After a rough couple of years in which the pandemic has seen events up and down the country cancelled, hopes had been high that those quirky festivals and community gatherings so loved by grey nomads would soon be back, bigger and better than ever.
However, as Australia moves towards a new ‘living with Covid’ phase, a new threat to their long-term future has emerged … spiralling insurance costs.
Last month’s Outback Paddle Regatta in the Queensland town of Longreach eventually went ahead, but there was no shortage of drama in the weeks leading up to the much-loved inflatable duck racing event.
“Insurance was a bit of a nightmare,” event organiser Prue Button told the ABC. “The fact that we had water events, that was a big red flag [to insurers], so we ended up having to source insurance through a paddling organisation to cover paddlers for water events.”
Ms Button said they had to get separate event insurance for the rest of event but there was lots of exclusions.
Similarly, the organisers of the Outback Festival in Winton, Queensland, warn that, if insurance continues to become more problematic, the future of the event could be jeopardised
“When it comes down to the public liability side of an event, I am finding it now very, very difficult,” organiser, Robyn Stephens, told the ABC. “There’s a lot of insurers out there that don’t want to look at events … they seem to think that there’s risks in a lot of our events where we don’t see them.”
She said that some didn’t seem to understand what some of these events were.
Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC) chief executive Daniel Gschwind agreed, saying insurance assessments for Outback events were often done in cities far away by people without local understanding.
“In some cases tourism or tourism activities and events, to insurance companies, are just a little bit messy and uncertain and they perhaps don’t understand it fully,” he told the ABC. “As a consequence, they attach a high-risk premium to those activities.”
Mr Gschwind is advocating for the federal government to play a larger role in ensuring insurance can be secured by community event operators.
“Perhaps we have to come together as an industry, with government, to establish insurance pools for certain activities like events,” he told the ABC. “There are options, but it’s a really concerted efforts that’s required here with particularly federal government and industry [assistance] … we are certainly hoping we will find some solutions.”