Victorian Government introduces subsidy for casual workers in arts and entertainment sectors

The Victorian Government, led by premier Daniel Andrews, has introduced a wage subsidy for casual workers not covered by the federal Job Keeper program in a move the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) has called “a huge win”.

Many casual workers at arts and sporting venues – including Arts Centre Melbourne, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Rod Laver Arena, and Melbourne Recital Centre – previously shut out of Job Keeper will now be eligible for a subsidy of up to $1,500 a fortnight, before tax, until at least the end of September, including those employed for less than 12 months and overseas visa holders.

The State Government move is contingent on these workers being willing to be redeployed to other public sector roles to help the state recover from the pandemic. The government said the initiative will support 3,000 workers.

The minister for industrial relations, Tim Pallas, said Victoria was now supporting people who have fallen through the cracks of the federal system.

“These workers are not eligible for the Commonwealth’s Job Keeper payments so we’re stepping in and making sure they get the support they need to make it through to the other side of the crisis,” he said.

It’s a much-needed financial lifeline that should be extended in other states, MEAA argued.


“This is a huge win for thousands of workers at public sector venues throughout Victoria who were shut out of JobKeeper,” Adam Portelli, MEAA’s Victoria and Tasmania regional director, said.

“Congratulations to the hundreds of members of MEAA and other unions who signed petitions, lobbied politicians and never gave up fighting for justice after they had been abandoned by the Federal Government.

“Today’s announcement will be a great relief for casual workers who faced the prospect of losing their jobs and applying for unemployment benefits to tide them over during winter.”

MEAA CEO Paul Murphy added that Victoria is leading by example, and said it’s “shameful” that Job Keeper excludes so many workers in the arts, entertainment and cultural sectors.

“To varying degrees, other state governments have offered to assist workers at public sector venues, but nothing to this extent,” Murphy said.

“The other states should immediately follow the Andrews Government by providing wage subsidies, so workers at venues like the Sydney Opera House, Queensland Performing Arts Centre and Adelaide Festival Centre do not fall through the cracks.”

Murphy explained that: “Official data released yesterday revealed that March 14 and April 18 27% of workers in the arts and recreation services sector lost their jobs. This was against an overall loss of 7.5% of jobs across all sectors.

“Wages for employees in the sector also decreased by 17.4% over the same five-week period. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg could amend the Job Keeper rules with a stroke of his pen to end this injustice.”


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