Hybrid future for virtual and live events. Here’s how ON AIR services reached a 500% greater audience for NFP Palliative Care Australia.

As National Events and Partnerships Manager of the peak health body Palliative Care Australia, Jacqui Murkins is an ‘events team of one’ used to juggling a hectic schedule and the expectations of multiple stakeholders. Each year PCA run a calendar of events culminating in the Parliamentary Friends of Palliative Care Group meeting in the final week of May, which is National Palliative Care Week. Typically, this is a breakfast or lunch held at Parliament House in Canberra attended by 80-90 guests and external health care providers.


This year, Jacqui lined up a panel of eight experts led by award-winning broadcaster and presenter of ABC Radio’s Health Report Dr Norman Swan. As coronavirus swept into Australia, it became clear the topic should reflect the gathering storm ‘Palliative Care and Covid-19… We’re all in this together’.


By March, social distancing orders and lockdowns on public gatherings meant parliamentary sittings were suspended. It would have been understandable to cancel or postpone the event until later in 2020 or 2021. Anyone who knows Jacqui, knows that’s not her style. A determined ‘out of the box’ thinker, Jacqui knew it had to be possible to host a virtual version of the event befitting the not-for-profit’s enviable reputation and standing. The calibre of talent and number of elements to weave into the mix demanded more than a Zoom meetup or Facebook room. The big question was, how would it be possible to get the message across to non-sitting parliamentarians that this event would go ahead and be worth their time and attention?


A serendipitously timed e-newsletter caught Jacqui’s attention. It announced ON AIR – SMC’s partnership with Create Engage and Audio Visual Events (AVE) – as the industry-leading studio solution for professionally delivered virtual events. From a look at the ON AIR website and her first phone enquiry with SMC’s Director of Sales and Marketing Scott Cooper, it was apparent the ON AIR solution offered the ability to coordinate all the moving parts for a real-time virtual gathering and post-produced video of the event. Together Jacqui, Tanya & Luke from Create Engage, Paul from AVE, the PCA Communications Team and Brett from Good Shout were able to:


  • Bring Dr Norman Swan and Professor Meera Agar Chair of Palliative Care Australia and Chairof Australian COVID-19 Palliative Care Working Group (ACPCWG) into SMC’s central Sydney CBD studio setting that met social distancing and strict hygiene requirements.


  • Weave in a pre-recorded video of other off-site talents including Senator Catryna Bilyk and The Hon Nola Marino MP, Co-Convenors, Parliamentary Friends of Palliative Care Group as well as Dr Brendan Rynne, KPMG Partner and Chief Economist, and Dr Chris Shilling, KPMG Associate Director Economics.


  • Throw to live commentary from remote presenters including Prof Michael Kidd AM, Principal Medical Advisor to the Department of Health, Professor of Primary Care Reform at The Australian National University and Member of Australian COVID-19 Palliative Care Working Group (ACPCWG); Dr Will Cairns OAM, Townsville-based Palliative Care clinician and Founding Member, Member of Australian COVID-19 Palliative Care Working Group (ACPCWG); and Kate Reed-Cox,a palliative care nurse practitioner at Canberra Hospital, and also PCA’s Clinical Advisor.



  • Facilitate a live Q&A session led by Dr Norman Swan in which questions were fed to a fold-back monitor so Norman could read out them out and respond in real-time.


“We needed the look and feel of a top venue and studio with webcasting capabilities, live-streaming and more. I knew I couldn’t pull it all together myself in Zoom, and the ON AIR team made it a seamless delivery without missing a beat. Much more than a client-supplier relationship, the ON AIR team made PCA’S life easier by becoming ‘the extended team’, along with the PCA Communication Team and the incredibly talented Good Shout team. From the studio and production on the day to supplying a clean video on USB for uploading at lightning speed, we couldn’t have been happier with the whole experience. The Board is thrilled, and the feedback from our stakeholders and the parliamentarians have been incredible. COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the palliative care industry across treatment, quality of life and end of life situations. The fact the event went ahead – virtually and entirely professionally – couldn’t have been more important at a time like this,” says Jacqui.


As well as having 120 parliamentarians and health providers attend the live stream (up 33% on the expected 90), Palliative Care Australia’s video upload of the Friends’ event has already been seen by five times that audience and continues to have a positive ripple effect. See the full-length virtual event recording (60mins) and the Behind the Scenes video here.


While ON AIR has been established as a ‘semi-permanent’ studio, Jacqui hopes it becomes a permanent fixture and suggests more associations and organisations embrace the fusion of live and virtual events for meetings, awards, conferences and conventions. “I see ON AIR as being an essential tandem component for live events going forward. I’m looking at proposals for events in September 2021, and it’s possible we may still be impacted by international travel restrictions and public health safety measures, so we’re already in the planning for hybrid events. The event industry of the future is likely to be both live and virtual simultaneously,” she predicts.


SMC General Manager Paul Davison says, “Virtual and Webcast events have been hovering around for years now, with numerous discussions on how they will impact the ‘future of events’. The Covid19 crisis has no doubt forced the issue and the ON AIR studio is an excellent example of how technology can be used successfully for what was a traditional face to face event. So what does the new ‘future of events’ look like? I believe there’s certainly a place for ON AIR and other webcasting studios where high quality production values are needed, however face to face and the need for people to meet and socialise in the B2B and B2C marketplace will never disappear. So moving forward – there’s room, and now the need, for both formats as long as they are done well!”


Those considering ON AIR as part of their event line up might like Jacqui’s testimonial on the success of the setup and service.

Hi ON AIR team,

Firstly, thank you sooo much for producing a fantastic Parliamentary Friends of Palliative Care Event on Tuesday. The whole PCA team, along with Parliamentarians of the Parliamentary Friends Group were wowed with the event.


ON AIR is an innovative and powerful all-in-one package for peaks like PCA. We needed a professional production and the ON AIR team delivered! The venue was perfect, the AV was seamless, and the webcast hit the mark with the audience. Thank you for everyone’s support and guidance throughout the lead up to the event and for the professionalism of the production. Sensational!


Please don’t let ON AIR dissolve post-COVID. It’s a must for all organisations in the future.




To tailor an ON AIR virtual or hybrid package for your next event, contact SMC’s Director of Sales and Marketing Scott Cooper on scott@sydneymasoniccentre.com.au or 02 9284 2888.