Artists largely missed out on JobKeeper payments under the 12 months employment rule yet they are still obliged to apply for scarce jobs and turn up for interviews. This is unfair and makes no sense.
David Bell, Democrats arts campaigner
We have been contacting people engaged in various forms of the arts, in order to find out how their sector is impacted at this time.
From the beginning of the Coronavirus assault on both the health and the finances of the Australian people it was clear that at least a million people in the arts industry would not qualify for the JobKeeper benefit because they did not have continuous employment for at least 12 months.
Unemployed artists can at least get the Jobseeker payment of $565.70 per fortnight plus the $550 Coronavirus supplement, and the Australian Democrats welcome this support from the government.
However, people receiving JobSeeker are expected to meet mutual obligation requirements such as regular interviews with an employment service provider, and applying for jobs.
We say artists who practise their art and develop their skills, are already fulfilling their mutual obligations and should be exempted from these requirements, as sole traders are. Artists are at least as important to our identity in Australia as sportspeople. Just as sportspeople have to train regularly, so do artists.
Dr Kay Lawrence, a distinguished artist based in Queensland, emphasised the vast contribution that artists make.
“ Recognition is needed of the contributions of the arts to our society – musicians, photographers, actors, film makers, graphic artists, authors, magazine producers, television workers, jewellers, fashion designers, architects, furniture designers, visual artists all contribute to the life and soul of our culture. These are all contemporary contributors to society.”
Our obligation as a nation to artists is profound.