Screen Australia announces Access Coordinator Training Program

Screen Australia has announced an Access Coordinator Training Progam.

Up to 12 people will have the opportunity to receive training as on-set access coordinators as part of a new initiative from Screen Australia.

To be delivered by UK inclusion consultancy Bridge06, the Access Coordinator Training Program is designed to support more people in the emerging below-the-line crew position, which consists of facilitating required adjustments and access provisions for Deaf/Disabled or Neurodivergent (DDN) talent in front of and behind the camera.

Applicants will participate in the immersive training program held in Sydney from Monday, October 30 to Friday, November 3, during which they will receive best practice training and standard working templates from world leading experts, complete an on-set practical training module and be supported for the following six months as they transition into working in the role.

The program is being launched in partnership with the New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC), Screen Canberra, Screen NSW, Screen Queensland, Screen Tasmania, Screen Territory, Screenwest, the South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC), VicScreen and the Australian Film Television Radio School (AFTRS).

Bridge06 founders Sara Johnson and Julie Fernandez will facilitate the course, along with writer/director Sofya Gollan, who will work with Screen Australia and the assessment panel to select the participants.

Following the workshop, Gollan will help establish an access coordinator peer group for the workshop participants.

Johnson and Fernandez, who carried out the first formalised training for the role in 2021, funded by British training body ScreenSkills, said they were pleased to be able to “bring the power and importance of the access coordinator role” to the Australian production sector.

“The access coordinator is a vital piece of the jigsaw to sustainable change for DDN talent and we are excited to continue our collaboration with Sofya Gollan in bringing the role to life in this important production community,” they said.

Earlier this year, Screen Australia released a follow up to its 2016 report Seeing Ourselves: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Australian TV Drama, which examined more than 3,000 main characters in 361 Australian TV dramas between 2016 and 2021. The data found that while representation of disabled people on TV has nearly doubled, up to 6.6 per cent of main characters from 3.6 per cent in 2016, nearly three quarters of all programs studied did not feature any disabled main characters.

Screen Australia head of industry development Ken Crouch said the access coordinator initiative was an “important step” in meeting the increasing need and demand for inclusive jobs and content that speaks to and represents all Australians.

“There is a long way to go in improving the representation of disability on our screens and behind our cameras, and I am excited about what this program means for people of the DDN community,” he said.

“I can’t wait to continue to work with the Australian screen industry on implementing this new program and moving towards a more inclusive ecosystem.”

Applications for the program close 5pm AEST Thursday, August 24.

People who identify as a person living with disability, from Deaf/Disabled and/or Neurodivergent (DDN) communities are encouraged to apply. Find out more information on eligibility here.