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Australian ministers raise concerns over harassment allegations

Two Australian ministers have written to industry association Aria regarding “recent allegations of [sexual] misconduct, harassment and assault in the media, entertainment and arts industries”.

According to Aria (Australian Recording Industry Association), Mitch Fifield, the minister for communications, and Michaelia Cash (pictured), minister for jobs and innovation, sought assurances the recorded music body is doing everything in its power to create “safe workplace cultures” for its members, in the wake of recent allegations of sexual harassment in the Australian music industry.

More than 350 leading female figures in Australian music, including top artists Courtney Barnett, the Veronicas, Tina Arena and Missy Higgins, in December signed an open letter calling for “zero tolerance for sexual harassment, violence, objectification and sexist behaviours” in Australia’s music industry.

#meNOmore: Aus artists and pros rally against sexual harassment

The letter, which also contains multiple anonymous accounts of alleged sexual harassment and assault, launches the #meNOmore movement, follows the similar #närmusikentystnar (‘when the music stops’) campaign in Sweden and a previous industry backed initiative in Australia, Your Choice, which aims to combat the “growing cultural issues around behaviour and lack of personal accountability” in the live music industry.

In addition to raising the Australian government’s concerns, the letter to Aria also draws attention to the resources available to music businesses from a number of public bodies, including the Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Australian Human Rights Commission and Australian Public Service Commission.

Aria responded with a letter to its members, obtained by TMN, which is reproduced below:

Dear members,

We are writing to advise you that ARIA has recently been contacted by Senators Cash and Fifield, in their Ministerial capacities, in relation to ‘recent allegations of misconduct, harassment and assault in the media, entertainment and arts industries’. Assurances have been sought that every effort is being made by ARIA members to ensure safe workplace cultures with robust policies and procedures to deal with instances of misconduct and harassment.

ARIA supports diversity in the workplace, and promotes a safe and non-discriminatory environment for all employees.  As members would know, ARIA does not support or condone any form of illegal, abusive, discriminatory or unlawful behaviour in relation to its own employees or those of its members.

ARIA is committed to ensuring that our working environment is safe for everyone, and will work with its stakeholders and the broader music community to promote a music industry that is safe, diverse and non-discriminatory.

Ministers Cash and Fifield have noted that the Commonwealth has a number of institutional resources which are available to ARIA members to draw upon, to ensure that appropriate policies and procedures are in place to deal with these matters, both contemporary and historic. They have advised that resources available include both the Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Commissioner (Kate Jenkins) and the offices of the Australian Human Rights Commission, the Australian Public Service Commission (ASPC) and the APSC and its Commissioner (John Lloyd).

It is ARIA’s expectation that the majority of its members will already have well established procedures and policies in place, but we note that the resources outlined above, perhaps in conjunction with external direct advice, may be useful for a review of existing policies and practices, or their development.

Please don’t hesitate to contact ARIA if you would like to discuss any of the issues outlined above. ARIA is happy to assist any members who are looking for more information or assistance on these issues.

Thank you.


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