ABC Sydney moves its headquarters from Ultimo to Parramatta CBD


The ABC has announced it will move its Sydney headquarters from inner-city Ultimo to Parramatta, in the western suburbs.

The public broadcaster has signed a heads of agreement for the lease of a new workplace at 6-8 Parramatta Square.

The move to Parramatta’s CBD is part of the ABC’s five-year plan to see 75 per cent of content makers working outside its Ultimo head office by 2025.

The ABC has announced it will move its Sydney headquarters from inner-city Ultimo to Parramatta, in the western suburbs. (Pictured: the ABC offices in Ultimo, Sydney)

It will make the ABC ‘even more connected, relevant and engaged with some of Sydney’s most diverse and fastest-growing communities’, read a press release.

From early 2024, presenters and journalists from ABC Sydney, ABC News and ABC Radio National will broadcast from the Parramatta HQ.

David Anderson, ABC Managing Director, said: ‘Establishing this new facility in Parramatta is a significant step in meeting our commitment to be more local and engaged with the community and less centralised in the Sydney CBD.

‘As a new facility, ABC Parramatta provides a rare opportunity to build something from the ground up. It will be a home for innovation and collaboration, designed and equipped to help us better serve Australians, now and into the future.’

Parramatta Square has been developed by Walker Corporation, one of Australia’s largest private development companies.

The public broadcaster has signed a heads of agreement for the lease of a new workplace at 6-8 Parramatta Square (pictured). The move to Parramatta's CBD is part of the ABC's five-year plan to see 75 per cent of content makers working outside its Ultimo head office by 2025

The public broadcaster has signed a heads of agreement for the lease of a new workplace at 6-8 Parramatta Square (pictured). The move to Parramatta’s CBD is part of the ABC’s five-year plan to see 75 per cent of content makers working outside its Ultimo head office by 2025

Executive Chairman Lang Walker AO welcomed the national broadcaster’s expanded presence in the new heart of western Sydney.

‘The ABC will become an integral part of Parramatta Square, which is welcoming all of Sydney as a great place to work, live and socialise,’ Mr Walker said.

‘ABC staff will have access to state-of-the-art workspaces above excellent cafés and restaurants in the plaza as well as some of the best transport connections, with access to trains, buses, light rail, ferries and the future metro.’

The final lease agreement for Parramatta Square is expected to be concluded by the end of August.

The next stage in the development of ABC Parramatta will then be review of the proposal by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, as is the usual practice.

The announcement comes a year after concerns were raised over a possible staff exodus in the event of the ABC moving from trendy inner Sydney to the ‘Wild West’.

The public broadcaster first alerted employees via email in June 2021 to the move from Ultimo to Parramatta, where about 10 staff already work.

The announcement comes a year after concerns were raised over a possible staff exodus in the event of the ABC moving from trendy inner Sydney to the 'Wild West'. Pictured: Michael Rowland and Lisa Millar, the hosts of Melbourne-based ABC News Breakfast

The announcement comes a year after concerns were raised over a possible staff exodus in the event of the ABC moving from trendy inner Sydney to the ‘Wild West’. Pictured: Michael Rowland and Lisa Millar, the hosts of Melbourne-based ABC News Breakfast

At the time, Mr Anderson said the move was the first step in a plan to have 75 per cent of ABC content makers working away from inner Sydney by 2025, in order to strengthen links ‘to a community which is home to one in 11 Australians’.

But Rob McKnight, a leading TV commentator who has worked for all three commercial networks, warned the broadcaster risked a revolt if employees from the news and entertainment departments were made to move out west.

He said many television industry professionals live in the eastern and inner suburbs and would baulk at the prospect of working – or living – west of Homebush.

‘The Sydney TV industry is mostly made up of people who live in the eastern suburbs or inner city. There’s a real disconnect between the way people in the suburbs see life and those in the TV bubble,’ Mr McKnight told Daily Mail Australia.

‘To me, there’s no doubt the ABC will lose a portion of its employees when they move out to Parramatta as some see it as the Wild West and dangerous.’

Mr McKnight, the editor-in-chief of TV Blackbox, added: ‘I applaud the ABC for moving out there – it’s a great way to connect with the audience. But here’s the biggest secret of all: a lot of people in the TV industry don’t want to connect with the audience. In fact, they look down on viewers who “waste their time watching TV”.

Rob McKnight (pictured), a leading TV commentator who has worked for all three commercial networks, warned the broadcaster risked a revolt if employees from the news and entertainment departments were made to move out to the 'Wild West'

Rob McKnight (pictured), a leading TV commentator who has worked for all three commercial networks, warned the broadcaster risked a revolt if employees from the news and entertainment departments were made to move out to the ‘Wild West’

‘A few years back, a network I was working at did a field trip out to Penrith. The idea was for us to stay there a few nights, go the club and get a feel for the region.

‘One marketing girl on the bus started freaking out because she had never been past Balmain. It was embarrassing but made me realise how disconnected a lot of people who work in the industry are from real life.’

Mr McKnight continued: ‘When Channel Seven moved into the city they lost a large portion of their workers who had made lives in the suburbs surrounding Epping.

'To me, there's no doubt the ABC will lose a portion of its employees when they move out to Parramatta as some see it as the Wild West and dangerous,' said Mr McKnight said. Pictured: Julia Baird, the host ABC's The Drum, which is broadcast out of Ultimo

‘To me, there’s no doubt the ABC will lose a portion of its employees when they move out to Parramatta as some see it as the Wild West and dangerous,’ said Mr McKnight said. Pictured: Julia Baird, the host ABC’s The Drum, which is broadcast out of Ultimo

‘The same will happen on the flip side with the ABC’s move to Parramatta, mark my words.

‘If you’ve ever wanted a job in TV, this is your chance. Keep your eyes on the classifieds as I reckon the ABC is going to have a lot of vacant positions soon.

‘You would be amazed at how many people who work in the TV industry don’t actually watch TV and the idea of having to commute out to the suburbs will just simply be too much for some of the inner-city dwellers at the ABC, that’s for sure.’

'The Sydney TV industry is mostly made up of people who live in the eastern suburbs or inner city. There's a real disconnect between the way people in the suburbs see life and those in the TV bubble,' Mr McKnight told Daily Mail Australia. (Pictured: two women at western Sydney's now-defunct Defqon music festival)

‘The Sydney TV industry is mostly made up of people who live in the eastern suburbs or inner city. There’s a real disconnect between the way people in the suburbs see life and those in the TV bubble,’ Mr McKnight told Daily Mail Australia. (Pictured: two women at western Sydney’s now-defunct Defqon music festival)

In a June 2021 statement announcing the move of 300 staff to Parramatta, an ABC spokesperson said: ‘Parramatta is at the geographic heart of Sydney.

‘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 one in 11 Australians.’

The broadcaster added that staff would be better placed to engage with more areas of the city than is currently the case from their CBD building.

About 200 of the employees being moved will be from content departments with some news and entertainment sections being considered.

The remaining 100 will be made up of support staff.

The teams will be housed in a newly built premises complete with television and radio studios.

ABC chair Ita Buttrose said in a speech a key focus of the broadcaster’s five-year-plan was to shift to be more strongly represented in suburban, outer-urban and regional areas.

She described the move as the ‘biggest decentralisation in ABC history’.

About 200 of the employees being moved to Parramatta will be from content departments with some news and entertainment sections being considered. (Pictured: a high-rise building by the Parramatta River)

About 200 of the employees being moved to Parramatta will be from content departments with some news and entertainment sections being considered. (Pictured: a high-rise building by the Parramatta River)

‘The ABC has also been regarded, with fair reason, as too inner-city focused,’ Ms Buttrose said.

She said new technology allowed teams to get out into the community ‘reporting the stories that matter to all Australians, especially those who live beyond the inner ring of the capital cities’.

The ABC is expected to notch up about $70million from the sale of two Melbourne sites which could be used to fund the new Sydney premises.

Space freed up in the Ultimo HQ by the move could also be leased out to tenants, the broadcaster said.

The new western Sydney studios are likely to be complete by 2024.

ABC chair Ita Buttrose (pictured in May 2021) said in a speech a key focus of the broadcaster's five-year-plan was to shift to be more strongly represented in suburban, outer-urban and regional areas. She described the move as the 'biggest decentralisation in ABC history'

ABC chair Ita Buttrose (pictured in May 2021) said in a speech a key focus of the broadcaster’s five-year-plan was to shift to be more strongly represented in suburban, outer-urban and regional areas. She described the move as the ‘biggest decentralisation in ABC history’

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