sustainability was won by Burnetts on Barney; Excellence in Digital Service Delivery was won by His Boy Elroy; Excellence in Workplace Culture was won by FinoComp; Resilience in Micro Business was won by Dr Olga Lavalle & Associates; Resilience in Small Business was won by His Boy Elroy; and Resilience in Business was won by IOH Injury & Occupational Health. The 2020 Inspiring Employee was Novica Blazeski of Home Instead Senior Care Wollongong and the 2020 Inspiring Business Leader was Adam McMahon of Dignam Real Estate. And the overall 2020 IMB Bank Business of the Year—probably not surprising to anyone—was His Boy Elroy.

I just want to say that they're all magnificent, wonderful businesses and that I have dealt with them in many different capacities over time. But I do want to say something about His Boy Elroy, the overall winner and the winner of several categories, and the owners, Lachlan and Selena Stevens. They are involved in a program called Barstool Brothers. It originally started out as a group of guys catching up on a monthly basis who would hit the restaurant at His Boy Elroy in the name of men's mental health. The Barstool Brothers have now grown to a group of over 600 people running over 10 events per month at different venues around the Illawarra. They have events like golf days, trivia nights, morning walks, lawn bowls, family barbecues, beach days and so forth.

His Boy Elroy also participated in the Relay for Life this year. Oscar, who is the son of Angie Howes, this year's ambassador for Wollongong's Cancer Council  Relay for Life, teamed up with the crew from His Boy Elroy to make his mum something special as she fights her second battle with cancer. He came up with the 'Her Boy Oscar' burger. Oscar's creation was a double-beef patty, maple bacon, liquid cheddar cheese and Dorito extravaganza! It sold for a week in October for $25, fries included, with the team at His Boy Elroy donating $15 from every burger to the Cancer Council in Wollongong. Overall, he raised $3,800. That's a magnificent achievement. I have to say that there was a donation of $2,480 from Mitch Henry and an individual donation of $2,200. A massive amount was raised, so excellent work by Oscar and the His Boy Elroy team.

In the short time I have left, I want to acknowledge that I've had the chance to meet with travel agents in my area. Boy, are they doing it tough! They're busier than ever before, but they're doing work that is actually costing them money because they're looking after their customers and trying to get them refunds or rearranging bookings and so forth. This is a sector which has really done it tough. I was able to meet with a number of local travel agents and I want to put out a call to the government—I know that members on the other side have done so as well—to please look at this sector and see if there is not more that can be done to support these many small businesses in the travel agency sector in our electorates.

Watch Sharon’s speech here.