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On Monday 7 December 2015, Screen Australia announced a five point, $5 million plan for Gender Matters, a suite of initiatives that address the gender imbalance within the Australian screen industry.

Issues of gender bias have been approached in various ways by Screen Australia, our predecessor agencies, state agencies and industry guilds over the years. Despite this, the level of women’s participation in this industry continues to track along at the low percentages we saw in the 1970s. And a lot of us are asking why.

Analysis of Screen Australia figures back in May 2015 shows that the imbalance is most notable in traditional film, with women accounting for 32% of producers, 23% of writers and only 16% of directors. Our film production funding is provided to producers, writers and directors in direct proportion to applications received, suggesting that initiatives to stimulate projects led by women is key in addressing this issue front on.

We want to create sustainable and self-generating careers that will be used to support women to build a range and breadth of skills in this industry for the long term. This $5 million plan, to be refined and further developed by an experienced Gender Matters Taskforce (below), consists of the following:

  1. Assessment criteria changes – Screen Australia has made criteria changes aimed at encouraging projects that promote gender and cultural diversity and removing the barriers faced by women who take time out of the workforce, including added consideration of Gender Diversity in overall slate assessment.
  2. Brilliant Stories (formerly Women’s Story Fund) – an initiative to stimulate awareness and increase industry activity around storytelling by women, focusing on bold, original and compelling fully-formed story concepts.
    Applications closed.
    Successful recipients announced

  3. Brilliant Careers (formerly Enterprise Women) – business support to create industry infrastructure around women, encouraging mentorship schemes, placements, slate development, workshops, events, and proposals for strategy and business development.
    Applications closed.
    Successful recipients announced
  4. Matched Distribution Guarantee Support of up to $300,000, to enhance the distribution and marketing of quality Australian films with significant female content, encouraging close partnership with distributors on female-driven projects.
  5. Attachments for Women – in circumstances where Screen Australia invests more than $500,000 in a project, attachments or reverse attachments are proposed to provide valuable production experience for women who want to break into the industry as creatives or crew.
    Applications closed.
    Program expansion creates Inclusive Attachment Scheme

Gender Matters Taskforce 2018:

  • Imogen Banks Award-winning producer at Endemol Shine Australia
  • Sarah Bishop Actress, writer, director and producer
  • Jo Bladen General Manager, Disney Studios Australia & New Zealand
  • Fiona Cameron Former COO of Screen Australia, co-creator of Gender Matters and fulltime member of the ACMA
  • Corrie Chen AACTA-nominated, ADG award-winning writer and director
  • Sasha Close Exhibition and programming executive consultant to independent cinemas
  • Lisa French Dean of Media & Communication at RMIT University
  • Michelle Guthrie Former Managing Director of the ABC
  • Sophie Hyde Co-founder of Closer Productions
  • Emma Jensen Writer, development executive and script consultant
  • Samantha Lang Director of Handmaid Media and current President of the ADG
  • Deborah Mailman Multi-AACTA and Logie award-winning actor of TV, film and stage
  • Sue Maslin President of the Natalie Miller Fellowship, award-winning producer
  • Sharon Menzies Managing Director of Fulcrum Media Finance
  • Pearl Tan Director of Pearly Productions and Senior Lecturer, Directing at AFTRS
  • Joanna Werner Founder of Werner Film Productions
  • Deanne Weir Managing Director, Content Aggregation and Wholesale at Foxtel
  • Caitlin Yeo Acclaimed four-times APRA-award winning screen composer

Julie McGauran, Head of Drama and Channel 7 served temporarily.

Founding Gender Matters Taskforce:

Deanne Weir (Head of the Gender Matters Taskforce), Imogen Banks (Producer), Corrie Chen (Screenwriter and Director), Sandi Don (Head of Distribution, Hopscotch/eOne), Sophie Hyde (Director and Producer), Emma Jensen (Writer), Samantha Lang (Director of Handmaid Media and current President of the ADG), Sue Maslin (Producer), Miranda Tapsell (Actor) and, Natalie Tran Vlogger (Actor and Writer).

Gender Matters updates: