Communications and the Arts

The Communications and the Arts portfolio is committed to improving communications services to regional and remote Australia, and making government services simpler and more accessible, through the increased availability of digital services. The Communications and the Arts portfolio also supports the achievement of a culturally rich Australia by supporting arts and cultural activities in regional and remote Australia.

Regional communities across Australia are benefiting from a number of Australian Government initiatives, including:

  • providing high-speed broadband at affordable prices, and at least cost to taxpayers as soon as possible through the rollout of the National Broadband Network with network rollout complete to approximately 92 per cent of homes and businesses outside major urban areas as at February 2019;
  • improving mobile phone coverage across Australia through the $380.0 million Mobile Black Spot Program;
  • improving access to data through place-based investment in telecommunications infrastructure though the Regional Connectivity Program;
  • implementing a new Universal Service Guarantee (USG), which will ensure all Australians have access to voice and broadband services, regardless of where they live;
  • providing funding support for national and community broadcasting services;
  • strengthening local content provisions on regional commercial television;
  • providing support for digital television services;
  • providing the Regional and Small Publishers Jobs and Innovation Package to support news coverage in regional areas by assisting regional publishers to overcome the challenges posed by the current media environment;
  • providing support to strengthen the online safety of all Australians and improve the digital literacy of older Australians; and
  • delivering tailored programs to support artistic and cultural expression, and participation and access to cultural experiences.

The Communications and the Arts portfolio has a significant impact in regional Australia, with a number of entities delivering recognisable services nation-wide, including Australia Post, NBN Co Limited (NBN Co) and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

The main contributor to the portfolio’s regional footprint is Australia Post, with over 4,300 staff across the Australia Post regional network (as at January 2019), including over 2,500 regional outlets. NBN Co also has a significant presence in regional areas with rollout of the NBN access network approximately 92% complete in regional Australia (as at February 2019). Finally, the ABC has over 630 staff located in and providing services to regional communities. These staff are not employed under the Public Service Act 1999.

Only nine out of the 18 agencies in the portfolio employ staff under the Public Service Act 1999. As at 31 December 2018, the Communications and the Arts portfolio employed 2,216 staff under the Act. Of this total, 2,189 staff (98.8 per cent) are employed in Canberra, central Melbourne and central Sydney, 17 staff (0.8 per cent) are employed in other capital cities and 10 staff (0.5 per cent) in regional areas.

New Initiatives

Australian Broadcasting Corporation—Operational Funding

In the 2019-20 Budget, the Government will provide $43.7 million over three years to continue the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC) program ‘Enhanced News Services’ as part of the measure, Guaranteeing Australia’s Public Broadcasters—funding for the ABC and SBS. Continuation of funding will allow the ABC to enhance news resources outside the major city centres, to invest in quality in‑depth reporting by policy specialists and to strengthen reporting to local communities.

Children’s Online Safety Package

In December 2018, the Government announced a Children’s Online Safety Package that will provide an additional $17.0 million over five years for initiatives to support improvements to online safety for children. A key component of the package is funding for new resources to help parents of very young children and early childhood educators guide this cohort to support safe behaviour online. The package also includes a research program to provide a comprehensive evidence base for online safety challenges, with a particular focus on issues faced by vulnerable groups and people in rural, regional and remote areas.

Officer of the eSafety Commissioner—Online Safety Grants Program

In February 2019, the Australian Government announced an Online Safety Grants Program, which will provide $10.0 million over four years to the Office of the eSafety Commissioner to establish a funding pool to support non‑government organisations to deliver online safety and training projects.

Stronger Regional Connectivity Package

The Government’s response to the 2018 Regional Telecommunications Review addresses the recommendations of the Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee. As announced on 20 March 2019, the Government is making a significant investment in regional communications through the $220.0 million Stronger Regional Connectivity Package. This package includes funding for additional rounds of the Mobile Black Spot Program and a new Regional Connectivity Program, which will fund telecommunications infrastructure grants, alternative voice service trials in remote areas, the establishment of a ‘digital tech hub’ to improve digital literacy, and measures to develop the USG.

The package includes $160.0 million for two additional rounds of the Mobile Black Spot Program, and for additional grants through round 4 of the Mobile Black Spot Program. This will build on the success of the first four rounds of the Mobile Black Spot Program, and continue delivering economic and social benefits, as well as public safety benefits for people living, working and travelling in regional and remote areas of the country.

The Government has also committed $60.0 million for a new Regional Connectivity Program. This includes $52.6 million in funding for a competitive grants program focused on using a place-based approach to target investment and increase productivity in areas of high economic, public safety or social value, which are predominantly serviced by Sky Muster satellite. The type of projects that will be supported include the development of business grade broadband networks that enable high value agricultural and horticultural precincts to use the latest farming applications and technologies, such as sensor networks, robotics and drone imagery, to maximise production and manage pest and disease risks.

The Program also includes important initiatives to develop a ‘digital tech hub’ to educate and support rural, regional and remote residents to take control of their connectivity and usage needs. It will also include trials of alternative voice technologies to ensure quality of service into the future for Australians in even the most remote areas of the country and further work on the Universal Service Guarantee.

Bundanon Trust Art Centre

The Australian Government will provide a total of $22.0 million in new funding to the Bundanon Trust over the next three years from 2019-20.

New funding of $22.0 million will be provided to implement the Trust’s Masterplan development. The new development will see an expansion of the Riversdale property, to protect and display the Trust’s $43.0 million art collection, provide essential visitor and staff services, re-purpose heritage structures for public use and provide additional accommodation on site. The Masterplan will deliver new capacity and storage and provide greater access to the collection, increase visitation and secure Bundanon as a leading attraction in regional Australia. The construction phase of the Masterplan will deliver 142 jobs for the region and an additional 59 jobs on an ongoing basis.

New funding of $0.6 million will be provided in 2019-20 for capital works to improve Bundanon’s safety and accessibility for visitors. 

This new funding is in addition to the ongoing commitment of $1.5 million in operational funding, which supports arts practice and understanding of the arts through the Trust’s residency, education, exhibition and performance programs.

Support for the Australian Music Industry

In the 2019-20 Budget context, the Australian Government announced investment of $30.9 million over five years to grow Australia’s thriving music industry. The programs will support providing live music to Australian communities and to ensure local artists can expand into lucrative international markets. The package includes initiatives focused on regional Australia. The package includes funding: to establish a grants program to support live music venues to increase performance opportunities for musicians and regional audiences; to establish a development program for Indigenous musicians and bands to support touring, recording and the set-up of touring circuits; a mentorship program to help women across Australia take their career to the next level, including professional training in marketing, finance and contract negotiation; and funding to administer these programs.

National Library of Australia—Digitisation Fund

The Australian Government will provide $10.0 million over four years to support the National Library of Australia’s 21st Century Library Digitation Fund which will have far reaching positive benefits for the Australian regional community. The continued digitisation of the National Library of Australia’s collection will provide free access for all Australians, via Trove, to a significant collection of material, including the digitised papers of eminent Australians. These papers would otherwise only be available for viewing on-site in Canberra.

Since its launch in 2009, Trove has become a fundamental piece of our national research infrastructure, providing widespread access to museum pieces and documents. In 2017‑18 Trove recorded 27.45 million visitor sessions, demonstrating the ongoing success of the platform as a repository of Australian heritage material.

Support for Tasmanian Tourism

The Australian Government will provide $1.5 million in 2019-20 to support a world-class light installation in the Geeveston/Dover area in the far south of Tasmania, as part of the Museum of Old and New Art’s winter Dark Mofo festival. The large-scale, semi-permanent art installation will stimulate tourist activity in southern Tasmania during the closure of the Tahune Airwalk as a result of the 2019 bushfires.

Improving Connectivity in the Western Australian Grainbelt Region—feasibility study

In the 2019-20 Budget, the Australian Government will invest $2.0 million for a feasibility study to assess ways of improving digital connectivity in the Grainbelt region of Western Australia. The study will inform Government on how broadband connectivity can be improved in the Grainbelt, particularly through the use of existing infrastructure. The study will examine how better connectivity could improve opportunities for agriculture, transport and local communities.

250th Anniversary of James Cook’s Voyage—commemoration

The Australian Government announced an additional $5.5 million in January 2019 to support projects for the Cooktown 2020 Festival. This funding supplements the decision announced in the 2018-19 Budget bringing total funding for commemoration of the 250th anniversary of Captain Cook’s first voyage to $54.2 million. This includes a number of events and activities in regional locations, including voyaging by the Australian National Maritime Museum’s HMB Endeavour replica.

Current Initiatives

National Broadband Network

The Australian Government is committed to completing the NBN and ensuring all Australians have access to high-speed broadband by 2020. The Government has invested $29.5 billion in equity in NBN Co and is providing a commercial loan for up to a further $19.5 billion to NBN Co. Modelling conducted by AlphaBeta for NBN Co estimates the network is helping to drive $450.0 million in additional gross domestic product in the 2016‑17 financial year, with this amount to grow to $5.3 billion by 2020‑21.

Providing high-speed broadband to remote and regional Australia is a priority for the Government. By February 2019, services were already available or construction underway to over 92 per cent of remote and regional homes and businesses through fixed line, fixed wireless and satellite infrastructure. High speed broadband will be available to around 3.6 million remote and regional premises (excluding new developments) by 2020.

NBN Co is on track to complete the NBN network by 2020. It is estimated that by 2020 NBN Co will have spent over $12.0 billion on local network construction for fixed‑line, fixed wireless and satellite services outside major urban areas. This figure is based on cost-per-premises estimates and does not take into account other critical capital costs such as construction of the transit network or information technology systems required to support the NBN.

NBN Co is continuing to develop products that will better meet the needs of regional consumers and businesses. This includes a new fixed wireless product that is expected to provide maximum potential download speeds of up to 60 megabits per second, a new residential satellite product that will provide more data for essential internet services, and a range of satellite based business products designed for the farming, oil, mining and gas industries.

Universal Service Obligation

The Australian Government contributes $100.0 million per annum to the delivery of public interest telecommunications services. This includes the provision of fixed line voice and payphone services in regional, rural and remote Australia under the Universal Service Obligation (USO). The USO is central to ensuring people in regional, rural and remote Australia have ongoing access to these important services. In December 2018, the Government announced its approach to a USG, which will ensure Australians have access to broadband as well as voice services regardless of where they live. The USG will retain the current USO arrangements for voice services, providing certainty particularly for regional, rural and remote Australians. Broadband services will be available via the NBN, which has prioritized to homes and businesses in rural and remote areas.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation Funding

The 2019-20 financial year is the first year of the triennium funding period for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). Over the course of the next three years (2019-20 to 2021-22) the Australian Government will provide the ABC with $3.2 billion in funding.

As part of the ABC’s services there will be a focus on the ABC continuing to deliver quality news and current affairs services on television, radio, digital and mobile platforms. This will include delivery of local news and current affairs services, particularly those located outside the capital cities.

Australian audiences in these areas will continue to benefit from this funding, which will see reporting within local communities and local stories being shared with national audiences.

The Government is committed to supporting broadcasting services to rural and regional Australia. In October 2017, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Amendment (Rural and Regional Measures) Bill 2017 was introduced into the Senate. The aim of the Bill is to support the provision of broadcasting services by the ABC that meet and reflect the needs of rural and regional Australia.

Special Broadcasting Service Corporation Funding

The 2019-20 financial year is the first year of the triennium funding period for the Special Broadcasting Service Corporation (SBS). Over the course of the next three years (2019-20 to 2021-22) the Australian Government will provide SBS with $881.4 million in funding.

This funding will enable SBS to continue connecting Australians in regional and rural areas with stories that celebrate Australia’s rich cultural and linguistic diversity through SBS’s delivery of multilingual, multicultural and Indigenous media services. SBS will continue to inspire regional communities through quality Australian content that is reflective of the wider society and that also positively impacts and influences social cohesion.

As part of the SBS family, National Indigenous Television (NITV) seeks to inform, educate and entertain Australians about Indigenous issues, by showcasing Indigenous culture, languages and talent. Each month, NITV is watched by more than two million Australians, with many located in remote areas.

Australian Postal Corporation—Supporting Regional Communities

The post office network provides important services to regional, rural and remote communities. Over 2,500 post offices in these communities continue to benefit from regulatory reforms implemented from January 2016 to help support the sustainability of the postal network. Australia Post recently renewed an agreement with licensed post offices (LPOs) which will provide an additional $34.0 million to licensees and aligns payments to parcels and other growing services, with fees back paid from 1 January 2019. Australia Post expects that these additional payments will benefit the many LPOs in regional areas. In addition to these initiatives, Australia Post’s Workforce Community Grants Program awards small grants to meaningful projects nominated by its workforce to support their local communities. Further information is available at Australia Post continues to meet its community service obligations in relation to post offices, posting boxes and on-time mail delivery.

Telecommunications Reform Package

The Australian Government’s Telecommunications Reform Package comprising the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer) Bill 2017 and the Telecommunications (Regional Broadband Scheme) Charge Bill 2017 will reset carrier separation rules, create a statutory infrastructure provider regime and establish a Regional Broadband Scheme (RBS).

These reforms will establish an explicit statutory requirement on NBN Co, and other carriers as appropriate, to ensure that all Australians are able to order a high‑speed broadband service regardless of where they live.

They will also ensure that all high-speed fixed line network owners (including NBN Co) contribute funding, proportionate to the size of their networks, to the costs of providing essential broadband services to regional and remote Australia.

The 2018‑19 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook included the measure Regional Broadband Scheme which delayed the start date of the RBS, acknowledging that the legislation establishing the RBS is still before the Parliament and industry will need time to prepare for implementation. The accrual start date for the RBS will be 1 July of the first financial year after the date of Royal Assent for the enabling legislation, but no earlier than 1 July 2019.

Mobile Black Spot Program

The Australian Government has committed $380.0 million to the Mobile Black Spot Program, including $160.0 million in new funding, to invest in telecommunications infrastructure that improves mobile coverage across Australia.  This new funding will fund rounds 5 and 6 of the Program announced on 20 March 2019 as part of the Government’s response to the 2018 Regional Telecommunications Review, with $1.0 million of this funding additional grants through round 4 of this highly successful program.

Through the first three rounds of the program, the Government's commitment has leveraged a total investment of more than $680.0 million, which is delivering a total of 867 new mobile base stations.

The first round 1 base station was activated in December 2015. The first round 2 base station was activated on 8 March 2017. The first base station under the priority round was activated in June 2018.

The first three rounds of the program are scheduled to be complete by June 2019.

On 18 March 2019, the Government announced funding of 180 base stations under Round 4 of the Mobile Black Spot Program, for a total Commonwealth investment of $25.7 million. This includes 73 base stations which will specifically target coverage issues at public interest premises. Rollout of Round 4 funded base stations will commence shortly, and is scheduled to be completed by 30 June 2020. It is expected some base stations will be operational by the end of 2019.

Through the four rounds of the Mobile Black Spot Program, 1047 locations around regional and remote Australia will receive improved coverage. As of 19 March 2019, 683 of these base stations are operational.

As at 1 February 2019, a combined total of 667 base stations have been activated across Australia under the first three rounds of the Program.

On 10 June 2018, the Government announced a fourth round of the program. This fourth round totaling $25.7 million will see a further increase in coverage, with a focus on driving improved outcomes for regional businesses and residents, tourism, health, education and emergency services.

On 15 October 2018, the Government released the Guidelines for round 4, and called for applications from Mobile Network Operators and Infrastructure Providers to deliver improved mobile coverage in regional and remote Australia. The application period for round 4 closed on 10 January 2019. The rollout of round 4 is expected to commence shortly after the completion of the competitive assessment process.

On 2 July 2018, the Government announced $0.7 million in funding under the Mobile Black Spot Program to provide west coast regional towns in Tasmania with faster mobile services, including through the improvement of mobile network capacity. This funding will support upgrades in the West Coast of Tasmania for 4,000 local residents as well as the tourist population. This will improve mobile services to towns including Granville, Roseberry, Queenstown, Savage River, Strahan, Zeehan, Tullah and Waratah.

Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund

The Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund is part of the Regional and Small Publishers Jobs and Innovation Package and will provide up to $16.0 million in grants per year over three years from 2018‑19 to support regional and small publishers to transition and compete more successfully in the evolving media environment. It will encourage news publishers to develop and trial sustainable models for the provision of public interest journalism. One of the core objectives of the Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund will be to support these publishers to put themselves on a sustainable commercial footing to develop new business models and practices. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) administers the Innovation Fund and awarded around $3.6 million in grants under the first funding round. The ACMA will administer additional funding rounds in 2019.

Regional and Small Publishers Cadetships Program and Regional Journalism Scholarships Programs

The Regional and Small Publishers Cadetships Program, and the Regional Journalism Scholarships Program, are part of the Regional and Small Publishers Jobs and Innovation Package.

The Government is supporting cadetships over two years through the Regional and Small Publishers Cadetship Program. The program objective is to drive new cadet opportunities in regional and remote media, equip them with skills and experience, and support the production of public interest journalism and regional news. Cadetships are being supported via a wage subsidy, with eligible organisations able to apply for a subsidy or grant of up to $40,000 (GST exclusive) per journalism cadet. There is a requirement that employing organisations match the government funding.

The Government is also supporting journalism scholarships through the Regional Journalism Scholarships Program for higher education providers to award to students from regional or remote areas. The scholarships will help students from these areas acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to operate effectively as journalists in the contemporary news media industry, and be job-ready at the completion of their studies. Eligible higher education providers can apply for grants of up to $40,000 (GST exclusive) per scholarship.

The first funding round under both programs has recently been completed, and in total, more than $4.0 million is being provided to successful grant recipients under the first funding round of both programs. The grants will fund 68 cadetships at 39 different media organisations, and 66 scholarships at 16 Australian universities.

Media Reform—Additional local programming on regional television

The Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Broadcasting Reform) Act 2017 amended the Broadcasting Services Act 1992. It repealed the ‘75 per cent audience reach rule’ and the ‘two out of three rule’ and introduced changes to protect and enhance the amount of local television content in regional Australia.

To meet community concerns, stronger local programming obligations were introduced for regional commercial television broadcasters who, as a result of a change of control of their licences, become part of a television network that reaches more than 75 per cent of the Australian population.

In these cases, regional commercial licensees are required to commence broadcasting additional local programming six months after the change in control.

Regional communities also stand to benefit from a new points system which incentivises the local filming of news stories. The new points structure will strengthen the link between local programming and local communities.

Broadcasting Spectrum Pricing

The Australian Government made changes to how commercial broadcasters are taxed through the Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Broadcasting Reform) Act 2017 and the Commercial Broadcasting (Tax) Act 2017. Instead of a revenue-based fee, commercial broadcasters pay a fee based on spectrum use. The changed fees reflect significant discounts for broadcasters in regional Australia. In recognition that a small number of regional licensees would have experienced an increase in fees under the new arrangements, the Government is providing a transitional support package over a period of five years from 2017‑18 to enable transition to the new tax framework. As of November 2018, the Government has made $7,886,000 in transitional support payments to eligible licensees for financial years 2017-18 and 2018-19.

Community Broadcasting Program

The Australian Government provides funding to support community broadcasting services throughout Australia via the Community Broadcasting Program. The Community Broadcasting Program is administered by the Community Broadcasting Foundation. The Government has allocated $39.8 million over 2019‑20 and 2020-21 to the Community Broadcasting Program.

The Community Broadcasting Foundation allocates the Community Broadcasting Program funding to community broadcasters in metropolitan, regional and remote locations around Australia. Grants supporting community radio stations including Indigenous, ethnic, radio reading services are allocated in various categories including Content and Development & Operations.

Of the 458 community radio stations across Australia that are potential recipients of Community Broadcasting Foundation grant support, 377 (82%) are in regional and remote areas.

In regional areas, community radio is an invaluable, trusted resource for local news and information. Stations reflect the interests of their local community, including music, sports, environment and arts, connecting people separated by hundreds of kilometres, over the airwaves.

The stations in regional areas are largely volunteer operated and their programs celebrate place and identity, and bring local culture to life. For the 1.7 million Australians in non-metropolitan areas who tune into their local community radio station each week community radio is helping people feel connected to culture and community. These listeners particularly value local information and local news.

Online Safety Proposals

In 2017, the remit of the Office of the eSafety Commissioner (eSafety Office) remit expanded from online safety for children to online safety for all Australians. During 2018, the eSafety Office was empowered to administer a new civil penalties scheme for image-based abuse resulting from intimate images being shared without the consent of the subject (also known as ‘revenge porn’). The Australian Government provided new funding of $4.0 million over four years as part of the additional $14.2 million allocated to online safety in the 2018-19 Budget to implement this civil penalties regime.

Digital Literacy for Older Australians

The Australian Government has allocated $47.2 million over four years from 2016-17 to deliver the Digital Literacy for Older Australians initiative. The Digital Literacy for Older Australians initiative is a joint initiative of the Department of Social Services and eSafety Office to provide older Australians across the country, including regional Australia, with the digital skills and online confidence needed to participate in an increasingly digital world.

As at 31 January 2019, the eSafety Office had delivered more than 185,000 training sessions to more than 97,000 users of the learning portal. The initiative includes the current delivery of a National Network of more than 2,000 participating community organisations that deliver free training across Australia, as at 30 November 2018. 

Of the $47.2 million, $16.9 million was allocated to the eSafety Office to develop a national senior’s online portal and implement a national outreach program for Aged Care Support Workers and a Schools Mentor program. The eSafety Office’s ‘BeConnected’ portal was launched in October 2017 and provides older Australians, their families, peers and community organisations, with a one-stop-shop for information, tools and training resources. The portal can be found at New material is added progressively as it is completed and there are plans for content to be made available in 12 languages in addition to English.

National Broadband Network Consumer Experience Improvement Package

The Australian Government is providing the ACMA with $8.7 million over three years from 2017-18 to implement and enforce a package of new measures to improve the NBN consumer experience.

The package is empowering consumers to make informed decisions about their NBN plan and help ensure they get the level of service they expect from their retail service providers as they transition to the NBN. This package is assisting all Australians using the NBN, including people living in regional centres.

The package includes requirements on retail service providers to perform line tests on new connections to ensure a working service, temporarily reactivate a disconnected service where the NBN is unable to be connected in a reasonable time, and provide consumers with a critical information summary for NBN services to explain speed tiers when signing a new contract.

To complement these measures, the ACMA is collecting complaints statistics from major retail service providers to improve transparency and to ensure emerging systemic issues are identified promptly. The ACMA has also been conducting a study into the quality of modems.

The new measures ensure greater transparency by retail service providers, and mean that consumers are better informed about NBN services and are less likely to experience disruption when transitioning to a new NBN service.

Viewer Access Satellite Television

The Viewer Access Satellite Television (VAST) program provides funding to broadcasters to deliver digital free-to-air television and radio services direct to home satellite users. An additional year of funding for VAST was announced in the 2018-19 MYEFO statement, extending the original 2010‑11 to 2019-20 commitment to June 2021. The VAST service provides free-to-air digital channels from the ABC, SBS and the commercial broadcasters. The VAST service also includes dedicated news channels carrying nightly bulletins from regional commercial television broadcasters.

Australia Council

The Australia Council provides significant support to the arts in rural, regional and remote Australia with grants for individuals, groups and organisations, national touring programs, and strategic national development and capacity building programs.

This includes supporting a range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and cultural activities in regional and remote areas. The Australia Council also supports artists and arts organisations based in metropolitan areas to deliver projects, tour and engage with regional communities.

Every year the Australia Council invests in artistic activities in regional Australia, increasing access for audiences, fostering the vitality of artists and arts organisations in regional and remote communities, and strengthening the mobility of diverse and excellent Australian work. In 2017-18, the Australia Council invested $30.2 million in funding for the arts in regional Australia, including through activities such as performances, exhibitions, school activities and workshops.

Bundanon Trust

The Bundanon Trust is a wholly owned Australian Government company limited by guarantee, established in 1993 to own and manage the properties and art collection donated by Arthur and Yvonne Boyd “as a means of a gift to the nation”.

The Bundanon Trust supports arts practice and engagement with the arts through a diverse range of programs such as its artist in residence, education, performance and environmental programs which have long-term cultural, economic and social benefits for the Shoalhaven region and beyond. In 2019-20, the Australian Government will provide $22.0 million over three years in new funding to Bundanon Trust, in addition to $1.5 million in operational funding.

Community Heritage Grants

The Community Heritage Grants Program will receive $490,000 of Australian Government funding in 2019-20, along with support from the National Library of Australia, National Film and Sound Archive, National Museum of Australia and National Archives of Australia. The Program will deliver grants of up to $15,000 to community groups, including historical societies, regional museums, public libraries and Indigenous and migrant organisations, to support the preservation of publicly accessible heritage collections which are locally owned and nationally significant.

These collections contain a wide range of materials including artefacts, letters, diaries, maps, photographs and audio visual material. First-time recipients also receive expert preservation and archival training at support workshops provided by the National Library of Australia, the National Archives of Australia, the National Film and Sound Archive and the National Museum of Australia. Since 1994, 1,385 projects across Australia have received over $6.8 million in funding, almost half of which has gone to regional organisations.

Creative Partnerships Australia

Since its creation in 2013, Creative Partnerships Australia has delivered capacity-building and mentoring programs that assist artists and cultural organisations to diversify their revenue streams through philanthropy, sponsorship and fundraising. Creative Partnerships Australia also delivers matched funding programs for artists and arts organisations, and manages the Australian Cultural Fund, a fundraising platform that facilitates tax-deductible donations from arts supporters.

In 2019-20, the Australian Government will provide $4.5 million to assist Creative Partnerships Australia to build the capacity of artists and arts organisations across Australia, including in the regions, to secure revenue from private sector giving.

Festivals Australia

Festivals Australia provides communities in regional Australia with access to a diverse range of high quality, innovative arts projects that grow audiences at festivals. In 2019-20, $1.2 million will be provided to support arts projects that encourage partnership and collaboration across the arts sector and community participation in arts activities at festivals in regional and remote areas.

Indigenous Languages and Arts Program

The Australian Government is keeping cultural identity strong within regional and remote Indigenous communities, and enhancing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s wellbeing by supporting Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages and arts. Indigenous languages and arts enrich Australia's cultural life, make a valuable contribution to our national economy and help promote Australia to international audiences. In 2019 an international spotlight is on activities that support the world’s at risk Indigenous languages during the United Nation’s International Year of Indigenous Languages.

The Indigenous Languages and Arts program invests over $20.0 million annually to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to express, preserve and maintain their cultures through languages and arts. Grant funding supports community-led Indigenous language projects that are helping to preserve, revive and maintain Indigenous languages, including a network of 22 Indigenous Language Centres and a range of specific language projects located across regional and remote Australia. The program also supports organisations that contribute to ensuring the sustainability, vitality and strength of Indigenous communities through showcasing, preserving and encouraging participation in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artistic expression. The majority of projects supported through this program are in communities across regional and remote Australia.

In 2019-20, $23.4 million in grant funding will assist the community to revitalise and celebrate Australia’s many Indigenous languages, and support and promote both traditional and contemporary Indigenous artistic expression.

Indigenous Repatriation

The Indigenous Repatriation program facilitates the return of Australian Indigenous ancestral remains in overseas collections, and Australian Indigenous ancestral remains and secret sacred objects held in seven state and territory museums and the National Museum of Australia, to their communities of origin. Many of these communities are located in regional Australia.

Indigenous Visual Arts Industry Support Program

The Indigenous Visual Arts Industry Support Program supports a professional, viable and ethical Indigenous visual arts industry, with strong participation by, and employment for, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

In 2019-20, the Indigenous Visual Arts Industry Support program will contribute $21.1 million to the operations of around 80 Indigenous-owned art centres, most in very remote areas, as well as a number of art fairs, regional hubs and industry service organisations that are at the heart of Australia’s internationally renowned Indigenous visual art movement. Together these organisations enable the development, production and marketing of Indigenous visual art, and provide opportunities for more than 7,000 Indigenous artists and over 300 Indigenous arts workers to generate income and participate in the nation’s economy.

Maritime Museums of Australia Project Support Scheme

Many cultural institutions and community organisations around Australia care for maritime items of historical and national significance.

The Maritime Museums of Australia Project Support Scheme is a grants program which collects, conserves and exhibits Australia’s rich maritime heritage by helping these groups undertake this important role. The program targets smaller collecting institutions in regional Australia.

The scheme will receive $105,000 of Australian Government funding in 2019‑20, along with support from the Australian National Maritime Museum through donations and own source revenue. The scheme provides grants of up to $15,000 to cultural institutions and community organisations for collection management initiatives, including documenting and caring for collections; and presentation projects, including education programs and workshops. It also supports staff or volunteers, from regional or remote organisations, to spend time learning specific skills and making valuable connections.

National Arts Training Organisations

Our seven national arts training organisations, which receive annual funding from the Australian Government in the order of $22.6 million have a national reach as centres of excellence, which sees regional and remote Australians participate in and contribute towards our nation’s artistic vibrancy. These organisations include: the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA); the Australian National Academy of Music; the National Institute of Circus Art; the Australian Youth Orchestra; the Australian Ballet School; the National Aboriginal and Islander Skills Development Association; and the Flying Fruit Fly Circus.

As leaders in elite arts training, the organisations accept students from all states and territories and conduct annual auditions, including in regional areas. Those unable to attend auditions due to geographic distance are invited to submit postal applications and show reels. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students auditioning for the National Aboriginal and Islander Skills Development Association (NAISDA) Dance College can seek support from ABSTUDY towards travel and accommodation expenses, ensuring students from remote and regional communities have equal access to auditions.

Many of the arts training organisations tour nationally and run extensive outreach programs in regional Australia. For example, NIDA runs short courses in all states and territories. In 2019, the Flying Fruit Fly Circus will tour its production, JUNK, to regional centres across Queensland and New South Wales.

A number of the arts training organisations host national training programs that provide students from regional and rural Australia access to the world-class facilities and elite trainers of the organisations for short, intensive periods. For example, the Australian Ballet School’s Interstate Training Program provides the opportunity for talented young dancers from regional areas to access regular training.

Many of the arts training organisations also conduct activities in remote Australian communities. Students at the NAISDA Dance College attend cultural residencies in the Torres Strait and Far North Queensland.

National Collecting Institutions Touring and Outreach Program

Engagement with regional and remote communities is a longstanding priority for the National Collecting Institutions (NCIs). The NCIs deliver a variety of initiatives through a combination of on‑site offerings, as well as physical and virtual outreach activities.

The NCIs Touring and Outreach program makes available funding of $1.0 million per annum to assist the NCIs to develop and tour exhibitions from their collections.

The program aims to make Australian cultural material and international material held in Australian collections accessible to all Australians, especially those in regional communities.

Regional Arts Fund

The Regional Arts Fund provides support for sustainable cultural development in regional and remote Australia. The program provides funding for a mix of quick response grants and community grants for arts projects, professional development for artists and arts workers, and community capacity building projects. The program also funds high priority strategic projects.

In 2019-20, the Government has allocated $3.5 million to the Regional Arts Fund. The program is delivered on behalf of the Australian Government by Regional Arts Australia and organisations in each state and territory.

Visions of Australia Program

The Visions of Australia program improves access for Australians particularly in regional and remote areas to Australian cultural material held in a wide variety of national, state and local collections.

The Australian Government will provide $2.4 million in 2019-20 through the Visions of Australia program to cultural organisations towards the costs of developing and touring exhibitions of cultural material of historic, scientific, design, social or artistic significance, with a focus on touring to regional venues.

The program also encourages partnerships between organisations, particularly collaboration across the collections sector, to form curatorial partnerships and deliver professional development.

National Cultural Heritage Account

The National Cultural Heritage Account (the Account) is established under the Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act 1986. It supports cultural organisations to acquire Australian Protected Objects for display and safe-keeping. In doing this, the Account helps to retain and protect Australia’s cultural heritage for future generations and provide public access to important objects that tell a story about our cultural identity.

The Government provides funding of $0.5 million each financial year for the Account, which is open all year.

The Government understands the importance of preserving and displaying Australia’s unique artefacts locally for current and future generations. Funding has supported national and state institutions as well as regional organisations across Australia, including museums, art galleries, libraries, archives, and historic buildings to purchase significant objects that they could not otherwise afford.

Register of Cultural Organisations

The Register of Cultural Organisations is a list of cultural organisations that can receive tax deductible gifts. In 2017-18 more than $131.6 million in philanthropic funding was provided to organisations listed on the Register. The Register aims to strengthen private sector support for the arts and encourages Australians to contribute to the nation’s vibrant cultural life. Australian organisations, including those in regional areas where other sources of philanthropic funding may be more difficult to secure, can be listed on the Register if their principal purpose is to promote cultural activities in Australia.

Cultural Gifts Program

The Cultural Gifts Program offers tax incentives to encourage people to donate cultural items to public art galleries, museums, libraries and archives in Australia. In 2017-18 over $57.0 million worth of donations of art and cultural objects were donated to eligible institutions. Gifted items can include visual and decorative arts, Indigenous arts and cultural artefacts, social history and scientific collections, and archival material. Australian cultural institutions, including those in regional areas where acquisitions budgets are often limited, benefit significantly from the generous donations made through the program to their collections.

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