City Taskforce - Industry Representation

The leaders of Newcastle are a united voice providing collaborative governance for our city.

A City Taskforce, led by the City of Newcastle, was established to oversee the recovery phases of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. The City Taskforce was made up of 17 key city leaders from across manufacturing, small business, financial services, tourism, transport and logistics, arts and culture, workers, education and the community sector. The first meeting was in mid-April and the Taskforce concluded at the end of 2020.

The City Taskforce provided local leadership to local issues, and acted as the local coordinating advisory committee for community and economic resilience. The City Taskforce established five clear work streams including advocacy, direct industry support, local evidence base, youth employment, and most importantly, providing a collaboration forum for new ideas.

City Taskforce members provided in-kind contribution of staff / human resources to support the work streams. This support was facilitated through an Action Team (25 members) and smaller working groups. The Action Team included representatives from all City Taskforce members, as well as from diverse population groups across the city including young people, Indigenous community, multicultural community and disability community.

A full evaluation of the City Taskforce (PDF) has been completed by the Hunter Research Foundation Centre at the University of Newcastle.

City Taskforce Members and Meeting Communiques

Meeting No 9. City leaders focused their discussion on the Taskforce’s achievements and outcomes over the past eight months, including proactive, united leadership and cross-sector collaboration, tangible local solutions, and joint advocacy for those hardest impacted by the pandemic. As was custom at City Taskforce meetings, leaders received an economic briefing from the Hunter Research Foundation Centre, as well as presentations by two of the successful grant recipients under the City of Newcastle’s Industry Response Program. 4 December 2020.

Meeting No 8. City leaders focused their discussion on innovation-led economic recovery to ensure new jobs and growth for the region, which is at the centre of the latest Newcastle Response. The Taskforce heard case studies on tech scale-ups Portt and GreenBe, both of which are based in Newcastle, as well as Industry Response Program grant recipient Matt Field of Field Frequency, whose live music initiative Music People is supporting the recovery of the local arts and entertainment industry. Full communique: 23 October 2020.

Meeting No 7. City leaders focused their discussion on advocacy for the Arts Sector, which has been crippled by the pandemic, through the fourth edition of The Newcastle Response; as well as youth unemployment and a case study on Industry Response Grants recipient, the Small Business Recovery Centre. The Taskforce also received the latest health and economic briefings, noting Australia is now in recession with a 7% fall in the quarterly GDP. Full communique: 4 September 2020.

Meeting No 6. City leaders focused their discussion on the impacts to the City's youth with the third edition of The Newcastle Response highlighting the significant local impacts to youth employment. The meeting also received the latest briefings and analysis on the public health crisis, as well as the latest data on the Newcastle economy. Full communique: 7 August 2020

Meeting No 5. City leaders focused their discussion on impacts on the visitor economy noting the significant impacts to the tourism sector, as well as commercial rental vacancies across the city and eroded business confidence in the context of further job losses and economic impacts as a result of COVID-19. The second edition of The Newcastle Response focuses on the the Tourism Sector and was agreed to by the Taskforce. Full communique: 3 July 2020

Meeting No 4. City leaders focused their discussion on the first edition of The Newcastle Response, which highlights the challenges facing the community sector, as well as the forecasted impacts of the end of Government supplements, such as JobSeeker and JobKeeper, legislated to 27 September 2020. The Taskforce was also briefed on the Affected Industries Roundtable, facilitated by City of Newcastle on 4 June 2020, at which representatives from industries such as retail and hospitality, tourism, live music and arts and culture shared their experiences and local insights. Full communique: 5 June 2020.

Meeting No 3. City leaders focused their discussion on sharing aggregate data from each of the 17 organisations they represent to paint a clearer picture of COVID-19's impacts on Newcastle and the Hunter Region, as well as refining work streams to inform faster policy decisions. The Taskforce received the latest briefings and analysis on health, policy and economy with the national labour force data. Full communique: 15 May 2020.

Meeting No 2. City Leaders focused its discussion on work streams and resourcing to implement priority programs and initiatives aimed at getting the City back up and running and supporting the community’s most vulnerable. Full communique: 1 May 2020

Meeting No 1. City Leaders provided an update on the impact of COVID-19 to their organisations. The layers of challenges across the City were evident and highlighted that COVID-19 was already having a significant local economic impact. No meeting communique available. 17 April 2020.

Greater Newcastle Youth Employment Charter

Youth (18-25 year old) unemployment is one of the most significant issues arising from COVID-19. Research indicates that the disadvantages felt by young people now will be carried through a lifetime. The impact of youth unemployment has been particularly severe in the Greater Newcastle region; collectively, we need to act.

The City Taskforce has developed a Youth Employment Charter as an affirmation of their commitment to maintain and expand opportunities for young people in the region. The Charter includes pledges across five categories:

  • Youth Employment
  • Youth Training
  • Youth Voice
  • Youth Support
  • Youth Celebration

Full Greater Newcastle Youth Employment Charter (PDF)

The following organisations have committed to the Youth Employment Charter. If you would like to add your organisation, please email Mr Simon Massey, Economic Strategy and Government Relations Manager at the City of Newcastle. 

City of Newcastle Logo City of Newcastle
NIB
Port of Newcastle
Hunternet
Alloggio
Samaritans
Castle Personnel
The Business Centre
Hunter Workers
Top Blokes
ASR Recruitment
Committee for Hunter

Advocacy Work Stream

The City Taskforce has been sharing our local stories and experiences with key State and Federal Government decision-makers. Called 'The Newcastle Response', these memos outline the local community and business impacts, the effectiveness of current government measures, details on how we are mobilising our own resources and identify opportunities to partner with State and Federal Government bodies to accelerate and increase impact.

Work Streams

The June edition of The Newcastle Response examined our Community Sector, and how they have been responding to the COVID-19 crisis. The following policy asks were collectively presented to State and Federal Government decision-makers:

The City Taskforce advocates for a permanent and sustainable increase in support for the unemployed and vulnerable to prevent social security payments falling back to an inadequate rate. The Taskforce believes that current and ongoing social security payments should be independently reviewed and monitored to ensure that all Australians are adequately supported through unemployment and disadvantage. Furthermore, we ask the State and Federal Governments, through the National Cabinet, consider the development of policy measures to support the financial sustainability of the community sector, including dedicated engagement with First Nations Peoples and the disability sector.

The full edition of The Newcastle Response including local insights, individual stories, local responses, local solutions and the opportunity to partner with us. 

The July edition of The Newcastle Response examined our Tourism Sector, and how they have been responding to the COVID-19 crisis. The following policy asks were collectively presented to State and Federal Government decision-makers:

The City Taskforce recognises the valuable contribution the tourism sector plays in creating vibrancy for our city and sustaining local jobs. 

  1. Consideration of the extension of JobKeeper or alternative targeted support for tourism businesses until the reopening of international borders.
  2. Extension of the Retail and Other Commercial Leases (COVID-19) Regulation 2020 due to its importance for local tourism businesses.
  3. Encourages Destination NSW to support an interstate destination marketing campaign for Greater Newcastle, as submitted by Newcastle Airport and partners in June 2020.
  4. Ask that Newcastle be listed independently to increase destination visibility on destination consumer websites. Newcastle is currently listed under ‘North Coast’ on Destination NSW www.visitnsw.com and meetinregionalnsw.com.au.
  5. Newcastle is seeking additional tourism product development training from Destination NSW. We ask that DNSW pilot new training through the NSW First Program in Newcastle in 2020/21.
  6. Advocate for the reversal of the closure of Newcastle’s Jetstar maintenance base, which will see 112 local jobs cut – including 40 apprentices, 40 tradespeople and 30 license aircraft engineers, from the Williamtown facility.

The full edition of The Newcastle Response including local insights, individual stories, local responses and the opportunity to partner with us. 

The August edition of The Newcastle Response examined Youth Employment, and how COVID-19 has significantly impacted the 18-25 year old age group. The following policy asks were collectively presented to State and Federal Government decision-makers:

The impact of COVID-19 has had a significant and disproportionate impact on youth (18-24 year olds) employment, particularly young women. More than 1 in 4 people under the age of 25 are unemployed in Newcastle. The City Taskforce recognises and celebrates the important role that young people play in our local economy. We thank the Federal Government for their recent JobTrainer initiative, which will be a benefit for young people, but request that further actions be taken to avoid exacerbating existing intergenerational inequalities.

We are calling on all levels of government to directly involve young people in building societal resilience and apply a youth and intergenerational lens to all recovery measures:

  1. All levels of government to ensure that young people are represented in the decisionmaking processes that directly / indirectly impact their employment opportunities. We ask that government commit to working positively with young people at this time.
  2. Both State and Federal Government commit to expanding their trainee / apprenticeship / graduate positions within the public service in 2021. Members of the Newcastle City Taskforce have made the pledge, we call on the State and Federal Government to make the same commitment.
  3. The Federal Government to provide broad financial support with a ‘One Front Door’ approach to facilitate work placement opportunities for young people. Specifically:
    1.  Request that the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees scheme be expanded to include subsidies for employers putting on new apprentices and trainees.
    2. Request that the PaTH internship program is expanded beyond registered jobseekers to those who at school looking to get work, or are under 22 and cannot register as a jobseeker as they are not eligible for youth allowance payments.
    3. Request that an additional round of the National Careers Institute Partnership Grants program be provided in 2020 to fill an important gap in the current market.
  4. The NSW State Government to provide broad financial support to enable employment opportunities for young people including:
    1. Group Training Organisations. Introduce a graduated subsidy (increasing as JobKeeper payments reduce) for Group Training Organisations. This would reduce the cost of apprentice commencements and ensure positive early career opportunities.
    2. Provide additional support to TAFE NSW in Newcastle to respond to local skill shortages and enable greater industry involvement in co-designing programs.
  5. The Department of Regional NSW to co-fund a pilot youth wrap-around service in Newcastle, which maximises the opportunity of young people in our city to find early career opportunities. The program should be youth-led and bring together a collection of existing local services.

The full edition of The Newcastle Response including local insights, individual stories, local responses and the opportunity to partner with us. 

The September edition of The Newcastle Response examined our Arts Sector, and how they have been responding to the COVID-19 crisis. The following policy asks were collectively presented to State and Federal Government decision-makers:

The City Taskforce recognises the valuable contribution the arts sector plays in creating vibrancy for our city and sustaining local jobs. We thank the Federal Government for the $250 million JobMaker program designed to restart Australia’s Creative Economy as well as its support for the sector nationally through the Australia Council. We also thank Create NSW for the range of support programs they have provided. The City Taskforce, however, in partnership with the Independent Creative Alliance Newcastle [ICAN], believe that more is required to create new and ongoing opportunities in the Greater Newcastle area. Critical to the recovery of the creative sector in Newcastle is the addressing of the glaring inconsistencies for both Federal and State Funding.

  1. We ask that all levels of Government value and prioritise investment in arts and culture programs and infrastructure. Cultural and creative activity contributes in excess of $110 billion to Australia’s economy each year. In Newcastle, we have a higher per 10,000 population number of arts and recreation businesses than anywhere else in NSW. 
  2. We request the Federal Government:
    1. Establish a cultural infrastructure fund that Gateway Cities like Newcastle, Wollongong and Geelong can access. Currently, the Federal Government provides Regional Arts Funding, which Newcastle is ineligible for, in addition to a range of capital city-based funding opportunities. More equity in access is required.
    2. The Creative Economy Taskforce establish a consultative partnership with the Independent Creative Alliance Newcastle [ICAN] to ensure that the views of arts and cultural organisations in Gateway Cities like Newcastle, are informing Federal Government policy.
  3. We request the NSW State Government:
    1. Establish a cultural infrastructure fund that Gateway Cities like Newcastle and Wollongong can access. Currently, the NSW Government provides a Regional Cultural Infrastructure fund, which Newcastle is ineligible, and a range of Sydney-based projects. Newcastle is effectively shut out of all NSW cultural infrastructure grants. View the recent submission to NSW Public Accountability Committee Inquiry.
    2. Establish a Cultural Development Organisation for Greater Newcastle which provides leadership and advocacy for the Arts Sector, fosters region-wide cultural initiatives and works in partnership with the arts and cultural sector. Such an initiative would align to equivalent bodies established by Regional Arts NSW.
    3. Develop a Greater Newcastle Cultural Strategy.
    4. Develop a Strategic Business Case for a Newcastle Arts Precinct connecting the Newcastle Art Gallery, City Hall, Civic Theatre, Civic Park, the Victoria Theatre and a range of smaller privately-owned venues.
    5. Destination NSW to provide an additional $200,000 in financial support for the City of Newcastle’s new arts and cultural festival. This festival is vitally important in creating new economic opportunities for local artists.  
  4. Partner on local arts and culture infrastructure projects
    1. Newcastle Art Gallery Expansion project. The City of Newcastle and the Newcastle Art Gallery Foundation have committed to contribute the majority share of the funding. We request the Federal and State Governments contribute towards the project. See further details in the body of The Newcastle Response. 
    2. Victoria Theatre refurbishment. We request that the Federal and State Governments contribute towards the refurbishment of Victoria Theatre. See further details in the body of The Newcastle Response.

The full edition of The Newcastle Response (PDF) including local insights, individual stories, local responses and the opportunity to partner with us. 

The City Taskforce recognises the valuable contribution innovative enterprise and entrepreneurs play in diversifying our city economy and creating globally resilient local jobs. We ask that the Federal and State Government support the continued growth of local innovation-led economic activity, to help recover and rebuild our city economy from the COVID-19 recession. Strategic decisions and investments now as part of COVID-19 recovery can accelerate the economic transformation of the Newcastle and the Hunter as one of a nationally leading regional economy

We ask that all levels of Government value and prioritise investment in innovation-led economic activity supporting programs and infrastructure that accelerates the commercialisation of Australian innovation globally.

We request the Federal Government:

  1. Make employee share schemes a tool for growth and creating more jobs by increasing limits on current caps
  2. Increase tax concessions for investing in innovation to incentivise entrepreneurship and angel investment to fuel job creation
  3. Reduce the funding requirements of the entrepreneur visa scheme for entrepreneurs that choose to move to gateway cities or regional areas
  4. Reduce the minimum salary threshold for innovative enterprise located in gateway cities and regional areas accessing Global Talent Visa programs
  5. Partner and co-invest in a Regional Transformation Hub within the University of Newcastle’s Hunter STEMM Precinct.

We request the State Government:

  1. Support the development of a Newcastle Innovation Precinct that the aligns with the strategic vision of the Sydney Innovation and Technology Precinct (SITP)
  2. Increase tax concessions for investing in innovation to incentivise entrepreneurship and angel investment to fuel job creation
  3. Provide continued funding of the Boosting Business Innovation Program (BBIP) to accelerate commercialisation and R&D between SMEs and Publicly Funded Research Agencies (PFRA’s)
  4. Prioritise smart infrastructure investment in Newcastle as a technology testbed through the NSW Smart Places Acceleration Fund
  5. Reduce payroll tax for early stage innovation companies to incentivise the employment of more staff
  6. Co-fund the University of Newcastle’s new Regional Transformation Hub within the Hunter STEMM Precinct.

The full edition of The Newcastle Response including local insights, individual stories, local responses and the opportunity to partner with us. 

Industry Response Program

The City Taskforce Industry Response Program was worth $500,000. Expressions of interest were sought from industry groups, businesses, community organisations and collaboratives for funding that will enable city-shaping outcomes that target the hardest hit industries and population groups. Applicants were encourage to Think big, think innovation, think collaboration. 

The Assessment Panel incorporate the Lord Mayor, City of Newcastle staff, representative from the Hunter Business Chamber and a representative from the University of Newcastle. 

University of Newcastle - Hometown Holiday 

The Hometown Holiday project will incentivise Newcastle residents to have a ‘hometown holiday’ inclusive of overnight accommodation and curated experience itineraries. Locals will be encouraged to visit Newcastle as tourists and engage with the City as a tourism destination, providing economic benefits to local tourism businesses.

Field Frequency - Smart City LIVE Music TV Show

Field Frequency will produce a live-stream music series, using live-stream broadcast collaborations to maximise the recovery of the local arts and entertainment industry. The show will showcase a diverse range of established musicians and new talent growing the City’s identity as a collaborative and inclusive community.

The Business Centre - Small Business Recovery Centre

The COVID-19 Small Business Recovery Project will provide much needed support and advice to local businesses, curated and coordinated by the Business Centre and based at 265 King Street. The Centre will bring together government and non-government agencies, banks and financial services providers, mental health and well-being providers, to offer support and provide information, and services, that lead to sustainability and job creation, to small businesses during and after COVID-19.

Hunter Writers Centre Inc - Multi-arts activation

Hunter Writers Centre will lead a multi-arts activation benefiting local arts, cultural, and tourism businesses. The project will include exhibition studio spaces for Indigenous and non-Indigenous writers, musicians, visual and digital artists to develop work for exhibitions of cultural and maritime history and stories of local sites.

The Olive Tree Market - The Olive Tree Virtual Online Platform 

The Virtual Olive Tree Market Platform, which will develop new income generating opportunities, capacity building and educational workshops for local creatives. Existing customers, supporters, and new online audiences will be targeted to buy local online, to re-connect and forge ongoing connections with creatives

Local Evidence Work Stream

The goal of the Local Evidence Base Work Stream is to leverage the City Taskforce to bring together datasets and data analytics experts from member organisations, with the aim of creating a new evidence-base for Newcastle. The long term goal is to create a culture and process of data sharing that provides an ongoing resource and legacy for the city. The working group consists of researchers, innovators and data scientists. 

  • Demonstrations of existing University of Newcastle and City of Newcastle platforms for data sharing and analysis.
  • Discussion of key characteristics of data to be requested from Taskforce members
  • Agreement on need to establish framework of principles for city data sharing