Freelance Affairs

The freelance affairs portfolio, in the hands of Freelance Officer Mary-Jo O'Rourke and subcommittee members Anne Gugger and Alison Strumberger, has been busy over the past 12 months. There have been general enquiries, discussions about quoting and rates, the Freelance Register and freelance lunches to attend to, as well as general committee traffic.

Freelance Register

My first main task was the annual update of the Freelance Register, which is now online only. I decided to allow new applications and renewals at any time, so after a busy period around November-December, there has been a steady stream of applications. There are currently around 140 entries. I also added a disclaimer to the front page of the Register.

My subcommittee member Anne Gugger has also been working on an update to the Register. We plan to migrate it across to the MEMNET member portal later this year and, in the process, make improvements to the search function. We want better searchability and a fixed set of tags/search terms. Under the new system, freelancers will also create and update their own Register entries. Anne is currently inviting feedback from freelancers willing to test the mocked-up new search page design. We have already received a number of responses.

Freelance Contracts/Editorial Service Agreements

Some large organisations require freelance/subcontract editors, proofreaders and indexers to sign contracts or editorial service agreements. Many of these agreements contain provisions relating to professional indemnity, and there have been a number of enquiries to Editors Victoria this year from freelancers about this issue in particular. IPEd has an existing arrangement with Aon Insurance for a professional indemnity insurance policy that gives $5 million coverage, but this policy is relatively expensive and there is some uncertainty as to whether it provides worthwhile protection for a freelance editor. I am currently in discussion with Aon about a more affordable policy with lower coverage. There is also some new legislation that may be very relevant to freelance editors. It extends existing consumer protection against unfair contract terms to also cover protect small businesses, for standard contracts valued below $100,000.

Freelance Lunches

Four lunches for freelance editors have been held at The Fitz in North Fitzroy. We've had good numbers in attendance: November (23 attendees), March (25), May (12) and July (23). The lunches are clearly serving a useful function for networking and socialising among freelancers, who often work in relative isolation. The next lunch will be on Thursday 10 September.

I'd like to formally express my thanks to the previous Freelance Affairs Officer, Fran Madigan, for her continuing advice and support, and also to Philip Bryan for his help with the freelance lunches.

Mary-Jo O'Rourke AE
Freelance Affairs Officer