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ZFA statement on possible ABC ombudsman

The Zionist Federation of Australia welcomes the news that the ABC is set to create an independent ombudsman as part of its complaints handling procedure.

In its submission to an ABC inquiry that examined the ABC’s complaints handling procedure, the ZFA called for a complaints mechanism independent of the ABC’s content division. While the creation of an ombudsman is welcome, if its purpose is only to review decisions, rather than to handle the entire complaints process, this will likely not be enough.

In its submission, the ZFA also called for transparency in the complaints handling process—whereby all complaints and responses be published.

The ZFA notes that the ABC has yet to publish the report of its inquiry (despite receiving it weeks ago). The ZFA also notes that the leaked news of the ombudsman indicates that other measures—such as to improve transparency—will be implemented.

ZFA President Jeremy Leibler said, “We welcome the news that the ABC is finally taking action to make its complaint handling system less about protecting the ABC and more about honestly considering complaints. It is unfortunate that it took a leak to reveal these steps, and we look forward to the ABC publishing the inquiry report and its decisions. What is most important is that the complaints handling system becomes transparent and independent.”

Background
In its submission to the ABC inquiry, the ZFA made four recommendations:

  • Create transparency in the complaints mechanism by publishing all complaints and responses;
  • Prevent content divisions from seeing or commenting on complaints until after preliminary findings have been made;
  • Create a public media compliance office, which would include an independent complaints mechanism external to the ABC (and SBS); and
  • Have a public media compliance office conduct performance audits on ABC (and SBS) editorial decision-making. When assessing bias, these audits would pay attention to how each perspective is presented, not merely that they are presented.

The ZFA submission to the ABC inquiry can be found here: https://www.zfa.com.au/zfa-submission-to-the-abc/