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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 November 2021) . . Page.. 3536 ..


We have a bit of a tendency in Canberra to build beautiful facilities that are then rented out at a rate appropriate for a world-class facility. But our community arts organisations and our practising artists cannot always afford those rates. We need to ensure that our facilities are accessible to artists and arts communities and that they do not sit there empty. The Canberra arts scene is an ecosystem. Our artists work multiple jobs across different fields. They feed into one another’s work. They use our high-class facilities, and they rely on our arts organisations. But it is not an ecosystem built of facilities and organisations; it is an ecosystem and a hub built of people—and we need to look after those people.

Arts advocacy is almost always framed in terms of needing more funding, but we need to remember some of the fundamental ideas that other sectors simply take for granted: wages, superannuation, sick leave, holiday leave. Artists do not get these, but they are normal for every other type of worker. The arts sector tends to have this system of grants—short-term funding for projects that encourage expenditure on the services of other people. It is not really enough. We need jobs. I was really pleased recently to see that the Gold Coast had introduced a new ArtKeeper program to parallel the COVID JobKeeper programs. I think that is a really good direction.

We also need to make sure we are telling the full range of our stories—our First Nations stories, our multicultural stories, our LGBTQIA+ stories and our women’s stories in particular. I was particularly pleased to see funding in this budget supporting public art for and by women and recognising significant women through public art. I really do welcome the funding in this budget for arts and culture and the government’s deep and genuine commitment to making Canberra the arts capital of Australia. But I also encourage an ongoing conversation to make sure we are striking the right balance for our artists and our people with that funding.

MR STEEL (Murrumbidgee—Minister for Skills, Minister for Transport and City Services and Special Minister of State) (4.50): I would like to speak briefly on the investments that our government is making through the budget in skills and training for Canberrans.

We are investing very strongly in our training system to support local industry and Canberra jobseekers in the wake of the COVID-19 public health crisis. We recognise the central role that vocational education and training will play in our economic recovery, helping local businesses to find the skilled workers that they need and supporting Canberrans into good jobs.

Through this year’s budget we expect to invest a record $126.3 million in VET in the 2022 academic year. This investment will support more than 16,000 new and continuing students to access affordable and high-quality training. From 2022 the ACT government will focus our investment in VET on where it is needed most—on young people looking to enter the workforce and on jobseekers in key industries experiencing skills shortages.

Part of this investment will be through the ACT’s successful JobTrainer program, together with the commonwealth, which has been expanded and extended, with a


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