A months-long review into abuse in the Australian music industry has been published, and the report that has followed is difficult but essential reading. Its introduction warns that its content “may be distressing” – and it found “unacceptable levels of sexual harm, sexual harassment and systemic discrimination in the contemporary music industry in Australia.”
The plain English summary of the report, titled Raising Their Voices, is here. One sad aspect of these findings is that they are predictable: the data “reveals widespread risk, inequality and discrimination for many. Women and diverse, marginalised groups are more likely than men to suffer sexual harassment and bullying.”
As the data is broken down, the scale of the problem becomes clear – and more shocking. Sexual harassment and bullying are widespread: 55% of participants reported sexual harassment or harm during their career in the music industry, including 74% of women and 39% of men.
Most perpetrators of sexual harassment – 74% – are male. Perpetrators are rarely held accountable and 82% did not report incidents as they were worried about their career or wellbeing. Of the mere 3% who made a formal complaint about sexual harassment, over half were dissatisfied with the outcome. There are many more concerning examples of data like this in the full report.
A joint statement of acknowledgement has also been issued, with signatories from across the Australian music industry. “Everyone has the right to work in an environment free from bullying, sexual harassment, sexual assault and discrimination. As disturbing and confronting as the findings are, the Australian music industry is committed to change and to rebuilding trust. The music industry should – and will – foster safe, welcoming, respectful, creative, and fun environments,” it says.
One crumb of positivity that the report identifies the Australian industry having “a strong appetite for widespread and sustainable cultural change,” and that industry leaders and influencers are ready “to champion and lead”.
The report suggests “a whole-of-industry approach” to make that change happen, and identifies seventeen recommendations for reform. They’re underpinned by six main principles, including: industry-wide cultural reform, where a code of conduct is implemented; “courageous leadership” that acknowledges the harm done and commits to cultural reform; and “person-centric reporting”, to ensure reports of harm are treated seriously, sensitively and promptly.
Industry voices rallied to support the findings. PRO APRA AMCOS published a statement saying that then report “marks a watershed moment for all of us in the music industry. It is right to say sorry: we have all been part of an industry where people have been hurt and have caused hurt.”
This problem is vast, and is obviously not confined to Australia. We recently spoke to US industry veteran Dorothy Carvello in our Focus Podcast, and her stories of institutionalised systemic abuse align with the data in this report. Acknowledgement of harm done, and a commitment to change, is the start of a process that everyone working in the music industry in every country should urgently consider.
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