DIA survey reveals COVID-19 pain

Designers around Australia are facing lost clients, loss of employment and reduced cashflow as projects dry up, according to a Design Institute of Australia (DIA) survey on COVID-19 impacts.

The survey of professionals working in the design industry – both members and non-members of the DIA – identified some of the key challenges facing respondents while also illuminating priorities going forward.

“COVID-19 is posing a major human health and economic threat to communities, sectors and businesses nationwide with devastating effects,” said DIA senior policy advisor John Gertsakis.

“Yet the pandemic also talks to the power of design and its potential to help address and mitigate one of the most complex problems challenging Australia.”

Survey respondents want the DIA “to advocate for the design industry, to promote the value of good design, and in turn, contribute to helping restore and regenerate the design industry as the COVID-19 outbreak passes.”

Respondents also said they wanted assistance with general business skills to help with legal issues, cashflow management, how to market themselves and sharper social media skills.

Designers who are now out of work and students trying to enter the workforce said they are seeking help to find new positions, commissions and engagements. Data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics today shows nearly a quarter of Australian adults with a job are now working fewer hours while around 3 percent of people who had a job in early March no longer had one by early April, AAP reported.

Asked what inititives they would like the DIA to implement during this time, more than 70 percent of respondents indicated they would like the institute to facilitate online masterclasses or short courses, and around 50 percent said they would like to see webinars and live-streamed panel discussions organized.

Half of repsondents also identified member benefits such as discounted products or services as a priority.

Around 40 percent of respondents identified as designers at small practices and just over 20 percent said they were sole traders. Other groups represented included design educators, graduates and designers at large practices.

Some 98.5 percent of respondents said they were working from home.

“How we respond to COVID-19 as an industry and profession will play a key role in how we sustain a new and restorative approach to fostering the design industry over the coming weeks and months,” said Gertsakis. “Through collaboration and connection, we can come back from this crisis smarter, stronger and more resilient.”

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