CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses sexual harm, sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination in the workplace.

An independent, in-depth review into the level of sexual harm, bullying and discrimination within the Australian music industry has found “widespread risk, inequality and discrimination for many people. Women and diverse, marginalised groups are more likely to endure this kind of unacceptable behaviour. While that’s utterly disappointing to know, it’s not in the slightest bit surprising.

The Raising Their Voices review heard from more than 1600 people across the music industry in Australia and found that an overwhelming amount of people have experienced discrimination, harm and harassment throughout their careers.

It was found that 55 per cent of people surveyed have experienced some level of workplace sexual harassment and sexual harm in their careers to date. 72 per cent of those victims were women.

The review also found that 76 per cent of participants were subjected to bullying at some point in their careers. In the last five years alone, 86 per cent of people who identify outside of the gender binary and 81 per cent of women surveyed experienced bullying.

Those who perpetrate the harm and harassment are rarely held to account for their actions. The survey found that 82 per cent of those abused didn’t report what happened because they feared for their careers, livelihoods and wellbeing. Only three per cent of people made a formal complaint about sexual harassment. Three.

We’d like to imagine this is a shock to read but ultimately it’s not.

It’s a pretty open secret that the music industry — especially in Australia — is dominated by men. Alcohol and other party favours have traditionally fuelled a fast and loose approach to doing business and making deals. It’s an industry that has built itself from the sticky floors up by thriving on the illustrious “rock n’ roll lifestyle” that is fast being outpaced by the people who cannot thrive underneath those conditions — diverse, marginalised groups.

This report has the immense potential to be a turning point. A line in the sand where those who have endured years, careers and generations of systemic abuse and harassment demand better treatment and an equal opportunity to achieve success with dignity and respect.

It is now up to influential people in the music industry — the power-wielding types at the head of the table — to do something about it.

The Raising Their Voices review laid out 17 recommendations for people and bodies at various levels of influence and power to adopt. These range from committing to cultural reform, to promoting diversity in leadership and treating incidents of sexual harm, harassment and discrimination as workplace health and safety issues.

Now that we have seen the stats in the cold light of day — after the house lights have come up and the doors have been opened — it’s time to demand real, tangible change.


Help is available.

If you require immediate assistance, please call 000.

If you’d like to speak to someone about sexual harm or harassment, please call the 1800 Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chat online.

If you work in the Australian music or arts industry and need to speak to someone, please call the Support Act Wellbeing Helpline on 1800 959 500.

Under 25? You can reach Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or chat online.

Image: Getty Images / Martin Philbey