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'Honey, I Hid the Kids!' – screen industry urged to care about carers

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The SA Film Corporation has announced a series of initiatives to help working parents and carers advance their careers in the screen industry in response to the release today of a damning national report titled Honey, I Hid the Kids!

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The report, compiled by Raising Films Australia and launched at Adelaide Studios, found that 74 per cent of carers surveyed – of which 86 per cent were women – said their caring responsibilities had a negative impact on their career.

The report’s authors said it was especially concerning that many women in the screen industry went to “elaborate lengths” to hide their caring status at work and keep their children “out of the picture”.

“This admission of children’s invisibility is alarming,” it says.

“It reveals how care is devalued even by those who are doing it and normalises the idea that a productive environment is a world in which children and other dependents are neither seen nor heard (about).”

A total of 618 respondents across Australia took part in the survey, which identified the top five “challenges” faced by carers as long hours, financial uncertainty, evening work commitments, lack of confidence or prejudice from funders and/or employers, and lack of access to childcare.

Many problems were exacerbated by the fact that most of those in the industry are freelancers or self-employed, and are not covered by provisions such as conventional maternity leave.

In response to the findings, the South Australian Film Corporation has announced a range of initiatives to help carers have a career in the screen industry, with CEO Courtney Gibson saying: “Not caring about caring is simply not an option anymore.”

The initiatives include the introduction of a “return to work rider”, which will require that any project that receives more than $400,000 in state funding must have at least one crew member, key creative or head of department who is returning to work after time away as a carer.

The SAFC will also launch a Keeping Your Hand In program to help workers taking time out as carers to keep pace with changes in production methods, trends, technology and skills.

The third initiative, called Doing It Differently, will aim to “challenge the often family-unfriendly prevailing production orthodoxies”, the SAFC says.

Inspired by Adelaide-based Closer Productions’ award-winning 2013 film 52 Tuesdays, for which the production team shot only on Tuesdays for a year, it will encourage the development of projects that “break the mould in terms of production methodology”.

“What we anticipate are proposals that present new ways of working; ways of working which might become new norms themselves,” Gibson says.

Among the recommendations of the Honey, I Hid the Kids!: Experiences of parents and carers in the Australian Screen Industry report are measures to support carers returning to work (including financial incentives and flexible work arrangements); action to address the negative impact of attitudes to carers in the workforce, and industry incentives “that reward inclusive production structures and processes”.

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