The Hon Martin Foley MP - travel report - United States of America and Canada, 17-27 October 2019

MinisterMartin Foley MP
PortfolioCreative Industries
Mental Health
Countries visitedUnited States of America
Date of travel17-27 October 2019
No. of official travel days
(including day of departure and day of return)
10 days
Number of accompanying ministerial staff1
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)$47,816.04*
Accommodation (including taxes and fees)$9,568.20*
Other expenses (includes surface travel and travel allowances)$5,852.28*
Travel cost for minister and staff$63,236.52*

*The above costs are not final and complete

Purpose of travel

During my official visit to the United States of America (New York and Los Angeles) and Canada (Vancouver) I met with leading international organisations from across my three portfolio responsibilities – mental health, creative industries and equality. These three portfolios are key Victorian Government priorities with significant policy, infrastructure and service delivery commitments.

I met with leading international mental health and alcohol and other drug (AOD) policy advisors, service providers and researchers and senior government representatives, which were important meetings in the context of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System. What I learned from these meetings will assist to inform how the Victorian Government responds to the anticipated recommendations and findings. I promoted the advantages of investment in Victoria’s screen sector and international partnerships and collaborations. International connections enable Victoria to attract investment, benchmark our practices and institutions against world’s best practice, provide new experiences for audiences both here in Victoria and internationally. My visit to the Los Angeles Pride Centre expanded my understanding of the services and programs that centre runs and how it engages with the community it serves. Victoria’s Pride Centre opens in 2020 and having a deeper understanding of functions and resources will be beneficial.

Benefits of travel to the State of Victoria

Benefits of this travel include the raised profile of Victoria’s creative industries, opportunities to promote investment in Victoria’s thriving screen sector to create new jobs and export opportunities, and for Victoria’s cultural institutions to partner with leading American cultural institutions. My meetings with mental health and (AOD) sector experts were an opportunity to learn more about innovative approaches to service delivery and treatment and managing complex mental health, health and AOD issues for improved outcomes.

Improved mental health policy and service delivery models

British Colombia Province in Canada has a reputation for delivering innovative, user-focused mental health and AOD services, and I met with the Assistant Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Addictions, senior government officials, Insite, Vancouver Coastal Health, Dr Peter Centre and the British Colombia Disease Control Centre, to understand more about their policy settings, service delivery models, treatment and prevention programs and community engagement programs, with a focus on responding to opioid overdose through harm reduction and multidisciplinary/wrap-around services for people who use drugs. I took the opportunity to talk about Victoria’s mental health reforms and commitment to reducing the harms associated with AOD across the state, including through the medically supervised injecting room trial, specialist AOD primary health services and overdose prevention and response programs.

Insights into British Colombia’s escalating response to its opioid overdose emergency – including prioritising urgent action to save lives, reducing stigma, building a diverse network of treatment and recovery services, progressing public safety sector initiatives and expanding work across sectors including housing and employment – can be applied to Victoria’s strategic response to increasing drug-related harms across the state, including death by opioid overdose. In particular, findings can be applied to improve harm reduction service responses across the state including through reform to harm reduction services and pathways to recovery, of which the medically supervised injecting room is one part of a broader solution.

Increasing awareness of investment opportunities in Victoria’s screen industry:

Recent investments in Victoria’s screen industry, including investing $46 million to build a new sound stage at Docklands Studios Melbourne and attracting Dick Cook Studios to Victoria have elevated Victoria’s international reputation as an attractive investment destination for screen, and more widely, creative industries. These two investments have the capacity to contribute $100 million and 1,500 jobs to Victoria’s economy. To promote these investments, I visited Los Angeles where I met with executives from Netflix, Amazon, Walt Disney Studios, Warner Bros. Entertainment, NBCU, Gentle Giant Media Group, Gnomon and other content producers and developers to promote benefits for working in Victoria, including our world-class infrastructure, talented and highly skilled work-force and award winning technical, effects and post-production companies, as well as the range of offsets and incentives. I also had the opportunity to meet the 100-strong Ausfilm delegation which was in Los Angeles to promote Australia’s vibrant screen sector and develop new collaborations and investment opportunities. In addition to promoting stronger investment and business links, meetings with leading government screen policy and funding agencies – Vancouver Economic Commission and Creative BC – to understand more about their policy settings, funding and incentive programs will be beneficial as the Victorian Government looks to further grow our screen sector and develops an updated creative industries strategy.

Strengthening international links for Victoria’s creative industries

Victoria’s creative industries and cultural agencies have developed a strong international presence including collaborations with North American partners. The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO) were undertaking their first USA tour in nearly 50 years, performing in New York, Washington, Worcester and Chicago. I was able to welcome the MSO to New York and attend their concert at Carnegie Hall. The MSO remains the only Australian orchestra to have performed at that prestigious concert hall. The MSO performed contemporary Australian music to a large and appreciative audience. I also attended Moulin Rouge! The Musical, which will open in Melbourne in 2021, with the support of Visit Victoria and Creative Victoria, at the newly redeveloped Regent Theatre.

I visited New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met), and the Museum of the City of New York to talk about their collections, links with Victorian institutions, audience engagement, visitor attraction programs and major projects – from redevelopment and renovations to collection digitisation. MoMA's relationship with the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) saw an exclusive exhibition at the NGV during MoMA’s lengthy redevelopment period. The Met is undertaking an extensive and complex digitisation project, to ensure that its 2 million objects can be accessed by anyone, anywhere. Findings from this major undertaking can be applied to Victoria’s cultural collection as our institutions seek to digitise their collections for posterity.  I also visited the impressive Brooklyn Navy Yard, which has undergone a transformation from a military shipyard to a thriving residential, business, education and creative urban precinct. The precinct supports thousands of jobs and generates significant economic benefit to the City of New York. Understanding more about the challenges and success of a project of this scale will be beneficial as major precinct development projects flourish across the state.  Supporting the international engagement activity and aspirations of Victoria’s creative industries strengthens Victoria’s cultural reputation, attracts new cultural experiences for Victorian audiences and contributes significantly to cultural tourism and economic activity.

Connecting Victoria’s Pride Centre to an international network

I visited the Los Angeles LGBT Centre, where I met with the Director to talk about its multi-campus model, funding and governance, and the broad range of services and programs the centre offers. I spoke about Victoria’s Pride Centre, which will open in 2020 and the inclusion and anti-discriminatory reforms the Victorian Government has made in recent years. The success of Victoria’s Pride Centre relies on the centre being relevant and accessible, and well-resourced and managed.

Applying findings from discussions with established Pride Centres will ensure the ongoing success of Victoria’s centre and provide a network of supportive international partners to provide advice and support as it grows.

Next Steps / Follow Up

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

  • Apply the findings and insights from my meetings with mental health and AOD sector experts to inform our new approaches to service delivery and policy reforms, and our responses to the Royal Commission recommendations.
  • Creative Victoria will continue to work with Film Victoria and other agencies to follow up on investment proposals to realise their job creation potential for Victoria.
  • Ongoing investment in Victoria’s screen sector to ensure it continues to thrive and our infrastructure and talent can compete in a competitive international environment.
  • Continuing to support our cultural institutions to present exclusive international experiences and exhibitions for Victorian audiences and visitors and maintaining collaborative relationships with leading international institutions.
  • Ensure that Victoria’s Pride Centre is a place that welcomes and supports all those who seek to access its services and programs and the centre has access to experience and advice from international partners to adopt international best practice.

Page last updated: 28 January 2020