27 September 2019

Jenna Owen on how modelling agencies are using a loophole to avoid child labour regulations: “What these agencies are less likely to talk about is what every one of the models I spoke to also reported: how unprotected models are in their workplace and how deeply concerning that is, because when you are a model you understand one very clear thing about the modelling industry — that it is made up largely of children. The ideal age to start modelling is 15. If you sign with a major agency at this age you will start on their model books in a section called ‘In Development’, which is as close as modelling will get to admitting you are a child. In this time, you will still go to shoots, castings and catwalks, but you are rarely paid because you are not yet ‘developed’ enough. You are also not protected by child safety laws in this country. This is because agencies do not employ these girls from as young as 14, they independently contract them; a loophole under the status quo. When children are employed, like in most other industries, certain standards are necessitated by state law. In New South Wales, any employer who wants to work with children must be authorised by the NSW Children’s Guardian to do so. All authorised employers’ names are published on their website weekly. There are no modelling agencies on the list.”