Australia’s music industry issues apology as abuse, discrimination report goes public

BRISBANE, Australia – A united Australian music industry has apologized to the scores of women and men who have suffered workplace abuse, the details of which have been revealed in a damning new report.

After a month-long consultation process, Raising their voicesa report into sexual harm, harassment and systemic discrimination across the modern music industry, was made public on Thursday (September 1) for the first time.

It makes for uncomfortable reading.

Based on the contributions of 1,600 victims, witnesses and lawyers, the document paints a picture of widespread sexual harassment, sexual harm and bullying, with the vast majority of these incidents going unreported.

Among the key figures in the report, 55% of respondents experienced some form of workplace sexual harassment and sexual harm in their career; 76% experienced bullying at work during their career; and 78% experienced some form of everyday sexism during their work in the industry.

The perpetrators are rarely punished. In the past five years, only 3% of survey participants filed a formal report for sexual harassment, and 6% did so for bullying.

Many of those who experienced or saw harm remained silent out of fear for their careers and future prospects, as well as the impact on their mental and physical well-being, the review’s authors note, and because of a perceived lack of accountability to the perpetrators.

“The music industry should come together and commit to acting in a concerted, decisive and resolute manner to effectively address sexual harm, sexual harassment, bullying and systemic discrimination,” the report reads. “This is a watershed moment for the industry.”

The review is seen as the first step in what many hope will be real and lasting change.

“It has taken a lot of sacrifice and energy from survivors to establish awareness, but it can’t stop there,” notes Deena Lynch, artist and interim task force member. “We now require commitment to change and action.”

As the industry digests the report, attention turns to 17 recommendations that, if implemented, should help bring about this change and action.

They include the creation of a Cultural Reform Council for the Contemporary Music Industry, which should be established as a “priority” within the next 3-6 months. The council will have more functions and associated deadlines.

Within three months of launch, a code of conduct should be brought forward to “prevent harmful behaviour, including sexual harm, sexual harassment, bullying and systemic discrimination”, and no later than six months after launch, an independent specialist industry safe space should be created.

“The task now is to follow up on implementing the recommendations across the industry,” explains Alexandra Shehadie from MAPN Consulting, who led the review.

One of these recommendations, a “statement of recognition” from the music industry, was immediately followed.

A host of music industry bodies, including ARIA, APRA AMCOS, the Big Three music labels and leading independent company Mushroom Group, have signed up an excuse.

“As leaders in the Australian contemporary music industry, we accept the disturbing findings of the Review. We acknowledge the harm documented by the Review and we apologise,” the open letter said.

“This review has been an important process of listening and telling the truth. We thank all participants for their courage to speak up, to bravely relive their experiences and engage in this critical report. We recognize the impact of this behavior on the lives of victim survivors of our industry.”

Several industry bodies, including APRA AMCOS and ARIA, issued separate apologies.

“We are committed to working through the recommendations in the report, doing the necessary work and being responsible for ensuring that our industrial workplaces are safe, inclusive and respectful,” apology continues. “Our work has already started and it won’t stop until we have a culture that is safe for everyone.”

At the behest of the national music industry, the review was announced at the end of 2021 as a first-of-its-kind forum to get voices heard and to get ideas on how the industry can be a “safer, more inclusive and respectful workplace.”

The project took its first steps at a gathering of industry members in Sydney, from which a working group was formed. That meeting followed a series scandals which rocked the music industry and resulted in the removal of several high-profile executives and the triggering of investigations at two of the three major labels.

Read the document on musicindustryreview.com.au.

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