The National Advocates for Arts Education (NAAE) met with several key groups and individuals in Canberra on 19 and 20 June.
We were especially encouraged by our meeting with officers from the Department of Communications and the Arts, Rebecca Rush, Mark Gordon and Stella Jones, and with officers from the Department of Education & Training, Cris Castro and Eleanor Newby. We were able to follow up on our previous submissions regarding the loss of VET FEE-HELP for arts courses (575 Kb PDF) and with further discussions about advancing the STEAM agenda.
Our major concern with the loss of government assistance for arts courses centered around the methodology used make decisions about these courses. We have since made eight recommendations, and noted that because STEM (+ agriculture) had been used to identify those courses which would lead to employment, the cultural sector had been sidelined as one of the major employers in Australia. We were able to flesh out our arguments about the vital role STEAM plays in the creative economy, and will again follow up with the Arts department in August.
Following NAAE’s submission to the Innovation and Creativity Review (454 Kb PDF), we met Ann Sudmalis MP, one of the Government committee members and thanked her for her role in drafting recommendation 10 of the review, released on 20 June:
The Committee recommends that the National Innovation and Science Agenda explicitly recognise the importance of STEAM, creative digital skills, the creative industries and the arts more generally.
While most of the report does actually refer to STEM, we feel this is an important recommendation. Ms Sudmalis will also participate in the new Inquiry into School to Work Transition, and we will be responding to this once the terms of reference have been clarified for us through the Chair, Andrew Lamming MP.
We also met with Shadow Arts Minister Tony Burke’s Chief of Staff, Sean Halse, and Sarah Hanson-Young’s advisor, Marion Gerlaud, both of whom were receptive to our discussions about VET FEE-HELP and STEAM. We were advised that the ALP will be going to the election with an updated version of its Creative Australia policy, and we have been invited to contribute to the new version of the policy in the coming months. We also arranged to set up a meeting with Senator Hanson-Young in Adelaide later in the year.