ABC managing director defends archival staff redundancies

By Anna Macdonald

Tuesday June 14, 2022

David Anderson
ABC Managing Director David Anderson. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

Managing director of the ABC David Anderson has issued a statement over the proposed 58 redundancies of its library and archival team, defending the decision as a move to make the ABC digital-first. 

Anderson said the changes would include new technology to ensure the content is accessible.

“We are confident the proposed changes would not compromise the Archives team’s ability to provide appropriate services to content makers. Following the proposed changes, the ABC’s archives and library services would employ around 70 people.

“There would continue to be highly-skilled Archives staff based in newsrooms and assisting and supporting our content teams, and they would remain responsible for the archiving of raw material,” Anderson said in the statement

The managing director continued to state the digitisation of the ABC Archive was ‘important work’, and the organisation had consulted with National Archives of Australia, the BBC and CBC over the proposals. 

According to Anderson, 1.2 million documents, 637,000 images, 97,000 videotapes and 54,000 audio carriers will have been digitised by the end of 2022. 

“Safeguarding the ABC Archives, making it fully accessible and more easily usable are part of responsible stewardship of this wonderful resource,” the statement concluded. 

Part of the changes included the establishment of 30 new roles. 

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) criticised the news prior to the issuing of Anderson’s statement, with the CPSU ABC section secretary Sinddy Ealy saying it could jeopardise the archiving of national content, calling it ‘out of touch’.

“Frontline workers are best placed to know that automated workflows are not up and running to the level needed to avoid catastrophic loss of archival materials. The hasty decision to sack specialist staff will absolutely risk breaking stories making it to air. 

“This proposal is tech-driven, not content-driven which is highly problematic. It does not have a realistic take on where the organization is at presently,” Ealy said. 

In response to the initial news last week, the changes were criticised from prominent figures such as ABC reporter Louise Milligan and former prime minister Kevin Rudd.

“Speaking personally, ABC archives and the specialist knowledge our archivists have of them are precious historical resources, enriching our stories endlessly. I value these professionals and their work,” Milligan had tweeted. 


National Archives faces backlog of 20,000 access requests

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