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.
"With a tiny hidden camera, I am going to try to show what happens ... to show what is really going on in their heads." For six months this intrepid reporter infiltrated and secretly filmed a terrorist cell as they made plans for an attack. "You won't see my face. You won't hear my real voice...I am a Muslim and a journalist. I can go to places that my colleagues can't." Deep undercover, posing as a fellow follower of ISIS, he joined this group of young men who called themselves "Soldiers of Allah" and he captured it all on camera. "I have to be careful, one mistake and I'll be found out." Meeting in parks and fast food restaurants, they declare their hatred for anyone failing to follow their version of Islam, especially other less fanatical Muslims.
Regardless of who wins the Federal election, the major issue facing Australians is the future of work. There are startling and credible predictions that more than five million Australian jobs will simply disappear in the next 15 years, as a result of technology. That's 40% of the jobs that exist in Australia today. What do you want to be when you grow up? Answering that question is only going to get harder as many of the jobs our kids will do haven't been invented yet. And if parents believe that steering their kids towards "safe" professions like accountancy will guarantee them a job, they're in for a shock.
The Leaders: Sarah Ferguson interviews Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten Gold Walkley and Logie Award-winning reporter Sarah Ferguson interviews the two men vying to lead Australia. In this special episode of Four Corners, with the election only days away, Sarah Ferguson sits down to talk with Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten as they make their final pitches to the voters. What will she ask?
He's one of the best known politicians in the country with a gift for publicity and a unique way with words. In political parlance, he has "cut through" - so much so, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott praised him as the best "retail politician" in the country. He's the member for New England, Barnaby Joyce. Just five short months ago he fulfilled a lifelong ambition when he was anointed leader of the National Party and Deputy Prime Minister. In country politics, it doesn't get any bigger and better. But it could all come crashing down. "He will need an unbelievably strong primary vote in his own right. If he doesn't get it, the way the preference gaming goes on these days, he could lose it." Former National Party Strategist With only two weeks to go in the Federal Election campaign, Barnaby Joyce is fighting to hang on to his seat. The man getting in his way is the Independent, Tony Windsor. He's been a thorn in the side of the National Party for 25 years and he's come out of retirement for one more crack at winning the seat. And he's in with a real chance. "This seat is winnable. It is winnable. I have absolutely no doubt about that. No-one has it won yet." Tony Windsor Four Corners has spent weeks behind the scenes, on the campaign trail, with both men as they've crisscrossed the electorate in one of the most hotly anticipated contests of the election campaign. "The only way you can do it at a time like this, is work flat out. And that's what I'm doing." Barnaby Joyce It's a very personal contest and the antipathy between both men is clear. And it's a contest that's dividing the electorate and even families.
The Miracle of Kobani - Life After Islamic State Liberated from a brutal occupation, residents of the Syrian town Kobani are trying to rebuild their lives in the rubble.
How taxpayers money is being squandered, leaving remote communities feeling exploited and betrayed. There are weasels out there that just know what to look for and can infiltrate." Indigenous CEO They're amongst the most disadvantaged people in Australia. The residents of our remote communities who battle chronic unemployment, terrible health problems and third world living conditions. It's why billions of dollars in taxpayers money has been poured into Indigenous programs aimed at "closing the gap". So it's extraordinary to think anyone would want to exploit such vulnerable people. "How could you do that to us? We trusted you, we had faith in you. I just feel real sad, not ashamed, but sad that this guy could just come in and blind us." Community Board Member On Monday night Four Corners exposes how millions of dollars have been ripped out of remote communities, leaving a trail of broken promises, unfinished work and a burning sense of betrayal. "We bust arse to try and improve the lives of Aboriginal people and you know there's this despicable act going on, it was just absolutely gutting." Indigenous CEO In some cases, communities have been the victims of out and out fraud: "(We) were taken in by someone that was extraordinarily clever ...It's hard to describe somebody who would use people like that for some scheme for their own ends." Former Community CEO In others, it's a case of sheer incompetence: "I just cry out when I see people living in poverty, in destitute situations. And yet they've got Aboriginal corporations that have multimillions of dollars there that's supposed to be there for their own benefit, and it's not reaching the ground and helping them." Indigenous Leader Reporter Linton Besser goes on a 4000km journey to some of Australia's most remote communities and finds evidence scattered all around, from abandoned constructions sites and dilapidated buildings, to state of the art facilities, locked up - because there's no money left to run them. He investigates who's to blame: "Linton Besser from Four Corners. I'd just like to ask you some questions..." And finds communities determined to speak out and demand action: "It's taxpayers money and we're saying taxpayers money is being wasted here, surely that's government business, to come and work with us to sort it out." Community Elder
Are women being sold false hope by the IVF industry? "All our savings go to IVF...Then you get that negative pregnancy result. There's another $6,000 gone." Grace Grace is one of the tens of thousands of Australian women who have put their faith in fertility treatments to help conceive a much longed for baby. "Sometimes I feel like I'm a fraud of a woman. I look like one, but my body just isn't doing what I want it to do, which is to fall pregnant and have a child." Grace At 42, she's been through six unsuccessful rounds of IVF. The physical, emotional and financial toll is huge. "One of the hardest things is knowing when to get off the bus, like knowing when to stop, because I think there's that 'what if it's this next time', one more time?" Grace Julia too, had dreams of becoming a mother, undergoing 8 rounds of fertility treatment. "I had this longing to have a child ...I was hopeful that I would be one of the lucky ones." Julia And while she willingly put her body in the hands of fertility specialists, she struggled to get a clear answer on just what her chances of having a baby actually were. "It's regrettable that I got the more optimistic answer. I would've just preferred a more accurate answer." Julia This week's Four Corners looks at the booming business of fertility, where the industry pulls in more than half a billion dollars in revenue, and asks whether clinics are giving women clear, unambiguous advice about their chances of giving birth. "I think with the commercialisation of IVF that's occurring, there's a pressure in every single clinic to use IVF more and IVF brings in more money for a clinic." Fertility Doctor Many fertility specialists say it's up to individual women to decide how much treatment they can take. "Embryos are like mud. You keep putting embryos on the wall of the uterus, eventually one will stick." Fertility Doctor But as this program shows, there are concerns, even from industry insiders, that some women undergoing IVF don't actually need it. Others warn against the practice of upselling - where women are sold expensive and unproven treatments that one doctor says is akin to snake oil. And disturbingly, they also have concerns about the potential harm fertility treatments could be causing for women - including potential links to cancer.
The shadowy world of political donations. Quentin McDermott reports. Money and Influence: the shadowy world of political donations. "We have a system where giving money can influence outcomes and that's a soft form of corruption." As we head into the third week of the election campaign, Four Corners investigates just how transparent the political parties really are when it comes to revealing who their donors are and what is expected in return. "What's at stake is simply the quality of our democracy and the ability of people to have faith in their political institutions." It's a world that operates far from public view with a patchwork of donation laws around the country. A variety of methods are used to keep the identities of donors secret, leaving voters hard pressed to find out just who is funding whom. "Those sort of enterprises are very useful to people because they enable money to be channelled into political interests without full disclosure and in circumstances where the public can't clearly see that there may be an outcome by virtue of those donations." Reporter Quentin McDermott, talks to influential figures operating in this world, who speak candidly about their experiences. "I've spent a significant part of my life raising money in this way...(It) will always be a serious accident waiting to happen." Fundraiser "I think we were fairly standard in terms of organisations that were seeking to curry favour with our political masters...I think it was fairly plain that that bought access." Donor "I don't think he gave out of the goodness of his heart, that's for certain." Politician And in an exclusive interview with Four Corners, the regulator withholding more than $4 million dollars of funding destined for the Liberal party breaks his silence.
The hidden dangers of vitamins and health supplements. "We love the notion of a magic pill. It's something that makes it all better." Dr Paul Offitt, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia It's the multi-billion dollar industry selling health supplements and vitamins - over the counter pills and capsules bought in enormous numbers by consumers. "I really want to say, 'Show me the data. Show me the evidence.'" Dr Joann Manson, Brigham and Women's Hospital But do they do you any good? "You can sell something without any evidence that it's safe or effective." Dr Pieter Cohen, Harvard Medical School Should you take vitamin D pills? What about vitamin E, multi-vitamins and fish oil? "There is no compelling evidence that taking fish oils protects against the first heart attack, or a second heart attack. And so people who are advised to do that, or are doing it, are wasting their time and their money." Dr Andrew Grey, University of Auckland In this joint investigation from the New York Times and the PBS Frontline program, the report asks leading clinicians and researchers for their assessment of these products and whether the claimed health benefits can be proven. "The crazy thing about the dietary supplement world is there are none of those studies, and the studies that are done say the stuff doesn't work!" Dan Hurley, Author, 'Natural Causes' And some of these supplements and vitamins may actually be doing you harm. "You actually can increase your risk of cancer, increase your risk of heart disease. I think few people know the risks they're taking." Dr Paul Offitt, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia The program raises troubling questions about the quality and safety of vitamins and dietary supplements.
A family fights for justice after the brutal death of a young woman. "What would happen if that was your daughter?" Family Friend The body of a young woman lies on the beach. Two panic stricken men try to work out what to do. One makes a call to '000', the other goes and flags down help. "He said there was a girl on the beach and they needed help to resuss her and that she'd drowned in the surf." Witness But as people began arriving on the scene it became clear the men had serious questions to answer. The young woman had died of horrendous internal injuries. "I remember making it quite clear at the time, words to the effect of, 'something's dodgy'." Witness Five years on, what happened on that beach haunts everyone involved. "I just I miss her so much and all I want is justice done." Mother Despite a thorough police investigation and a scathing Coronial Inquest recommending charges be laid, no one has ever faced court. "They tried to explain why they weren't going to be charging these fellas." Family Friend In this searing story, Gold Walkley award-winning reporter Caro Meldrum-Hanna follows the trail of evidence: "This is a horrific case and the details are spelled out very thoroughly in the Coronial report and the Prosecutor's response is incomprehensible in the face of all of this evidence." Academic And finds a family that won't give up: "I've got a lot of fight in me... I don't care how, how I do it, but I'm just going to go on and go until there's justice done." Mother
Home Truths: What happened to the Great Australian Dream? On the eve of the Federal Budget, Four Corners reports on the white hot issues of housing affordability and negative gearing and the generation left wondering if they will ever own their own home. “We will start it at 1.1 million dollars ladies and gentlemen.” - Auctioneer A house with a million dollar price tag used to be confined to the super wealthy suburbs in Australia’s biggest cities. Today, properties with that sort of asking price are commonplace, even in the urban fringes, with little infrastructure and lengthy commute times. In Melbourne, the median house price is $700 thousand dollars, around 10 times the average wage. In Sydney, there are suburbs more expensive than Manhattan. It’s why the IMF declared Australia one of the most expensive cities in the world to buy property in. This week reporter Ben Knight explores the housing crisis locking younger people out of home ownership and the negatively geared world of investors building their nest eggs. “It’s only money!” - Auctioneer He meets investors like Wayne and Karen who’ve created a multi-million dollar property portfolio from their dining room table. “We saw them on the internet, we actually borrowed 105% using the equity we had in our house to fund that.” - Wayne & Karen And the agents spruiking the investor-led property gold rush. “Why are people looking at negative gearing? Because it’s generous. It's a wonderful opportunity for people to become involved in property investment. It's a gift.” - Real Estate Adviser With negative gearing and affordable housing shaping up as key issues in the forthcoming election, we look at the politics at work behind the major parties’ policies. “Labor’s reckless changes will reduce property values. They’ll devalue every home, every property in Australia.” - Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. The Coalition is banking on leaving negative gearing policy exactly the way it is. While the Labor Party is hoping its plan to wind it back will attract those first home buyers who feel locked out by the high price of property. “We’re not looking to buy an investment property. We want a house we can live in.” - Jules, house hunter But some economists are warning that there are property bubbles in our major cities, which could wreak havoc on our economy. “According to pretty much any housing market indicator you want to look at, house prices in Australia are significantly over valued.” - Investment Fund Manager And there is worrying evidence of fraudulent loan applications which could leave banks and consumers dangerously exposed. “They’re lending to homebuyers that have no ability to be able to pay off their loan and they’re basically depending on the property market to continue to rise at a consistent rate.” - Economist While for some first home buyers, a housing crash is just what they are hoping for. “Are we all done...?” - Auctioneer Home Truths, reported by Ben Knight and presented by Sarah Ferguson, goes to air on Monday May 2 at 8.30pm AEST. It is replayed on Tuesday May 3 at 10.00am and Wednesday May 4 at 11pm. It can also be seen on ABC News 24 on Saturday at 8.00pm AEST, ABC iview and at abc.net.au/4corners. Join the conversation: #4Corners
The Australian Government contract to provide healthcare to detainees has already cost taxpayers more than a billion dollars, but doctors say the medical care provided offshore in Manus Island is dangerously inadequate. "I can think of very few times in recent history where doctors have been so united about a particular issue." Former Government Adviser On Four Corners some of Australia's most senior doctors and medical staff with experience in the offshore detention system are speaking out. They say the Border Force Act could see them risk two years in jail for disclosing information about Australia's asylum seeker detention system. "There is a lot of anxiety about that piece of legislation and how it applies to doctors." Senior Doctor Despite this, the doctors have chosen to talk. "The doctors have been appalled at attempts to silence them." Doctor Their story centres on the case of a Manus Island detainee, Hamid Khazaei, who died following a bacterial infection in 2014. "I feel like to prevent further harm there are some details that I can offer to the story of what happened." Doctor What started as a skin infection poisoned his body, leaving him brain dead. "I think that if he had this exact infection and the same conditions in all other ways and he was in Australia at the time, he's unlikely to have died." Former Government Adviser The details of his rapid decline and the treatment he received are shocking. Doctors involved in his care are speaking publicly for the first time, giving a rare inside account of the medical treatment available in our offshore detention centres: "I feel like I've actually weighed the ethics of the case quite heavily for the last eighteen months and now I believe that there actually is a clear benefit for people to understand how the system works and the reason why what happened, happened." Doctor
As Europe reels from the deadly terror attacks in Brussels and Paris, this week's Four Corners takes you inside the secret Islamic State network responsible. This report, from the BBC's Panorama program, traces the network through its key players: the mastermind, the recruiter and the terror operatives. "Each spy gets 50,000 Euros ...to mount an attack in Europe." Captured Terrorist The origins of the network go back to Syria in 2014, when Belgian jihadis fighting for Islamic State made plans to send a terror cell into Europe. "A new external command force has been set up within IS to transport terror onto the streets of Europe, using special forces style tactics." Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol This seemingly innocuous message signalled the arrival of the first handpicked IS operatives arriving in Europe with instructions to carry out an attack: "The children have arrived. Thanks be to god. Two, they are home." Terror Mastermind, Abaaoud. With access to intelligence documents and interrogation transcripts, the program pieces together how the network supplies weapons and how they plan and execute their attacks. "He said, 'imagine a rock concert in a European country; if we arm you would you be ready to shoot in a crowd?'" Captured Terrorist And details how the network has been able to outwit the intelligence agencies hunting them. "My name and picture were all over the news, yet I was able to stay in their homeland, plan operations against them and leave safely." Terror Mastermind, Abaaoud This is a chilling, forensic account of IS's operations in Europe. "It's likely and probable that things like that will happen again and I fear that in the West, and Belgium included, we will have to live for the coming years with the threat of that kind of terrorism." Alain Winants, Former Head Belgian State Security Service
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