Wednesday, March 6th, 2024 #MEAACrew #MEAAECS #MEAAEquity #MEAAMedia News
MEAA Online

MEAA has new national leadership following the election of Michael Balk as Federal President to replace Simon Collins, who has retired after almost a decade in the position.

Balk, a Queensland-based actor and producer, was declared elected unopposed following the completion of MEAA’s elections last month.

In another key change to the union’s leadership, Kimberley Wheeler has been elected unopposed as Federal President of the Musicians section to replace Cameron Brook, who did not seek re-election for a fifth term.

In total, 47 new delegates have been elected to MEAA’s 95-person Federal Council, the union’s governing body.

Kate Ferguson, previously Western Australia Branch Media President, has joined the Media section leadership team as one of two Vice-Presidents along with Erin Delahunty and Federal President Karen Percy, who were both re-elected for a second term.

There are two new Equity section federal Vice-Presidents in Nadine Garner and Joti Gore, both from Victoria, with Jason Klarwein elected Federal President for a third term.

Imogen Titmarsh from Victoria and Sophie Parker from NSW have been elected Vice-Presidents of the Entertainment, Crew and Sport section.

New Federal President Michael Balk has worked on stage and screen in Australia and overseas, and has been a MEAA member for more than 20 years.

He has been a member of the Equity National Performers Committee for the past decade, and has served at different times as the Queensland Branch Equity President and the state’s representative on the MEAA Board.

“I’ve been a member of Equity since beginning my performing career more than two decades ago and leading our combined MEAA union is an honour,” Balk said.

“While the path ahead may hold challenges, I’m confident that with renewed strategy and our immense collective power, we will deliver real outcomes and change for our members.”

MEAA’s section Federal Presidents (from left): Jason Klarwein (Equity), Karen Percy (Media), Fiona Donovan (ECS), Kimberley Wheeler (Musicians).

Simon Collins (pictured below) was first elected MEAA Federal President in 2015. As a viola player with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, he was a founding member of the Symphony Orchestra Musician Association in the mid-1990s, and served for two decades on the MEAA federal management committee before he became Federal President.

“The Board and federal councillors thank Simon Collins for his leadership over the last decade,” Balk said.

“Simon’s contribution to our union has helped bring us to this point, and while the work must continue, MEAA’s resilience and renewed strength will be part of his ongoing impact.”

Collins said he was thrilled that Balk had stepped up as the new leader of MEAA.

“Over two terms as a member of the MEAA Board and also its Finance Sub-Committee, Michael has demonstrated a range of skills setting him up perfectly as our new Federal President,” he said.

“His commitment to the whole union and to the welfare of all our members has been plain to see.

“Thank you to all the candidates in the election and congratulations to all our newly elected delegates and officers.

“This is the time to unite and be union  behind your new President.”

New Musicians Federal President Kimberley Wheeler has been a driving force behind the establishment of Musicians Australia since 2018.

A freelance musician and songwriter, screen composer and festival organiser, she wants to see real change that will lead to better, safer, and fairly paid gigs and engagements for all freelancers and employed artists and techs.

Wheeler will be joined on the MEAA Board by Mitchell Nissen in the new position of Musicians Vice-President, which has been created following significant growth of the section’s membership over the past few years.

There are 19 new Federal Council delegates from the Media section, 11 from Equity, 11 from ECS and six from the Musicians section.

Elections were held between January 22 and February 19 for 50 contested Federal Council positions along with eight National Stunt Committee positions.

Under MEAA’s rules, the Federal Council is the ultimate decision-making body for the union. It meets every two years.

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 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 and vice-presidents of each section – who help form the 16-person MEAA Board that oversees the administration of MEAA between Federal Council meetings.

MEAA welcomes all the new federal councillors and office-holders and thanks the outgoing representatives for their service and hard work.