Next week, peak bodies will hold a meeting to discuss sexual assault in the Australian music industry. Following criticism of the initial decision to restrict the meeting to select industry representatives, Jaguar Jonze has revealed she will be in attendance.
ARIA, APRA AMCOS and PPCA will hold a meeting in Sydney next Monday (May 24) to address the industry’s widespread issues of sexual assault, harassment and abuse. As The Music Network reported on May 18, the initial meeting will be held with a small number of select industry representatives before wider initiatives are rolled out, which will involve a larger group of stakeholders.
Invites to the meeting were sent on May 4, a week before The Industry Observer published an investigation into the sexual assault in the industry. The May 11 report was coupled with new research from PhD candidate Dr Jeffrey Crabtree, which documented multiple instances of assault, bullying, intimidation and abuse in the Australian and New Zealand music industries over a two-year period.
After the meeting was first reported by The Industry Observer, Billboard and The Music Network, some questioned the decision to keep the summit to select attendees, noting multiple female musicians have put their careers on the line to publicly air allegations.
The Sydney musician Azure, who was interviewed for the Industry Observer investigation, responded to news of the meeting in an Instagram story on May 18.
“I want to be at the #MeToo Sydney meeting or, at the very least, I want to know someone I trust is there to represent me and the other people who have come forward and taken the brunt of the initial response,” Azure, real name Ash Waterman, wrote.
“We took the risk. We deserve to be in the room. How could the people who support so many of our abusers possibly know what we are fighting for?”
Kira Puru later added in an Instagram story of her own that if artists like Azure were risking their careers to break their silence, “the very least we can do is offer them a seat at the fucking table to represent themselves/ensure they are not misrepresented”.
“I’m really not sure how these meetings will be effective if the very people they seek to protect are not present.”
On May 20, Jaguar Jonze revealed in an Instagram post that she has since been extended an invitation to the industry meeting. Jonze, real name Deena Lynch, had been interviewed for the Industry Observer investigation and also appeared on Channel 10 panel show The Project, discussing her alleged assault by two unnamed producers.
“My opinion is that the PR and communication of this meeting was poorly handled and this meeting comes with flaws,” she wrote. “The truth is all solutions always do but the breakdown and lack of transparency has resulted in victims feeling dismissed and silenced again. The important thing to hold onto is that it is proactive in action and that is a change.”
Jonze added that she felt her current role in the industry meeting was “to represent those at the bottom, the voices of the victims that haven’t been heard and where the power is limited”. She continued, “I’m scared that we will time and time again reach a point of momentum to then only have it fall away and pushed aside as the industry feels overwhelmed as it tries to implement the next steps.”
Jonze’s Instagram post contained what she described as a five-step “framework” to address the endemic issue of sexual harassment in the music industry. It was laid out as a series of post-it notes – the same Instagram post format she used last year to amplify anonymised accounts of sexual abuse and harassment in the Australian music industry.
Jonze is calling for people to share the framework and inviting suggestions “from other victims or advocates so that when it comes time, I can take this brainstorm into the meeting, knowing that I am representing those that have been silenced and those that cannot speak out, as best as I can”. See her post below.
In response to the initial criticism of the meeting, ARIA, APRA AMCOS and PPCA said in a statement published by The Music Network on May 18 that the meeting was “just a starting point” to scope out logistics and explore baseline questions.
“I completely understand the frustration and the sentiment that some are expressing,” said ARIA and PPCA CEO Annabelle Herd. “There are many passionate and dedicated people in music who have been working on these issues for years.
“The voices of those involved in this initial discussion are definitely not the only voices that must be heard in this initiative, but this is the first step to bring the threads together into an industry-wide movement for lasting change.”
NME has reached out to ARIA, APRA AMCOS and PPCA to ask if there will be more musician representatives invited to the meeting and for further comment.