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ABC Australia releases first D&I guidelines

The pubcaster has set out rules to increase diversity on and off screen, and teamed up with Bus Stop Films on a program for people with disabilities.
February 17, 2021

Australia’s public broadcaster has launched new inclusive commissioning guidelines to ensure its content better reflects the country’s diverse population.

The ABC Diversity and Inclusion Commissioning Guidelines—Screen Content requires prodcos to include under-represented groups of people such as Indigenous Australians, individuals of all genders, culturally and linguistically diverse communities, people with a disability and the LGBTQ+ community, both on and off screen. All content needs to comply, including kids and family programming. This marks the first time the pubcaster has created guidelines so it can track and deliver on its promise of diversity in its content and teams.

Moving forward, the core creative team on all productions about a specific diverse community or subject must include at least one person who represents that community. And at least 50% of a production’s key creative team and crew must be female or gender-diverse. Producers will need to demonstrate how their content reflects inclusion in its subject matter or cast, as well as have diversity across key creative, production and crew roles.

The new 10-page guidelines document also includes a requirement for producers to create opportunities for under-represented groups to get involved in the production, such as bringing in diverse talent through internship programs.

At the beginning of the commissioning process, the ABC’s editorial team will work with producers to help plan how a project can meet these guidelines. Upon delivery, producers will need to complete a form that breaks down how it achieved diversity on and off screen.

The new guidelines codify the ABC’s existing commitment to reflect the country’s diversity—something it has previously worked to do with programs like Epic Films’ First Day, which follows a transgender girl starting her first year of high school.

The ABC joins a growing group of broadcasters that have recently rolled out diversity and inclusion policies for new content. In fall 2020, ViacomCBS Networks International launched a company-wide “No Diversity, No Commission” production rule, requiring new international productions be made by diverse teams.

In other ABC news, the pubcaster has partnered with non-profit org Bus Stop Films to help people with disabilities develop their careers in the Australian screen industry. A new “Pathways Strategy” program will connect two people who have a disability with the ABC’s entertainment and specialist content teams, as well as with external production companies, to work on commissioning and developing programs across multiple genres.

Production companies that participate in the program will also receive inclusive filmmaking training and support from Bus Stop Films, which focuses on accessible film studies, education and employment for people with disabilities. Applications from prodcos wanting to be part of this initiative will be accepted until March 12, and individuals can apply from April 5 to 30.

Photo by Sam McGhee on Unsplash.

About The Author
Online writer for Kidscreen. Ryan covers tech, talent and general kids entertainment news, with a passion for kids rap content and video games. Have a story that's of interest to Kidscreen readers? Contact Ryan at rtuchow@brunico.com

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