Artists may struggle with changes to income support payments

22 June 2022

There are fears upcoming changes to the eligibility criteria for receiving unemployment benefits, or income support payments, will impact negatively on those seeking work in the arts sector. To continue to qualify for support payments, jobseekers will need to earn one hundred points each week, as opposed to applying for a certain number of jobs.

Points can be gained from a number of activities, including taking courses, doing volunteer work, or attending a job interview. However, many of the sanctioned activities fall outside the usual income generating endeavours of arts professionals, says the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA).

Professional arts practitioners are likely to actively seek opportunities in a number of different forms and from a wide variety of sources. This includes undertaking residencies, applying for grants and funding, meeting with curators, sitting on boards, attending industry events, and making artwork for sale, exhibition, and to enter into prizes. Thousands of independent artists and arts workers currently rely on JobSeeker benefits. Without changes to what is recognised by Centrelink as ‘seeking employment’, many will find it near impossible to lodge the work they’ve been seeking as artists to comply with the requirements under the new points system.

The new arts minster, Tony Burke, who is also employment and workplace relations minister, has expressed a desire to do more to help artists and arts workers, so it can only be hoped he is able to adjust some of these requirements.