ABC to cut archiving staff

A successful mass digitisation project undertaken by the ABC in 2021 will lead to dozens of redundancies in the Archives department, according to an announcement this week.

The ABC stated it is proposing to remove approximately 58 roles and introduce 30 new roles, with the final number of redundancies yet to be determined.

“These proposed changes are the result of the extensive digitisation of the ABC Archive collection and the introduction of new tools and systems which enables different, more efficient work practices,” it stated.

“In 2021, approximately 90% of our audio and 35% of our video tape collection was converted into digital files.  More than two million content assets are now available to content makers at their desktops via the ABC’s Content Digital Archive (CoDA).”

“After thoroughly assessing and considering all aspects of this organisational change, we have determined that work being performed by some of our ABC archives team members is no longer required, has evolved, or can be combined with other roles that fit into our plans for the future state of ABC archives,” staff were told.

“We don’t believe it will compromise our ability to tell local stories ... we value our archives,” Anderson told media after attending an event at Parliament House on Thursday.

“It is a change that we’re putting in place that is transformational for the future.”

The Australian Society of Archivists (ASA) and the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) issued a joint statement calling for the specialist archivist and librarian positions to be maintained.

“Working behind the scenes, the labour and skill of the archivists and librarians at the ABC is often invisible, but it is essential to the continued production of well-researched content. The ability to find archival footage and reports which underpin everything from TV drama to news radio is deeply valued by other ABC professional staff, who do not have the professional skills to undertake this work themselves.

“The skills and knowledge of the ABC’s librarians and archivists are not needed any less now that more of the collection has been digitised. The ability to both retrieve existing material (whether digitised or not), and add new material and metadata so that content is properly preserved for future use, is fundamental to the ongoing work of the ABC.”

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has criticised the changes, calling it ‘devastating news for many ABC staff and [it] has come as a shock to teams across the country’.