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15 08 2018 - Media release

Gender Matters KPI update and new industry data released


Megan Wilding as Mary Ann Bugg in Sheilas / Photo by Ash Berdebes

Screen Australia has released the second instalment of tracking against its Gender Matters target, which reveals in the year 2017/18 the majority of feature film, documentary, television drama and online dramas that received production funding from the agency, had women occupying at least half of the key creative roles. This is the first time that this has occurred across all content types since tracking began in 2015/16.

Screen Australia’s Gender Matters target is that by the end of 2018/19, half of the projects that receive production funding will have women occupying at least 50% of key creative roles.

On a three-year average, Screen Australia has met its overall Gender Matters target for the first time since the initiative was launched, with 51% of all projects receiving production funding having at least half of the key creative roles occupied by women. However, while there has been real improvement in female participation, there is still work to be done, particularly in the feature film sector which is a high profile part of the industry.

“The entertainment industry is cyclical. You cannot plan for who will have a great idea and when. So whilst we saw a noticeable upswing in titles where women occupy at least half of key creative roles getting production funding in 2017/18, we’re already seeing that trend soften in our most recent funding rounds,” said Joanna Werner, Screen Australia Board and Gender Matters Taskforce member. “Although it’s good to see we have hit our Gender Matters target early, it remains to be seen if the trend will hold. Coupled with the fact industry-wide data clearly shows areas of chronic under-utilisation of female talent remain, I would interpret today’s Gender Matters tracking data as a sign we are on the right track – not by any means at the end of the track.”

Werner added, “As we move into the final year of the original Gender Matters plan, both Screen Australia and the members of the Gender Matters Taskforce will be considering where to focus our attention in 2018/19 and beyond to ensure the improvements in female participation are sustained. We know we still have a lot of work to do.”

Although the Gender Matters KPI only relates to production funding, Screen Australia has also released an update on all application data (available here), covering both successful and unsuccessful applications across development and production. This data gives a sense of the pipeline of stories that may transition from development into production in the coming years.

“What stands out in our recent application data is that women are well represented, with 57%* of all incoming requests for funding being for projects where women occupy at least half of the key creative roles,” noted Werner. “Furthermore, those projects are typically successful in obtaining funding, with 55%* of all approved applications being for projects where women occupy at least half of the key creative roles.”

“But we’re very aware that television projects are much more likely to include female creatives than feature film, so our top line application numbers need to be read with the understanding that whilst female participation is increasing industry-wide, it is uneven.”

“Whist we have seen steady improvement in the film figures over the last three financial years, women are still significantly underrepresented in key roles, so our focus is to see much more advancement in this area. To that end, our new development programs will undoubtedly assist a wider group of creators to be able to workshop their projects, which will not only bring new voices into the market, but give concepts the time and resources to incubate.”

All Screen Australia funding is based on merit and the Gender Matters initiative does not include a quota.

The next Gender Matters tracking data will be released in August 2019.

*three year average 2015/16 – 2017/18 inclusive.


Screen Australia has also released new industry-wide data charting female participation in Australian feature film, documentary and for the first time, television drama. The data reveals women made up less than half of all producers, directors and writers working in each format (2011-2017), except for producing in television drama where women represented 52% of the workforce.

The percentage of female directors working in feature film (16%) has not improved since the previous industry-wide data set was released by Screen Australia in 2015 covering the period July 1970 to June 2014.

However feature film is a smaller sector compared to television drama in terms of the volume of content being produced, so the number of opportunities for creatives to work in feature film are less. For instance, Screen Australia’s Drama Report showed that in 2016/17 $321m was spent to make 457 hours of Australian television drama. In the same period, $284m was spent on 41 Australian features.


In July 2016, $3.7m was distributed to fund the development of 45 female-driven stories (Brilliant Stories) and 13 female-driven businesses (Brilliant Careers).

Three alumni of Brilliant Stories have already proceeded to production, with online comedy Sheilas from Hannah and Eliza Reilly launching later this month (sheilas.tv) and Rachel Griffith’s Ride Like a Girl feature film about Michelle Payne’s life is currently in post-production. Last month Natalie Erika James’ feature Relic received production funding and has just finished shooting in Victoria.

The suite of Brilliant Careers recipients focussed on either slate development or providing career opportunities for individuals, with the aim of creating self-sustaining enterprise. Sophie Hyde and Rebecca Summerton utilised the funds to shepherd a large slate into fruition via their South Australian production house Closer Productions, including offering work opportunities to producers Bettina Hamilton, Katrina Lucas and Christine Williams.

Of the program, Rebecca Summerton noted, “Support through Screen Australia's Gender Matters program has affirmed Closer's focus on the voices and careers of women. It has given us the financial capacity to employ three emerging female producers who have all gained significant experience and credits during their time at Closer. The funding has supported several mentorships for emerging female filmmakers and the development and financing of Closer's female led projects F*!#king Adelaide (ABC), Animals (feature), Kids (feature documentary) and The Hunt (SBS). It is significant that these four productions are all created, produced and directed by women. Three have female writers and all have women characters at the centre of their stories. We are proud of these outcomes and the support of Gender Matters has been integral to these achievements.”

Speaking on recent industry change, Sophie Hyde added, “It's heartening to see the industry focus shift towards valuing and therefore seeking and supporting voices that may not previously have been heard.  As we have seen so vividly in statistics and industrial conversation, these unheard voices include women. There are large portions of the industry internationally who are driving at and supporting this shift toward valuing 'who' is telling the story, but in the most part the progress is slow – the numbers haven't shifted a huge amount despite some visible and vocal initiatives and a growing audience hunger for female driven stories. We are hopeful for continued positive change over time as the ripple effect of vital initiatives like Gender Matters flow out wider.”

The Australian Directors Guild (ADG) utilised their Brilliant Careers funding to place female directors into TV drama work experience. The approach has been highly successful, with Jane Eakin (Street Smart), Darlene Johnson (Home and Away) and Lisa Matthews (Doctor Doctor) placed as shadow directors.

Lucy Gaffy was also hosted by Essential Media and Entertainment as the Shadow Director on episode seven of Doctor Doctor series two, and as a result was hired to direct four episodes of series three.

“I would identify the ADG Shadow Directing initiative, supported by Screen Australia, as the sole reason I am now working as a director,” said Lucy Gaffy. “It enabled courageous producers such as Claudia Karvan, Tony McNamara and Ian Collie to go to a broadcaster and say, ‘We want to give an opportunity to this new person but you have nothing to fear – she has a safety net’ in the form of the wonderful [director] Ian Watson. I was able to get a full television hour credit with no risk or additional cost to the production – and in this risk averse era of shrinking series sizes with fewer episodes, that is an extraordinary opportunity for an emerging director.”

Four more shadow directing opportunities are in the works through the ADG program. A further seven female directors were awarded commercial content mentorships in 2016/17 from the ADG and The Communications Council, with eight more placements announced in May 2018.

The Gender Matters Better Distribution incentive scheme closed at the end of 2017/18, with support provided to forthcoming features The Flip Side and The Nightingale (which was recently selected for the Venice Film Festival).

The Gender Matters Attachments for Women scheme also closed at the end of 2017/18, having placed 24 female creatives in a paid placement. Four final attachments remain active, namely Julia Corcoran who is a Post Producer Assistant on Judy and Punch, Mary Duong who is a Digital Producer on The Strange Chores, Sarah Jo Fraser who is a Cinematographer attachment for The True History of the Kelly Gang and a forthcoming attachment on High Ground.


  • Due to the success of the Attachments for Women program, from July 2017 a new Inclusive Attachment Scheme was introduced for all Screen Australia productions. The program includes a paid placement for an emerging creative, with the length of the attachment and the focus being flexible so as to suit the particular theme / direction of the project.
  • In May 2018 Screen Australia updated its guidelines for General Drama and Children’s Programs which stipulate that unless in exceptional circumstances, at least one female director must be used on extended television series (where there is more than one filming block).
  • In July 2018 the agency made historic changes to its Story Development guidelines, removing most barriers to entry. This change was inspired by the success of Gender Matters: Brilliant Stories, which allowed new ideas and talent access to Screen Australia’s development funding.
  • The agency has continued to offer bespoke industry development opportunities, such as the Brilliant Pitches workshops and public forum held in July 2018, which assisted creatives to pitch their ideas to market.


  • Click here to be taken to Screen Australia’s Fact Finders resource where all graphs referenced in this release are available. Graphs are in Infogram format and are embeddable
  • Click here for a gallery of available graphs in high resolution JPEG format. If graphs are to be published, they must be used in full and unaltered, including retaining source notes and Screen Australia credits


  • For the history of Gender Matters, with an overview of international trends and approaches click here
  • For the current Gender Matters Taskforce membership click here


  • For this update, all online documentaries formerly marked as online productions were reclassified as documentaries. This does not ultimately affect the outcome of the Gender Matters KPI.
  • Screen Australia does allow creatives to identify their gender as ‘other’ and this is tracked in both the Gender Matters and industry-wide data. No person identifying as having a non-binary gender appeared in the data used in this particular media release.
  • Gender Matters tracking includes Screen Australia initiatives administered by third-parties including ABC Art Bites (15/16, 16/17, 17/18), ABC Love Bites (17/18), ABC Long Story Short (15/16), ABC Fresh Blood 2 (16/17, 17/18), ABC Girls (16/17), NITV A Moment In History / You Are Here (15/16), NITV Songlines on Screen 2 (15/16), The Guardian (17/18), whimn.com.au Doco 180 (16/17, 17/18), VICE Pitch Australiana (17/18), Screen Queensland and ABC Straight out of the Straits (17/18), Google Skip Ahead (15/16, 17/18), ABC Shock Treatment (17/18).

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