Australia: Government income subsidy must include freelancers and casuals

The Australian government’s proposed $130 billion “JobKeeper” package falls short of supporting freelancers and non-permanent media workers. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) urge the Australian government to expand the eligibility criteria to cover freelancers and casual employees.

Campaign asking people to call their members of parliament to ensure freelance and casual workers are covered by the JobKeeper package. Credit: MEAA

Australia's response to the economic consequences of Covid-19, the JobKeeper income subsidy scheme will be voted on in Australia's Parliament on April 8. As the proposal stands, MEAA estimates 1.1 million workers who are engaged on short term contracts or employed casually for less than 12 months will not be eligible for the scheme.  

Australia is not immune from the crisis of insecure work, with 40% of the workforce working part-time, on short-term contracts or on a casual basis. Media workers, in particular, are at risk from falling into insecure employment, as the industry has transformed with many working as freelancers, on a contract or casual basis.

MEAA said: “As JobKeeper currently stands, a large proportion of the industry’s workforce will miss out unless it is amended before this week’s vote.” MEAA launched a campaign on April 5 asking people to contact members of parliament and urge them to ensure all freelancers and casuals are covered by the JobKeeper income subsidy.

“We call on the government to revisit the proposal floated in news reports today to widen eligibility for the new subsidy to people who have worked for multiple employers within the industry over the past year”, MEAA added. 

IFJ said: “The Australian government has a critical opportunity to support media workers who have consistently fallen through the gaps of secure employment. The IFJ urges the government to reconsider the proposal and expand the JobKeeper income subsidy scheme to include freelancers and casuals.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on 
+61 2 9333 0918

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

Find the IFJ Asia - Pacific IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific, on Facebook: IFJAsiaPacific and Instagram