June 1, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier

The Victorian Government has announced a support package worth over $250 million for businesses affected by this week’s state lockdown, including $20 million specifically for the events industry.

The funding for the events industry is designed to provide support for events that were cancelled due to the lockdown.

Announcing the package on Sunday, the state’s Acting Premier James Merlino said the Government was working with the industry on eligibility for funding support.

“We wanted to make it clear today that as part of this quarter of a billion dollar support package, we will support the events industry,” he said.

The Save Victorian Events collective has welcomed the support, calling it “modest, but long needed, step in the right direction”.

In a statement from Simon Thewlis, one of the founders of the movement, said it was an overdue acknowledgement of the value of the events industry.

“It is…a very welcome acknowledge of our event industry – an industry that makes such a huge contribution to life in Victoria.

“It is a direct response to the extensive lobbying that has been done by Save Victorian Events and others in recent weeks.  But it is also in response to members of the event industry telling their real stories to the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry and to the media,” the statement said.

“Until today, there really hasn’t been any targeted financial support to people and businesses in Victoria’s event industry – despite it being one of the very hardest hit industries.

“We are also pleased to say that the $190 million in direct support to businesses affected by the lockdown – with grants of $2,500 – has been extended to include sole traders to ensure that as many event industry businesses as possible are eligible for this grant.  Again, in direct response to feedback from the event industry.”

The statement also flagged the group’s continuing quest for the government to underwrite COVID-19 cancellation insurance and for the Government to convene an “Event Industry Recovery Taskforce” to bring together several Government departments with industry and be chaired by a Minister.

The Minister suggested by Save Victorian Events is Jaala Pulford, who has already met with members of the industry and currently sits on the frontbench in Victorian Parliament, as Minister for Employment, Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy and Minister for Small Business.

There is a Parliamentary Inquiry underway in Victoria exploring the impact of the pandemic on the events and tourism industries.

Image: The Victorian Tourism Conference which went ahead with record numbers in April this year