New Study Finds Aus Entertainment Workers Are Underpaid, At Risk Of Suicide

Australians who work in the entertainment industry experience higher rates of mental illness and suicide and are paid much less than workers of other industries, according to new research from Victoria University.

The Phase 1: Pride, Passion & Pitfalls study, produced by non-profit organisation Entertainment Assist and Victoria University, looked into the mental health of Australia’s entertainment workers and found a working environment that is “unhealthy, often divisive, competitive and lacking social support.”

Worryingly, reports Fairfax, the report concluded that “there are strong indicators these creative workers have a disproportionate rate of mental health issues”. According to Fairfax, the report was commissioned, and funded by The Pratt Foundation, when in 2012 the Australian Road Crew Collective identified 70 roadies who had died prematurely, many from suspected suicide.

“One of the things that came through pretty clearly in our work, through some very detailed and systematic interviews, was an unhealthy work environment throughout all aspects of the entertainment industry,” Professor Fisher, one of the researchers, told Fairfax.

“There are clear patterns of suicide, of suicide ideation and thoughts, especially for performers whose careers are in decline, and as a result of the professional and financial pressures that exist. It is an area we are worried about and need to research further.”

For the study, the researchers interviewed entertainment industry workers across three employment groups – performing artists and composers; support workers, including producers and directors; and equipment operators, including camera, audio and lighting technicians and roadies.

The report highlights a culture of “criticism”, “external and internal bullying” and “professional jealousy” as well as the distinct gap between the annual incomes of entertainment workers and the average Australian salary.

While the sample size for the initial pilot study was small its findings are consistent with research in the US and funding for a second phase of research has again been provided by the Pratt Foundation. It is expected to be the most extensive study of entertainment industry workers undertaken anywhere in the world.

“Over the next few weeks we are looking for 3000 people to take part in the study by Victoria University,” said Susan Cooper, general manager of Entertainment Assist. “We are telling people in the industry this is your one and only chance to make a difference and take part.”

For information on how to be involved visit the Entertainment Assist website.

For anyone seeking help or information on suicide or mental health, contact Lifeline on 131 114, or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.

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