Riding towards inclusion in the film industry: Quotas and special measures under Australian discrimination law

Monica Brierley-Hay, Liam Elphick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Diversity has long been a problem in the film industry, whether for actors, directors, or crew members. Various groups are under-represented in film, particularly women, persons with a disability, LGBTI+ persons, and those from diverse racial, cultural and linguistic backgrounds. To address this, Academy Award winner Frances McDormand used her 2018 Oscars acceptance speech to draw attention to inclusion riders. An inclusion rider is a clause that actors can incorporate into their contracts with film companies to require the film company to hire a more diverse range of candidates both on- and off-screen in a way that reflects the demography of a film’s setting. Various actors and film companies have since flagged their plans to implement inclusion riders, yet their lawfulness remains largely unexamined. We consider how Australian discrimination law would apply to inclusion riders, focusing particularly on the ‘special measures’ provisions found in the four federal discrimination Acts. These provisions exempt otherwise unlawful discriminatory acts where they seek to further the opportunities of historically disadvantaged groups, thereby allowing for the use of quotas and other positive action in certain circumstances. We argue that inclusion riders would likely be lawful under these provisions, but that the inconsistency and complexity of special measures provisions in Australia renders further reform necessary in order to encourage and empower actors and film companies to take up inclusion riders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-175
Number of pages33
JournalMedia and Arts Law Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

Cite this