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VRC media statement on COVID-19

In light of the global COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the sports, entertainment and events sector, the Victoria Racing Club (VRC) has commenced activating a business-wide operational model to support its workforce during these uncertain times while also ensuring the sustainability of the VRC. 

A number of measures will be implemented, including: 

  • Standing down the majority of staff effective Monday 30th March until Friday 1st May 2020 with team members encouraged to use annual and long service leave where they can. An additional two weeks of annual leave will be advanced to staff should leave balances be exhausted.
  • Retaining a very small team to execute business critical tasks.
  • Reducing the Executive Team’s working week to three days with a reduction in their rate of pay.

VRC Chief Executive Officer Neil Wilson said that although standing down staff is a difficult decision, it is necessary to ensure the sustainability and forward positioning of the Club through the current COVID-19 health crisis.

"This has been an incredibly difficult decision and one that will impact our entire team at the VRC," Mr Wilson said.  

“We have explored every option and we believe this model will best allow our people and the Club to withstand these unprecedented times and resume regular activity as soon as this situation passes.”

All staff will remain employees of the VRC and will be able to access their available annual leave and long-service leave entitlements as well as receiving other offers of support from the Club during this time. They will also continue to accrue both continuity of service and all leave entitlements during the stand down.

“Our first priority right now is to look after our people, so they can take care of themselves and their families, as we work our way through this unprecedented situation,” Mr Wilson said.

“We will spend the next five weeks monitoring developments and formulating a plan for beyond the 1st of May if required, keeping our people, members, corporate partners and the broader industry regularly informed throughout this period.”

Although the effect of COVID-19 on all sectors including events has been severe, Mr Wilson said the Club is planning for Australia’s premier sporting and social event, the Melbourne Cup Carnival, to go ahead as it has done for almost 160 years. 

“We are looking at a number of different scenarios so that we can emerge from this crisis and remain one of the nation’s greatest events that bolsters not only Victoria’s tourism, hospitality and retail sectors but the spirits of a nation,” Mr Wilson said.

“The Melbourne Cup Carnival is an iconic Australian event, generating thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars for the economy every year.”

Victoria’s racing industry has collectively taken a number of actions to reduce the spread and impact of COVID-19, including conducting racing on closed courses and implementing strict quarantine requirements for all industry participants. 

“The VRC strongly endorses the actions undertaken by Racing Victoria to keep our sport going to support the 25,000 full-time jobs that Victorian racing underpins,” Mr Wilson said.

“However, we are not immune to the broader economic implications of the community shutdown, which is why we need to implement these measures to ensure our Club can endure this situation and be well placed to recommence full operations.

“By acting decisively now, we hope we can soften the impact as best we can with what is in our control, so that we are well placed to thrive when this challenge has passed.

“In the meantime, our thoughts are with every person who is experiencing hardship at this time, be that due to the recent bushfires or  COVID-19 pandemic, and we encourage the racing community and wider community to look after each other  during these extraordinary times.”