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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.


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 fight for control over Black births

Worried about racial inequities in the health system, First Nations women are fighting for culturally safe birth options. But as Quandamooka woman Carly Williams finds out, not everyone in the mainstream healthcare service is on board.


Will any koalas be left in Australia's east by 2050?

Being one of Australia’s cutest animals hasn’t prevented its slide towards extinction. Reporter Rachael Brown investigates what is being done to try to curb the koala's declining population.


What goes on inside Australia's first long COVID clinic?

Thousands of Australians are finding they still feel ill several months after contracting coronavirus. They're experiencing a new and little understood condition called long COVID. As Geoff Thompson discovered, the demand for medical treatment is now overwhelming.


Kidnapping the Gods | Part 2

Precious artefacts looted from Cambodia and Thailand made their way into prominent collections here in Australia, and around the world. In the second and final episode of his investigation, Mario Christodoulou investigates why it’s taking so long for these precious works to be returned to their rightful home.


Kidnapping the Gods

Many ancient Cambodian artifacts arrived in Australia during the 1960s and 1970s, when the south east Asian country was in turmoil. Mario Christodoulou investigates how some had come from looted historic sites or passed through the hands of suspected smugglers, and now feature in major galleries around the world.


The teachers are not alright

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged schools across the country like never before, but it's also shone a light on existing issues within the profession such as a chronic shortage of specialised teachers and growing workload stress. Reporter Mayeta Clark follows teachers in public schools in NSW as they struggle to cover classes and keep their students engaged.


Why Queensland's sex workers say the law puts their lives at risk

Many states have repealed tough laws that put sex workers at risk of prosecution. But so far, Queensland hasn't followed suit. Now, the state government is looking at introducing new safeguards to protect those in the industry. Reporter Mahmood Fazal investigates.



Background Briefing will be on a break for a few weeks, but we will be back late May with fresh investigations. In the meantime why not check out a new podcast made by our colleagues called Face Value. It takes a closer look at the booming cosmetic enhancement industry in Australia and explores why so many people choose to alter their appearance with injectables or surgical procedures.


The 'holy grail' of IVF that went wrong

IVF has grown into a huge industry, with companies competing to provide fertility services. But in the quest to innovate and gain an edge, one Australian company may have taken things too far. Now hundreds of those who used a controversial new genetic test are taking legal action Reporter Rachael Brown investigates.


When the floodwater goes, what's next?

Reporter Geoff Thompson followed several residents of Lismore as they tried to recover from February's monster flood in Northern NSW. But before they'd finished the clean-up, the waters started to rise again.


The mums accused of poisoning their kids

An almost unimaginable crime: two women accused of poisoning their own children at the same Sydney hospital. Both were charged and spent years separated from their families, but both say they were falsely accused. Reporter Hannah Ryan investigates whether the system has failed these families.


The end of Australia's biggest coal fired power plant

Jim works in the control room at Eraring Power Station, where one quarter of NSW's power is produced. But Jim and his 450 colleagues have recently found out that his workplace will be closing down, 7 years ahead of schedule. Reporter Mayeta Clark investigates what plans are in place to transition communities away from coal jobs.


The quiet drug crisis you haven't heard about

Prison authorities know that drugs are constantly finding their way into our prisons. But the most commonly detected drug is one you might never have heard of. And health experts are warning there’s a disaster looming for addicted inmates when they get out. Mahmood Fazal reports. This episode contains explicit language.


The scientists questioning a serial murder case

She was convicted of killing her four children nearly two decades ago. But new scientific evidence has come to light, leading some of Australia’s most respected scientists to argue that Kathleen Folbigg was actually the victim of a terrible miscarriage of justice. Some of those scientists now say Australia needs to establish a whole new body to review potentially wrongful convictions. Rachael Brown reports. Special thanks to Flinders University Adjunct Associate Professor Robert Moles for...


Inside aged care's Omicron chaos

This wave of coronavirus caused more Australians to die in aged care homes than any variant before it. This time we had vaccines and we had time to prepare. Reporter Geoff Thompson investigates how it went so wrong during Omicron.


Catching a Fugitive | Part 2

Charles Batham has been in hiding for years, and after two narrow escapes the trail goes cold. Then, reporter Erin Parke gets a tip-off that that brings the global investigation back from the brink – but will the truth ever come out about Batham’s dark past?


Catching a fugitive | part 1

A tall, eccentric Englishman with a secret double life flees Australia. For nine years he remains on the run. What he doesn't know is that two Australian women are tracking his movements from afar. Reporter Erin Parke was one of them.


The boss you can't escape from

Why a part of our workforce is afraid to speak up, even if their lodgings have bedbugs, it's hard to get a shower, or their pay is getting docked by random amounts. Reporter Mario Christodoulou investigates.


How COVID chokes a hospital

For months the NSW government assured the public that its hospitals were coping through the pandemic. But frontline staff are now speaking out about the barely controlled chaos behind the scenes. Reporter Mayeta Clark investigates what really happened during Omicron's peak.


The kids who broke out of detention

What children experienced inside Tasmania's youth detention centre for a long time remained out of sight, out of mind. But as Mahmood Fazal discovered, the centre's secrets are coming out now, as more former detainees come forward to tell their stories for the first time.