12 months to 31 January 2022
We have enjoyed a number of advocacy wins throughout the past twelve months – here are some of the recommendations that have been adopted by state and federal governments through our advocacy efforts.
Covid-19 support measures
Rental relief schemes implemented
Rental relief schemes extended
ACCC collective bargaining for lease negotiations extended
Business support from federal, state and territory government delivered
CBD revitalisation campaigns designed and delivered
Retail risks and opportunities
Availability of RAT kits improved
FBT on RAT kits removed
Trading hours in QLD, SA and WA relaxed
Positive outcomes from wage review secured
Positive workplace relations outcome for casuals secured
Partnership with government on cyber security secured
ARA as the voice of retail
Consultation between government and retail improved
Input into ABS standards and outputs provided
First net-zero roadmap for Australian retail launched
Covid-19 health settings
Advance notice on government’s Covid-19 measures provided
Covid protocols adjusted and relaxed
National alignment secured
Following further advocacy by the ARA, recently, the ACCC granted extended authorisation for ARA members to bargain collectively and share information in relation to commercial leases until 1 September 2021.
We also worked to spearhead the National Mandatory Leasing Code of Conduct and support its successful rollout within each State and Territory. This pioneering piece of legislation allowed SMB tenants to significantly reduce their financial outlay during lockdowns and beyond by both deferring and receiving rental waivers from landlords. This significant Covid support measure helped prevent thousands of retailers around the country from financial collapse. The ARA successfully lobbied for the leasing code provisions to be extended beyond September 2020, with a positive outcome in almost every State and Territory.
Our other advocacy wins under COVID-19 included successfully appealing for a delay on the Annual Wage Review (AWR) for the National Minimum Wage (NMW). The decision was delayed until February and only for the retail sector and was a direct result of ARA negotiations.
Our advocacy also contributed to the extension of Federal support measures JobKeeper, including the introduction of tapered payments for workforce casuals, along with the extension of JobSeeker. Both have also been monumentally important to the survival of our sector through the pandemic.
Other COVID wins included successfully lobbying for retail trading hours to be extended in multiple jurisdictions and the introduction of a range of retail-focused SMB business grants and support programs by State governments around the country.
Victoria has remained a strong focus for the ARA throughout the pandemic, with extended lockdowns unfortunately creating devastating outcomes for retailers in that state. The ARA efforts directly resulted in the elevation of retail as a priority category along with the introduction of important measures such as the allowance of online trading throughout the lockdown period, the ability for distribution centres and dark stores to return to normal staffing levels and the early access to dark stores prior to reopening. We also contributed to earlier easing for hair and beauty retailers.
We have also put an intense focus on our contribution to the important Industrial Relations (IR) reforms being negotiated with Federal Attorney General Christian Porter with participation in the Federal Working Party on workforce casuals alongside collaboration around Enterprise Bargaining, Award Simplification and Penalties. We saw a significant number of IR reforms stem from this work in 2020.
In broader advocacy work, many of the ARA’s recommendations around Single Use Plastics and Container Deposit Schemes around the country have now been adopted.
Skills and employment
The ARA also successfully advocated on behalf of the retail sector in areas of skills and employment. Below are some of our wins and active advocacy:
Led the development of Infection Control training course for COVID safety programmes.
Successfully lobbied for free funding for the Infection Control training course in VIC, NSW, QLD and TAS.
Led the development and endorsement of 10 Retail Skillsets for the JobTrainer Programme.
Currently lobbying all states for the Retail Skillsets to be added to their funded course list. At this stage, NSW is the first state to add the course to their Funded Course list.
Led the development and endorsement of the Manage Customer Aggression Skillset and current lobbying to add to their Funded Course List with NSW being the first state to add to their Funded Course list.
Continuing work with Federal and State Governments in lobbying Retail employment in the sector.
Commencing the PaTH Business Partnerships retail employment program involving retail advocacy for young people and employers.
The ARA made its pre-budget submission ahead of the 2022 Federal Budget, which was brought forward from mid-May 2022 to 29 March 2022. Our submission made 26 recommendations in seven focus areas. Access the full submission here.