MEAA release guidelines on ethical internships
The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance has unveiled a new set of guidelines for interns looking to get a foothold in the media industry.
The guidelines, assembled by the MEAA in conjunction with Interns Australia, is designed to assist students who believe they have been treated unethically or illegally while undertaking an internship.
MEAA Media director Katelin McInerney said the new guidelines were in response to numerous reported instances of exploitative internships.
A report on internships by the Fair Work Ombudsman in 2013 found that unlawful unpaid work was particularly prevalent in the media industry.
In one high-profile case in 2015, Melbourne-based Crocmedia was fined $24,000 in the Federal Court for breaching minimum wage provisions by failing to pay two young interns who worked in its office for 20 months between 20111 and 2013.
“Internships have long been recognised as a valuable way for students and graduates to gain meaningful practical experience and training in their chosen career in media, communications and related fields – but they should never be a source of free labour,” McInerney said.
“Far too often, unpaid work is used by media companies to take advantage of young graduates desperate for a foothold in the sector. This is not acceptable."
“Internships should provide practical hands-on industry experience in a closely supervised environment for a finite period of time – not an opportunity for an employer to replace paid workers with unpaid ones.
“The new guidelines prepared by MEAA are simple to follow and will help define what is ethical and lawful internship."
“In addition to informing students of their rights, MEAA wants to work with employers to reach common agreement on how interns are employed in the media industry to prevent exploitation.”
Executive director of Interns Australia Dimity Mannering said, “Empowering employers and interns with information is crucial to reversing the phenomenon of unfair internships."
“With no clear laws on internships in Australia, these guidelines achieve two goals – they support employers to provide fair and quality internships and they provide a reference point so that interns can evaluate their arrangements in the arts, media and entertainment.
“We are hopeful that through steps like the MEAA guidelines, we can make Australia the world leader on this issue,” Mannering said.
The Victoria and Tasmania regional director for MEAA, Carolyn Dunbar, will be part of a panel discussion on unpaid internships and unpaid work, facilitated by the Young Workers Centre, at Trades Hall in Melbourne tonight, April 14.