Media Mentors Australia asks: Are you ready to be a head of department?

Media Mentors Australia has opened applications for management and leadership training for early career HODs or 2ICs ready to take the next step in their careers.

Funded via Screen Australia’s Production Crew Skills Training Fund, the program will see 20 people in each state selected to attend small-scale workshops – to be held in person and online – starting later this month.

Developed in consultation with HOD trainer Adelina Orfila, the program will cover management skills for teams in stressful situations, workplace dynamics and culture, performance management, addressing bullying, harassment and discrimination and how to take care of yourself and your team. 

“During the last few years, as production volumes have risen dramatically, so people have moved into HOD roles more quickly than in the past. Combined with the reality that few HODs have ever had management training means we have productions where leaders have either had little or no experience in the role and little exposure to good leadership,” says Media Mentors Australia co-founder Denise Eriksen.

“The impact of this is that productions are less safe culturally, emotionally and even physically, they’re less efficient, people are experiencing more stress which can lead to burnout and brain drain and producers are spending significant amounts of time counselling and supporting crew, rather than producing. 

“Gen Y and Z crew have significantly different expectations about their work environments that Gen X and Boomers and this is already having a negative impact on the number of younger people wanting to stay in crew roles. And for the industry, if we don’t have excellently trained technical crew, then production will be dramatically impacted.”

After the formal training, each attendee will have access to three sessions of one-on-one mentoring / coaching with Media Mentors, plus a monthly group session to create a connected network of future leaders and managers.  

To future proof the program and to ensure local relevance, MMA will train trainers in each of the states. They will be people with screen industry and management experience who are looking to develop their training capacity. 

“The need for more heads of departments in the industry is urgent, and we are thrilled to support this vital initiative from Media Mentors Australia that will skill-up the next cohort of leaders,” says Screen Australia head of industry development Ken Crouch.

“This targeted program will equip individuals with essential management skills for leadership roles. If you are a ready to step up and learn how to manage a team, I encourage you to seize this opportunity to learn new skills, gain valuable industry mentoring and contribute to a safer, more efficient industry.”

Selection for Stepping Up designed to reflect Australia’s diversity and target those with significant craft experience.


MELBOURNE: October 28

SYDNEY: November 4

PERTH: November 11

BRISBANE: March 9, 2024

DARWIN: March 16, 2024

Apply here.

  1. The problem isn’t about whether one is ready – it’s about whether the productions will allow women back into the HOD roles they formerly held.

    Women who have head HOD roles and ATL roles, but took a break for family, are not being respected for their experience, and are not being given jobs or a way back into the industry.

    Without “recent credits” they are being dismissed as “inexperienced” – but they don’t get offered any job if they are age-wise more senior than the person in the role above the postion they apply for. Ageism is very very real in the screen industries.

    Have been discussing with many women, who are having to dumb down their CVs, remove prior credits, lie about their age, and pretend they are new graduates to get any job at all.

    These are brilliant women who have not been given a path to renter the workforce, or who being treated like they became brain dead during their break.

    This is doubly problematic as all this wealth of experience and knowledge is being lost. That’s the experienced mentors that should be training up the next generation.
    It’s ironic that these women can be guest speakers – but go years without any paid work.

    This also goes for the ‘lost senior white men’ who are not longer offered work because they don’t tick a diversity box.

    All these diversity programs are designed for people under 35.

    One has to wonder what will happen to this generation when they reach middle age and break from their careers ? No doubt they will also be swept under the rug and forgotten.

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