Today a panel of music industry heavyweights banded together to announce the launch of Your Choice, a music industry-focused campaign to stamp out assault and abuse in Victoria’s music scene by raising awareness of the ingrained cultural issues and lack of personal accountability that are the root of the problem.
Helmed by SLAM co-founder and Vic Sexual Assault Task Force member Helen Marcou, the group included Corner Hotel/Northcote Social Club Music & Marketing Co-ordinator Sally Mather; Secret Sounds/Splendour/Falls CEOs Jessica Ducrou and Paul Piticco; UNIFIED CEO/founder Jaddan Comerford; and The Hills Are Alive Co-owner and artist manager Rhett McLaren, all of whom will be lending their voices and expertise to the campaign going forward.
The message behind Your Choice is that, while artists, venues, staff and music events all have a role to play in stamping out assaults at music events, the ultimate responsibility falls on those who commit these acts to begin with – it’s your choice, and no-one else’s.
The main purpose isn’t to simply push for stronger regulations for music events or more severe punishments for offenders – it’s to steadily encourage a genuine cultural change in the music scene and the wider community, rather than force one through outside intervention.
As Paul pointed out, there’s ultimately no way to regulate people’s behaviour at every turn, and the most effective approach will be to make it clear to everyone the personal responsibility that rests on them for their own behaviours.
He heralded campaigns such as Camp Cope’s ‘It Takes One’ work with Laneway Festival as having moved the needle significantly as far as awareness of the issue is concerned and Rhett pointed out that, in addition to its own initiatives, Your Choice hopes to draw attention to and amplify the efforts of various grassroots efforts being made at this very moment by venues, artists and events all across the state.
While awareness and self-policing is the first goal, the team is also in talks with local Government on other ways to drive change, and the initiative is already launching an eight-venue pilot program to help provide security staff with the training they need to more effectively handle assaults, and particularly cases of sexual abuse. With around 75,000 security staff employed across the state, it’s a small but important step, and its hoped that the results of the program will drive more widespread adoption.
Another point was made regarding workplace protection for artists who, like gig-goers or venue staff, are often subject to verbal or physical abuse. Workers in most other industries have these protections in place, but performing artists often aren’t so fortunate, and the goal is to improve life across the board for everyone involved in the industry, at every level.
As Jaddan noted, this is one of the most serious issues facing Australian music; one that the entire music community is unanimous about, and is prepared to work together on with all notions of competition left at the door.
For now, Your Choice is still in its early stages, but with an impressive array of names and organisations driving it, and a supportive music community in the wings, it seems poised to give the awareness and accountability surrounding the problem a serious shot in the arm. And, if the campaign proves as effective as we all hope it will, Your Choice may even be able to expand to work in other areas like sport, which are also plagued with violence and assault.
So far, hundreds of industry names, from artists and labels to venues and festivals, have signed on in support of Your Choice, and the hope is that this will be a long-standing organisation to keep flying this flag you can find out more and lend your voice at the Your Choice website, or show your support at the Facebook page.
“Don’t hide the ugly,” Rhett said, neatly summing up the approach driving Your Choice. “Bring the ugly out, and we can deal with it.”