Australian Film and Television Group Hopes to Boost Industry Diversity, Both On-Screen and Off
Australia's new Screen Diversity and Inclusion Network, which has supporters from associations, studios, networks, and even the federal government, hopes to encourage an industry that reflects the country it serves.
Just like the U.S. and British film and television industries, the companies and groups that represent Australia’s directors, actors, and film crew members are hoping to set a diverse path forward.
This week, the Screen Diversity and Inclusion Network—with the backing of 20 supporters, including studios, associations, trade unions, education institutions, and governmental bodies—got off the ground, with a stated goal of “providing equal opportunities for all people at all levels, irrespective of their gender, age, race, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, disability or geographic location.”
The effort is led by the Australian Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS), with the school’s CEO, Neil Peplow, serving as the network’s chair. In comments to the Sydney Morning Herald, Peplow noted that the goal with the endeavor was to better reflect the Australian people as a whole—as well as drive financial benefits for the industry associated with those efforts.
“We’re doing this to build a strong, competitive industry,” he told the newspaper. “If you look at the U.S., they’ve worked to bring in more diverse filmmakers and TV content creators and they’re finding it opens up new sources of revenue.”
Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason credited AFTRS for bringing together broad swaths of the film and television world under a single banner.
“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,” Mason said, according to TV Tonight.
While many major television networks and film studios have signed up as part of SDIN—including Foxtel, FreeTV Australia, the South Australian Film Corporation, Network TEN, ABC, and SBS—there remain some gaps that Peplow hopes to see filled over time. Specifically, he’d like the Seven and Nine networks to join the collective.
“There’s a moral aspect to it, which is that everybody deserves a fair go and we should be open to people who want to come into the industry,” he added in his comments to the Herald. “But there’s also a commercial aspect, which is about reaching audiences authentically who make up a sizable chunk of the market.”