ABC opens first new regional bureau in Charleville

The ABC has opened its first new regional bureau in Charleville, South West Queensland.

The national broadcaster is using funds from commercial deals struck as part of the News Media Bargaining Code to expand its rural and regional coverage. It has appointed Melanie Groves and Danielle Lancaster to staff the new bureau.

Groves was previously based in the ABC’s Mackay bureau as a rural reporter and, before that, she worked in Longreach. Lancaster,  is already well-known in the community and brings deep connections to the region. Before joining the ABC she was working as the Tourism, Marketing and Development Officer at the local Shire Council. She has a background in photojournalism and regional newspapers.

The ABC has recruited 55 regionally-based journalists, which is anticipated will boost the number of its employees working outside capital cities to more than 600.There was strong interest in the jobs (applications now closed), with more than 580 applications received.

The new regional roles were made possible through commercial deals struck with Facebook and Google in November last year, following the passage of the Federal Government’s News Media Bargaining Code earlier in 2021. The ABC committed that any net revenues resulting from the deals would be invested in supporting regional and rural public interest journalism.

Speaking at the opening of the outback Charleville bureau ABC Managing Director David Anderson said the ABC has moved fast over the summer to advertise and recruit in every state and in the Northern Territory.

“Most of those who have applied are already living and working in regional Australia, although several applicants were looking to relocate from the city,” he said. They are from a range of experiences and backgrounds.

“I can’t think of a better way to start our 90th year than increasing and expanding our coverage in regional and rural Australia, particularly in areas where to date the ABC has not had a presence.

“These 55 positions will have a big impact on our ability to cover regional issues, from the larger regional centres to remoter communities. It will mean a more stories, better coverage and specialist reporting on the issues that matter to people living in the regions and important insights into regional and rural Australia for people residing in Australia’s capital cities.”

Charleville is one of ten new locations for the ABC along with Batemans Bay, Warragul, Carnarvon, Hervey Bay, Gladstone, Whyalla, Northam, Swan Hill and Victor Harbor.

The ABC has boosted the number of journalists in nine existing bureaux in Horsham, Burnie, Dubbo, Wagga Wagga, Katherine, Esperance, Karratha, Longreach and Toowoomba.

From this month, the ABC now has journalists in 58 locations across the country.

Charleville is located in the Murweh Shire Council area of outback Queensland and is served by one local commercial station, 4VL on 918AM, based in the town, plus 2WEB on AM 585, broadcast from Bourke NSW and ABC Western Queensland. Before the local office opened the local ABC service was on relay from Longreach, heard locally on FM 107.3 and on AM 603 from Longreach. The massive reach of the ABC’s outback AM transmitters, and the AM frequencies of 2WEB and 4VL is still considered a lifeline for travellers and property owners in the vast sparsly populated region.

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