KNOW YOUR WORTH (#3) – Dance Australia

Action plans

Low-income dancers may struggle to see the benefit of union membership. That could change with the extensive campaign the MEAA is undertaking under the banner “Know Your Worth”, a galvanizing hashtag spawned by the AFL controversy. It aims to change the playground of dancers.

“I think the 2020 AFL Grand Final became a moment in history when the dance community asked themselves ‘Does it have to be like this?'” the national director of ‘Equity, Michelle Rae.

On Valentine’s Day – with the slogan ‘Love the Arts Love Dance’ – MEAA has launched an industry social media survey open to all dancers, not just union members, and hopes to receive 1,000 responses within three months.

“The goal is to know what needs to be improved and changed, and what they are prepared to do. Those who came forward about the AFL were the dancers who saw that briefing and said ‘I’m not applying for this, that’s wrong’. And in fact, the dancers you need to hear are the ones who think that’s where they should be,” she observes.

“There are people who are told by dance teachers: ‘Oh, you should do this, they won’t be able to pay you but it will be better for you’. All schools are different, but it’s actually part of dance history, which obviously isn’t something you’re going to eradicate overnight. ”

Besides salary, the survey will cover working conditions and experiences such as harassment, bullying and body shaming. The result will be the basis for open-ended forums and a separate new union with its own website, Dancers Australia.

Scheduled for mid-May, Dancers Australia will “set the standards that professional dancers have come to expect and be a safe place for dancers to interact”, says Rae.

Membership will include professional indemnity insurance and industry support such as contract verification and representation for payment and personal security matters. A similar model has been successfully implemented with Musicians Australia, which has established a minimum payment of $250 for concerts supported by government funding.

What is certain is that there has never been a better opportunity for dancers to empower themselves. a rate tracker to share what employers pay.

To have your say, go here.


  • On February 14, the MEAA launched a nationwide survey of dance pay and conditions, including harassment, bullying and body shaming, to determine areas for change and improvement. It is open to all dancers, members or not.

The MEAA plans to

  • Building a digital community for discussion and education.
  • Create a group of dance activists who will meet regularly.
  • Establish public forums on topics raised by the survey.
  • Mid-May 2022 – Report launched based on survey results.
  • Mid-May 2022 – Dancers Australia Union launched to set professional standards, pay and behaviour, and provide a safe place to interact.

For approximately $7/week (TBC), Dancers Australia benefits will include:

  • Contract verification
  • Representation for compensation and personal security matters
  • Professional liability insurance

Learn more here.

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