A new federal body is set to create positive change in the Australian arts industry

The Australian government has established the Centre for Arts and Entertainment Workplaces to combat sexual harassment in the arts industry.

The Centre for Arts and Entertainment Workplaces (CAEW) will ensure those in the creative industries have access to safe workplaces. It comes as part of a larger government plan to revamp their existing arts and culture policies.

Over the next four years, the federal government will inject almost $300 million into the Arts industry. They will also introduce legislation to protect First Nations knowledge and cultural expressions and digitise at-risk First Nations cultural material. Additionally, the plan involves developing an Arts and Disability Plan and providing employees with information about fair pay.

Tony Burke
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Government-funded businesses in the Arts field will be required to meet requirements regarding employee safety and well-being. If not, they risk losing their funding.

Federal arts minister Tony Burke said that the goal is to acknowledge that people in the arts industry are valuable members of the Australian workforce. “I think that’s something the previous government forgot,” he said in a statement.

Jaguar Jonze
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Burke also noted that the government received advice from several panels. One member, who Burke described as “instrumental” to the formation of the CAEW, was musician Deena Lynch, better known as Jaguar Jonze.

Jonze, who has been vocal about her own negative experiences in the arts industry, believes the CAEW has the potential to make a positive impact. However, she hopes the changes are “not just performative”.

Jaguar Jonze
Credit: The Project

“It really requires leaders of the industry – who have the resources and the power and the privilege to actually make positive change and cultural change – to step up and start looking internally into their own workplaces.” She told The Herald.

The Australian Recording Industry Association and the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia also welcomed the launch. CEO Annabelle Herd claimed that it “will complement and build on the new Respect@Work legislation and changes to existing workplace laws”.

The Australian Council for the Arts CEO, Adrian Collette, believes the CAEW is a step towards “recognising that artists are workers and the need to ensure they are working within safe environments and under equitable conditions”.