MEAA Launches Internship Guidelines To Halt Exploitation

MEAA Launches Internship Guidelines To Halt Exploitation

The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) has launched new guidelines for the media industry on what constitutes an ‘ethical internship’.

Emma Mackenzie
Posted by Emma Mackenzie

The guidelines, in collaboration with organisation Intern Australia, follow concern some in the industry are exploiting those who want to break into media by either not paying them or having longer than normal internship lengths.

“Internships have long been recognised as a valuable way for students and graduates to gain meaningful practical experience and training in their chosen career in media, communications and related fields – but they should never be a source of free labour,” said Katelin McInerney, MEAA media director.

“Far too often, unpaid work is used by media companies to take advantage of young graduates desperate for a foothold in the sector. This is not acceptable.

“Internships should provide practical hands-on industry experience in a closely supervised environment for a finite period of time – not an opportunity for an employer to replace paid workers with unpaid ones.”

The statement aligns with creative Dee Madigan’s viewpoint. In the latest issue of B&T – which should be hitting desks in the next few days – Madigan penned her rage at companies that exploit interns, arguing that because many can’t afford to work full-time unpaid, the companies only attract similar people from wealthy families who can afford it.

And it aids the lack of diversity within adland, she added.

The guidelines include hiring interns not as a replacement for low staff numbers, not lasting longer than one semester, must include work relevant to the industry and must be reasonable hours.

Download the guidelines here.

“The new guidelines prepared by MEAA are simple to follow and will help define what is ethical and lawful internship,” said McInerney.

“In addition to informing students of their rights, MEAA wants to work with employers to reach common agreement on how interns are employed in the media industry to prevent exploitation.”

Dimity Mannering, executive director of Interns Australia, added: “Empowering employers and interns with information is crucial to reversing the phenomenon of unfair internships.

“With no clear laws on internships in Australia, these guidelines achieve two goals – they support employers to provide fair and quality internships and they provide a reference point so that interns can evaluate their arrangements in the arts, media and entertainment.

“We are hopeful that through steps like the MEAA guidelines, we can make Australia the world leader on this issue.”

Lead image via Warner Bros.