Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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Open Book publishing internship to launch in 2021

A new paid internship aimed at increasing cultural diversity in the Australian publishing workforce will launch in 2021 with funding support from the Australia Council and the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund.

The Open Book Australian publishing internship aims to create practical and sustainable pathways towards long-term careers for aspiring publishing professionals. The 2021 pilot program will offer two six-month paid placements, one based in Sydney and one based in Melbourne. The program intends to expand to other Australian cities in future years, with a view to increasing access to regional and remote applications outside these traditional publishing centres.

Successful applicants will receive an introduction to the industry by working at a rotating selection of publishing houses across commercial, independent, and educational presses, as well as literary agencies and writers’ festivals, with 22 organisations across the industry having already expressed support for the program. Applicants will not need to demonstrate proof of a Higher School Certificate equivalent or university degree, nor will they need previous experience in the book industry.

In 2019, the Diversity Arts Australia Shifting the Balance report found that just 14% of leaders in the literature and publishing sector identified as from a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse background, while a 2018 Books+Publishing industry survey revealed only 6% of employees identified as a person of colour, with only one respondent from a First Nations background.

According to a statement from the internship’s organisers, ‘These statistics highlight an entrenched structural bias within the Australian publishing industry: it is an industry with systemic, economic, geographic, educational and cultural barriers to entry. This results in an industry that is skewed towards a white, middle-class demographic in almost every way from the aspiring professionals that can access the industry to the creators of the work that gets published.’

Literary agent and chair of the Open Book advisory board Grace Heifetz said: ‘The diversification of our industry is long overdue and it is time we prioritise it. From the involvement of multinationals to indie presses to the Australian Publishers Association, this joint initiative shows a willingness to learn, to act and to come together as a sector to effect change. While just one step, it is our intent that the Open Book internship will play a small, but important, part in shifting the cultural landscape of Australian publishing.’

Formal expressions of interest for host organisations along with full program details and a call for intern applications will be announced in early 2021.


Category: Local news