The ABC is worth fighting for!
We are former employees of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation who believe passionately in the need for a fearless and independent national broadcaster as a vital part of Australian democracy
ABC Alumni believes a strong public service broadcaster is essential in a healthy democracy.
We are a united group of former ABC employees mobilising their skills to help save the ABC, at a time when it is under sustained attack though funding cuts, job losses and political pressure.
We are a national organisation which provides public speakers, articles and research, and assists other like-minded groups in campaigning for a strong public service media.
We also train and mentor current ABC staff, and organise social and other events to harness our collective knowledge and experience.
ABC Alumni representatives at a rally in Melbourne, 2019: l-r John Cleary, Dr Gael Jennings, Quentin Dempster, Maxine McKew, Matt Peacock, Kerry O’Brien
How you can get involved
You can join ABC Alumni if you’ve worked one full-time year for the ABC or its part-time equivalent. If you’re not ex-ABC but support our objectives, please join as an Associate.
ABC Alumni is a registered not-for-profit company limited by guarantee (ACN 628 088 371, ABN 85628088371). We are registered as a charity with the Australian Charities & Not-for-profits Commission for the purpose of advancing education and public debate about the ABC, and establishing a scholarship fund.
Board, Committees, Services
Matt Peacock (Chair)
Janet Clayton (Company Secretary & Treasurer)
Website & Social Media Coordinator
Rural & Regional
Media & Public Relations
The Alumni Constitution is currently being updated. The revised constitution will be available here in the near future. Our current Constitution can be viewed here.
Matt Peacock joined the ABC in 1973 as a trainee with Australia’s first current affairs television program This Day Tonight, before moving to the Radio Science Unit where he produced a pioneering series of programs about the dangers of asbestos. He has worked for many ABC radio and TV programs both in Australia and overseas, as chief political correspondent in Canberra, then as Washington, New York and London correspondent. In 2016 he was appointed as staff-elected Director on the ABC Board. On his departure from the ABC, he co-founded ABC Alumni. Matt is a former Adjunct Professor of Journalism with Sydney’s University of Technology (UTS), author of newspaper and magazine articles, as well as the book Killer Company about former asbestos manufacturer James Hardie, which inspired the TV mini-series Devil’s Dust.
Helen Grasswill has been a journalist, author, editor and television program-maker for more than 50 years, starting as a freelancer while still at school and later working for both Australian and international broadcasters. In almost 30 years at the ABC, she worked for news programs including The 7:30 Report, The Bottom Line and The Investigators, with stints at Lateline and Foreign Correspondent. She is best known as a foundation member and 22-year veteran of Australian Story, where she was responsible for many landmark stories. Her work has been acknowledged with numerous awards including the Walkley, peer-voted Logies and the Human Rights Award for Television. Helen is also author of the ground-breaking book, Australia: A Timeless Grandeur, a 130,000-word exploration of the Australian environment (Lansdowne, 1981). She is a co-founder of ABC Alumni.
Quentin Dempster worked at the ABC for 30 years (1984-2014) as a political and investigative reporter, TV current affairs presenter and interviewer. In 1986 he wrote and produced The Sunshine System, a television documentary about institutionalised corruption in Queensland. Before joining the ABC, he was chief political reporter and columnist for the Brisbane Telegraph. Quentin is a former staff-elected director of the ABC (1992-1996) and former chairman of The Walkley Foundation. He has written three books: Honest Cops (1992), Whistleblowers (1997) and Death Struggle - how political malice and boardroom power plays are killing the ABC (2000). In 1992 Quentin was awarded an Order of Australia (AM) for services to journalism and current affairs. He is currently contributing editor for The New Daily.
Janet took on a number of roles at the ABC from 1988 to 2000, commencing as Secretary to the Board under David Hill. She went on to manage TV News and Current Affairs resources (finance, staffing, planning), with short stints as Head of Policy in Radio and ABC Enterprises. Her final gig was as Chief of Staff, and later Head of Policy and Planning reporting to the Managing Director, Brian Johns. In that role, she worked closely with the change management team to reform the ABC’s organisational structure, to focus on content making rather than delivery channels, and giving regional broadcasting its place at the top executive table. Janet’s career has been eclectic, commencing in the diplomatic service, taking on senior management positions at the Australia Council for the Arts, NSW Rail Infrastructure Corporation and Media Monitors, and finally opening an art gallery which she managed for eleven years. She is now retired.
Heather Forbes joined the ABC in 1990 as a foundation member of the (now defunct) Lateline program as the Associate Producer. From 1996 until her redundancy in December 2014, Heather was the Manager for Staff Development in the News Division, responsible for training and professional development of journalists across the Division. In particular, Heather administered the News Cadetship program and was responsible for the recruitment and training of junior journalists. In 2006 with the assistance of the Dart Centre for Journalism and Trauma, Heather established a Trauma Awareness and Peer Support program to assist journalists suffering from work related trauma. This program was a world first.
Jonathan Holmes began his career with the BBC in 1969, working as a producer on current affairs programs like 24 Hours, Nationwide and Panorama. In 1982 he was invited to Australia to become executive producer of ABC’s Four Corners. Since then, he has served as Head of ABC Documentaries, as executive producer of Foreign Correspondent and The 7.30 Report, and for many years as an on-camera reporter for Four Corners and Foreign Correspondent, reporting from more than 40 countries, as well as two years as an ABC correspondent in Washington (1998-2000). He is perhaps best known for his five years as presenter of Media Watch (2008-2013). Jonathan’s work has been recognised by awards including the Logie, several Walkley nominations, the top prize at the Banff World Television Festival (for the 1988 documentary Hoddle Street), and a special award from the United Nations Association of Australia for ‘25 years of distinguished journalism’. He continues to write on media affairs and is the author of On Aunty (2019).
Peter Marks is a software developer and technology commentator. In the 1990s, he worked as an ABC radio operator in Melbourne and, after time at other organisations including Apple and CNN, returned to the ABC in Sydney where he worked in the Digital Network on apps including iview. For over a decade, Peter was the technology editor on RN Breakfast and appeared weekly to cover technology news. He continues to write widely on technology and issues affecting the ABC.
Eric Hunter spent more than 20 years at the ABC, working in all states and across a wide range of positions: radio announcer, talks officer, TV current affairs reporter and executive producer, and State program director. A pioneer of programs such as This Day Tonight and Nationwide, Eric was also the first Australian to present a live satellite program (from Expo’67 in Montreal) as well as one of three Australian reporters to take part in the world’s first multi-satellite program, the BBC-produced Our World in June 1967. After leaving the ABC, he worked for many years in the public and private sectors as a senior communications consultant, commercial TV news producer and as a sessional lecturer in journalism at the University of Canberra. Eric retired in 2013 and now contributes to both ABC Friends and ABC Alumni.
Deborah Fleming worked in newspapers in the UK and at the BBC before moving to Australia and joining the ABC. She was executive producer of the 7.30 Report in both Brisbane and Sydney. In 1995 she became the founding executive producer of Australian Story and continued in that role until 2015 when she retired to live in Tasmania. During her time at the helm of Australian Story the program received a swag of industry awards including multiple Logies and Walkley Awards. Deborah received a personal Walkley for ‘outstanding contribution to journalism’ in 2005 and an OAM in 2013.
Trish Lake, now CEO of Brisbane-based screen production company Freshwater Pictures, has had a long and varied media career. She began at ABC News in Brisbane and over several decades was a reporter, producer and presenter in most major Australian cities and in many regional centres. She also worked for the ABC as a correspondent in Washington and as a freelance producer and journalist in London. As an independent producer of documentaries and feature films, Trish has collaborated with ABC commissioning editors and management. She is a past president of Screen Producers Australia (SPA) and has been involved in screen industry politics including working on ABC policy reviews.
Dr Mark Hayes freelanced for ABC radio Queensland in the late 1970s. He was the researcher, occasional reporter and occasional producer of The 7.30
Report Queensland Edition between mid-1987 and the end of 1990,
assisting with and reporting on the Fitzgerald Inquiry, Expo 88 and the
last years of the Bjelke-Petersen regime. After leaving the ABC, Dr Hayes taught media and journalism at several universities, including Southern Cross University, UQ, QUT, and the University of the South Pacific in the immediate aftermath of the 2000 Fiji putsch. He was awarded his PhD in Humanities from Griffith University in 1995. Now 'reluctantly retired', Dr Hayes is also on the Committee of ABC Friends Queensland.
Bill Bunbury is an academic and international award-winning radio broadcaster. In a career spanning 40 years at the ABC, he presented and produced for programs including Background Briefing, Word of Mouth, Verbatim, Talking History, Street Stories and Encounter. In 2016 Bill was awarded an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for services to Broadcasting and Indigenous Communities. He is the author of 14 books, most recently Many Maps which examines ‘the Understanding and Misunderstanding between First Nations people and European settlers in Western Australia since 1826’. He is currently Adjunct Professor, History & Communications, at Murdoch University.
Sue Spencer has more than 30 years’ experience as a researcher, producer/director and executive producer at ABC TV. She is best known for her leadership and work on high profile, award-winning programs such as Four Corners, Labor In Power, The Howard Years The Killing Season and 100 Years–The Australian Story. She has also worked on Lateline, Foreign Correspondent and Australian Story. During a break from the ABC between 2002 and 2007, Sue worked for United Nations agencies UNDP and UNICEF, spending time in Cambodia and Vietnam, as well as for the PNG/East Timor/Pacific office of the World Bank. On her return to the ABC in October 2007, Sue was appointed EP of Four Corners and during her stewardship the program won four Logie and three Gold Walkley awards. After resigning from the ABC in 2015, she has continued to be in demand as contract EP for several major ABC TV productions. In 2019 Sue received the prestigious Walkley Award for Outstanding Contribution to Journalism.
Peter McEvoy spent three decades at the ABC, most recently as the creator and foundation executive producer of Q&A (2008-2019). Before this he was EP of Media Watch (2000-2006), and worked as a reporter and producer for both ABC TV and ABC Radio, on programs including Four Corners, RN Breakfast, Late Night Live and Background Briefing. Peter has won five Walkley Awards, including the Gold Walkley, among numerous other accolades.
Vivien Altman worked for many years as an international journalist and producer on ABC’s Foreign Correspondent. She has also worked as a producer for SBS programs Dateline and Insight, and as executive producer of Stories From Home. Earlier in her career, Vivien was a freelance radio reporter (1988-1994) covering war and peace negotiations in Central America. A multi-award winner, she has two Walkley Awards, a Logie and a UN Media Peace Award, as well as gold, silver and bronze medals from the New York Film Festival.
Wendy Borchers joined the ABC in 1967 as a transcription typist in the Talks Department, having moved to Sydney after three years as newsroom secretary at NBN3 in Newcastle. She very quickly rose to production assistant of a new radio program, AM, working with Allan Hogan, Paul Murphy, Richard Carleton and Perth correspondent, Ray Martin. Later she worked in TV News and as production secretary in the TV Drama Unit. However, she is best known for her expertise as a long-time film researcher in ABC Archives & Library, where she worked on flagship programs including This Day Tonight and Four Corners, among many others. Her ‘encyclopaedic’ knowledge of the ABC led to Wendy becoming co-author (with Tim Bowden) of Aunty’s Jubilee: Celebrating 50 Years of ABC, published in 2006. After retiring in 2010, Wendy moved to the mid north coast of NSW where she is active in community affairs, the local ABC Friends and ABC Alumni.
Sharon Carleton joined the ABC in Perth as a cadet radio and television reporter in the mid-1970s. Her work included reporting for News, This Day Tonight and The 7.30 Report in Sydney. She was compere of Statewide in WA and Nationwide in Canberra, where she first started contributing segments to ABC radio’s The Science Show. Sharon has also worked as the morning producer on Radio 2CN Canberra and bureau chief for Regional Television Australia in the old Federal Parliamentary Press Gallery. She has won the Paul Tonkin Memorial Prize and the Michael Daley Award for Science, Technology and Engineering Journalism. Sharon is now a freelance journalist who still contributes to The Science Show on Radio National forty years later.
Rob Garnsey worked as a computer trainer, business analyst and manager at the ABC in the era of media digitisation. After running computer literacy courses with ABC Training he joined the BASYS News & Current Affairs network rollout as an IT business analyst in 1987. With the emergence of the World Wide Web in the 1990s the ABC created a small Multimedia Unit to encourage and coordinate the growing Web publishing efforts of ABC output areas. Rob joined the Multimedia Unit in the role of technology manager, focussed on content management, website publishing and hosting, and the streaming of audio and video content. With the new millennium, responsibility for all ABC web publishing was consolidated in the New Media Division, where Rob spent eight years as Head of New Media Systems.
Kay Powell is a final year Master of Advanced Journalism student at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), with a wide range of skills including writing, technology, social media and data analysis. A particular passion is reporting on the science and technology fields, focussing on ocean-based news, accessibility and human rights. Previously, Kay completed a Masters in International Criminology from the University of Western Sydney, producing a strong thesis on how journalists use the Streisand Effect to advocate for other journalists.