MEAA has a long and proud history of improving the working lives of creative professionals and the industries in which they work.
Created in 1992 through the merging of the long-established unions covering actors, journalists and entertainment industry employees, MEAA is an amalgamation of: Actors Equity (AE, founded 1939), the Australian Journalists Association (AJA, founded 1910) and the Australian Theatrical & Amusement Employees Association (ATAEA, founded 1915).
Since that amalgamation, the Symphony Orchestra Musicians Association (SOMA, founded 1996) & the NSW Artworkers Union have joined MEAA. A Professional Sports Branch has been created and the Screen Technicians Association of Australia (STAA) reconstituted itself under the MEAA banner. MEAA also established Musicians’ Associations in NSW and WA.
MEAA is run by members, for members
MEAA’s key decision-making body is the Federal Council – elected members representing their colleagues across the country. The Federal Council’s members also form the industry-specific MEAA section committees that communicate regularly to address issues, endorse strategies and actions, and share knowledge. MEAA members also elect the key office holders – the presidents of each section – who help form the MEAA Board that oversees the administration of MEAA. Each year MEAA issues a comprehensive annual report and financial statement on MEAA’s activities.
A representative structure
MEAA is structured on both sectional (industry/professional) and branch (geographical) lines. Member representatives are elected to our governing bodies as representatives of sections and branches as well as on a national basis to federal offices. The governing bodies are:
• Federal Council
• The MEAA Board
• National Section Committees
• Branch councils
Most of our work is done within the four major sections of the union – Media, Equity, and ECS (Entertainment, Crew & Sport) and musicians.
Federal Council is made up of the representatives from across the country and across every section of the union who are elected by MEAA members every two years.
The MEAA Board is made up of the federal president (Simon Collins) and 14 other senior activists who work in our industries.
National Section Committees have come to play the central role in engaging active members in governance of the union. This is where members come together to make the decisions on matters that actually affect them. Funding is provided for at least one annual face-to-face meeting of each section committee.
Media – National Media Section Committee.
Equity – National Performers Committee.
Entertainment, Crew and Sport – ECS National Committee.
Musicians – Member participation in leadership is through ECS and for symphony orchestra members, through SOMA Executive.
In each state where there are more than 100 members of a section, the members in that state elect a president of the section. If there are more than 500 members, they also elect a vice-president. This ensures that our state or territory branches are represented fairly in the governance of the section. These officers are the representative of their section in their state and are members of Federal Council and the relevant national section committee.
MEAA is affiliated internationally to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ); the International Federation of Actors (FIA); the International Federation of Musicians (FIM); the global union representing workers in the media, entertainment, arts and sports sectors (UNI-MEI); the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) and the International News Safety Institute (INSI).
In Australia, MEAA is a member of the Australian Press Council, the Australian Copyright Council, and the Australia’s Right To Know media industry lobbying group.
MEAA (except the MEAA Media section) is affiliated with the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (NZCTU).
MEAA (except the MEAA Media section in Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Victoria) is affiliated with all state and territory Labour Councils.
MEAA (except the MEAA Media section and the MEAA SOMA section) is affiliated with the Australian Labor Party (ALP) in New South Wales and South Australia.
MEAA is also a member of Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA.