Australia cracks down on workplace harassment with new federal body

Follows 2022 review revealing 'significant evidence of bullying across the sector'

Australia cracks down on workplace harassment with new federal body

The Australian government has announced the establishment of a new federal body that will aim to crack down on misconduct in the arts industry.

The new Centre for Arts and Entertainment Workplaces will be set up under Creative Australia, with a funding of $8.1 million.

The centre is meant "to provide advice on issues of pay, safety and welfare in the arts and entertainment sector, refer matters to the relevant authorities, and develop codes of conduct and resources for the sector."

"All Australian artists and arts workers have the right to safe and fair workplaces," said Art and Employment Minister Tony Burke as quoted by The Sydney Morning Herald. "That doesn't just mean physically safe workplaces, it also means a work environment that's free from harassment and bullying."

The creation of the new federal body stems from the recommendations of the Raising Their Voice report, an independent review commissioned by the music industry that revealed "significant evidence of bullying across the sector."

"It found that women do not thrive to the same extent as men, and young people and people of diverse backgrounds can be at particular risk of harm and poor employment practices," the Australian government said.

The new group also comes after Sony Music Australia and Universal Music Australia launched internal investigations amid allegations of toxic workplace culture.

According to the government, individuals and organisations must adhere to the standards developed by the centre as a condition of funding.

Industry reactions

The launching of the new federal body was welcomed by Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) and Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA).

"This announcement will complement and build on the new [email protected] legislation and changes to existing workplace laws," said Annabelle Herd, CEO of ARIA and PPCA, in a statement.

"It is our hope that this will bring new focus and much-needed reform to workplace culture in Australian music – as identified by the Raising Their Voices report into sexual harm, harassment, and systemic discrimination in the music industry – which recommended the creation of a music industry council built in conjunction with government."

ARIA and PPCA are also looking forward to the development of the new federal body and understanding its governance and industry representation, according to Herd.

The Australian Council for the Arts also welcomed the development, “recognising that artists are workers and the need to ensure they are working within safe environments and under equitable conditions," said Australia Council CEO Adrian Collette in a statement.

National Cultural Policy

The Centre for Arts and Entertainment Workplaces is part of the newly released National Cultural Policy titled Revive, the government's five-year plan to renew and revive the country's arts, entertainment, and cultural sector.

"Revive will guide our plan to deliver a better future for our creative workers and organisations, while expanding economic opportunities, supporting ethical marketplaces for creative workers, and providing more avenues to deepen and showcase our national identity," said Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in the plan's foreword.

The policy will include new additional investment of $286 million over four years and affirms $206.4 million in commitments already made by the government.

"The National Cultural Policy provides recognition of the real value of the arts and creative industries – generating employment, skills, a stronger economy, and supporting the education, health and wellbeing of Australians," said Collette. "We welcome the commitment to dedicated investment, through initiatives supporting First Nations, Music Australia, Writers Australia, and the works of scale fund."

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