Sonia Mehrmand. 

The Screen Diversity and Inclusion Network (SDIN) has announced the nominees for the inaugural SDIN Award, with the winner to be announced at Screen Forever.

The annual award has been created to honour Australian producers and projects which have made a significant contribution to diversity and inclusion, either on or off screen, within the Australian screen industry.

All SDIN member organisations – which include the guilds, federal and state screen agencies, the broadcasters and other business associations, as well as MediaRING, FreeTV and AFTRS – nominated up to three entries each to create a long list of candidates. The final six nominees were then whittled down by a panel of judges including Media Diversity Australia’s Marc Fennell, the chair of the MEAA’s Diversity Committee Bali Padda, Indigenous practitioner Darlene Johnson and director and disability advocate Fiona Tuomy.

The nominees are:

  • Neighbours’ first same-sex wedding, by Fremantle Media for Channel Eleven, now 10 Peach
  • Little J and Big Cuz, by Ned Lander Media for NITV
  • First Day by Epic Films for ABC Me
  • Homecoming Queens by Generator Pictures for SBS On Demand
  • Matchbox Pictures, with its 2018 slate including Safe Harbour and Mustangs FC.
  • Guesswork, with its 2018 slate including Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette and Corey White’s Roadmap to Paradise.

SDIN has also made a Special Commendation to Sea Dog International for its bespoke mentorship and skills development program for Jaimen Hudson who is a regionally based drone operator with acquired quadriplegia.

SDIN Chair Courtney Gibson congratulated the six nominees, all of whom are being recognised for an exemplary approach to diversity and inclusion on screen and/or in screen production.

In relation to the special commendation Gibson said: “The mentorship designed by Sea Dog and Jaimen Hudson, and funded by SDIN member Screenwest, is an example of how a bespoke approach to creating an opportunity for a single practitioner with disability changes not only the life of that practitioner, but also enables audiences, networks and work environments to open up to working with practitioners with disability more broadly, by shifting perceptions and changing the culture.”

SDIN also announced today that Sonia Mehrmand has been appointed as SDIN co-ordinator. Mehrmand was previously co-ordinator for The Screen Diversity Showcase for the Equity Foundation, and has also served as admin and communications officer for Diversity Arts Australia. She is also a coordinator for social impact organisations Carnival of the Bold and Digital Storytellers.

“I’m enthusiastic about taking on this new role at SDIN. As someone who identifies as CALD, I’m committed to diversity in all its forms. I recognise the importance of solidarity and intersectionality, and I’m dedicated to working across not only cultural and linguistic diversity but also First Nations, disability, socioeconomic, age, sexuality and gender. I am looking forward now to working with the sector in a new capacity – upholding and carrying out the SDIN charter,” she said.

Gibson said: “Sonia’s experience, relationships and commitment to realising a more diverse screen sector in Australia makes her a perfect fit in this support role to the SDIN membership, and we’re very happy to have her on board.”

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