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Background Briefing

ABC (Australia)

Background Briefing is daring narrative journalism: Australian investigations with impact. Our award-winning reporters forensically uncover the hidden stories at the heart of the country’s biggest issues.

Background Briefing is daring narrative journalism: Australian investigations with impact. Our award-winning reporters forensically uncover the hidden stories at the heart of the country’s biggest issues.


Melbourne, VIC


Background Briefing is daring narrative journalism: Australian investigations with impact. Our award-winning reporters forensically uncover the hidden stories at the heart of the country’s biggest issues.




Background Briefing ABC Radio National GPO Box 9994 Sydney 2001 (02) 8333 1385

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The killer we've invited into the lounge room

When winter arrives there's nothing like curling up in front of a fire heater with a glass of wine. But there's something disturbing in this cosy picture. As Alison Branley discovers, there's a huge risk to our health that we seem determined to ignore, even though it's estimated to kill hundreds of Australians every year


How Australians are escaping India's Covid catastrophe

Thousands of Australians went to India back when it seemed like coronavirus was under control. Some went to care for elderly parents. But, as Alex Mann discovers, their noble intentions counted for nothing when they were locked out of Australia and found themselves in a fight to survive and find a way home.


The rural stoush fuelled by our chicken meat obsession

As Australians eat more and more chicken, we need to find places to raise the animals. But as broiler sheds pop up across rural Victoria, the neighbours are learning that there are more downsides than the smell. A chicken shed next door can stop you building on your own land. Rachael Brown heads to Gippsland to investigate why Rosedale locals are worried that their area will soon be nicknamed 'Chickendale'.


The memo that erased a scandal

Ballarat orphanage superintendent Hylton Sedgman was due to face nine child abuse charges. Buried in a 1964 file is the reason he never stood trial. Charlotte King investigates why.


The Archbishop, the luxury pad, and the COVID-ravaged aged care home

It was the site of Australia's deadliest coronavirus outbreak. This week, Ashlynne McGhee investigates how Melbourne's St Basil's Homes for the Aged has been funnelling tens of millions of taxpayer dollars into the Greek Orthodox Church.


The hidden park of last resort

It’s one of the last affordable caravan parks near Sydney's CBD where people can actually make a home. Many of the residents were driven here in one of life's desperate moments, but as Mridula Amin discovers, not everyone wants to leave.


The Base Tapes | Part 2

In the second and final episode of his investigation, Alex Mann tracks down the two youngest candidates who applied to join the neo-Nazi group and tries to find out how they were radicalised.


The Base Tapes | Part 1

Secret recordings reveal how a global white supremacist terror group dedicated to inciting a race war recruited young Australian men. Alex Mann investigates.


The small town torn apart by big bets

Peter and Kath were investors in a secret punters' club that turned out to be a multi-million dollar scam. When the kingpin pleaded guilty, there were nearly two thousand victims left desperate to find out where their money went. Rachael Brown investigates whether the middlemen know.


The place where people mysteriously disappear

Warren Meyer was a keen bushwalker who always came prepared for a hike. When he vanished in the wild terrain of the Yarra Ranges, police were baffled. Ashlynne McGhee investigates whether his disappearance could be linked to the other unsolved mysteries of Victoria's high country.


The chilling secrets of a Melbourne guru

For decades people have flocked to a bucolic ashram in one of Melbourne’s most exclusive suburbs to hear Russell Kruckman spin his folksy brand of meditation, yoga and spirituality. But as Dan Oakes reveals, there's something rotten in this Shangri La: a horrific list of sexual abuse allegations.


A nearby nurse and the firefighter left to wait in agony

Volunteer firefighter Rodney O'Keeffe survived a fire tornado, but it left him with broken ribs and severe burns. A mere 800 metres away, there was a remote area nurse desperately trying to reach him. Jess Davis investigates why she couldn't.


The fight to stop a tiny battery from killing kids

Andrea and Allison formed an unlikely friendship after their daughters died in remarkably similar circumstances. Annie Gaffney investigates how they turned their grief into action to prevent that kind of tragedy from happening again.


New BB coming Monday!

Standby listeners, there's a special collaboration coming from Background Briefing this Monday.


The scientists and shamans of psychedelic retreats

There's a landmark project underway in Melbourne to find out whether psilocybin - the hallucinogenic compound in magic mushrooms - can be used to improve end-of-life experiences. But many Australians have already turned to the underground because they're convinced psychedelics improve their mental health. Geoff Thompson investigates whether it's worth all the risks.


Summer Season: how one school failed its students

Kimberly's sunny, athletic and inquisitive about everything. But for years she harboured terrible secrets about what happened to her. This week, Janine Fitzpatrick investigates why her school failed to heed credible warnings that she was in danger. This is a repeat of a program that aired in October 2020.


Summer Season: This judge’s unfair decisions upended people’s lives. What can be done about it?

These Australians were denied a fair hearing by one controversial judge. Now, for the first time, they're speaking out about their experiences. Hagar Cohen investigates what happens when the behaviour of a judge inside a courtroom is called into question. This is a repeat of a program that aired in February 2020.


Summer Season: He wanted an ambulance. He got a police "dog box".

Tristan was a kind and gentle 23-year-old surfer from Byron Bay. One night he suffered a drug-induced psychotic episode. And ended up driven to hospital in a small steel cage. Police say it is probably the worst place he could be. Tristan later died in hospital. Mario Christodoulou investigates the series of tragic events that led to Tristan's death that raise questions about how emergency services treat young drug-affected people in New South Wales. This is a repeat of a program that aired...


Summer season: Inside the brazen tax scam where the homeless are made company directors

It's a long-running ‘dummy director’ scam that’s siphoned tens of millions of dollars from workers, small businesses and the taxpayer. In Victoria, a small group of accountants spent 15 years signing on drug users and homeless Australians to help their clients cheat the system. Reporter Dan Oakes investigates how this was allowed to go on for so long. This is a repeat of a program that aired in February 2020.


Buyer Wanted - Mothballed Oil Rig

Did you know you're the lucky operator of a rusty oil rig floating in the Timor Sea? You, along with 25-odd-million others, that is. This week, reporter Alex Mann investigates why Australian taxpayers are forking out four million dollars a month for this facility, some 550km off the coast of Darwin.