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Good Shepherd ANZ Media Release  

7 March 2022 

LaunchMe is building business in East Gippsland 

There is now a helping hand for those who are trying to build or rebuild their own business in an East Gippsland community recovering from the triple effects of droughts, bushfires, and COVID-19 over recent years. Locals Karen Fleischer and Fleur Hawke are among the first to benefit.   

Good Shepherd has partnered with the Victorian and Federal Governments under the Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements to establish the LaunchMe program. LaunchMe was devised to create self-employment opportunities for people facing barriers in getting a job and assist rebuilding of small businesses due to the devastating impacts of the 2019-20 bushfires.  

Good Shepherd business coaches are stationed in the region to offer business coaching and advice, Good Shepherd’s National Program Manager of Microenterprise Gunjan Pagare says that the program meets a significant need in this community.  

“The economic effects of bushfires and COVID-19 have impacted East Gippsland greatly, working hours have been cut and financial independence of people has been threatened,” said Mr. Pagare. 

“For many people, for various family and health reasons, 9-5 work is not possible and opportunities can be limited when living in remote and rural locations.  

“Starting your own business can be the only path to a regular income, but this can be very daunting for those that have a specific set of skills but not the experience in administration, marketing and management.” 

“This is where LaunchMe  is so helpful, as it is a free program where coaches work with people in the region who need that helping hand to start their business dream or rebuild their business during such a challenging time.”  

The key features of LaunchMe program are: 

  • Eligible individuals will receive 6 months of intensive business coaching.  Coaches meet the participants each fortnight for up to 1.5 hours to help build their business using a structured checklist. 
  • Established small businesses who have experienced a downturn and needing help for recovery and revitalisation will receive up to 3 hours of personalised business coaching and a tailored roadmap to recovery. 
  • Referrals are made by coaches to Good Shepherd’s extensive network of financial wellbeing services.  Participants can avail up to $1000 small business financial assistance to support business goals. 


After a workplace incident left Karen Fleischer ‘s confidence shattered, she struggled to gain new employment. She was considering starting her own business with a concept around helping children engage in books by videoing authors, well known locals, teachers, and local sporting identities reading but was unsure about how to get things started.   

Working closely with the LaunchMe coach, Karen developed a program for Early Years students where schools can access Australian books, related teaching and at-home resources and direct access to the authors and illustrators for in-class incursions. She has written a project proposal, has liaised with Ministers and educators, and is actively seeking funding opportunities. Karen has now settled on her business name, structure, and a clear definition of what her business will provide to the education sector in the longer term. Karen credits the LaunchMe program for turning her dreams into reality.  

“I’m so grateful for the support of LaunchMe and my coach. I can’t believe how far I’ve come. I’m really excited about this project connecting students with Australian authors and what it will mean for the local community and for my new business.” 

The fear of the unknown had always prevented Fleur Hawke from starting her own business, however a reduction in working hours through COVID allowed her to complete her Certificate in Celebrancy. The proposed business had to go on hold until restrictions lifted, but then she heard about LaunchMe.  

Her dream is to provide people with natural, relaxed and fun filled celebrations and ceremonies that encapsulate those celebrated, and LaunchMe has given her the confidence to chase it.  

“The thought of running your own business can be scary, especially if you have never done it before, that’s why I’m a firm believer in utilising programs and supports that are out there in our local community that can help. The Launch Me Program and my Coach have given me the belief in my myself, my business idea and the belief in my unique skills and talents to take that leap of faith.” 


The LaunchMe program is servicing the East Gippsland region. You can join for free by visiting the LaunchMe website: 

For more information or for media comment please contact Shannon Gill on 0418 162 761.