Tuesday 8 May, Canberra: We wouldn’t describe it as a Santa Budget for the sector, but there was some good news for galleries, libraries and museums (GLAM) in the Federal Government Budget announced this evening.
The National Museum of Australia, the National Library of Australia, the Australian National Maritime Museum and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies will all benefit to some degree from the Government’s investment of $48.7million over four years to commemorate the 250th anniversary of James Cook’s first Pacific voyage.
The Department of Communications and the Arts media release states: “This will support a range of exhibitions, activities and events which will allow Australians to mark this significant anniversary in a spirit of reflection that acknowledges the meeting of two cultures.
“The funding will offer capacity building opportunities for Indigenous cultural heritage sector workers from regional communities, and includes $2 million to the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies to scope and commence activity relating to the repatriation of culturally significant items from overseas.”
Further good news for the National Gallery of Australia, which will receive funding of $16.6 million over three years to improve its building, in addition to the $5 million allocated in 2017-2018. Other equity injections include $3.5 million for the National Film and Sound Archive, for collection, property, plant and equipment; $9.5 million for the National Library of Australia, and $1.9 million for the National Museum of Australia, both sums for the acquisition of heritage and cultural assets.
While there were no changes to staffing levels in 2018-2019 compared with those of 2017-2018 for the National Film and Sound Archive, National Gallery of Australia, National Museum of Australia and National Portrait Gallery, the National Archives of Australia identified a drop from 365 to 355 staff and the National Library of Australia from 383 to 371.
A beneficiary of the budget was the Office of the eSafety Commissioner, which was promised an additional $14.2 million over four years. ALIA's Australian Public Library Alliance is a partner in several of the eSafety Office’s programs, including Be Connected and eSafe Spaces.
The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development announced a further $200 million for the Building Better Regions Fund, which could benefit public libraries, and the Stronger Communities program will go to a fourth round, with the commitment of an additional $22.5 million, assisting local community organisations.
Research and education
Australia’s research capacity will be strengthened by an investment of an additional $1.9 billion over 12 years in the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy. ALIA has advocated alongside other GLAM organisations for humanities research infrastructure to receive a greater share of the funding.
The Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA) will receive an additional $5.7 million (up from $21.2 million in 2017/2018 to $26.9 million in 2017/18) and average staffing will rise from 51 to 93. As a professional body involved in higher education course accreditation, we will be interested to see the impact of the increased funding and staffing.
We were also pleased to see $12.9 million funding for the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner and $65 million for the creation of a new national data commission to oversee and facilitate the use of government-held data.
For more information: https://www.budget.gov.au/