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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.
-1,846 mins ago
'The ghosts are not silent'
An awkward Christmas lunch conversation sends reporter Sam Carmody on a search for answers about his family history. The stories he finds out about are so disturbing, they have implications not just for his family but for the entire region, where his ancestors have a statue in their honour, a highway and even a town named after them.
Aug 14, 2021
What it's like to face terrorism charges
Since the September 11 attacks, Australia has enacted a staggering number of laws to counter the threat of terrorism. Over one hundred people have been charged with terror-related offences here, but very few have spoken to the media. One Australian man who was charged with offences that can carry up to 25 years in jail, shares his story with Mahmood Fazal for the first time.
Aug 7, 2021
Inside the epicentre of Australia's Delta outbreak
As COVID-19 cases surged in Sydney's south-west City of Fairfield, the government enforced tougher restrictions on residents there. But as Geoff Thompson discovers, these constraints have had some devastating repercussions on one of Sydney's poorest areas and where more than half its workers are in industries which can't work from home.
Jul 31, 2021
Reality TV's reckoning
Reality shows are a central pillar of the television industry, but for the people who appear on them, the productions can be a gateway to years of mental anguish. As Naomi Selvaratnam found out, for some reality TV stars their moment in the spotlight nearly cost them their life.
Jul 24, 2021
A far-right troll's journey from an Ipswich bedroom to global infamy
A young Australian far-right troll was known to his online fans as 'Catboy Kami'. Thousands followed his 'edgy' videos where he targeted children online with a mix of racial stereotypes and hardcore shock tactics. With that fame and notoriety, he's become a useful recruitment tool in the expansion of one of the globe's most extreme social movements. Alex Mann reveals Catboy Kami's true identity and how this young live streamer from south east Queensland ended up in the United States mixing with the top ranks of the white power movement.
Jul 17, 2021
Myanmar: The Spring Revolution
In Myanmar, after a military coup in February this year, mass protests were met with brutal force. Borders were shut, the internet was blocked and it is estimated that around 900 people have been killed by the military. But some brave, young activists have filmed their acts of resistance. As their options close, what hope do they have to win back democracy? Due to copyright restrictions there will be no Background Briefing podcast or transcript for this program. You can listen to the full episode here: BBC Radio 4 - Crossing Continents, Myanmar: The Spring Revolution
Jul 10, 2021
Bob Montgomery was one of Australia's most famous psychologists. But he was hiding a dark secret. Josh Robertson has the story of how he got away with it for so long.
Jul 3, 2021
Her name was Mhelody Bruno
She died in tragic circumstances, but it seems that the public, her family, even the court may not have been given the full story. Elise Kinsella investigates why.
Jun 26, 2021
The death Uber Eats disowned
Relatives of a dead food delivery rider say he was at work when a truck hit him. Uber Eats says he wasn’t. Patrick Begley investigates
Jun 19, 2021
The killer we've invited into the lounge room
When winter arrives there's nothing like curling up in front of a fire heater with a glass of wine. But there's something disturbing in this cosy picture. As Alison Branley discovers, there's a huge risk to our health that we seem determined to ignore, even though it's estimated to kill hundreds of Australians every year
Jun 12, 2021
How Australians are escaping India's Covid catastrophe
Thousands of Australians went to India back when it seemed like coronavirus was under control. Some went to care for elderly parents. But, as Alex Mann discovers, their noble intentions counted for nothing when they were locked out of Australia and found themselves in a fight to survive and find a way home.
Jun 5, 2021
The rural stoush fuelled by our chicken meat obsession
As Australians eat more and more chicken, we need to find places to raise the animals. But as broiler sheds pop up across rural Victoria, the neighbours are learning that there are more downsides than the smell. A chicken shed next door can stop you building on your own land. Rachael Brown heads to Gippsland to investigate why Rosedale locals are worried that their area will soon be nicknamed 'Chickendale'.
Apr 24, 2021
The memo that erased a scandal
Ballarat orphanage superintendent Hylton Sedgman was due to face nine child abuse charges. Buried in a 1964 file is the reason he never stood trial. Charlotte King investigates why.
Apr 17, 2021
The Archbishop, the luxury pad, and the COVID-ravaged aged care home
It was the site of Australia's deadliest coronavirus outbreak. This week, Ashlynne McGhee investigates how Melbourne's St Basil's Homes for the Aged has been funnelling tens of millions of taxpayer dollars into the Greek Orthodox Church.
Apr 10, 2021
The hidden park of last resort
It’s one of the last affordable caravan parks near Sydney's CBD where people can actually make a home. Many of the residents were driven here in one of life's desperate moments, but as Mridula Amin discovers, not everyone wants to leave.
Apr 3, 2021
The Base Tapes | Part 2
In the second and final episode of his investigation, Alex Mann tracks down the two youngest candidates who applied to join the neo-Nazi group and tries to find out how they were radicalised.
Mar 27, 2021
The Base Tapes | Part 1
Secret recordings reveal how a global white supremacist terror group dedicated to inciting a race war recruited young Australian men. Alex Mann investigates.
Mar 13, 2021
The small town torn apart by big bets
Peter and Kath were investors in a secret punters' club that turned out to be a multi-million dollar scam. When the kingpin pleaded guilty, there were nearly two thousand victims left desperate to find out where their money went. Rachael Brown investigates whether the middlemen know.
Mar 6, 2021
The place where people mysteriously disappear
Warren Meyer was a keen bushwalker who always came prepared for a hike. When he vanished in the wild terrain of the Yarra Ranges, police were baffled. Ashlynne McGhee investigates whether his disappearance could be linked to the other unsolved mysteries of Victoria's high country.
Feb 27, 2021
The chilling secrets of a Melbourne guru
For decades people have flocked to a bucolic ashram in one of Melbourne’s most exclusive suburbs to hear Russell Kruckman spin his folksy brand of meditation, yoga and spirituality. But as Dan Oakes reveals, there's something rotten in this Shangri La: a horrific list of sexual abuse allegations.
Feb 20, 2021
A nearby nurse and the firefighter left to wait in agony
Volunteer firefighter Rodney O'Keeffe survived a fire tornado, but it left him with broken ribs and severe burns. A mere 800 metres away, there was a remote area nurse desperately trying to reach him. Jess Davis investigates why she couldn't.
Feb 13, 2021
The fight to stop a tiny battery from killing kids
Andrea and Allison formed an unlikely friendship after their daughters died in remarkably similar circumstances. Annie Gaffney investigates how they turned their grief into action to prevent that kind of tragedy from happening again.
Feb 6, 2021
The scientists and shamans of psychedelic retreats
There's a landmark project underway in Melbourne to find out whether psilocybin - the hallucinogenic compound in magic mushrooms - can be used to improve end-of-life experiences. But many Australians have already turned to the underground because they're convinced psychedelics improve their mental health. Geoff Thompson investigates whether it's worth all the risks.
Jan 2, 2021
Summer Season: how one school failed its students
Kimberly's sunny, athletic and inquisitive about everything. But for years she harboured terrible secrets about what happened to her. This week, Janine Fitzpatrick investigates why her school failed to heed credible warnings that she was in danger. This is a repeat of a program that aired in October 2020.
Dec 26, 2020
Summer Season: 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. This is a repeat of a program that aired in February 2020.
Dec 19, 2020
Summer Season: 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. This is a repeat of a program that aired in March 2020.
Dec 12, 2020
Summer season: 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 is a repeat of a program that aired in February 2020.
Dec 5, 2020
Buyer Wanted - Mothballed Oil Rig
Did you know you're the lucky operator of a rusty oil rig floating in the Timor Sea? You, along with 25-odd-million others, that is. This week, reporter Alex Mann investigates why Australian taxpayers are forking out four million dollars a month for this facility, some 550km off the coast of Darwin.
Nov 28, 2020
The billion-dollar sports industry that can't keep up with the cheats
It's got audiences bigger than the Superbowl. Its star players earn more for a single tournament than the winner of the Australian Open. Mario Christodoulou investigates how esports became such a success with the match-fixers too.
Nov 21, 2020
450 days trapped on a cargo ship
Ronbert has sailed into bustling ports all over the world. But he can't get home or even set foot on dry land. Geoff Thompson investigates how the closure of borders has left 400,000 seafarers stuck on ships and what can be done to save them.
Nov 14, 2020
How contact tracers confront lies on the COVID frontline
They helped stamp out coronavirus by relying on human intelligence. But as Rachael Brown discovered, there was a weakness in the system. Sometimes people can't be trusted.
Nov 7, 2020
Introducing: Thin Black Line
On a spring afternoon in Brisbane's Musgrave Park, 18-year-old traditional dancer and amateur boxer Daniel Yock is drinking with his mates. But when a police van arrives, the mood suddenly changes, triggering a dramatic chain of events. Presented by Allan Clarke, Thin Black Line is a deep dive into what happened that day — according to the one eyewitness who saw it all unfold, speaking publicly for the first time in almost three decades.
Oct 31, 2020
The Ponzi scheme that preyed on faith
Bhavesh was in trouble. His wife had just suffered three heart attacks and he couldn't afford treatment. So he turned to trusted members of his spiritual community for help. But as reporter Meghna Bali discovers, Bhavesh soon started getting death threats instead, and he found himself at the wrong end of one of Australia's biggest cryptocurrency Ponzi schemes.
Oct 24, 2020
Welcome to Tent City, the underside of WA's coronavirus success story
The thin walls of Neville Riley’s makeshift tent do little to block the constant sound of passing cars and trains. And if he was living in a different city when COVID-19 hit Australia, chances are Neville would have been given emergency accommodation months ago. This week, Alex Mann investigates whether a historic opportunity to address homelessness in Western Australia has been lost.
Oct 17, 2020
A horrific playground incident: how one school failed its students
Kimberly's sunny, athletic and inquisitive about everything. But for years she harboured terrible secrets about what happened to her. This week, Janine Fitzpatrick investigates why her school failed to heed credible warnings that she was in danger.
Oct 10, 2020
Are these two scholars really a threat to Australia's security?
One's a former translator for Bob Hawke, the other loves Henry Lawson's poetry. So when Professor Chen Hong and Li Jianjun got caught up in a police investigation into foreign influence, many of their colleagues expressed surprise. This week, Hagar Cohen investigates why ASIO declared them to be a potential risk to Australia.
Oct 3, 2020
How banks help criminals get rich: Part 2
The FINCEN Files have revealed how Australian businesses are involved suspicious transactions worth billions of dollars. This week, Mario Christodoulou follows the money trail home to downtown Sydney and investigates why the system designed to stop it often fails.
Sep 26, 2020
How banks help criminals get rich
An unprecedented leak of secret US Government reports has revealed how two trillion dollars of suspected dirty money snakes around the globe. This week on Background Briefing, Mario Christodoulou shows how terrorists and mobsters smuggle staggering sums of money through some of the world's largest banks - and often get away with it. This never-before-told story is the culmination of a 16-month-long investigation by 400 journalists for the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
Sep 12, 2020
Assange's extradition: what's really at stake?
Human rights advocates describe the pursuit of the Wikileaks founder as "a threat to global media freedom". But when a magistrate decides whether he'll be extradited to the United States, how much will the public's right to know actually matter? This week on Background Briefing, Meghna Bali goes inside his quest for freedom and uncovers never-before-told stories.
Aug 24, 2020
Response from Falun Dafa Association of Australia
In this podcast extra, Hagar Cohen interviews John Deller from the Falun Dafa Association of Australia about the allegations raised in the series.
Aug 8, 2020
The Power of Falun Gong, Part 3
Fledgling media organisations affiliated with Falun Gong have formed strange alliances with far right movements overseas. But what about here in Australia? This week on Background Briefing, Hagar Cohen investigates what happens when a pursuit for religious freedom comes into conflict with the transparency and independence required of Australia's fourth estate.
Aug 1, 2020
The Power of Falun Gong, Part 2
Secluded in dense forest, two hours north of New York City, there's a hidden headquarters for a new religious order. This otherworldly place is called Dragon Springs and it's sacred to Falun Gong devotees the world over. In this week's Background Briefing, Hagar Cohen reveals what goes on inside this gated compound, and how it's led to a strange alliance forged with the Trump Administration.
Jul 25, 2020
The Power of Falun Gong, Part 1
When you think of Falun Gong – you might think of quiet groups meditating or silently protesting in city parks. But a joint investigation by Background Briefing and Foreign Correspondent has uncovered accounts by former Falun Gong insiders, who reveal that in Australia and overseas, the movement has teachings that could be dangerous. Hagar Cohen reports.
Jul 18, 2020
No one told these country mums why their babies died
Claire doesn't know if her daughter's death could have been prevented - and she's not alone. Today, babies are more likely to be stillborn in Australia's regional centres than they were 20 years ago. This week on Background Briefing, Charlotte King investigates why the gap between these parts of the country and the big cities is only getting bigger.
Jul 11, 2020
Meet the debt monster
In little over two months' time, the support payments keeping millions of Australians afloat through the pandemic are due to end. Banks' deferrals on mortgage payments are meant to wind up soon after too. This week on Background Briefing, Geoff Thompson shows how the country is driving towards an economic cliff.
Jul 4, 2020
Why was this woman sent to a men's prison?
As she entered one of Australia's largest male prisons, Mara Ellis was strip-searched by four prison guards: two men and two women. She says it was the last time the justice system acknowledged she is a woman before Mara was locked away in solitary confinement. This week on Background Briefing, Meghna Bali investigates what happens to women in men's prisons.
Jun 27, 2020
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.
Jun 20, 2020
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.
Jun 13, 2020
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.
Jun 6, 2020
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.