For nearly 20 years, Liz Jackson reported from the frontlines of war and politics for Four Corners, winning nine Walkley awards for excellence in journalism, including the Gold Walkley in 2006 as well as three Logie Awards. But after she left the program in 2013, her health collapsed. She was losing her physical strength and her ability to write, and was suffering from crippling panic attacks. Liz was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Despite a barrage of medication, Liz continued to deteriorate. So with unflinching honesty, Liz Jackson has turned the camera on herself. She brings her fierce intellect and penetrating questioning to try and understand her illness - interrogating her doctors and comparing experiences with fellow patients. This moving film is a collaboration between Liz, her partner Martin Butler and his colleague Bentley Dean, both highly acclaimed film makers.
These are Australia's most vulnerable kids, betrayed and neglected, not only by their parents but by the system designed to protect them. They're known as "resi kids" after the group homes they live in, run by private operators and charities. Some were taken into care as babies, others after years of abuse. They're often difficult to manage but desperately in need of help. In this searing Four Corners investigation, we reveal that rather than protecting and nurturing these children, some private operators are treating them as badly as the families they escaped. It's prompted some in the child protection system to brand their treatment a national failure and call for the entire resi care system to be shut down.
The highway to northern Afghanistan is one of the most dangerous roads in the world, cutting through territory controlled by the Taliban and Islamic State. It's a risky place at the best of times, let alone if you're a western filmmaker travelling with a member of Afghanistan's most famous political family. Zubair Massoud, advisor to the Afghan National Security Council, is increasingly spoken of as a future leader of Afghanistan. That makes him a high-value Taliban target. Despite advice from his security team, he makes the perilous journey to Kunduz to see the deteriorating security situation for himself. He takes award-winning filmmaker Jamie Doran with him. This often heart stopping film follows their journey as they travel deeper and deeper into enemy territory, their security detail fighting its way through ambushes and firefights.
You'll find it in your supermarket fridge, on sushi trains, and in fish shops all over Australia. Salmon is Australia's favourite fresh seafood and we consume tens of thousands of tonnes of it a year. This fish is not caught in the wild, it's grown and farmed in the waters around Tasmania and is a booming industry. But there's a lot consumers don't know about the making of farmed salmon. Producing salmon is big business and the industry is reaping big profits with plans to turn it into a billion dollar industry within 15 years. Reputation is important and industry players promote their businesses as being open and transparent. But those assurances are being put to the test with controversial plans by the biggest salmon company, Tassal, to expand into a new area, causing strong divisions in the community. Those community divisions have brought attention and our unwelcome scrutiny.
In New York City, a controversial group of citizen activists patrol the streets, capturing police officers on camera as they work. They're part of a US-wide movement taking on police departments following a succession of deaths of black men and boys at the hands of police officers. In the age of smartphones and social media, many of these deaths have been captured on camera. One of the first was Eric Garner. The confronting footage of his death, as he was held down in a chokehold by a group of officers, captured the nation's attention. Garner's dying pleas of "I can't breathe" became the catchcry of protestors demanding justice. On Monday night Four Corners brings you the story of these "Copwatchers" as they roam the streets of New York, listening in to the police radio, then race to film the arrests and the behaviour of the NYPD. In this raw, fast moving film, the copwatchers engage in tense exchanges with the police.
They're the human face of Australia's tough border policies - the more than 100 refugee children living on Nauru. On Monday night Four Corners speaks to children and young people recognised as refugees, released from detention, but trapped in limbo. In footage filmed for Four Corners and smuggled out of the country, these children talk of their experiences over the last three years. Both the Nauruan and Australian governments say they want the refugees moved on from Nauru, but they have been unable to reach agreements on where else they could be sent. While that stalemate continues, many of these children are struggling to hang on to hope. Back in Australia, the experience of these refugees has had a lasting impact on the teachers who had to leave them behind.
On the eve of the Labor vote which will determine whether the same sex marriage plebiscite goes ahead, Four Corners investigates the politics at work behind the debate. When the Abbott-led Coalition Government emerged from a marathon party room meeting last year to announce there would be a public vote on the legalisation of same sex marriage, it sparked a passionate debate. Some were suspicious. Since then, politicians of every political stripe have been deliberating over the legalisation of same sex marriage and the means by which that decision should be made. Four Corners has been charting the strategy employed by each side. Our team has been given behind the scenes access to many of the key players in this debate as they make their case. Four Corners talks to them about the tactics they are employing: And asks how much of the discussion is about conviction and how much is about the art of politics.
China Rising: The challenges for Australia as China and the US struggle for supremacy in Asia. On Monday night, reporter Peter Greste joins Four Corners for a special report on the rise of China and its escalating contest with the United States in the Asia Pacific region. "Australia sits at the intersection of these two great powers. The problem for us is the historical forces driving each of them are far greater than anything we can possibly control, so we need to find out how those forces might play out." Peter Greste In interviews with key players from the world of diplomacy and strategic affairs, the program explores how Australia is trying to balance two competing interests.
Frat Boys: Inside America's fraternities. "We are by far the most fun people you will ever meet... We have more connections, we have more friends, we have more fun than anyone else." Ben They're the elite clubs inside America's universities. "It's an investment in yourself, to get an experience you really can't get anywhere else in the world." Ben They describe themselves as the breeding ground for leadership, with many corporate titans and former US presidents held up as fraternity men. They're also where testosterone, alcohol and campus life come together in a potent mix.
Backing Bourke: An outback town's bold experiment to save its young people from a life of crime. It's the little town that symbolises life in the outback, immortalised by Henry Lawson who declared: "If you know Bourke, you know Australia". But this famous bush town has one of the worst crime rates in Australia. "If you went to any prison or juvenile justice centre in this state, you'll find one of our families there." Phil, Bourke Tribal Council With startling rates of domestic violence, assault and property crime, too many of Bourke's residents end up in jail. Fed up with losing their young to prison, the indigenous people of Bourke have decided to take a risk on a bold experiment to try and turn their town around.
'What parent is not going to say 'yes, I'll sell my house'? 'I'll give you my kidney to save my child's life.' They'll do anything.' Addiction counsellor Across Australia, there are parents risking everything to rescue their children from ice addiction. 'I've knocked on every door, I've been everywhere. I've chased my daughter for 6 months from house to house to house... I turned their water off, I turned their gas off, I pinched their power fuse. I smashed their windows, I've had enough.' Father
'The British people have made a very clear decision.' David Cameron On June 23, Britain was rocked by a political earthquake: the nation had voted to leave the European Union. Within hours the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, had resigned, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was facing calls to do the same and the pound was in freefall. 'The sensation was really like... dropping into quicksand and realising that there was nothing and nobody that could actually pull you out of it.' Craig Oliver, Former Prime Ministerial media adviser The result left many shocked to the core, but as this film captures, voters had been sending signals for months. 'It's about time England took England back, you know? They don't call us Great Britain for nothing, do they?' British voter The referendum campaign had become a lightning rod for disenchantment and distrust aimed at the financial and political 'elites'. 'Go back to London with all your yuppie friends.' British voter In the aftermath of the vote, this film from the BBC charts the tactics and spin employed by both sides of the campaign.
Cyber War: How hackers are threatening everything from your bank account to the nation's secrets. In a room, deep inside a Las Vegas hotel, the world's best hackers are gathering. "You have to go into a backroom... there you're going to find about a dozen teams playing against each other, no more than a hundred people. These are really the world's cyber elite." Artificial Intelligence developer They're here to compete against each other and they're being watched by cyber warfare agencies the world over, not for prosecution, but for recruitment. They have the skills needed to wage espionage and warfare in the modern age. On Monday night Four Corners takes you into the world of cyber hacking, where the weapon of choice is computer code.
Children on the Frontline, one family's extraordinary story of life in the rubble of Syria and their escape to a new life, told through the eyes of four children. "We're here and, at any moment, the army could attack us." Helen, 10 In the Syrian city of Aleppo, 10 year old Helen and her siblings live and play in the ruins of their city as war rages around them. "The other day a bomb exploded inside the warehouse down in the garden." Farah, 7 Along with their mother, the children have chosen to stay in the city as their father commands a group of rebels fighting against the Assad regime. "They want to stay with their dad. I tried leaving with them for two months and I suffered a lot with them because they wanted their dad." Hala, mother The camera captures life for these children, as they wait in fear at the sound of incoming artillery, how they keep up with their schoolwork, and pick their way through the shattered apartment blocks to fill in time. "Take them inside because of the firing. Come on!" Abu Ali, father Filmed over three years by award winning director Marcel Mettelsiefen, this family's story dramatically documents the price being paid by Syrians as the war continues. "Daesh (ISIS), the ugliest word I have ever heard in my life. These people have stolen our entire lives." Hala As ISIS enters the war, life becomes intolerable and their mother makes the tough decision to leave Syria, and join the millions of refugees fleeing the country. "How do you spell Germany?" Farah The film chronicles their journey to safety and their grief for what they've left behind. "I took a piece of my heart and put it on the door of our house for him, for daddy." Sara
Milked Dry: The awful price being paid by Australian dairy farmers for the milk we drink. "We're locked in to produce milk for three years to this company that has shat in our face." Dairy Farmer They're the farmers who get up at five in the morning, day in, day out, to provide milk for the dairy products we eat and drink every day. "You wake up and you just rack your brain about how you're going to save some money to survive." Dairy Farmer The shock decision by Australia's biggest dairy company, Murray Goulburn, to cut the price of milk paid to farmers has left many trapped in a nightmare of debt and despair. "The very minute that we got the letter that said that's what the price is going to be, we decided, no, we can't keep going like this, that we would finish up." Dairy Farmer Four Corners visits the farms where it's costing farmers more to make the milk than they can get for selling it. The situation has become so desperate that some farmers are selling off their prized cows for slaughter, others are walking off their farms for good. "They're telling us to take a pay cut, why don't they take a pay cut?" Dairy Farmer Many of these farmers were already angry after the company locked them in to supply $1 supermarket milk. "It sent the message to farmers that we produced was worth less than water and that did an incredible amount of damage to our self-worth and more importantly to the worth of milk." Dairy Farmer
Man on a wire: How long can Malcolm Turnbull survive? On Four Corners, key members of the government speak out about the fault lines within the party and challenges facing Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. "Our demise, if there's such a thing, can only be brought about by ourselves." With the Coalition government returned to office on the slimmest of margins, the Prime Minister will not only have to woo and cajole a disparate group of cross benchers to vote for his policies, he'll have to hold his own team together. "Your biggest problem frankly, when you're in a situation like this, any one or any two of your own side can either make or break a particular legislative issue." Within the party room resentment lingers over the controversial policies taken to the ballot box: "A lot of us held our noses, sold it, during the election campaign." There's barely contained anger from those who feel they've been marginalised by the Prime Minister: "I would like to see a rapprochement. I have seen no signs of it." And there's factional warfare breaking out in the state branches: "I think it's time for the serving faction leaders to vacate the field." Adding to Malcolm Turnbull's woes is the question: what are Tony Abbott's intentions? "I don't think Tony plans to be a backbencher for the rest of his life."
It almost defies belief but right here in Australia there is a prison system that locks up 10 year olds and places children as young as thirteen in solitary confinement. "This is barbarism, this is inhumane, this is child abuse." Lawyer Children have been confined to an isolation wing with no access to sunlight or running water. "Those cells were ghoulish, they were something medieval." Lawyer Some held for weeks on end, deprived of basic necessities. "We all sort of looked at each other in shock... there were signs of life in there but we didn't know who was in there or what was happening, or how long they'd been there." Lawyer Deprived of hope. "What's going on with children in detention here is a deliberate, punitive, cruel policy." Lawyer On Monday night Four Corners reveals the shocking truth about the treatment of children behind bars, where young offenders have been stripped naked, assaulted and tear gassed. "They had absolutely nowhere to run...Those children were afraid for their lives." Children's Advocate Held by a system that seems bent on breaking children instead of reforming them. "If I treated my children like that, the authorities would take my children from me quite properly because I would be behaving cruelly to them." Lawyer This confronting investigation with send shockwaves around Australia.
The elite athletes blowing the whistle on how they cheated the system. When athletes take to the track and the field in Rio in just a few short weeks, they will be competing for Olympic glory. But they won't be competing against the athletics powerhouse of Russia. The team has effectively been banned from international athletics competition. "Many champions are not gods or great talents, they are just liars. That's what disgusted me: the lies. These people are admired, but they're just liars and cheats." Yulia Stepanova Russian athletics has been brought to its knees by one of its own, 800m runner Yulia Stepanova.
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