Next Episode of Australian Story is
Season 23 / Episode 16 and airs on 28 May 2018 10:00
These are the stories of who we are. Australian Story presents unique tales that provide an insight into Australian life with all its complexities and challenges.
It's a decade since Dassi Erlich and her two sisters began campaigning to bring their former headmistress Malka Leifer to justice. As they edge towards their goal they reveal the personal cost of their extraordinary battle.
Introduced by Dr Glenn Gardener, Director of Maternal Fetal Medicine at Mater Mothers' Hospital in Brisbane.
Australian Story catches up with Harvey Fitzgibbon, the baby who underwent ground-breaking surgery in 2016 while still in the womb.
"Claudine's situation was unique, with a story that really I hadn't come across before." Dr Glenn Gardener
"There were risks involved for mum and bub and trying to weigh it all up – it comes to a point in time where you just have to say, look, go for it or don't." Dave Fitzgibbon
"I feel like all of our children have a place in our lives that fits well now. I feel like something wonderful has come out of that loss." Claudine Fitzgibbon
When Claudine Fitzgibbon became pregnant with her fourth child she had already endured two heartbreaking terminations following diagnoses of spina bifida.
When she and husband Dave received the same diagnosis for a third time they were desperate for another option.
It was then they were told of a procedure that had just taken place in Australia for the first time – complex surgery to correct the physical abnormalities associated with spina bifida while the baby was still in the womb.
It was a gamble but Claudine and Dave were determined to give their baby a fighting chance.
In October 2016, Harvey entered the world to the relief off all concerned.
But many questions remained. Would he still be badly affected by spina bifida? Would he ever walk?
This week, Australian Story visits the Fitzgibbon family to see how baby Harvey is travelling and whether their big gamble paid off.
Australian Story this week profiles Morris Stuart, a charismatic choirmaster who takes a group of women from central Australia to Germany on an unlikely and remarkable road trip.
This episode is introduced by film critic David Stratton.
"When he suggests things I just think he's crazy sometimes," Rob Borgas, friend.
"He can teach a song in five minutes, it's quite astounding," Barbara Stuart, wife.
When Morris Stuart arrived in Alice Springs he was at a loose end.
The retired pastor and choirmaster had travelled reluctantly to the outback at the urging of his artist wife.
Not one to stay idle, he walked down the central mall and approached locals to see if they wanted to join a choir. Within a year Morris moulded the 50 amateur singers into a top-notch choir.
Word soon spread to the Aboriginal community and particularly to groups of women who liked to sing. They wanted Morris to turn them into a proper choir too.
But then a remarkable thing happened.
They sang their own songs for Morris, German hymns they'd been taught by their elders, the musical legacy of German missionaries from the 19th century who travelled to the red centre.
"I was astonished when I first heard them singing those songs. It was almost like a central desert secret," said Morris when he heard their repertoire.
Then came a crazy idea - what if they took the songs back to the place from where they had come?
So began an unlikely and inspiring trip from the deserts of central Australia to the cathedrals of Germany, a trip that changed the lives of each and every one of them.
Introduced by Dr Norman Swan.
A dedicated father stuns the medical world as he attempts to find a cure for his son's illness.
"The worst part was we could see the fear on his face when Massimo would try and sit up." Sally Damiani, mother
"I don't think I'd ever come across a parent quite as driven to find the cause of his child's disease." Rick Leventer, treating neurologist
When Stephen Damiani and his wife Sally were first told that their baby boy Massimo had a mysterious disease, the first thing they did was hit the medical textbooks.
With the clock ticking, and without any scientific or medical training, Stephen threw himself into the complex and arcane world of genetics.
When Stephen helped isolate the gene that was responsible for his son's type of leukodystrophy, he not only shocked the scientific world he surprised himself.
"It's the ongoing joke. I failed the Year 11 chemistry exam and ended up being published in the American Journal of Human Genetics." Stephen Damiani
Australian Story first told the remarkable story of the Damiani family four years ago.
Since then Stephen and Sally have made huge strides in their efforts to find a cure for this disabling and deadly disease of the central nervous system. Now they are at the forefront of cutting edge research taking place in laboratories in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
"We've gone on to identify another 30 patients around the world with this exact condition. We owe it to Massimo to finish the mission he started." Stephen Damiani
Looks like something went completely wrong!
But don't worry - it can happen to the best of us,
- and it just happened to you.
Please try again later or contact us.