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Employment trends

Number of people working in audiovisual industries

Overview of data sources
Census, 1971–2021
Service Industry Surveys, 1993/94–2006/07
Work in Selected Culture and Leisure Activities Survey, 1997–2007

Overview of data sources

There are three main Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) sources of data on the number of people working in the audiovisual industries: the Census of Population and Housing (Census), Service Industry Surveys (SIS) and Work in Selected Culture and Leisure Activities Survey (WSCLAS), which is a supplement to the monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS).

Each survey differs in scope, is compiled over different reporting periods and uses a variety of data collection methods. The SIS are based on a sample of companies who report the number of workers – full-time, part-time and casual – employed at the end of the financial year. The Census asks individuals to report their main source of income in the week prior to Census night. The WSCLAS also surveys individuals but asks respondents to indicate if they have received any form of payment from involvement with film, video, television and interactive content industries over a 12-month period, see About the data.

It is important to note that the film and video production industry in particular uses a high proportion of casual/temporary employees and freelancers (who may be providing their services as either an individual or as company). The number actually employed in the production industry at the time of any survey will vary according to the level of production activity at the time.

Census, 1971–2021

Next update December 2027

According to the Census of Population and Housing conducted in August 2021, there were 42,466 people employed in the audiovisual sector across the selected industry categories representing a 2 per cent increase over 2016.

The film and video production and post-production services category grew by 45 per cent. The number of people working in the post-production services category grew by 114 per cent and the number in the production services category by 39 per cent. 

The video hire and film and video distribution categories continued to decline, by 90 per cent and 22 per cent respectively. Film exhibition fell by 16 per cent.

Overall, television broadcasting fell by 3 per cent. The number of people working in free-to-air television broadcasting increased by 4 per cent, while the number working in cable and subscription broadcasting fell by 34 per cent.

Free-to-air television broadcasting and film and video production services are the largest employers of the national audiovisual workforce, accounting for 34 per cent and 33 per cent respectively.


Service Industry Surveys, 1993/94–2006/07

Next update to be advised

For 2006/07, the Australian Bureau of Statistics published data from surveys of businesses in film and video production and post-production services, television services and digital game development services.

The figures show a decrease in the number employed in film and video production and post-production, but an increase in employment for TV services and public radio.

The ABS notes that employment figures in the production industry fluctuate depending on what productions are underway at the time of the survey as companies tend to employ more people while actively engaged in production, returning to a smaller ‘core’ staff once it is completed (as at June 2007, 48 per cent of production employees were classed as casual or temporary, compared to 16 per cent of post-production employees). For this reason, labour cost data from the SIS may be a more realistic indicator of general employment trends for the production and post-production industry (it includes the total wages and salaries paid over the financial year); this indicator increased by 32 per cent between 2003 and 2007. Another possible labour indicator from the SIS – one that would take into account freelancers who provided their services as companies rather than as individuals – is payments to other businesses/contractors for production services, listed in expenditure; this increased by 58 per cent between 2003 and 2007.

The digital games development services industry was surveyed for the first time in 2006/07. The ABS reported 45 Australian digital game development businesses employing 1,431 people. The majority were permanent full-time employees (92.6 per cent), with men accounting for 89.2 per cent of the total.


Work in Selected Culture and Leisure Activities Survey, 1997–2007

Updates not available

During the 12 months to April 2007, an estimated 3.5 million people aged 15 years and over were involved in some form of paid or unpaid work relating to the activities covered in the Work in Selected Culture and Leisure Activities Survey, which ranged from art and craft to writing and zoos. Of these, 540,600 people participated in what could be defined as audiovisual and interactive media activities (listed in the table below), with the highest proportion (47 per cent) involved in designing websites, followed by film production (19 per cent) and television (14 per cent). Of all categories, people working in television were more likely to be paid; 56 per cent of them received some payment in 2007.

More people were involved in audiovisual and interactive media activities in 2007 than in 2004, with the strongest growth recorded in interactive content creation (up 54 per cent) and film production (up 40 per cent). Paid work was up by 45 per cent in cinema and video distribution, 29 per cent in interactive content creation, and 8 per cent in film production, but down by 10 per cent in television.

Since 2001, the total number of people involved in audiovisual and interactive media activities has increased by 42 per cent, and those in paid work by 19 per cent.