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Screen Australia’s Code of Conduct replaced by Industry Code from 1 July 2019

Projects that are approved for Screen Australia production funding from 1 July 2019 will be subject to the SPA/MEAA Australian Screen Industry Code of Practice: Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Harassment and Bullying (‘Screen Industry Code of Practice’).

The code is available on the MEAA and SPA websites.

Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Screen Industry Code of Practice are included below. For any queries, contact SPA or the MEAA.

The Screen Australia Code of Conduct will remain in place for productions that were approved between 2 April 2018 and 30 June 2019.

WHAT MOTIVATED THE creation of the CODES?

Sexual harassment in the screen industry has been a topic of discussion internationally for some time. The discourse in Australia made it apparent that awareness of what actually constitutes sexual harassment and assault was low. Willingness to report incidents and/or confusion over how to report incidents and to whom, were also topics of discussion.

The Screen Australia Code of Conduct was designed to be an industry-leading initiative that raised awareness and set out existing legal responsibilities in plain language.

The Screen Industry Code of Practice also covers sexual harassment but extends the responsibilities to other forms of harassment, discrimination and bullying.

WHAT IS THE SCREEN INDUSTRY CODE of practice?

Under the Screen Industry Code of Practice, screen employers must, so far as practical:

  • State a commitment to providing a safe, respectful, inclusive workplace free from discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment and bullying;
  • Have workplace policies and procedures on discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment and bullying;
  • Have a complaint handling and investigation procedure; and
  • Appropriately promote and communicate the workplace policies and procedures including abridged versions in poster form in prominent places.

HOW DOES MY PRODUCTION COMPANY GET ASSISTANCE IN CREATING POLICIES?

The Screen Industry Code of Practice includes the following templates prepared by SPA and MEAA:

  • Workplace Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Harassment and Bullying Policy
  • Complaint Handling and Investigation Procedure
  • Complaint Form
  • Code of Conduct that sets out standards of behavior expected of workers on a production

Producers will need to adapt any templates to the circumstances of their business and the production.

Access the templates on the MEAA or SPA website.

DO I STILL NEED TO MAKE AWAReNESS POSTERS?

The Screen Industry Code of Practice says that employers, whatever their size, should include abridged versions of their workplace policies in poster form in prominent places in the workplace. It is for the producer to prepare the wording of the posters.

DO I STILL NEED A sexual harassment preventION contact?

The Screen Industry Code of Practice states that employers, whatever their size, must clearly outline to all workers their procedure for dealing with complaints. This would include who can be approached in relation to a complaint.

DOES THE CODE APPLY TO EMPLOYEES ONLY?

The Code of Practice applies to everyone that is working on the production e.g. contractors, consultants and subcontractors. This is because employer responsibilities cover all workers, no matter how they are engaged.

IS THE CODE A NEW LAW?

The Codes are minimum standards based on existing laws that all employers should follow. The Codes do not introduce new legal requirements above existing statutory requirements.

Is THE CODE mandatory?

The Screen Industry Code of Practice is described as a voluntary industry code of practice.

However, it will be mandatory for recipients of Screen Australia production funding to implement the Code as far as reasonably practical on the relevant project. All Screen Australia production investment or grant agreements for projects approved after 1 July 2019 will include contractual obligations in relation to the Screen Industry Code of Practice.

Production investment and grant agreements for Screen Australia titles approved from 2 April 2018 to 30 June 2019 will remain subject to the Screen Australia Code of Conduct.

DOES IT MATTER THAT I’M NOT A member of spa OR MEAA?

The Screen Industry Code of Practice is publically available on the SPA and MEAA websites for all screen professionals to use. You do not need to be a member of either organisation to access the Code.

DOES THE CODE APPLY TO THE PRODUCTION PERIOD ONLY?

The production company must meets its contractual requirements in respect of the Screen Industry Code of Practice throughout pre-production, production and post-production.

WHAT IF SCREEN AUSTRALIA FUNDS A PRODUCTION THAT HAS ALREADY STARTED FILMING?

The producer must implement the Screen Industry Code of Practice from the date of Screen Australia funding approval.

WHERE IS THE LINE BETWEEN PRODUCER RESPONSIBILITY AND LAW ENFORCEMENT?

All employers, including producers, have a legal obligation to ensure a safe workplace and protect their workers from harm. In the case of potential criminal conduct, such as sexual assault or indecent exposure etc, employers must take these matters extremely seriously including consideration as to whether they should be reported to the police.

A victim of harmful behaviour also has the option of independently consulting their union representative, seeking legal representation or going to the Human Rights Commission.

WHAT HAPPENS IF THE CODE IS NOT IMPLEMENTED?

Failure to implement the Screen Industry Code of Practice may be considered a material breach of the agreement with Screen Australia. Producers who fail to comply with their contractual obligations may be deemed ineligible for further funding from Screen Australia under its Terms of Trade. There may also be civil and or criminal consequences.

Notably if a producer does everything in their power to adhere to the Code of Practice on their production, but there is still an incident, this will not affect their funding as long as the situation is dealt with quickly, sensitively and in accordance with the law and the Code.

HOW WILL SCREEN AUSTRALIA KNOW IF THE CODE WAS IMPLEMENTED?

Ultimately it is the producer’s responsibility to ensure the effective implementation of the Screen Industry Code of Practice. However, the Screen Australia funding agreement will give Screen Australia the right to request evidence that the fundamentals of the Code of Practice have been implemented on a production.

DO OTHER CODES EXIST?

Production companies, state government agencies, broadcasters and other production partners may also have pre-existing codes of conduct. Recipients of Screen Australia production funding may therefore need to adhere to multiple codes of conduct.

HOW DO PRODUCERS DEAL WITH ANY ANTICIPATED COSTS?

If costs are incurred to implement the Code of Practice, producers will need to reflect these in the production budget. However these costs are expected to be minimal.

WHO DO I CONTACT TO DISCUSS OTHER ELEMENTS OF the CODE OF PRACTICE?

SPA or MEAA, as a co-authors of the Screen Industry Code of Practice, are the relevant contacts for general queries about the Code and its pro forma policies. At first instance, queries from employers should be directed to SPA and queries from employees to the MEAA.

If you are after advice in relation to a specific incident you should consider obtaining independent advice.