Most Virtual Assistants choose to work from home, and as a result, prefer to use a postal address for their mail and deliveries, so that their home addresses aren’t on public display online or elsewhere. As many are mothers with young children, or simply females home alone all day, it makes sense to be protective and careful of who you give your address out to.
Imagine our dismay when we learnt earlier this year, that the Federal Government in their ‘wisdom’ decided to adopt the registrations of business names on a national level and take over what the states had been managing quite well. That would be ok if they kept the systems as they were, but they decided to make all the places of business activity on public display on their national database. This means small businesses, micros, as well as large businesses. This is fine if you have s shop front or are set up to receive clients at the front door, but what about those of us who do not wish to operate in that manner?
To quote a thread a Flying Solo where a discussion has had a lot of comments:
If you are a sole trader then your name will now be accessible when reviewing your business name; plus, if you listed a residential address as your address for service (i.e. the address where notices/correspondence etc will be sent) this is also now published online. ASIC is suggesting that your ‘address for service’ not be your residential address for this reason, but also demands that it be a street address rather than a PO Box…
I can understand the need for ASIC needing our addresses to be on record, but why do they have to be on public display? I know of women who prefer to keep ex-husbands (or ex-partners) or other undesirables uninformed of their private addresses and here the Federal Government is breaching our rights to privacy by displaying our private addresses without our permission. If another large corporation did this wouldn’t there be a public outcry? Addresses that were once privately listed have now been made public, without advising those involved, without any notification or seeking permission.
I (Kathie) was first made aware of this problem on 1st June 2012. I have participated in the discussions, written letters to ASIC (with not a reply in sight), phoned and left messages, tried to leave complaints on a form that didn’t work, wrote to Louise Asher, whose office did contact me and told me they were going to contact ASIC because the model being used for the business names registration was theirs, except they never publicly displayed private information. I’ve not yet heard back of any replies they might have had. Barbara Gabogrecan of Home Based Business Australia also took this up and wrote to government contacts she had, as another VA I know has also done.
One of the VAs on my forum found this page – very confusing information.
It says sole traders can have their home address withheld, but then it goes on to say that we can’t use a PO Box for service of documents and that a physical address has to be given. How many people here have a spare street address they can use? Not me and I expect most of us who are home based operators don’t.
In November 2012 it was announced that the reform to the privacy bill has been passed in Federal Government and businesses are being urged to make sure they’re aware of their responsibilities to ensure that any changes are in place by 2014. But what about the Federal Government? Do they feel they’re exempt from having to honour our need for privacy if we wish to keep our home addresses suppressed?
I urge you to write to ASIC and your local MP – the more voices the better. And if you have done something towards raising our voice, please let us know here.