Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) Acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Narrm, the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present, and to Elders of all First Nations communities that visit MCEC.

International Women’s Day Event Provides a Welcome Return to Celebrating – Safely and Across Borders

By Janelle Weissman - Executive Director, UN Women Australia|

The International Women’s Day Luncheon was one of the first large functions held at MCEC when our doors re-opened. It was a true 2021 event, combining COVID-safe restrictions onsite and live-streaming to five venues across Australia.

More than 500 people were welcomed to the Melbourne Room to enjoy the UN Women Australia event. For many it was a first opportunity to see and speak to people in real life for many months, and to listen to live and streamed speakers, including leading voices from across government and society.

Safety first

MCEC created a welcoming and COVID-safe event. On arrival, guests were greeted at two entry points, where they were guided to scan the venue QR code, have a temperature check, show proof of entry and use the hand sanitising station. Only two doors were open to guests, to control access and movement of people. Masks were mandatory at all times, except when eating and drinking.

While there was none of the usual mingling in the foyer, all guests were welcomed into the Melbourne Room. The room, which can accommodate up to 1500 seated guests, was set up for 503 guests, seated at tables of eight arranged to adhere to spacing and density requirements. MCEC delivered its renowned menu with a traditional seated lunch. Guests were able to purchase drinks by the glass to avoid sharing of bottles.

These event-specific event measures ensured that everyone felt safe. The measures complemented the increased safety protocols in place at MCEC, which included more frequent cleaning and sanitising of all surfaces and amenities, reduced access to the site, safety training for all staff and training of VenueSafe Advisors and COVID Marshals.

Streaming success

The UN Women Australia International Women’s Day lunch was an Australia-wide event. MCEC joined venues in Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane and Perth to host simultaneous events. Each event had an MC and speakers. Speakers in Sydney and Melbourne were live-streamed to all venues. Senator the Hon. Marise Payne, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women; and Australian of the Year Grace Tame were live-streamed from the Sydney event. Speaking from Melbourne were Janelle Weissman, Executive Director, UN Women Australia, Kate Jenkins, Sex Discrimination Commissioner and author and equality campaigner, Jamila Rizvi.

According to MCEC Event Planner Renata Krupinska, the event required meticulous organisation to time each speaker and live-stream. “A comprehensive and detailed schedule enabled each venue to coordinate the set-up, service and speakers so that all venues could participate in this national event.”

Event organisers chose MCEC at short notice as we were able to offer the capacity to host the many people wanting to attend. “Our COVID safe solutions, food and drink service options, and broadcast quality streaming capability all came together to ensure that the event was seamless and successful,” said Renata.

“We are very proud of our 2021 International Women’s Day program of events, both virtual and live, and are grateful for the important part your support played in their success.”