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Australia's Music Biz to Address Abuse Within Its Ranks Following Explosive Study

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Sexual abuse and the mistreatment of women is widespread and has gone on unchecked behind the curtain of Australia’s music industry for too long, new research has found.

The #MeToo movement reached a flashpoint in recent days with the publication of Tunesmiths and Toxicity: Workplace Harassment in the Contemporary Music Industries of Australia and New Zealand, a report by Dr. Jeff Crabtree of the University of Technology in Sydney, which found workplace bullying and sexual harassment is extensive, and is typically perpetrated by patrons, peers and power figures.

Crabtree’s study is “a tough read,” comments Dean Ormston, CEO of APRA AMCOS. “It’s beyond time to take a zero tolerance position to attitudes and behaviors that are counter to a respectful and safe working environment for all in our industry.”

In one of the most shocking figures laid out, all but one of the survey's 145 respondents had experienced some form of harassment at some time, with the common forms found to include withholding information, being ignored, unmanageable workload, humiliation and sexual harassment.

The report also states that 13.5% of female respondents were victims of inappropriate sexual innuendo at least once a week.

Crabtree’s explosive study was accompanied by an exposé which aired on free-to-air Network Ten’s The Project, and an investigation published by The Brag Media's The Industry Observer (TIO).

Award-winning alternative pop artist Jaguar Jonze (real name Deena Lynch) sat down with The Project’s Lisa Wilkinson to discuss her own her own experiences with sexual predators operating in music circles.

Lynch, who recently won the singer/songwriter category for the second successive year at the Q Music Awards and is recognized as one of Australia’s most exciting talents, detailed an incident at a Brisbane nightclub where she was assaulted by two producers.

“They straight away just went for it. Grabbing me, being very sexual towards me,” she told Wilkinson. The Brag Media's TIO uncovered multiple allegations of sexual assault and harassment, some of which took place at the BIGSOUND summit.

Among his long list of recommendations, Crabtree writes that trade bodies should a collaborate on the development and publication of a Mandatory Code of Conduct, and that women should be actively brought into the policy development space.

Work is already underway to instigate cultural change, explains ARIA and PPCA's recently-appointed CEO Annabelle Herd. “I am determined and passionate about making a real difference in this area," she explains in a statement, "and our organizations are more than happy to take the leading role in bringing the industry together for this conversation and for action.”

According to an article published today (May 17) in TIO, industry bodies ARIA, APRA AMCOS and PPCA will lead a meeting in Sydney next Monday (May 24), featuring representatives from across the industry.

"There will be many people across the industry who are experienced and committed who will become involved and this meeting is not about excluding anyone, it is simply a small first step on what will no doubt be a long and challenging path,” writes Herd in her invitation email. "We expect one outcome of this meeting will be a broader facilitated roundtable with a much wider range of participants.”