April 5 2021

By Joyce DiMascio

It’s obvious that the Federal Government’s $50 million Business Events Grants Program announced last September is not reaching the industry.

At the Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia forum last Monday, the Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) Vice Chair and ICC Sydney CEO Geoff Donaghy said that only a small portion of the funds had been distributed.

Applicants were stifled by the complexity, slowness and criteria itself which did not include key recommendations of the industry members who had been consulted when the scheme was being designed last year.

Speaking at the forum, the NSW Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said he too was aware of the weaknesses of the Federal Government’s Business Events Grants Program.

He pledged to assist the industry by advocating for its prompt redesign by the Federal Government to allow support to start flowing more quickly.

Commenting on the approach to the recently announced NSW Government scheme supporting business events, he said:

“Stimulus is about stimulus, and stimulus has to happen now.”

Geoff Donaghy welcomed the Minister’s offer to help advocate for the redesign of the program.

“A lot of the challenges and roadblocks that we face are at the Federal level and we will continue through BECA and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and the Tourism Restart Taskforce with John Hart and Jenny Lambert.

“The industry is working hard to get events back,” he said.

Despite input from industry regarding the design of the Business Events Grants Program, the Federal Government elected to adopt different set of criteria. Organisers of events do not qualify for funding, and only exhibitors and participants can apply for funding to participate in approved events.

All the major event industry bodies are rallying together for more support for the events sector. A major rebuke has also been issued by BECA Chair, Dr Vanessa Findlay.