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Taking Action

On Wednesday evening, together with Ngā Aho Whakaari and the New Zealand Writers Guild, we had a two-hour workshop with Debbi Tohill, Executive Director of RPE (Rape Prevention Education) on Sexual Harassment and Disclosure.

This session had been run recently by Women In Film & Television but we felt it worthwhile to support another, considering the existing gender inequality issues of our time and the massive impact of #MeToo on our industry at large. The paradigm has shifted, and things will never be the same—nor should they be.

It’s essential, particularly for men at all levels of our industry, to examine what has brought us to where we are now and what we can individually do to aid and assist positive change.

DEGNZ already has a sub-committee in place to examine gender issues, discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying. It is made up of board members and directors Louise Leitch, Roseanne Liang and Michael Duignan.

The sub-committee has been engaging with the other guilds, the Screen Women’s Action Group (SWAG), and looking internationally to other screen industry bodies to assess what work is being done and what we can do to ensure equality and appropriate behaviour.

On the equality front, our Emerging Women Filmmakers Incubator is a proactive step on our part with the support of NZFC and Vista Foundation to drive more female directors into sustainable careers. Eighteen talented women have been developed through this scheme so far.

Our TV Drama Director Attachment initiative, supported by NZ On Air, has already seen five of seven attachments go to women (one yet to be publicly announced). Two of those women have gone into full time work directing TV drama. We have also assisted other emerging female filmmakers into opportunities designed to further enhance their drama directing capability. There is still more for us to do here.

Education is a key tool the guild can employ in order to help confront discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying. The session with Debbi Tohill is the first of our efforts in this arena. We will be supporting initiatives with other screen industry bodies and doing our own work to transform attitudes and behaviours that are inappropriate to both women and men in the workplace.

I’d like to leave you with some statistics on sexual violence and sexual harassment that Debbi provided us:

  • There are an estimated 208,000 sexual violence offences committed against adults each year.
  • One in five female secondary students say they have had unwanted sexual contact from another person. For male secondary students, it’s one in twenty.
  • In reported sexual violence incidents, 95% of the victims are women.
  • In reported sexual violence incidents, 99% of the perpetrators were men.

On our website here you can find DEGNZ’s statement on sexual harassment and bullying with some options for assistance. The guild is also here to help should you require it.

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director