News and current affairs

How do you keep people safe from dog attacks?
The death of a toddler last month has reignited the debate about how to keep people safe from dogs. The RSPCA says training and education is the answer, but others want aggressive dogs banned.
 
Laura Tingle on the $4.5bn extra funding for Catholic and independent schools
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced $4.5 billion in extra funding for Catholic and independent schools.
 
Behind the lens of Parliament's prize photographer
This year, for the first time in history, the press gallery journalist of the year award went to a photographer, Alex Ellinghausen. He works for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, and while you may not know his name the chances are you'll recognise his work - capturing politicians at their best, their worst and their most vulnerable.
 
The battle for control of powerlifting in Australia
Parliament house isn't the only place where you'll find politics. Pretty much any organisation, no matter how big or small, will at some stage become captive to people jockeying for power. The sport of powerlifting in Australia is a case in point, with two local federations vying for control - and the athletes caught in the middle.
 
Roadies, a look at life on the road
Behind every world-conquering band is a road crew that transports them from gig to gig, ensures they look and sound amazing, and literally works around the clock to keep the show on the road. Music writer Stuart Coupe's latest book, Roadies – The Secret History of Australian Rock'n'Roll, is a fascinating look at the often hidden side of the music business.

7.30: September 20, 2018

News and current affairs

Years 11-12 News and current affairs
31:53
How do you keep people safe from dog attacks? The death of a toddler last month has reignited the debate about how to keep people safe from dogs. The RSPCA says training and education is the answer, but others want aggressive dogs banned. Laura Tingle on the $4.5bn extra funding for Catholic and independent schools Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced $4.5 billion in extra funding for Catholic and independent schools. Behind the lens of Parliament's prize photographer This year, for the first time in history, the press gallery journalist of the year award went to a photographer, Alex Ellinghausen. He works for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, and while you may not know his name the chances are you'll recognise his work - capturing politicians at their best, their worst and their most vulnerable. The battle for control of powerlifting in Australia Parliament house isn't the only place where you'll find politics. Pretty much any organisation, no matter how big or small, will at some stage become captive to people jockeying for power. The sport of powerlifting in Australia is a case in point, with two local federations vying for control - and the athletes caught in the middle. Roadies, a look at life on the road Behind every world-conquering band is a road crew that transports them from gig to gig, ensures they look and sound amazing, and literally works around the clock to keep the show on the road. Music writer Stuart Coupe's latest book, Roadies – The Secret History of Australian Rock'n'Roll, is a fascinating look at the often hidden side of the music business.
Authorities fear copy-cat tampering in fruit contamination disaster
Since the story strawberry tampering broke more than 100 reports of contaminated fruit have been made around the country, sparking fears of copy-cat tampering. Authorities are scrambling to manage this slow-moving disaster as they try to limit the damage to an industry worth almost half a billion dollars.
 
Why are female Liberal MPs quitting Federal politics?
A number of female Liberal MPs have spoken out against internal party dynamics, while also announcing they won’t recontest the next election. But Prime Minister Scott Morrison insisting there is not a behaviour problem in Canberra.
 
Christian Porter discusses strawberry tampering and sexism in politics
Federal Attorney General, Christian Porter, talks to 7.30 about news laws introduced to counter the growing strawberry tampering crisis, and whether the Liberal Party has a problem with women.
 
Marine archaeologists may have discovered the wreck of the Endeavour
Historian David Hunt explains why the discovery of Capt. James Cook's ship, HMS Endeavour, would be an important moment in Australia's history.
 
Meet Alec Knight, the first Australian male to join the New York City Ballet
Alec Knight was just 17 when he moved to New York after being offered a coveted apprenticeship with the New York City Ballet. That was five years ago. Now he's the first Australian male to be given a contract with the prestigious ballet company.

7.30: September 19, 2018

News and current affairs

Years 11-12 News and current affairs
30:05
Authorities fear copy-cat tampering in fruit contamination disaster Since the story strawberry tampering broke more than 100 reports of contaminated fruit have been made around the country, sparking fears of copy-cat tampering. Authorities are scrambling to manage this slow-moving disaster as they try to limit the damage to an industry worth almost half a billion dollars. Why are female Liberal MPs quitting Federal politics? A number of female Liberal MPs have spoken out against internal party dynamics, while also announcing they won’t recontest the next election. But Prime Minister Scott Morrison insisting there is not a behaviour problem in Canberra. Christian Porter discusses strawberry tampering and sexism in politics Federal Attorney General, Christian Porter, talks to 7.30 about news laws introduced to counter the growing strawberry tampering crisis, and whether the Liberal Party has a problem with women. Marine archaeologists may have discovered the wreck of the Endeavour Historian David Hunt explains why the discovery of Capt. James Cook's ship, HMS Endeavour, would be an important moment in Australia's history. Meet Alec Knight, the first Australian male to join the New York City Ballet Alec Knight was just 17 when he moved to New York after being offered a coveted apprenticeship with the New York City Ballet. That was five years ago. Now he's the first Australian male to be given a contract with the prestigious ballet company.
Ten years on from the GFC are we heading for another crash?
This week marks a decade since the collapse of the US investment bank Lehman Brothers triggered the worst global financial crisis since the Great Depression. While much of the world fell into prolonged recession, Australia's economy narrowly avoided that fate but 10 years on, many individual Australians are still paying the price.
 
Phil Coorey reviews the Morrison government's first parliamentary week
The Morrison Governments' first parliamentary week has done little to settle the dust after the downfall of Malcolm Turnbull three weeks ago. The AFR's chief political correspondent, Phil Coorey looks at how it has performed.
 
Sydney light rail project won't break-even, NSW Cabinet told in 2012
Over time, and over budget, Sydney's floundering light rail project is wreaking havoc on businesses and commuters in the country's largest city. Leaked NSW cabinet documents point to a political culture where economic caution is thrown out the window in the rush to approve expensive and ultimately disruptive schemes.
 
Search on for Australia's next big diamond deposit
Of all the minerals dug out of the ground, diamonds have a special allure and Australia produces some of the most sought-after stones in the world. But the nation's sole operating diamond mine is on the verge of closure. That's led to a flurry of exploration to find a new diamond deposit.
 
Technology offering blind people the chance to borrow someone else's eyes
Imagine borrowing the eyes of someone on the other side of the world. That's what technology is now offering more than half a million Australians who are blind or vision impaired, via free, and paid, apps on their smart phones.

7.30: September 13, 2018

News and current affairs

Years 11-12 News and current affairs
32:16
Ten years on from the GFC are we heading for another crash? This week marks a decade since the collapse of the US investment bank Lehman Brothers triggered the worst global financial crisis since the Great Depression. While much of the world fell into prolonged recession, Australia's economy narrowly avoided that fate but 10 years on, many individual Australians are still paying the price. Phil Coorey reviews the Morrison government's first parliamentary week The Morrison Governments' first parliamentary week has done little to settle the dust after the downfall of Malcolm Turnbull three weeks ago. The AFR's chief political correspondent, Phil Coorey looks at how it has performed. Sydney light rail project won't break-even, NSW Cabinet told in 2012 Over time, and over budget, Sydney's floundering light rail project is wreaking havoc on businesses and commuters in the country's largest city. Leaked NSW cabinet documents point to a political culture where economic caution is thrown out the window in the rush to approve expensive and ultimately disruptive schemes. Search on for Australia's next big diamond deposit Of all the minerals dug out of the ground, diamonds have a special allure and Australia produces some of the most sought-after stones in the world. But the nation's sole operating diamond mine is on the verge of closure. That's led to a flurry of exploration to find a new diamond deposit. Technology offering blind people the chance to borrow someone else's eyes Imagine borrowing the eyes of someone on the other side of the world. That's what technology is now offering more than half a million Australians who are blind or vision impaired, via free, and paid, apps on their smart phones.
Banned Chinese cameras are being used by the Australian Government
Security cameras made by Chinese surveillance companies are also being used at a series of classified facilities including an Adelaide Air Force base and a Canberra office block home to an annexe of the nation's intelligence agencies.
 
Lynette Dawson's niece, Renee Sims, and journalist Hedley Thomas discuss new search for missing woman
Renee Simms, niece of missing woman Lyn Dawson, and Hedley Thomas, the journalist behind the Teacher's Pet podcast, discuss today's news that police are digging at the former property of Lyn Dawson and her husband.
 
Can women change the political culture?
The treatment of women in politics has been a hot subject of debate in recent months with allegations of slut shaming, and during the Liberals' leadership turmoil, accusations of bullying and bad behaviour. The big question is, will anything really change?
 
Cerebral palsy treatment creating an international bond of friendship between two families
Last year we told the story about Max Shearman whose dad Michael carried the then six-year-old along the gruelling Kokoda track to raise money for a trial of technology called a TheraSuit. While the pair was on that mission, they built a relationship with a local Papua New Guinea family also searching for help with their daughter's cerebral palsy diagnosis. That family recently travelled to Melbourne for three weeks of intensive treatment.

7.30: September 12, 2018

News and current affairs

Years 11-12 News and current affairs
29:01
Banned Chinese cameras are being used by the Australian Government Security cameras made by Chinese surveillance companies are also being used at a series of classified facilities including an Adelaide Air Force base and a Canberra office block home to an annexe of the nation's intelligence agencies. Lynette Dawson's niece, Renee Sims, and journalist Hedley Thomas discuss new search for missing woman Renee Simms, niece of missing woman Lyn Dawson, and Hedley Thomas, the journalist behind the Teacher's Pet podcast, discuss today's news that police are digging at the former property of Lyn Dawson and her husband. Can women change the political culture? The treatment of women in politics has been a hot subject of debate in recent months with allegations of slut shaming, and during the Liberals' leadership turmoil, accusations of bullying and bad behaviour. The big question is, will anything really change? Cerebral palsy treatment creating an international bond of friendship between two families Last year we told the story about Max Shearman whose dad Michael carried the then six-year-old along the gruelling Kokoda track to raise money for a trial of technology called a TheraSuit. While the pair was on that mission, they built a relationship with a local Papua New Guinea family also searching for help with their daughter's cerebral palsy diagnosis. That family recently travelled to Melbourne for three weeks of intensive treatment.
When Fidan Shevket started dating her boyfriend, she wouldn’t let him leave a toothbrush at her Sydney apartment. She was worried it could be used as evidence of a de facto relationship, which could give him claim to part of her home if they ever broke up.
“If we're ever going to move in together, if we're ever going to get married, if we're ever going to do anything to make this relationship go to the next level - then I absolutely want a [prenup],” Fidan tells Insight’s Jenny Brockie.
Fidan has been a family lawyer for 15 years and has seen how bitter break-ups can get, especially when it comes to the division of assets. So, after two and a half years with her boyfriend, she is writing up what she calls “the greatest [prenup] ever drafted.”
When Kathy Robinson met her now husband, Cam Robinson, money was tight. She had four children and had just come out of a difficult break-up. She was left with the family home, a big mortgage and a little in the way of savings.
Cam, who was single with no children and owned multiple properties, had far more in assets than Kathy – so a discussion about getting a prenup arose early in the relationship. But the couple quickly decided it wasn’t for them.
“Going into a relationship you have to have trust,” Kathy says. “If you can’t trust your partner, then who can you trust really?”
Family lawyer, Jodylee Bartal, writes prenups for her clients and says they are no longer just the domain of the rich and famous.
But often certain clauses she gets asked to include in a prenup aren’t legally binding, and putting too much detail into prenups can increase the risk of the Family Court voiding the agreement.
Family lawyer, Kasey Fox, recently signed a prenup with her fiancé, Travis Goode. They decided against putting this kind of detail into their agreement.
“I actually think it can be dangerous to put too much of that detail in about what's going to happen during the relationship, because the whole idea of one of these agreements is that they only come into effect if you separate,” she says.
For all of Fidan’s efforts, her boyfriend has not yet signed the prenup.
“If he doesn't sign, I've been very clear on this: if he doesn't sign it there's big trouble, meaning the relationship will probably come to an end – almost definitely, it will come to an end.”

Insight: To Have and Withhold

News and current affairs, Intercultural understanding

Years 9-10, 11-12 News and current affairs, Intercultural understanding
52:20
When Fidan Shevket started dating her boyfriend, she wouldn’t let him leave a toothbrush at her Sydney apartment. She was worried it could be used as evidence of a de facto relationship, which could give him claim to part of her home if they ever broke up. “If we're ever going to move in together, if we're ever going to get married, if we're ever going to do anything to make this relationship go to the next level - then I absolutely want a [prenup],” Fidan tells Insight’s Jenny Brockie. Fidan has been a family lawyer for 15 years and has seen how bitter break-ups can get, especially when it comes to the division of assets. So, after two and a half years with her boyfriend, she is writing up what she calls “the greatest [prenup] ever drafted.” When Kathy Robinson met her now husband, Cam Robinson, money was tight. She had four children and had just come out of a difficult break-up. She was left with the family home, a big mortgage and a little in the way of savings. Cam, who was single with no children and owned multiple properties, had far more in assets than Kathy – so a discussion about getting a prenup arose early in the relationship. But the couple quickly decided it wasn’t for them. “Going into a relationship you have to have trust,” Kathy says. “If you can’t trust your partner, then who can you trust really?” Family lawyer, Jodylee Bartal, writes prenups for her clients and says they are no longer just the domain of the rich and famous. But often certain clauses she gets asked to include in a prenup aren’t legally binding, and putting too much detail into prenups can increase the risk of the Family Court voiding the agreement. Family lawyer, Kasey Fox, recently signed a prenup with her fiancé, Travis Goode. They decided against putting this kind of detail into their agreement. “I actually think it can be dangerous to put too much of that detail in about what's going to happen during the relationship, because the whole idea of one of these agreements is that they only come into effect if you separate,” she says. For all of Fidan’s efforts, her boyfriend has not yet signed the prenup. “If he doesn't sign, I've been very clear on this: if he doesn't sign it there's big trouble, meaning the relationship will probably come to an end – almost definitely, it will come to an end.”
Australia and rental affordability 
Australian renters are paying through the roof. And it's hitting people in all income brackets. Low income earners are being squeezed by a shortage of public housing and middle to high income earners can't afford to buy houses so they're driving up rental prices and competing for the limited number of properties.
Peter Dutton 
Ashlynne McGhee explains what's happening in an explosive war of words which has erupted between Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton and his former border force chief Roman Quaedvlieg. Mr Quaedvlieg claims he was personally lobbied by Mr Dutton's staff to grant a visa to an Italian nanny. Mr Dutton says those claims are fabricated.
John Millman's US Open 
Today Australians learned that Queensland tennis pro John Millman is as classy in defeat as he is in victory. Earlier this week, the 29-year-old shocked the tennis word by knocking Roger Federer out of the US Open but today he couldn't face down another formidable opponent the tournament favourite Novak Djokovic.
James Ricketson 
The family of James Ricketson, an Australian filmmaker imprisoned in Cambodia for 'spying', is pleading for mercy. Ricketson has been in jail since the middle of 2017 and is now now applying to the Cambodian King for clemency
Natasha Walsh wins Whiteley scholarship
In 1959, a little-known 20-year-old artist named Brett Whiteley was awarded a scholarship to study and paint in Europe. It helped launch him onto the world stage. In memory of her son, the late Beryl Whiteley allocated funds for an annual scholarship to give other young Australian artists the same opportunity - and this year's winner is Natasha Walsh.

7.30: Australia and Rental Affordability/Peter Dutton/John Millman's US Open/James Ricketsons/Natasha Walsh's Victory

News and current affairs

Years 11-12 News and current affairs
30:11
Australia and rental affordability Australian renters are paying through the roof. And it's hitting people in all income brackets. Low income earners are being squeezed by a shortage of public housing and middle to high income earners can't afford to buy houses so they're driving up rental prices and competing for the limited number of properties. Peter Dutton Ashlynne McGhee explains what's happening in an explosive war of words which has erupted between Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton and his former border force chief Roman Quaedvlieg. Mr Quaedvlieg claims he was personally lobbied by Mr Dutton's staff to grant a visa to an Italian nanny. Mr Dutton says those claims are fabricated. John Millman's US Open Today Australians learned that Queensland tennis pro John Millman is as classy in defeat as he is in victory. Earlier this week, the 29-year-old shocked the tennis word by knocking Roger Federer out of the US Open but today he couldn't face down another formidable opponent the tournament favourite Novak Djokovic. James Ricketson The family of James Ricketson, an Australian filmmaker imprisoned in Cambodia for 'spying', is pleading for mercy. Ricketson has been in jail since the middle of 2017 and is now now applying to the Cambodian King for clemency Natasha Walsh wins Whiteley scholarship In 1959, a little-known 20-year-old artist named Brett Whiteley was awarded a scholarship to study and paint in Europe. It helped launch him onto the world stage. In memory of her son, the late Beryl Whiteley allocated funds for an annual scholarship to give other young Australian artists the same opportunity - and this year's winner is Natasha Walsh.
Adopting a child with special needs?
Adoption is a complex process in Australia and couples can sometimes wait for years for a child. Many people find it too overwhelming and as a result the number of adoptions has declined to an all-time low. Dee Threlfo always wanted to adopt so when she faced challenges she decided that adopting children with special needs was the path to pursue.
NAPLAN 
NAPLAN is supposed to give parents and teachers a snapshot of where kids are at in the essential skills of literacy and numeracy. But there are criticisms it is out of date and results are being misused, and even some state education ministers are calling for it to be replaced.
Trump is not a conservative
Trump and his opponents frequently claim the media and its allies lie about him and are out to get him but the truth is that significant opposition to Trump also comes from within his own party. Rick Wilson has been a career Republican strategist. His new book is called Everything Trump Touches Dies.
ACCC launches investigation
The ACCC has launched an investigation into 'fake' honey after an investigation by 7.30 and Fairfax Media found Australia's biggest listed honey company, Capilano, and some of the country's largest supermarket chains were unwittingly selling "fake" honey. And today Capilano announced it wants to see a new Australian testing facility.

7.30: Adopting a Child with Special Needs/NAPLAN?Trump is not a conservative/ACC Launches Investigation

News and current affairs

Years 11-12 News and current affairs
29:40
Adopting a child with special needs? Adoption is a complex process in Australia and couples can sometimes wait for years for a child. Many people find it too overwhelming and as a result the number of adoptions has declined to an all-time low. Dee Threlfo always wanted to adopt so when she faced challenges she decided that adopting children with special needs was the path to pursue. NAPLAN NAPLAN is supposed to give parents and teachers a snapshot of where kids are at in the essential skills of literacy and numeracy. But there are criticisms it is out of date and results are being misused, and even some state education ministers are calling for it to be replaced. Trump is not a conservative Trump and his opponents frequently claim the media and its allies lie about him and are out to get him but the truth is that significant opposition to Trump also comes from within his own party. Rick Wilson has been a career Republican strategist. His new book is called Everything Trump Touches Dies. ACCC launches investigation The ACCC has launched an investigation into 'fake' honey after an investigation by 7.30 and Fairfax Media found Australia's biggest listed honey company, Capilano, and some of the country's largest supermarket chains were unwittingly selling "fake" honey. And today Capilano announced it wants to see a new Australian testing facility.
Jenny Brockie takes a look at what it takes to turn your life around after a catastrophic injury.
Life can change in an instant. And in that instant, many hopes and dreams can be cruelly snatched away. When we’re hit with catastrophic injuries, how and where do we even begin to move forward and rebuild our lives?
Jaimen Hudson was a sporty 17-year-old with the world at his feet when an off-road motorbike accident in 2008 left him a quadriplegic.
“I lived for the outdoors,” Jaimen tells Insight’s Jenny Brockie. “And to have that all taken away from you in one foul swoop is quite a wake-up call.”
With a similar passion for the outdoors, Sam Bloom loved mountain biking, running, surfing and playing soccer. It was a lifestyle she enjoyed with her three active sons – but one that was turned upside during a family holiday in Thailand.
“I just pulled a sheet over my head and burst into tears … I didn’t react very well at all,” recalls Sam, when told by doctors she’d never walk again.
But Sam’s turning point and road to recovery would come from the most unlikely of sources: a baby magpie chick called Penguin.
At 21, Louise Ellery suffered a serious brain injury, smashed pelvis and broken ribs after a car accident. The former model and ballroom dancer was on life support for a week and lost her spleen. She also had to learn to walk, talk and eat again.
“I loved ballroom dancing and I thought if I couldn’t dance, what’s the point in living?” Louise says.
It took 10 years for Louise to accept her disability. 
Like Louise, Nick has achieved more than he could have hoped. He was seven years old when he became blind from an injury. His last memory of sight was the vision of his mum’s face.
In the 50 years since, Nick has reached the summit of Kilimanjaro, trekked the Simpson Desert, climbed to Everest base camp, ran the New York Marathon three times and also represented Australian at the Paralympics.

Insight: Rebuilding Your Life

News and current affairs, Intercultural understanding

Years 9-10, 11-12 News and current affairs, Intercultural understanding
52:25
Jenny Brockie takes a look at what it takes to turn your life around after a catastrophic injury. Life can change in an instant. And in that instant, many hopes and dreams can be cruelly snatched away. When we’re hit with catastrophic injuries, how and where do we even begin to move forward and rebuild our lives? Jaimen Hudson was a sporty 17-year-old with the world at his feet when an off-road motorbike accident in 2008 left him a quadriplegic. “I lived for the outdoors,” Jaimen tells Insight’s Jenny Brockie. “And to have that all taken away from you in one foul swoop is quite a wake-up call.” With a similar passion for the outdoors, Sam Bloom loved mountain biking, running, surfing and playing soccer. It was a lifestyle she enjoyed with her three active sons – but one that was turned upside during a family holiday in Thailand. “I just pulled a sheet over my head and burst into tears … I didn’t react very well at all,” recalls Sam, when told by doctors she’d never walk again. But Sam’s turning point and road to recovery would come from the most unlikely of sources: a baby magpie chick called Penguin. At 21, Louise Ellery suffered a serious brain injury, smashed pelvis and broken ribs after a car accident. The former model and ballroom dancer was on life support for a week and lost her spleen. She also had to learn to walk, talk and eat again. “I loved ballroom dancing and I thought if I couldn’t dance, what’s the point in living?” Louise says. It took 10 years for Louise to accept her disability. Like Louise, Nick has achieved more than he could have hoped. He was seven years old when he became blind from an injury. His last memory of sight was the vision of his mum’s face. In the 50 years since, Nick has reached the summit of Kilimanjaro, trekked the Simpson Desert, climbed to Everest base camp, ran the New York Marathon three times and also represented Australian at the Paralympics.
How do some of the world's most notorious guerrilla fighters integrate back into society after putting down their guns? Colombia's FARC rebels are attempting to make their hills a tourist haven, and use a YouTube channel to tell their stories.
Driving in to the Colombian mountains I really wasn’t sure what to expect of the veteran guerrilla fighters we were about to meet.
FARC had a frightening reputation for kidnap, assassination and drug running as part of their 53-year-war against the Colombian State, one of the longest running insurgencies in the world fought by fiercely capable Marxist guerrillas trying to overthrow the governments they fought.
They were well entrenched, they knew the territory and fought with merciless discipline. Colombia’s vast cocaine trade had been a big part of their funding but they also became well known for kidnapping as thousands for negotiations and more often cash, often holding people in wire cages for years. Clearly, they were no angels.
5 things you should know about FARC:
As part of the peace deal thousands of FARC fighters were now living in 26 “transitional zones” across Colombia. It’s here they were meant to be re-learning how to be normal citizens. They receive a small stipend from the government until the end of this year and after that they are meant to have developed revenue-raising projects to fund themselves.
We were heading for one of these camps in the foothills of spectacular mountains running along Colombia’s north-eastern frontier with Venezuela. It was in these Andean peaks that had sustained the FARC for so long, they know every valley and river and it is this knowledge they were now hoping to turn in to post-conflict business for fee-paying tourists.
Arriving at Tierra Grata we were first met by Colombian soldiers protecting the one road in to the camp. Once the sworn enemy of FARC they are now protecting the ex-fighters from right wing paramilitaries who do not agree with the peace deal and still want to kill many FARC members.
We met the local FARC leaders who explained that many had first taken up arms as teenagers when they were either forced off their land by powerful local farm barons or had relatives killed by right wing paramilitaries working for those same barons or the government. Others such as Tierra Grata Comandante Abelardo Almayda told us they joined left-leading groups seeking basic services like schools and clinics in their often remote and neglected rural areas. Once they were active, he said, they were targeted by death squads and had no choice but to the join FARC and take up arms.
How to Keep the FARC Guerrillas Out of the Fight
As we talked as group of children ranging in ages from toddlers to 11 or 12 were seated in an open-air classroom. A teacher from the government agency helping the transition was handing out coloured pens and trying to keep some semblance of order. Who were they – I asked – they are all children of ex fighters who had only just be re-united with their parents as a result of the peace deal.
Pursuing this, I found that as a matter of FARC policy all children born to FARC mothers during the war had to be left with friends or relatives as it was too dangerous for them to stay in the jungle with their parents who were constantly on the move and at risk of attack from government forces.
The teacher told me many of these children were just getting used to the fact that they even had a real mother – and that the mothers were just starting to learn how to be parents with all the issues that come with a parent trying to bond with a child after so many years. Some of the children were rejecting them, some of the parents, understandably, were finding it hard to know what to do. “They are only now paying back to emotional debt they feel they owe the children,” she said.
Elsa, now 45 years old, was one of those parents. She joined the FARC at 15 after relatives were killed by the death squads. A few years later she fell pregnant. “Some people say FARC forced us to have abortions,” she said. “But that’s not true, my son is proof.”
At 18 months old she made a dangerous journey from the jungle back to her village and left her son with a friend. “I remember the day, he was playing with some toys when I turned and left him, I was immediately worried – would he get his bottle, would he be ok, but thanks God she was wonderful.” Why not just leave the jungle and stay with your son? I asked. “I couldn’t, once you were in FARC the paramilitaries could arrest you, disappear and kill you and your child. It happened to people. I had to return and I had to leave him for his safety.”

For this reason, she had no contact with her son, Fernando, for 25 years.

As we chatted an elderly lady with regal high cheek bones and thick grey hair sat quietly. “This is my mum, Mercedes,” said Elsa, “I walked out on them and joined FARC when I was 15. It was very dangerous for them, relatives and family members of FARC fighters were often killed and disappeared, so I had no contact with my parents …. for 30 years.”

I sat for a moment and thought about that. This wasn’t something we had really come looking for and I wasn’t really prepared for the full impact of what I had just heard.

“I thought she was dead that I wasn’t going to see her anymore,” said Mercedes quietly with a far-away stare, “Her father kept telling me that she was still alive, walking somewhere but I wasn’t so sure.”

Then as a result of the peace deal, Mercedes was told that her daughter was, in fact, alive and looking for her. “I still don’t really believe it,” she told me “I thought it was a lie.”

In the decades of conflict 250,000 people lost their lives, Colombian society was torn apart. There were victims, separations and terror on all sides. Suspicions, concerns and major challenges remain especially under a new President who’s no fan of the peace deal with FARC.

But in this one moment a family of three generations sitting together after decades of separation seemed to embody what the peace deal could do for Colombia.

Elsa was now hugging her sobbing mother - “I am still thinking that it’s not real but thank God we are together”.

“Don’t cry mum, you found me, we are fine.”

Dateline: What the FARC?

News and current affairs

Years 11-12 News and current affairs
25:15
How do some of the world's most notorious guerrilla fighters integrate back into society after putting down their guns? Colombia's FARC rebels are attempting to make their hills a tourist haven, and use a YouTube channel to tell their stories. Driving in to the Colombian mountains I really wasn’t sure what to expect of the veteran guerrilla fighters we were about to meet. FARC had a frightening reputation for kidnap, assassination and drug running as part of their 53-year-war against the Colombian State, one of the longest running insurgencies in the world fought by fiercely capable Marxist guerrillas trying to overthrow the governments they fought. They were well entrenched, they knew the territory and fought with merciless discipline. Colombia’s vast cocaine trade had been a big part of their funding but they also became well known for kidnapping as thousands for negotiations and more often cash, often holding people in wire cages for years. Clearly, they were no angels. 5 things you should know about FARC: As part of the peace deal thousands of FARC fighters were now living in 26 “transitional zones” across Colombia. It’s here they were meant to be re-learning how to be normal citizens. They receive a small stipend from the government until the end of this year and after that they are meant to have developed revenue-raising projects to fund themselves. We were heading for one of these camps in the foothills of spectacular mountains running along Colombia’s north-eastern frontier with Venezuela. It was in these Andean peaks that had sustained the FARC for so long, they know every valley and river and it is this knowledge they were now hoping to turn in to post-conflict business for fee-paying tourists. Arriving at Tierra Grata we were first met by Colombian soldiers protecting the one road in to the camp. Once the sworn enemy of FARC they are now protecting the ex-fighters from right wing paramilitaries who do not agree with the peace deal and still want to kill many FARC members. We met the local FARC leaders who explained that many had first taken up arms as teenagers when they were either forced off their land by powerful local farm barons or had relatives killed by right wing paramilitaries working for those same barons or the government. Others such as Tierra Grata Comandante Abelardo Almayda told us they joined left-leading groups seeking basic services like schools and clinics in their often remote and neglected rural areas. Once they were active, he said, they were targeted by death squads and had no choice but to the join FARC and take up arms. How to Keep the FARC Guerrillas Out of the Fight As we talked as group of children ranging in ages from toddlers to 11 or 12 were seated in an open-air classroom. A teacher from the government agency helping the transition was handing out coloured pens and trying to keep some semblance of order. Who were they – I asked – they are all children of ex fighters who had only just be re-united with their parents as a result of the peace deal. Pursuing this, I found that as a matter of FARC policy all children born to FARC mothers during the war had to be left with friends or relatives as it was too dangerous for them to stay in the jungle with their parents who were constantly on the move and at risk of attack from government forces. The teacher told me many of these children were just getting used to the fact that they even had a real mother – and that the mothers were just starting to learn how to be parents with all the issues that come with a parent trying to bond with a child after so many years. Some of the children were rejecting them, some of the parents, understandably, were finding it hard to know what to do. “They are only now paying back to emotional debt they feel they owe the children,” she said. Elsa, now 45 years old, was one of those parents. She joined the FARC at 15 after relatives were killed by the death squads. A few years later she fell pregnant. “Some people say FARC forced us to have abortions,” she said. “But that’s not true, my son is proof.” At 18 months old she made a dangerous journey from the jungle back to her village and left her son with a friend. “I remember the day, he was playing with some toys when I turned and left him, I was immediately worried – would he get his bottle, would he be ok, but thanks God she was wonderful.” Why not just leave the jungle and stay with your son? I asked. “I couldn’t, once you were in FARC the paramilitaries could arrest you, disappear and kill you and your child. It happened to people. I had to return and I had to leave him for his safety.” For this reason, she had no contact with her son, Fernando, for 25 years. As we chatted an elderly lady with regal high cheek bones and thick grey hair sat quietly. “This is my mum, Mercedes,” said Elsa, “I walked out on them and joined FARC when I was 15. It was very dangerous for them, relatives and family members of FARC fighters were often killed and disappeared, so I had no contact with my parents …. for 30 years.” I sat for a moment and thought about that. This wasn’t something we had really come looking for and I wasn’t really prepared for the full impact of what I had just heard. “I thought she was dead that I wasn’t going to see her anymore,” said Mercedes quietly with a far-away stare, “Her father kept telling me that she was still alive, walking somewhere but I wasn’t so sure.” Then as a result of the peace deal, Mercedes was told that her daughter was, in fact, alive and looking for her. “I still don’t really believe it,” she told me “I thought it was a lie.” In the decades of conflict 250,000 people lost their lives, Colombian society was torn apart. There were victims, separations and terror on all sides. Suspicions, concerns and major challenges remain especially under a new President who’s no fan of the peace deal with FARC. But in this one moment a family of three generations sitting together after decades of separation seemed to embody what the peace deal could do for Colombia. Elsa was now hugging her sobbing mother - “I am still thinking that it’s not real but thank God we are together”. “Don’t cry mum, you found me, we are fine.”
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