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MEAA survey shows 14% of Australian stage industry workers have been sexually assaulted

MEAA survey shows 14% of Australian stage industry workers have been sexually assaulted
December 18, 2017

The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) has reported that 14% of performers and technicians in Australia’s stage industry had been sexually assaulted.

The MEAA revealed that 40% of respondents had experienced sexual harassment, that 11% of those working in the live performance sector had been the victim of a physical assault and 10% had been stalked by someone at work.

Zoe Angus, National Director of Actors Equity, who released some of the preliminary results of the survey at an industry forum last week, said the data painted a “compelling” picture of bullying, sexual harassment and assault in the sector.

Angus highlighted that  40% to 50% of respondents had firsthand experiences of various forms of sexual harassment including “unwanted familiarity, leering (and) unpleasant jokes”.

About 9% had experienced indecent exposure, 10% had been stalked by someone at work, 11% had been a victim of physical assault and 14% reported sexual assault.

Angus said the survey showed bullying within the industry was “rife”. It found 62% of actors and technicians working in live performance in Australia experiencing some form of bullying.

She stated “in pretty much all the indicators the same number of people said they have witnessed these experiences

“(That is) anything from crime to the whole gamut of sex harassment and bullying.”

The Confederation of Australian State Theatre (CAST) companies today released a statement acknowledging “any failure” to address problems in the industry.

A CAST spokesperson advised “the findings provide sobering evidence of the negative experience of many artists working in Australian live performance.

“Coming at a time of scrutiny and reflection around the world with regard to bullying and harassment in the entertainment industry, Cast companies consider that the release of the survey results will help fuel a turning point in the Australian environment.

“We accept that it is our responsibility - as the current generation of leaders of Cast companies – to acknowledge any failure of our organisations to act effectively at all times in the past, and to ensure that as of now we commit to creating lasting and positive change for the future.”

Image: MEAA infographic showing “sobering evidence” of the need for changes in the sector.

CAST represents Bell Shakespeare, Belvoir, Black Swan, the Malthouse, Melbourne Theatre Company, Queensland Theatre, the State Theatre Company of South Australia and Sydney Theatre Company.

In the statement, the confederation confirmed its companies had “enthusiastically accepted an offer from the MEAA to work collaboratively on a review of policies and procedures in theatre workplaces, and also to explore the circumstances that might lead to inappropriate behaviours, and those that militate against effective reporting and management of cases”.

The groups are expected to begin work on a new policy early in the New Year.

The CAST statement also advised “while 34% of respondents to the survey reported that levels of bullying and harassment in live performance workplaces have been constant over time, it is encouraging to note that 27% say there has been some improvement, providing hope that there is the potential for real change.”

The survey found that 53% of victims and 60% of witnesses had never reported incidences of bullying, harassment or assault, and Angus said the low rate of reporting pointed towards a “historically poor culture in the live theatre sector, which had sought to downplay the issue”.

58% of respondents said they were rarely or never told how to deal with workplaces issues related to sexual harassment and 47% found that, when they did report it, the situation was not handled ll. In half of those cases, things became worse.

Angus said theatre companies were now acknowledging they had sometimes failed in their responsibility to provide a safe and secure workplace for performers.

She added “when an individual complains that they have been victim of or witnessed harassment or bullying, they should be able to expect their complaint will be taken seriously and result in action

“The grim lesson from this data is that there are not effective practices in place in Australian theatres to prevent or deal with sexual harassment and bullying.”

The survey opened in July, before allegations of sexual harassment and assault against prominent American entertainment industry figures such as Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey came to light and the #metoo movement forced greater recognition of the issue.

Angus said the survey had received about 1,200 responses and found that, while 40% of victims reported incidents of harassment or assault, only about a quarter were satisfied with the outcomes.

17th December 2017 - AUSTRALIAN MAJOR PERFORMING ARTS GROUP CONDEMNS HARASSMENT AND BULLYING 

3rd November 2017 - AUSTRALIA’S STATE THEATRE COMPANIES CONDEMN SEXUAL HARASSMENT 

5th October 2017 - LIVE PERFORMANCE INDUSTRY GENERATES $1.43 BILLION REVENUE AND 18.78 MILLION ATTENDANCES 

18th October 2016 - RESEARCH REVEALS ALARMING FINDINGS ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH OF AUSTRALIAN ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY WORKERS

9th June 2016 - ABS ECONOMIC ACTIVITY SURVEY SHOWS OVER 200,000 EMPLOYED IN ‘ARTS AND RECREATION SERVICES’

13th May 2016 - CAST CALLS ON FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO REINSTATE AUSTRALIA COUNCIL FUNDS 

9th February 2016 - UNION ACCUSES SYDNEY THEATRE COMPANY MANAGEMENT OF ‘IGNORING STAFF SAFETY’

20th January 2014 - AALARA REMINDS INDUSTRY EMPLOYERS OF BULLYING PROVISIONS OF THE FAIR WORK ACT 


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