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Souncheck Aotearoa update

Story Published Thursday 11 February 2021


Like many others, APRA AMCOS NZ is deeply saddened by the stories about harm experienced by people in the music community which have come out recently. This harm is unacceptable.

Director of NZ Member Services Victoria Kelly has shared the following statement:

"Over the past few weeks, a number of extremely brave people have publicly recounted traumatic and painful experiences at the hands of others in the hope that, by sharing their stories, they can help our industry to become a better, fairer, safer place.

Many people have been asking why the kind of behaviour they’ve described – commonly considered endemic in our industry – remains hidden in plain sight. If everyone knows that abuses of power and discrimination are rife in our industry – why haven’t we stopped it already?

Music is a complex and atomised industry comprised of everything from individual creators, independent contractors and small businesses, to large non-profit organisations, educational institutions and multi-national corporations. The scale of our eco-system, the vast influence of its networks, the way our ‘product’ is perceived and marketed (the obsession with image, sex, youth and beauty), the perils of our workplaces (bars, nightclubs, live music venues… places people go when they want to lose their inhibitions) the presence of alcohol and other substances – and the vulnerability and isolation of individuals, and their egos, in these contexts – makes it very hard to identify and contain poor behaviour in our industry, and all too easy to avoid, excuse and deny it.

Fortunately, research recently undertaken by Massey University – Amplify Aotearoa – now provides us with something powerful that we’ve not previously had access to; ethically gathered and academically rigorous evidence of a systemic, cultural problem in our industry. Evidence that is real and tangible, and which we can use to generate positive, measurable and lasting change.

We owe it to everyone who has been hurt in our industry, to now ensure that the awareness and momentum generated by this moment in time is not wasted. We have a lot of conflicting and uncomfortable realities to wrestle with, beliefs to examine and hard truths to face. We need to rise to this challenge, question what we consider to be acceptable within ourselves, among our friends, from our colleagues, and in our wider community – with as much objectivity and compassion as we can muster.

Everyone is entitled to a safe workplace where they are respected and free from harassment, sexual harm, and discrimination.

We are not powerless as individuals. As the larger industry bodies join forces to combat these problems at the organisational level, there are things that each of us can do in our own spheres of influence to make our industry safer and fairer for the people we share it with – whether that’s by examining or modifying our own behaviour, believing and supporting someone when they make us aware of abuse, educating ourselves about the forms that abuse in our industry can take, refusing to tolerate or make excuses for the poor behaviour of friends or colleagues, helping friends to understand their own unacceptable behaviour, supporting them through a process of self-examination and change… no one of us can do this alone, but if we’re working together, towards the same goal, we can be transformational."

Image created by Delaney Davidson and Theia


We also wanted to update you on the work that has already started and the future plans.

Towards the end of last year, in tandem with the publishing of the Amplify Aotearoa report, an action group to facilitate work in this area was formed: SoundCheck Aotearoa. APRA AMCOS NZ are contributing to and supporting this initiative, with the aim of creating a safer, more inclusive culture in the music community.

To make a start, SoundCheck engaged some experts in the areas of sexual harm prevention and community culture change - Rachel Harrison and Mel Calvesbert. You can read more about these remarkable women below.

Some initial meetings and training days were held, as well as discussions around how to roll out access to resources and training across the music community, alongside potential pathways to providing a complaints and accountability process, and wider conversations about increasing and improving representation and diversity at all levels of our industry.

The recent coverage emphasised the reasons why we need to keep pressing ahead with these issues, and so last week an initial consultation hui was held with around 70 people in Auckland, to openly discuss the challenges we face, and what we could do about them.

The day-long hui was facilitated by experts Rachel and Mel, with assistance from representatives from HELP, and also SWAG, who have also been tackling similar issues in their sector.

This was made up of people who had broadly expressed an interest in SoundCheck’s work, and was simply an initial session to get the ball rolling. The plan now is to continue to consult with the community across Aotearoa, while simultaneously working on finding funding to continue this work, and creating or adapting resources that can be implemented quickly and easily.

If you’d like to be involved in the consultation process, or in any other aspect of the SoundCheck work, please fill in your details at the link HERE.

We also encourage anyone affected or anyone who has experienced harm in the music community to make use of the range of support services listed at soundcheckaotearoa.co.nz/


Biographies:

Rachel Harrison

Rachel Harrison lives on the Coromandel Peninsula and works with organisations and communities across Aotearoa to help prevent sexual harassment, sexual violence, domestic violence and child abuse.

Rachel believes that harassment, violence and abuse are preventable and that the best solutions are tailored to each specific community and workplace, making use of their strengths and minimising specific risk factors.

Rachel started at Auckland Rape Crisis in the 1990’s, and since then has worked at Netsafe, the Hauraki Family Violence and Child Abuse Prevention Services Hauraki. She is now self-employed and works with a range of public and private sector organisations including ACC Injury Prevention, the New Zealand Defence Force, New Zealand Rugby, BNZ, and the Screen Women’s Action Group as they work toward making their communities safe and free from harassment and abuse.

Melanie Calvesbert

Mel was born, grew up and lives in Te Whanganui ā Tara (Wellington). She is Pākehā and works at the New Zealand Defence Force as one of their small team of regionally based Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Advisors. Moving into this role in June 2016 was a major change for Mel who had previously worked mostly in NGOs including WellStop and the Wellington Sexual Abuse HELP Foundation. Mel was attracted to her current role by the fact that prevention was in the job title and job description. She has enjoyed and been challenged by being able to take prior learning and adapt that in order to be able to play a small part within an organisation which has taken on the challenge of culture change.