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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.
When scientist Jim Bowler discovered an ancient skeleton in outback New South Wales 44 years ago, he had no idea it would change history. But Mungo Man's descendants have been fighting for the return of his bones ever since.
From Sydney's Western Suburbs all the way to London's Covent Garden, Australian dancers Steven McRae and Alexander Campbell compete for the ultimate prize in the world of dance.
When medical student Dinesh Palipana was left a quadriplegic after a horrific car accident, he was told he would never become a doctor. Now he's one of the top young medicos in a busy hospital.
Outback nurse Gayle Woodford was working alone at night in the remote community of Fregon when she vanished. This investigation reveals the issues behind her disappearance and the dangers for medical staff in the outback.
The Matildas are the "darlings" of Australian sport right now. But for 40 years they've been fighting for equality, recognition and the right to play the game they love.
Over the past year since Australian Story first profiled Eddie Woo, his career has skyrocketed. He's gone from suburban high school maths teacher to award-winning celebrity.
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.
From bullets to books: After five overseas deployments, former commando Mick Bainbridge was at breaking point. When he sought help, he says Defence treated him like ‘a leper'. But instead of getting mad, he waged a new war. After an intensely personal battle, Mick Bainbridge is now helping other young soldiers 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. Then her whole life changed. This is a story of how a young woman inspired a generation to be sun safe.
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.
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
When the body of Mark Haines was found on the train tracks near Tamworth in 1988, police quickly dismissed any idea of foul play. But after a 5 year investigation, journalist Allan Clarke believes he may have found the truth.
As journalist Allan Clarke digs deeper into events on the night Mark Haines died he discovers more about his last few hours. As he cracks the case wide open he is led to the man he believes is the killer.
Introduced by chef Alastair McLeod
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.
Introduced by Nicholas Cowdery, former NSW Director of Public Prosecutions
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.
Introduced by actress and Wayside ambassador Claudia Karvan
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.
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.
Introduced by Wiggles founder Anthony Field.
"I think my health was a real start for me to think about myself, and to think about how healthy I was in myself emotionally and spiritually and physically."
Australian Story goes behind the scenes of Australia's most successful children's group to chart the extraordinary rise of Emma Watkins, the first female Wiggle.
And in a television exclusive, Emma reveals the circumstances behind her separation from Purple Wiggle Lachlan Gillespie, who she married in 2016.
Also featuring interviews with Gillespie, Wiggles founder Anthony Field, Wiggles manager Paul Field, Emma's doctor and her family, The Show Must Go On offers an intimate portrait of one of Australia's most popular performers.
When three members of the original Wiggles line-up retired in 2012, Emma, a dancer with the group, was as surprised as anyone to be offered the yellow skivvy. The Show Must Go On reveals the challenges faced by new line-up and the key role Emma played in the revitalisation of the band.
"Emma is number one. She's the Elvis of The Wiggles. You look into the audience, 60, 80 per cent of the children are dressed like Emma."
Anthony Field, Wiggle
As Emma's star continued to rise, her health was failing. Despite collapsing several times, she ignored her worsening symptoms until she was finally diagnosed with endometriosis at the beginning of this year.
"Once I saw Emma it was crystal clear she had endometriosis and she's just been ignoring it and pushing it by the wayside."
Professor Jason Abbott, surgeon
Her decision to go public about her illness brought much-needed attention to the disease, which affects one in 10 Australian women.
As Emma reveals to Australian Story, it was her health problems that led her to re-evaluate other areas of her life and ultimately her decision to separate from Lachy.
Emma speaks candidly about her return to the stage after surgery, the breakdown of her marriage and her enduring love for her former partner and fellow Wiggle.
Introduced by business reporter Alan Kohler.
When the owner of the Whyalla steelworks went into administration two years ago, crippled by $4 billion worth of debt, the future of the entire town was at risk.
Known as the place ‘where the outback meets the sea,' Whyalla is a one company town where the steelworks is the only large employer.
"If the steelworks sneezes, Whyalla catches a cold. Two years ago, the steelworks got a coronary." Stephen Stanley, cartoonist, Whyalla News.
With 3000 jobs on the line administrator Mark Mentha flew to South Australia to face the most challenging job of his career.
If Mentha could find someone to turn the ageing steelworks around, the town might be saved. If not, a community of 20,000 people would be left in the lurch.
"Our worst fear would be if the town was shut down… it'd be the end of life as I know it." Larisa Waters, engineer and fourth generation steelworker
Mentha pitched a controversial plan for the entire workface to take a 10 percent pay cut in the hope it would make the business attractive to buyers. Desperate to save their town and their livelihoods, workers agreed.
"I can throw my hands in the air and sulk… or I can throw myself at it with everything I've got." Stuart Monroe, union representative and steelworker
Twelve months later, when British steel billionaire Sanjeev Gupta bought the company he paid tribute to the workforce.
"It was an amazing sacrifice, and it gave me confidence that if I bought this business, I would have a great force behind me to turn it round," he told Australian Story. "I would say that Whyalla is a town that saved itself."
The program features exclusive behind-the-scenes access with Sanjeev Gupta as he takes over the reins of the ailing steelworks and moves his young family from the UK to a grand mansion in Sydney. And in his first in-depth interview in Australia, he explains why he's so attracted to the country and why he thinks manufacturing needs to draw on renewable energy to move forward.
Introduced by actor Teresa Palmer
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, son of TV personality Red Symons, inspired everyone around him during his courageous battle with cancer. He passed away last week at age 27. His mother Elly introduces this Australian Story from 2010.
Prince Harry has spoken exclusively to Australian Story ahead of The Invictus Games.
He introduces an episode profiling Blackhawk helicopter crash survivor Garry Robinson.
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.
Next week in Sydney, 500 competitors of all abilities will gather for the fourth Invictus Games, which uses the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for those who have served their country.
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 Blackhawk helicopter crash in Afghanistan which claimed the life of three of his colleagues - Tim Aplin, Scott Palmer and his best friend, Ben Chuck, as well as one American serviceman.Garry's physical injuries were extensive and included a traumatic brain injury.
After two years in hospital the former elite commando returned home but struggled to see a future.
His life changed when he competed in the inaugural London Invictus Games in 2014 emerging with a new sense of confidence, purpose and pride.
"I've seen guys pass away through suicide and depression. I've just been fortunate that the Invictus Games have given me the that sense of belonging … I'm definitely thankful that Prince Harry has given me the opportunity to do that." Garry Robinson.
In this episode, The Duke of Sussex presents a heartfelt introduction to Garry's story and reflects upon the unique problems faced by injured soldiers. The ABC is the official host broadcaster of Invictus Games Sydney 2018, held from 20-27th October.
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.
Introduced by former Wallabies captain John Eales
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.
Introduced by Rosie Batty.
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.
Introduced by Magda Szubanski
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?
Introduced by Jack Rush, senior counsel to the Royal Commission into the Black Saturday bushfires
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.
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