Australian Story

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###The Heart Bus

Monday 18 July at 8pm

Introduced by Bob Katter MP

Cardiologist Rolf Gomes is putting the heart back into rural and regional health care.

His brainchild is ‘the heart bus’, Australia’s first mobile cardiac clinic, delivering state-of-the-art cardiology diagnostic testing equipment on the back of a truck to rural communities. Dr Gomes says there’s a real need for the service, because if you live in the country you are 44% more likely to die from heart disease than if you’re a city dweller.

“You can’t look at a situation like that and say the way to address that is to maintain the status quo, because whatever already exists, clearly we need to be doing more.” – Rolf Gomes, cardiologist
Born in Calcutta, Dr Gomes started out as an electrical engineer before turning to medicine.
The first time he saw a beating heart, with its “valves and plumbing and electrics”, he was “hooked”.

“It’s an amazing organ. It goes for 70 to 80 years. It never stops. You couldn’t go to Bunnings and buy a pump off the shelf and say I’ll come back in 80 years and hope it’s still working.” – Rolf Gomes, cardiologist
While working as a registrar in remote communities, he experienced first-hand the challenges of trying to diagnose and treat patients without the specialist and diagnostic services that “people in the city take for granted”.

As a cardiologist he identified the problem, but as an engineer he sought to solve it.
The idea for ‘the heart bus’ came to him while running his own cardiology practice in Brisbane.

“I’d walk into my cardiology practice and see treadmills and ultrasound machines and heart rhythm monitoring machines and I thought why can’t we put all this equipment in a mobile vehicle and take it out there?” – Rolf Gomes, cardiologist

“I really didn’t want to burst his bubble but I thought ‘tell him he’s dreaming’.” – Andrew Barron, general manager, St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital

Rolf Gomes spent five years drawing up plans and door-knocking before landing company sponsorships to build the one-million-dollar truck. An $800,000 second mortgage on his young family’s home boosted the funds to keep the clinic on the road for twelve months.

“There’s no point trying to fight Rolf on anything. Once he sets his mind to it, he’s going to do it.” – Kylie Gomes, wife
“We all felt that he was doing a brave thing here.” – Dr Desley Marshall, Royal Flying Doctor Service board member & rural GP

Dr Gomes acknowledges that it was an “ambitious project”. But he was prepared to take the risk.
“If the project failed, it failed. I had no reputation to lose.”

Australian Story goes on the road with ‘the heart bus’, following people who might otherwise not seek treatment and die prematurely.

We also find out about Dr Gomes’ plans to expand ‘the heart bus’ service.

“This is just the most amazing project for the bush that I’ve ever heard of.” – Donna Stewart, former mayor of Balonne Shire


GONE GIRL – Mojgan Shamsalipoor

Monday 25 July at 8pm

Introduced by Caroline Jones

“Gone Girl” is about a young woman who puts a human face to the issue of unauthorised boat arrivals in Australia.
After fleeing terrible trauma in her home country, Iran, and making a hazardous boat journey, Mojgan Shamsalipoor found sanctuary in Brisbane.

“Mojgan’s story, before she came to Australia, is horrendous. This is a young girl who was subjected to rape and sexual abuse at the hands of family members. She was accused of being immoral, which is a crime over there.” – Kevin Kadirgamar, lawyer

At a Baha’i youth camp in Brisbane, Mojgan met a young Iranian refugee named Milad Jafari and they fell in love.
“And from that moment, when I sat down near the lake, I saw her eyes, I went, this is it. I couldn’t talk. I was like ‘Wow’ this is like too much for me and was like my dream come true.” – Milad Jafari

With the support of Milad and his high school, Mojgan began to recover from the ordeals of the past.
“When she first came to our school, it was very uncomfortable, because every time I saw her, she would always be crying and Milad would always be supporting her.” – Amber Moko, school friend

While waiting for a decision on her application for a protection visa, Mojgan and Milad married and were looking forward to a happier future.
“They were quite open about their relationship, I remember her talking about them being engaged in drama class and you know, and she was showing us her ring, and she was so happy.” – Eden Boyd, school friend

“We were truly happy together, and there was a time period between we got married and when she was detained, it was the best days of our life.” – Milad Jafari, Mojgan’s husband

Despite her apparent good fortune, Australia’s Refugee Tribunal decided that her case for asylum was not legitimate, and Mojgan is now back in detention with little prospect of fulfilling her dream of having a family with Milad and becoming a midwife.

But she has many supporters who are doing everything they can to persuade the government to release her back into the community.

They have organised several protest rallies to publicise Mojgan’s situation.
“We rallied our community, our P&C, our teachers in support of Mojgan. We became very galvanised.” – Jessica Walker, Deputy Principal, Yeronga High School

Mojgan’s lawyers have recently lodged a complaint to the Human Rights Commission, as well as a submission to Immigration Minister Peter Dutton who has a discretionary power to grant visas on compassionate grounds.

Mojgan and Milad are now awaiting the Minister’s decision and hope that she will soon be released from detention.


###The Two of Us

Monday 1 August at 8pm

Introduced by Megan Washington

The touching friendship between jazzman James Morrison and his long-time mentor Don Burrows is the focus of this week’s program, The Two of Us.

Don Burrows took the young trumpeter under his wing when James was just 16 and studying at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. After Don was diagnosed with dementia following a stroke several years ago, they effectively switched roles.

James has become Don’s legal guardian and taken charge of his care at a nursing home on Sydney’s northern beaches.

"Now Don’s at the stage where he needs looking after, and it’s really lovely to be able to look after him, the way he did for me for so many years. It never crossed my mind that I’m not Don’s family by blood. We are his family and we needed to look after him.” James explains.

Don had semi-retired from performing and moved to the Victorian town of Paynesville to enjoy his other great love – fishing. But the stroke left him paralysed down one side and no longer able to take care of himself.

James made the decision to move Don back to the veteran jazzman’s hometown of Sydney after realising that music was the key to his recovery.

The realisation came when James visited Don in hospital two months after the stroke, and encouraged Don to pick up his clarinet.

“It was like a switch flicked, and suddenly he was Don Burrows again, he was playing just like he always did. It was like his mind snapped back into place. He didn’t get his short term memory back, but he got his personality back.” James recalls.

James and his wife Judi were convinced that the best medicine for Don was to be around music and the “family” of musicians he had played with all his life in Sydney.

Don, who will turn 88 on 8 August, gets regular visits from former band mates including guitarist George Golla and pianist Kevin Hunt.

Meanwhile, James has opened a school of jazz at Mount Gambier in South Australia to continue the mentoring work pioneered by Don Burrows.

The James Morrison Academy of Music offers one-year or three-year courses in jazz, in conjunction with the University of South Australia.

“And certainly whilst ever I’m around, we’ll be teaching about what Don Burrows has meant to Australian jazz,” he says.


###Spirit of the Olympics

Monday 8 August at 8pm.
Introduced by Ian Thorpe

With all eyes on Rio, Ian Thorpe introduces a program marking the 60th anniversary of Australia’s greatest-ever Olympics, and the swimmer who inspired generations of Olympians – Murray Rose.

Murray Rose became a national hero at the age of 17, after winning three gold medals at the Olympic Games in Melbourne in 1956. But he was much more than just a fast swimmer.

“He was a superstar … Murray was voted as the greatest male Olympian by his peers. Certainly the best male swimmer of his era. He embodied everything that we value – all of the Olympic values and he was just a good bloke.” – John Coates, Australian Olympic Committee

“Murray Rose was a very easy person to become friends with. We were mates. We were really mates and I saw Murray as a beautiful swimmer, I saw him as a beautiful person and he was a lovely friend to have.” – Dawn Fraser, Olympic gold medallist

It was Murray Rose’s interests outside the pool that initially set him apart. He was a vegetarian and a follower of Eastern and other philosophies long before it became fashionable.
John Clarke, who interviewed him in 2011 for his program Sporting Nation, says the legendary swimmer’s style was tactical and “a bit Zen”.

“Here we have this supreme physical athlete, who’s also thinking all the time. And you’re not just swimming against the swimmer, you’re swimming against the swimmer and you’re swimming against the thinker.” – John Clarke
Olympics team-mates recall Murray Rose as an affable man and formidable competitor.
“Murray’s ability to out-think the opponents gave him a big edge over the rest of the world.” – Jon Henricks, Olympic gold medallist

“I guess he got psyching out down to an art, and it’s an art that came easily to him.” John Konrads, Olympic gold medallist
“Murray always knew what the other person could do. He knew how to position himself in a race.” – John Devitt, Olympic gold medallist & team captain 1956-1960.

Many believe Murray Rose’s win in the 1500 metres freestyle at the Melbourne Olympics rocketed him to superstardom.
“That’s where he really leapt into the public limelight. That’s where he was recognised as a great champion. … He was the swimmer of the ages to us.” – Forbes Carlile, Olympics swimming coach
But there was more to his fame in 1956 than simply winning gold.

A decade earlier, growing up in Sydney, Murray and his family were living at Rose Bay when Japanese midget submarines invaded the Harbour. His father, an advertising executive, decided to use his then three-year-old son in a poster as part of a propaganda campaign for the Australian war effort.

Fast forward and one of Murray’s main rivals at the Olympic Games was the Japanese competitor Tsuyoshi Yamanaka, who won silver to Murray’s gold in the 1500 metres freestyle.

“We embraced across the lane line and a photograph of that moment was taken and was picked up by newspapers all over the world, for one main reason: the date was the 7th of December 1956, the fifteenth anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. So it became symbolic of two kids that’d grown up on opposite sides of the war, had come together in the friendship of the Olympic arena.” – Murray Rose

Murray Rose maintained his Olympic spirit throughout his life, renowned for his generosity and expertise in helping younger swimmers.

“He was one of the world’s truly great swimmers, an inspiration from another generation. He inspired me, and he also was a supporter of mine from a very early age and right throughout my career – a sporting gentleman.” – Ian Thorpe, Olympic gold medallist

“Before the ’92 Barcelona Olympics, which was my first Games, we spent a couple of hours just talking about swimming and the Olympics, and he imparted more knowledge on me about the Olympics and how to race in it, how to win at it and, and really how to be the best athlete and person that you could be in that moment in time than, than I think anybody had ever done before, and it changed me.” – Kieran Perkins, Olympic gold medallist

Murray Rose died in 2012, aged 73, after a four-month battle with acute leukaemia. Before his death he granted a candid interview to John Clarke, which is featured in this program along with interviews from some of Australia’s greatest names in swimming


###About a Girl

Monday 15 August at 8pm

Introduced by Victorian Premier, Hon. Daniel Andrews

Teenager Georgie Stone is taking on the system to try to help save the lives of other transgender teenagers.

“I feel like I can actually help people,” she says. “I’m hoping after seeing my story they can see a happy, free 16-year-old who came out the other side.”

Georgie, 16, went through harrowing court ordeals to get permission for treatment that would enable her to transition and she doesn’t want other teenagers to go through the same ordeal.

“We all know that transgender children are more at risk of suicide and self harm between the time of coming out and then accessing treatment,” she says.
“The Family Court is expensive and often delays mean that teenagers cannot get into court before it’s too late and they hit puberty.”
“I would have killed myself if my voice had broken. It would have meant people could no longer take me on face value.”

The director of the Gender Service at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, Dr Michelle Telfer, says many of her clients feel the same way.

“The court process causes delays, it’s very stressful, it’s pathologising for them. Going to court usually means that there’s something wrong, you’ve done something wrong or there’s something wrong with your family, and in these situations it’s just not the case.”

Australian Story follows Georgie’s race against her biological clock to get a court order before her voice broke and she developed further masculine traits.

Georgie is now lobbying politicians in a bid to have them introduce legislation that would overturn the need for young transgender people to go to court.

Australia is the only country in the world where children must be assessed by a court as to their competency to consent to treatment.

The Gender Service at the Royal Children’s Hospital has 200 new referrals this year.

Melbourne lawyer Paul Boers, who has appeared in eight pro bono cases this year, says he does this because many families cannot afford treatment and kids’ lives are at stake.

“If they don’t get treatment, well they’re in trouble so I guess I do the cases for humanitarian reasons but I don’t have the resources to do them all,” he says.
Paul Boers said the court “just rubber stamps” the recommendations of the teenagers’ treating specialists.
“My hope is that sooner rather than later there’s going to be an end to this madness having to go the Family Court,” he said.

“I know the Family Court wants an end to these cases. I’ve appeared before many judges who have said to me from the bench ‘I don’t believe this should be in the Family Court, I don’t believe that these children’s parents and these children should have to come to court.”

The Chief Justice of the Family Court, Dianna Bryant, said “perhaps the matter needs to be reconsidered”.

“Well the law’s the law at the moment and there’s only the two circumstances in which it can be altered. I can’t do anything about it unless someone’s prepared to challenge the existing case law, or unless the government is prepared to legislate,” she says.

The program features home video footage following Georgie from a toddler through to the present.


###What a Wonderful World

Monday 22 August at 8pm

Brian Henderson, presenter of the iconic 1960s music show Bandstand has come out of retirement, for what he says is his “final television appearance”, to present this special program about Patricia Amphlett - known to generations of Australians as “Little Pattie”.

As “Little Pattie”, Patricia Amphlett was the teenage pop star who stomped her way to stardom with two hit singles at the age of 14.

At 17 she became the youngest Australian entertainer to perform for troops at Nui Dat during the Vietnam War. It proved to be a dangerous mission when the battle of Long Tan broke out in the rubber plantation next to the Australian base.

Fifty years on Patricia Amphlett has never forgotten that day and is returning to Long Tan with Vietnam veterans to perform for them again.

Back on 18 August 1966 Little Pattie was on stage with Col Joye and the Joy Boys when the fighting escalated.
Major Harry Smith, Officer Commanding Delta Company 6RAR, led the historic battle and remembers it vividly:
“As as we left the base at about eleven o’clock and went out to Long Tan rubber we could hear the music floating through the air from the concert. And I recall that music all the way until we actually started firing.” – Major Harry Smith, Delta Company 6RAR commander

For Little Pattie it was a case of the “show must go on”. They were scheduled to perform several concerts during the day, to entertain hundreds of soldiers.

“During the second concert, there was gunfire and some explosions and heavy battle noise. I could tell something bad was going on in the jungle and I just kept singing.” - Patricia Amphlett (“Little Pattie”)

By four o’clock and in torrential rain Little Pattie’s third concert was cut short, with an order to immediately evacuate. She was pulled into a jeep and lifted into a chopper, while rogue soldiers ‘kidnapped’ Col Joye for the night.

“We were over the jungle where the Battle of Long Tan was underway and I was sitting next to a soldier with a big 50 calibre machine gun, he didn’t talk and I didn’t talk, and we stared at the jungle, there were thousands and thousands of orange lights, which were tracer bullets. We were witnessing what was going on from the sky.” – Patricia Amphlett (“Little Pattie”)

In the relative safety of Vung Tau, Little Pattie received news throughout the night of the heavy human toll – “I stopped counting,” she told Australian Story.

Eighteen Australians died, another 24 were injured.

“I saw things that perhaps I shouldn’t have seen, green bags, terribly wounded soldiers. I talked to troubled young soldiers, and they all looked like my brother, they were so young.” – Patricia Amphlett (“Little Pattie”)
Now 67, Patricia Amphlett remains one of Australia’s most loved and respected entertainers. She has also been a prominent union leader and social justice advocate.

For this program, Australian Story is travelling to Vietnam to exclusively cover the special concert marking the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan.

Patricia Amphlett will also lay a wreath at the Long Tan commemorative ceremony.

Major Harry Smith of Delta Company 6RAR is returning to Vietnam for the first time since the war.
He was in combat during Little Pattie’s concerts in 1966 and says he is looking forward to this one:
“She’s held in very high regard, about fifteen of us [who fought in Long Tan] are going back and we’re looking forward to hearing, seeing and cuddling Little Pattie.”

TV History

ABC reports Little Pattie’s concert is now in jeopardy after the Vietnamese Government cancelled tomorrow’s commemorations at the Long Tan cross site, at short notice.

UPDATE: the Vietnamese Government has banned the concert, which was to raise funds for a local charity. No doubt this will be covered in detail in next Monday’s episode.


###A League of Their Own - Susan Alberti and Moana Hope
Monday 29 August at 8pm

Women have been playing Australian Rules Football in local clubs for decades but that’s as far as they’ve been able to go. Now this is all about to change, with the launch of a national AFL women’s league in February. A driving force behind this revolution is Western Bulldogs vice-president Susan Alberti.

The businesswoman and philanthropist has been a tireless advocate for women’s AFL and a vocal critic of those she considers disrespectful to women. In 2009, she sued Channel Nine over comments made by The Footy Show’s Sam Newman, winning a $220,000 settlement.

Susan Alberti is a great supporter of female players and one of the stars of the game that she has come to admire is marquee Collingwood player Moana Hope.

With her signature pearls and designer handbag, Susan Alberti would seem very different to the tattooed, shaved-haired Moana Hope. But as Australian Story reveals, the two women have more in common than meets the eye.

“Susan’s been funding women’s football since way back, which is probably one of the biggest reasons we’re in the position that we are right now.” Moana Hope, marquee women’s AFL player, Collingwood

“At first pass, Susan and Mo wouldn’t have much in common, but once you get to know Susan, she’s as grounded as anyone you’d meet.” Gillon McLachlan, CEO of the AFL

“Susan had made herself a target for people who thought it was outrageous that a woman was taking on these men who’ve been in the football world for so many years.” Colin North, Susan Alberti’s husband


###That Sugar Trip - Damon Gameau

Monday 5 September at 8pm

Introduced by filmmaker Robert Connelly

Australian Story travels with filmmaker and actor Damon Gameau (The Kettering Incident, Balibo, Love My Way, The Tracker) as he repays a debt of knowledge by helping to revitalise an Indigenous community’s healthy eating initiative.

Gameau’s interest in diet began when he fell in love with actress Zoe Tuckwell-Smith. She was careful with diet and exercise, whereas he was inclined to enjoy the party life with alcohol, sugary soft drinks and a packet of cigarettes a day.

I knew as soon as I met her, I’m going to have to change some things in my life, she’s the one, but I’ve got some work to do. – Damon Gameau

Gameau worked his way to fitness, then decided to become his own ‘lab-rat’ by testing the effects of massive sugar consumption on his now healthy body and turning it into Australia’s most successful documentary – That Sugar Film.

His mission was to consume forty teaspoons of sugar per day for two months, all of it coming from so-called ‘healthy food’.

There was a few stats that were quite motivating to me … Type two diabetes now kills someone every six seconds… the fact that one in four Aussie kids are now overweight or obese… and so … from my perspective, this is a moral failing on my generation and older. Damon Gameau

While researching his film, Gameau learned about the huge quantities of sugar being consumed in remote Indigenous communities through soft drinks, and lollies, as well as the ‘hidden sugar’ in processed food bought from the community stores.

In 2008, Coca Cola claimed that Australia’s Northern Territory was their highest selling region per capita, in the world. This was in large part due to the local stores in the Aboriginal communities. Just one hundred kilometres from Uluru, is the small town of Amata … in 2007, its population of just under 400 people, consumed 40,000 litres of soft drink. Damon Gameau

As a result, diseases such as obesity, diabetes Type 2 and kidney disorders were taking hold and many people were dying young. Life expectancy in the region was about 55 years.

But then Gameau heard about an Indigenous initiative aimed at reducing these disastrous health effects of the modern diet. It was called Mai Wiru, or ‘Good Food’. As well as stocking healthy food options, the project brought in nutritionists to educate the community.

Gameau went to Central Australia to learn more about Mai Wiru and met a man named John Tregenza.
I was the first general manager of the Mai Wiru… We had inhouse, a nutritionist. We were funded at that stage through the Department of Health and Aging. Providing affordable healthy food was in fact a health issue. John Tregenza

Tregenza allowed Gameau to film at Amata on the basis of ‘napati napati’ – that he would give something back.
As well as filming an Indigenous success story, Gameau learned from Tregenza that serious financial challenges which were beginning to erode the community’s achievement.

The federal Labor government decided that the Mai Wiru group was to be no longer funded under the health budget. So that the funding then was no longer health, it was to do with enterprises. The stores were told that they had to be economically viable in their own right hand so we had to let the nutritionist go. John Tregenza
Following the great success of his film, Damon Gameau has raised funds and returned to the Red Centre with nutritionists and a healthy-eating plan, to help John Tregenza revitalise the Mai Wiru project. This time he’s visiting Pipalyatjara, an alcohol-free community 800 kilometres south-west of Alice Springs.

Once you’ve met John Tregenza, you feel like, God, we’ve got to do something here, especially if we’ve got the leverage of the film and that it’s going to have this audience. Damon Gameau


The Flow on Effect

Monday 12 September at 8pm

“The crowdfunding raised an enormous amount of money so we weren’t in hock to the banks or investors or anything like that. It gave us freedom to create the sort of company we wanted to create.” Stuart Anderson

Life for me was always good. I don’t need super yachts and pools full of champagne. I’m still driving my old HiLux and I’m still running it off old frying oil from the chip shop.” Cedar Anderson

“It’s a really quirky mixture of everything’s changed and nothing’s changed. Except I’m very tired.” Kylie Ezart, Cedar’s partner.

Cedar Anderson and his father Stuart were living off the smell of an oily rag in the hills behind Byron Bay when they invented a revolutionary new beehive.

When Australian Story first met the pair a year ago, a spectacularly successful crowdfunding campaign had turned them into millionaires virtually overnight. It also left them and their small team with 25,000 orders to fill from around the world. To add to the pressure, Cedar and his partner Kylie had just given birth to their first child, Jarli.

One year on, Australian Story revisited the Andersons to see how success has changed their lives.

Stuart Anderson admits it wasn’t easy meeting the initial orders generated by the crowdfunding campaign and that some mistakes were made. But he says that by April they cleared the backlog and that stressful period is behind them.

Stuart says the US$12 million raised has made things easier, but most of it went into manufacturing the hives and building the company. They now employ 35 people, and fulfil orders using three factories and seven warehouses dotted around the world.

Cedar Anderson, who never wanted to be tied down to a 9-5 office job, says he’s working harder than he would like to – “it’s eight days a week at the moment” – but they have been able to create the kind of company and work environment they wanted.

He is happy he doesn’t have to wear shoes to the office and in fact, the only time he has worn a suit was when their invention won the 2016 Good Design Award, Australia’s most prestigious prize for design.


When Beccy met Libby

Monday 19 September at 8pm

Country music star Beccy Cole has revealed her plans to marry her gay partner in an Australian Story exclusive.

Cole and her partner, cabaret singer Libby O’Donovan, will marry as soon as the law is changed to allow same-sex marriage.

The couple is closely following the debate over a proposed plebiscite on the issue and will be adding their voices to the campaign for marriage equality.

“I’ve never wanted to be political or a flag-waver, but when it’s something that you really believe in, and something that affects you directly and you can see it affecting people within your community, then I think there is a time to stand up and say, ‘come on, let’s get this right,” Cole told Australian Story.

Winner of nine Golden Guitar awards, Beccy Cole popped the question at O’Donovan’s 40th birthday party.
“There obviously have been some baby steps in this country towards equality. If they let us, do you want to?” she proposed in January.

A gob-smacked O’Donovan broke down in tears before replying, “yes.”

In an episode titled, “When Beccy Met Libby”, the popular singer describes how she met O’Donovan at a gay pride event in Adelaide, just months after outing herself as a gay woman on Australian Story in 2012.

“I don’t know whether you call it ‘love at first sight’ or what it is, but I knew I was safe, I knew I was home, I knew this was it and I haven’t doubted it for a second ever since.”

With their two children from earlier relationships, they set up a blended home in the Adelaide hills, “sort of like a big gay Brady Bunch.”

If same-sex marriage is legalised, the couple hopes their marriage ceremony can be performed by Libby O’Donovan’s parents, both of whom are Anglican Ministers.

“Libby has been brought up as a Christian. I’m pleased that she wants God to be involved in her marriage. I would love to be able to do that,” her father Rev. Bart O’Donovan said.


###Shadow of Doubt

Monday 26 September at 8pm

They say every family has its secrets – well mine certainly did. I’ve spent a decade walking around the streets of Brisbane, poring over archives, trying to find out the truth about my grandfather. Deb Drummond, granddaughter

Reg Brown was at the centre of one of the most notorious murder cases to have happened in Brisbane. But on reviewing the case I would have some very serious questions about the way in which the police approached it. Bob Moles, Miscarriages of Justice Project

I think the weight of evidence is a clear indication that he was guilty. Alicia Bennett, former detective

Cousins Deb Drummond and Jan Teunis knew from a young age not to ask questions about their grandfather Reg Brown. It was only as adults they learned the shocking truth. Reg had been jailed for the murder of his 19-year-old typist, Bronia Armstrong, in his Brisbane office in 1947. Nine days after being sentenced, he hanged himself in his cell.

Bronia’s murder led to an outpouring of public outrage. But behind the salacious headlines lay two family tragedies. The Armstrongs had lost their young daughter, supposedly at the hands of a man considered a family friend. And Reg Brown’s son, Ian, had lost the girl he loved.

Neither Ian Brown nor his sister, Val Herbertson, spoke to their children about their grandfather. “I suppose we were both ashamed,” Val said. “I locked it away and threw away the key.”

But when Ian Brown’s daughter, Deb Drummond, discovered the family secret she understood her father much better. “I always wondered why Dad had a lot of anger built up in him,” she said. “He thought his father had betrayed him by murdering Bronia.”

Deb and her cousin Jan decided to look into the crime and were disturbed by what they found. A circumstantial case, a lightning fast arrest, a conviction within weeks, a lack of forensic evidence, suggestions of verballing and a notoriously corrupt detective, Frank Bischof, behind the investigation.

“We began to believe that Reg had been framed by the police,” said Jan.

Dr Bob Moles, from the Miscarriages of Justice Project at Flinders University, is one of several legal experts to study the transcripts of the trial and cast doubts on its fairness and the strength of the conviction.

“One would probably conclude that they got the wrong man,” said Dr Moles, who was instrumental in the successful campaign to overturn the conviction of Henry Keogh.

Many, however, remain convinced Reg Brown was guilty, including former detective Alicia Bennett, who wrote a book about the case.

Although Deb and Jan are unable to prove their grandfather’s innocence, the process of discovery has been a healing one. “I think one of the greatest satisfactions I have had was to see our parents set free,” Jan said. “To be able to speak openly with us, to see my mother released from the trauma that happened to her at 18.”


###Tough Love

Monday 3 October at 8pm

Taylor and Michael want to get married and have children and that makes me feel very worried, apprehensive and concerned. It’s not going to happen, it can’t happen.
Catherine Musk, Taylor’s mother

I know that their heart’s in the right place but being overprotective is strictly not on with your child, even if they have Down Syndrome. I know that me and Taylor have the skills to be married and start our own family. Michael Cox

People with disability, like Michael and Taylor, are certainly entitled to bodily integrity and the freedom to do with their bodies as they wish.
Michelle O’Flynn, disability advocate

It’s the reality behind a love story that went viral.

Earlier this year, Australia was swept up in the fairy-tale romance of Michael Cox and Taylor Anderton, two young Queenslanders with Down Syndrome who had found “true love”. An ABC video about the couple was viewed more than 13 million times.

The impressive pair have always exceeded expectations, including conquering the world in competitive swimming. Now they have their sights set on getting married and having children.

“We want to have four kids, we’re going to have three daughters and one son,” says 25-year-old Michael Cox. “It’s not that hard to have a kid. I know that some people say it’s all about hard work, but it’s not, it’s all about love and compassion that you have for your child.”

But it’s a goal their parents don’t support.

“I don’t see parenthood being something that they’re going to achieve or really they probably should achieve,” says Michael’s father, Simon Cox. “It would be very difficult being a child whose parents both had Down Syndrome and couldn’t have a job and couldn’t drive a car and couldn’t understand maths homework.”
Both families say they raised their children to believe in their dreams and to reach for the stars. But now they’re questioning whether they’ve set them up to fail.

“I think of it as a double-edged sword,” says Michael’s mother, Nikki Cox. “For all his life we’ve imposed no limits but then it reaches a point where there are some things that he desperately wants to do and believes that he can do that are probably not going to happen.”

After struggling to find adequate professional support, the families say they are keen to share the real story publicly to help others in similar situations.

“If one other family can benefit from this experience it’s going to be fabulous because we have nowhere to turn,” Simon Cox says. “We just hope that through this experience we’ll learn, and if we learn, another family can learn as well, and that will be great.”

“When my mum keeps talking about the rules and me and Michael’s relationship, it does treat me like a child a little bit,” says Taylor Anderton. “I didn’t understand love when I was little, but I do now, because I am [an] adult.”

Story Introduced by Caroline Jones.


###The Big Dry

Monday 10 October at 8pm

Introduced by journalist Chris Bath

“Holding it all together was becoming a really hard act. I ended up in hospital on a weekend and got my stomach pumped. Trying to pretend everything was normal was no longer sustainable.” – TV newsreader, Talitha Cummins

“Television is this bright, shiny, fabulous facade. When you’re a news presenter you put on a mask most of the time. Talitha fooled everyone.” – Chris Bath, journalist

“Sometimes I’ll just say, ‘I’m an alcoholic thanks,’ and see the reaction. That gets people!” – Talitha Cummins

Television newsreader Talitha Cummins describes herself as the modern face of alcoholism: young, professional, educated and high functioning.

Cummins, who gave birth to her first baby in August, is now four years sober and wants to share her story in all its confronting detail.

The Channel Seven journalist is also determined to break down stereotypes around alcoholism and promote more discussion about the extent of problem drinking in society.

“With alcoholism and recovery there is no finishing line,” she says. “It’s ongoing, recovery will be always and forever.”

Cummins began binge drinking when she was 14. As soon as she had one drink it would unleash an ‘unstoppable need’ for more and more.

“I’ve done things that I’m not proud of and I’ve done things that I probably won’t ever remember,” she says.

“I went to the media awards in Brisbane all dressed up in a formal dress and proceeded to drink myself into oblivion. I was told I was carried into a car to be sent home.”

When things came to a head a few years ago, Cummins was drinking up to four bottles of wine a night. She was fighting serious depression and had overdosed and been rescued by a friend.

When her boss at Channel Seven confronted her, Cummins finally found the strength to take action.
“The threat of losing her job made her sober up,” says friend and fellow newsreader Chris Bath.

Cummins signed up for Alcoholics Anonymous and the online help site Hello Sunday Morning and embraced the long haul of recovery.

The journalist never intended to go public with her addiction. But when she accidentally published a private blog revealing she was an alcoholic, she was heartened by the response.

“Initially I was really shocked and wanted to delete it,” says Cummins. “But when I saw the responses I was amazed. People said my story was theirs as well. I got emails from people who were binge drinking, mothers who would start drinking in the afternoon, high profile people who were reformed alcoholics.”

“I think Talitha was very brave,” says friend and fellow journalist Chris Bath. “There were a few unkind comments, but the overwhelming reaction was that it was a really courageous thing for her to do.”

Seven News Presenters and Reporters

Didn’t Elizabeth Vargas try the same tactic in an attempt to kickstart her career a couple of months ago? I really wish journos would go back to reporting the news instead of trying to be the focus of it.


Yes. How dare they talk about problems like depression, alcoholism, overdosing, recovery and the need to discuss problems with drinking in society. :rolling_eyes:


Just because someone works in the media doesn’t mean they don’t experience the same problems that are very common in our society, good on her for being brave enough to share her story.
If her story helps one person watching that’s a positive result and l’m sure that would have been her aim to help others by sharing her story.


She’s a professional journalist. Those problems can be discussed and examined without making herself the focus of the issue. The responses she got from that convenient “private blog” leak would’ve been a good starting point for a story to shed light on the issue. It would’ve been a worthy story for Sunday Night had they not decided to turn that show into a travelogue and showcase for celebrity profiles.


Which is probably why Australian Story sought her out to tell her story there. It’s about the issues not the celebrity profile.


The media release would seem to indicate it’s all about Talitha Cummins.