The Board


image002Hiroki Iijima [President]: I regularly report for TBS [Tokyo Broadcasting System Television] national news as the only correspondent for Australia and the South Pacific. I write a regular column for the largest Japanese language monthly magazine in Australia, `Nichigo Press’. I was the representative for the TBS Sydney Olympic Bureau (1998 – 2000). In Japan, I have worked as director of news programmes on TV Asahi. I was born in Yamanashi prefecture, which is about 80 km west of Tokyo. My home town is near Mt. Fuji, which is the one of the most desirable destinations in Japan for foreign tourists! I have been living here in Australia for over 20 years and I’ve been an FCA member since 1999. I have an Australian wife with three children (all boys!)  I love music and play some instruments. As the president of FCA, I would like to hold more events, especially those where guest speakers are invited. I have a fairly easy going personality, so please feel free to talk to me and suggest guest speakers for news briefings. I also welcome your suggestions for social events, for example, wine or sake tasting. I look forward to working with you.



SubhelSubel Bhandari [Vice-President]: I am a Sydney-based journalist working for German newswire, dpa – Deutsche Presse-Agentur. I have been covering Australia and the Pacific Islands since 2015. I began my career as a reporter in 2001 and since then I have worked for the French news agency AFP from Nepal, and then as the dpa correspondent for five years based in Afghanistan and Pakistan.



SONJA BLASCHKE_editedSonja Blaschke [Honorary Secretary]: Sonja Blaschke is a German freelance journalist who writes for print and online media in Germany, Switzerland and Austria about East Asia and Australasia. After having lived and worked in Japan for more than eleven years she moved to Sydney in early 2017. Among other media, she is the Japan and Australia correspondent for the Swiss Sunday newspaper NZZ am Sonntag. Sonja likes to write about social issues, politics, women’s issues and science. While still getting to know her new area Australia, she keeps traveling to Japan regularly for research and for work as a line producer for TV crews.





Esther Blank [Treasurer]: I have been a journalist for over 30 years, working in Germany, Europe, the Middle East, USA, Australia and the South Pacific. I started work at Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcaster. I came to Australia and worked as a reporter and acting chief of staff for SBS TV, as well as reporting for Germany. In 2000 I was a researcher, producer and reporter for Germany’s Sydney Olympic TV coverage. Since then I have been DW’s representative and reporter in Australia and the region. I have been a member of the FCA for over 26 years, serving as President, Vice-President and Board member.


Andrew Thomas [Executive Board Member]: I am the Al Jazeera correspondent for Australia, NZ and the Pacific. After 11 years based in native London, I moved to Sydney with my Australian wife tasked with bringing all things Antipodean to Al Jazeera English. Since December 2010, I have covered a long line of natural disasters and the very human responses to each: the Christmas Island asylum boat sinking, the floods in Queensland and Victoria, the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the triple-whammy of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan.


Laurence Arthur Laurence Arthur[Executive Board Member]: I work for the Swiss National radio and other French speaking Swiss print media such as Tribune de Genève/24 Heures and Ats which is the Swiss equivalent of AFP. Occasionally, I broadcast for Radio Canada. I am Swiss, born in Geneva, where I did political science and Arts before being hired as a junior journalist to undertake the official journalist school in Lausanne. I worked there full time, in the daily newspaper 24 heures in the economy section. Then I decided to make the move to Melbourne and here I am enjoying the local coffee culture, but I am still not convinced about the quality of local cheese, not to mention chocolate!


Rob picRob Taylor [Executive Board Member]: I cover political and general news, as well as economics, in Australia and the Pacific for the Wall Street Journal based in Australia’s Parliament in Canberra, I have been a journalist for more than 20 years and I have reported from Afghanistan, South Africa, Myanmar, Mauritius and Sri Lanka. I was previously chief correspondent in Kabul with Reuters and Jakarta bureau chief for Australia’s local agency AAP. I have covered conflict, elections, earthquakes and tsunamis on three continents. I began my career as a news photographer in Africa.



thorstenThorsten Joses[Executive Board Member]: I am a cameraman / videographer and editor, based in Sydney, Australia. I have more than 25 years of worldwide experience in the TV-industry from current affairs to drama and reality. I am a member of the Australian Cinematographers Society (ACS) and familiar with pretty much any camera format.



NeenablacksariNeena Bhandari [Past President 2015 – 17]: I started my career with The Times of India in 1985 and I have since worked in India, the United Kingdom and Australia. I arrived in Australia during the 2000 Sydney Olympics as the Press Trust of India [India’s largest news agency] correspondent for Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. I am the Australia correspondent for headquartered in London,  Inter Press Service and International Press Syndicate. I also contribute regularly to various media outlets in Europe, India and Australia. I have been a FCA member for 16 years and I have served on the FCA Board as the Executive Board Member, Honorary Secretary and Vice-President. I edited the FCA newsletter, The Correspondent, and then helped to launch the FCA website and worked as the Online Editor.