Last year, when I was elected President of the Press Club, some in our industry asked a fair question: why weren’t there any people of colour on our new board?
This question led to many others. Why isn’t our media industry more diverse? And why hasn’t there been an Indigenous editor of one of the big Melbourne papers? And so on.
The club needed to listen and to change. My first act as president was to meet with Indigenous journalist Madeline Hayman-Reber, whose open letter had kicked off the debate about diversity within the club.
Next, our new board made diversity a board priority and created a diversity advisory committee to help guide us on how the club could best make change. The diversity committee is co-chaired by Bridget Brennan (ABC) and Rachael Dexter (The Age and Press Club Board member). Myself as MPC President and Heidi Murphy as vice-President also sit on the committee with Madeline Hayman-Reber (former NITV correspondent) and Arsisto Ambyo (RMIT lecturer, Media Diversity Australia Board member and former ABC journalist). The committee was initially co-chaired by Jason Mifsud, until he stepped down. I want to acknowledge Jason’s tremendous contribution, as he helped lay the foundations for how we learn and respond.
The committee is an extension of the board, and has designated authority to complete tasks and report to the board for ratification.
The subcommittee has met six times and meets every 4 to 6 weeks. Our committee is working through a list of priorities: reviewing our past policies, designing new initiatives, and making recommendations to the board on how to implement them.
We have listened and taken on the feedback from journalists of colour, and recognise that the lack of diversity in the media industry is not the sole responsibility of newsrooms and that with our status we have an opportunity to lead by example.
We aim to make changes in all the club does: its events, opportunities for journalists as well as the structural makeup of the club itself.
We know this latter point is necessary for genuine, ongoing change.
- The creation of a co-designed Quill award to recognise excellent Indigenous Affairs Reporting. This comes in addition to the already established Quill for Multicultural reporting and is accompanied by a $3000 prize.
- A refresh of the judges of the Quill awards with input from the Diversity subcommittee to ensure an adequate spread of diversity of judges.
- Diversity subcommittee input into the calendar of MPC events and guests
In the works:
- Diversity and Inclusiveness training for the Melbourne Press Club board.
-The exploration of a fellowship or club initiative aimed at plugging holes in the pursuit of better diversity in Victorian media.
- A proposal to include affirmative action into the governance policies of the club to ensure a diversity of Board members by the next Annual General Meeting.
- Creating partnerships with multicultural and First Nations media organisations to collaborate on events and initiatives for our membership.
The club is committed to doing better and doing our part to help make change.
Investigative journalist & MPC President