Industry backs new Charter to promote Diversity

ABC, SBS, Foxtel & TEN join industry groups in a new push for diversity on screen.

Key Industry organisations have joined forces for a new Charter to promote diversity on screen.

The Screen Diversity and Inclusion Network (SDIN) launched yesterday at AFTRS in Sydney with  a Charter to promote diversity in the sector. Another event will be held at ACMI in Melbourne on 7th August.

Amongst those committed to improving diversity on screen are:

  • Foxtel
  • Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS)
  • ABC
  • SBS
  • Network TEN
  • The Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association (ASTRA)
  • Screen Producers’ Australia (SPA)
  • FreeTV Australia
  • The Australian Screen Industry Group (which represents all the Guilds)
  • MediaRING
  • Screen Australia
  • Create NSW
  • Film Victoria
  • Screen Queensland
  • Screenwest
  • The South Australian Film Corporation
  • Screen Territory
  • Screen Tasmania
  • ScreenACT

The SDIN will set targets for industry change and evaluate progress via sector-wide measurement tools. In order to be member, an organisation needs to officially commit to the Charter.

SDIN Chair (and CEO of AFTRS), Neil Peplow, said: “We want to ensure that Australian screen culture reflects the dynamic diversity of contemporary Australia. We want our stories to be enriched by a range of perspectives and experiences. And we want them to be created by our best creative talent, whatever their background. The Screen Diversity and Inclusion Network charter sets us up to make these ambitions become reality.”

Foxtel CEO, Peter Tonagh, said: “To address this important issue will require engagement across the entire industry. We want to bring new talent and fresh stories into our sector and to deliver that there needs to be opportunities for new creative voices at every stage of their careers.”

Pam Longstaff, Acting CEO Free TV Australia, said: “Free TV welcomes this initiative.  Our industry provides Australians with thousands of hours of home-grown content every year.   A diversity of talent in the screen production sector sustains Australian story-telling and allows local voices to flourish and shape our national identity.”

Screen Australia CEO, Graeme Mason, said: “We have a lot of work to do to ensure that the Australia we see on our screens more accurately reflects the diversity of Australian society, as the Seeing Ourselves study highlighted, and we know that Screen Australia can’t do this alone. It is encouraging to see The Screen Diversity and Inclusion Network (SDIN) bring together television networks, screen agencies, industry bodies and AFTRS who collectively have the ability to make a genuine change across all areas of the screen sector.”

ABC Managing Director, Michelle Guthrie, said: “As the Australian community becomes increasingly diverse, the ABC and the wider media industry needs to represent all Australians if it is to remain relevant to audiences. This means embracing diversity both behind and in front of the camera.”

SBS Managing Director, Michael Ebeid, said: “Diversity is at the core of SBS. Driven by our unique purpose, we’ve been promoting the benefits of diversity in all its forms for more than 40 years. We’re committed to improving the representation of diverse communities within the media – not just in the faces reflected, but in the perspectives shared and in the stories explored – because ensuring our industry is truly representative of contemporary Australia, on and off our screens, encourages a more inclusive society and contributes to a successful and cohesive multicultural nation.”

SPA CEO, Matthew Deaner, said: “We want Australian creative practitioners and Australian content to draw on our best and to reflect who we are to ourselves and the world. We can only do that if we ensure that our screen industries properly reflect our diverse culture by addressing diversity in front of, and behind, the camera and we hold ourselves to account.”

Screen Queensland CEO, Tracey Viera, said: “The need for more diversity in how we show and tell the stories of contemporary Australia is an issue that the entire industry has identified and one that we are working collectively to solve. It’s incredibly encouraging to see the industry come together and sign the SDIN charter which is an important step in ensuring that each and every one of us sees our work through a ‘diversity lens’.

Network TEN Chief Executive Officer, Paul Anderson, said: “The Screen Diversity and Inclusion Network (SDIN) is an important and welcome industry-wide initiative. Australians want to see Australian stories on their screens and it’s vital that those stories reflect the diversity of our community whenever possible. What happens in front of the cameras, of course, is only part of the story. It is just an important to embrace diversity and inclusion in our workplaces.”

SDIN members are already working together on a range of initiatives, such as intensive professional development for new practitioners from underrepresented groups across Australia, internships, placements and attachments.


6 Responses

  1. I don’t see any mention of TV companies expanding into global markets with its products assuming it offers something attractive enough for overseas audiences. even in NZ the output of hi-tech production diversity is an example to follow, but Australia does not have a celebrity maestro like Peter Jackson waving any flags and encouraging new ideas, its all highly commercial and inward looking as TV execs revealed by their preference for Reality TV, just to keep ratings revenue at acceptably profitable highs. I guess the established often seen Australian domestic actors can take heart that money is still out there but is it just going to be more of the predictable same on our screens.

  2. Be still my skeptical heart, take it easy my cynical stomach, we’ll wait for the “Mission Statement” before we have a good laugh.
    Two simple rules “Equal opportunity” and “Best person for the job”. Hammer that home and we won’t need quotas or “feelgood” symposiums.
    Nepotism may take a bit longer to eradicate, “from shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations”.

    1. You are an idealist and I commend you for it but we have to live in the real world, and the fact is “Best person for the job” just doesn’t exist. Biases are pervasive especially in the entertainment industry. It costs money to make programs and everyone wants a safe bet, so they’re less likely to go for the unfamiliar. Unless they are forced to industries hate changing and without quotas you won’t be able to eradicate nepotism. With quotas they will have to look for people beyond the usual pool of suspects, for people who are less connected. If they get positive results from diversifying the hiring pool, it will break their ingrained habits and become a normal way to do business and maybe we will be a step closer to “Best person for the job” hiring practices.

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