SYMPOSIUM: The Australian Cultural Policy-The Next Decade

March 22, 2019

UPDATE: Podcast of the Symposium available here.



Australia’s cultural and creative industries are a $111 billion sector and employ 399,000 workers nationally. Cultural symbols lie at the heart of what it means to be Australian. Yet the Commonwealth government has no formal national policy for this sector. Monash University’s Masters of Cultural and Creative Industries and the National Association for the Visual Arts invite you to a one-day symposium to discuss the future of Australian cultural policy. What are the pressing challenges facing the sector? What are the opportunities? And how could policymakers address them? The symposium brings together leaders from the cultural industries, federal politics, higher education and the arts for a one day discussion charting a road map for the next term of government.

Topics include:

  • Current state of the industries

  • Cultural regulation

  • Cultural labour markets

  • Tech, data and culture

  • Cultural funding Policy roadmap for the new decade


A stunning new special event space, the Isabella Fraser Room, opened in spring 2018. Named after the State Library of Victoria’s first female librarian, this new heritage gallery can be transformed into a sophisticated dining room, perfect for unique weddings, corporate events, business breakfasts and more. Previously closed to the public, this magnificent room boasts glorious high ceilings and large windows looking over La Trobe Street for beautiful natural light.






8.45am - 9am: Venue open



Introduction and welcome to the Symposium

Dr Xin Gu, Monash University Masters of Cultural and Creative Industries

Professor Sharon Pickering, Dean of Arts Monash University


Symposium outline and key provocations

Ms Esther Anatolitis, National Association for the Visual Arts


Policy context and recent history of Australian cultural policy

Dr Ben Eltham, Monash University Masters of Cultural and Creative Industries


9:30am - 10:15am

Keynote speech and audience questions

Hon Tony Burke MP - Parliament of Australia


10:15am - 10:45am

Response to keynote speech

Bianca Beetson


10.30am - 11am

Morning tea


11am - 12pm

Panel 1: State of Australian culture in 2019

Moderator: Esther Anatolitis

Australia’s cultural and creative industries contribute $111.7 billion to the economy, or 6.4% of GDP. Artists are working harder and across more disciplinary areas than ever before. And yet artists’ incomes are declining, more and more artists are living precariously, it’s taking longer for artists to become established, and the gender pay gap is worse in the arts than in any other industry. What condition are the creative industries in – and what are the implications for the Australian culture? What are the threats facing these sectors, and what are the opportunities?


Artists’ rights and industry bodies including Nicholas Pickard (APRA AMCOS), Channon Goodwin (ARI national body, All Conference), Alex Marsden (Australian Museums and Galleries Association)


12pm - 1pm

Panel 2: State of the industry: evidence base

Moderator: Ben Eltham

Culture was once a sector with relatively little hard data. In recent years, the evidence base has firmed. We know a lot more about culture and creativity across several dimensions: production, consumption, labour markets, and the diversity of cultural expressions. With more data available than ever before, how can we make sure that this important research and analysis is informing advocacy, action and policy? This panels brings producers, organised labour, and academics together to discuss what we know, and what we still need to find out.


Industry peak bodies and leading researchers including Katya Petetskaya (Visual Artist/Macquarie University), Marnie Badham (RMIT University), Matthew Deaner (Screen Producers Association) and Adam Portelli (MEAA)


1pm - 1:45pm

Lunch (morning and afternoon tea are provided while lunch is everyone’s own choice from the many surrounding options)


2pm - 3:15pm

Panel 3: Policy for the new decade

Moderator: Esther Anatolitis

Cultural policy is a neglected field of public policy, with a manifest need for new ideas and new frameworks. Since 2013 the Australian Government has lacked a documented cultural policy – and yet it’s possible to read an undocumented policy position in the values that have informed funding and program priorities. This lack of concrete policy settings is an opportunity to rethink Australian cultural policy for the new decade. This panel asks artists, academics and policymakers to be ambitious for Australia’s next cultural policy.


Leading academics, critics and practitioners including Alison Croggon (critic and novelist), Amanda Coles (Deakin), Adrian Collette (Australia Council), Justin O’Connor (University of South Australia)


3:15pm - 3:30pm

Afternoon tea



Panel 4: The public interest: Rethinking public broadcasting for a 21st century Australian democracy

Moderator: Ben Eltham

Public broadcasting, community media, social media and public spaces are critical for a healthy public culture. The ABC is Australia’s most important cultural institution – a source of trusted, evidence-based information and journalism, which has enabled citizenship, creativity and social cohesion since the 1930s. Despite being consistently named the nation’s most trusted public institution, the ABC has been destabilised by political attack, funding cuts and more recently, a crisis of governance. Community and social media foster specialist discussions for a broad diversity of communities, while public spaces are regulated more and more heavily in the age of right-wing extremism, whose language tends to be fuelled by commercial media in disturbing ways. With spaces for gathering and debate increasingly under attack, what’s at stake for Australian democracy? A panel of leading media and public space practitioners examine the future of the public interest.


Key practitioners on public space, public interest journalism and the future of the ABC including Margaret Simons (Monash), Tony Moore (Monash) and Andy Nehl (journalist and producer, Triple J and The Chaser)



Wrap-up and insights

Esther Anatolitis and Ben Eltham wrap up on key insights for the next term of government, with Bianca Beetson and Justine Hyde (State Library of Victoria) offering key provocations from the day’s discussion



Esther Anatolitis fosters local, regional, national and international perspectives on contemporary arts issues as one of the nation’s leading advocates for the arts. Her practice rigorously integrates professional and artistic modes of working to create collaborations, projects and workplaces that promote a critical reflection on practice. With a strong background in visual arts, design, architecture and media, Esther has held leadership roles including Craft Victoria, Melbourne Fringe, SBS and Express Media, and most recently with Regional Arts Victoria. She is Deputy Chair of Contemporary Arts Precincts and has served numerous board, policy, advisory and juror roles. Esther is a former curator of Architecture+Philosophy, Digital Publics and Independent Convergence, and has taught into the studio program at RMIT Architecture, as well as at UNSW and the University of Sydney. A writer and critic, Esther’s work is regularly published and collected at


Dr Ben Eltham is a Lecturer in Media and Communications at Monash University’s School of Media, Film and Journalism.

Ben is a passionate teacher who leads several of the core subjects in Monash's innovative Masters of Cultural and Creative Industries. Ben’s primary research interest is the public policy of culture in Australia, particularly at federal level. He has published peer-reviewed journal articles, conference presentations, creative works, and edited book chapters. His monograph, When the Goal Posts Move: Patronage, power and resistance in Australian cultural policy 2013-2016 was published by Currency House in 2016. Ben also works extensively in the popular media as a journalist and essayist. Ben has covered federal politics for a decade as the National Affairs Correspondent at New Matilda, and he is a regular contributor to journals such as Crikey, Guardian Australia, Overland, Meanjin and the Sydney Review of Books. He is also sought out as a cultural policy consultant by federal, state and local policymakers, penning reports for the federal Department of Industry, Creative Victoria and the City of Sydney.



Entrance route:

All guests should arrive through Entrance 5 on La Trobe Street. Please see attached location map for reference.


Parking options and prices:

There are two car parks close by and they are Melbourne Central and QV


0-30 mins        $6

30min – 1 hr     $25

1 – 2 hrs           $35

2 – 3 hrs          $45

3+hrs               $60


Melbourne Central Parking

$16 per hour

Maximum rate $60


Disable-friendly entrances

Entrance 5 is accessible by everyone.


How to reach using public transport

The State Library of Victoria is located opposite Melbourne Central Train station and multiple trams stop on Swanston street.


Any other points to be kept in mind about the venue

The Library is currently undergoing some construction works, therefore the main entrance on Swanston street is currently closed.

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