Written by Julius Grafton CX magazine

From January 1st, everyone is now under an award. Technicians, floor crew, musicians, strippers. Everyone.

Suddenly everyone working behind the scenes in entertainment is covered by a national minimum award wage system. The Fair Work Act provided simplified awards from January 1st 2010 to all workers including those not unionised.

This somewhat radical change affects all industries, and has seen 1,700 federal and state awards condensed into around 120 ‘modern awards’. For those covered by an enterprise agreement or contract, then life remains the same – provided they are not worse off under the new award. So the new award really is the bottom pay, and everyone will quickly come to know what they should get.

The devil is in the detail. If you are not currently covered by either an award or an enterprise agreement, then your minimum rates of pay are affected from January 1st.

But if you are already working under an award, or have a registered entertprise agreement then the new deal will not provide any pay difference until the payday after July 1st, and it phases the differences over five years. This ‘transitional phasing’ is designed to soften the blow where the new award is greater than the old, or where the new award is actually LESS than the old one.

One of the headline features of all the modern awards (they are all laid out in a similar way) are that casuals will be paid 25% more than the full time hourly rate. Penalty rates are back; time and a half for the first 2 hours, double time thereafter and all day on Sundays. The regular week is deemed as 38 hours and if you’re a factory based sound and lighting worker you can work longer hours until you have worked 152 hours over 28 days. Then you get either time off in lieu (on a one hour worked, one hour off basis) or overtime is paid.

For production and support staff, the Live Performance Award 2010 says casuals must be paid at a rate that is the weekly wage divided by 38 plus 25%, for each hour worked with a minimum call of 3 hours.

Touring crew get 17.5% extra across the board instead of overtime, and living allowance

But the full rates are phased in over five years from July 1st, so where an existing rate is less than the new award, it will need to rise in five equal annual amounts to fully match the new award on July 1st 2014.

There are some twists and turns in the pay levels. Level 1 is a ‘trainee’ undergoing a six week induction. Level 2 is a stage hand, but not involved in technical work.

Level 3 is ‘unqualified sound or lighting work’ while Level 4 is a sound or lighting technician, able to work with minimal supervision.

At Level 5 you hold a trade certificate (Cert 3 or Cert 4) which qualifies you to work as a sound or lighting technician in theatre, or as an experienced sound and lighting technician elsewhere.

Level 6 requires you demonstrate some specialist skills obtained through experience or training. It is typified as a board operator, or as an experienced technician, theatre.

Level 7 has no production staff, it is for performers only. Note that each level has different groups of employees within, example is that at Level 8 are Company Dancer Level 2, and Production and Support staff Level 7 with Production and Support staff (Theatre) Level 6. This is ultra confusing, and has the effect that you could be paid at Level 6 or Level 7 for doing the same job.

Likewise level 9 is again limited to performers (Company Dancer Level 3) and when you get to Level 10 it includes a Level 8 production person with a Diploma or Degree and experience, typically a stage manager. Under this award, you can be a Level 8 tech but get paid a Level 10 wage.

Levels 11 and 12 look after opera singers, upper echelon musicians and principals, while Level 13 is where a Technical manager is paid. 14 and 15 are for the stars on stage.

If the 79 pages of the Live Performance Award 2010 make your eyes glaze over, consider the monster which is the Broadcasting and Recorded Entertainment Award 2010. It covers everyone in film, TV and recorded anything’s, and runs to 156 pages.

This report focuses on live performance crew. Film and TV crew are now paid in a similar manner, and guess what – the catering truck will be abolished sometime in the future under the transitional agreements. There will still be catering at arena concerts and on some film shoots where the caliber of the crew and cast warrant this.

But for the rest of us, we will not see roadie rolls at 10am or nice afternoon tea and cakes anywhere near as often.


Until 2010, employers could negotiate a deal and most have. So long as the deal doesn’t dip under the new award, it is a good deal. If the current deal is less than the award, then from July 1 it will ‘transition’.

From where we sit, the new award is really a rock bottom proposition. No one we know works for these rates, other than trainees.

This will hit small production firms from today, since they usually have no formal agreements in place. Ignorance is no defense either, all it takes is a disgruntled worker to wander off to join a union down the track, and the whole award claim will be made against the employer for all work to date. This has happened to people we know under the old system.

There is no way out.



A Trainee is covered under the National Training Wage, which is a handsome $312 per week for a year 12 leaver. They are bound by a formal traineeship with a college – or under other arrangements formally structured through a New Apprenticeship Centre. The regular Certificate III traineeship runs for 12 months.

Not widely known: if the trainee has already done a Certificate III at school they are not eligible for a traineeship! Entertainment was the fastest growing VET course at high schools in 2009, so this ridiculous situation is fact becoming a handbrake to traineeships.

Informal or company structured traineeships outside the above mean the worker is initially at Pay level 1, but only for 6 weeks. Pay level 2 is for a ‘stage hand’, if technical work is involved they are Level 3. It isn’t possible to deem someone a ‘trainee’ and pay them the training wage unless they are a real trainee, signed on to a formal traineeship under the New Apprenticeship scheme.

The pay gap is large: a formal ‘trainee’ is on $8.21 an hour, a Level 3 tech $16.45 (permanent) or $20.56 (casual).


At Level 3, you get $625.15 per week or $20.56 per hour if casual. You can be ‘part time’ or ‘seasonal – hired by the week’ to overcome the 25% casual loading.Note: there are NO reduced rates for young workers: everyone is paid according to ‘Level’. The only reductions come under the National Training Wage.


Level 4 has two strata’s, regular workers get $637.60 per week, but those lucky enough to be in Theatre get $658.45.

Most experienced technical workers will be Level 6, on $679.30 or $724.37 (theatre).


Sorry, ‘Crewing Service’ staff. You get the casual rate in Level 2 or higher, then for every hour or part after 11pm you get 52.5% loading in lieu of penalty rates.


After midnight, $13.95 or a meal for each meal break.


If the show is televised or filmed, everyone gets 15.9% extra. But not if it’s for a TV advert or education purposes.


Level 1, Production and Support Staff Level 1 (Induction/ Training) $543.90

Level 2 Production and Support Staff Level 2 $593.90

Level 3 Production and Support Staff Level 3 $625.15

Level 4 Production and Support Staff Level 4 $637.60

Level 5 Production and Support Staff Level 5, Production & Support Staff Level 4 (Theatre) $658.45

Level 6 Production and Support Staff Level 6, Production & Support Staff Level 5 (Theatre) $679.30

Level 7 Company Dancer Level 1, Performer Category 1 Grade 1 $698.20

Level 8 Company Dancer Level 2, Production and Support Staff Level 7, Production & Support Staff Level 6 (Theatre) $724.37

Level 9 Musician, Performer Category 1 Grade 2, Performer Category 2 $734.90

Level 10 Company Dancer Level 3, Production and Support Staff Level 8 $750.35

Level 11 Company Dancer Level 4, Musician required to accompany artists, Opera Principal $774.90

Level 12 Company Dancer Level 5 $801.90

Level 13 Company Dancer Level 6, Technical Manager $831.90

Level 14 Company Dancer Level 7, Principal Musician, Vocalist $867.60

Level 15 Conductor-Leader $943.40


DISCLAIMER: This article is informative but OF COURSE you must read the award. In fact, ALL employers MUST have a copy of the Award pinned up somewhere for everyone to read. Not just this, all awards that apply! Office workers may be under the Clerks Private Sector 2010 award.


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