A Queensland initiative, the Australian Women in Music Awards were launched in 2018 to address a pervasive gender imbalance in this country’s music industry. The major industry awards have shown it up all too clearly. In 2017 for example, just 30 per cent of ARIA nominated artists were female, and figures were only modestly better for the Australian Music Prize (33 per cent) and APRA Music Awards (45 per cent). Figures generally improved in 2018, although the J Awards saw female nominations slump from 55 per cent in 2017 to 40 per cent. Clearly there is still a lot of work to do.
That’s where the Australian Women in Music Awards (AWMA) come in: they give recognition where recognition is due and deliver the industry a forceful reminder of its failings. Back again this year, the AWMA’s now expanded 15 categories celebrate a wide range of industry achievement, including by First Nations and culturally diverse women. Over 40 finalists have been announced.
One of the categories, the Humanitarian Award, recognises “contributions to the field of music education, and/or assisting female artists working in remote and/or regional communities”. The three finalists for this award are Alison Hams, Dami Im and Lindy Morrison OAM; and we take a look at them here.
Country singer Alison Hams gained national attention in 2004 when she appeared live on Bert Newton’s TV show ‘Good Morning Australia’, and following that she went on to win the UK Songwriting Competition plus a clutch of awards in her native South Australia. Hams has also gained recognition for her wider work in teaching and philanthropy. She helped instigate the Whyalla Recording Scholarship that supports young musicians in the Whyalla region, and along with her husband, Mark Tempany, she runs the studio Stormfront Productions that tutors kids in performance, song-writing and recording. As a philanthropist, Hams has donated to public and private charities, and she is a noted advocate in the areas of medical research and the environment.
Korean born singer-songwriter Dami Im earned a special place in the public imagination in 2016 when she achieved Australia’s highest ever place in the Eurovision Song Contest, coming fourth. Her performance in that event’s Grand Final has collected an impressive 12 million views. Prior to that, in 2013, Im won the fifth season of The X Factor Australia. Meanwhile, Im has earned wide admiration for her advocacy in helping children in poverty. She is an active and passionate ambassador for Compassion Australia, a Christian-based organisation that sponsors children abroad – in fact she was only 17 when she sponsored her first child through this organisation.
Lindy Morrison OAM was drummer in one of Australia’s top bands in the 1980s, The Go-Betweens, but has much wider industry experience through her involvement in advocacy and political causes. She was Aboriginal Field Officer at Brisbane’s Aboriginal Legal Service from 1972, and has worked from 2000 at Support Act Ltd, a charitable body that does valuable work in reaching out to music artists and music workers in need. She continues to play a key role at the latter organisation and has recently assisted in a project by Music Australia to highlight the problem of alcohol and drug abuse amongst musicians – read more about this here. Morrison is also a campaigner for performers’ rights through her work with the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia.
Finals night is on 9 October at the Brisbane Powerhouse. A two-day series of forums and networking opportunities precedes this, at which ABC broadcaster and writer Eddie Ayres will be speaking. Look out for details on the Australian Women in Music Awards website.