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News March 23, 2022

QMusic unveils Safety and Diversity Advisory Group to drive change and accountability

Editorial Operations Manager
QMusic unveils Safety and Diversity Advisory Group to drive change and accountability

Image (clockwise from top left): Bridgette Di Ferdinando, Cat Clarke, Dameila Thompson, Michelle Pitiris, Shaan Ross-Smith, Thelma Plum and Zoe Davis

QMusic has launched a Safety and Diversity Advisory Group (QSDAG) in a bid to deliver safer events and implement accountability measures.

The move comes around 10 months after The Industry Observer revealed an alleged rape at a previous BIGSOUND conference.

Following revelations of the alleged assault, QMusic and a number of industry identities began collaborating on an industry-first safety and inclusion program.

More recently, there was a roundtable with the Queensland Attorney General, Shannon Fentiman, to discuss different programs that could be aligned to help ensure the safety of women in music and hospitality venues.

The result is the QSDAG, which will support the activities of QMusic and provide insights and advice on how its events can be better, inclusive and provide absolute safety for women, First Nations and LGBTQIA+ artists and industry members.

The new body will be chaired by ARIA Award-winning music photographer and safety advocate Michelle Pitiris, who works under the name SHEISAPHRODITE.

Pitiris was integral in pushing for change and collaborating with QMusic in the wake of the event’s rape allegations.

QMusic said she “was an incendiary in reigniting Australia’s music industry fight against sexual harassment and assault”.

She will be joined in the group by award-winning social psychologist and board advisor, Bridgette Di Ferdinando; owner of iconic Brisbane venue The Zoo, Cat Clarke; DJ, producer, radio host and Yuggera woman, Demeila Thompson (dameeela); Gamilaraay musician and creator, Thelma Plum; Shaan Ross-Smith, who leads the MATE leadership program focused on the bystander’s role in gender-based violence; and Zoe Davis, a proud queer instrumentalist and vocalist.

QMusic said it also hopes to have further representation from the LGBTQIA+ community for QSDAG, including trans and male representation, and is continuing to engage with this community as part of the roll out.

Pitiris said her goal was to make tangible change.

“Being part of QMusic’s Safety and Diversity Group is something I am incredibly proud of, and with the strength of our team, I hope to synthesise some real, lasting difference that ensures any person in the community feels safe, seen and supported.”

In May last year, QMusic appointed Kris Stewart to replace departing CEO Angela Samut.

He said taking part in the discussion at the roundtable and sharing ideas between night-time economy leaders was an incredibly valuable process.

“The roundtable gave us a unique opportunity to share strategic ideas and collaborate on best practices taking place in our sector – and also to share our Concert Care initiative rolled out at the Big Summer Block Party late last year which we intend to expand to other events,” he said.

QMusic’s safety and diversity lead, Jacqui Grinzi, said there’s still so much work to be done.

“I’m so proud to have been able to bring this group of people together who are going to provide invaluable insight for QMusic and the wider industry moving forward. There’s always more we can do in this space, the whole crew are committed to be the change in a meaningful way and this is only the beginning.”

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