Fellowship funding supports COVID-19 recovery research

15 Oct 2020

Rebuilding Queensland’s tourism and arts sectors in the wake of COVID-19 will be the focus of two University of Queensland research projects funded by Advance Queensland Industry Research Fellowships.

Dr Richard Robinson and Dr Kate Power, both from UQ Business School, were awarded funding to help with COVID-19 recovery efforts in key Queensland industries.

Helping the tourism industry bounce back

Dr Robinson received a three-year, $300,000 fellowship in partnership with the Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC) to develop a crisis resilience and recovery plan for the Queensland tourism workforce.

“Our tourism industry has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected tens of thousands of jobs and caused billions in economic losses,” Dr Robinson said.

“This plan will outline workforce strategies to help Queensland tourism businesses and employees recover from the impacts of COVID-19 and survive future shocks.

Associate Professor Richard Robinson

“These future ‘shocks’ could include similar health crises and climate-related events such as floods, cyclones and bushfires.”

Dr Robinson will consult with tourism employees, businesses, government and peak body associations in four key Queensland regions on the best strategies for workforce recovery and resilience.

Although most recovery plans prioritise businesses, his research will focus equally on addressing the concerns and security of individual employees. 

“This approach should not only help with a stronger bounce back from shocks but also create a healthy employment pipeline for the good times,” Dr Robinson said.

“Tourism employment is vital because it fosters individual and community wellbeing and generates developmental and job opportunities for young people, especially in regional communities.

“If employee security and business recovery can be addressed in tandem, this should result in even stronger Queensland communities.”

QTIC CEO Daniel Gschwind said an effective tourism recovery plan must strategically address the staff and skill challenges that were already emerging.

“The ‘new normal’, post-COVID, will require new skill sets and adjusted workplace practices,” Mr Gschwind said.

“This research will provide a robust knowledge base to contribute to the ongoing recovery effort and a more competitive industry for the long-term.”

Mr Gschwind said QTIC would support Dr Robinson by encouraging its industry and stakeholder networks to provide valuable feedback, and at the same time, make industry an active participant in setting its own strategic direction.

Rebuilding the arts sector through peer mentoring

Dr Power received an 18-month, $90,000 fellowship to work with arts sector partners La Boite Theatre, Arts Nexus and Queensland Ballet on a peer-mentoring program.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Queensland’s arts sector employed more than 80,000 people; however, Dr Power said around 75 per cent of those workers had lost employment due to restrictions on public gatherings.

“The arts and culture have brought people together for countless centuries – and they have sustained many of us throughout the pandemic,” Dr Power said.

“But independent artists and small-to-medium arts companies have been most affected by COVID-19, because – until recently – they were largely excluded from government income support packages.

Dr Kate Power

“With my fellowship, I will help artists and arts companies rebuild their business and artistic practice by developing a sustainable approach to peer-mentoring that is tailored to and tested by Queensland-based artists.”

Dr Power said peer mentoring was a low-cost, high-impact and sustainable method of building competence, connectivity and confidence.

“It has the potential to foster both new collaborations and future-oriented resilience across Queensland’s arts sector,” Dr Power said.

“The project will help artists and arts companies develop economically sustainable business models, explore new creative practices and develop mutually supportive relationships at various levels within and across the arts sector.

“By supporting Queensland’s artists, it will also contribute to enriching the lives of Queenslanders and our communities.”

Dr Robinson and Dr Power were among 14 UQ researchers to receive 2020 Advance Queensland Industry Research Fellowships.

The program supports researchers in partnering with industry to complete original research that will benefit Queensland.

Media: Dr Richard Robinson, richard.robinson@business.uq.edu.au; Dr Kate Power, k.power@business.uq.edu.au; BEL Faculty Communications, media@bel.uq.edu.au, +61 409 612 798.