Photo taken during budget report training. picture courtesy of Bernadette Carreon Brooks

Australia’s Pacific Media Assistance Scheme (PACMAS) is working with the Palau Media Council for the first time to provide budget reporting training for local journalists.

The five once-a-week sessions are aimed at helping journalists explain to the people of Palau how the government budget affects their lives and livelihoods and the services they need.

Palau Media Council Chairman Moses Uludong said the mainstream media are critical agents in bringing public attention to government spending and accountability.

Palau media’s budget reporting training is made possible through PACMAS’s Pacific Business and Economic Reporting Program.

PACMAS is a media development program to facilitate discourse across government, business, and civil society, through the Pacific media.

PACMAS program is funded by the Australian government and managed by Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) International Development.

Last year, Palau Media is one of the Pacific nations, along with Solomon Islands, PNG, Niue, Fiji, and Tonga media associations awarded a grant to take part in this program.

“ The Palau Media Council welcomes this first local, in-country training for practicing and young journalists in reporting, particularly on the government budget, a dull, but very important subject for the people to know how their money is divided and spent by their government,” Mr. Uludong said.

The first session, which is scheduled on Feb. 21 will see a gathering of journalists in Palau coming from all media platforms- radio, print, online and broadcast.

“We are grateful to PACMAS for making it possible, as it will be first in a series of training and workshop to be carried out on various topics in the council’s efforts to make Palau a truly, open, transparent and free country.”He said the council hopes to help the people “exercise their rights to know their government and to express themselves about issues that affect their lives.”

Ms.JoElsom, Leader of ABC International Development said the “national budget is one of the clearest windows for citizens to see their government’s priorities, but the language of government finance is hard for many people to understand. Journalists play a crucial role in helping citizens to understand the budget and the plans for their country’s development.”

Ms. Elsom said the training is part of a wider stream of activities aimed to improve business and economic reporting in Pacific countries.

“PACMAS is working with senior journalists, like Bernadette Carreon, to support them to step up as media trainers.”

She added, “ PACMAS is a regional program and we aim to support journalists wherever they are in the Pacific to ensure that all audiences have access to quality local journalism and media content.”