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ABC unveils new Diversity & Inclusion guidelines

ABC upgrades its diversity expectations, both in content & behind the camera.

The ABC has released Diversity and Inclusion Commissioning Guidelines to ensure more faces, voices, and cultures are represented both in content and behind the camera.

They span gender diversity, Indigenous Australians, culturally and linguistically diverse communities, people living with a disability and the LGBTQI+ community.

Content commissioned externally across genres such as drama, comedy, children’s, factual and entertainment programs, will all need to meet revised expectations. Producers will need to demonstrate how their content reflects authentic diversity and inclusion in its subject matter or cast, as well as diversity in key creative, production and crew roles. The guidelines also set out a framework for creating practical and meaningful opportunities for under-represented groups to advance their careers.

Building on the principle of “nothing about us without us” it notes that all productions about a specific diverse community or subject must include at least one person who is representative of that diversity within the core creative team.

ABC says the guidelines build on the ABC’s commitment under its Charter to reflect the cultural diversity of the Australian community, as exemplified by programs such as Total Control, Love on the Spectrum and First Day.

Michael Carrington, ABC Director Entertainment & Specialist, said: “Diversity and inclusion are at the heart of everything we do at the ABC. As a public broadcaster, we must reflect the audience we are serving and a broad range of perspectives, people and stories makes us stronger, more creative and better able to engage with and reflect the Australian community.

“While we already prioritise diversity and inclusion at the ABC, this is the first time we have prescribed guidelines to track progress towards our goal of looking and sounding like contemporary Australia. We’ve already taken steps in this direction but we need to do more to better reflect the wonderful diversity of this nation in an authentic way.

“The ABC’s new guidelines, alongside industry-wide initiatives through screen agencies and the Screen Diversity Inclusion Network, will help bring new voices, cultures and perspectives to audiences. We will work with our production partners to make the industry a more inclusive workspace, by opening the doors to diverse creative talent, on and off screen.”

Excerpts from Diversity and Inclusion Commissioning Guidelines:

The Guidelines cover:

On Screen
How your content proposal reflects diversity and inclusion in its subject matter, or in talent and cast.

Off Screen
How your key creative team and production teams and crew reflect diversity and inclusion.

Career Progression

What measures you are taking to encourage and support under-represented groups in the media industry.

1. Gender Representation Female, male or gender diverse.

2. Indigenous Australian Indigenous Australian includes people of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent.

3. Culturally and linguistically diverse People who are not Anglo-Celtic by descent and/ or English is not their main spoken language.

4. Living with disability People living with an intellectual, psychiatric, cognitive, neurological, sensory or physical impairment or a combination of those impairments.

5. LGBTQI+ People who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, people with intersex variations plus other diverse sexual orientations and gender identities.

Content Types
We recognise there are several content types that may have different considerations.

1. Scripted Scripted drama, comedy and animation.

2. Non-Scripted Documentary, factual entertainment, non-scripted factual.

3. Studio/Hosted Studio based entertainment, quiz, panel and interview shows, music, sport and event hosted shows.

What you need to do:

The Guidelines set out the framework for demonstrating representation of diversity on screen and off screen.

You will need to demonstrate:

1. Diversity on screen – how your content meets at least one of the on screen options (what the program is about AND/OR who is onscreen);

2. Diversity off screen – diversity in key creative, production and crew roles; and

3. Career Progression – How you will create practical opportunities for under-represented groups via attachments and other initiatives. We have been collecting portrayal data for several years but this is the first time we have prescribed Guidelines, to track progress towards our goal of reflecting the Australian population in our content and teams.

14 Responses

    1. I enjoy many ABC shows but it is not the choice of guests that is imbalanced. The presenters themselves are given significant leeway to insert their personal leaning in the way they moderate, comment or question. The rules of balance are followed in content, but the people hired to front shows are very monotone in their political viewpoint.

  1. What about class? This industry is infested with middle-class people because of the cost barriers to entry. Everyone at the ABC seems to have gone to the same schools and even studied the same subjects. Just sayin’.

    And another thing: ‘questioning’ as a gender identity? How on earth can anyone police this?

  2. I tend to agree with a lot of the comments about it being a bit forced as in people might get included as merely tokens.And so then what is the point really if it’s not completely genuine.
    On the other hand, you look at other networks like 7 with shows like Home & Away, has there ever been a disabled or non white person on that show ever?? Or a gay character who isn’t cast as a villian or a lesbian who stays that way, not where it turns out she was just experimenting (and there’s loads are tiitilatting ttilating content related to that)
    I watched it regularly between about 2003 to 2009 or so & don’t remember any, although i could just have a poor memory. Since then only seen the promos and occasional episode at relos/friend’s places. Mostly looks like Bogan and Away lol. Neighbours seems to have succeeded in diversity where H&A never really tried.

    1. Q&A already ticks the box with Hamish. ABC tells me “over the past two years ABC News’ 50:50 Project has increased the representation of women in news content to almost 50%. This work is now being expanded to include greater representation of disabled, Indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse communities.”

  3. While encouraging diversity is good, this is not the way. This is based on really regressive views of identity and race.

    It’s reducing people down to their identity, whether it’s race, gender, culture, impairment as their defining factor. It relies on the regressive beliefs that different groups lack the ability to understand or empathise with each other. So they need to counteract that, by reinforcing that false, outdated assumption on identity.

  4. What the ABC aspires to do is what is generally happening in global film and TV entertainment nowadays, though as a watcher of foreign language productions I will say European and Latin countries handle this subject a whole lot better.
    There’s no sense of continuity intrusion in European shows as characters of all persuasions have relationships and European script writers focus more on the story and not on a specified political criteria run by the studio.

  5. All this chatter about “diversity” and “inclusion” yet it all screams of superficial representation as opposed to anything meaningful or true to life. The quota-ticking shows all seem to parrot the same rhetoric while amalgamating a bunch of minority groups who are mere cut-outs from the same sheet of cardboard. It wasn’t uncommon for a show to have a token this or that. Now everyone’s a token!

    While this would certainly make it easier for somebody of my “diverse” (ugh) background to get my foot in the door, it also feels extremely constricting, because I never had any intention of leveraging my name/ethnicity/linguistic/religious background etc. to further my career, nor do I care for the impositions place upon creatives to adhere to certain conditions that will greatly limit the representation of broad perspectives and ideas.

  6. …and nothing about age..I just hope that we don’t get a lot of contrived, tick box quota driven, drivel, where the quality of what you see on screen is secondary. This approach will also lead to more calls for an ABC/SBS merger as they will overlap in so many areas

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