The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has announced its intention to relocate around 300 employees from its Ultimo headquarters in Sydney to new facilities in Parramatta.
According to a statement, planning for this move has begun with the issue of a request for proposal for a property adviser to assist in identifying suitable premises.
A key element of the ABC’s Five-Year Plan released last year was the commitment to having 75 per cent of its content makers working outside of its Ultimo headquarters by 2025.
“Parramatta is at the geographic heart of Sydney,” said the ABC in a statement. “Increasing the ABC’s workforce based in western Sydney will provide it with greater visibility and connection to a growing community which is home to 1 in 11 Australians.
“Parramatta is an ideal location for journalists and producers heading to stories both across the city and Western Sydney. It will be easier to engage with more parts of Sydney than is presently the case with the Ultimo headquarters. This move will strengthen the ability of the ABC to fulfil its goal being more relevant to more Australians.”
The ABC estimates that 200 staff from content divisions will relocate, with teams from the News, Regional and Local, and Entertainment & Specialist under consideration. This will include elements of the newsroom, local radio, national radio and television production. The remainder of staff relocating will be from support teams.
The ABC says the new facilities will need radio and television studios and a public space for community engagement.
It is anticipated the process to find and develop the new facility, identify the appropriate teams and roles to relocate there and then move staff to the new premises will be complete by 2024. A key part of the planning process will be to develop an appropriate timeline to facilitate the move.
“This initiative is only one part of the ABC’s plans to locate more content-makers closer to the communities they serve. Over the next few months, the ABC will continue to consider a range of options in respect to its property holdings, operations, and production in other state capitals and in regional Australia,” the statement concluded.
In response, Australia’s Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, Paul Fletcher welcomed the announcement, saying “I have consistently advocated for our national broadcasters to examine relocating their facilities to Western Sydney. Today the majority of the ABC’s staff are located in Ultimo, in Sydney’s inner west. The ABC needs to serve all Australians. But Sydney is not Australia and Ultimo is not Sydney. I welcome [the] announcement that the ABC will move up to 300 staff to Parramatta. This is a good first step.
“Parramatta will be a considerably more convenient location for people who live in many parts of Sydney that today are underrepresented at the ABC, particularly Western Sydney. More diversity of people will mean more diversity of opinion amongst ABC staff and journalists, and any objective observer would agree that can only be a good thing.
“The ABC has editorial and operational independence and decisions on property matters such as this are matters for ABC board and management.”