What does ABC Friends do?
ABC Friends engages in a range of activities at national, state and local levels. These include:
- informing the public and the media
- presenting submissions to Government reviews and inquiries
- communicating with and lobbying Members of Parliament
- addressing public meetings
- conducting rallies
- communicating with the ABC about the concerns of members and shareholders
- publishing a magazine for members (UPDATE) three times a year
Is ABC Friends independent?
ABC Friends is politically unaligned. It works for the best interests of independent and comprehensive national public broadcasting, challenging governments of any political persuasion that attempt to dismantle or interfere in the ABC’s independence.
ABC Friends is independent of the ABC.
How is ABC Friends funded?
ABC Friends earns its income from membership subscriptions, public donations and fundraising activities. It receives no government funding.
When did ABC Friends begin?
‘Aunty’s Nieces and Nephews’ was established in 1976 by a group of concerned Melbourne citizens in response to government threats to sharply cut the ABC’s budget. It later changed its name to ‘Friends of the ABC’ (FABC). In the same year (1976) Friends of the ABC (NSW) Inc. was formed under the chairmanship of Walter Bass, a renowned Civil Engineer. At a national conference in January 2014 it was decided to use the name ‘ABC Friends’.
“The Friends were in the line of those people who had affirmed over the years that the ABC was essential to the nation”, wrote Professor Ken Inglis, the distinguished historian and author of the two-volume History of the ABC.
'This Is the ABC - The Australian Broadcasting Commission, 1932 -1983'. Melbourne University Press (1983).
'Whose ABC? - The Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 1983 - 2006'. Black Inc. Melbourne (2006).
What has ABC Friends achieved?
ABC Friends has provided a focal point for defending the ABC’s independence from political interference, resisting commercial activities that risk the integrity of ABC programming and working for the public broadcaster to be adequately funded and to remain accessible to all Australians without direct cost.
ABC Friends’ efforts have contributed significantly over the years to better outcomes for the ABC, including:
- Planned funding cuts of past governments of both major political persuasions were moderated.
- The Rudd/Gillard Labor governments increased ABC funding to partially address the low level to which ABC Australian drama has fallen and to fund new services, like an ad-free children’s television channel. They also provided additional funding for News services.
- Radio Australia (the ABC’s international radio service) was saved after the Howard Coalition government initially sought to close it.
- The Mansfield Review – which was established by the Howard Coalition government to curtail the role of the ABC – received a staggering 10,615 submissions, almost all in support of the ABC.
- The Rudd government introduced a new transparent and merit-based process for appointing members of the ABC Board, and it restored the staff-elected position to the ABC Board.
- The Gillard government legislated for Australia’s international TV service to be retained as an ongoing service of the ABC.
Sometimes gains are reversed or reduced and have to be fought for all over again! Organisations like ABC Friends can never rest on their laurels.
How does ABC Friends operate?
ABC Friends has a presence in each State, with independent organisations managed by honorary Committees. The Committees set policies and are responsible for the operations of the organisations, and their members are actively engaged in the activities of ABC Friends. ABC Friends has local groups and establishes special interest groups as the interest or need arises.
Following many years of co-operative work between State organisations, ABC Friends National Inc. was formed in December 2016 to act as a peak body and to ensure ongoing national coordination of effort.
How can I help ABC Friends?
Please join us
ABC Friends membership is open to all who support its objectives. Whether you want to be active or simply wish to express your support for the ABC, ABC Friends needs YOU. Only with a large membership can ABC Friends ensure it is heard by all politicians and has the resources to inform, educate and campaign for the ABC’s healthy future.
ABC Friends needs help with a huge range of activities - fundraising; specialist skills, such as design, IT, writing and research; distributing flyers at events. If you'd like to contribute contact your state/territory ABC Friends.