Improved communication a priority for future Multicultural Festivals

Released 20/08/2018

Improved communication with stakeholders and a better defined alcohol policy are two key outcomes from the Government commissioned review of the 2018 National Multicultural Festival (NMF).

I commissioned the review following feedback on the 2018 Festival, in particular regarding the decision to restrict alcohol sales, and internal feedback on the impact of the Festival on the Community Services Directorate’s (CSD) capacity to deliver on other inclusion and participation priorities.

In anticipation of the review, the 2018‑19 Budget committed $100,000 a year to address the known shortfall in operational funding and an additional $150,000 in 2018‑19 for staffing costs. The Government will consider the review’s advice on future funding and arrangements for the NMF in the context of future Budget processes.

In releasing the review, I wish to emphasise the incredible job the NMF team did in organising the 2018 Festival and the overwhelmingly positive feedback received from survey respondents during and after the Festival.

Over 40 per cent of households reported that someone living there had attended the Festival, and participants said the 2018 Festival felt safer and more family friendly than the previous year.

As I said at the time, the decision to restrict alcohol sales for the 2018 Festival was made with the best of intentions to address a concern that had been expressed by stakeholders over a number of years.

However, the Government also recognised that restricting alcohol sales to commercial stalls and community clubs was not the most appropriate way of achieving the objective; that there was not enough consultation and engagement with multicultural community stakeholders in making the decision; and that the policy was not as well communicated to stallholders and the public as it should have been.

This was reflected in the review, and the policy for the 2019 NMF will reflect the feedback received, seeking to balance the range of stakeholder views on the issue.

For the 2019 NMF, CSD has revised the alcohol sales policy to allow cultural beverages to be sold by community groups and community clubs. Commercial sales of alcohol will be restricted to local brewers and producers.

I have asked the NMF team to ensure that these and any other changes to the participation policy for the 2018 NMF are clearly communicated during the stallholder application process and in the lead-up to the Festival.

More broadly, the review considered plans, reporting and surveys from previous festivals, as well as feedback provided in face-to-face meetings with key stakeholders, including stallholders, performers, volunteers and CBD business owners. The Government also sought community views through the Your Say website.

The review made recommendations in four key areas:

  • Continuing to deliver a safe and inclusive festival that showcases the ACT’s multicultural diversity, including to maintain the current National Multicultural Festival framework;
  • Improving communication to be more professional, timely and appropriate, including better documentation, the development of a stakeholder engagement approach and improvements to marketing and promotion;
  • Improving efficiency by updating and streamlining Festival documentation; and
  • Committing to disciplined and repeatable organisational processes, with clearer operational guidelines and supporting templates.

The NMF team is already hard at work implementing these recommendations and preparing for the 2019 Festival, which I have no doubt will be another huge success.

Stallholder applications will open later this month and I encourage our multicultural community groups and all Canberrans to once again embrace the Festival and all that it has to offer in celebrating our city’s diversity.

The 2018 National Multicultural Festival Review and supporting documents can be accessed here.

- Statement ends -

Section: Rachel Stephen-Smith, MLA | Media Releases

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