Sexual harassment allegations prompt collaboration between major state theatre companies and MEAA

In the wake of a slew of sexual harassment claims in the entertainment industry, the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) has announced it will be putting policies in place to tackle harassment in live theatre.

The MEAA will work with all the major state theatre companies and freelance artists to develop more effective policies for dealing with sexual harassment, assault and bullying in the theatre industry.


The news comes following research conducted by the MEAA that found almost a quarter of victims do not make a complaint because they fear it will have repercussions for their career.

The survey found 40% of the 1,124 people who took part in a MEAA survey this year had experienced sexual harassment, which ranged from suggestive comments or jokes, unnecessary or unwelcome physical familiarity, receiving intrusive questions about their private life, and staring or leering.

It also found 53% of victims and 60% of witnesses said they had never reported sexual harassment, criminal misconduct or bullying.

Their reasons ranged from worries about professional repercussions, a belief that they did not think anything could be done, fears that reporting would worsen the situation, and hope that it would resolve itself.

“This is a unique moment in history,” said the director of MEAA’s equity section for performers and actors, Zoe Angus.

“The revelations of sexual harassment in our industry have been sickening, but the rise of the #metoo movement has been inspiring.

“We now have an opportunity to work together to solve this problem. We hope this will be the start of a collaborative effort to create change.”

Theatre practitioner Sophie Ross, who worked closely with MEAA throughout the research process, said: “Our aim is to ensure that no-one is harassed or bullied at a major theatre company in Australia. If they are, they must be able to access the help they need.

“We want to set a standard for the broader industry and ensure that our theatres are safe and free of harassment.”

The Australian entertainment industry is still reeling from the accusations surrounding ex-gardening television presenter Don Burke, with journalist Tracey Spicer warning there are more revelations to come. 

Actor Geoffrey Rush is suing The Daily Telegraph for defamation after it published allegations of “inappropriate behaviour” during his time as King Lear with the Sydney Theatre Company. Rush called the claims “false, pejorative and demeaning”.


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