• Kara Oakes

Safe and Sound

Updated: Aug 24, 2021

Cutting through the red tape of child employment legislation.

While joining an agency and seeing your child secure their first job can be a very exciting time, there is more to it than just turning up to set and getting the job done. Agents and clients alike go through a large amount of red tape to ensure that your child is safe on set.

Over the past decade, rules and regulations surrounding children working in the entertainment industry have become more regulated. This has included stricter rules surrounding areas such as limits on work hours per day, travel times to and from locations being included in total hours in their workday, and now requiring written permission from principals of school-aged children.

Here in Australia, talent agents work closely with clients to protect children from harm and provide safe and healthy working environments in the entertainment industry.

An important part of the industry, which is rarely touched on, is the legislation surrounding child employment and working regulations. Standards compliance, such as making sure that children reside within 2 hours of the job site, is often monitored by talent agents, however, clients are then tasked with organising permits, consent forms, and working with children checks.

There are government organisations that have taken the responsibility of ensuring that any person wanting to employ children adheres to strict guidelines and protocols. These organisations differ state to state but all strive to create safe working environments for children.

Business Victoria and the Office of the Children’s Guardian in New South Wales are the main government agencies that clients will deal with. While they both offer similar services, they do differ from each other. A comparison of the two shows that while both require anyone wanting to employ children to apply for permits, only the Office of the Children’s Guardian will charge you for doing so.

In Victoria, a client can receive a child employment permit within 2 business days and free of charge, whereas in New South Wales, an ‘employer's authority’ must be applied for at least seven days prior and will cost the client upwards of $100 for a once-off or in excess of $2000 for a yearly permit.

This can force clients to cancel jobs entirely at the last minute due to permits not coming through in time, especially in NSW where the waiting period for a permit is longer. This is an unfortunate situation for everyone, especially the talent!

However, a yearly permit allows clients to not have to apply for a permit for every production and instead submit the talents information throughout the year as the jobs occur, without the need for a 7-day waiting period. Many large brands who may do 100s of shoots a year in NSW, often use this option to limit any time constraints.

Clients who work regularly with children will find these issues to be mostly avoidable by working effectively with all parties involved, allowing ample time for permit processing, and factoring the extra time and costs into their original budget.

While agents and clients alike would like to provide the best working conditions for talent, they also need to be informed on the necessary regulations they need to meet and effectively plan their shoots so that these regulations do not impact their outcomes as a result. All rules that are in place, are only there to keep child talent within the entertainment industry safe.


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