The Natalie Miller Fellowship is about to receive a new boost of support with the announcement Deluxe Australia’s Heartbeat Fund will make a $20,000 donation over a three year period.

The announcement will be made today by Deluxe Australia’s Managing Director, Alaric McAusland, at the Australian International Movie Convention (AIMC) on the Gold Coast.

“Deluxe are both pleased and excited to support the Natalie Miller Fellowship with a significant financial donation,” said McAusland in a statement issued to the media. “Importantly, we recognise it is only through these contributions that Natalie Miller Fellowship can continue to inspire women in our business and in the broader screen industry to develop professionally and right gender imbalances that currently exist, particularly in decision making roles. We encourage other members of our great community to get behind the Natalie Miller Fellowship to ensure their work continues. In doing so we ensure a richer, more diverse industry from which we can draw strength.”

Established in 2011, the Natalie Miller Fellowship aims to support and encourage women who have demonstrated initiative, entrepreneurship and excellence.

Its inaugural recipient, Rachel Okine (Head of Development for Hopscotch Features and Acquisitions Executive for Entertainment One Hopscotch) will be on hand at the AIMC this afternoon to accept the donation. Speaking to IF yesterday, she outlined some of the ways her professional development has changed after receiving the fellowship in 2012.

“In terms of just the award, I think it really gives you a profile boost, particularly domestically, given that there are so limited opportunities for people to be recognised for their work in this sector of the industry,” she says. “It’s not traditionally an area which is publicly rewarded in any way. It felt like a real recognition and the profile, I feel, gave me more legitimacy when dealing with senior executives.”

Financially the fellowship allowed Okine to undertake a Women’s Leadership Forum course at Harvard University; something she says she “otherwise would never have been able to have the resources to do.”

“The Fellowship opened up a door that would have been closed permanently.”

Of the significant investment from Deluxe ,Okine says: “One of the best things about Deluxe is that it sends a really strong signal to the industry from such a major commercial player: that this is a topic that is worth discussing and supporting both in terms of financial resources as well as an alignment with the cause. That’s what Deluxe is doing – it’s not just about the money, it’s about how they can use their heft within the industry to support what it is the fellowship is and what it means.

“If you take a snapshot of the industry at the moment and you look at the gender breakdown in terms of the power breakdowns in that industry, it's still very bereft of female representation at those top levels of power.

“It’s about starting a dialogue in the first instance and then looking at ways we can work together as men and women where those power dynamics aren’t so skewed. Also about on a practical scale empowering women to move through their own pathway towards senior roles if that is where they aspire to be.”

The Fellowship renews annually and is open to any woman already working in the Australian screen industry with the potential to inspire and provide leadership. The Fellowship is funded entirely by donations made to the Natalie Miller Fellowship Endowment Fund and through the generous support of Film Victoria.

The official announcement and presentation of the Fellowship award for 2014 will be made on November 18th 2014 at the annual Screen Producers Australia (SPA) conference in Melbourne.

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