Content Initiatives

Robbie Hood with his trusty mates Georgia Blue and Little Johnny Source: SBS

Across SBS and NITV, there are a range of career pathway initiatives and content opportunities for creatives from under-represented backgrounds, across Unscripted and Scripted. They are part of SBS’s commitment and investment in ensuring everyone has a pathway in our sector, improving representation on and off screen, and seeing more stories on our screens reflecting and exploring the diversity of contemporary Australia. SBS shares information about these opportunities and how to apply on the SBS website, here, and opportunities are also promoted through our state and territory funding agency partners. To stay up to date, keep checking this page, read SBS media releases and sign up to your local screen agency’s mailing list. If you have any questions, please email diversity@sbs.com.au.

Diversity Talent Escalator

The SBS Diversity Talent Escalator (‘DTE’) is a national initiative focused on creating opportunities for creatives from under-represented communities within the television production sector. The DTE is a partnership between SBS and each of Australia’s screen agencies, Film Victoria, Screen NSW, Screen Queensland, Screen Territory, Screenwest, South Australian Film Corporation, Screen Canberra and the Tasmanian Government through Screen Tasmania.   

The national initiative creates career development opportunities for emerging and mid-level screen practitioners from backgrounds under-represented within the Australian screen industry.  

The DTE provides opportunities for participants to work with production companies of SBS commissioned programs, in roles that are a step up from their existing level of experience.    

Since 2017, SBS has supported more than 30 DTE positions including Associate Producer, Production Manager, Assistant Editor, Director’s Attachment and other roles.   
   
DTE participants have worked on a wide variety of programs across the documentary, factual, food, entertainment, comedy/drama and drama slates. Most recently with the studio-based Mastermind, other examples include factual series Lost For Words, Come Fly with Me and scripted shows Hungry Ghosts, New Gold Mountain, and The Tailings.  

SBS and the state and territory agencies collaborate with production companies working on SBS commissioned programs, to secure flexible, on-the-job, paid learning and immersion opportunities. 

DTE roles become available on a rolling basis throughout the year on various programs. To submit an expression of interest, please contact diversity@sbs.com.au

SBS UNSCRIPTED

Learn more about initiatives and opportunities at SBS in documentaries, food, and entertainment. 


AFTRS Graduate Program 

SBS is a host organisation in the AFTRS Graduate Programs a 13-week internship opportunity for a third year AFTRS student from an under-represented background. In 2020/21, our SBS AFTRS intern worked on two programs shot in the SBS studios -The Cook Up with Adam Liaw and Mastermind – and the SBS Voices dating program The Swiping Game.  

For more information read here.  

Createability Internship Program 

SBS is a host organisation in the Createability Internship Program for people with disability. This program is a partnership between Create NSW and Accessible Arts and a range of NSW based arts/culture/screen organisations, with the purpose of developing more pathways for people with disability to have successful careers in these areas.  

In 2022, SBS is hosting a Createability intern to work as a Diversity and Inclusion Research Assistant in the TV and Online Content Division. For more information read here

Screen Producers Australia Practitioner Program (Early Career)  

In 2022, SBS is sponsoring six places for early career producers from under-represented background to participate in the year-long Screen Producers Australia Practitioner Program (Early Career). The package includes 12 months of SPA Associate Producer membership, access to masterclasses, networking and training and free access to the Screen Forever Conference in March 2022, Gener8 and more inclusions.  


AIDC Leading Lights  

SBS supports the Australian International Documentary Conference (AIDC) Leading Lights Program for practitioners from under-represented backgrounds.  

Leading Lights is AIDC’s philanthropic funding program dedicated to creating a more inclusive and diverse screen industry. Designed to enable early career, Indigenous, and/or Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) nonfiction practitioners to attend AIDC for the first time, the program assists industry newcomers to establish themselves as part of Australia’s screen community. 

Since the launch of Leading Lights in 2018, 148 emerging and diverse screen creatives have been able to attend AIDC for the first time and participate in the Leading Lights professional development program. In 2022, SBS sponsored five positions in the program. For more information read here.  

Curious Australia 

In June 2021, SBS and NITV announced the launch of Curious Australia, a new, nationwide initiative seeking submissions for standalone, half-hour documentaries reflecting the diversity of people and experiences of contemporary Australia in an innovative way.  

In partnership with Screen Australia, and state and territory agencies Film Victoria, Screen NSW, Screen Queensland, Screen Tasmania, Screen Territory, Screenwest and the South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC), Curious Australia supports screen practitioners from under-represented backgrounds in the sector to bring their diverse stories to Australian screens. Successful documentaries will be commissioned for SBS platforms, including SBS VICELAND, NITV, and SBS On Demand. 
 
Curious Australia is targeted at mid-career practitioners working on lower-budget, exciting and risk-taking projects. Criteria for Curious Australia applications includes two key creative roles on a project being held by people from an under-represented background, including those identifying as First Nations Australians; women, those with diverse age backgrounds; people from cultural and linguistically diverse backgrounds; people living with disability; people of diverse sexuality and gender identities including LGBTQIA+; people from under-represented locations (including regional and remote areas); and people from diverse socio-economic backgrounds.  

In January 2022, SBS and NITV announced a collection of seven standalone half-hour documentaries commissioned through the initiative. Read the announcement here. 

 

SBS Voices Writers' Initiatives and Partnerships  

SBS Voices is an online platform which provides a voice for, and champions, emerging writers from diverse backgrounds in Australia, particularly women. It has a mission of raising the voices of marginalised Australians with a focus on first person, memoir-style content and video, and has published more than 100 new writers, sharing their unique stories and perspectives with all Australians.   
 
SBS Voices has a successful ongoing partnership with Sweatshop, a diverse writers’ collective in western Sydney, which has been running since 2018, showcasing stories from diverse perspective. It also has a partnership with Western Sydney University for emerging writers.   
 
SBS Voices has developed an Asian-Australian Emerging Writers project edited by Candice Chung, a Muslim women writers’ series edited by Sarah Malik, a Filipino writers’ project, and an Indigenous writers’ project, amongst other curated collections. 
 
Would you like to write for SBS Voices? Send an email to voices@sbs.com.au

 

SBS Emerging Writers’ Competition 

Run by SBS Voices, the SBS Emerging Writers’ Competition was created to support the discovery and development of emerging talent. It invites aspiring writers from diverse backgrounds to share stories that reflect the diversity of contemporary Australia, in the form of a first-person memoir.  

Writers from all over the country responded and SBS received more than 2,000 entries in the inaugural competition in 2020, with Alana Hicks announced as the winner, and runners up also receiving prizes. 

In 2021, Cat Yen was announced as the winner, with runners up and highly commended entries also celebrated. 
 
Read more here and stay tuned for the launch of the 2022 SBS Emerging Writers’ Competition. 

 

SBS SCRIPTED  

Learn more about initiatives and opportunities at SBS Scripted in drama, comedy/drama and short form series. 

Emerging Writers' Incubator

The Emerging Writers’ Incubator is a nationwide initiative to support the development of diverse fiction writing talent in the Australian screen sector. 

A three-year partnership, launched in 2021, with Screen Australia and state and territory agencies, with the assistance of the Australian Writers’ Guild, the Emerging Writers’ Incubator provides significant work experience in drama production for 18 emerging screenwriters from backgrounds and with lived experiences currently underrepresented in the sector.  

Each year for three years, six successful candidates will be employed (full time) for 12 months in production companies around the country acclaimed for drama production. During their placement, they will develop ideas into treatments, work across a production company’s fiction slate of programming, participate in writers’ rooms, and work closely with development producers and others to increase their knowledge and further develop their skills. 

In September 2021, SBS announced six screenwriting creatives from across Australia who were selected as the inaugural participants in the Emerging Writers’ Incubator.  

Applications for the Emerging Writers' Incubator for 2022 opened on 26 April, and close 27 May. Applications are managed by participating screen agencies. More information is available here. 

 

Digital Originals

The Digital Originals initiative is a partnership with Screen Australia, SBS and NITV, providing opportunities and support screen creatives from backgrounds under-represented in the sector. This includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, people living with a disability, women, those who identify as LGBTQIA+ and gender diverse, and people living in rural and remote areas.   
 
The initiative ultimately aims to bring more diverse stories to our screens, creating bold new drama projects, to premiere on SBS On Demand, with themes that resonate with all Australians. Digital Originals is an evolution of SBS’s Short-Form Content Initiative which funded original projects including the critically acclaimed Homecoming Queens, and Robbie Hood. 

In 2019, ten teams were selected to develop short-form scripted projects through mentoring workshops, with three of those online projects sharing in $65,000 of development funds. 

In 2020, SBS premiered Digital Originals project The Tailings on SBS On Demand. The 6 x 10 minute murder mystery series, set against the fragile and beautiful landscapes of the remote west coast of Tasmania, celebrates the tenacity and pride of regional communities and provides an intimate portrayal of the human experience with grief, guilt and loss. 

In late 2020, SBS announced it would be extending its Digital Originals partnership with Screen Australia for another three years.  

Heartfelt drama comedy series, Iggy & Ace, exploring friendship, addiction and recovery through a queer lens, was the next Digital Originals project to receive production funding, and premiered on SBS On Demand in September 2021.

In August 2021, SBS and Screen Australia announced production funding for A Beginner’s Guide to Grief, the next successful project from the Digital Originals initiative, in addition to six new projects chosen for further development from the shortlist of projects submitted in 2020.  

Applications for the third Digital Originals initiative (announced in January 2022) closed in February 2022.   

Read the guidelines here and learn more about the partnership here

R.I.D.E Feature Film Fund

SBS, Screen Queensland and Madman, together with The Post Lounge and Media Super, launched the R.I.D.E (Respect, Inclusion, Diversity, Equality) Feature Film Fund in June 2019. A career-making opportunity for Queensland talent from under-represented backgrounds, it is Australia’s largest feature film fund partnership.   
 
This major initiative guarantees a significant production budget of $1.5 million for one feature film to be created each year, for the next three years. 
 
RIDE is now a rolling fund that will accept applications at any time. Projects selected will move into further intensive development and join the RIDE Slate, from which the partners aim to select a film for production each year. 
 
Read the R.I.D.E guidelines for more information on how to prepare a pitch. 

ORIGINATE  

ORIGINATE is a dynamic development and production program designed to support and amplify feature film Writers and Writer/Directors from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds, from start to finish. 

Devised in conjunction with internationally acclaimed story developer and facilitator Angeli Macfarlane, the three-stage development program will elevate projects from early-stage concept to low budget production-ready screenplays. After this intensive development period, one project will have the opportunity to have their film financed in conjunction with Film Victoria, SBS, Arenamedia and other partners.  

This program is open to people who come from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, are First Peoples of Australia, are living with disability, LGBTQIA+ or are trans and/or gender diverse.   

Read the ORIGINATE Guidelines for more information here.  

 

NITV  

Learn more about career pathway initiatives at National Indigenous Television (NITV).  

Centralised Documentary Australia Foundation Indigenous Fellowship 

In 2020, NITV launched the Centralised Documentary Australia Foundation’s Indigenous Fellowship in partnership with the Documentary Australia Foundation (DAF), Screen Territory, the South Australian Film Commission (SAFC), and the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS).  
 
As part of the broader Centralised initiative, of which NITV is a partner, this Fellowship will run over three years, supporting the professional development of Indigenous documentary filmmakers who are resident in the Northern Territory or South Australia, providing up to $30,000 to a selected fellow each year with a bespoke program designed to meet their specific needs. 
 
Tamara Whyte from Nhulunbuy in the Northern Territory was selected as the Inaugural Fellow in 2020 for her documentary project, Base 8, exploring the use of mathematics in Indigenous Culture. For more information click here

South Australian First Nations filmmaker Ngarrindjeri man, Josh Trevorrow, was awarded the Fellowship for 2021. Josh receives a grant for professional development and mentoring, and development of his documentary project Kondoli- Ngarrindjeri whale project (working title), as well as support to attend training opportunities at AFTRS. For more information click here.  

No Ordinary Black - NITV short film initiative (scripted) 

No Ordinary Black is a short film initiative from NITV, inviting emerging First Nations filmmakers to submit short story ideas for projects, with a maximum of two characters and up to two locations. 
 
A partnership with Screen Australia’s Indigenous Department, Screen NSW, Film Victoria, Screen Territory, South Australian Film Corporation and Screenwest, No Ordinary Black is designed to bring to the screen thought-provoking First Nation stories, authored and crafted by First Nations people. 
 
Stories in First Nations languages are encouraged, and projects need to have First Nations people in key creative roles of writer, director and producer. Up to ten projects are selected for development funding and attendance at a four-day workshop. Following the workshop, up to six projects will be selected for production funding. The selected teams will be provided with opportunities to develop and produce a short film. For more information click here