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Victorian Government announces support for casual workers stood down from shuttered public sector venues

Victorian Government announces support for casual workers stood down from shuttered public sector venues
May 6, 2020

The Victorian Government has announced that it will support casual public sector employees - such as those working in the sporting and cultural sectors - who have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Explaining that the wage subsidy would be for those who could not apply for the Federal Government’s JobKeeper initiative, Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas advised that the fortnightly payments would “fix that gap” by ensuring roughly 3,000 workers receive fortnightly payments of $1500 before tax.

With payments to be backdated to 27th April and conclude on 30th September, the workers must agree to be redeployed to other high-demand roles in order to receive the payment, which Treasurer Pallas said would allow staff to get the support they need, while also ensuring the delivery of key public.

Unlike JobKeeper, those receiving the benefit are eligible for the payment regardless of their length of service, their age, or their citizenship.

Council workers, however, are not be eligible for the payments.

Welcoming the initiative, The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) said the Victorian Government had stepped in to support workers at venues like Arts Centre Melbourne, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Rod Laver Arena, and the Melbourne Recital Centre who had been left out by the Federal Government's JobKeeper scheme.

Adam Portelli, MEAA's Victoria & Tasmania Regional Director, explained “this is a huge win for thousands of workers at public sector venues throughout Victoria who were shut out of JobKeeper.

"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 Chief Executive Paul Murphy said the action by the Victorian Government was a model for other states to follow, noting "to varying degrees, other state governments have offered to assist workers at public sector venues, but nothing to this extent.

"The other states should immediately follow the (Victorian) 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.”

The Victorian Government has also extended its Jobs and Skills Exchange program to all public sector workers. Casual workers who participate in the program would be able to pick up additional work without jeopardising their fortnightly payments.

Yesterday, Treasurer Pallas also announced a further $491 million to provide relief in the form of exemptions from payroll tax and WorkCover premiums on JobKeeper payments.

Describing this as a lifeline for small businesses in Victoria’s hard-hit tourism sector, Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) Chief Executive, Felicia Mariani stated “our industry has found the Federal JobKeeper funding challenging at times given the associated on-costs, with payroll tax on these fortnightly payments having left many questioning how they can afford to maintain this benefit.

“(This) announcement by the Treasurer that the $1500 fortnightly JobKeeper payment is now free from all state government taxes and charges means that more money can stay in the pockets of businesses. This is crucial to their survival and allows them to focus on this next phase of business reanimation.”

Images: The Victorian Parliament (top, courtesy of the Victorian Government) and the Arts Centre Melbourne by night (below).

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28th November 2019 - Rod Laver Arena named as a top 10 highest grossing venue

6th September 2019 - Ticketek extends historic Melbourne and Olympic Parks partnership for another five years

11th July 2019 - Arts Centre Melbourne ready to host 19th Annual Helpmann Awards

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