Surging COVID-19 cases, energy cost hikes and crippling labour shortages make for an unprecedented triple threat bearing down on agribusinesses and the wider business sector.
But with smart thinking, these threats can be viewed as challenges and turned into opportunities by business leaders, government and regulators.
The federal government's upcoming jobs and skills summit is a great place to start this transition.
More of the same will not be good enough.
This new approach must recognise the value of collaboration and co-operation, placing them at the heart of strategies to future proof supply chains, strengthen our manufacturing sector, and rebuild business confidence.
One answer has been hiding in plain sight.
Throughout the pandemic Australia's $34.4 billion co-operative and mutual sector has clearly demonstrated the value of an approach that is purpose driven and puts the well-being of communities ahead of profit.
However, co-ops and mutuals tend to be quiet achievers.
While a handful - such as HCF, Norco, Bank Australia and Heritage Bank - are recognisable names, others are impressively large, but not well known outside their industry, such as West Australian grains giant Co-operative Bulk Handling (CBH).
Co-ops and mutuals operate across all industries and in sectors critical to food security, supply chain sovereignty, health and aged care services and modern manufacturing.
There are 1832 active co-ops and mutuals nationally, and these directly employ around 76,000 people.
Remarkably, 6000 of these were brought on during the pandemic.
While many businesses were forced to furlough or sack workers during the initial stages of the pandemic, co-ops and mutuals have not only bucked the trend, but also invested in programs to support cost of living pressures, especially for essential services workers.
Not only were very few jobs lost during the pandemic, co-ops and mutuals did not need to draw as much on federal government handouts such as JobKeeper to ensure their survival.
Instead, they used balance sheet reserves to stay afloat - something only possible due to their values-driven business purpose.
This "bailing in" rather than bailing out mentality has been key to their resilience throughout the pandemic.
In fact, co-ops and mutuals are arguably at their best in times of crisis; their DNA eschewing decisions driven by profit in favour of community benefit.
The jobs summit represents a unique opportunity for government, business and other stakeholders to consider new approaches that reflect these collaborative values in solving the current labour and skills shortages impacting Australian businesses.
In the Hunter region, a co-operative innovation and networking company, HunterNet, provides an example of how collaborative thinking has been used to solve labour market issues.
HunterNet, which was forged out of the steel industry crisis and demise in shipbuilding in Newcastle 26 years ago could easily provide a blueprint for other regions to build a local skilled workforce to catalyse new industries.
HunterNet came about because a group of manufacturers realised that they needed to diversify to survive.
What began as a sharing of ideas grew into a co-operative with three key goals - to develop capabilities, grow market opportunities and reduce the costs of supplying services.
HunterNet has since supplied more than 2000 apprentices and trainees to 200 member businesses and the region is now well placed to leverage future opportunities in manufacturing.
The key has been 26 years of co-operation and teamwork.
It is a proven model that can now be emulated elsewhere and that's what our policy makers should be looking to facilitate.
It is one thing, however, to source extra workers - whether through enhanced training programs or accelerated immigration or by other means.
It's another to address the added layers of complexity, of which Australia's housing crisis is just one example.
The jobs can be open, the workers available but there is simply nowhere to house them.
Here, again, co-ops are quietly getting on with the job and coming up with holistic solutions that address the issues at a community level.
In northern NSW, for example, the Casino Food Co-op, Australia's largest farmer owned meat processing co-op, is investigating options to use spare land holdings to construct affordable housing for its workforce.
Elsewhere, a social impact housing fund backed by mutual bank, Police Bank, is helping members of the police services overcome the challenge of being priced out of the metropolitan suburbs in which they work.
One thing co-ops understand intrinsically is that their own self-interest is best served through the collective interest.
It is a message worthy of wider consideration in the current economic climate.
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