The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has cancelled its 2021 cadetship intake citing disruption from bushfires and the coronavirus as major contributors to the decision.
The 12-month paid cadetship program is offered each year to eight journalism graduates with one taken on in each state and territory.
An ABC spokeswoman said the pause of the cadetship program was due to numerous reasons.
"Firstly, because of disruptions caused by the bushfires and coronavirus it hasn’t been possible to carry out the full training schedule for the current cadets, which we’ll need to complete next year," she said.
"The pause will also allow News to update and improve the program, in line with recommendations made by a recent review of our intern, cadet and trainee programs."
ABC would recommence the cadetship program in 2022 with additional recruitment pathways, in partnership with external institutions, she said.
"The end result will be more opportunities available to a broader range of talented young people, and improved training when they get here," the spokeswoman said.
Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance acting director Adam Portelli said cadetships were the most important training ground for the future of Australian journalism and blamed a lack of federal funding for the move.
"The ABC is the most trusted news source in the nation and a vital essential service in times of crisis and emergency. The loss of the cadetship is just another example of how the federal government is destroying Australians’ national public broadcaster," he said.
The government has steadfastly rejected claims the broadcaster's funding was cut after it imposed a freeze on its government grants until 2022.
The ABC's budget ($000)
2018-19 (estimated actual)
- Revenue from government ordinary annual services: $1,045,911
- Transmission – $180,848
- Operation – $865,063
Current funding triennium
- Revenue from government ordinary annual services: $1,062,265
- Transmission – $183,699
- Operation – $878,566
2020-21 (forward estimate)
- Revenue from government ordinary annual services: $1,065,354
- Transmission – $186,595
- Operation – $878,759
2021-22 (forward estimate)
- Revenue from government ordinary annual services: $1,070,649
- Transmission – $190,088
- Operation – $880,561
End of current funding triennium
2022-23 (forward estimate)
- Revenue from government ordinary annual services: $1,073,090
- Transmission – $193,647
- Operation – $879,443
Source: Portfolio budget statements 2019-20. Only reflects transmission and operations budgets.
Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University program manager for journalism Dr Alexandra Wake said like most news organisations it had been difficult for ABC to operate and offer the training requirements of the current ABC cadetship during Covid-19.
"But in a year when journalism students have seen other news organisations close, or furlough, it is particularly upsetting that the national broadcaster has made this decision," she said.
Dr Wake said previous ABC funding cuts had seen many senior journalists and newsroom leaders take redundancies.
"This clearly has left a vacuum which will need to be resolved if new recruits are to get the kind of mentorship and on-site training they need," she said.
Dr Wake said there was still a high demand for graduates with journalism skills, particularly in Victoria.
"Clearly, not all graduates will be employed by mainstream news organisations, but many organisations want young people with journalism skills," she said.
A federal government spokesman said how the ABC allocated its budget was a matter for its board and management.
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