Sabra Lane

Sabra Lane


Many of us start the day with Sabra Lane as she presents current affairs on ABC Radio’s AM but may not be aware of her work with the PCOS Association of Australia which led to the revision of world guidelines for diagnosis. After decades in broadcasting and serving as only the second female President of the National Press Club, Sabra is turning her attention to the task of wooing back “news avoiders”.

Information correct at the time of receiving the award

In today’s world there are a large number of people who find mainstream news too negative, that it makes them feel hopeless and they don’t want that influencing their mood. “News avoidance is also concerning as people may fall victim to fake news or rely on social media platforms for information, which could further erode trust in democracy and public institutions,” says Sabra.

In recent years, she has become interested in solutions journalism, an addition to daily breaking news and investigative journalism, that seeks to put a spotlight not just on problems, but how individuals, communities and groups are trying to solve them. These reports can be insightful and leave the audience feeling hopeful. In 2021 Sabra began curating The Bright Side, a fortnightly collection of ABC stories distributed online. She began with a few radio interviews about the project, and within 24 hours signed up a subscriber base that would usually take six weeks to build, and the audience continues to grow.

Sabra credits her studies at the University of South Australia with providing her with a solid foundation in the principles of journalism. The Magill Campus also provided her with lifelong friendships. In her second year of study, she began working at Network 10’s Adelaide station listening to the police scanners and discerning which events warranted dispatching a reporter. This led to the offer of a full-time role, and it would be another 10 years before Sabra eventually finished her degree. In the meantime, she worked as a reporter at 10 and then the ABC, which led to a transfer to Sydney in 1995 where she became chief of staff of the ABC newsroom.

Sabra later moved to the Seven Network as a producer, and in 2000 accepted the challenge of coming up with stories to build excitement six months out from the Sydney Olympics. When the Games finally arrived the atmosphere was “incredible” which made up for the brutal hours. She also served as executive producer of Sunday Sunrise.

But her heart remained in radio, so in 2005 Sabra chose to freelance on breakfast radio, with very early starts, and study audio engineering, which meant very late nights. Her grit and determination, two qualities she admires in others, paid off when she was able to produce her own demo tape and dare the ABC not to hire her.

By 2008 Sabra was reporting from the press gallery at Parliament House in Canberra for ABC programs AM, The World Today and PM. In 2013 she became the chief political correspondent for ABC Televison’s 7.30 which included hosting Friday night programs in 2015. A life-long dream beckoned in 2017 when she was offered the AM’s presenter’s chair. During her time in Canberra, Sabra was elected to the board of the National Press Club and became president in 2018, encouraging the organisation to move towards a better gender balance in speakers. Sabra spent 13 years reporting on politics in Canberra, working hard to maintain respect for the audience and the person in the studio, while persevering to get answers to the questions that needed to be asked.

“Sometimes I feel frustrated because I’m not going to get a straight answer out of a politician, but I’ll just have to move on,” says Sabra. “You don’t always have to be in someone’s face for an answer – or no answer – to speak volumes.”

She was proud to moderate the leaders’ debate between Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten prior to the 2019 federal election. She’s also proud of being able to speak Norwegian like a native and maintains close ties with one of her host families in Norway where she spent a year on exchange before starting university.

As a teenager Sabra was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) which, if not treated properly, can lead to type two diabetes, heart disease and potentially infertility. She joined the committee of the PCOS Association of Australia in 2005 and then, as President, sought federal funding to set up national guidelines for diagnosing the condition. This eventually led to the revision of world guidelines for diagnosis.

In 2020 Sabra relocated to Tasmania where she continues to host AM from the studios of ABC Radio Hobart. Growing up in Mildura, studying in Adelaide and having removed herself from the hotbed of the often “toxic” Canberra bubble to Hobart, Sabra feels a strong connection to regional communities and a sense of responsibility to ask the questions her listeners want answered.

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