ARIA replaces Denis Handlin with first female chair Natalie Waller

Until 2019, the board was composed entirely of male executives

The Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) has appointed its first female chair to replace Denis Handlin, who was forced to give up his seat in June after being removed as CEO of Sony Music Australia. 

The ABC’s head of music and events, Natalie Waller, will preside over the ARIA board for the next two years, effective immediately.

Up until 2019, the ARIA board was entirely composed of male executives. ARIA CEO Annabelle Herd welcomed Waller’s appointment, telling Guardian Australia the pair were “on the same page about where we want to go”.

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Herd also said new announcements about the ARIA Awards would be made “soon”, with “some evolution”.

“We will be working to redress the balance of our judging panels, and doing all of the other work that we need to do to progress on issues of cultural diversity and cultural awareness … to reflect the true diversity of industry,” Herd told the website.

In a press statement, Waller said she was “thoroughly excited” to get started.

“At this time of change and challenge for the Australian music industry, I’m determined to give my all to continuing ARIA’s mission of championing our fantastic artists and industry,” she said.

Handlin had been on the ARIA board since 1984. “Denis Handlin is on the ARIA board as a representative of Sony Music,” an ARIA spokesperson told NME back in June. “As he no longer works at Sony Music, he can no longer be on the ARIA board.”

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Earlier this year, an investigation at Sony Music Australia uncovered allegations that senior executive Tony Glover had bullied and harassed some of his colleagues, leading to his firing in April. Glover, who was the label’s vice-president of commercial music, has denied the allegations.

Last week, the Sun Herald and Sunday Age reported that Sony Music’s head office in the United States was investigating allegations of discrimination, bullying and harassment in the Australian office. Sony has reportedly engaged an external counsel independent of the company to conduct the investigation.

The Sun Herald and Sunday Age noted that it was not suggested that Handlin was the subject of allegations, or involved or implicated in the allegations under investigation.

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