AGM: Freelance Affairs Report

Subcommittee: Mary-Jo O’Rourke, Anne Gugger

Looking back over the 12 months since mid-2015, the main aspects of the freelance portfolio have been enquiries related to freelance editing work, especially around professional indemnity insurance and also falling payment levels. We have also fielded queries around the transition to IPEd and the transfer of Freelance Register payments (but not yet the Register itself) to IPEd.

Freelance Register/Editorial Directory

New applications and renewals can now be made anytime, so there’s been a steady stream over the year. Current entries number around 150. EV is still running our Freelance Register until IPEd sets up the new nationwide Editorial Directory, expected later this year. Since the transition on 1 July, payments for Freelance Register entries have been taken over by IPEd and the new Membership Officer; this is causing some temporary delays. Elizabeth Spiegel, a well-respected senior editor from Tasmania, has just been appointed to set up the Editorial Directory in MEMNET. She will take Anne Gugger’s sterling work into the next phase.

Freelance Lunches

Lunches have been held at The Fitz (always a welcoming venue) in September (with 12 attendees), November (30 – the largest ever), March (12), May (13) and July (15). The next lunch is on Thursday 29 September and the November lunch is planned for Tuesday 22 November. Whether it’s the winter weather or busy freelancers that is keeping recent numbers down, the smaller lunches provide a good opportunity for networking and getting to know colleagues.

Pay Rates

This is ever a burning issue for freelancers, particularly in relation to falling pay rates and some of the cut-price operators out there. Other national editing organisations, such as the UK’s Society for Editors and Proofreaders, do offer guidelines on pay rates for freelancers and this is an area IPEd plans to follow up through its new CEO, Karen Lee. Realistically, she probably won’t have time to start on this until early 2017.

Professional Indemnity and Insurance

This continues to be an issue of interest to freelancers. IPEd has an existing arrangement with Aon Insurance for a professional indemnity (PI) insurance policy with $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. In discussion with IPEd, Aon Insurance is currently preparing a less expensive level of PI insurance with slightly less cover. EV is also working on getting IPEd to produce a statement that expresses its position on PI and PI insurance.

Farewell, but not Goodbye, to Harriet

Freelance subcommittee member Harriet Empey has retired from our subcommittee as she is now a full-time student of the professional writing and editing associate degree at RMIT. She hopes to attend events and continue being an active member of EV. I want to record my official thanks to Harriet for all of her work and efforts for the subcommittee.

My thanks also go to our continuing subcommittee member Anne Gugger.

Mary-Jo O’Rourke AE
Freelance Affairs Officer