Australian TV doesn’t reflect the world we live in. Far from it. Characters from diverse background, LGBTQI characters and those with a disability are vastly underrepresented. t’s time for change.
This July, the screen industry will unite for Australia’s first Diversity Showcase. A chance for emerging talent to be uncovered, mentored, nurtured and exposed to those who make decisions about what ends up on our screens.
Bali Padda, the Chair of the Equity Diversity Committee, believes there is a compelling case to be made that people will be more likely to attend a performance or watch a film or TV show if they identify with the stories they see. “The future sustainability and growth of Australia's screen industry must be considered within the context of an increasingly diverse audience that has yet to be tapped to its full potential.” says Padda.
The Diversity Showcase is an initiative of the Equity Foundation and the Equity Diversity Committee that has received major support from Screen Australia.
Performers, writers and directors from diverse backgrounds will collaborate during a six-day program of morning workshops, discussions, professional development and rehearsals for a final showcase.
The one-night only showcase performance in Sydney will be attended by the key decision makers in Australian television and film - network executives, casting directors, agents, managers, directors, producers, writers and other industry professionals.
Participants in the Diversity Showcase will benefit from mentorships and further professional development for up to a year following the intensive program, enhancing the diversity of talent and practitioners in the pipeline.
Padda says a problem that performers and key creatives from diverse backgrounds face is a lack of access to opportunities and career progression due to a long history of non-inclusive practices. “This, in turn, feeds into a problem of a scarcity of talent available and ready to perform or practice in the industry, where the Equity Diversity Committee often hears this as an excuse for not being more inclusive in casting and employment in the screen sector.”
Screen Australia’s most significant study of diversity on Australian screens since television began – Seeing Ourselves: Reflections on diversity in Australian TV drama – surveyed the 1196 “main” characters portrayed in 199 Australian dramas broadcast on Australian television between 2011 and 2015.
The report confirms that while Australians from non-European backgrounds make up 17% of the wider population, only 7% of TV drama roles can be broadly categorised as such. Similarly, people with disabilities make up 18% of the population but only 4% of characters. There is also an under-representation of LGBTQI characters (5%) when compared to the Australian population (11%).
One of the recommendations of the recent Seeing Ourselves report was the need “..to develop and showcase a wide range of talent, both onscreen and behind the scenes.”
Nerida Moore, Senior Development Executive at Screen Australia says: “The need for greater diversity in Australian television is essential and the engagement and enthusiasm from the industry about this study proves to me a willingness to work together to develop lasting, creatively and commercially fulfilling ways that we can improve diversity on screens that is genuine and not tokenistic. This showcase is an important step forward in developing authentic screen stories that accurately reflect the breadth of diversity in our society.”
The event will be presented by the Equity Foundation, Equity Diversity Committee and Screen Australia in partnership with the Australian Writers' Guild and the Australian Directors' Guild.
For more information, please contact the Showcase Coordinator Sonia Mehrmand: firstname.lastname@example.org/ 02 9333 0986.