The Hon Martin Foley MP - travel report - United Kingdom and Germany, 15-24 August 2019

MinisterMartin Foley MP
PortfolioCreative Industries
Mental Health
Countries visitedUnited Kingdom
Date of travel15-24 August 2019
No. of official travel days
(including day of departure and day of return)
10 days
Number of accompanying ministerial staffOne
Accompanied by spouse in an official capacityNo
Funding for the overseas trip was paid by (list department/s or agency)Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions
Department of Health and Human Services
Air fares (including taxes and fees)$27,866.24*
Accommodation (including taxes and fees)$8,626.64*
Other expenses (includes surface travel and travel allowances)$5,024.30*
Travel cost for minister and staff$41,517.18*

*The above costs are not final and complete

Purpose of travel

The purpose of my official visit to the United Kingdom (London and Edinburgh) and Germany (Cologne), was to visit world-leading cultural institutions and precincts, meet with creative industry policy leaders and respected mental health experts, and to lead Australia’s trade mission at Gamescom, which is the largest digital games event in Europe. These meetings and visits are important in the context of updating Victoria’s creative industries strategy, building creative industries jobs and exports, ensuring innovative and enduring creative and cultural attractions, and developing world-class creative and cultural precincts and infrastructure. My mental health related meetings were important in the context of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System and will inform how the Victorian Government responds to the anticipated recommendations and findings.

Benefits of travel to the State of Victoria

Benefits of this travel include the raised profile of Victoria’s creative industries, opportunities for Victoria’s cultural institutions to exhibit objects and collections from some of the UK’s leading institutions, new business and export opportunities for Victorian companies and practitioners, and meeting with leading mental health experts to learn more about innovative approaches to service delivery and treatment.

International engagement is important for Victoria’s creative industries

In Scotland, I met a range of government and industry leaders to gain a greater understanding of the policy and funding models that helped the sector to flourish.

During my meeting with Ms Fiona Hyslop MSP, Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Creative Scotland and Screen Scotland, we discussed the policy settings and funding models that have facilitated growth in Scotland’s creative industries jobs, exports and opportunities for Scottish creative product to engage internationally. Discussions with my international counterparts are important and particularly so as a renewed creative industries strategy is in development.

In Cologne, Germany, I led the Australian digital games trade mission at Gamescom, with nine representatives from Victoria, one each from WA and SA in attendance at the largest consumer digital games event globally. The Victorian Government has supported our game developers to attend Gamescom since 2017, and in that time, the developers have reported strong new business and export growth outcomes. I met with the Gamescom organisers to discuss how Victoria can feature more prominently, not just as a future partner city at the European event, but also at their inaugural event in Singapore in 2020. I also took the opportunity to discuss serious games and mental health with the Dutch Games Association, and to advance discussions with a potential investor.

Connected and integrated creative and cultural infrastructure and precincts are places where our creative industries can thrive

The Victorian Government has committed to a significant infrastructure development program across the creative industries, including State Library of Victoria’s (SLV) redevelopment and the Melbourne Arts Precinct Transformation project. At meetings and site visits at Somerset House, Royal Opera House and The Barbican Centre, I heard and saw first-hand the challenges in developing and maintaining world-class cultural infrastructure in urban environments, the importance of accessible and attractive public spaces and ensuring there are appropriate spaces for creative and cultural practitioners to work, as well as interesting and innovative programming and activation.

I also visited the British Library, which is home to the Treasure Gallery, on which the SLV’s proposed Victoria Gallery is based (to be delivered in 2019), and the British Library Business and IP Centre, an advanced accelerator and entrepreneur hub, working with creative start-ups and small businesses to build their business. The centre has been successful in creating jobs and generating economic benefit and provides a model for similar centres and services here in Victoria, including Foundry658.

Attractions and activations generate visitation and enhance Victoria’s international reputation

Each year, the city of Edinburgh hosts the Edinburgh Festival and Edinburgh Festival Fringe, both of which are major visitor attractions and provide significant benefits to the local economy. The Victorian Government undertook a festivals review to help determine a new direction for some of our major festivals. Edinburgh is recognised as a world leader in delivering high quality, well-attended, interesting and diverse festivals, and during meetings with Festivals Edinburgh, Edinburgh International Festival and Edinburgh Festival Fringe, I heard about the central role Festivals Edinburgh plays in providing ongoing strategic direction for the major festivals in Edinburgh. At meetings with Edinburgh International Festival and Edinburgh Fringe, we talked about the value and importance of cultural tourism, developing quality local content for festival presentation, diversity in festival programming, and how Edinburgh’s reputation as a ‘festival city’ has grown and been enhanced.

I was able to experience how the whole city is activated for the festivals, including the use of temporary performance and hospitality spaces, the use of small and unusual spaces as presentation venues, and how locals welcome the influx of visitors to the city. This experience is important as Melbourne’s new Winter Festival is developed, and delivered, in 2020 with similar aims to activate a range of venues for diverse and broad audiences.  To this end I accompanied the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Culture to a show in the Made in Scotland Showcase at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and attended two other Edinburgh Festival performances.

Bringing new cultural and creative experiences to Victoria is key to growing audiences and enhancing Victoria’s reputation as a global cultural destination. In November 2019, the SLV will host the Velvet, Iron, Ashes exhibition in the newly redeveloped Victoria Gallery. I had the opportunity to confirm that the Marylebone Cricket Club Museum will be loaning the Ashes urn to the SLV as part of this exhibition. I also visited Tate Modern - an internationally renowned gallery - to understand more about their multi-campus model, audience attraction programs, and to encourage their growing partnership with the National Gallery of Victoria.

Improving mental health policy and service delivery models

I met with a range of experts and organisations with different interests in providing mental health services and treatment, early intervention, advocacy and public safety initiatives, including: London’s Metropolitan Police Fixated Threat Assessment Centre (FTAC); South London and Maudsley Trust; Scottish Government’s Mental Health and Protection of Rights Division; Mental Health Research Network; and renowned mental health advocate Alastair Campbell.

Through these meetings, I was able to share information on new policy, service delivery programs and treatments, understand how different agencies work together in different jurisdictions, and more about the work being done in Scotland on treatment, research and public advocacy. Learning about the functions and partnerships London’s FTAC has established will become more important as Melbourne’s FTAC becomes fully operational and Victoria Police work more closely with other agencies in preventing serious crimes being committed.

In the context of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, and implementing the government’s ten-year Mental Health Plan, applying insights from these meetings will be beneficial as next steps and implementing recommendations are considered.

I also met with the Dutch Games Association while at Gamescom, to understand more about their commitment to serious games, in particular, digital games focused on people living with a mental illness. I extended an invitation for the Dutch Games Association to visit Melbourne during Melbourne International Games Week, with the intention of encouraging serious game collaborations between Victorian and Dutch game developers, universities and advocacy groups for improved outcomes.

Next Steps / Follow Up

The next steps to ensure the benefits of this travel are realised include:

  • Creative Victoria to work with Gamescom on a significant presence for Victoria’s digital games sector at Gamescom events in Cologne and Singapore.
  • Creative Victoria, Global Victoria and Invest Victoria continuing to pursue investment opportunities, and work on opportunities to generate new business and export outcomes across the creative industries.
  • Developing partnerships between Victorian and international serious games experts, and research and advocacy bodies to develop digital platforms focused on people living with a mental illness.
  • Continuing to work with our cultural institutions on presenting exclusive international experiences and exhibitions for Victorian audiences and maintaining collaborative relationships with leading international institutions.
  • Delivering a Melbourne Winter Festival that takes advantage of Victorian’s appetite for new experiences and the city’s landscape to present a mix of home-grown and international talent.

Findings and insights from my meetings with mental health experts will inform Victoria’s mental health policy and service delivery approach, and how we respond to the recommendations from the Royal Commission and ensure that people seeking access to advice and services can do so.

Page last updated: 29 November 2019