MEAA: 1-in-5 refused JobKeeper, JobSeeker.

Almost 1-in-5 union members claim they have been declined JobKeeper and JobSeeker assistance, according to the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance.

The MEAA is continuing calls for assistance to be broadened to include freelance arts workers who have ‘fallen through the cracks.’

The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance says just over half of the $130 billion allocated for JobKeeper will go to a reduced number workers, calling on the government to revise the eligibility criteria to include the non-permanent workers who make up the bulk of the arts and entertainment workforce.

“It’s no wonder the funding allocated for JobKeeper has been so underspent when tens of thousands of workers in the arts and entertainment are not eligible because they work as freelancers or casuals from gig to gig and production to production,” said MEAA Chief Executive Paul Murphy.

“In a recent survey of more than 1000 MEAA members, almost one-in-five said they had been declined access to both JobKeeper and JobSeeker.

“A similar number had been unsuccessful in claiming for JobKeeper but would be able to claim the lower JobSeeker support. In total, 35% of members surveyed had been told they were ineligible for JobKeeper.

“This makes a mockery of Arts Minister Paul Fletcher’s claim that up to $10 billion in government support will flow into the arts and entertainment sectors.

“Mr Fletcher must urgently make the case to the Treasurer to redefine eligibility for JobKeeper so some of the unspent $60 billion goes to workers in the arts and entertainment industries.

“Our members are telling us they are struggling to make ends meet with no prospect of going back to work for what could still be several months.”

A staggering 68% of respondents to the survey said they have no paid work, while 24% have some paid work but their hours and opportunities have been reduced. Sixty per cent said they had no significant income and 30% said their income had been significantly reduced.

“It’s time for the government to act.”


  1. This isn’t as simple as it might seem. When workers are casual or contract, a support scheme can be massively abused, because anyone can say they fit into that category. There is already evidence of employers/employees trying to scam JobKeeper.

    What is needed is a separate scheme, and it would take so much longer to design to keep it genuine.When circumstances demand a very quick plan, you can’t stop to design one with the detail to cope with difficult industries.

    I love to hear what the tennis players have done, where the ones who have become wealthy from their art have created a fund to support the ones in their industry who need the regular income from playing just first rounds in each tournament. Why wait for the government to save the industry – we can already see the creative people coming up with solutions.

    • Is it though? It’s not hard to prove the people who’s contracts have been cancelled as a direct result of Covid-19. Or even the fact that people on show contracts have had constant work for the years prior albeit for different production companies. For example I worked for the same production company for most of 2019 financial year but each show contract was with a different comany – ie. Phantom 1, Phantom 2, Phantom 3, etc and yet under the jobkeeper requirements I haven’t worked for a single employer for 12 months or more. There is no need for a seperate scheme, what is needed is a little understanding of how employment in our industry works. It’s all there with the ATO.
      It’s more about a government who are happy for the local production industry to collapse and pave the way to permanently remove/lower the local content laws.

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