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Background Briefing

ABC (Australia)

Background Briefing is daring narrative journalism: Australian investigations with impact. Our award-winning reporters forensically uncover the hidden stories at the heart of the country’s biggest issues.

Background Briefing is daring narrative journalism: Australian investigations with impact. Our award-winning reporters forensically uncover the hidden stories at the heart of the country’s biggest issues.


Melbourne, VIC


Background Briefing is daring narrative journalism: Australian investigations with impact. Our award-winning reporters forensically uncover the hidden stories at the heart of the country’s biggest issues.




Background Briefing ABC Radio National GPO Box 9994 Sydney 2001 (02) 8333 1385


The rallying cry heard the world over

Could Australia's Black Lives Matter movement bring about real world change? Jared Goyette, Bridget Brennan and Allan Clarke trace how the brutal death of George Floyd has resonated with so many, from the scorched streets of Minneapolis to downtown Melbourne.


Who seeks to profit from the trauma of abuse survivors?

Uncle Justin has waited a long time for an acknowledgement that he has survived institutional child sexual abuse. When the National Redress Scheme was established, he was offered help from a private legal firm. But what Uncle Justin and other survivors hadn't realised, Jeremy Story Carter discovered, was their trauma had become a honeypot.


Why Australia's spies think the far right could find a foothold during coronavirus

Since Australia's coronavirus shutdown began, there's been a spike in reports of racist attacks, where people are targeted because they just happen to look Asian. Intelligence agencies are now warning that far right groups are exploiting the pandemic to further their own radical agendas. For some, that involves fomenting unrest to bring about a "race war". Mario Christodoulou investigates.


The controversial push to rebrand raw milk

Advocates of raw milk say its safe for people to drink the stuff, so long as dairies take proper precautions. But Australian health authorities are wary about re-opening the trade, especially since the death of a toddler was linked to drinking unpasteurised milk. Kathryn Gregory investigates that link and asks whether there could be a valid case to re-open the raw milk trade.


How were the kids in this town contaminated?

For children in Port Pirie there is no 10 second rule. When you grow up in a “lead town” eating off the floor is forbidden, and could be harmful to your health. But when a mum follows all the strict and unusual rules of the town to keep her son safe and his blood lead still continues to rise, she asks: what am I doing wrong? Can a town coexist with a lead smelter? Paul Culliver investigates


Having a baby alone: How the pandemic has changed how we give birth

Pregnancies and births around the world have been radically changed by the spread of COVID-19. Background Briefing reporter Katherine Gregory is 39 weeks pregnant, and has been watching this news closely. In this episode, as she goes through her own pregnancy journey, she uncovers how maternal health experts are trying to prevent any long-lasting impacts on new mothers and their babies. This is the final episode of our three-part series on how Australia is coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.


Drive-by dinners: Food relief in the time of Corona

Social distancing measures have robbed many charities of the human connection so crucial to their already vulnerable clients. But, as our reporter Geoff Thompson finds out, one charity has radically transformed its service, and still feeds almost eight thousand people a week. This is part two of a three part series into how Australia is coping with COVID-19 Pandemic.


Prison outbreak: Prisoners released to protect them from COVID-19

Australian prison operators say they're well equipped to deal with a possible COVID-19 outbreak inside their walls. But inmates claim unhygienic conditions are making them fear for their lives. Now, some are being released early to protect them from getting the virus. Reporter Meghna Bali speaks to one prisoner about her early release. This is part one of a three part series into how Australia is coping with COVID-19 Pandemic.


Hotel Corona: How the pandemic could fix homelessness

People experiencing homelessness are being moved from the street and shelters into four-star hotels. The radical plan is meant to protect them from the pandemic and it's temporary. But as Hagar Cohen discovers, there are questions about what happens once the virus crisis is over.


Who's profiting from the pandemic?

The coronavirus pandemic is causing pain and suffering the world over, but then there are always those who never let a good crisis go to waste. Some are benefiting from COVID-19 for legitimate reasons: just think of companies that make video conferencing apps, ventilators, or canny investors. But there are also more nefarious players looking to bank a win off the back of coronavirus fear and confusion: scam artists, fraudsters, counterfeiters. This week, Geoff Thompson, Mario Christodoulou,...


'People will die': Country hospital fears it won't cope with coronavirus

What does it take to prepare for a pandemic? Many hospitals around the world are already overwhelmed by patients infected with COVID-19. Australian doctors and nurses are bracing for something most of them have never faced before. In our country hospitals, resources are already stretched: beds are in short supply and there’s a greater proportion of older people. Preparation will, in many cases, be the difference between life and death. ABC National Regional Reporter Jess Davis takes us...


How we're getting through this

Coronavirus is changing the way the entire human race lives. Emergency workers are scrambling together contingency plans, fearing hospitals could soon be overwhelmed. Scientists are racing to invent a faster, cheaper Covid-19 test kit available for us all. Restaurants are reinventing themselves as delivery services, artists are turning to live-streaming to make a living. This week, the entire Background Briefing team investigates how each of us are finding new ways to get by.


He wanted an ambulance. He got a police "dog box".

Tristan was a kind and gentle 23-year-old surfer from Byron Bay. One night he suffered a drug-induced psychotic episode. And ended up driven to hospital in a small steel cage. Police say it is probably the worst place he could be. Tristan later died in hospital. Mario Christodoulou investigates the series of tragic events that led to Tristan's death that raise questions about how emergency services treat young drug-affected people in New South Wales.


'If I can't get my house fixed, I'm homeless'

Even after the black summer Australians have just endured, it's not bushfires that's keeping the nation's insurers awake at night. Climate change is bringing cyclones further south - towards highly populated areas like Brisbane, the Gold Coast and northern NSW. Insurers are warning that unless the Federal Government takes drastic action, parts of the country may even become uninsurable. And as Geoff Thompson discovers, it's not some threat on the horizon - the conditions are already here.


How fracking could threaten Australia's Paris target

The Morrison Government claims Australia will meet its emissions targets "in a canter". It points to Australia's status as the world's largest LNG exporter to show how the nation's carbon footprint is getting smaller. But Background Briefing has seen bombshell emails by government advisors that reveal a very different picture. Jane Bardon investigates the true extent of Australia's fracking emissions.


Inside the brazen tax scam where the homeless are made company directors

It's a long-running ‘dummy director’ scam that’s siphoned tens of millions of dollars from workers, small businesses and the taxpayer. In Victoria, a small group of accountants spent 15 years signing on drug users and homeless Australians to help their clients cheat the system. Reporter Dan Oakes investigates how this was allowed to go on for so long.


This predator targeted victims on Tinder for years. Why wasn’t he stopped sooner?

Glenn Hartland is a serial rapist who lured four Melbourne women on Tinder. His victims say he continued to use dating apps while on bail. How did the police, the court, and the company behind Tinder allow this to happen?


This judge’s unfair decisions upended people’s lives. What can be done about it?

These Australians were denied a fair hearing by one controversial judge. Now, for the first time, they're speaking out about their experiences. Hagar Cohen investigates what happens when the behaviour of a judge inside a courtroom is called into question.


Summer special: Murder on trial

In 2011, Boronika Hothnyang was accused of fatally stabbing her best friend, William Awu, directly in the heart. But when police arrived at the scene of the crime, Boronika's apartment in Dandenong south-east of Melbourne, she was fast asleep. Six men who had earlier been drinking at her place each gave detectives a very different version of events. In this episode, Sarah Dingle uncovers new evidence that raises serious questions about the strength of the case against Boronika.