Motorsport Australia to cut 25 per cent of staff

Andrew van Leeuwen
·4 mins read

Having established a dedicated task force to deal with the fall-out of COVID-19 at the beginning of the pandemic, the Aussie governing body is now set to implement a streamlining plan.

That will include the widespread use of contactless technology for a number of procedures, in line with the Return to Race policy that helped facilitate the resumption of motor racing in many parts of the country.

There will also be a restructure of commissions, while state offices are set to close and administration centralised to the head office in Melbourne.

Unfortunately that will mean job cuts, with somewhere between 10 to 15 redundancies, or around 25 per cent of the permanent staff, expected.

"It's been a pretty tough 48 hours," said Motorsport Australia CEO Eugene Arocca.

"As any CEO will tell you, it's not easy when you're having to let good people go as part of a re-structure. Personally that's been the most difficult part of the journey.

"It goes without saying, but we're not the only sporting body, company, business, organisation, entity, that's doing it tough and needing to make changes to not only adjust to what our current situation is, but also to be better equipped for the future and whatever that may throw us.

"Some of the staff that we're taking will probably put their hand up for a restructured role. [The redundancies] will be between 10 and 15 people, that will ultimately be the final number. In broad terms that's around 25 per cent of our total staff.

"Why can't I give you a precise number? Because some of those people will be re-employed, in my opinion. I'm hopeful they will be.

"It's important to add that we employ about 12 people interstate through various state offices. It's fair to say that we're not going to be keeping all 12 people. We've looked at some of the efficiencies and how we can run our state operations more efficiently. An inevitable consequence of that is that a number of those 12 will be amongst the 10 to 15 we're speaking to."

While a significant number, Arocca says the staff cuts would have been much higher had the federal government's JobKeeper plan helped keep people employed over the past few months.

It's also opened the door for a "compassionate period" for those affected, which includes coaching and other services to help with the next step in their careers.

"Four months ago we were about to stand down, without pay, up to 80 per cent of our staff," he explained.

"We were able to manoeuvre our way through that to the current time through JobKeeper, and that's given us time to re-asses what we do and how we do it. And to that degree a lot of the staff, while uncertain about what was ahead, were grateful that we were able to keep connected to them over the last four months.

"We're working through a compassionate period where we're going to offer coaching and transition training and professional services."

The silver lining of the pandemic, according to Arocca, is a new-found harmony between at all levels of motor racing in Australia.

He says it's been heart-warming to see stakeholders come together in a time of need, as the sport looks to survive a dramatic saga that continues with the deadly second wave in Melbourne.

"Motorsport has always been a pretty passionate endeavour," said Arocca.

"Over the seven or eight years I've been at Motorsport Australia I've seen the best and the worst of it. I reckon I've seen the worst of it more than I've seen the best of it, because people are often heavily emotionally invested in what they do in the sport.

"But I must say the last four months has shown the best of motorsport. There's been some wonderful collaboration with stakeholders, ranging from government to Supercars, the [Australian Grand Prix Corporation], our car clubs, our category managers, even our members have been tolerant of the difficult situation we've been in.

"One thing I may not have been able to predict, other than the pandemic, is just how understanding people have been in accepting and acknowledging the difficult times we're living in, and a need to work together rather than working against each other.

"That's one of the elements that has sustained me through a difficult time."