Community clubs and racing industry handed $150 million lifeline

By Brayden May

Community clubs across Victoria have been handed a boost at a time when they need it most.

Last Wednesday, the Victorian Government announced the Experience Economy Survival Package worth $150 million to help keep jobs afloat.

The package includes $40 million for community sport and recreation bodies including state sporting associations, leagues and clubs.

“We’re making sure that community and grassroots sport survives this crisis so Victorians can get back to the clubs and sports they love,” Community Sport Minister Ros Spence said.

Tourism, Sport and Major Events Minister Martin Pakula added: “Victorians love turning out for big events and while they can’t do that currently, this support will go a long way to making sure our tourism, sport and racing bodies can rebound quickly as restrictions are lifted.”

The racing industry was also a big winner of the announcement, with $44 million going towards helping to secure jobs and bolster clubs.

Victorian thoroughbred racing generates $3.2 billion for the economy each year, while 25 000 people are employed in the industry.

Of the 69 clubs throughout the state, 66 fall under the category of regional or country tracks.

“This investment will protect jobs; ensure the continuation of critical welfare programs and infrastructure works; and help support our racing clubs who have been greatly impacted by the restrictions in place,” Racing Victoria (RV) chief executive Giles Thompson said.

“Whilst we have been able to conduct the majority of our meetings, all without crowds, the industry’s revenue streams have been hit hard and that has required reductions in prize money of up to 20 per cent and the standing down of staff across the industry.

“This funding will ensure that we can maintain prize money — which is the lifeblood for our participants and underpins investment in our industry — at the current reduced levels without needing to make further prize money cuts.”

RV said its $16.6 million share of the package would be distributed across four areas:

● Maintaining current reduced prize money levels and ensuring no further cuts are required for the period. Prize money was cut by 20 per cent for all Victorian metropolitan races and 10 per cent for all country races on April 6, 2020.

● Providing funding support to racing clubs across the state whose operations have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions. The investment will ensure that club funding can be maintained at pre-COVID-19 levels for the period.

● The continuation of equine and participant welfare programs, ensuring that RV’s three-year equine welfare strategic plan can continue to be progressed without impediment.

● Maintaining essential infrastructure programs and projects to ensure the safety and viability of all participants through appropriate racing and training facilities.

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