Film maker and author Pamela Traynor introduces the story of two amazing and indomitable young Australians, Allana Arnot and Mark Bagshaw. Pamela discovered their stories when her young daughter Jessica was knocked down by a car at a pedestrian crossing and seriously hurt. The accident set Pamela off on a mission to try to discover the crucial factors which enable some individuals to overcome extraordinary trauma and still lead fulfilling lives in circumstances which would crush most of us. She hoped to find clues which would help her daughter’s recovery. She met Allana and Mark in the course of her search and was immediately struck by the power of their experiences and the strength of their characters. Allana was left with paraplegia after a horrific light plane crash in her early twenties. She had to battle fear of flying and severe physical handicaps but has gone on to gain her commercial chopper pilot’s license. She is now in the middle of a solo flight around Australia. A diving accident at the age of sixteen left Mark Bashaw with complete quadriplegia. That means he is paralysed from the neck down with only a little limited movement in his arms. Despite incredible physical limitations Mark has managed a marriage, a highly successful business career and at the age of forty, is IBM’s international marketing manager for Australia and New Zealand. He went for the job without disclosing his handicap. These are stories to rival the saga of Janice Shepherd as recounted in her best selling books “Never Tell Me Never” and “Dare to Fly”.
Despite being born with a hare lip and double cleft palate, Wendy Harmer has become one of Australia's best known performers.
When Ian Thorpe won his two gold medals at the Athens Olympics, it was a personal triumph for him - and a vindication for a former art teacher called Tracey Menzies.
Debbie Singh was running a Perth boutique and juggling marriage and three children when in 1998 she discovered that her brother had been locked up in Thailand's notorious hell hole, the Klong Prem prison, or the "Bangkok Hilton''.
Beth Heinrich, the woman whose case was central to the controversy that led to the resignation of Governor-General Peter Hollingworth, speaks out publicly for the first time about her 40-year relationship with clergyman Donald Shearman.
Beth Heinrich and her involvement from her school days, with a married priest. She tells of the promises that led her to believe she had a future with him and the betrayal she felt from the Anglican Church hierarchy.
Millions of fans know him as Harold Bishop, the slightly daggy star of the television soapie Neighbours. But until now, none knew Ian Smith's real life story encompasses a drama more remarkable than any script he has ever performed.
Melissa Holland thought she was "lucky" when a last-minute seat became available for a getaway break on King Island with five nursing colleagues. It turned out to be the start of a tragic turn of events that changed her life forever.
Dr Glenn Singleman is the world record holder for high altitude BASE jumping, but he is unable to practise his sport in his own country.
Fourth-generation grazier Bruce Tully stepped away from his heritage and sold his family farm to follow his seemingly impossible dream of designing and selling Australian opal jewellery to the world.
Dick Smith and his friends regroup and visit Ball's Pyramid, the formidable dagger-like rock that spears straight up from the Pacific Ocean, south of Lord Howe Island which they climbed forty years ago.
The dramatic story of a Sydney family forced to flee the city because of fears for the safety of their youngest daughter.
Professor Robert Tindle made a discovery that led to the use of stem cells for saving thousands of lives around the world. His discovery was crucial 20 years later in saving the life of his own critically ill daughter.
Every year, on 5th May the family of Caroline Anderson gather to remember her sudden, unnecessary death.
After the sudden death of cricket legend David Hookes in January last year, some of those closest to David Hookes felt shut out.
Early in 2005 Australian diver Dave Shaw made headlines around the world when he lost his life in a remote cave in South Africa.
Scott Draper has achieved the near impossible in the competitive world of modern sport.
Australian Story revisits the program about serial killer Ivan Milat, who was jailed for life eight years ago for the murder of seven young backpackers.
Peter Andrews is a racehorse breeder and farmer credited with remarkable success in converting degraded, salt-ravaged properties into fertile, drought-resistant pastures.
In this concluding episode, eminent national and international scientists agree that Peter Andrews potentially has the solution to alleviating the affects of drought on many parts of the Australian landscape.
William McInnes is an actor best known for his high profile TV roles in 'Blue Heelers' and 'SeaChange'.
Toni Hoffman is the nurse who lifted the lid on a medical scandal making front page news, not just in Australia, but around the world.
Donna Mulhearn, a 30-something successful journalist and state government public relations officer dropped everything to risk her life as a 'human shield' against the American bombs dropping on Baghdad.
Australian Story follows the extraordinary lives of a Centurion tank crew who last saw each other on a battlefield in Vietnam.
Brian Sherman, co-founder of Equitilink, has founded a new organisation with his daughter called 'Voiceless' which advocates for animal rights.
Last year Lt Col. Lance Collins emerged as the central figure in a major unfolding controversy about the quality of Australia's overseas intelligence.
When Brian and Bobbie Houston established their own tiny house of worship 20 years ago, they didn't dream they would end up at the helm of the biggest independent church in Australia.
Emmah Money is a beautiful and vital young woman with the world at her feet, on a mission to shape her future despite suffering from the life threatening disease cystic fibrosis.
Gemma Sisia established The School of St Jude for poor African children in Tanzania, East Africa which was built by Australian volunteers and sponsors and now boasts more than 500 students.
Dr Lynne Milne has brought forensic palynology to the forefront of Australian crime fighting after helping to solve the murder of Samantha Bodsworth.
When a light plane crash in 1987 took away Maree Stockman's husband, her son and her father-in-law, she was left with a choice: to take her three young daughters and leave the family farm or stay and plough on.
Twenty-five years after a road accident took the life of her younger brother Ben along with seven other young people, Dani Haski reunited the families of those affected and made the trip back to Bourke for a poignant memorial.
NSW Police involved in the siege at Jim Hallinan's property near Tumut four and a half years ago speak out for the first time.
The conclusion to the story of the siege at Jim Hallinan's property at Adjungbilly near Tumut in NSW.
Ian Roberts is best known for being the first footballer in Australia to 'come out' as a gay man.
Four popular and talented veterans of Australian Story get together to stage a once in a lifetime concert.
When a crooked detective rolled over at a major royal commission into police corruption a decade ago, it sent shockwaves through every police force in the country.
Much to the horror of her close-knit family, Kate Holden went from a comfortable middle-class home in Melbourne to the netherworld of drugs and commercial sex.
John Jarratt, veteran of nearly 40 films and TV programs in Australia, is finally hitting the big time with his performance in a small budget horror movie wowing audiences around the world.
In July 2005 convicted killer Heather Osland was released from Victoria's Tarrengower Prison. She had endured nearly 10 years of prison for the murder of her husband, Frank - a crime she and her many supporters claim she did not commit. Outrage over her incarceration has prompted dramatic changes to the Victorian domestic homicide laws. Even so, police still claim she's guilty as charged. In Australian Story, for the first time she describes in detail the violence and fear that she and her children suffered before her husband died, what happened the night of his death...
Koby Abberton escapes a troubled childhood to become one of the world's most successful big wave surfers.
Australian Story reveals the ordeal that has tested an ordinary Australian family beyond their worst imaginings.
Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) women's cycling coach Warren McDonald talks for the first time about the crash which killed one of his team members and injured five others.
Adam Sutton built a reputation as a skilled and respected rodeo rider, horse breaker, riding instructor and trick rider - which culminated with a stint as a wrangler for the movie 'Ned Kelly'.
Craig Lowndes is the first driver to win the Australian Touring Car Championship on debut, the youngest ever winner and the only driver apart from Peter Brock to win the Triple Crown of Australian Motor Sport - the Australian Touring Car championship, the Sandown 500 and the Bathurst 1000 - in the one year.
In 1992 Graham Stafford was convicted of the brutal murder of a Brisbane schoolgirl. Stafford was the last person to see 12-year-old Leanne Holland alive and police were quick to charge him with the schoolgirl’s murder. Despite the compelling body of evidence presented against him during the trial, a broad-based group of professionals, who had never met Stafford, joined forces to clear his name. The group – which includes a former detective, journalist, criminologist and the original jury foreman – believes that much of the evidence used to convict Graham Stafford was seriously flawed. Former detective-turned-private investigator Graeme Crowley has spent the past 15 years unravelling the Crown’s evidence. Whilst initially employed by the Stafford family, Graeme Crowley has continued to pursue the case doggedly at his own expense. In this episode of Australian Story – the first of two parts – Graeme Crowley reveals the results of his research.
This week's Australian Story concludes the two-part program looking into the 1991 murder of 12-year-old Leanne Holland and the subsequent conviction of Graham Stafford. Despite the compelling body of evidence presented against Graham Stafford during his trial, a broad-based group of professionals has joined forces to clear his name. The group, led by former Queensland detective Graeme Crowley, believes that critical evidence used to convict Graham Stafford was seriously flawed. In this week's episode, support for Graham Stafford's case emerges from surprising quarters. Prison guards who knew him in jail speak publicly for the first time in a show of support. The jury foreman from the original trial outlines why he is now convinced of Graham Stafford's innocence. A forensic scientist whose evidence helped convict Graham Stafford now declares that she believes Graham Stafford was wrongly convicted. And a forensic entomologist dismisses a key piece of evidence in Graham Stafford's conviction - the presence of a single maggot in the boot of his car - as an "impossible" scenario. Ex-policeman Graeme Crowley also reveals the results of his 15-year investigation into who he believes killed Leanne Holland.
Ben Potts sailed into worldwide controversy when he boarded a Japanese harpoon boat in the Southern Ocean.
Fashion designers Sarah-Jane Clarke and Heidi Middleton (Sass and Bide) speak about the personal crisis that rocked their universe.
Nicole Cornes reveals the harrowing saga which was playing out behind the scenes of her public humiliation as the Labor Party's candidate for the seat of Boothby in Adelaide.
Charles Waterstreet is one of Sydney’s best known and most colourful barristers.
Speed skier and Paralympian gold medallist Michael Milton faces the supreme test of his life.
A mysterious death, determined ex cop Peter Goonan and one of the nation's oldest cold cases.
Like many Vietnam veterans, Bomber and Roy were traumatised by their experiences. After a chance meeting in a psychiatric ward three years ago, they teamed up to help deactivate landmines in Cambodia.
Legendary rock music promoter Michael Chugg reveals the quiet man behind his loud shirts and even louder voice.
Jessica Disteldorf documented her journey with cancer by video diary capturing the raw, powerful and sometimes amusing twists and turns of her life.
Anne Skinner helps disabled people by teaching them the joy and healing powers of horse riding. But when tragedy struck, Cossack, a horse with a parallel journey of its own, came to the rescue.
Charmaine Dragun was a rising star who seemed to everything to live for - a brilliant career and secret plans to marry her boyfriend on her 30th birthday on Good Friday. But at 29, Charmaine Dragun drove to 'The Gap' in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs and jumped to her death. She had been receiving treatment for depression and her family says she had recently changed her medication... The tragedy shocked all those who knew her. Her family, partner and close friends speak for the first time as part of the process of trying to make sense of what happened and in the hope that Charmaine’s story may help others.
A repeat of the Logie Award winning story of much admired singer and actor Belinda Emmett told through the eyes of her closest circle of family and friends.
Australia has a proud history of entertainers visiting war zones to lift the morale of our troops. On the face of it, a tour of Afghanistan and Iraq would not appeal to everyone. But this program is about a group of entertainers who did step forward to sign up for the journey. They were rewarded with the ride of a lifetime.
The team heads into Iraq to entertain the troops and experiences a frightening trip along the infamous Route Irish in Baghdad.
A few years ago, 'Secret Life of Us' actor Samuel Johnson was one of the rising stars of the Australian film and TV industry. He was dubbed 'Mr Everywhere Man'. Then, as suddenly as he had appeared, he disappeared. Johnson's career and personal life went into well publicised free fall in 2005 after the final series of 'The Secret Life of Us'. In his first television interview since the sudden death of his girlfriend, Samuel Johnson talks about the turmoil of the last three years – and his life changing involvement with Open Family Australia, a charity that works with vulnerable young people. He was one of the key drivers of an Open Family project that recently took eleven young people on a retreat for a crash course in film-making and a journey of emotional self discovery and personal expression.
Body and Soul revisits the tense triangle involving Ash Falkingham, his mother and a stranger from half-way across the world, who wants one of his kidneys…
Ironwoman Candice Falzon confronts her critics and reveals the personal cost of public ridicule.
When Jody Galante was reported missing in January 2006, her seemingly grief-stricken husband Mark appeared on national television pleading for help to find his young wife...
In 2006 Nicola and Jim Walker got the news every parent dreads. Their precious two-year-old daughter, Abby was diagnosed with leukaemia...
Two years ago, the very different journeys of a brilliant doctor and her former patient collided tragically during a busy shift at a GP clinic in the Melbourne suburbs.
Acclaimed actor and author William McInnes turns the tables on Australian Story in an irreverent, 'behind the scenes' look at this own life and the filming process.
When Sally Robbins stopped rowing in the final of the Women's 8s in Athens, it started a controversy that continues to this day.
Raised by a strong single mum, educated in the radical university environment of the late seventies and groomed for success by a powerful man, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh now faces her toughest test.
As the self-styled 'Prince of Paparazzi', Jamie Fawcett has established a prominent profile in a tough and often controversial business.
For someone who’s been on our TV screens every night for twenty years, little is known about two time Gold Logie winner and Most Popular Actress, Kate Ritchie.
Five years ago Australian Story featured the journey of Jenny Newman and her family. This program revisited the Melbourne grandmother to find that her worst fear is being realised.
Respected businessman Bill McHarg radically changed his direction in life to embark on a mission to save the planet.
Daniel Meadows lives his life on the internet. But when he ventured out into the real world for love, disaster struck.
For three decades, Catherine Smith cared for her six children and put up with sadistic domestic violence that has been described as one of the most extreme examples ever witnessed in Australia.
John Maclean was a footballer and aspiring professional athlete when he was hit from behind by an eight-tonne truck 20 years ago.
Hannah Modra was beautiful, clever and popular. She came from a close-knit Melbourne family and was a committed Christian. But within the pages of her diary, she kept a secret that ultimately took her life.
Federal Labor MP Belinda Neal, speaks about the events of of the last few months, her reputation, and her marriage...
Rebecka Delforce and Darren Stratti were primary school sweethearts. Life took them on different paths and when they met again as adults, they knew that they were meant to be together. But in June tragedy struck.
Eight years ago, Australian Story profiled the Howard family and found it was a house divided with two brothers running rival businesses after a bitter family feud. Now we revisit the dynasty to find much has changed.
After 40 years of either playing or coaching top level football, Kevin Sheedy was unceremoniously sacked as coach for Essendon Football Club in 2007. For the first time he talks candidly about leaving Essendon and the new goals he’s kicking.
Merri Rose is a former politician who went from high school drop out, to cabinet minister, to prisoner in sensational circumstances. Despite what she calls her terror of being returned to jail, she is speaking out for the first time.
Earlier this year a massive explosion in a Hunter Valley winery killed winemaker Trevor Drayton and another man. Unable to harvest any grapes, the family was unexpectedly saved by neighbours who came forward to harvest the crop.
Richard Flanagan is a Rhodes Scholar, an adventurer, and an internationally acclaimed author. But in his own home state of Tasmania, he’s been accused of treachery because of his environmental activism.
Rick Grossman, bass player for the Hoodoo Gurus, assembled an all-star cast of Australian musicians to produce a blockbusting fund raising CD to help 'The Buttery', the northern NSW charity that helped him recover from heroin addiction.
Twins Patrick and Bronwyn O'Gorman lost their parents and younger brother on Black Saturday. The two reflect on the day and life since in a story that is emblematic of suffering and loss in the wake of the fires that swept across Victoria.
Lead singer of Yothu Yindi, Mr Yunupingu, was the face of one of the best known Australian rock bands in history. But two years ago the music stopped when he received some life changing news.
When young trainee nurse Kylie Labouchardiere disappeared from Sydney five years ago, the lives of the people she left behind fell into disarray.
The conclusion reveals the devastating impact of one man's crime and manipulations on Kylie Labouchardiere's family, his own wife and child, and an innocent policeman and his wife.
Dr Michael Buist is an intensive care specialist with a unique perspective from both sides of the hospital curtain who's now emerged as a world leader in the push to improve patient care.
Radio and TV personality Ian 'Dano' Rogerson and his wife Nicole gave up their home, careers and an exciting lifestyle for the love of their son, Jack.
Ric Richardson is an inventor who took on the might of Microsoft and scored a remarkable victory.
Dylan Parker makes and flies paper planes and he has become one of the very best in the world.
Ian Conway is a man determined to make a difference. Twenty years ago he made a promise to an Aboriginal elder. It was a big promise and for years he was haunted by the fact that he hadn't delivered.
Behind the scenes Red Symons and his family have been on a journey with their eldest son Samuel that no one could wish for.
A GP, a group of oyster farmers and a Sydney scientist banded together to investigate mysterious water quality issues in one of the most beautiful areas of Tasmania.
The compelling conclusion to our story about a GP and a Sydney scientist who teamed up to investigate a water contamination issue near Tasmania's famous Bay of Fires.
As a little boy, Glenn Scott dreamed of becoming a motorcycle champion… just like his heroes Mick Doohan and Casey Stoner.
Young Sydney musician Lachlan McCarthy's determination to escape the twin demons of poverty and a tragedy involving his father, sees him become the first in his family to finish high school and go to university.
From Perth policeman to a life of high fashion and celebrity in New York, Russell James is one of the world's most influential fashion photographers who is now working in Australia on an art collaboration with Aboriginal artist Clifton Bieundurry.
Emerging from a troubled childhood, self-made coffee millionaire, Kenton Campbell has led a life of extremes. He fulfilled the 'rags to riches' American dream here in Australia, only to find that success left him empty.
Graham Stafford served almost fifteen years in jail for a crime he has always claimed he did not commit. Since his release four years ago, he has continued to argue his innocence and seek redress from the legal system that incarcerated him.
Tara Winkler was just twenty-two when she established the Cambodian Children's Trust in Cambodia. She is now 'mother', mentor and older sister to twenty-seven orphans, some as young as two.
It was hailed as possibly the most inept bank robbery of all time and it made headlines around the world. One of the robbers, Anthony Prince, is back home in Byron Bay, much chastened and speaking for the first time...
Two years ago the harmony of rural life in a small township in Central Victoria was ripped apart after a fatal car accident involving five young friends.
Until last year, Meagen Nay was known as the 19 year old swimmer treading the same path as her Olympian father, Robert. Then fate dealt a second tragic blow in an already painful life story...
Chris 'Douggs' McDougall - free spirit, thrill-seeker or lawbreaker? This BASE jumping pioneer challenges convention and embodies the true definition of 'fearless'.
In August 2008, Bundaberg photojournalist Nigel Brennan was kidnapped in Somalia, along with Canadian reporter Amanda Lindhout. Last year, the Brennan family became players in the shadowy world of international kidnap and ransom.
The murder of one of Australia’s foremost bee experts, Tony Knight, baffled police until a fortuitous event exposed a suspect with a sinister motive.
Part One charts the remarkable in combat experiences of highly decorated female soldier, Matina Jewell, but raises serious concerns about the conditions she faced when wearing the blue beret as a UN peacekeeper.
Part Two explores the ongoing battle Matina Jewell faced at home in Australia once it became clear her days as a career soldier were over.
When Dianne Brimble died mysteriously aboard the Pacific Sky cruise liner in 2002, her family was left to mourn the loss of a beloved mother, wife, sister and daughter. It also began a seven and a half year battle for answers by the two men who had shared her life.
Peter Roberts, an accomplished musician, gave up a lucrative career as a businessman to retrain overseas at his own expense to become Australia's only music thanatologist.
With prescient timing, an in depth look at the woman who has just made history by becoming Australia’s first female Prime Minister.
'Pay it Forward' is a marvellously inspirational tale of sportsmanship, mentoring and redemption across three generations of Australian Rules Football. At the centre of it all is a young man called David Conway.
Wanting to build a better world and keen to offer his skills as a water technician, Shane Dolan signed up with Community Aid Abroad and embarked for the war torn province of Tigray, in Ethiopia.
Kiff Saunders had spent most of his professional life airborne at the helm of a hot air balloon. But despite the heights of his success, he was becoming increasingly disenchanted with the air up there.
After her oldest son announced that he was gay, Shelley Argent was spurred to action. Now she's the national spokesperson for the international organisation PFLAG and a 'gay icon' in her own right...
Glenn Wheatley is an undisputed legend of the entertainment industry. He's guided the careers of huge stars like John Farnham, Delta Goodrem and the Little River Band.
It's seven years since a young American bride, Tina Watson, died during a honeymoon scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef. Her husband Gabe was accused of murder and was eventually convicted and jailed for manslaughter.
The conclusion to our story about young American bride Tina Watson who died seven years ago during a honeymoon dive trip on the Great Barrier Reef.
Van Rudd is an artist who ran in Julia Gillard's seat as an independent backed by the new but tiny Socialist Revolutionary Party.
From homeless teenager to the youngest ever leader of Australia's oldest union, Paul Howes is living a life accelerated.
Jack Heath shocked his family and friends by turning his back on a promising political career to establish an innovative not-for-profit organisation committed to supporting and inspiring troubled youth.
Fourteen years ago Ivan Milat was convicted of one of Australia's most infamous serial killings. His victims were seven young backpackers whose bodies were found in the Belanglo State Forest, south of Sydney.
Working in Afghanistan and Iraq for Time Magazine and then CNN, Michael Ware willingly went where no other reporter could or would.
In this compelling conclusion, Michael Ware reveals the real cost to his psyche of all that he's witnessed for so long.
Andrew Mallard was a young man living homeless on the streets of Perth when he was charged with the murder of Pamela Lawrence. He was convicted of her murder in 1995.
The conclusion to the story of Andrew Mallard who was wrongfully convicted of the murder of Perth woman Pamela Lawrence in 1995.
Jan Cameron has channelled her formidable energies and bank balance towards a new cause in the hope she can influence the way factory farmed animals are treated in Australia.
Fresh off the plane from the Delhi, Meagen Nay updates our original program to explain how success has changed her...
An intimate profile of the enigmatic Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu featuring behind the scenes footage shot by filmmaker Naina Sen, combined with interviews from his family and unofficial spokesperson Michael Hohnen.
What happens when you come out on a national TV reality show in front of more than a million people? After coming out on a national TV reality show in 2006, David Graham is attempting to reconcile his sexuality with his desire to be a farmer, a father and a force within the National Party. For David Graham, the family fallout from such a public confession has been full of drama. Destined for a life on the land, he was born and bred to take over the family property in rural Queensland. But a fraught relationship with his father and a desire to explore the rest of the world led David far afield. By 2006, after a gay bashing, he signed up for Big Brother with the hope that he could raise awareness on gay issues. The decision took David's family by surprise and left his future as the inheritor of the family farm in doubt. Four years later, he's attempting to reconcile his sexuality with his desire to be a farmer, a father and a force within the National Party.
When Kerry Tucker was jailed for seven years for theft and fraud she turned incarceration into an opportunity and is now a successful academic with a PhD and a job at a leading university...
Maggie MacKellar was a city dweller who seemed to have it all – a successful academic career, a devoted husband, a young daughter and another baby on the way.
When Doug Sunderland succumbed to the blues after losing his wife and being diagnosed with cancer, his GP told him to 'get back on his bike'. He did... and it 'saved his life', so much so, that he decided to ride around Australia solo, surviving on tinned food and sleeping by the road.
For the last 48 years Jacki Weaver has been one of Australia's best loved actors. Now 63, she has achieved a stunning career high by being chosen as one of the Best Supporting Actress nominees for this year's Oscars.
Wildlife photographer Jennifer Parkhurst's passion for dingos set her at odds with park rangers - and brought her to the brink of disaster...
On the eve of his retirement from public office, the nation's longest serving Director of Public Prosecutions, Nicholas Cowdery, reflects exclusively on his sixteen years in the top job.
Jade Hopper is a young woman on the cusp of the toughest decision of her life - to pursue her dream of becoming a world no. 1 tennis player or to court success from her law studies.
Two years ago, former Navy clearance diver Paul de Gelder was testing new sonar equipment in Sydney Harbour when he was attacked by a shark and pulled from the water, barely alive.
Last year a Victorian court sentenced Robert Farquharson to a minimum 33 years jail for deliberately driving his three sons to their death in a dam on Father's Day.
Part 1 of the program about lawyer and politician John Quigley whose three decades in the public spotlight have drawn controversy, enmity and notoriety.
The conclusion to our story on Western Australian lawyer and politician John Quigley.
Eight years ago Elizabeth Clayton was living in Fiji when she rescued a young man known as the 'chicken boy'. His name was Sujit and he'd been kept in a hen house as a child and then tied up for 22 years in an old people's home.
Band manager David Powell took the Melbourne rock band JET from obscurity to ARIA triumph and then onto the international stage. But fate was less kind to David – today he is lucky to be alive to tell his story.
On 22 July 2007, Peter Hodgkins threw a rock at a car from an overpass at Kiama, NSW, smashing the skull of beauty therapist Nicole Timbs and changing both their lives forever.
Part 1 of our celebration of 15 years of Australian Story featuring Ric Birch, Gina Rinehart, John Button and Estelle Blackburn, Pauline Hanson, Sam and Jenny Bailey, Nick Ross and Allan Fels.
The conclusion to our celebration of 15 years of Australian Story featuring Gayle Shann, Chris Sarra, Beth Heinrich, Greg Combet, Belinda Emmett, Bob Irwin, Gemma Sisia and Michael Ware.
Brian Sherman rose to great wealth and success as a businessman. His son Emile is a co-producer of 'The King's Speech', winner of this year's best picture Oscar. But what really unites the family is their overwhelming passion for animal welfare.
Charlie Teo is a Sydney neurosurgeon, loved by patients but unpopular with some in the medical establishment. He is credited with prolonging the lives of many people with tumours that were considered inoperable.
Sabina Wolanski was left alone in the world at 17 when her family were killed in the Holocaust. In 2005 she addressed a gathering of state dignitaries in Berlin, received a standing ovation and reduced journalists to tears.
For three and a half years, Newcastle pathologist Dr Simon Palfreeman has been shuttling between Australia and Bulgaria negotiating that country's complex and controversial justice system to try to help his 24 year old son.
The conclusion of our story on Dr Simon Palfreeman, the Newcastle pathologist on a mission to help his son who's serving twenty years in a Bulgarian jail.
When Sally Nielsen's fiance Sam Goddard suffered a catastrophic stroke, she ignored the advice of some of those closest to her and stuck by him. Now her efforts have produced an amazing medical breakthrough.
Penelope Dingle was a former model and actor married to TV science guru Peter Dingle. At the age of 43 she was diagnosed with a common cancer regarded as highly curable if it’s caught early...
The conclusion to the story of Penelope Dingle whose untimely death had shattering and unexpected repercussions for those closest to her.
Alisa Latto was born with a life threatening genetic condition – one shared by her two siblings and her mother, Rosemary... This story follows her difficult journey to motherhood.
International banker Sascha Chandler had a secret he'd been harbouring since childhood. Two years ago he decided to deal with his demons and joined forces with a dogged NSW detective to bring to justice one of the country's most elusive and dangerous predators.
Captain Hec Waller and Ordinary Seaman Teddy Sheean both saw service during the darkest days of the Japanese advance towards Australia during World War II. Despite their heroism neither was ever nominated for the Forces' highest accolade, the Victoria Cross.
An encore edition of our bittersweet story of Queensland vet Ben Cunneen and his co-worker, Natalie Beohm who were exposed to the Hendra horse virus with devastating consequences.
Ita Buttrose and those closest to her go on the record with their recollections of a trail blazing career and a momentous period in Australia's social history in Part One of a candid, moving, and surprising double episode.
In Part Two Ita Buttrose talks candidly about men, dating, loneliness, family, media ethics and grabbing life by the throat, at any age.
In the space of a few years Jonty Bush lost two of her closest family members in separate and unrelated crimes. Instead of succumbing to grief and anger, she took up the challenge to change the world and in the process changed herself...
For the first time on television, David Hicks tells his story. On Tuesday 20th September at 8.30pm on ABC1, David Hicks speaks about his life and journey in David Hicks: Australian Story Special. Over several months, award winning Australian Story reporter/producer Helen Grasswill has explored the Hicks case, encouraging him to reflect on his past and the actions that resulted in six years detention at the controversial US prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. In this revealing program, Hicks sheds light on his childhood and the steps that brought him to embrace Islam and become involved with fundamentalist groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Grasswill also poses the difficult questions, pressing Hicks about his now infamous letters to his family after he spent time in a militant training camp in Pakistan and his differing explanations about why he returned to Afghanistan after the events of September 11, 2001. As well, the program features interviews with members of Hicks's family, key representatives of the Australian government of the day, and a number of experts who give their view on the veracity of Hicks's claims about his time in Guantanamo and the legal case against him.
Not since the mighty Phar Lap has a horse captured the public imagination like Black Caviar. She remains unbeaten after thirteen runs and has been declared the best racehorse in the world.
Three years ago Gavin Larkin used his marketing nous and high profile contacts to create a national day of awareness called R U OK? Day. But not long after the launch, the super fit indomitable Gavin was anything but okay...
When Catherine Smith was found not guilty of attempting to murder her own husband it was a turning point in one of the most extraordinary cases in Australian criminal history.
TV Drama legend Sue Masters teamed up with 'Bra Boys' Maccario de Souza and his friends Mark Matthews and Richie Vas to work on a big screen documentary about big wave surfing, alcohol fuelled violence and the sequence of events that finally frightened the young men into cleaning up their lives.
A repeat of the program about Australian scientists Dr Jennifer MacDiarmid and Dr Himanshu Brahmbhatt and one of medicine's holy grails finding a way to treat cancer without toxic side effects and avoiding drug resistance.
Zelie Bullen is stepping into the international spotlight as the woman who trained 'Abraham', the lead horse in Spielberg's production of the Tony award winning play 'War Horse'.
Part one of the program that centres on the notorious case of Jeffrey Gilham, in jail for life for the murders of his own parents.
The conclusion to the program about the notorious case of Jeffrey Gilham, currently serving a life sentence for the murders of his own parents in Sydney nearly twenty years ago.
Kristina Keneally made history by becoming the first female Premier of NSW. What few realise is the family experience that she says led her into politics and toughened her for the brutal crossfire of public life.
Nazeem Hussain and Aamer Rahman have become two of the hottest young comedians on the Australian comedy scene.
Film critic Margaret Pomeranz introduces this encore edition on the very special personal and professional bond shared by filmmaker Sarah Watt and her husband actor and writer William McInnes.
Part 1 of our story on Di Gicrist, the woman taking on the big end of town and changing the face of justice in South Australia after her husband was killed in a hit-and-run cyclist incident.
The conclusion to our story on Di Gilcrist and her fight for justice after her husband was killed in a hit-and-run cyclist incident.
Kath Evans was diagnosed with lung cancer that had spread to her brain and given only weeks to live. She attributes her sudden, extraordinary recovery to the then Blessed Mary MacKillop and the event was accepted by the Vatican as a miracle.
Yaron Lifschitz took a small, troubled circus company and turned it into an artistic triumph that now has the world applauding its daring and glamour.
David Pollock, a young man from remote Western Australia and Frances Jones, a young woman from the Melbourne suburbs, battle to save the historic grazing property Wooleen.
Daniel Clarke at the age of ten, inspired by the late Steve Irwin, set out to raise funds to conserve habitat for orangutans in Indonesia.
Leigh Woodgate's journey from young mountain girl to shining racing star, through dark days of hospital and recovery to the triumphant joy of riding a horse for early morning track work.
From teenage years marked by delinquency, expulsions from school and several brushes with the law, John Polson became a successful actor and went on to direct some of the world's best known TV dramas.
Another look at the 1997 classic story on Australia's richest person, Gina Rinehart.
Ric Richardson is an inventor who took on the might of Microsoft and scored a remarkable victory.
Scott Neeson built a career as a top Hollywood movie executive but after a holiday in Cambodia, gave it all up and now works to help some of the poorest children there.
Risktaker, investigator and troublemaker: animal advocate Lyn White and the images that shocked a nation.
Since Half a Million Acres aired, the Pollock's battle to save their property has attracted powerful supporters and a visit by natural landscape ecologist, Peter Andrews who has previously featured on Australian Story.
Clive Palmer has been described as a generous giver, a national treasure and a major political force. He's also been labelled a billionaire mining magnate who has never mined, a human headline and a manipulator of the media.
Triple world champion, Sir Jack Brabham became the first driver to be knighted for services to motorsport and the only Formula One driver to win a world title in a car of his own construction.
From international model via prison to toast of Australian fashion week as a new generation designer: Tovah Cottle.
Jack Manning Bancroft, was just 19 when he started a plan to help disadvantaged kids finish school. Now at 26 he's one of Australia's youngest CEO's.
Actress and playwright Kate Mulvany has experienced more than most people do in a lifetime and speaks candidly about life's many challenges and explains how she found the energy and determination to return to the public spotlight.
Gurrumul Yunupingu's haunting voice has captivated global audiences, most recently in London for Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
In the early hours of Sunday June 24, the unbeaten Black Caviar will take on Europe's best at Royal Ascot, in front of the Queen. This is the fascinating inside story of the making of Black Caviar, stretching back across the generations.
Part One of our two part special where friends and family of Diana Bliss tell her story and reveal the extent of the private torment behind the glittering existence.
This week, the conclusion to our story about Diana Bliss whose death earlier this year was reported around the world.
It's a time of unprecedented crisis in the newspaper industry. But this week's Australian Story is about a former big city journalist who's bucking the trend. James Clark had been living the dream in Paris when he decided to put his future, his relationship and the family sheep station on the line to chase his dream of running a little local newspaper in outback Cunnamulla.
Next week's program tells the story of a young woman unsettling her middle class Melbourne family by going out on a limb to 'adopt' a fourteen year old Afghan asylum seeker.
Popular Country singer Beccy Cole has decided she is ready to tell audiences about a personal dilemma which has dogged her for more than ten years.
In 2001 Ian and Sandy Johnson adopted two orphaned children, Tigi and Frazer, from Ethiopia. Now with the children 12 and 15, we returned to find out how it's all worked out.
This program documents Annabelle Sandes' unlikely pathway from the fine art auction rooms of inner Sydney to whale conservation in the Kimberley.
Tanya Pearson has shaped the careers of hundreds of aspiring Australian dancers and at 75 continues to teach classical ballet full time.
Torah Bright has lived in the United States since she was fifteen years old when she turned professional as a snowboarder. Since then, she's flown under the radar of many Australians. Her specialty is the half pipe – a winter Olympic event with a huge international following.
A recent High Court ruling all but ended the branding of cigarette packets in Australia. The decision and the woman behind it, Federal-Attorney General Nicola Roxon, have generated news headlines around the world.
Ben Quilty is an Archibald prize winning artist with a lifelong interest in concepts of masculinity - from youthful excesses with drugs, alcohol and fast cars to soldiers on the front line.
It's forty years since a 15 year old Shane Gould created a sporting sensation by winning three individual gold medals at the Munich Olympics.
Twenty-seven year old John Cantor has devoted the past six years to trying to complete one of the toughest solo expeditions on earth - Brooks Range in Alaska.
Nell Schofield and Jad Capelja, the two young girls who starred in the 1981 Bruce Beresford film 'Puberty Blues', found fame and celebrity and looked set for big careers on screen...
Li Cunxin - once one of the world's best known dancers - embarks on a high stakes return to the ballet world after 15 years as a stockbroker.
Rod Laver, the 'Rockhampton Rocket' remains the player most revered by today's top professionals. His record of twice winning the Grand Slam (all four major singles titles in one year) remains unsurpassed.
Part two follows Laver through his marriage to an older American divorcee, raising children, battling a near catastrophic stroke and his return to Australia in circumstances he describes as the supreme highlight of his life.
Ben Lewin and Judi Levine are two film-makers whose latest film 'The Sessions' has received considerable acclaim and is now being tipped as an Academy Awards contender.
Veteran print reporter Malcolm Brown has covered some of the biggest stories of the last four decades, but now finds himself somewhat out of step with the times in an industry caught on the cutting edge of the digital revolution.
Oscar-nominated actress Diane Cilento left Hollywood at the height of her fame to pursue more creative and spiritual endeavours. Her most enduring love was a theatre she created in the middle of the North Queensland rainforest.
Zelie Bullen is a former stunt woman, turned world renowned animal trainer who trained Abraham, the lead horse in Steven Spielberg's movie 'War Horse'.
In 2004 Sam Cullen and his wife Janet bought a rare collection of photographs at a London auction. They were captivated by the haunting faces in the photos. The couple began piecing together a puzzle few thought could ever be solved. Their quest took them to the beautiful Clarence River region of NSW and into some of the most troubling aspects of our history. Now, eight years down the track, the Cullens' labour of love has turned up some astonishing and surprising results which are revealed for the first time on Monday night...
Scott Johnson was a young man with everything going for him - a maths genius with a bright future. But on a trip to a Sydney beach one sunny day in 1988, everything changed. The search for the truth of what happened that day has brought together a wealthy internet pioneer, an international super sleuth, and the NSW Police Cold Case Unit. This week, the story of their quest to solve a twenty-five-year-old-mystery.
Stevie Wright became a superstar at the age of sixteen, with the iconic 1960s rock band The Easybeats - the first Australian group to achieve chart success in the UK, US and Europe. He went on to win another generation of fans as a solo artist with hits like 'Evie', 'Hard Road' and 'Black Eyed Bruiser'. But along with the exhilarating highs, he has experienced devastating lows - which on several occasions could have been fatal. Now the legend of Stevie Wright is being rekindled with help from fellow musician and lifelong fan, Scott McRae who has created a 'rockumentary' live show of his idol's extraordinary life. Australian Story has recorded Stevie Wright's last public performance - a special poignant encore in Scott McRae's stage show.
This week's program is about a man who's become an international pioneer in a significant but unlikely field. A failed medical school student turned journalist, Peter Ford hit the big time in the US as a CNN anchorman. He travelled extensively and covered many big stories around the world. But beneath the telegenic exterior an 'inner nerd' was lurking. Using his self-taught computer code-writing skills, Peter developed software that enables the most severely disabled people to communicate. His invention has even attracted the interest of Professor Stephen Hawking...
This week, the story of three young Australians and their mission to rescue an orphaned elephant calf on the Indonesian Island of Sumatra. Sumatran elephants are officially listed as critically endangered, driven out of their habitat by encroaching industries – in particular, palm oil production. It is estimated that there are now only two or three thousand left in the wild. But against all the odds, one Sumatran elephant calf has become a symbol of hope in an otherwise bleak situation. The program has the heart warming story of 'Bona' and three friends mobilising to save her. The three are all ex employees of the late Steve Irwin, who had a particular interest in the plight of the Sumatran elephants. As this episode reveals, some of those closest to the 'Crocodile Hunter' played a key role in the saga...
This week's program has the untold personal story of an Australian cricket captain through the eyes of those closest to him. The cricket captaincy occupies a unique place in the national consciousness. When Ricky Ponting, the first Tasmanian to lead the team, retired from international cricket last December, grown men cried, parliamentary business was interrupted and a gaping hole was left in the once all conquering Australian cricket team. The episode reveals how a prankster from a tough housing commission background in Launceston made the transition to one of the most decorated cricketers of all time and the nation's best batsman after the mighty Sir Donald Bradman. Wife Rianna is credited with being a major influence in the transformation. In Monday's program she provides her first ever extended interview with some surprising, highly personal and candid insights. Former teammates including Shane Warne, Michael Clarke, Justin Langer and Adam Gilchrist recount their memories of playing on and off the field with the man they call 'Punter'.
Monday night's program has the emotional conclusion to our story about former Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting and his family. This episode has the inside story of a series of dramatic highs and lows on and off the field. On the cricket pitch, Ponting's triumphant century in the 2003 World Cup final, losing and regaining the Ashes, and the PR disaster of 'Monkeygate'. While at home, unfolding behind the scenes, there was a long and private struggle to parenthood, disclosed here for the first time by Ponting and his wife Rianna. When Ponting suddenly decided to retire last year, it was front page news around the nation and even Federal Parliament stopped briefly to mark the occasion. In this program, Ponting, his parents, and wife Rianna tell the full inside story behind the decision...
We first profiled official war artist Ben Quilty last September as he worked on portraits of Australian soldiers who'd served in Afghanistan. Quilty spoke then of the strong bonds he'd formed with many of his subjects, including some of the elite special operations troops who he says revealed a depth of emotional distress that shocked him to his core. Six months later, Quilty's exhibition is now on tour and attracting much interest. In the intervening time, his own journey from artist to angry advocate has led him to argue for better treatment for returned soldiers who he says continue to suffer from their time in the war zone.
This week we're returning to Cunnamulla in outback Queensland and the story of a newspaper, an unlikely romance and a grazing property. James Clark left the bush and found success in the city. But he was drawn home and then chased a new dream of running the local paper. In the process, he divided the town. As you'll see, there've been a number of significant arrivals down on the farm since we last visited.
If you are a certain age chances are you remember exactly where you were in the early hours of September 27 thirty years ago. It was the day an Australian yacht ended the longest winning streak in sporting history, grabbing the legendary America's Cup from the grandees of the New York Yacht Club. Unprecedented and spontaneous celebrations broke out all around the nation from the coastal fringe and deep into the Outback. In this thirtieth anniversary year, with many of the key players now advanced in age, Australian Story revisits those euphoric and nation defining events. There are surprising and entertaining new insights from all the main players, including then Prime Minister Bob Hawke, Alan Bond and his former wife Eileen and skipper John Bertrand. Also interviewed are Australia II crew member Grant Simmer, London Olympics gold medallist Tom Slingsby and Sydney born 2010 America's Cup winning skipper James Spithill. The story, over two weeks on April 8 and 15, strongly evokes the eighties with a newly elected Hawke Government, economic adversity, drought and bushfires and the infectious music of Men at Work, Midnight Oil and Australian Crawl. There is also priceless and rarely seen archival footage with cameos from US Presidents Reagan and John F Kennedy and early film of Alan Bond and Ben Lexcen.
This week's program concludes the story of Australia II's epic quest to win the America's Cup and end the longest winning streak in sporting history. This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of those nation defining moments. The victory has been listed alongside the Moon Landing and the assassination of President John F Kennedy as one of the events that Australians regard as most memorable. Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke, Syndicate Head Alan Bond and skipper John Bertrand are among those who provide intriguing accounts of what was really going on behind the scenes. We also examine the legacy of the win, and discover what's happened to some of the key players in the decades that have followed.
Monday's Australian Story provides new insights into a saga that's captured the imaginations of all kinds of people all around the world. On Saturday, Melbourne staged a final farewell to Black Caviar. It's been two years since the champion mare first featured on Australian Story. Since then her story has gone global and now rivals that of Phar Lap in terms of regard and recognition.
In a 35-year career, Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox has forged a reputation as an officer who goes out of his way to look after victims. He rose to national prominence late last year when he defied police rules and disclosed explosive allegations that the Catholic Church had consistently covered up the crimes of paedophile priests in the Newcastle-Hunter region of NSW. The decision to speak out occurred on the spur of the moment during an emotional public forum. Fox says he thought at the time that the consequences would be 'fairly heavy'. But he walked onto the public stage anyway, and addressed hundreds of abuse victims and their supporters. Other appearances followed and within weeks, the Prime Minister announced a far-reaching Royal Commission into the sexual abuse of children in institutions. Fox, along with others, is credited with helping to trigger it. Call Of Duty features exclusive footage of Peter Fox at the meeting that changed his life. For the first time, the program reveals the personal, untold story of a senior policeman whose determination to be 'his own man' has brought him enemies as well as passionate supporters.
This week's program is about a woman who provided some of Australia's most memorable moments at the last Olympics. Anna Meares, the unflinching 'coalminer's daughter' from Central Queensland, has dominated cycling for nearly a decade. The story of her triumphant return to the track after a catastrophic accident has been well documented. What is less well known is the detail of the psychological struggles she navigated on the road to the London Olympics. Her ascendancy in her sport came at some cost to personal and family relationships. As a consequence of Anna's rise, her sister's dreams were crushed. And then there were her famous on and off track battles with the British favourite Victoria Pendleton which soon became the stuff of tabloid legend. From the UK, Pendleton provides candid new insights into the intense rivalry with Meares. And for the first time, Anna Meares reveals her own inside story.
This week's program concludes the dramatic story of Olympic cyclist Anna Meares. Meares has dominated women's cycling for nearly a decade. Her first big rival was her own sister and then came fierce battles on and off the track with British favourite Victoria Pendleton. The program reveals details of the audacious victory plan devised by the Australian team in the lead up to the London Olympics and the surprising aftermath...
This week's program is about a man recently named by The Australian newspaper as the most influential broadcaster in Australia. He's Radio 2GB 'shock jock' Ray Hadley and his top rating morning radio show is heard all along the East Coast. Hadley was driving taxis when a chance encounter gave him the break he'd dreamed of since he was a kid in a working class suburb. It wasn't long before he toppled John Laws from the number one spot in the notoriously tough Sydney radio market. Ray Hadley is loud, opinionated and controversial. He's a tireless worker for charity. And he's merciless towards politicians. In this program Ray Hadley opens up and reveals some uncomfortable truths about the past and about the temper that's been getting him into trouble.
Australian Story on May 27 will feature an updated edition of the Logie awarding winning episode on former First Lady Hazel Hawke, first aired ten years ago. There will be new interviews and other material from those closest to Mrs Hawke in her final days. The death of the former First Lady is generating a huge groundswell of public affection and mourning. She has been described as Australia's Eleanor Roosevelt. With close cooperation from the family, Australian Story will showcase the highlights of a courageous, groundbreaking and sometimes tumultuous life, marked by public service as well as personal triumphs and hard knocks.
When Lisa Poulos stepped into a Melbourne taxi six years ago, she had no idea how her life was about to turn upside down. To that point she appeared to her friends to be the woman who had everything. But when her taxi was involved in a minor accident that day in Melbourne, it set off a dramatic series of events, eventually revealing a dark truth that nobody knew was there. It gave Lisa Poulos the idea to turn her bad fortune into something positive. As a prominent player in the fashion world, she decided to use her contacts to create a project which would help other women facing the same difficulties. But first she had to get used to the idea of laying her life bare...
Sami Shah has been in Australia for less than one year but he's already making a name for himself on the stand up comedy circuit in Western Australia. Shah was fronting his own groundbreaking satirical show on TV in Karachi; a dangerous line of work in the political environment of Pakistan. After a narrow escape from a devastating bomb attack he and his wife and small daughter applied through the official migration process to settle in Australia. Under the terms of their migration visa they were obliged to settle in a rural area and ended up in the small town of Northam. When Sami Shah took to the stage with his cutting edge stand up routines, not everyone was amused...
Monday's Australian Story centres on a crime that has been described as one of the 'top five' unsolved murder mysteries in Australian history. Twenty years after the heyday of the Ned Kelly gang, the nation was shocked by the brutal deaths of three siblings on a bush track. A young farmer Michael Murphy and his two sisters were bludgeoned to death near the town of Gatton, 100 kilometres from Brisbane in 1898. The trio were returning from a Boxing Day outing. The savagery of their deaths was all the more puzzling because of the absence of any apparent motive. Retired dentist, turned author Stephanie Bennett has spent years painstakingly trawling through archival evidence and she now believes she's cracked the case. Others are less convinced. But some Murphy descendants are grateful for her efforts. They say the crime scarred the family down the generations, and believe that Stephanie Bennett may indeed have delivered 'the truth'...
This week's program is about a fatal plane crash and the disturbing facts that emerged in the aftermath. It started when a young woman called Samantha Hare surprised her partner with the gift of a joy flight off the coast of South East Queensland back in 2008. In the pilot's seat was a well known, colourful and seemingly highly reputable aviator called Barry Hempel. But unbeknownst to Samantha Hare, Mr Hempel had been stripped of his commercial pilot's license - and there were other worrying issues too. Mr Hempel and Samantha's fiance, Ian Lovell, were both killed when their plane plummeted into the sea. This week's episode tells the story of Samantha Hare and her five year quest for answers in the face of a 'smorgasbord' of baffling and worrying questions.
This week, the story of a young Adelaide student and the obsession that's made her an international publishing sensation. She's 28 year old Hannah Kent and her novel on an Icelandic murderess sparked a bidding war. Now there is talk of a Hollywood movie. It started with a Rotary exchange visit to Iceland when Hannah Kent was just 17. She felt lonely and claustrophobic in the alien 24 hour darkness of the Icelandic winter. But hearing, by chance, about the execution site she became intrigued by the story of Agnes Magnusdottir, beheaded for murder in Iceland some 200 years ago, and the last woman to suffer that fate. In the program Hannah Kent tells the untold story of her decade long interest in the macabre story of Agnes and how it's taken her to strange and unexpected places.
Singer Jessica Mauboy introduces this updated program on the life of Yothu Yindi frontman Mr Yunupingu. "Growing up in Darwin, everyone looked up to him, and it made me want to do that line of work. I wanted to be just like that," she says. Mr Yunupingu went from school teacher to school principal to international rock star when the song 'Treaty' became a hit around the world. He was named Australian of the Year in 1992. But his health deteriorated in the last 7 years due to a combination of diabetes, high blood pressure and alcohol dependence. In 2009 Australian Story documented his battle with kidney failure and his reluctant acceptance of a life on dialysis three times a week. He was awaiting a kidney transplant when he passed away last month, aged 56. The updated program includes new material on Mr Yunupingu's life at his home in Arnhem Land in his final years, as well as fresh interviews with his family, friends and music industry luminaries Molly Meldrum and Michael Gudinski.
It's said there’s nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come... This week's program is about a psychology student and a brainwave that became a phenomenon. As Tasmania's terrifying bushfires took hold in January, Mel Irons set up a a Facebook page... The spur of the moment decision became the start of a social media whirlwind that provided a helping hand to thousands of people isolated by the fires. From generators for oyster breeders, to tin openers for the local Food Bank and even a small armada of boats to ferry supplies to the needy, Mel Irons was at the helm. She admits she took risks and cut corners. But the essence of her approach is now being embraced by the State Government and Emergency Services.
This week's program is about a man who's made a big name in London but is little known back in Australia. Richard Farleigh amassed an early fortune as a young gun in the financial markets and went on to star on a top-rating British television program. But what's remarkable about Farleigh is his background. He was one of a family of eleven children born to an itinerant, violent and alcoholic sheep shearer. Farleigh and several of his older siblings were removed by Welfare authorities to an orphanage and he was subsequently fostered. Initially diagnosed as 'backward', his luck changed when a school teacher recognised his abilities and became 'the first person that I felt really cared about me'. He excelled at maths and tournament chess and by his mid-thirties was a multi-millionaire business entrepreneur, moving to the UK five years ago. Now in his fifties, he has been back in Australia, retracing a past that he says continues to haunt him in ways he 'can't control'.
August marks the 50th anniversary of one of Britain's most infamous crimes – the Great Train Robbery. Ronald Biggs was sentenced to 30 years gaol for his part in the crime that he once described as 'too good to refuse'. But behind the robbery and Biggs' subsequent escape to Australia, there's an epic saga of a woman's resilience and loyalty. Disowned by her middle class parents, Charmian Biggs and their two children, followed Biggs to Australia in the hope of a fresh start. It was the beginning of a tumultuous three decades marked by discoveries, escapes, betrayals and reunions. Forced to divorce her husband to help him avoid extradition from Brazil, Charmian Biggs raised her sons on her own and studied to obtain a university degree. She became a successful book editor under the new name of Brent. Then in 2001 Biggs finally surrendered to the British authorities so he could receive medical treatment. At that time, Charmian Biggs spoke out to Australian Story to set the record straight about her tumultuous life with, and without, the Great Train Robber. Now events have taken a new twist with the production of an award winning British TV drama series based on her life and inspired by her original Australian Story appearance. And that's led to some emotional reunions with 84 year old Biggs, now a free man, debilitated and in a nursing home, but still professing his love for Charmian...
This week we visit a scenic valley where best selling author Di Morrissey and a determined group of rural residents have stared down a corporate giant. The setting is the spectacular Manning Valley in the mid north coast of New South Wales. When the electricity transmission company TransGrid decided to build a high voltage power line through the valley, the community elected to fight. Led by former sports administrator turned farmer, Peter Epov, and including an airline pilot, engineer and a former business analyst, they pooled their expertise and skills to tackle the seemingly impenetrable data of a complex industry. What they discovered has far reaching implications for anybody who pays electricity bills.
Award winning television journalist Sara James was living the dream as an anchor and foreign correspondent for American network NBC. She'd lived in New York for fifteen years and reported from around the world including the war zones of Somalia, Sudan and in the Middle East. Then she met and married another high flyer, Australian journalist Andrew Butcher, who worked closely with Rupert Murdoch as his corporate affairs manager. But with the birth of their second daughter came a curve ball. Baby Jacqui didn’t cry and was having multiple seizures. 'Your baby has a bad brain' said the medical specialist. A nurse took Sara aside and said 'they don’t always know you know. Your baby has bright eyes. Don't give up.' To the amazement of their friends, the Butchers abandoned Manhattan, scooped up their family and moved to the Macedon Ranges outside Melbourne. There they embraced an entirely new way of life as they started to unlock the mysteries of Jacqui's distressing and taxing condition.
Chloe Palmer-Simpson was just 18 when she was involved in a head-on car crash near her home in Bargo in New South Wales. The accident left her fighting for her life and dealing with a severe brain injury. Although the elite swimmer was just minutes from death, the efforts of medical staff coupled with her own determination led to a recovery that stunned everyone. Now, just 16 months after the accident, Chloe Palmer-Simpson is attempting to walk PNG's Kokoda Track accompanied by the medical team who saved her life to raise funds for trauma research at St George Hospital. The track is routinely described as 96 kilometres of sheer hell and that's for the able-bodied. Asking a young woman recuperating from traumatic injuries to attempt it is not without risk. Can Chloe Palmer-Simpson survive the walk, let alone reach the finish line?
Retiring independent MP Tony Windsor offers a unique insider's account on Australian Story of the last three years of political tumult. After two decades in politics, both state and federal but always as an independent, Tony Windsor shocked many when he announced his retirement two months ago. He played a deciding role in two hung parliaments and helped keep Nick Greiner's NSW Liberal government in power twenty-two years ago. But it wasn't until he backed Julia Gillard's minority government in 2010 that he experienced widespread fallout – including death threats - from those who thought he'd abandoned his conservative New England electorate. From his vantage point in the Simpson Desert, far away from what he calls the 'greasy pond' of Canberra politics, Tony Windsor offers a final – and at times surprising - verdict on Canberra's political leaders.
Includes interviews with President Bill Clinton, Jack Nicklaus, Peter FitzSimons, Morgan-Leigh Norman (daughter), and Gregory Norman Junior (son) and third wife Kirsten in her first television interview. When Adam Scott became the first Australian ever to win the US Masters golf tournament earlier this year, he immediately paid an emotional tribute to his mentor Greg Norman. Norman remains a world sporting icon and is considered by many to be Australia's greatest ever golfer. But his friend, President Bill Clinton, interviewed for Australian Story, says Greg was never universally 'embraced in a way that some great golfers are.' Greg Norman was also a trail blazer off the course, parlaying sporting success into a multi-millionaire dollar business empire built around his moniker, The Great White Shark. But the high visibility of his 'living brand' status, rebounded when he endured a very public and expensive break-up from his first wife, followed by a brief marriage to former world number one tennis player Chris Evert. Now married again, Norman says he is finally happy and in a very good place. 'I just don’t want any drama anymore'. Over two parts this week and next, Australian Story examines the complex life and times of one of the country's most successful athletes.
Australian Story concludes the epic tale of Greg Norman, recognised as one of Australia's best and most flamboyant sports stars. Norman dominated international golf for nearly two decades in the eighties and nineties. He blazed a trail by cannily converting personal sporting success into a multi million dollar business brand. But his approach hasn't always drawn universal admiration and he concedes that his headline grabbing personal life hurt his image for a period of time. This week's episode covers the famous 1996 US Masters loss in which Greg Norman's grace in the face of crushing defeat drew admiration. The loss drove him to tears. But it was finally 'vindicated' earlier this year when Adam Scott became the first Australian to win the elusive trophy and paid emotional tribute to Greg Norman as his mentor. This episode also covers the story of Greg Norman's friendships with two US Presidents. There are candid family disclosures about the break up of his marriage to former world number one tennis star Chris Evert and his subsequent remarriage to third wife Kirsten 'Kiki' Norman.
In a world obsessed with physical beauty, Robert Hoge is a man embracing 'ugly'. Hoge was born 41 years ago with a massive tumour in the middle of his face. At first his own mother couldn't bear to look at him and the family was advised to 'put him in a home'. There were national newspaper headlines when a pioneering craniofacial surgeon used the cartilage from baby Robert's toe to construct a nose. Hoge grew up to become a journalist and then built a stellar career as a public servant culminating in the job of media advisor to then Queensland Premier Anna Bligh. But he has rejected further surgery that might make him look more conventional. Now a husband and a father himself, he's on a mission to confront us all with some difficult questions and start a new debate about concepts of beauty and ugliness and everything in between...
Melbourne schoolgirl Olympia Nelson is only sixteen, but she's no stranger to controversy. She's grown up in an unusual but talented household as the daughter of an art critic and acclaimed photographer Poli Papapetrou. Olympia and her mother have had a long creative partnership. But in 2008 an unclothed photograph of Olympia aged six generated national controversy when it appeared on the cover of the magazine 'Art Monthly'. Even the Prime Minister bought in. Now Olympia has weighed in from an unexpected direction by publicly challenging the popularity of 'selfies' – often explicit self portraits posted on social media. Her robust analysis of the selfie trend and issues around girls, sexual expression and self image was published by The Age Newspaper, setting off a new debate...
Much has changed since Australian Story first explored the private and professional worlds of Clive Palmer sixteen months ago. At the time former Qld Premier Peter Beattie concluded 'you haven't heard the last of Clive Palmer, you're just going to have to get used to bigger screens'. Even he could scarcely have predicted the turn of events now unfolding, with Mr Palmer poised to wield political influence in Federal Parliament The extent of that influence is yet to be determined but it's now clear that the Palmer United Party has secured two Senate seats with a possible third in Western Australia. It's speculated he could even end up holding the balance of power in the Upper House. With so many theories abounding, who is the real Clive Palmer; what can we expect next and what impact might there be on the way the nation's run...
Fred Smith has been described as 'Australia's secret weapon' in international diplomacy. As a career diplomat, he's represented Australia in Bougainville and more recently in Afghanistan. But it's his second career as a musician that came to the fore in Uruzgan province, when he wrote a song about the death of Australian soldier Ben Ranaudo. "Dust in Uruzgan" captured the hearts of many serving in Afghanistan and a second song, "Sapper's Lullaby" has become an anthem for soldiers and their families. Now, with Australian forces about to depart Afghanistan, this is the story of a diplomat with a difference.
Three years ago Maggie MacKellar, daughter of a former Federal Cabinet Minister, was living on the family farm in NSW trying to reassemble the pieces of her life. A writer and Sydney Uni academic, Ms MacKellar was left widowed and pregnant in particularly harrowing circumstances. She seemed resolved to raise her daughter and son alone, on her own terms in the country. When her story was aired on Australian Story in February 2011, it drew a big viewer response. Among the emails was a message from a stranger – a divorced 49 year old sheep farmer in Tasmania. What happened next was as unexpected as it was heart warming...
The Damiani family's story has been described as a breathtaking example of how medicine can be transformed by the determination of ordinary people. Four years ago, Stephen and Sally Damiani's baby son Massimo succumbed to a mystery disease. In the space of a few weeks, the toddler lost the ability to eat and crawl. The prognosis was bleak and the cause mystifying. Stephen Damiani, who has a background in construction economics and risk management, teamed up with a young geneticist to map the family's genome in an attempt to discover the cause of his son's illness. In the process, his seemingly impossible quest for answers has made a discovery that's astonished the international medical community and has implications for us all.
They say every family has its secrets, but in Susan Swingler's case those secrets were buried more deeply than most. Abandoned by her father at the age of 4, Susan Swingler spent the better part of her life seeking out the man who had left her behind. What she discovered along the way shocked her to the core. She uncovered a web of lies that was simply astonishing, all the more so because the woman who had woven it was one of Australia's best known and best loved authors.
As a fatherless child, Johnson Maker-Adeng fled from war-ravaged Sudan with the remnants of his family. For four years they trekked through the African wilderness. Then they spent more than a decade in a migration queue. Finally the family were accepted as refugees and granted entry into Australia and a fresh start. From traumatic beginnings, Johnson Maker-Adeng is now in the process of fulfilling childhood dreams that not so long ago would have seemed preposterous. Australian Story has been filming his progress over the last seven years.
Murray Rose was an inspiration for generations of Australians, in and out of the swimming pool where he won six Olympic medals. Yet despite his role building up the 'golden era' of the Australian swim team in the 1950s and 60s, the stories that emerged last year in the aftermath of his death surprised many younger people who had barely heard of him. Murray Rose personified many of the virtues of the Australian athlete: a good sport, a calm and collected mind under pressure and a consistent race winner. But it was his interests outside the pool that he claimed gave him a winning edge and helped focus his mind. He was a vegetarian and a follower of an Indian philosopher, long before such 'new age' ideas became fashionable. Before he died, Murray Rose was working on a candid memoir and in this program, some of the sport's biggest names and his close family members offer an insight into a man who, it transpires, was much more than a fast swimmer.
Part two of the top rating 'A Feeling For The Water' opens with Murray Rose's move to California to begin a university scholarship. America in the later 1950s was an attractive fit for Rose and his varied interests, including vegetarianism, spirituality and acting. Already a gold medallist three times over in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, Rose went on to swim one of his most famous races at Rome in 1960, perfecting his strategy of out-psyching opponents and winning gold again in the 400 metres. Now with a fourth gold medal, Rose looked set to dominate his events for years to come until the controversial decision to exclude him from the Tokyo Olympics team in 1964 – a decision that polarises officials until this day. Before he died, Murray Rose was working on a candid memoir and in this program, some of the sport's biggest names and his close family members offer an insight into a man who, it transpires, was much more than a fast swimmer.
Annabel Blake grew up with a mother who, as a young athlete, had hoped to represent Australia in the 1988 Winter Olympics. Janine Shepherd's nickname, 'Janine the Machine' reflected the grit and dedication she brought to the ski slopes and it was these traits that helped her recover when a training accident left her permanently disabled. Despite these setbacks, Janine raised her three children to follow their passions and demonstrated through her own challenging life that nothing is impossible. Now, in a surprising twist, her daughter Annabel is hoping to capture a place in the Australian team to compete in next year's Winter Olympics in the new – and dangerous – sport of slopestyle skiing.
In 1996 Matthew Reilly, aged 22, self-published his first book. Now he has a list of international best sellers. In his books heroes prevail against impossible odds. But in his own life he's faced unexpected adversity from the most unlikely quarter. When, as a consequence, he lost his wife Natalie, Matthew Reilly's world collapsed. He says he thought he would never write again. As he reveals on Australian Story, the loss drove him to the brink of disaster.
Three years ago, 35 year old fashion photographer David Murrell was told he had just months to live. A tumour the size of an orange was removed from his brain. It was the worst kind of highly aggressive cancer. But in a lucky coincidence his own father, a cell biologist, emerged as a possible saviour. Dr Wayne Murrell just happened to be part of a team in Norway working on an experimental vaccine for exactly that kind of tumour. "I'm a scientist, I don't believe in coincidence!" Dr Murrell says. But what happened next defied the odds...
This week's Australian Story charts Torah Bright's remarkable comeback from a year of setbacks and struggles, culminating in an euphoric medal win at the Sochi Winter Olympics. Bright grabbed Australia's first medal with a nail biting silver in the Women's Half Pipe final. The latest win makes her our greatest female winter Olympian. For the family oriented snowboarder, the achievement is remarkable, given a supremely difficult preparation year marked by tough personal and professional challenges. Australian Story viewers first met Torah Bright two years ago. This program documents the behind the scenes role of unusually strong family ties as Bright pushes through every possible obstacle on the path to Sochi...
Lt.Col. Cate McGregor AM has been a participant in some of the most significant chapters in recent Australian history. She has been a political strategist for both the ALP and the Liberal Party. In her current role as a senior Army officer, she wrote last year's landmark speech by the Chief of the Army David Morrison which went viral around the world. Now, she is the most high profile individual in Australia to 'come out' as a transgendered person. When, after decades of private struggle, Malcolm finally decided to become Cate she was 'terrified' about the likely reaction from friends and colleagues. Prime Minister Abbott, Army Chief David Morrison, Liberal pollster Mark Textor and political journalist Barrie Cassidy are among a range of high profile individuals who speak candidly about Cate's transformation and its impact on them.
Monday night's program centres on a remarkable friendship between a top scientist and a coach driver and a crazy brave dream to do something about childhood cancer. Their unlikely alliance has forged a breakthrough that's creating excitement around the world. Col Reynolds started raising funds to help children with cancer after a chance encounter at a hospital. He was introduced to cancer researcher Professor Peter Gunning who desperately needed funds to explore a radical new way of forcing cancer cells to collapse by 'killing' a single component. By 2009 Professor Gunning and his associates had developed a drug and began lab tests. Last year their beakthrough findings were published in the prestigious Cancer Research Journal with human trials now not too far off...
David Rennie fell in love with photography seven years ago when he was lured from his car by the sight of a passing bird overhead. The encounter led to a newfound passion for wildlife photography that took him away from his family for weeks at a time as he tracked birds through the environmentally sensitive Mandurah wetlands south of Perth. His skills as a self-taught photographer were recognised last year when he won the prestigious Australian Geographic ANZANG award for a dramatic shot showing a young osprey and a spoonbill narrowly avoiding a collision in mid air. Documenting the fragile birdlife also helped David deal with his own demons and ultimately to confront a bizarre mystery involving his father.
Tara Winkler was just 19 when she set off on the trip to Cambodia that would change her life. After coming across an orphanage where funds were embezzled and young girls sexually abused, she set up her own orphanage in the city of Battambang in 2007. Seven years later, the organisation she created is no longer an orphanage but a community development organisation offering help to poor families and more than 100 children each day. Tara Winkler is no longer 'mum' to the kids. But in the four years since she was first profiled on Australian Story, she has faced dramas in her professional and personal life that nobody could have predicted. The story is introduced by fashion designer Jodhi Meares, a supporter of Tara Winkler's Cambodian Children's Trust.
Adam Boland was just 26 years old when he was handed the reins of the ailing Sunrise program on Channel 7. It was the start of something very new and a game changer for the networks. Some observers credit Boland with paving the way for the current ascendancy of the Seven Network. But it's been a tempestuous ride for Adam Boland. Now in the aftermath of a very public implosion, he's walking away from the industry that he says nearly destroyed him.
Introduced by Australian of the Year, Adam Goodes. Explorer and airline pilot Percy Trezise was captivated by Quinkan rock art fifty years ago when road workers stumbled across an ancient painting. The Quinkans are now rated among the most impressive and ancient rock art in the world. They became an obsession for Trezise – a passion passed on to his two sons. Percy recorded stories from the elders and worked closely with legendary artist Dick Roughsey to protect the fragile paintings, hidden amongst the sandstone escarpments near Laura in Far North Queensland. Now his sons, Matt and Steven Trezise, are at a crossroads as they contemplate their own uncertain future after years guiding visitors into the rock art sites and managing their father's legacy.
Getting on for a decade after his death, the legendary businessman Kerry Packer remains an intriguing and puzzling figure. Building on his father's success in the media industry, he dominated Australian TV and became the nation's richest person. His own son James is now following in his father's footsteps, extending the reach of the Packer empire around the world. But beneath the famous bravado and bluster of Kerry Packer, was there actually a very complex personality, at odds with the public image? Was he, as some say, a deeply conflicted man 'at war with himself'? In Monday's Australian Story, some of those who knew the tycoon well share their candid insights into the Packer paradox, the demons that drove him, and the 'deeply sentimental' side that was kept well out of the public gaze. The program features a wealth of rarely seen archival material and photographs.
This week, the conclusion of our story about the legendary businessman Kerry Packer... Beneath the famous bravado and bluster was he actually a deeply conflicted, emotional man who spent his life 'at war with himself'? The program explores puzzling questions around a fatal road accident some sixty years ago that nearly ended Kerry Packer's life when he was just eighteen. It traces the decline of a man once seen as indestructible and tracks the spectacular rise of his son James under the strict tutelage of his father. Do the strong patterns of the past provide clues to the future of the Packers in the 2lst Century? Introduced by Caroline Jones and features Jodhi Meares, Al 'Chainsaw' Dunlap, Malcolm Turnbull, Phillip Adams, Graham Richardson, John Howard and others.
Introduced by Amanda Shalala from ABC Grandstand This week's program tells the story of an Olympic champion so seemingly without ego that even his son and grandsons knew very little of his fame. Andrew 'Boy' Charlton was a hero who stamped his name across the world, with feats so marvellous he forged Australia's national spirit at a time when the nation was beleaguered by the Depression and the losses of the Great War. At just 16, he sliced two minutes off the world record for the 1500m freestyle, and won Australia’s first gold medal in that event at the 1924 Paris Olympics. It was the beginning of a dynasty of Australian swimmers – Murray Rose, John Konrads, Kieren Perkins and Grant Hackett – who later made the 1500m 'Australia's event'. But then at the height of his fame, and when Hollywood movie offers were there for the taking, 'Boy' Charlton retired to the bush, with no desire to perpetuate his name. Now a new generation is rediscovering this great Australian – a man called 'Boy'.
Introduced by international music star Leo Sayer. This week's program tells the bitter sweet personal story behind the hard-living facade of iconic Australian rock musician, Doc Neeson. As lead singer of The Angels, Doc Neeson had a string of big hits from the seventies right through to the nineties. One of their songs remains an unofficial anthem for generations of Australian youth. But just before Christmas 2012, Neeson was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour. Australian Story followed Neeson's journey over the last year as he received an Order of Australia and was the beneficiary of a fundraising concert featuring his friends Jimmy Barnes, Peter Garrett and David Haselhoff. The program also looks at the history and legacy of the legendary Angels band through the eyes of its original manager, John Woodruff and the producer of its most successful records, Mark Opitz.
Introduced by Caroline Jones. It was supposed to be the adventure of a lifetime but when Australian nurse Christy King led a group of experienced trekkers into the PNG jungle everything changed in an instant. Early in the evening of their first night in the mountainous terrain of the Black Cat track, the group was attacked by men wielding machetes and robbed at gunpoint. As day turned to night, Christy King was left to decide how best to protect the men in her care and how to manage the serious wounds of the PNG porters who took the brunt of the attack. With two of her group already dead she was left to make difficult and unenviable decisions. For the first time, she speaks publicly about the ordeal.
Introduced by actor and St Kilda resident, Rachel Griffiths. Monday night's program tells the story of the unsolved and savage murder of a woman called Tracy Connelly and the unexpected consequences of her death. Connelly was a St Kilda sex worker but her exceptional looks and personality endeared her to many in the local community where a street was known as 'Tracy's Corner'. Tracy Connelly seemingly lived most of her adult life thinking she counted for nothing but as events unfolded it turned out she couldn't have been more wrong. As community outrage spilled over onto social media, the family she left behind in Brisbane unexpectedly stepped forward to reclaim her. What emerges is a remarkable and poignant story. This episode also includes inside information from the ongoing Victoria Police investigation...
Introduced by Grant Hackett Includes interviews with Grant Hackett, Jared Perkins (brother), Daniel Kowalski and Karen Davis (fiancé). Monday night's program sheds new light on Kieren Perkins and one of the more memorable careers in Australian sporting history. It also provides candid insights into his unique rivalry with Grant Hackett. Kieren Perkins clinched his claim to 'legend' status with a remarkable comeback at Atlanta in 1996 after being all but written off in the lead up to the Games. At a time when many of the nation's swimming greats are struggling with life out of the pool, Perkins alone seems to have managed a smooth transition. Now aged forty, he has forged a second career as a successful banking executive and finally come to terms with the strange and difficult process of rocketing from sporting idol to 'nobody'. In this candid two part episode, he reveals the surprising truth about what went wrong in Atlanta; acknowledges his own struggles to create a new life; and introduces his new partner, the woman credited with bringing new happiness into his life.
Introduced by Grant Hackett Monday’s program concludes the epic tale of Kieren Perkins and the inside story of his battles to build a new life away from the sport that had dictated his every move since childhood. The program reveals new detail of the ‘nation stopping’ day in July 1996 when Perkins swam his way to a gold medal in the 1500 after being all but written off when he qualified last in the heats. Kieren Perkins, now aged forty, is credited with largely avoiding the tabloid catastrophes that have bedevilled so many of his contemporaries. But in this week’s candid conclusion he discloses some of his own struggles and introduces his new partner, fellow banking executive Karen Davis. She is credited with bringing new happiness into his life not least, according to Perkins, because she knows him only as a banker, not a swimming hero...
This week's program provides an intriguing glimpse behind the scenes of the reality TV phenomenon that's captured the TV landscape in Australia. Jules Allen left her large family to appear as a 'willing hostage' on the popular MasterChef reality TV show. She admits she lusted after 'fifteen minutes of fame' but she was unprepared for the 'excruciating' highs and lows she encountered on the program and in its aftermath. A single mother, she's fostered twenty-nine children but she says managing a house full of hormonal teenagers pales alongside the psychological demands of MasterChef. It's become clear to Jules Allen that her experience is not unique. Psychologists and industry observers say the same techniques are used in most of the popular reality shows, from Big Brother to My Kitchen Rules. Jules Allen reveals it's left her 'humbler' with a clear sense of what actually matters in life...
This week's Australian Story provides a rare insight into the mysterious world of Australia's elite Commando regiments. Corporal Cameron Baird was killed last year in Southern Afghanistan. At the time the Australian Defence Force said the 32-year-old soldier had 'died how he lived – at the front, giving his all, without any indecision.' Earlier this year he was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross which made him Australia's most decorated soldier, in company with Corporal Benjamin Roberts-Smith. Corporal Baird was the very last Australian soldier to be killed in action in Afghanistan - just months before the troop withdrawal. Now, for the first time, those closest to him are telling his story...
This week's program goes to the 'tip of the spear' with elite commandos trapped in a lethal and protracted gun battle in Afghanistan. "It's not like TV, it's not a movie, this is for real" says army chaplain Padre John Sanderson. Earlier this year Corporal Cameron Baird was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for his raw courage in the heat of combat. In this concluding episode, his commando colleagues provide a rare, poignant and riveting account of those fatal hours...
This week the quirky, life affirming story of a young Australian from country Victoria, a car with a history, and a novel that's on its way to becoming a runaway success around the world. Seven years ago, Brooke Davis was travelling overseas when she received bad news from home. From that sad turning point, she's unexpectedly created a funny and touching book that challenges conventions around loss and grief, and advocates living life to the full - whatever your age. Brooke Davis was working part-time in a Perth bookshop when her manuscript excited the attention of a publisher. Even ahead of its release in Australia, the novel started a bidding war with sales to publishers in more than twenty countries from the USA to Portugal. Now Brooke Davis is telling her own story…
How many people with a diagnosis of dementia join a dating agency? How many more find true love? This is just one of the many intriguing aspects of Christine Bryden's story. A medical puzzle, the brilliant biochemist has long outlived her original dementia prognosis. At the age of 46 she was told to retire and prepare herself for the nursing home. She had other ideas. A firebrand advocate she has shaken up the health system here and transformed attitudes towards people with dementia in Japan. Most importantly she has given people with dementia a voice. Christine tells us about her twenty year journey with dementia and takes us inside what is still a largely unexplored world.
Popular singer songwriter Megan Washington performs on stage for huge audiences. But as Australian Story reveals this week, she's been terrified of public speaking all her life. When she was asked to be a presenter at the annual ARIA Awards the very thought made her 'feel sick'. From the age of five, she's suffered a debilitating stutter. Years of speech therapy helped her to overcome and disguise the condition. Then last year, she says, she wrote a song so personal it wound up changing her whole outlook on life. As a result she decided to stare down her personal demons and deliver a speech to a capacity crowd at Sydney Opera House...
This week's program tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a former wildlife ranger and the renowned British conservationist Dame Jane Goodall. Their special connection has become a 'game changer' for the men and women on the front line of the increasingly bloody global war against poachers. Ten years ago Sean Willmore set up an organisation called the Thin Green Line to 'protect the protectors' – wildlife rangers who were being killed and maimed. But it was only when Willmore crawled from his his sick bed on the off chance of meeting Dame Jane in Melbourne that the real breakthroughs came. Now he has the ear of world leaders, rock stars and British Royal Princes...
This week Australian Story returns to the story of one the world's best known dancers, Li Cunxin, as we go behind the scenes in a risky new venture with the Queensland Ballet. Also known as 'Mao's Last Dancer' through his bestselling book and movie of the same name, Li Cunxin took over in 2012 as artistic director of the Queensland Ballet. Tonight's program centres on his friendship with the Australian-born wife of the famous ballet choreographer Sir Kenneth MacMillan and the trials and tribulations behind the staging of Sir Kenneth's version of Romeo and Juliet.
This week's Australian Story is proof that from little things big things can grow. Three years ago we told the story of emerging young comedians Nazeem Hussain and Aamer Rahman who were making a big impact on the Australian comedy circuit with their provocative satire. In Divide and Conquer we discover how Aamer Rahman has since become an internet sensation, making news around the world and how Nazeem Hussain got the opportunity of a lifetime; his very own TV show. And apologies to their female fans, one of the men has even found love; growing up, moving out of the parental home and getting married.
This week we meet an 'ageing' activist who admits he's spent close to fifty years tilting at windmills without a lot to show for it... until now. Drew Hutton seems as surprised as anyone that nearing seventy, he masterminded 'Lock the Gate' a big and effective people power campaign against coal seam gas. And he's done it by uniting former sworn enemies – the farmers and the greens. He's also mobilised the support of his old school teacher, influential 'shock jock' Alan Jones. But as we reveal, this late life 'success' has come at a high cost to his health and his personal life.
At the age of 21, aeronautical engineer Lauren Burns was told a family secret that turned her world upside down. Barbara Burns revealed that Lauren was conceived in a Melbourne clinic using donor sperm. The man she knew as her father was infertile. Mrs Burns says the culture at the time was to 'take the child home and forget how it was conceived. Just pretend it was your child and nobody knew.' Helped by her mother, Lauren embarked on a long and arduous search to discover the identity of her donor father – a man she knew only as 'C11' – from the first letter of his surname and his height, 5'11". Four fruitless years later, Lauren had one final card to play. What she managed to finally discover was truly astonishing. 'Searching For C11', a two part Australian Story special, untangles a complex ethical and emotional web involving not just Lauren Burns but two other young women...
In this week's program, aeronautical engineer Dr Lauren Burns finally finds out the identity of her biological father. To the amazement of all, he turns out to be part of a particularly distinguished Australian family. We join Lauren as she meets him for the first time – and gets to know her half siblings. At the same time two other young women, also created from donor sperm, have been trying desperately to determine their biological inheritance. But for them, it's a world of pain and no easy answers. Together their stories raise challenging ethical, medical and legal issues that few would have envisaged a generation ago.
This week’s program goes behind the scenes with a tenacious regional newspaper reporter who last year won Australia’s top journalism award. Joanne McCarthy’s exposure of a national scandal emerging in the Newcastle and Hunter Valley region played a large part in the establishment of one of Australia’s biggest-ever Royal Commissions. Her efforts so impressed former Prime Minister Julia Gillard that one of her last acts in office was to send a personal note to Ms McCarthy. As this program reveals, it’s been a marathon effort for both Joanne McCarthy and some of those closest to her, including her parents and ten siblings....
This week's program looks at the unlikely evolution of an unexpected global comedy hit. Christiaan Van Vuuren was devastated when he was diagnosed with drug resistant tuberculosis and forced into hospital quarantine for six months. To pass the time he started making humorous video clips documenting his experiences in the isolation ward. The videos went viral around the world on YouTube. Now Christiaan and his brother Connor are being courted by some of the big players in the film and TV industry...
What happens when a former soldier from Tasmania arrives in Canberra with a potentially vital role to play in governing the nation? Jacqui Lambie is the most outspoken and controversial of Clive Palmer's 'Palmer United Party' senators who hold crucial balance of power votes in the senate. Australian Story has been 'embedded' with Jacqui Lambie as she learns the ropes in parliament and navigates a series of headline-grabbing dramas. We meet her family back in Burnie, Tasmania and track her through Canberra as she deals with everything from deciding what to wear to meet a PM she's just described as a 'political psychopath', to outrage over her 'well hung' and 'Chinese invasion' moments. She also talks candidly about being a single mother, her addictions, despair and her propensity to 'take a swing at opponents'. Her headline-grabbing antics are making news but seasoned commentators suggest she should not be underestimated. So what are her real motives and what about her vulnerabilities?
This week’s program looks at the untold stranger than fiction life of a woman well recognised in the entertainment industry for her role in helping to launch the careers of some of Australia's biggest stars. Jan Russ was the initial casting director for Neighbours and remained in the role for nearly 25 years, launching performers like Jason Donovan, Kylie Minogue, Delta Goodrem, Natalie Imbruglia, Liam Hemsworth and Guy Pearce. But until now the Australian star-maker has hidden the private pain of her own tumultuous real life story. Jan Russ's personal story has all the ingredients of a prime time drama playing out over fifty years and several continents. It starts with a teenage pregnancy and a lifelong quest to find a daughter adopted out in particularly harrowing circumstances. There's a stellar career, a doomed marriage and in the last couple of years the unexpected ascendancy of a son who has suddenly become a huge hit on South Korean television...
This week’s program concludes the family saga of the woman credited as the ‘silent operator’ of the Australian entertainment industry. Jan Russ helped launch some young stars who have gone on to fame in Hollywood but unbeknown to anybody, her own life was as drama filled as anything on the big screen. Russ’s motto has been ‘the show must go on’ and so it has – not least through the new ascendancy of her son Sam who’s emerged as the king of comedy on South Korean TV. But she never stopped thinking about the earlier baby she adopted out in heartbreaking circumstances five decades ago. In Monday's program we find out what happened when Jan tracked down her lost daughter...
Fiona O'Loughlin emerged out of Alice Springs some thirteen years ago as a 'fully formed' 36 year old stand up comedy sensation. She wowed local and international audiences with unconventional stories of raising five children in the outback. Then after collapsing on stage in Brisbane, she confessed she was an alcoholic. But behind the scenes, the drinking got worse. In Monday's program, Ms O'Loughlin and those closest to her candidly confront the darkest demons of an issue that has famously bedevilled many male comedians, but is less acknowledged by women in the public eye. It's been a tough road but she has just achieved her first year in recovery, and is back performing to sell out audiences. She's also returned to Alice and the family home she abandoned three years ago at the height of her problems.
This Monday, we find out what's been happening in the lives of a family who featured in one of our most popular programs. It's the story of radio and TV personality Ian 'Dano' Rogerson and his wife Nicole, who gave up their home, successful careers and an exciting lifestyle for the love of their son, Jack. Diagnosed with autism as a toddler, Jack Rogerson was hyperactive, could barely speak and was unable to express ordinary affection. They were determined to do whatever it took to enable their son to lead a mainstream lifestyle. Five years on, the family's determination is being richly rewarded. At 18, Jack has recently graduated from a mainstream high school and is looking forward to a career in the hospitality industry...
More than three-million viewers watched Karise Eden named as 'The Voice Australia' in 2012. One week later, she had four songs in the top five ARIA singles chart, the first artist to achieve that since The Beatles in 1964. But her national tour, a few months later, was cancelled after just four performances. Much has eventuated since then and Karise Eden is gradually coming to terms with her 'turbulent' past. In Monday's moving Australian Story the 22 year old singer finally reveals what happened after The Voice...
On a summer's day in 1992 a thirteen year old schoolgirl called Prue Bird vanished without a trace. Her mother Jenny returned from the local swimming pool and found only an open door and an uneaten meal. It became one of Victoria's most enduring mysteries. For Jenny Bird there was an extra twist to the torment. Was the disappearance connected to the underworld links of Prue's doting grandmother - and to the Russell Street police station bombing six years earlier? For the first time all the stakeholders in an astonishing crime saga tell their side of a real life 'underbelly' saga still impacting today on three generations of one family.
This week's program concludes the astonishing family crime saga behind the disappearance of Melbourne teenager Prue Bird. Her mother Jenny had long suspected Prue's abduction might be payback for family connections that link back to the notorious Russell Street police bombing. But Melbourne police failed to get a break on the case and Prue's disappearance lingered for years in the missing persons files. A last ditch effort by Jenny Bird led to a reward being offered and a sensational confession from an unexpected quarter. In this compelling conclusion, the schism in Jenny Bird's family is laid bare. There are new answers but profoundly disturbing questions remain...
This week's program reveals the improbable saga of the making of a very modern family. It's a narrative that 'starts at the end - and ends at the beginning'. Advertising executive Aminah Hart lost two baby boys as a result of a genetic disorder passed from mother to son. Anonymous sperm donation and IVF offered a last chance to have a healthy child. Of five possible donors one stood out, a cattle breeder from Phillip Island who, crucially, described himself as 'happy and healthy'. When blue eyed blonde baby Leila arrived two years ago, events took a most unexpected turn...
It's been a while since the words popular and politician appeared credibly in the same sentence. But a generation ago one Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, basked in sustained acclaim. He turns 85 next month. It's a watershed in a life marked by much drama and four successive election victories. This first ever television biography of Mr Hawke features fascinating previously unpublished family photographs and footage. It includes interviews with closest family members and significant political figures and commentators. It sheds new light on a complex man, an intriguing family, and a momentous era...
This week's program concludes the story of former Prime Minister Bob Hawke. A generation ago he basked in the kind of sustained acclaim that's become rare in politics. Mr Hawke will be 85 next month. It's a milestone in a life marked by personal drama and four successive election victories. This moving final episode covers the most dramatic years of all including the Hawke ascendancy in the eighties, loss of the Prime Ministership, family breakdown, re-marriage and reconciliation. It includes interviews with closest family members and major political figures and commentators. It sheds new light on a complex man, an intriguing family, and a momentous era...
In this final program for 2014, Australian Story visits a remote West Australian cattle station. The story of historic 'Wooleen' and the young couple who live there drew a big reaction from viewers three years ago. Since that time, the big challenges of the property have increased for David Pollock and Frances Jones... Jones arrived at 'Wooleen' from a lush, green suburb in outer Melbourne during a gap year trip. She fell for the station and its owner and has been there ever since. Together, the pair have embarked on a radical venture to return the rangelands to good health by destocking and replicating natural ecosystems. But with drought gripping WA their beliefs are now being put to the ultimate test...
This week's series return of Australian Story is about an unlikely love affair between a successful advertising executive and one of the world's more endangered and endearing creatures. Dof Dickinson spent 20 years building up her own advertising agency in Sydney. She was unexpectedly commissioned to make a documentary about the endangered Flatback Turtles of Port Hedland and their struggle to survive in one of the world's busiest shipping ports. With only meagre funds on offer, Dickinson soon found that her growing passion for the Flatbacks was outstripping the budget - but she was hooked. In the process of making the film she discovered one of the causes of the loss of turtle habitat and is now on a mission to find a solution.
Long before celebrity culture assumed its current dizzy dimensions, there was a young politician's wife whose every move seemed to create a headline. She's Lady Susan Renouf and she became best known for her marriages to a succession of rich and powerful men – and the dramatic divorces that followed. In this candid 'access all areas' look back she reminisces about a turbulent life story populated with some of the best known names of the era – from international business tycoon Robert Sangster to Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall. Lady Renouf first came to public attention in the sixties as the photogenic young wife of rising Liberal Party star, Andrew Peacock. Together they were compared to President John Kennedy and his wife Jackie. Now in her mid seventies, and happily single, Lady Renouf has been winning new admirers with her seemingly unsinkable warmth and humour in the face of a grim prognosis following the discovery of advanced ovarian cancer.
Long before Steve Irwin and decades before the Bush Tucker Man, a pair of brothers called the Leylands bestrode the continent as pioneers of outback film making. For 30 years, their television programs attracted huge audiences and their partnership remained strong. Mike Leyland died six years ago. This week the surviving Leyland, Mal, reveals the inside story of their rise and fall. And for the first time he talks about why they went their separate ways...
It's been a while since an Australian made family movie really resonated at the box office. But Paper Planes based on a true story has been a hit with the critics and with audiences. It's also reported to have created a craze for the lost art of folding sheets of paper. What's less well known is that it all started with an episode of Australian Story... This week's program looks at how that unfolded – and at what's happened to the young men who featured in our program six years ago...
This week's program explores another mind bending tale from the front line of the revolution in human reproduction – the making of yet another unlikely modern family. Last year Aminah Hart revealed her extraordinary 'back to front' story of meeting her baby's father for the first time after the birth and then falling in love with him. It generated a huge international reaction and brought a number of offers from movie producers eager to put the story on the big screen. Aminah Hart thought her case was the 'only one in the world'. But it turned out there was another couple, just down the road, in a similar situation. But when Kerrie Hancox and George Deka established THEIR modern family, they discovered the world was not entirely prepared for a day when 'clients' began behaving like people...
Dr Jamal Rifi is the sort of GP many of us think no longer exists. He runs a single practice, still does house calls, and cheerfully sees his patients out of hours. He's also an influential and outspoken voice in the Muslim community at a time of exceptional scrutiny and debate. But his views have brought him critics as well as admirers.
Good neighbours are worth having whether you live in an apartment or a suburban block or the bush. This week's program features an epic saga of former schoolyard mates, now neighbours falling out. It centres on events that are still unfolding in the scenic wheat belt of Western Australia. It began when one farmer decided to plant genetically modified crops near his neighbour's certified organic farm... What started with words of warning over a farm fence soon escalated to the Supreme Court and a series of international headlines. It's divided the small community of Kojonup and set former friends against each other, with unexpected consequences. With the legal case about to return to the court room, we hear from the two farmers, and their families, for the first time.
This week's program concludes the powerful story of childhood friends caught up in an epic neighbours' dispute in a small community in rural WA. Kojonup is a small town in the scenic wheat belt region. Michael Baxter and Stephen Marsh grew up as schoolyard friends. They were good neighbours as well. But that all changed dramatically when Michael decided to grow genetically modified canola and seeds ended up in Stephen's certified organic oat field. The stakes escalated as powerful interest groups got involved. Soon both men found themselves on opposing sides in the court room as international observers looked on...
This week's program leaps across decades and geography to tell the inspiring story of a young family and the death of a beloved sporting legend. Peter Jackson was the gifted 'larrikin' who forged a spectacular career in rugby league and as 'the Mattie Johns of his day' on TV. His wife Siobhan matched him for high spirits and 'life of the party' personality. But his sudden death, aged 33, from a heroin overdose uncovered a harrowing story of school sexual abuse in his teens. With three small children to raise Siobhan Jackson faced big challenges. For the last year she's been teaching Indigenous children as the well regarded Principal of one of the most remote schools in Australia...
This week’s program is about a rickety old fishing boat. But appearances can be deceiving. The inconspicuous MV Krait ferried 14 special operatives thousands of kilometres behind enemy lines into Singapore harbour during World War 2. The mission? To blow up enemy shipping right in the heart of Japan's wartime stronghold. The men involved in this extraordinary raid hailed from the top secret Z Special Unit. For 91-year-old Z Special veteran Douglas Herps, telling the story of MV Krait, and preserving it for future generations, has become his final mission. Into the Lion's Den also introduces Roma Page, whose husband Bob Page was on board MV Krait. She only came to understand Bob's bravery and ultimate fate many years later.
This week's program takes us into the world of a family called the Newlings. On the face of it, their lives seemed perfect. Phil Newling recalls looking at his three young sons and saying 'how long is this going to last – can we just lock this in now and not change anything?' But when the bright boys became teenagers lightning struck – and not just once, but twice. This program charts the story of Christopher 'Cricket' Newling and his younger brother Nic. It documents a remarkable journey back from the brink and a life now dedicated to helping to others.
This week's program has the happiest of endings - one nobody would have predicted a decade ago. When Australian Story first met young Detective Sergeant Simon Illingworth, he’d taken a brave stand against crooked colleagues and was paying a terrible price. He'd been bashed, isolated and threatened by police connected to Victoria’s notorious Gangland Wars. His personal life was non-existent and he was he says 'Victoria's most ineligible bachelor'. But for Simon Illingworth, speaking out was a 'game-changer'.
Until recently, Gerry Gimblett was the popular principal of a large South East Queensland high school. When she was considering retirement, she took a path no one expected. Instead of buying a campervan and heading for the coast, she and husband Chris and son Nick, went west. Mrs Gimblett bought the pub in the tiny outback town of Yaraka (population twenty). Already she's making progress in her mission to turnaround the declining fortunes of a place described by Lee Kernaghan as 'one of the most special' in Australia...
This week's program returns to the spectacular Hunter Valley property at the heart of a story that's become the most popular in the history of Australian Story. It's Tarwyn Park and it's where acclaimed rural innovator and racehorse breeder Peter Andrews turned the 'environmentally bankrupt' farmland into green and fertile pasture. The episodes on Peter Andrews consistently polled as the most popular ever with viewers. But Tarwyn Park has been sold to make way for a Korean owned open cut coal mine. It's a decision that's intensified a family feud between Peter Andrews and his son Stuart...
In this week's program Stuart Andrews and his family finally make their decision about the future of the rural property at the heart of a spectacular tug of war. It's Tarwyn Park in the Hunter Region of NSW. It's where Stuart Andrews' father Peter turned ruined and 'environmentally bankrupt' farmland into a 'miracle' of green, fertile pastures. But a Korean open cut coal mining venture has acquired the property, bringing more than one billion dollars in investment and jobs. Hard choices have to be made at Tarwyn Park and there are lasting implications for fractured family relationships. But also at stake, according to some, is nothing less than the future of the Australian landscape...
Most Australians still remember exactly where they were when they heard about the death of the Crocodile Hunter. Steve Irwin was mourned publicly by millions, and privately by his family and his friends. Nearly a decade has passed, but only now are some of the foundation members of his team speaking out and reconnecting. Irwin's former Personal Assistant Nicole Byrne says 'It was like a hot iron. I think a lot of us closed down.' In this week's episode members of the original team speak out, finally breaking their long maintained 'silent understanding'...
It's not often an Australian military leader finds instant worldwide fame. But that's what happened to Lieutenant General David Morrison when he made a dramatic YouTube video telling his own troops to shape up or get out. Lieutenant General Morrison has just retired as Chief of the Army. Friends and critics agree there's more to him than meets the eye. There are competing views about his four years in the top job but everyone agrees he has been a strong force for change. This week's program has the inside story of David Morrison and the women who he says opened his eyes and changed his thinking...
It's a story from the pages of Boy's Own magazine. A teenager with a troubled background breaks into his state's biggest and most successful NRL team and wins a premiership in his debut season. Without a father and his mother institutionalised, he follows his mentor and coach Wayne Bennett to one of the most famous clubs in the land and ends a thirty year premiership drought for them. He goes on to win virtually every honour the sport has to offer, breaking records along the way. Then one fateful evening a tragic accident opens the floodgates to years of unhappiness and depression, culminating in a well publicised breakdown and separation from his wife. Welcome to the world of Darius Boyd. In a remarkable redemption story, Darius is now back on the field and ready to talk candidly about his battles with depression and how he made peace with his demons.
How far would you go to help a family member facing sudden disgrace and jail in the very worst of circumstances? Former teacher Josephine Greensill believes she would still be in prison but for the efforts of her family to clear her name. When police came knocking at her door with allegations relating to an incident thirty years earlier she was shocked and surprised. After two and a half years in prison she was finally acquitted, with the judgement concluding there was a 'real likelihood' that her accusers had collaborated, and a 'real possibility' that the evidence against her had been concocted. For the first time, Josephine Greensill and those closest to her tell their inside story.
It is a love story that captivated millions. Mac and Gayle Shann remain Australian Story's most popular couple and after much demand from viewers the program is revisiting their story. In 2003 our cameras documented Gayle's recovery from an horrific farming accident which caused the loss of one arm and the use of her other. Her devoted husband, Mac, became her 'hands', helping guide her through the darkest of times. When the story first aired it attracted a strong response from viewers who were captivated by the young couples' bond and determination to stay living on a remote cattle station. This week we catch up with Gayle and Mac at a camp draft at Weetalaba Station, near Collinsville in Central Queensland.
In a world obsessed with physical beauty, Robert Hoge is a man embracing 'ugly'. Hoge was born 42 years ago with a massive tumour in the middle of his face. At first his own mother couldn't bear to look at him and the family was advised to 'put him in a home'. There were national newspaper headlines when a pioneering craniofacial surgeon used the cartilage from baby Robert's toe to construct a nose. Hoge grew up to become a journalist and then built a stellar career as a public servant culminating in the job of media advisor to then Queensland Premier Anna Bligh. But he has rejected further surgery that might make him look more conventional. Now a husband and a father himself, he's on a mission to confront us all with some difficult questions and start a new debate about concepts of beauty and ugliness and everything in between.
How did a teenager from an ordinary Queanbeyan family make it to the top of Formula One racing? What was it about Mark Webber that saw him succeed when many others failed? Mark Webber is one of a handful of Australians to break into the elite world of Formula One, but his success didn't come easy. His rise through the ranks of motor sport is a boy's own story of spectacular successes, frustrating failures and some hair-raising crashes along the way. In an exclusive interview with Australian Story he lifts the lid on the high octane world of F1 and candidly discusses the politics and rivalries that shaped his career. Webber and his partner and manager Ann Neal open up about their relationship. It was a professional and personal partnership central to his success but the couple kept it under wraps for many years When Webber met his racing nemesis, teammate Sebastian Vettel, one of the great rivalries of the sport began . Although sometimes bitter, competition between the two shaped his experience of F1 and was also behind some of his biggest wins. Webber talks about team politics and his subsequent reconciliation with Vettel. In the aftermath of his F1 career, Mark Webber and Ann Neal are finally free to reveal the secrets of life behind the pit wall.
When Gina Rinehart opens the Roy Hill iron ore mine in the Pilbara later this year she'll be fulfilling a long held dream. It will be a crowning moment but one that's clouded by the continuing fall-out from court battles over the family trust. The events now unfolding are the culmination of a turbulent family history. Australian Story has filmed with Gina Rinehart at Port Hedland. Over the next two weeks, the program has the story of the Hancock Dynasty...
This week's program concludes the story of six generations of the Hancock family. Gina Rinehart is about to fulfil a long held dream by opening and running her own mine in the Pilbara. It's an achievement that's come at a time of controversy, conflict and tumbling iron ore prices... This episode covers the years from 1979 to the present day.
This week's program is about a small town lawyer who helped solve the biggest criminal investigation in Queensland's history. Peter Boyce is a family man with a strong sense of community, an interest in pro bono work and a fascination with David and Goliath court cases. When he joined forces with Bruce and Denise Morcombe to investigate their son Daniel's disappearance, his cross-examinations during the coronial inquest played a crucial role in finally bringing the case to a close. This is his story.
It’s been fourteen years since millions of people around the world mourned the death of cricketing legend Sir Donald Bradman. It was a form of fame that dismayed him during his lifetime and continues to impact on his family to this day. Now, Sir Donald Bradman's granddaughter Greta Bradman is herself standing on the threshold of international stardom as a soprano and protégée of Richard Bonynge. In finally embracing the spotlight, she is coming to terms with her own ambivalence about public life, saying that it's time for the family 'to come out of the shadows a little more'. Join us for an exclusive two part program as Greta Bradman, her father John and members of her extended family discuss the cost of fame, a shared love of classical music and living life with a famous surname.
This week's program concludes the story of cricketing legend Sir Donald Bradman and his family. The intensity of Sir Donald Bradman's worldwide fame as a cricketer cast a shadow across the generations that followed him. Now, his talented granddaughter Greta Bradman is on the threshold of international recognition in her own right, as she builds a career as a soprano and protégé of conductor Richard Bonynge. In this episode, we follow her decision to chase the opportunity of a lifetime and hear of the family's continued concerns in relation to Sir Donald Bradman's legacy.
Melbourne man AJ Kearns describes himself as just an ordinary father living in the suburbs with his two children. But there are many who would disagree. Born into a conservative pentecostal family in Sydney, AJ spent the first 35 years of his life as a woman. As a teenager Vicki-Anne thought she was gay and attended controversial church-based conversion therapy in the hope of becoming heterosexual. After years of struggle AJ took the courageous decision to live as a man and create a family with his partner Zu. But he then took the surprising step of postponing his physical transition to become pregnant. Psychiatrist Dr Fintan Harte says it’s the first time in over 30 years of practice that he’s encountered a ‘trans-identified male’ who has conceived a child. ‘From Daddy’s Tummy’ tells the story of AJ and his much loved family and showcases a stunning photographic record of his physical transition by Melbourne artist Alison Bennett.
When Geraldine Cox first arrived in Cambodia in 1970 she was a fun-loving twenty-five year old with no idea of the role the country would play in her future. Working as a secretary in the Australian Embassy she dreamed of ‘swanning around in a cocktail dress and seducing James Bond types’. Instead the Vietnam War was spilling over the border, American B52s were dropping bombs and the country was in turmoil. Many years later Geraldine Cox returned to the place that had made such a big impression and founded three orphanages. Today she also oversees a network of non-residential centres, community-based education and other welfare enterprises. Now in her 70th year, she’s at a crossroads with responsibility for four hundred children but no heir apparent.
This week's program is about a resilient young man called Corey White. It's a name you won't forget after you've seen his story... Corey White won the best newcomer award at the Melbourne International Comedy festival. The prize was an air ticket to perform at the prestigious Edinburgh festival, a career highlight for a young man who endured a heart-breaking early life. The son of a hustling, drug-addicted mother and a violent father, Corey spent much of his childhood in foster care. As a young man Corey pulled himself out of drug addiction. His salvation - comedy mining his traumatic past to create a biting and hilarious stand-up act.
When designer Collette Dinnigan shut down her global fashion empire it shocked not only the fashion world but also her closest friends. The self-titled 'obsessive creative' found the competing demands of motherhood and work increasingly difficult to manage. 'Another collection, another show, another this, another that. It wasn't what was important and it wasn't what was motivating me anymore," she says. "When you’re single it's easy, but when you have children your priorities change. It's not a decision you take lightly," says Collette's husband Bradley Cocks. After stepping off the fashion treadmill, Dinnigan continued to design on a collaborative basis and accepted an offer from Sydney's Powerhouse Museum to showcase a 25 year retrospective of her work. In an intimate profile, Australian Story revisits Collette's childhood and career and follows her as she prepares for her retrospective exhibition.
Brett and Wendy Whiteley were icons of Australian art – he the internationally acclaimed “rockstar” artist, and she his glamorous wife and muse. But then tragedy struck. Brett died in 1992, followed by their actress daughter Arkie nine years later, leaving Wendy alone. Determined not to let grief overwhelm her, Wendy Whiteley threw her energies into turning a huge wasteland into a beautiful garden … and in the process, transformed her own life. Now, twenty years on, can this sanctuary be protected as a permanent public garden?
The road to the Prime Ministership was set early in Malcolm Turnbull’s life. "Trying to meet the expectations that were placed upon his shoulders as a child is a very motivating force in his life" – Lucy Turnbull "I guess Prime Minister probably would have been good enough for [my mother]" – Malcolm Turnbull But Turnbull's childhood would not be easy. His parents separated when he was nine and he was sent off to boarding school. Driven to succeed, Turnbull would move from journalist to lawyer to merchant banker to corporate high flyer and finally to politician. This week Australian Story revisits the Turnbull family. Malcolm, wife Lucy, daughter Daisy and some of his closest friends speak candidly about his early years, his absent mother and devoted father and the forces that have shaped his rise to power. Drawing on new material and interviews, the program provides a unique insight into a man praised for his intellect and energy but whose temperament and political judgement have been questioned.
Natalie Lovett was 46 and childless when she flew to the United States to create a baby. She’d exhausted all her other options to become pregnant and was following up on a San Diego fertility clinic that offered a money back guarantee. Two years later she's the proud mother of an eighteen month old daughter and now faces a very different dilemma: what to do with the extra embryos still stored in the US clinic. "Destroying the embryos just wasn't really an option. It was just something I could never bring myself to do. I'd rather give them a great home and a great life." she says. Natalie came up with an unconventional solution- to create an extended family for her only child - but there was a catch.
Acting legend Garry McDonald is a man on a mission. He wants to educate the public about an urgent and poorly understood mental health problem. McDonald has suffered from anxiety since his 20s but he never understood his condition until it triggered a major and very public breakdown in the 1990s. He sought help in the form of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, a treatment which trains individuals to examine negative or unhelpful thoughts. And gained a new lease on life... In between roles, the veteran actor has campaigned passionately to increase awareness around anxiety and reduce its stigma.
What would you do if you lost something that’s been the essence of you for most of your life? Something that’s given you joy, a vocation, even fame – and then one day it starts slipping away... For singer Jenny Morris, that question recently became very real. The ARIA-award winning performer makes a dramatic personal revelation in this week's episode of Australian Story. She has been diagnosed with a life-changing medical condition. Jenny Morris first found success with New Zealand band The Crocodiles, before relocating to Australia in the early 1980s. After recording and touring with INXS as a backing singer, she established a successful solo career with hits such as 'Break in the Weather' and 'She has to be Loved' as well as performing with Prince and Paul McCartney. About 10 years ago, she noticed something going on with her voice. "I've never talked about it publicly, and I think putting the word out there is going to give a sense of relief. That’s why I’m doing Australian Story because I think if you want to know what’s what, look at this program. Then I don’t have to explain it," she says.
Lucy Haslam is a woman in a hurry. Since losing her son Daniel in February this year to cancer, the Tamworth resident has stepped up her campaign to legalise medicinal cannabis. Widely credited as the driving force behind a raft of state and federal initiatives aimed at legalising the drug, Lucy Haslam is concerned by delays in the political process and is striking out on her own. She has assembled a team which recently applied to the NSW Government for an exemption which will allow them to grow medicinal cannabis for research and development purposes in Tamworth. Her commitment is absolute. She and her husband Lou, a former drug squad officer, have put their business on the market to help achieve their goal. It is a deeply personal crusade. Lucy Haslam’s son Daniel was diagnosed at the age of 20 with stage 4 bowel cancer and only found relief from his nausea after ingesting medicinal cannabis. Forced to break the law in order to source the cannabis, Lucy and Daniel went public last year calling on politicians to follow the example of other countries around the world. A face to face meeting between NSW Premier Mike Baird and the Haslams was a turning point in their campaign. "It was very clear listening to the story I wanted to do something. They’ve turned something that politicians and governments were very coy about and didn’t want to discuss into a raging national debate." - NSW Premier Mike Baird.
Ten years ago Byron Bay inventor, Cedar Anderson, looked at a beehive and thought there must be an easier way to extract honey straight from the hive that was less stressful on the bees. Living on the smell of an oily rag and working in his shed, Cedar with the help of his father, Stuart, came up with the concept of the Flow Hive. It’s a plastic frame that sits inside a conventional beehive. With a pull of the lever honey simply drains into a jar. But it was what happened next that took the world by storm. Cedar decided to put the invention up on a crowdfunding site hoping to raise $70,000. The video of the Flow Hive went viral and by the end of the campaign, they had US$12.2 million worth of advance orders and a monumental task ahead of them. After a life tinkering quietly in a shed, Cedar and Stuart now face the challenge of running a multimillion dollar company. How will they cope?
Ronald "Ronno" Morgan is a young tour guide from Wyndham in Western Australia's spectacular Kimberley region. But he's lucky to be alive, having twice faced a life-threatening challenge – first as a five-year-old and again as an adult. Until recently, his life was very much a roller coaster but he was fortunate to have the strong support of a very close family. Now, following in the footsteps of a distinguished ancestor, he's found a new purpose in life.
When Jodi Keough traded her journalism career and modelling business for love and life on the land she never thought she’d need her investigative skills again. That was until the unimaginable happened to her young family. After discovering something sinister in the water on her homestead, Jodi is on a mission to prevent her nightmare becoming someone else’s reality.
As the Socceroos march towards qualification for the 2018 World Cup, it's hard to believe that not so long ago there were serious question marks on the team's future. But one man never wavered in his vision for international success. This week on Australian Story Socceroos' coach, Ange Postecoglou, tells how he has come a long way from his immigrant beginnings. From a young Greek migrant desperate to fit in, Ange became a winning player and coach despite failures and disappointments along the way. Earlier this year, he lead the Socceroos to their biggest victory yet – the Asian Cup. The champions of Asia are no longer seen as the underdogs. But the expectation now is to win. And to keep winning... This is Ange's story.
In our final story for 2015, Australian Story goes to the Victorian city of Bendigo, which has been the flash point for a series of protests against the building of a mosque. Colourful local business identity, Margot Spalding is leading a campaign to support Bendigo's small Muslim community and to "fight back against intolerance and hate". A former Telstra Business Woman of the year, 62-year-old Spalding, who co-founded Jimmy Possum furniture has known both personal tragedy and early business hardship. Today she is the matriarch of a multi-million dollar company that employs more than 100 people. Spalding is known as much for her flamboyant style as she is for her philanthropy. Despite being the target of hate mail and having her home under police surveillance, Spalding says she will continue to campaign for the rights of Muslim people to have their own place of worship. This is her story.
For more than 50 years, the name most associated with the Sydney Opera House has been Jorn Utzon, the Danish architect whose unconventional 'shell' design is internationally renowned. But few people have heard of Peter Hall, the Australian architect who completed the Opera House after Utzon's resignation. Hall designed the interiors for the building but was ostracised by the architectural community for agreeing to take on what many architects saw as a job for only Utzon. Peter Hall died in 1995, a broken man. Now his son, Willy Hall, wants his father to be recognised for the role he played. And Jorn Utzon's son, Jan Utzon, says both architects should be 'put on a pedestal' for their contributions to the building, which was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007.
When Coffs Harbour handyman and avid surfer Andrew Witton left Australia in 2006 it was supposed to be the trip of the lifetime. His plan was to sail across the South Pacific, visit friends in South America and then make his way to the World Series Cricket in the Caribbean. Instead he vanished inexplicably from the deck of his beloved yacht Kaileia in a remote part of the Pacific Ocean. His final log entry on the day he disappeared described conditions as 'sunny' and the sea as 'calm'. The circumstances of his disappearance and the actions of his only crew mate Simon Golding have long troubled and mystified Andrew Witton's family and friends. In this program they speak for the first time of compelling evidence about what happened that day and reveal important new information that casts doubt on Simon Golding's version of events. The program also includes an exclusive interview with Simon Golding, recorded before he was imprisoned over a separate matter for his part in a major trans-Pacific cocaine importation syndicate.
This week's program returns to the remarkable story of Barry 'Nugget' Rees, who for more than five decades has been revered and nurtured by Australia's cricketing elite. Nugget rose from the most unlikely circumstances to become the trusted confidante and companion of cricket's biggest names, led by every Australian captain from Barry Jarman to the Chappell brothers, Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke through to the current team under Steve Smith and David Warner. He has toured at least once a year with the Australian and South Australian teams, wearing the team's uniform and standing for the National Anthem alongside the captain. Now in his 70s, Nugget has been there on the inside for many of the greatest moments in Australian cricketing history. He's also been there to help at the most tragic of times. When much-loved team-mate Phillip Hughes was killed in a cricket accident 15 months ago, coach Darren Lehmann immediately called on Nugget to assist with the team's healing. Adam Gilchrist says bringing Nugget on board at this time was a 'masterstroke'. Now, coach Darren Lehmann is leading a push to have a spectator stand at Adelaide Oval named after Barry 'Nugget' Rees in honour of his contribution to both AFL and cricket.
International rugby union star David Pocock and his partner Emma take Australian Story back to his homeland Zimbabwe where, as a child, dramatic events shaped the passion that drives him both on and off the field. At 27, David Pocock made headlines around the world for his stand-out performances with the Wallabies during the 2015 Rugby World Cup. He's just as widely known for his commitment to effecting social and environmental change in Australia and Africa. It's now fifteen years since the Pococks fled their farm in Zimbabwe. That trauma has left a lasting impact on them all. In this television exclusive, David Pocock and his family share their rich archive of home movies, and speak candidly about their journey to become Australians.
International rugby union star David Pocock is no ordinary sportsman. At 27, he made headlines around the world for his stand-out performances with the Wallabies during the 2015 Rugby World Cup. But David Pocock's road to success has not been easy. Through sport and an obsessive determination, he overcame teenage emotional trauma after fleeing from Zimbabwe 15 years ago. Later, major injuries threatened to end his rugby career, had he not fought just as obsessively to overcome every setback. Now he's directing his passion to social and environmental change in Australia and Africa – and is prepared to risk his rugby career for what he believes in. In the concluding episode of this television exclusive, David Pocock, his partner Emma and his family reveal the inside story of one of Australia's most remarkable contemporary sports stars.
When Dr Rodney Syme was unable to alleviate the unbearable pain suffered by a cancer patient many years ago, it triggered what he calls his "epiphany". "I could hear her screaming, as I entered the foyer of the hospital," he says, "and there was nothing we could do to relieve her agony. That had the most profound effect on me." For more than two decades Dr Syme has campaigned to legalise voluntary euthanasia for the terminally ill. He also continues to counsel and help people, like former corporate boss Bernard who has tongue and lung cancer, and has recently planned his own funeral and hosted his own living wake. It's an issue that polarises the medical community. "I think in the euthanasia debate everyone's searching for a line beyond which we can all agree that someone's life is not worth living and I think that line is always arbitrary and it's not a line, it's a cliff," says physician Dr Karen Hitchcock. But at 80 years of age, Dr Syme believes time is running out to achieve his goal of changing the law and he's decided to risk all, even if it means going to prison.
Advertising executive Aminah Hart always wanted to be a mother, but no one expected the back-to-front romance that made it happen. After losing two babies to a rare genetic disorder, she turned to IVF and an anonymous sperm donation, and gave birth to a healthy baby girl named Leila. But it was when Aminah later met the donor, farmer Scott Andersen, that the real fairytale began. When Aminah's story was first aired on Australian Story it made headlines around the world. Now, she and Scott have married, a publisher has come on board and there's the possibility of a movie. This is the story that started it all.
Model agent Chelsea Bonner is on a mission, and it's ambitious. She wants to change the way we think of beauty and body image. While Australian women are getting bigger, the female image presented in the media remains stubbornly the same: tall, thin and a size 8. To promote change, Chelsea set up a modelling agency 15 years ago specialising in larger models. But she's had to battle for acceptance and respect. It's an unlikely crusade for a girl whose parents were the glamour couple of their day. Chelsea's mother Nola was a top model and her father Tony Bonner was a famous actor and heartthrob. In this program Chelsea reveals the pain of feeling like an outsider in the industry she grew up in, and why she's determined to change it.
When Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews asked Fiona Richardson MP to be Australia's first Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence, he had no idea of her troubled family history. Now, with the State's Royal Commission Into Family Violence about to deliver its findings, the minister responsible for implementing changes has decided to speak out about a long-held secret. Fiona Richardson and her two brothers were born in Tanzania. This exclusive Australian Story follows the Richardsons back to Dar es Salaam as they explore their family history, in an attempt to understand enduring scars.
Paul White or 'Whitey' to his mates is an unstoppable force, He's the bush copper turned CEO of the Brisbane Broncos, one of Australia's most successful sporting clubs. But that unstoppable force has come up against an immoveable object - a diagnosis of a brain tumour that has rocked his family, his friends and his club. Australian Story has followed Paul through months of harsh medical treatment. Still training every day, this is a man who has turned 'soldiering on' into an extreme sport and with a determination to look misfortune in the eye with a steely gaze and a ready laugh.
On 28th April 1996, more than 500 tourists were visiting the historic site of Port Arthur in Tasmania. At lunchtime, a lone gunman armed with three military rifles and over 400 rounds of ammunition opened fire. By the time the gunman was captured 35 people had died, 23 were injured and countless other lives were changed forever. Galvanised by that shocking event, then Prime Minister John Howard convinced the states to introduce strict uniform gun control. Twenty years on, Australian Story looks back at the legacy of that terrible day - the impact it had on survivors, witnesses, some of whom are talking for the first time, and the nation at large.
For the first time on TV Michelle Bridges and her family talk about her becoming a mum at 45, her relationship with 'Commando' Steve Willis and taking on the junk food industry. The program traces Bridges' remarkable journey as the daughter of a broken home in working class Newcastle who last year was named on the BRW list of Australia's richest self-made women. She's described as one of Australia's most influential health and fitness experts. In a new relationship with her "Biggest Loser" co-star, Steve Willis, the couple have been fodder for gossip columnists and paparazzi and now have a 4-month old son, Axel. Bridges says having Axel has strengthened her ambition to tackle the junk food and sugar industries. "The truth of the matter is they sell crap food and make people sick and that makes me angry."
Ten years ago, Nicola and Jim Walker received the news that every parent dreads. Their two-year-old daughter Abby was diagnosed with leukaemia, a life-threatening illness. Abby's parents hit upon a controversial course of action - to have another child and harvest stem cells from the new baby's umbilical cord in case Abby relapsed and needed a transplant. They invited Australian Story to film with them as they embarked on this solution, providing intimate access to a deeply moving family experience. In this Australian Story update, we revisit the Walker family to find out the consequences of their decision.
As one of Australia's first Indigenous doctors Mark Wenitong combines his skills as a physician and a musician to fight ill health in Far North Queensland, including a looming Ice epidemic. His greatest role model was his mother Lealon who in the 1950s and '60s fought against the odds to become a pioneering Indigenous health worker. Despite his dedication to his medical work, Mark Wenitong describes himself as primarily a musician, a talent he has passed on to all his children. Daughter Naomi rose to prominence as half of successful duo Shakaya while eldest son Joel is also a successful musician. But a terrible car crash plunged the family into crisis. Naomi nearly died and the trauma for Joel, who'd been driving, led him to follow in his father's footsteps and become a doctor. Australian Story follows the Wenitongs as they continue to work in music and medicine within both the Indigenous and wider community.
Twelve years ago Danielle Tindle came back from the brink of death to survive Hodgkin's Lymphoma. By extraordinary coincidence, it was her own father's groundbreaking stem-cell research which ultimately saved his daughter's life. Since Danielle was given a second chance at life, this inspirational young woman has made it her mission to advocate for improved services and care for other adolescent and young adult cancer patients. She's become a world leader in the field. Unfortunately, mid-way through her PhD, she received another devastating diagnosis. With all conventional therapies ineffective, once again Danielle, her father and her medical team are in a race to find the next life-saving breakthrough. While Danielle will never give up hope of beating her rare cancer, can she beat the bureaucracy which means she pays nearly $5000 a shot for the treatment she needs, while a melanoma patient pays just over $6 a shot for the same drugs? Australian Story has followed Danielle's journey from the beginning.
George Palmer is one of the most intriguing figures in Australian music. During a 35-year-career as a barrister and later a Supreme Court judge, he harboured a private passion as a composer. But the music he wrote was never performed or recorded until finally, in 2004, he released an album of orchestral work, which was also performed at a concert in Sydney’s Eugene Goosens Hall. After the success of this project, he was commissioned to write more music including the mass for Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Australia in 2008. Now George Palmer has quit the law to concentrate on a new challenge – an operatic version of Tim Winton’s renowned novel Cloudstreet.
This compelling two-part program gives a powerful insight into one of the most controversial cases in Australian military history. At the centre of the story is Dave, a highly skilled commando in the Army Reserve. In February 2009, whilst on a capture-or-kill mission looking for Taliban, his unit raided a family compound in the middle of the night in Afghanistan. Six people, including five children, were killed. For the first time, Dave and other members of the unit give their account of the night and its aftermath. Dave and another soldier were subsequently charged with manslaughter of the five children and faced the possibility of a court martial and 20 years in prison. These charges were later dismissed. Since then, details of the operation have been shrouded in secrecy. What happened has been a tragedy for everyone – for Dave, his fellow commandos and, most of all, for the Afghan families who lost so much.
This week we continue our compelling two-part program giving a powerful insight into one of the most controversial cases in Australian military history. At the centre of the story is Dave, a highly skilled commando in the Army Reserve. In February 2009, whilst on a capture-or-kill mission looking for Taliban, his unit raided a family compound in the middle of the night in Afghanistan. Six people, including five children, were killed. For the first time, Dave and other members of the unit give their account of the night and its aftermath. Dave and another soldier were subsequently charged with manslaughter of the five children and faced the possibility of a court martial and 20 years in prison. These charges were later dismissed. Since then, details of the operation have been shrouded in secrecy. What happened has been a tragedy for everyone - for Dave, his fellow commandos and, most of all, for the Afghan families who lost so much.
Award-winning Australian Story celebrates 20 years on air with a two-part anniversary special that revisits memorable moments and reveals the untold stories behind them. In more than 800 stories, Australians have shared their lives with the program, providing intimate insights into the complexity and richness of the human experience. Some have been famous and others are people facing extraordinary challenges. They have all held up a mirror to the nation, documenting its shifting moods and changing face. So get ready to take a nostalgic and entertaining look back at the stories that have made us laugh, question and cry, at those that have moved and changed us, and at those that have shaped our society and helped us to know ourselves and each other better.
Award-winning Australian Story celebrates 20 years on air with a two-part anniversary special that revisits memorable moments and reveals the untold stories behind them. In more than 800 stories, Australians have shared their lives with the program, providing intimate insights into the complexity and richness of the human experience. Some are famous and others are people facing extraordinary challenges. They have all held up a mirror to the nation, documenting its shifting moods and changing face. In this final anniversary episode, we look back on some of the powerful stories about crime, sport, politics and the changing nature of families.
The news that a homeless man had been stabbed to death in early 2014 shocked Melbourne. In the days that followed, people flocked to the CBD, giving food and blankets to those in need. The dead man was Morgan Wayne Perry, though on the streets he was better known as "Mouse". He'd been killed by a young man from a privileged background, who'd been living alone in an apartment near where the incident took place. For Morgan's sister Michele Perry, it was the start of a journey to understand what happened to him.
Farmer Pat Murphy and his family moved to their 'dream property' at Maules Creek in New South Wales seven years ago. They were optimistic about the future, with plans to sub-divide their farm, run sheep and grow crops including barley and wheat. The location was close to towns and a school for their young children. But life changed dramatically for the Murphy family when exploration for an open-cut coal mine began right next door, just a year after they'd arrived in the area. Now that the mine is operating, Pat Murphy claims that he and his family are being affected by noise, dust and blast fumes. He says he wants to move, but that state government regulations have left him in limbo.
David Batty has made some of the best loved TV shows and documentaries about Indigenous life. He and his Aboriginal collaborator Francis Kelly struck gold 15 years ago with the TV series Bush Mechanics, their hilarious take on getting around the outback with no roadside assistance. As a single dad in the early 1980s, David moved with his young son to Alice Springs. They thrived in a town where young whites were walking alongside a newly radicalised Indigenous population. David joined the media organisation CAAMA (Central Australian Aboriginal Association), and later made television programs in local languages for the Indigenous population, as well as historical documentaries. Seven years ago, a shocking personal tragedy took David to the brink. The solace he found through his work with his Indigenous brothers would save him. Now David Batty is back with a new screen adventure Black As set in crocodile-infested Arnhem Land, echoing the cult classic Bush Mechanics.
When Paul Pritchard returned to Tasmania's majestic Totem Pole rock pillar three months ago it was the culmination of an 18-year journey. The former professional climber and writer suffered a massive injury in 1998 when his rope dislodged a large rock, which fell on his head. He was saved by the actions of his former girlfriend who hauled him 30 metres up to a ledge before running for help. In a second stroke of luck, the paramedic on duty that day was also a climber. Neale Smith's decision to short-circuit a cliff rescue and abseil with Paul down to a waiting boat almost certainly saved his life. The aftermath of the accident led to a new awakening for Paul and he describes it now as 'the best thing that ever happened to me'. This year he returned to the place that nearly killed him. With only one half of his body functioning properly, the stakes were high. This time, surrounded by friends, he made it to the top.
If you live in the bush it's hard to get the same level of medical care as you can in the city, but now a doctor has come up with an ambitious idea to change all that. Rolf Gomes started his working life as an electrical engineer before turning to medicine. The first time he saw a beating heart, with its 'valves and plumbing and electrics', he was 'hooked'. Then, as a young registrar in country hospitals, he experienced first-hand the challenges of trying to diagnose and treat patients without the specialist and diagnostic services that people in the city take for granted. As a cardiologist Dr Gomes had identified the problem, but as an engineer he sought to solve it. He came up with the idea of a mobile clinic - 'the heart bus' - while running his own cardiology practice in Brisbane. 'The heart bus' travels from town to town, treating patients and giving them a much better chance of surviving heart disease. Now, Dr Gomes has bigger plans to expand his service and include more medical specialties.
This week's program is about a young woman who puts a human face to the issue of "unauthorised" boat arrivals in Australia. Mojgan Shamsalipoor fled terrible personal trauma in her home country, Iran, and found sanctuary in Brisbane where she was able to live in the community while awaiting a decision on her protection visa. At a Baha'i youth camp she met a young Iranian refugee, Milad Jafari. They fell in love, married and were looking forward to a happier future. However, despite her apparent good fortune, her visa has been denied and she is now locked in detention with little prospect of fulfilling her dream of having a family with Milad and becoming a midwife. But she has many supporters who are determined to see her released back into the community.
When 16-year-old music student James Morrison met legendary jazz man Don Burrows in 1978, it was one of the biggest turning points in his life. After hearing James play, Don immediately took the young trumpeter under his wing, becoming his mentor and even inviting him to join the Burrows band. It was the beginning of a touching and enduring friendship, on stage and off. James Morrison went on to become Australia's most prominent jazz musician, and has never forgotten all that Don did for him. Now with Don Burrows about to turn 88 and in fading health, the tables have turned. It's time for James to look after Don.
With hopes high for success at Rio, this program marks the 60th anniversary of Australia's greatest-ever Olympics and celebrates the swimmer who inspired generations of Olympians. Murray Rose became a national hero at the age of 17, after winning three gold medals at the Olympic Games in Melbourne in 1956. But he was much more than just a fast swimmer. To many, he embodied the Olympic spirit. It was Murray Rose's interests outside the pool that initially set him apart. He was a vegetarian and a follower of Eastern and other philosophies long before it became fashionable. His style was tactical, and he had an uncanny ability to out-think and "out-psych" his opponents. But there was more to his fame than simply winning gold. His victory in the 1500 metres freestyle in 1956 became a symbol of international friendship when he embraced the silver medallist, the Japanese swimmer Tsuyoshi Yamanaka, at a time when the world was still recovering from the ravages of World War II. Murray Rose maintained his Olympic spirit throughout his life, renowned for his generosity and expertise in helping future champions.
Sixteen-year-old Georgie Stone has battled prejudice, bullying and even legal hurdles to become the remarkable young woman she is today. As a transgender teen, Georgie is now trying to use her experience to help other young people. Featuring a treasure trove of home videos, Australian Story follows Georgie's life from a toddler to the young advocate she has become. "Georgie has defied gravity from the moment she was born," says her mother Bec Robertson. "Because no matter how much people have dragged her down, she has risen above it every time. And not only that, she's brought everybody with her." Georgie is now lobbying politicians for law reform so other transgender teenagers no longer have to go to court to be assessed as to their ability to understand and consent to treatment.
Patricia Amphlett became a pop star at fourteen. Better known as "Little Pattie", she rode the first wave of surfie culture in the early 1960s. Her top hits including "He's my Blonde Headed Stompie Wompie Real Gone Surfer Boy" and "Stompin' at Maroubra" were anthems of the times. At 17, Little Pattie became the youngest entertainer to perform for the troops in Vietnam. While on stage at the Australian base Nui Dat on 18 August 1966 the Battle of Long Tan erupted nearby. It was a dangerous and life-changing experience. Fifty years later Australian Story accompanied Patricia Amphlett as she returned to Vietnam for the anniversary commemoration, to remember those who died in the Battle of Long Tan and to sing once more for those who survived. Nobody expected the events that unfolded.
Women have been playing Australian Rules Football in local clubs for decades but that's as far as they've been able to go. Now this is all about to change, with the launch of a National AFL Women's League in February 2017. A driving force behind this revolution is Western Bulldogs vice-president Susan Alberti. The businesswoman and philanthropist has been a tireless advocate for women's AFL and a vocal critic of those she considers disrespectful to women. Susan Alberti is a great supporter of female players and one of the stars of the game she has come to admire is marquee Collingwood player, Moana Hope. With her signature pearls and designer handbag, Susan Alberti would seem very different to the tattooed, shaved-haired Moana Hope. But as Australian Story reveals, the two women have more in common than meets the eye.
In this program, Australian Story travels with filmmaker and actor Damon Gameau (The Kettering Incident, Balibo, Love My Way, The Tracker) as he repays a debt of knowledge by helping to revitalise an Indigenous community's healthy eating initiative. Gameau's interest in diet first came to public attention when he became his own 'lab-rat' by testing the effects of massive sugar consumption on his own body and turning it into Australia's most successful documentary -That Sugar Film. While making the documentary, Gameau went to Central Australia to learn about an Indigenous initiative aimed at reducing the disastrous health effects of the modern diet in remote communities. It was called Mai Wiru, or 'Good Food'. The man in charge of Mai Wiru was John Tregenza and he allowed Damon Gameau to film on the basis of 'Ngapartjia Ngapartjia' - that he would give something back. After government funding was withdrawn from Mai Wiru, Damon Gameau has kept his promise and used the success of his documentary to support John Tregenza and the Good Food project, recently taking two nutritionists and a healthy eating plan to Pipalyatjara, an alcohol-free community 800 kilometres south-west of Alice Springs.
Cedar Anderson and his father Stuart were living off the smell of an oily rag in the hills behind Byron Bay when they invented a revolutionary new beehive. When Australian Story first met the pair a year ago, a spectacularly successful crowdfunding campaign had turned them into millionaires virtually overnight. It also left them with 25,000 orders to fill from around the world. To add to the pressure, Cedar and his partner Kylie had just given birth to their first child. From tinkering together in a shed, Cedar and Stuart are now running a complex international company. In the past year their staff has grown to 35, three factories and seven warehouses around the world are fulfilling orders, and their invention was awarded the most prestigious prize at Australia's Good Design Awards. Australian Story revisited the Andersons to see how the success of their company has changed their lives.
When country singer Beccy Cole outed herself as a gay woman in 2012, her love life at the time was “nil.” Just a few weeks later, she met the love of her life, cabaret singer Libby O’Donovan. With their two children from earlier relationships, they set up a blended home in Adelaide, “sort of like a big gay Brady Bunch.” Now they follow the debate over the legalisation of same-sex marriage with particular interest: They plan to marry as soon as they’re allowed to.
Growing up, cousins Deb Drummond and Jan Teunis knew very little about the shadowy figure that was their grandfather Reg Brown. They had never seen a photo and all they were told was that he was an accountant who had died of bronchitis just after World War Two. Curious to discover more, the cousins pored over public records, and were shocked to discover their grandfather was found guilty of a notorious Brisbane murder. For most people, Reg Brown’s murder conviction was, and remains, clear cut. But after a decade spent testing the evidence and finding fresh angles, the cousins hold grave doubts that justice was done.
When Michael Cox and Taylor Anderton became an item their parents were delighted their adult children, who both have Down syndrome, had found love. But when the couple, both in their early 20s, started talking about weddings and babies, their parents became alarmed. Now, the families are wrestling with Taylor and Michael wanting "adult things": sleepovers, sex and a honeymoon in Vegas. Michael and Taylor believe their parents are being overprotective, as do disability advocates. Both sets of parents fear the consequences of a baby on all of their lives.
Talitha Cummins describes herself as the modern face of a recovering alcoholic: she’s young, professional, educated and high-functioning. The Channel Seven journalist first began drinking as a 14-year-old to fight shyness and social discomfort. But the alter ego that emerged when she drank – extrovert, confident, brazen – swiftly began to cause problems. By her early 30s Cummins was a successful television reporter by day and a binge drinker by night. But it wasn’t until her boss intervened to say her job was at stake that she finally took action. Today Cummins is four years sober, has a newborn son and is the happiest she’s ever been, but admits she is far from the finish line when it comes to beating her addiction.
Brisbane mother Sally Faulkner made headlines earlier this year when she was jailed in Beirut, along with a 60 Minutes crew and a child recovery team. What began as a custody battle had now turned into an international incident. Ten months earlier, Sally’s estranged husband Ali Elamine had asked to take their two children, five-year-old Lahela and two-year-old Noah, to Lebanon for a holiday. He then called Sally to say the children would not be coming back to Australia. In a desperate attempt to bring the children home, Sally travelled to Beirut where they were snatched from a street. Just who is the woman behind the headlines and how did it come to this? In this two-part program, Sally Faulkner for the first time gives a detailed account of what went wrong.
What went wrong when Sally Faulkner attempted to snatch her children from the streets of Beirut? In part two of “When Plans Change”, we hear from people on the ground in Beirut including the driver of the getaway car, the woman who sheltered Sally and her children in a “safe house”, as well as police. It seems, from day one, the mission to recover Sally’s children was doomed. This episode begins as Sally Faulkner, 60 Minutes and the recovery team arrive in Beirut. It soon becomes apparent to authorities that something is up. They don’t know what, but start to monitor the Australian arrivals.
On the eve of the race that stops a nation, Australian Story looks back at the career of one of this country’s most loved horses, Black Caviar, and introduces her first offspring, Oscietra, a promising two-year-old filly now in pre-training with top trainer David Hayes. Australian Story had unparalleled access to Black Caviar, its owners and trainer, for much of the legendary mare’s career, and was the only media team allowed behind the scenes when she was retired in April 2013. Black Caviar won her first race in 2009, beginning a record-breaking run of 25 wins from 25 starts. She also holds the record for the most Group 1 wins. Considered Australia’s greatest sprinter, Black Caviar captured the public’s imagination like no other horse since Phar Lap. The question now is, will her legacy continue through her up-and-coming offspring?
A year ago the small rural community of Mingoola on the New South Wales-Queensland border was facing a bleak future. The population was in decline and the local primary school was about to close. Julia Harpham and other locals vowed to do something about it. Meanwhile in Western Sydney, refugee advocate Emmanuel Musoni saw problems affecting people in his community who’d come from war-ravaged countries of central Africa. Many of them had rural backgrounds and were struggling to adapt to an urban lifestyle. When Julia and Emmanuel were put in contact late last year, they saw a solution to both their problems. The Mingoola community set about renovating several abandoned farmhouses and arranging job opportunities, and in April the first African families moved to the area. Emmanuel describes it as a “meeting of dreams”. For the Africans it offered a return to their roots; for the farmers it would provide an injection of life into their community. Many now believe the Mingoola model could be used to help struggling rural communities across the country.
When Jodi Keough traded in her journalism career for love and a life on the land, she never imagined she would find herself at the centre of a devastating and alarming story. But then the unimaginable happened. Her precious one-year-old son Cash died after playing with a garden hose on the family’s cattle station. Jodi and her husband Laine were shocked to learn that the untreated water from the hose was carrying a rare but deadly amoeba, Naegleria fowleri. Grief-stricken, they appeared on Australian Story last year in the hope that their experience would be a warning to others. As summer approaches, the Keough family’s story is a timely reminder of this hidden danger that can lurk in warm, fresh waters in the bush.
This final episode for 2016 is the dramatic untold story of one of our newest Australians. Five years ago, Khaled Naanaa was 25, recently married and working as a nurse in a major hospital in the Syrian city of Damascus. He and his wife Joumana were just starting their lives together. Then civil war broke out and changed everything. Khaled headed to the rebel-held town of Madaya and for three years treated victims of the fighting and violence. Then, when the town came under siege, he witnessed a profound atrocity – civilians including children being needlessly starved to death. What he did next caused a global outcry, and put him in the line of fire. Now, with the help of an Australian journalist, he has the chance of a new life with his wife and daughter in Australia.
Described as more like a “rock star” than a painter, Sophie Cape never wanted to be an artist. A former elite athlete, she was destined for the Olympic Games in two separate sports — first as a downhill ski racer and then as a track cyclist — but her sporting career was shattered after suffering catastrophic injury and undergoing controversial “experimental” body-modification surgery intended to ease her pain and help her performance. Left physically and psychologically traumatised, Sophie Cape then transformed herself into one of Australia’s most celebrated young artists. It’s a profession she has long resisted, as both her mother Ann Cape and her grandmother the late Gwenna Welch are highly regarded artists. But now Sophie Cape has no doubt about becoming the third generation artist in her family: “Art saved me.”
Claudine and Dave Fitzgibbon always planned for a big family. But after giving birth to a healthy girl in 2013, those plans went awry. Over the next three years they fell pregnant three times and each time their unborn baby was found to have spina bifida, a congenital defect of the spine that can lead to serious problems with mobility and brain function. They reluctantly discontinued the first two pregnancies and by the time of the third diagnosis they were shattered. In desperation they turned to their doctor, asking: “Is there nothing else that we can do?” This time the doctor held out a sliver of hope. A ground-breaking in-utero surgical procedure had just been performed in Australia for the first time. While not a cure, it had been found in the US to improve the quality of life for babies suffering spina bifida. Australian Story has followed the couple over the course of their journey. Claudine became the second person in Australia to undergo the complex operation and they now have their desperately wanted baby, Harvey – the miracle they prayed for.
Critics have heralded Melody Pool as one of the best singer-songwriters in Australia. She has been chosen as the support act for recent Australian tours by the Eagles and Rodriguez, and played alongside the Milk Carton Kids in the United Kingdom and Europe. But the 25-year-old singer from Kurri Kurri in New South Wales struggles with demons that threaten to derail her blossoming career. Five years ago Melody met singer Harry Hookey at the Tamworth Country Music Festival and fell in love. The romance ended when Melody discovered the man of her dreams was also involved with someone else. She broke down and put her heartbreak on the page. Her songwriting has been compared with that of Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell. Despite the accolades for her music, Melody’s turmoil continued. She was eventually diagnosed with depression. According to Beyond Blue, depression affects one in sixteen young Australians, anxiety affects one in six, and suicide is the biggest killer in that age group. Unchained Melody provides a rare insight into an illness that is at epidemic proportions.
With early signs the Great Barrier Reef may be bleaching again, this episode tells the timely story of a scientist’s passion and determination to save some of the world’s great coral reefs from extinction. Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg is at the forefront of a bold new global plan, funded by US philanthropy, to combat the devastating effects of climate change on coral reefs. A marine biologist and underwater adventurer, Professor Hoegh-Guldberg has been captivated by the ocean and coral reefs since childhood when he would play with real fish instead of toys in his bathtub. He created controversy 18 years ago by predicting the death of many of the world’s coral reefs if sea temperatures continued to heat up from climate change. At the time his projections were met with scepticism and he was accused of being alarmist. But since then Professor Hoegh-Guldberg’s overall predictions about the impact of climate change on coral reefs have proved correct. His work in preserving coral reefs is supported by many in the international community including Sir David Attenborough, who is featured in this program.
The unsolved murder of Perth brothel madam Shirley Finn is one of Australia’s most notorious cold cases. For Shirley Finn’s daughter, Bridget Shewring, it is a personal tragedy. In June 1975 her mother’s body was found slumped in the front seat of her Dodge, four bullet holes to the back of the head. From the outset rumours of police and political involvement swirled around the case, many believing that Shirley Finn was silenced to stop her revealing the secrets of powerful figures in Western Australia. For the past decade Bridget and former journalist Juliet Wills have been seeking an inquest into the murder. Last year, after discovering significant new evidence, they achieved their goal. With that inquest expected later this year Bridget and Juliet take us behind the story of Shirley Finn’s murder, in the hope of encouraging anyone who has further information to come forward.
Mojgan Shamsalipoor came to Australia in 2012, aged 17, after fleeing terrible abuse and trauma in her home country, Iran. The young asylum seeker found sanctuary in Brisbane, living in the community while her application for a protection visa was assessed. She fell in love and married a young Iranian refugee, Milad Jafari, and attended a supportive high school where she regained her self-confidence and became a popular student. But her dreams of a happier future came crashing down. When Australian Story first told of the challenges Mojgan faced, in July last year, she was in immigration detention with no prospect of release. A lot has changed since then. Mojgan has been released back into the community on a bridging visa, but it will expire this month and her future remains uncertain.
One morning in October 2015, two police officers knocked on the door of writer and newspaper columnist Nikki Gemmell. They were there to inform her that her mother Elayn had been found dead in her apartment. An apparent suicide. Did she know of her mother’s plans? Had she inadvertently contributed to her death in some way? Blindsided by shock and guilt, Nikki was left not only devastated but desperately searching for answers. Alarmed, too, that she was suddenly part of a police investigation. A vibrant and independent woman, Elayn had been suffering from chronic pain after a failed foot operation and had subsequently become addicted to painkillers. With four children and a busy career, Nikki had struggled to deal with her mother’s increasing dependence. Now, like a detective, she began to piece together her mother’s secret life. Who had she told of her plans, if not her family? How had she fed her opioid addiction? Recognising that her mother had been forced to die a lonely death to protect her loved ones, Nikki dived down the rabbit hole of the euthanasia debate and unexpectedly found herself an advocate for change.
Tyler Wright was destined to be a future world champion surfer. At just 14 she overtook multiple champions, some twice her age, to become the youngest-ever winner of a Championship Tour event. But the pressure of growing up "on tour" took its toll. Were it not for a timely conversation with her older brother Owen, also a professional surfer, she may have quit her career at just 18. Over the following three years, Tyler developed a reputation for her carefree attitude to competing. Then, after a semi-final loss in 2015, she had an epiphany: she did want to win. But her quest for a world title was thrown into turmoil when Owen Wright suffered a serious brain injury at the treacherous Pipeline break in Hawaii. At 21, Tyler became her brother’s primary carer. She felt at a crossroads: should she quit the tour to be by her brother’s side, or leave him to chase her dream of the world title?
Mal and Mike Leyland were pioneers of outback documentary-making, first setting off to Central Australia in 1960. Mal was just 15 and Mike 19. Their television shows in the 1970s and ’80s were so popular that their theme song, “Ask The Leyland Brothers”, remains familiar to millions of viewers today. But when Mal and Mike decided to branch out into the tourist industry by building their own theme park, Leyland Brothers World, disaster struck and both were bankrupted. The brothers fell out and went their separate ways. Sometime before Mike Leyland’s death in 2009, they reconciled but Mal Leyland continues to have regrets. Sourcing rich archival footage, this program tells the inside story of the Leyland’s rise and fall, and of their final days together.
Peter Lyndon-James is a former ice addict and criminal who now runs ‘the nation’s strictest’ drug rehabilitation centre. At Shalom House in Perth, addicts agree to go ‘cold turkey’ off all drugs including cigarettes, get their heads shaved and go to Christian church services three times a week. The program, which gets no government funding, is proving successful, turning seemingly intractable criminals and addicts into ‘geeks’ – upstanding, productive members of society. Peter Lyndon-James ran a big drug-dealing operation in Western Australia and went to jail on drugs charges until radically changing his life in 2000. In the past four years, Shalom House has seen rapid growth from just a few men to now nearly 80 residents. But not all of them are happy with the strictness of the program.
On the eve of ANZAC Day, Australian Story revisits the secret weapon behind an audacious and top secret World War II mission – a rickety old fishing boat. The inconspicuous MV Krait ferried 14 commandos thousands of kilometres behind enemy lines into Singapore harbour in 1943. The mission? To blow up enemy shipping right in the heart of Japan’s wartime stronghold. The men involved in this extraordinary raid included some from the top secret, so-called ‘Z Special Unit’. For ‘Z Special’ veteran Douglas Herps, telling the story of MV Krait, and preserving the boat for future generations, became his final mission. The Story of the Krait also features Roma Page, whose husband Bob Page was on board MV Krait. It was only when the secret exploits of ‘Z Special Unit’ were finally revealed many years after the war that she came to understand Bob’s bravery and ultimate fate.
When it came to a career, Eddie Woo could have done anything. But, in defiance of social convention and his parents’ wishes, he chose to go into education. From humble beginnings as the child of migrant parents to an internet sensation, he is arguably now the most famous maths teacher in Australia. His freely accessible website, “Wootube”, boasts more than 38,000 subscribers and has attracted nearly 3.8 million views worldwide. And counting. “Wootube” was created to help a pupil who was missing a lot of school due to illness. For Eddie Woo, that student’s experience resonated with memories of his own childhood. Promising to change education forever through sheer drive and compassion, he personifies the term, “the power of one”.
This week Australian Story returns to one of our most popular rural programs – the story of a young pastoralist whose dream is to restore his beloved land back to nature after a century of over-stocking for the wool market. David Pollock’s radical project to remove income-earning livestock from his historic property, Wooleen, shocked his neighbours. And it might have failed but for the unexpected arrival of Frances Jones, a young woman on a gap year from Melbourne. Together, David and Frances concentrated on creating a tourist ecology haven and finding a non-destructive way to run cattle. In the decade since they started their regeneration project, the grass on Wooleen’s semi-arid mulga country, traversed by the Murchison River, is now greener and the river gums are growing for the first time in a century. It made a stunning setting for family, friends and neighbours who came to celebrate the couple’s wedding last month. However, some of their regeneration methods are not without controversy, and their latest strategy risks pitting the newlyweds against their neighbours and ostracising them from the community where David grew up.
The global success of hit movie Lion has made screenwriter Luke Davies one of Hollywood’s hottest properties. But the path to success has not been an easy one. An unhealthy fascination with drugs in his teens turned into an obsession by his early 20s. He and partner Megan Bannister plunged into a decade of heroin addiction, a terrible chapter in their lives that Luke would later immortalise in the novel, and then movie, Candy. Megan – the real Candy – gives her account of those years for the first time on camera. Luke’s parents also speak for the first time about their anguish at their son’s decline. In 1990, after a decade of despair, Luke Davies gave up heroin – a decision that probably saved his life and allowed him to realise his childhood dream of being a writer. Then in 2007 he left Australia to try his luck in Hollywood. After years of financial struggle he struck gold with his script for Lion, winning a BAFTA award and being nominated for an Oscar. This remarkable story of redemption also features candid interviews with actors Dev Patel (Lion), Joel Edgerton, Jacki Weaver and Alex O’Loughlin, directors Neil Armfield and David Michod, and producer Emile Sherman.
This week concludes the two-part exclusive story about Luke Davies – poet, novelist and Oscar-nominated screenwriter of the hit movie Lion. Having pulled himself from the depths of heroin addiction at the beginning of 1990, Luke set about rebuilding his life and career. He wrote Candy, a semi-autobiographical account of his relationship with Megan Bannister and their years of addiction. A film adaptation followed, starring Heath Ledger and Abbie Cornish. Luke then gambled everything on a move to Los Angeles. However, he struggled to find work and became increasingly debilitated by the effects of Hepatitis C, a legacy of his heroin addiction. In the past two years, however, Luke has experienced a dramatic change of fortune both personally and professionally. With his Oscars nomination for Lion, a film about motherly love, there was no question who he would take to the ceremony – his own mother Joan, who had supported him unfailingly through all his highs and lows. Australian Story accompanied Luke and Joan to the Oscars and filmed with him extensively in Los Angeles and Sydney. Featuring candid interviews with Luke’s parents and former partners, as well actors Dev Patel (Lion), Joel Edgerton, Jacki Weaver and Alex O’Loughlin, directors Neil Armfield and David Michod, and producer Emile Sherman, this is a remarkable story of redemption.
Anyone who lives in the bush knows it’s nearly impossible to get the same level of medical care as you can in the city. In fact, if you suffer from heart disease and live regionally, you’re 44% more likely to die than your urban counterparts. Australian Story catches up with the latest on Dr Rolf Gomes, the engineer-turned-cardiologist who came up with an ambitious idea to ‘revolutionise’ rural medicine. Last year, Australian Story first followed Dr Gomes’ mobile cardiology clinic as it travelled across Queensland, meeting and treating many of the local characters whose problems might otherwise have gone undiagnosed. Back then, his ‘Heart Bus’ hit a roadblock when the state government rejected his offer to partner to expand the service. Rather than retreat, Dr Gomes fought back and has now ‘risen from the ashes’, thanks to a seven-figure donation from a like-minded philanthropist. Now the ‘Heart Bus’ is set to service even more people, treat more diseases and and travel to more places.
The unsolved 1973 murder of young Sydney mother Lynette White terrified the community and has baffled police for more than 40 years. Lynette’s husband Paul discovered her body when he returned home from work and has lobbied tirelessly in the years since to have the murder re-investigated. When he joined forces with an old friend, former ABC journalist Bob Wurth, those efforts began to bear fruit. Two years ago a cold case investigation began and vital new leads are now emerging. Australian Story was granted rare access to this ongoing investigation, going behind the scenes with homicide detectives as they search for a breakthrough in the case.
Sam Goddard’s story is one of determination and a family’s love in the most devastating circumstances. Australian Story first shared Sam’s journey in 2011 and the story received an overwhelming reaction in Australia and overseas. At the age of 23, a series of strokes had left Sam completely incapacitated and unable to communicate. Seeking a miracle, his family and partner Sally Nielsen searched the internet and stumbled upon the controversial sleeping tablet Stilnox, which they learned was being used overseas to treat people with brain damage. Contrary to medical advice, they took a risk and trialled Sam on Stilnox. The drug had a remarkable effect. Within 15 minutes, Sam was able to talk and express his feelings. Now, six years later, we find out what happened next for Sam Goddard and his family in their search for a miracle.
At 31, Vincent Shin is Australia’s first dedicated in-school lawyer, providing students at The Grange P-12 College in Melbourne’s outer west with advice on everything from fines for fare evasion to the legalities of sexting and how to deal with domestic violence. Vincent is well placed to understand the challenges faced by the school’s students, who come mainly from low socio-economic backgrounds. His childhood and adolescence were blighted by family violence, he mixed with the wrong crowd and failed year 12. He turned his life around, enrolling in TAFE and eventually getting a law degree. On graduating he worked in family law and his new role also provides an opportunity to help children deal with the sorts of experiences he and his family went through. Vincent started opening up about his experiences with domestic violence a few years ago but for the first time he reveals a family secret that shook him to the core. For Vincent Shin, speaking openly about his past is a way to heal.
When Mayor Chagai was six years old he fled civil war in South Sudan, becoming one of Africa’s “lost boys”. In 2006 he came to Australia as a refugee, 19 years old and penniless. A decade later he is a community leader in Western Sydney, drawing on his love of basketball to change the lives of young Sudanese men. Thursday nights in Blacktown used to be called “fight night” as young men from different ethnic groups clashed but Mayor realised sport could heal the trauma of war and keep wayward Sudanese youth out of trouble. He started a basketball program that is turning out the champions of tomorrow. American coaches regularly attend tournaments here to scout for talent and 14 of Mayor’s players have been recruited to the USA. But just as Mayor’s efforts achieve international recognition, family responsibilities weigh heavily and without funding he fears he may have to abandon his program.
As we celebrate NAIDOC Week, Australian Story delves into the largely untold story of Uncle Ossie Cruse, a driving force for Aboriginal rights for more than 50 years. With only a primary school education and having lived as an itinerant worker for years, Uncle Ossie stepped into the world of politics after the 1967 referendum, which saw Indigenous Australians counted in the census for the first time. He was a quiet but persistent negotiator with a knack for getting politicians to come to the table and to listen to the concerns of his people. He took his advocacy all the way to the United Nations and became a member of the World Council of Indigenous People. Now, at 83, Uncle Ossie is seeing a long-held dream come to fruition – the re-establishment of an ancient Aboriginal pathway stretching from the Snowy Mountains to the coast at Eden. It was where Aboriginal people first showed white settlers the safest way to the high country. Uncle Ossie describes it as a shared pathway that will bring divided cultures together in reconciliation – something he has been fighting for all his life.
When Rosie Ayliffe’s only child, Mia Ayliffe-Chung, was murdered last August in a Queensland backpacker hostel it made headlines around the world. The 20-year-old was killed along with fellow British backpacker Tom Jackson, who heroically came to Mia’s aid. Both had embarked on the 88-day farm work scheme in order to secure a second year in Australia on their 417 visa. Not long after Mia died, Rosie discovered widespread sexual, financial and psychological exploitation on the scheme and felt the need to act. She does not want Mia’s death to be futile and is campaigning to make the 88-day farm work scheme safe for backpackers. She wants to ensure that no other parent lives through what she and the Jacksons have endured. We follow her story from the rolling hills of Derbyshire in the UK to the tiny Queensland town of Home Hill as she makes an emotional return to the hostel where her daughter died.
This week concludes the two-part story of Englishwoman Rosie Ayliffe, whose 20-year-old daughter was murdered last year in a Queensland backpacker hostel. Mia Ayliffe-Chung was stabbed to death as was fellow British backpacker Tom Jackson, who heroically came to Mia’s aid. Shortly after Mia’s death Rosie Ayliffe became aware of widespread sexual and financial exploitation of workers involved in the 88-day farm-work scheme that Mia and Tom had embarked upon. Both Mia and Tom were involved in the scheme to secure a second year in Australia on their 417 visas. Rosie does not want her daughter’s death to be in vain so she is on a mission to protect the lives of other young travellers she feels are in danger. In this week’s episode she travels to Australia to find out more about the 88-day farm-work scheme, hearing first-hand accounts of the kinds of exploitation she is determined to stamp out. She also makes an emotional return to the place where her daughter died.
Sydney GP Dr James Best was prepared to throw out the rulebook on autism as his son Sam entered adolescence. Rather than keeping him to routines and “wrapping him in cotton wool”, he wanted to expose the 14-year-old to uncertainty and unpredictability. So Dr Best decided to take a year off work, sell the family house and take his son on a backpacking trip across Africa. It was based on the idea that adolescence represents a particular opportunity for learning, similar to the period during infancy when the brain is highly receptive to change. Although the plan left the parents of some autistic children aghast, it has been hailed as “ground breaking” by researcher Dr David Trembath of Griffith University. But nine days before he was due to leave for Africa, there was a knock on the door that turned Dr Best’s life upside down …
Labor Senator Sam Dastyari was a rising star in the halls of Parliament House, until a political donations scandal brought him undone last year. The colourful 34-year-old Senator came to Australia as a four-year-old, having fled the religious regime in Iran with his sister and parents. He was a gifted student and joined the Labor Party at just 16, enjoying a meteoric rise through the party all the way to the Shadow Ministry. But when news broke that he had asked a business with links to the Chinese Government to pay an office travel bill, the Senator became embroiled in a deepening scandal which cost him his spot on the Opposition Frontbench. Sam Dastyari talks exclusively to Australian Story, answering lingering questions about his conduct.
On a Sunday afternoon in 2012, Donna Thistlethwaite told her partner she was going out to buy groceries. Instead she drove to Brisbane’s Story Bridge and tried to end her life in the wintery waters of the Brisbane River. Donna was a popular, positive-thinking, successful career woman with a loving partner and a young son. She had no history of the mental illnesses that are commonly associated with risk of suicide. Her world unravelled in about 10 days. Donna was lucky enough to get a second chance at life, thanks to a confluence of ‘miracles’ that helped her survive. Australian Story tells a cautionary tale which shows that, with the right set of circumstances and the wrong kind of thinking, suicidal thoughts can happen to just about anyone and how seeking help can save a life. By sharing her story, Donna hopes that anyone feeling suicidal will see that life can be ‘great’ again and reach out for help.
Supermodel Robyn Lawley and her agent Chelsea Bonner live on opposite sides of the world but they’re united in their mission: they want to change the way women are represented in the fashion industry. As teenagers, both were rejected by mainstream model agencies for being too curvy. Robyn Lawley, from Sydney’s western suburbs, had almost given up on her dreams of modelling when she crossed paths with agent Chelsea Bonner. Nearly a decade later, the two have blazed a trail for curvier models through the international houses of high fashion, with Lawley becoming the first plus-size model to feature on the covers of Italian Vogue and in the pages of Australian Vogue and land a contract with a top-end label Ralph Lauren. These two women are changing the face of an industry and challenging deep-seated ideas about beauty.
Australian Federal Police Commander Grant Edwards was once Australia’s strongest man. He was able to pull massive locomotives, aeroplanes and semi-trailers with his brute strength. But no amount of physical power could protect him from psychological injury. Grant was at the coalface of the AFP’s most difficult work, heading up a team investigating child exploitation. The thousands of images and videos he was exposed to took their toll. But as one of those charged with protecting society, he’d always been taught to harden up, close those boxes in the mind and move on. After a highly-charged year training police in Afghanistan, things began to unravel. It took a breakdown for Grant to understand he was injured in ways not seen by the naked eye. After the suicide of an AFP colleague, he decided to go public with his own struggles, becoming a lightning rod for change inside the AFP. Now Commander of the Americas, Grant is on a mission to remove the stigma of mental health not just in policing, but society-wide.
This week we remember Fiona Richardson MP, the Victorian Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence, who died of breast cancer on Wednesday. Introduced by her friend Rosie Batty, and with the blessing of her family, we revisit the story in which she revealed that her family had been subjected to shocking violence at the hands of her father. This award-winning story followed Fiona, her mother and brother as they went back to Tanzania to try to understand the enduring scars of their long-held secret. When Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews asked Fiona to become Australia's first Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence, he had no idea of her troubled family history. Using her own experience, Fiona fought to raise awareness of the issue and implement changes in government policy.
Gavin Larkin was the ultimate alpha male: a highly successful advertising executive with friends in high places. But there was a problem with his seemingly perfect life. He was, as he says himself, 'a bit of a prick' and he was deeply unhappy. Gavin decided to change, and in 2009, he used his marketing nous and his high-profile contacts to create R U OK? Day, a national day of action to prevent suicide. But not long after the launch, the super-fit, indomitable Gavin was anything but okay. He died of cancer just after marking R U OK?’s third successful campaign. R U OK? Day has become one of the nation’s most embraced days of action. Six years after we first aired the story of Gavin Larkin, we return to his family to see how Gavin’s extraordinary legacy has helped sustain them through their grief.
John Guthrie and Dennis Cash never wanted kids. In fact, they had never even discussed the idea. But 20 years ago, an ad in the local paper made them stop and think – did they have what it takes to foster a child? Ignoring the doubts of friends and overcoming their own misgivings about how they may be perceived as a same sex couple, they decided to become foster parents. And, despite a rocky start and some bumps along the way, ‘the daughters’ and ‘their Dads’ have morphed into a remarkable 21st-century family. After two decades of fostering and mentoring teenage girls from diverse backgrounds, including Africa and Afghanistan, John and Dennis are the proud fathers of a growing family. In this intimate tale of domestic life, we hear what it’s like to foster and be fostered – the pratfalls, the pitfalls and the complicated joys that only family can bring.
Born with a rare form of dwarfism, actor and dancer Kiruna Stamell has faced ridicule and discrimination all her life. But her determination to be a performer has never wavered and she has overcome every hurdle with dignity and grace. Roles for short-statured actors tend to be one-dimensional and often demeaning but Kiruna refuses to be defined by her height. She chooses to play the kind of roles she might perform in real life – a mother, a lover, a lawyer or a nurse – and by doing so hopes to challenge perceptions of people with dwarfism. For the past 15 years she has worked consistently on stage and screen. Her roles include the film Moulin Rouge, the soap opera EastEnders, the Ricky Gervais comedy Life’s Too Short and three plays at London’s prestigious National Theatre. Australian Story filmed with Kiruna, her family and her husband, actor Gareth Berliner, while she was involved in an Australian production of The Rover.
Is Asperger's syndrome the next stage of human evolution? Professor Tony Attwood believes the "out of the box" thought processes of people on the autism spectrum will solve the world's big problems. He is credited with being the first clinical psychologist to present Asperger's syndrome not as something to be "fixed " but as a gift, evidenced in many of the great inventors and artists throughout history. Professor Attwood is highly regarded for his ability to connect with and bring out the talents of people with Asperger's. He describes himself as a translator between the "neurotypical" and Asperger's worlds. But while Professor Attwood has reached the top of his field, he reveals on Australian Story the personal cost of a missed diagnosis in his own family. Early in his career, he didn't see the signs of Asperger's in his son Will. The consequences were devastating for everyone.
For Belinda Green, beauty was a ticket out of a difficult childhood. She was crowned Miss World in 1972 and was Australia's "It Girl" during the '70s. But something was missing in her life. She began caring for injured wildlife and eventually met an extraordinary vet, Dr Howard Ralph, who inspired a new career path. Now in her sixties, Belinda Green is studying to become a veterinary nurse while volunteering with Dr Ralph in his remarkable wildlife surgery in Braidwood.
Waverley Stanley was a 12-year-old Indigenous student at a country Queensland public school when his teacher Rosemary Bishop spotted "something special" in him. Determined to get Waverley a better education, Mrs Bishop arranged a scholarship at an exclusive private school. Waverley says it changed his life. Nearly 40 years later, Waverley is paying it forward through Yalari, a scholarship program he set up to provide the same opportunity for other Indigenous kids. Yalari, meaning 'child' in the Birra Gubba language, now helps 170 indigenous students a year gain an education at some of Australia's top boarding schools. Behind the success of Yalari is the love story of Waverley Stanley and his wife Llew Mullins, surrogate parents to more than 300 students who’ve been through the Yalari program over the past decade.
Australian Story goes behind-the-scenes with boxing's Mr Nice Guy Jeff Horn and his meteoric rise from bullied teen to welterweight champion of the world. The unknown teacher shot to international fame in July when he beat Manny Pacquiao, an 11-times world champion with $500 million in earnings to his name. It was an unexpected takedown from an unlikely opponent. In a brutal, bloody sport, Jeff Horn is a polite, gentle man who loves nothing more than playing board games with friends or honing his magic tricks on nieces and nephews. Few people thought he was up to the challenge of beating Pacquiao and even Jeff admits he had to fight off negative thoughts about "getting flogged". Now with a new baby on the way, Jeff Horn is looking to prove he’s more than a one-hit wonder as he prepares to defend his title and cement his reputation as a legend of the sport.
Will he stay or will he go? It’s the biggest question in Australian football right now. After weeks of criticism, Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou has sat down for a one-on-one with Australian Story to address the intense speculation surrounding his future. Critics are calling for Postecoglou to be sacked over his high-stakes tactics and his failure to address media reports that he is going to resign after Australia’s do-or-die World Cup qualifying matches against Honduras next month. Postecoglou answers questions about his relationship with his team and the Football Federation of Australia (FFA), his strategy, and whether he will stick with the Socceroos if they make it to the World Cup. Despite being at the centre of a media storm, Postecoglou is resolute and unfazed, saying he’s always done things his own way "and always will".
Elisha Rose has lived with the shame and stigma of her father’s actions since she was 13 years old. In 1998, Lindsey Rose was sentenced to five consecutive life sentences, never to be released. The revelation that her father had murdered five people was a huge shock for Elisha, who had only known Lindsey Rose as a loving father. But rather than being consumed by trauma, Elisha chose to rise above her father’s reputation. She became a lawyer, striving to atone for his sins through charity work in her spare time, all the while never revealing the true story about her father to anyone. She maintained a bubble of anonymity for years, until one day a phone call from an author changed everything.
After a career spanning 50 years, legendary broadcaster Mike Willesee is facing his greatest challenge –throat cancer. Mike was diagnosed 12 months ago and has been through radiation and experimental drug treatment. He is determined to fight it. Mike launched his television career with the ABC’s ground-breaking current affairs program This Day Tonight. He moved to Four Corners before producing the template for commercial current affairs when he created A Current Affair for Channel Nine. He went on to present top-rating programs on channels Seven and Nine throughout the 1970s and 80s, displaying an uncanny knack for knowing what viewers wanted. Despite a stellar career, Mike has not always enjoyed a happy domestic life. He has been married and divorced three times, which is a source of great regret. He is, however, the father of six children, who he counts as his greatest achievements. Part one concludes with Mike’s infamous appearance as guest host on A Current Affair in 1989, when he slurred his way through two episodes before being replaced. It was the wake-up call he needed, forcing him to acknowledge a problem with alcohol that he continues to deal with. He speaks candidly about this and the impact it has had on his life.
We continue our two-part special with legendary journalist Mike Willesee as he faces the fight of his life — throat cancer. The episode begins in 1993 when Mike returned to A Current Affair for a year, conducting some of his most memorable interviews, including the infamous "birthday cake interview" that changed the course of the 1993 election. Tiring of nightly current affairs, Mike turned his attention to documentary making. It was while filming in Kenya that he had a premonition that the small plane he was boarding would crash. Shortly after take-off, it did. Although Mike was unhurt, the experience had a profound impact on him and led him on a back to the Catholic faith of his childhood. It is Mike's strong religious faith, along with the support of his family, that has helped him since being diagnosed with cancer in October last year. The prognosis was six to 12 months, yet Mike is still upbeat about his prospects as he faces his greatest challenge yet.
Sydney woman Justine Damond Ruszczyk was living in Minneapolis and weeks away from her wedding when she was shot dead by a US police officer in shocking circumstances that are yet to be explained. On the night of July 15, the former vet-turned-meditation teacher was home alone when she called 911 to report what she thought was a sexual assault taking place in the laneway behind her house. When the police car arrived, she went outside - only to be shot dead by one of the police officers, Mohamed Noor, who was seated inside the vehicle. In this Australian Story exclusive, we meet Justine’s Australian family and travel to Minnesota to speak to her fiancé Don Damond, and her friends and neighbours, as they search for answers and seek justice for Justine.
Like many families across the country, the family of Christine Forster and her brother, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, was divided by the same-sex marriage debate. After 10 years together, Christine has married her long-term partner Virginia Flitcroft, in one of 2018’s first high-profile gay weddings. Invitees to the wedding included well-known drag queens, Liberal politicians, and Tony Abbott and his mother Fay, both of whom voted against same-sex marriage last year. But beyond the champagne, frocks and flowers is a story of overcoming heartbreak, regret and family divisions. Australian Story goes behind the scenes at the wedding and speaks exclusively to Christine’s friends and family, documenting her journey from a Catholic, married mother of four, to high profile same-sex marriage lobbyist and Liberal politician. Ultimately, it’s a love story and a wedding not to be missed.
When scientist Jim Bowler saw a human skeleton emerging from the sandhills of the remote Willandra Lakes in 1974, he had no idea his chance discovery would radically rewrite Australian history. The full excavation revealed a complete skeleton covered in red ochre and in astonishingly good condition. Scientists would date ‘Mungo Man’ at around 42,000 years old, pushing back the known date of human occupation in Australia by thousands of years. But for Mungo Man’s traditional owners, the Mutthi Mutthi, Ngiyampaa and Paakantyi/Barkandji peoples, his discovery and removal to Canberra was a deep source of upset. When his remains were finally returned to country late last year it was an emotional homecoming for all, including Jim Bowler.
Meet the Billy Elliots of Australia! From humble beginnings in western Sydney, Steven McRae and Alexander Campbell have made it to the top of world ballet. The two men first met as boys competing on Sydney’s dance circuit and their careers have been closely intertwined ever since. Both followed unlikely paths into ballet — Steven grew up in a family of drag racers and Alexander was a talented cricketer. Now, in a rare feat for Australia, they’re both principal dancers at the prestigious Royal Ballet in London. A surprising story of rivalry, family sacrifice and sheer determination.
When medical student Dinesh Palipana was left a quadriplegic after a horrific car accident, he was told he would never become a doctor. Unable to feel anything in his arms and legs, he knew as a third year medical student that his spine had been damaged and his life had changed forever. Not even his best friends thought he would be able to finish medical school. Eight years later, he's one of the top young medicos working in busy Gold Coast University Hospital.
Outback nurse Gayle Woodford was working alone at night on call in the remote South Australian community of Fregon when a man came to her door asking for Panadol. Moments later she had vanished. "I knew she was in trouble," said her husband Keith Woodford who woke up the next morning to an empty bed. "I just knew". The discovery of Gayle's body in a shallow grave three days later threw the tightknit community of Fregon into freefall and ignited a debate about the security of remote area nurses working alone. In an effort to ensure they stay protected, a grassroots campaign began with the goal of introducing “Gayle’s Law” into every parliament in the country. In this Australian Story exclusive, we hear from Gayle Woodford’s husband and work colleagues for the first time and about the issues they hope can be resolved in the aftermath of her death.
The Matildas are the "darlings" of Australian sport right now. Their recent run of wins and positive style of play has seen them catapult to number four in the world rankings and attract media attention like never before. But it has been a long hard road to football fame. Today’s celebrity footballers were yesterday’s "circus freaks". We go behind the scenes with today’s team and legends of the game as they reflect on the events that have shaped today’s Matildas.
Eddie Woo is Australia’s most famous maths teacher. He first came to prominence with "Wootube”"— his free YouTube channel that went viral with its fun and easy-to-understand explanations of difficult maths concepts. Over the past year since Australian Story first profiled Eddie, his career has skyrocketed. He’s gone from suburban high school maths teacher to award-winning celebrity, because of his unique and contagious teaching style. He was named the 2018 Australian Local Hero in the Australia Day Awards and he’s in the running for the $1.3 million Global Teacher Prize — and the title of the world’s best teacher. But Eddie’s spectacular success has come at some cost to his own students and family.
When Justin Yerbury’s family members began to die from motor neurone disease he made a life-changing decision. He turned his back on a professional basketball career and enrolled in a science degree. Almost 20 years later, he is an internationally recognised expert on the disease, leading the way in the search for a treatment. Recently, however, Justin’s work took on a terrible urgency as he too developed symptoms of MND. As Australian Story filmed with Justin and his family, his condition deteriorated dramatically, requiring difficult decisions to enable him to continue his search for a cure. Having met Justin in 2016, Professor Stephen Hawking recorded the introduction to this story shortly before his death from motor neurone disease.
Mick Bainbridge is a former commando who was left battling a crippling case of PTSD after five overseas deployments. When Mick sought support from his command to move to a training role he says was told to go back to Afghanistan or leave the Army altogether. Enrolling in a law degree, Mick decided that instead of getting mad he would get even, employing his new-found knowledge to take on the system Now as the youngest councillor ever at the NSW RSL he’s using his legal skills to help other veterans take up the fight.
Brisbane woman Emma Betts was living her dream as an aid worker in East Timor when someone suggested she have a mole on her back checked. A year after she had it removed, melanoma showed up in most of her major organs. At 22 years of age, she was given only months to live. Reeling from the diagnosis, Emma was shocked to learn that melanoma is now the most common cancer killer in 20 to 39 year olds. Emma fell in love, got married and then devoted herself to a blog called Dear Melanoma. Her honest account of living with terminal cancer and her candid acceptance of her impending death endeared her to tens of thousands. Using her newfound fame she began campaigning for better awareness of the disease among her generation and in the process has helped save others’ lives.
Dassi Erlich and her two sisters are a formidable force. Their ongoing battle to extradite former headmistress Malka Leifer from Israel to face sexual abuse allegations in Australia has made headlines across the globe. But despite the public attention, the personal stories of the three sisters have remained largely private. In the first program of a two-part special, Nicole Meyer and Elly Sapper give their first Australian interviews and, together with Dassi, speak candidly about their time at the Adass Israel school in Melbourne. The program also features extracts from Dassi Erlich’s teenage diary which provide a haunting account of her traumatic childhood.
Concluding the story of Dassi Erlich and her two sisters, who are fighting to extradite their former headmistress from Israel to face sexual abuse charges. After the alleged abuse against the three sisters came to light in 2008, principal Malka Leifer was stood down by the Adass Israel school which facilitated her immediate departure to Israel. Although Australian authorities have been trying to extradite her for several years Malka Leifer convinced the Israeli courts she was too mentally unwell to face a hearing. That prompted an undercover operation to prove her mental fitness which recently resulted in Malka Leifer’s return to jail. For Dassi and her two sisters — Nicole and Elly — justice finally seems closer than ever before.
When Claudine and Dave Fitzgibbon’s unborn baby boy was diagnosed with spina bifida, it was devastating. This was their third diagnosis and they couldn’t contemplate the idea of terminating another pregnancy. Their doctor told them about a risky but revolutionary operation that had only been performed in Australia once before. This in utero procedure wasn’t a cure but would hopefully correct a large number of the baby’s physical abnormalities. The stakes were high, but Claudine and Dave decided to take the gamble. Baby Harvey entered the world 18 months ago, but questions remained. Would he still be badly affected by spina bifida? Would he ever be able to walk? This week, Australian Story catches up with Claudine, Dave and baby Harvey to see whether their gamble has paid off
Morris Stuart is a charismatic choir director bringing the sacred sounds of the Central Australian desert to the world. Over a decade ago, the retired pastor found himself at a loose end and wandered down Alice Spring’s central mall recruiting for a choir. Within a year he’d moulded 50 amateurs into a top-notch choir. When word of Morris’s magic spread to the Aboriginal community, the Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir was born. And so began an unlikely and inspiring trip from the Red Centre to the cathedrals of Germany.
Like most parents Stephen and Sally Damiani will do almost anything for their children. So when they were first told that their baby boy Massimo had a mysterious illness, the first thing they did was hit the medical textbooks. Despite their lack of scientific training, they shocked the medical world when they helped crack their son’s genetic code and diagnose a new type of leukodystrophy. Australian Story first told the remarkable story of the Damianis four years ago. Since then Stephen and Sally Damiani have made huge strides in their efforts to find a cure for their son’s illness and are now at the forefront of cutting edge research which may one day yield a treatment.
Over the next two weeks Australian Story and the ABC’s Unravel podcast series will be exploring the mysterious death of teenager Mark Haines. When Mark’s body was found on train tracks near Tamworth 30 years ago his family were immediately suspicious- was there more to his death than met the eye? Despite the family’s concerns police dismissed any idea of foul play and closed the file on the case. It was only when ABC journalist Allan Clarke embarked on a five year investigation that things started to change. Police have now reopened the case and the podcast team have discovered startling new evidence which suggests Mark’s death was no mere misadventure.
Australian Story and the ABC’s Unravel podcast series present a major breakthrough in the mysterious case of teenager Mark Haines. When Mark's body was found on train tracks near Tamworth 30 years ago police put it down to misadventure, a theory his family never accepted. Now, after a five year investigation, journalist Allan Clarke has unearthed explosive new evidence and a key suspect.
By Christmas 2011 Queensland chef Matt Golinski was on top of his game. He had a successful catering business and a national media profile courtesy of the Ready Steady Cook television show. But when a fire tore through his Tewantin home on Boxing Day his life and career plans were destroyed in minutes. Matt woke from an induced coma two months later to the news his wife and three children had died in the fire and that he had serious burns across his upper body. "I just sort of went, God, really? You spent eight weeks keeping me alive? Why would you bother," he recalls. A painful and protracted rehabilitation followed and many of Matt’s friends and family doubted he would find a passion for life ever again. But almost even years on, his career is flourishing and he’s found new love and a second chance at fatherhood. For the first time on television he describes how he overcame the unthinkable and found a new passion for life.
Kathleen Folbigg is serving a 30-year prison sentence for killing all four of her infant children. During her 2003 trial the court heard that Caleb, Patrick, Sarah and Laura were all killed by a mother who was driven to smother her children in fits of rage. Having exhausted her rights of appeal, Folbigg has her hopes pinned on the outcome of a petition seeking a judicial review of her case. Drafted by a Newcastle legal team and submitted three years ago to the NSW Attorney General’s department, the petition argues amongst other things that some of the medical evidence against Folbigg during the trial was flawed. During this program we hear from Kathleen Folbigg for the first time, as she speaks out from behind bars about her conviction and the incriminating diary entries that were instrumental in securing the jury's guilty verdict. We also hear from the then NSW Director of Public Prosecutions Nicholas Cowdery, who remains firmly of the belief that the jury got it right.
Graham Long’s decision to retire presented a real challenge for Sydney's Wayside Chapel. How best to replace a visionary pastor who had served the city's homeless and vulnerable for 14 years? When Graham took over as pastor in 2004, the iconic Sydney institution had gone to wrack and ruin. Under his leadership, it grew from a crumbling drop-in centre for the homeless to a vibrant community offering a range of services for those in need. Graham always remembered a young social worker-turned-pastor he had met in Western Sydney. Jon Owen had thrown in a comfortable middle-class existence in Melbourne to move his family to Sydney's Mt Druitt and run a mini version of the Wayside from his lounge room. Jon joined Wayside Chapel as assistant Pastor in 2016, and after a robust international search, he successfully won the role as CEO and Pastor in 2018. Now installed as the new pastor, Jon is proving a popular choice, bringing generational change and continuing the same unconditional love that the Wayside is famous for.
In June last year, Mark and Julie Wallace were forced to face every parent’s worst fear when their 21-year-old daughter Sara Zelenak went missing after a terror attack in London. For three days, their desperate calls and messages to the young nanny went unanswered as they found themselves caught up in the world of international terrorism, dealing with Scotland Yard, phoning hospitals and navigating the news media from their Redland Bay home. They were en route to London when they received the news that Sarah had died. A year after their daughter’s death, Sara’s parents are making sense of the senseless act of terror by focussing on building a fitting legacy to Sara. They’re working towards building "Sarz Sanctuary", a healing retreat to help others facing unimaginable grief and trauma.
From a homeless alcoholic living in the wild to academic success and a book deal, Out of the Woods tells the inspiring comeback story of forest-dweller Gregory Smith. When he left school at 14, dogged by the crushing assessment that he was "functioning at the lower level of the dull range", Gregory Smith had already endured a violent upbringing and months in an orphanage after the break-up of his family. At 35, struggling with a lifetime of trauma, he opted to escape into the wild with no desire to return to the society that had failed him so dismally. Exhausted by years of living off the land and sleeping rough, Gregory emerged from the forest ready to change his life, and gained an undergraduate degree and then a PhD at Southern Cross University. His story offers hope for the most damaged amongst us. "Gregory represents the capacity for transformation against all odds and a real triumph over adversity," says one of his students, Kerry Pritchard. "How to take the crap in life and grow beautiful things out of it.
She was a wife, a mother, a sister and a daughter. Lyn Dawson had everything to live for, so why did she disappear without a trace 36 years ago? Her husband Chris, a PE teacher, always insisted she abandoned him and their two young daughters to “sort things out”. Days later he moved his teenage lover into the family home. Two coroners concluded Chris Dawson murdered his wife but to this day, he has never been prosecuted. The case has gripped audiences around the world since the release of a new podcast, The Teacher’s Pet, by investigative journalist Hedley Thomas. Australian Story first covered the story 15 years ago. This next chapter features exclusive interviews with friends and family of Lyn Dawson and those charged with enacting justice, both then and now.
When Emma Watkins became the Yellow Wiggle in 2012, she overcame a backlash to make the yellow skivvy her own, winning over a new generation of fans. As Emma's star rose, behind the scenes her health was failing. Eventually she was diagnosed with endometriosis and her decision to go public brought much-needed attention to the disease. Her health problems led her to re-evaluate other areas of her life and at the beginning of the year she separated from her husband, fellow Wiggle Lachlan Gillespie. Emma speaks exclusively about the separation, its fall-out and the couple’s determination to continue working together.
The South Australian steel town of Whyalla was facing extinction two years ago. A one-company town, its big employer, Arrium, went bust and the jobs of 3,000 steelworkers were hanging in the balance. But the town was determined to save itself. Workers voted in favour of a 10 per cent pay cut and were rewarded when British billionaire Sanjeev Gupta came to town.
Taryn Brumfitt is the Adelaide mother-of-three behind a global movement inspiring women to make peace with their bodies. Like many mothers, Taryn loathed her post-baby shape and threw herself into dieting and bodybuilding to attain the ‘perfect’ body. Realising it was an impossible ideal, she made the choice to love her body instead and posted a photo of her "real" body online … and the response was extraordinary. Taryn started a movement, made a documentary and is now knocking on Hollywood’s door to spread the message that women should embrace the skin they're in.
Samuel Symons led a quietly inspirational life. Diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour at age four, he spent most of his life in and out of hospitals. But Samuel's witty personality always shone through, despite the seemingly endless and gruelling treatments. Samuel grew up with his two brothers, Raphael and Joel, mother Elly and his television and radio personality father, Red Symons. But his parents never spoke publicly about Samuel’s illness. That was until Australian Story started filming with them in 2006 and continued tracking Samuel's progress for three years for an intimate and raw look into the journey of childhood cancer. Samuel passed away on October 3, 2018, age 27. His mother Elly introduces this story which looks back on Samuel's remarkable life.
Prince Harry has spoken exclusively to Australian Story ahead of the Invictus Games which will open in Sydney next week. Founded by His Royal Highness, The Duke of Sussex in 2014, the Invictus Games is an international sporting event for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women, both serving and veteran. One of those competitors will be Garry Robinson who credits His Royal Highness and the Invictus Games with saving his life. In 2010, the former commando narrowly survived a Black Hawk helicopter crash in Afghanistan. After two years in rehab, he returned home to the challenges of learning to live with a traumatic brain injury and significant physical disabilities. Garry struggled to cope and it wasn’t until his rehab team at Holsworthy Army base encouraged him to enter the inaugural London Invictus Games four years ago that he found a new lease of life.
Over many years, Australian Story has followed the efforts of farmer Peter Andrews to drought-proof the land. His unorthodox approach, which involves planting weeds and installing 'leaky weirs', was once considered heretical but a growing band of supporters has taken up his cause At Mulloon, outside Canberra, Tony Coote and a group of like-minded landholders set out to prove that the Andrews method works. Now, during one of the worst droughts in living memory their results are cause for hope and have attracted the eye of Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
When Australian Story first filmed with Dr Justin Yerbury, the world-renowned scientist’s research into motor neurone disease had taken on a terrible urgency. Diagnosed with the disease in 2016, his condition had begun to deteriorate dramatically. By last Christmas he was unable to breathe unassisted and without major surgery to provide permanent mechanical ventilation he wouldn’t survive. Determined to continue his search for a cure and spend more time with his family, he had the operation and when the episode aired early in the year he was in ICU, struggling with post-operative complications. He would remain there for six months. But the past couple of months have seen some remarkable developments. Not only has he finally returned home, he is now going into the office two days a week to continue his vital research into the disease. Australian Story caught up with Justin and his family to record his astonishing progress.
When former Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer and his wife Judy learned that their young son was autistic, they were told he would probably never have a job or live independently. But Harrison Fischer, now aged 25, has defied everybody’s expectations. Harrison has a job helping primary schoolers in Wodonga, is paying tax and has his own home. As his father Tim Fischer, one of Australia’s most-loved politicians, battles a life-threatening illness, Harrison’s growing independence is a source of joy for the Fischer family.
By the time this year’s Queensland schoolboy rugby union season was over, four teenagers had broken their necks, their lives changed forever. Two of them, Conor Tweedy and Ollie Bierhoff, should have competed against each other. Instead, after separate accidents a week apart, they found themselves side by side in the Spinal Injuries Unit contemplating quadriplegia. In hospital, both boys threw themselves into their recoveries. One had a recovery deemed ‘miraculous’; for the other, the road back is much steeper.
As Western Australia reels in shock from a succession of family mass murders, Perth advocate Dr Ann O’Neill offers a powerful message of hope. Twenty-four years ago, Ann’s estranged husband killed their two children and left her an amputee. She turned her grief into good and rebuilt her life to become one of the country’s leading trauma experts. In this update of a powerful episode from 2004, we follow Ann as she works with the Margaret River community in the wake of May's horrific mass killing. As she helps those struggling with sudden loss, Ann offers hard-won wisdom about how to carry on in the face of sadness and grief.
When Kerryn Phelps first spoke to Australian Story in 1998 she was a celebrity TV doctor with no public political aspirations. Twenty years later she defied the odds to pull off the upset political victory of the year, winning former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s blue-ribbon Sydney seat of Wentworth as an independent following his departure from politics. But making history is nothing new for Kerryn Phelps and wife Jackie Stricker-Phelps. Dr Phelps was the first female leader of the Australian Medical Association and is a long-term community health educator and same-sex marriage advocate. We join Kerryn Phelps and her family and friends behind the scenes to learn about the extraordinary personal events leading to her new career in Canberra and ask: can she win Wentworth a second time when next year’s federal election comes around?
As the 10th anniversary of the Black Saturday fires approaches and the nation braces for another devastating bushfire season, we examine the fatal Churchill blaze and the investigation that led police to the enigmatic arsonist, Brendan Sokaluk. The story retraces Sokaluk's footsteps on the day and delves into his past to look for clues to why he lit a fire on a day of extreme fire conditions. His actions led to the death of 11 people and the widespread destruction of property, wildlife and bushland. Featuring never-before-seen police interview footage of Sokaluk, The Burning Question asks what we can learn from the events of that day and how we can use this case to identify potential arsonists in the future.
In a television exclusive, the untold story of James Ricketson, the Australian filmmaker locked up in Cambodia for 15 months on espionage charges. Ricketson endured squalid conditions and failing health as he found himself a pawn in much larger game of Cambodian politics. Meanwhile in working for his release his family faced a dilemma — to go along with the Australian Government’s "softly, softly" diplomatic approach or ceding to James’s demands to shout injustice from the rooftops and risk even harsher punishment.
When screen legend Jack Thompson checked himself into Sydney's St Vincent's Hospital last year, he had no idea how sick he was. Unbeknown to Jack, his kidneys had failed and he was 48 hours away from death. Told that he would have to go on dialysis three times a week for five hours, he realised his acting career was in jeopardy. The film he was about to shoot was set in remote Kakadu, 250 km away from the nearest dialysis unit in Darwin. It looked like he would have to pull out of the movie — until a big purple truck came to the rescue, a gesture of friendship and respect from the Territory's Indigenous community.
Tim Duncan was a junior doctor, on the brink of leaving medicine for a filmmaking career, when he found himself in desperate need of medical care. Lying by the side of an outback road, with critical injuries, he knew his only hope for survival was immediate medical attention. In that moment, as his life was ebbing away, Tim made a pact: if he survived, he would devote himself to emergency medicine.
It’s widely accepted nowadays that pregnant women shouldn’t take any medication unless it’s absolutely necessary. But in the early 1960s that wasn’t the case. Reassured by their doctors, thousands of women around the world took the drug thalidomide as a treatment for morning sickness, only to be faced with babies born with catastrophic disabilities. Born in March 1963, Lisa McManus is one of Australia’s youngest survivors. She’s leading a group who have taken their fight to Canberra’s Parliament House, in a last ditch battle for recognition, compensation and an apology.
This week’s Australian Story takes viewers behind the scenes of the Australian effort to separate Bhutanese conjoined twins Nima and Dawa. It took a village of medicos, health workers and volunteers to bring them to Australia, perform the ground-breaking operation and assist in their five month recovery. The story features exclusive interviews and vision, including the first moments the toddlers reunite with their father in Bhutan as newly independent individuals.
Writer and comedian Rosie Waterland has made a successful career out of seeing the funny side of her traumatic childhood. Whether it’s growing up with alcoholic parents, hiding from welfare workers as a "houso" kid or finding her father’s 'dead’ body', the darker things got in Rosie’s life, the funnier she became. But as Rosie's star was rising, the trauma of her childhood caught up with her. It's been her three sisters, torn apart as children when the family disintegrated, who’ve been the ones helping her back to wholeness.
The extraordinary story of Behrouz Boochani, the man who won Australia’s richest literary award but remains unable to set foot in this country. The stateless refugee, who’s in detention on Manus Island, smuggled out his entire book text by text on a smuggled mobile phone. In January, No Friend But the Mountains won the $100,000 Victorian Prize for Literature, Born during the Iran-Iraq war and suffering persecution as a Kurd in his homeland, Boochani fled Iran, seeking refuge in Australia. Arriving on Christmas Island four days after the government toughened its stance on refugees arriving by boat, he was taken to Manus Island where he has remained for five years. This is the story of determination to celebrate life, even when virtually all hope of escaping a hellish situation has been dashed.
The Seekers were the trailblazers of Australian music in the 1960s, knocking heavy hitters such as the Beatles off the top of the charts in the UK and taking the US by storm. Best known for their unique blend of harmonies and the voice of Judith Durham, the band were unlike anything of their time. Now, fresh off the back of a record deal featuring their final tour, The Seekers are taking part in the first television documentary since their split 50 years ago. All four band members Athol Guy, Bruce Woodley, Judith Durham and Keith Potger discuss their music, the impact of sudden fame and the painful fallout from their famous parting.
Jocelyn Moorhouse and PJ Hogan are two of this country’s most celebrated movie directors. The success of their debut films had Hollywood calling and they have since worked with some of the biggest names in film. They are also the parents of four children, two of whom have severe autism. And the experience of raising those children has shaped their personalities and careers. Jocelyn gave up her career to concentrate on her son and daughter’s therapy. She didn't expect to direct again. But in 2015, 18 years after making her last film, she made a triumphant return with The Dressmaker. In this intimate portrait, the family speaks candidly about the challenges, heartbreak and unexpected joys of living with two severely autistic children.
How far would you push yourself for a cause you believe in? Australian CEO Mina Guli, 48, is on a mission to draw attention to the global water crisis. In order to do that she attempted a physical feat so extreme, most people would consider it impossible — running 100 marathons in 100 days across the world. Mina is driven by urgency: By 2030, it’s estimated the demand for fresh water will outstrip supply by 40 per cent. But when her body literally broke during marathon 62, Mina thought all was lost. Unexpectedly, the campaign took on a life of its own.
When 21-year-old Menindee farmer Kate McBride came across thousands of dying fish in her beloved Darling River she was determined to tell the country what was happening. She posted the pictures on her family’s Facebook page and the images went viral. "I don't think there’s a way to put into words what seeing millions of dead fish on the river that you've called home for your whole life is," she remembers. "It was just pure devastation… these animals were suffering." By the time truckloads of fish were disposed of at the town dump, Kate was emerging as a fierce advocate for the health of the Darling River and a leader to watch. She’s been documenting local health concerns about water supplies from the river and is pushing for a Federal Royal Commission.
Kate Miller-Heidke opens up to Australian Story about the private pain behind the very personal song she is performing at the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest. In what is a candid insight into one of the world’s leading “vocal gymnasts”, the singer reveals the challenges of motherhood and how she overcame her struggles. Inspired by the experience, she wrote a song, Zero Gravity, which she will perform at the semi-finals in Tel Aviv, Israel. Out of the Box features interviews with family, friends, and music legends Tina Arena and Ben Folds in this exhilarating backstage pass to the world’s largest song contest.
Australian Story celebrates the extraordinary life and career of Bob Hawke, Australia’s most popular prime minister, who died aged 89. Hawke won four elections, becoming Labor’s longest-serving prime minister and overseeing profound economic and social reform. Eventually Hawke's fruitful relationship with treasurer Paul Keating soured and he lost the leadership of the party, bringing to an end a stellar career Hawke approached his final years content with his life and proud of his achievements, saying "I don't think about death, I'm not frightened of death". This intimate portrait features extensive archive, including rare photos from the family’s private collection, and revealing interviews with Hawke, his biographer and second wife Blanche D’Alpuget and his three children.
When Pamela Lawrence was brutally murdered in her Perth shop in 1994 police focused their investigation around one suspect, Andrew Mallard. He quickly became the victim of a miscarriage of justice, spending twelve years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. Mallard’s family fought successfully to release him, enlisting then WA Shadow Attorney-General John Quigley and journalist Colleen Egan who uncovered a trail of deception and police misconduct. In this updated episode of Andrew Mallard’s story, Australian Story talks to the friends who stood by him until his untimely death last month.
This week's story tracks the fall and rise of Debbie Kilroy — from high security women’s prisoner to high-profile crusading lawyer. Debbie was sentenced to six years for drug trafficking. She began university studies in jail and made history when she became the first woman with a serious conviction to be admitted as ‘a fit and proper person’ to the bar of Queensland. Earlier this year, Debbie mounted a spur-of-the-moment crowd-funding campaign to pay off the court debts of Indigenous women incarcerated in Western Australia for defaulting on fines. The campaign raised over $400,000 and has led to the release of 11 women from prison.
Anthony Maslin (Maz) and Marite Norris (Rin) faced the unimaginable when their "whole family was shot out of the sky”. Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was struck by a missile over a Ukrainian warzone in 2014. The couple's three children, Mo, Evie and Otis, along with their grandfather Nick Norris, became the faces of a senseless war crime. As the five-year anniversary approaches, Maz and Rin share, for the first time, how they are coping with their loss and moving forward with strength, positivity and compassion.
Encouraged by her friends to look for love online, Queensland teacher and mother-of-two Yoshe Taylor swiftly found herself immersed in the stuff of nightmares. Communications with a man calling himself "Precious Max" led to a visit to see him in Cambodia. When Yoshe cooled on a relationship, her suitor switched tacks and suggested she work with him in an arts and crafts business instead. The business was revealed to be an international drug smuggling racket that had also ensnared other unsuspecting Australians. Sentenced to 23 years in a Cambodian prison for unwittingly carrying heroin, Yoshe was helpless and largely forgotten until a group of lawyers teamed up to fight her case. Six years later, she shares her story for the first time, in a warning to others about the perils of online romance.
Left alone in a Cambodian prison, Australian mother-of-two Yoshe Taylor had all but given up fighting for her release. "I actually thought the death penalty was a much better idea than being in jail for 23 years," she says. The local court rejected Yoshe's claims that she was set up by a drug syndicate via a dating website and she was concerned for her children's ongoing welfare. "I did not want to spend 23 years away from my children… it's just causing them pain, hoping that I'm coming home," she says. It wasn't until a group of lawyers joined forces that the tide started to turn in Yoshe's favour. The lawyers discovered that three other Australian victims had been scammed by the same drug syndicate and then released — but that somehow this evidence hadn’t been shared in time to rescue Yoshe from serving six years in jail. Now back in Australia, Yoshe is sharing her story for the first time, in a warning to others about the perils of online romance.
Remembering the late Tim Fischer, who died on August 21, 2019, age 73. A widely respected and quirky political figure, Mr Fischer's remarkable career began as a 20-year-old conscript fighting in the jungles in Vietnam and ended in the Vatican as Australia's top diplomat. But the Boy from Boree Creek (a tiny town near Wagga Wagga) made his greatest contribution in politics as the deputy prime minister, and will be remembered for the key role he played in reforming Australia's gun laws. Recently as his health faded, Tim’s family invited Australian Story to join them on what turned out to be one of his last trips to his home town of Boree Creek.
The Choir of Hard Knocks became a household name when it burst onto television screens in 2007, making rock stars out of 50 of the most unlikely people. Front and centre, clapping and crying, was its choir master Jonathon Welch. Made up of the homeless, drug addicts and alcoholics, the choir sold out concerts at the Sydney Opera House, amassed an Aria award and a gold album. But long after the cameras stopped rolling, Jonathon kept the choir going on his own. Now as Jonathon bids farewell to his beloved choir, he reveals the deeply personal reasons behind his departure.
When Newcastle radio host Jill Emberson was told she had terminal ovarian cancer, she opted to go public and go loud. She discovered her disease was the most neglected and deadliest of all womens’ cancers and vowed to improve awareness and research funding. Her mission took her from scientific labs, to street protests and to Parliament House in Canberra, where her message finally cut through. This is the story of Jill’s fight for her life and for a better deal for generations of women to come.
As he prepares to celebrate his 80th birthday, an uncharacteristically reflective Paul Hogan looks back over his remarkable life and career. In the first of two episodes, the actor and comedian talks about his working-class background, sudden fame in his early 30s, his relationship with John “Strop” Cornell and the genesis of Crocodile Dundee, one of the most successful independent films ever made. Paul's son Todd, speaking publicly for the first time, talks movingly of the disruptions the family faced as their father became a star virtually overnight. Featuring previously unseen childhood photos and candid insights from family, friends and colleagues, this is Paul Hogan as you’ve never seen him before.
This episode concludes the two-part exploration of comedian Paul Hogan’s remarkable life and career. Following the success of the movie Crocodile Dundee, Paul Hogan had the world at his feet. But when he left his wife of 30 years for Dundee co-star Linda Kozlowski the media turned on him. Paul talks candidly about the hostile media attention, the difficulty in living up to the success of Crocodile Dundee, his nine-year battle with the Australian Tax Office, his friend John Cornell’s battle with Parkinson’s disease and his career renaissance since meeting director Dean Murphy. Featuring candid insights from family, friends and colleagues, this is Paul Hogan as you’ve never seen him before.
Emma and Richard Austin endured ten years of gruelling fertility treatments in their unsuccessful quest for a baby. Two months after making the difficult decision to stop IVF, the offer of a lifetime arrived when a mutual friend introduced them to a Brisbane couple. Jessica and JP DiZane’s family was complete and they had leftover embryos that they didn’t want to destroy. After a series of heartfelt and challenging discussions between the couples, an altruistic donation led to Emma and Richard becoming the parents of baby Henry. One year later, the couples come together to discuss how a surprise gift helped to solve everyone’s problems.
We go behind the scenes at the inquest into one of Australia’s most chilling cold cases, the 1975 murder of Perth brothel madam Shirley Finn From the outset, rumours of police and political involvement swirled around the case, many believing that Shirley Finn was silenced when she threatened to reveal the secrets of powerful figures in Western Australia. When we last visited the story, Shirley Finn’s daughter Bridget Shewring and author Juliet Wills had succeeded in obtaining a coronial inquest after a decade-long battle Tonight we follow the two women through the twists and turns of the inquiry as they grapple with new allegations of police and political corruption and we hear from crucial witnesses, fronting the cameras for the first time.
When the body of a well-dressed man was found on Adelaide's Somerton Beach in 1948, police assumed that somebody would soon come forward to identify him. But nobody did. More than 70 years later, the mysterious case of the "Somerton Man", as he became known, regularly makes the lists of Australia’s most baffling unsolved cases. Was he murdered? Was he a Russian spy? Was it suicide? Or was he the victim of a love triangle? In an effort to finally unearth the truth, Adelaide University Professor Derek Abbott is pushing for the Somerton Man’s remains to be exhumed. Professor Abbott has a more personal motivation to solve the case: He is married to a woman he believes is the Somerton Man’s granddaughter.
For the past decade, Australian Story producer Belinda Hawkins has been following the case of Jock Palfreeman, a young Australian man convicted in Bulgaria for a stabbing murder he says he didn’t commit. He claims he was acting in self-defence when he was protecting a Gypsy who was being attacked; the court found him guilty of murder with hooliganism. When Jock was released on parole recently having served 12 years in jail, he and his father, Simon Palfreeman, could have been forgiven for thinking their nightmare was over. But a new crisis unfolded when Jock was caught up in a bitter stoush when politicians argued against his parole. He remains in limbo.
Former Socceroos captain and respected football analyst Craig Foster has been an outspoken, sometimes controversial public broadcaster, driven by an unrivalled passion for the game. But privately, he has led another life, working with those less fortunate than himself. And in November last year, when a fellow football international, Bahraini refugee Hakeem Al-Araibi, was arrested in Thailand and threatened with extradition back to the country where he had been imprisoned and tortured, Craig Foster led a global campaign to free him. Now he and Hakeem reveal the full story of that campaign, and how close it came to disaster.
In the NSW mid-coast town of Kempsey, principal Mark Morrison brushes close to the rules to give troubled teens their last chance at a high school education. At Macleay Vocational College, the former private school teacher and rugby league coach does whatever it takes to get students past the high-security fence and into a classroom. These kids mostly come from generational disadvantage, where poverty, drug addiction, domestic violence and/or cultural trauma is the norm. Life has taught them unacceptable behaviour but Mark Morrison hasn’t given up on them. In fact, as the end of the school calendar draws close, he’s looking at a record-breaking number of student graduations.
Award-winning Melbourne artist Vincent Fantauzzo doesn’t hold with the idea of the starving artist. Instead, he's made a spectacular life for himself despite leaving school at 13 barely able to read or write. His teenage years were spent working menial jobs and dabbling in petty crime until his boxing coach encouraged him to follow his passion for art. When he was outed for plagiarism at art school, his trouble with words was finally diagnosed as dyslexia. After successfully completing his fine arts degree he forged a successful career as one of Australia’s best known portrait artists. Heath Ledger, Julia Gillard, Baz Luhrmann and wife Asher Keddie are some of his high-profile subjects. Today Vincent no longer sees his dyslexia as a disability. Instead he calls it the gift that allows him to see the world and his subjects from a different perspective.
When Shanna Whan realised she was an alcoholic, she didn’t just decide to give up drinking. She drew on her experience to start a one-woman campaign to start a conversation about the pervasive culture of alcohol in rural Australia. And she took the brave step of going public with her own 20-year battle with the bottle, as a way of encouraging others who want to change to step forward and seek help. Now her online community "Sober in the Country" is spreading the message throughout the bush: "It’s OK to say no to a beer."
Ursula Barwick was 17 years old when she vanished without a trace. Her family dropped her to the train station on the NSW Central Coast in Spring 1987. She was headed to Sydney to start a new job and was to call when she got there. But that phone call never came. Desperate and worried, Peter Barwick reported his daughter missing but police at the time failed to prioritise the case. Friends and family were not interviewed and potential leads were missed. For the next three decades, those closest to Ursula lived with an enduring heartache, not knowing if she was dead or alive. When Ursula's fate was finally discovered by two new detectives in 2016, it raised uncomfortable questions for NSW Police as to why her disappearance had gone unsolved for so long.
Late last year Ghanim Al Shnen was working on a building site when a metal bar he was holding struck overhead wires. He suffered catastrophic injuries that resulted in the amputation of both his arms. Now, in a world-first procedure, he is being fitted with two robotic arms that he will control with his mind. Overseeing this complex process is renowned orthopaedic surgeon Dr Munjed al Muderis. The two men have much in common. Both fled Iraq in fear of their lives, arriving in Australia by boat. Boat spent time in detention centres where they used the time to educate themselves. To adapt to a life with no arms is profoundly difficult but Ghanim has impressed everyone with his resilience, positivity and good humour. Australian Story filmed with Ghanim over six months, following this medical miracle as it unfolded.
When Justine Barwick went for a swim off her yacht in Queensland’s iconic Whitsundays region last year, she had no idea her life would change in minutes. She was bitten by a shark just as she dived under water in Cid Harbour. A dramatic twilight helicopter rescue ferried the unconscious woman to Mackay hospital where surgeons managed against all odds to save her life and her leg. Her attack became the first of three in a matter of weeks in the Whitsundays. Five attacks since September last year have ignited a heated conversation about shark control in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park area. In the midst of the debate, Justine Barwick remains resolute about maintaining a positive attitude about her recovery and the Whitsundays.
From a homeless alcoholic living in the wild to academic success, this is the next chapter in the inspiring comeback story of forest-dweller Gregory Smith. When he left school at 14, dogged by the crushing assessment from teachers that he was “functioning at the lower level of the dull range”, Gregory had already endured a violent upbringing and months in an orphanage. At 35, struggling with a lifetime of trauma, he opted to escape into the wild with no desire to return to the society that had failed him so dismally. In an incredible turnaround, he emerged from the rainforest and gained an undergraduate degree and then a PhD at Southern Cross University. This powerful story explores how Gregory is now using his voice to help others sleeping rough.
This is the complex and controversial story of a man who killed two people, six years apart, both in mysterious circumstances. It begins with two country cops determined to solve the mystery of who hit and killed Dr Martin Pearson. On Anzac Day 2014, Dr Pearson was on the home stretch of a marathon 1500 kilometre, nine day ride when he was struck. Somewhere out there was the driver. Who was it? Why hadn’t they stopped? The silhouette of a suspect began to emerge, only to reveal a figure who had killed once before – incredibly, six years previously, almost to the day.
Concluding the two-part story of the man who was the only witness to two deaths. First, he shot dead his wife in what he told police was a tragic accident. He said he was looking for a snake in his garage on a chilly night in Toowoomba when his gun accidently discharged. Six years later he struck and killed a cyclist on a lonely stretch of highway. He was convicted of dangerous driving causing death. Now, a retired coroner, who has watched these cases unfold from the sidelines, is asking why the man has never had to face charges relating to the death of his wife.
When Marlion Pickett took to the field in the AFL Grand Final late last year, it set the scene for one of the most heartwarming moments in the sport’s history. For 28-year-old Pickett it was the culmination of a journey that began more than seven years ago when he was behind bars in WA's Wooroloo Prison Farm. Pickett credits partner Jessica Nannup and his four children for creating the incentive to turn his life around and follow his passion for footy. But the journey wasn't easy and Pickett was overlooked in successive AFL drafts. It wasn't until Richmond coach Damien Hardwick took a punt on him that his fortunes turned around. Now, as he gears up for the new season, all eyes are on what he will achieve next, both on and off the field.
There are very few Chinese journalists in Australia who openly criticise their government and even fewer working simultaneously on the comedy circuit. This might help explain the growing media profile of Chinese journalist Vicky Xu. When the 25-year-old arrived in Australia on a university gap year she thought of herself as loyal to her country’s government. But then everything changed. Her journalism is raising questions about the Chinese government’s human rights record and she now finds herself at the centre of an increasingly heated debate over the Australia-Chinese relationship.
Since appearing on Australian Idol in 2003, drag queen Courtney Act has gone on to become an international star, appearing on RuPaul’s Drag Race in America, winning Celebrity Big Brother in the UK and coming second on Dancing with the Stars last year in Australia. But for much of Courtney's career there was a struggle going on between the glamorous drag queen and the man behind the make-up, Shane Jenek. The turning point came in 2014, when he was introduced to the concept of gender fluidity. Since then, Shane and Courtney have used reality TV, social media and performance to preach a message of acceptance and tolerance. In an intimate portrait, Jenek talks candidly — as both Shane and Courtney — about his career and identity issues.
Dassi Erlich and her two sisters were brought up in Melbourne’s insular Jewish Adass community where they say they were sexually assaulted by their former headmistress Malka Leifer. When the allegations surfaced, the mother of eight went to Israel where she has fought extradition for more than five years. We join Dassi, Nicole and Elly as they return to Israel to investigate why the case has stalled after more than 60 hearings and whether a senior Israeli cabinet minister pressured psychiatrists to declare Malka Leifer unfit for extradition. The sisters are also trying to harness the influence of the global Jewish community to crack what they say is a pervasive culture of cover-up.
As Australia faces an unprecedented pandemic, Australian Story tracks the experience of five Australians on five different days during the past week. A choirmaster, an intensivist, a medical researcher, a psychiatrist and a school principal discuss their responses in the wake of the crisis — and reveal some of the innovative solutions they're coming up with to find a way through. Produced over the course of a week, this is a unique insight into a week that changed the nation.
The touching friendship between jazz man James Morrison and his long-time mentor Don Burrows is the focus of this week’s encore program, following Burrows' death from Alzheimer's disease in a Sydney nursing home last month. When 16-year-old music student James met the legendary jazz maestro in 1978, it was one of the biggest turning points in his life. After hearing James play, Don immediately took the young trumpeter under his wing, becoming his mentor and inviting him to join the Burrows band It was the beginning of an enduring friendship, both on stage and off and as Don's health faded, James became his legal guardian and stepped up to help care for his friend. A tribute to the late Don Burrows, who died on March 12, 2020.
When Victor Steffensen saw horrific bushfires breaking out across large parts of Australia this summer, it was no surprise to him. The amount of vegetation on the landscape — and the type of vegetation — looked to him like a time bomb waiting to go off. He believes we can look to the past to prevent this happening in the future. As the face of the cultural burning movement, Victor says one of the answers may lie with the fire management techniques practiced by Indigenous people for thousands of years.
He may technically be a Kiwi, but actor Sam Neill has done some of his best work in Australia. From his 1979 breakthrough in My Brilliant Career, Sam has been a beloved presence on our screens. In 2019, the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts celebrated his lifetime achievements with the Longford Lyell award. But Sam Neill has another brilliant career. For the last 30 years, he has been making wine in his beloved Central Otago in New Zealand’s South Island. What started as a delightful diversion gradually became an obsession. Now in COVID-19 isolation, Sam has taken to social media to entertain and reassure people. Whether he's acting, making wine or serenading us on his ukulele, Sam recognizes he’s simply in the "cheering-up business".