There is no doubt our industry is facing its most critical time.
Our industry, our businesses and our passionate people are still facing uncertainty, severe limitations and restrictions compromising our industry’s survival and pathway to recovery.
Throughout 2020, MEA consistently represented its members to our government leaders advising them on the challenges and needs of our industry to enable us to operate so we can begin our recovery and once again contribute to our state and national economies.
In 2021, this advocacy continues at a heightened level given the current situation we are in. Our message is clear, simple and critical to our recovery:
- Financial support is needed
We are still facing restrictions across the country which prevent our industry from operating anywhere near our capacity. As a result, many businesses are looking at 12 months or more of little or no revenue and face the ongoing challenge of survival, sustaining the business and retaining their people without an income stream until events are reinstated to a more robust level. We know what this has meant to many of our members on a professional, financial and personal level. JobKeeper has been invaluable however our challenges extend well beyond March 2021, until income starts to flow through the supply chain once again. Ongoing targeted support is needed as an urgent priority to ensure we can sustain our industry and retain our event professionals into the future.
- Business confidence is needed
Event organisers and participants need to rebuild their confidence to conduct and attend events. We are seeing resistance in our market to hosting events and to attracting participation, given the high level of uncertainty and perceived risk that exists. The threat of immediate border closures or enforced quarantine is too great a risk in terms of possible disruption to work and home life as well as an imposition of costs. We support the Governments of the Commonwealth and New South Wales approach to managing discrete COVID outbreaks as hot spots without the need for extreme lockdowns and the shutting of entire State and Territory borders. We are calling on all State and Territory Leaders to create confidence in business once again and commit to an evidence-based approach to managing internal borders. Only an approach underpinned by evidence and experience will enable survival and then recovery of our industry.
These sentiments are shared by many of our members and our fellow industry associations and MEA has worked in collaboration with these groups to support these key messages to Government.
ON A NATIONAL LEVEL
As you know MEA is a member of the Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) which represents the membership and advocacy interests of the major industry associations and organisations as the ‘single voice’ to Government.
Most recently, through BECA, MEA has contributed to the discussions with Austrade in relation to the suggested revisions to the Business Events Program Grant as well as formulating options for ongoing support programs from the Government.
Discussions have been held with the Coronavirus Business Liaison Unit that reports to Treasury to inform them of the realities and challenges we are facing. BECA’s Chair, Dr Vanessa Findlay is heavily engaged with Government on behalf our members to convey these critical messages.
STATE BY STATE
On a State and Territory level we have and continue to engage with the relevant ministers and leaders to seek their support in relation to border management and ongoing support for our members and industry in their respective states.
Without doubt members across the country are suffering however our colleagues in Victoria have faced even greater challenges with two extended hard lockdowns in 2020 and now a further ‘circuit breaker’ this week. As a result, they are well behind the rest of the country. Any state-based restriction or closure has a flow-on effect on our national industry too in terms of participation and confidence. Over this period, MEA along with many members, individuals and other groups have been conveying the challenges to Government and their efforts are appreciated.
MEA’s most recent engagement with the Victorian Government has involved collaboration with VTIC and EEAA on a joint submission and meeting with the Government to look at the immediate support required to sustain the Victorian events industry in this critical period and to provide feedback and clarity on the operating guidelines for events.
As with all of these efforts, timing is critical.
We know from our discussions with our members, there is work in the pipeline for 2021 and beyond, and we need to be able to sustain our businesses and retain our talented event professionals until the planning and delivery of events get underway with certainty and confidence.
If you have any questions or feedback, please don’t hesitate to contact the MEA Team or Board during these critical times.
MEA’s focus is supported by many of our members across the country, our fellow industry associations and those across our broader industry. Our thanks to you all for your efforts. It is the combined force that is crucial to our recovery.