Ben Steel
Ben Steel (The Show Must Go On) in a still by Sue at Film Art Media

Creative industries employees (whether in full time, part time or casual employment), have the right to be supported and respected at work, and to feel valued for their contributions to the workplace. However, evidence shows this is not the experience for many creative professionals who experience bullying and harassment in the workplace, and are discriminated against because of gender, ethnicity, disability or age.

In response to this, Creative Victoria, and many groups and organisations across the creative sector have led work to achieve cultural change, and to provide creative industries employers and workers with information and resources to ensure your workplace fosters respect and protects the mental wellbeing of staff, volunteers and collaborators.

In addition to Creative Victoria many organisations across the Creative sector have become aware of these issues, and several organisations have implemented policies, processes and projects to foster the health and wellbeing of creative professionals (for example, the Arts Wellbeing Collective, an Arts Centre Melbourne initiative).

Below is information about the work Creative Victoria is doing in this space and resources for anyone working in the creative industries.

What is a respectful workplace?

Regardless of their field of work, employees want to work in places where:

  • they know what is expected of them
  • the workplace is safe and they are treated fairly
  • their skills and contribution are recognised and valued
  • training and development opportunities support their career progression, and where
  • they can work harmoniously with others.

A respectful workplace is one where safety, inclusiveness and wellbeing are paramount and studies show that a respectful workplace is not just harmonious, it is highly productive.

Creative professionals and the organisations that employ them need to recognise that working within a respectful workplace is a right, not just good fortune. Media coverage of the ‘me too’ movement has contributed to awareness of the influence of inequities in power relationships within workplaces.

Mental wellbeing and the workplace

Research studies have also pointed to the influence of workplace culture on mental health and wellbeing.

A study led by industry health provider Entertainment Assist and Victoria University titled Working in the Australian Entertainment Industry highlights the serious health issues of people working in the creative industries.  The study found that half of the people working in Australia’s entertainment industry suffer moderate to severe anxiety, a rate 10 times over the national average. The report also found “a powerful, negative culture within the industry including a toxic, bruising work environment; extreme competition; bullying; sexual assault; sexism and racism.”

How we are influencing cultural change in the creative sector?

Creative Industries Working group

Mr Martin Foley, The Minister for Mental Health, Minister for Equality and Minister for the Creative Industries requested that Creative Victoria convene a working group to identify and implement strategies to promote respectful workplaces and wellbeing. The working group involves industry leaders from a range of organisations within the creative industries, including Arts Centre Melbourne, Theatre Network Australia, Australian Fashion Council, Film Victoria, the Public Galleries Association of Victoria, the Victorian Music Development Office and representatives from Creative Victoria.

The group meets approximately four times a year and is established to:

  • advise creative industries leadership on current and emerging issues, trends and themes relating to respectful workplaces and mental health and the raising of these matters across the creative industries.
  • provide a forum for representatives from the creative industries to share information and collaborate on respectful workplaces and mental health, and to collectively build capacity across the creative sectors.

The members are:

  • Nicole Beyer, Executive Director, Theatre Network Australia
  • Claire Spencer, Chief Executive Officer, Arts Centre Melbourne
  • Catryn Tuckwell, General Counsel, Arts Centre Melbourne
  • Anne Robertson, Executive Officer, Public Galleries Association of Victoria
  • Kirri-Mae Sampson, Senior Project Manager Australian Fashion Council
  • Sarah Moran, CEO and co-founder Girl Geek Academy

Resources for creative industries employers and employees

Stay informed of ways to promote a respectful culture and foster mental wellbeing through our resource hub for an evolving range of resources.

Check back regularly for resources to help you to better understand mental health and wellbeing and advice and research on workplace safety policies and procedures.

Respectful Workplaces

Support services

The following support services are available to victims of sexual harassment and bullying in the workplace:

Beyond Blue 


Support Act

CASA (Centre Against Sexual Assault)

1800 RESPECT National Sexual Assault Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service

Sexual Assault Crisis Line

WIRE (Women’s Information and Referral Exchange)

Online Psychological First Aid Training through Phoenix Australia is free for people and organisations that have been most impacted by the pandemic.

Codes of Conduct

Several peak bodies and statutory authorities in Australia's creative industries have developed broad, robust Codes of Practice for their sector, following extensive stakeholder consultation. Creative Victoria strongly recommends that Victorian arts organisations read and adopt the policy that is most relevant to their sector.

Film Victoria

Live Performance Australia

Screen Australia

Theatre Network Australia

Australian Human Rights Commission

Nearly one in five complaints received by the Australian Human Rights Commission relate to sexual harassment.  ‘Know Where The Line Is’, is a national awareness raising strategy to help both employers and employees to identify and stop sexual harassment in the workplace. It is a partnership between the Australian Human Rights Commission, the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The Australian Human Rights Commission has developed a comprehensive guide for companies wishing to develop their own sexual harassment policy, including employer and employee responsibilities.

Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission has provided clear guidelines around different categories of workplace harassment and bullying, with clear definitions, examples and pathways for complaints.

Institute of Community Directors Australia

The Institute of Community Directors Australia provides a comprehensive list of templates, produced with legal oversight, to assist organisations in developing their own policies around workplace discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying.  These templates are free for any not-for-profit organisation to download and use, so long as it is for a non-commercial purpose and that the organisation is not paying a consultant to carry out this work.

Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA)

Focused on the future, Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) is a thought leader and driver of change. A strong and passionate advocate for its members, MEAA also connects and creates new opportunities on their behalf. MEAA has prepared a fact sheet to help members understand their rights and how to get help.

Intimacy guidelines for Stage and Screen (MEAA)

These Intimacy Guidelines provide a framework for the stage and screen industries when creating, performing or recording performances of intimate scenes.

Workplace Health   

Worksafe Victoria

Worksafe Victoria provides tools and information to help understand obligations and find practical ways to reduce health and safety risks in your workplace.

Creative Equity Toolkit

This toolkit was developed by the British Council and Diversity Arts Australia with a number of Australian and UK partners including Creative Victoria (through the Diversity and Inclusion Program), Create NSW and Western Sydney University (WSU).

Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing

The Arts Wellbeing Collective

The Arts Wellbeing Collective is an Arts Centre Melbourne initiative that comprises a consortium of arts and cultural organisations working together to promote positive mental health and wellbeing in the performing arts.

Link to from The Arts Wellbeing Collective heading to

Entertainment Assist

Entertainment Assist is a national health promotion charity that raises awareness about mental health and wellbeing in the Australian entertainment industry and champions for generational change where:

  • Industry workers are educated to be aware of their own mental wellbeing,
  • Industry workers are educated to support their peers around mental health; and
  • Industry employers actively support the mental health and wellbeing of employees.

Support Act Wellbeing Helpline

It is completely confidential and free of charge to utilise the Support Act Wellbeing Helpline – a 24/7 phone counselling service. Simply phone 1800 959 500 to speak with an experienced, qualified clinician about any aspect of your mental health and wellbeing. You can make an appointment, or request to speak to someone immediately.

The Federal Government announced a funding package that enables the Support Act Wellbeing Helpline to be extended to all arts workers. So, if you have a peer working in another sector, for example, film or the visual arts, let them know that the Support Act Wellbeing Helpline is there for them, too.

The Show Must Go On

The Show Must Go On follows former Home & Away actor and filmmaker Ben Steel on a soul searching investigation into why are there so many arts and entertainment workers developing and struggling with anxiety, depression and substance abuse and for the first time opening up a much-needed public conversation about their mental health and wellbeing.