Australian Story


ABC Australia

The Minister’s Secret
Encore edition, introduced by Rosie Batty

Australian Story revisits the story of Victorian Minister Fiona Richardson following her recent death from cancer. She was 50 years old.

Fiona Richardson was Australia’s first Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence, appointed by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews in 2014.

At the time, Premier Andrews had no idea about Ms Richardson’s family history of traumatic domestic violence, inflicted by an abusive father.

“I have no memories before the age of eight that do not involve violence.” – Fiona Richardson

Last year, Ms Richardson revealed, for the first time, her long-held secret on Australian Story.

The program follows the family back to Tanzania, where they explore locations from their past to try to understand enduring scars.

Ms Richardson’s new portfolio prompted her brothers, Alastair and Hamish, and her to start talking with each other about their childhood, leading to the trip with their mother, Veronica Power.

“The domestic violence was so bad that anything that comes on top of that will be a nothing. And people need to know, because we survived it, we did.” – Veronica Power.

“Now we’re talking about stuff that actually had an impact on us, so that’s a positive. The downside of it all is that we’re airing our linen in public for the whole world to see and, yeah, that’s not a comfortable place to be.” – Hamish Richardson.

During her time in government, Fiona Richardson oversaw the Royal Commission into Domestic Violence, and used her personal experience to raise awareness of domestic violence and implement changes in policy.

NOTE: The previously scheduled episode on comedian Sami Shah will now be broadcast on Monday, 4 September, 2017.


Australian Story – Monday 4 September, 8pm on ABC and ABC iview.

ABC Australia

As R U OK? Day approaches for another year, Australian Story revisits the family of Gavin Larkin, the man behind the successful national day of action to prevent suicide.

Gavin was a high-flying advertising executive when he set up the R U OK? movement as a legacy to his father who took his own life in 1996.

But just a few months after the launch of R U OK? Day in 2009, Gavin himself was anything but okay.

The then 41-year-old was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lymphoma and given a 50 percent chance of survival.

Just a few weeks later, his then 11-year-old son Gus was told that he had an inoperable brain tumour.

Despite his and his son’s ill health, Australian Story filmed Gavin as he continued to lead the R U OK? movement from his hospital bed, inspiring everyone around him with his attitude and unparalleled fighting spirit.

“We could easily be completely justified in being, pissed off, frustrated, despondent, except it doesn’t help you on the journey,” Gavin told Australian Story, “and if the journey’s all you’ve got, you wanna make it a good one.”

Days after marking the third day of action in September 2011, Gavin died. His son Gus passed away two years later.

There’s no doubt it’s been extraordinarily difficult for his family but six years after Gavin’s death, his wife Maryanne says she and her children, Josie and Van, have accepted their loss.

“I think outsiders look at it and think, “My god, if that happened to me, how would I get up every day?” I do have feelings like that some days that it is so hard, but we’ve been able to cope, and I would say cope pretty well actually,” Maryanne says.

The ongoing success of R U OK? has also sustained the family through their grief.

“This is the house that lives and breathes R U OK?,” daughter Josie says, “and it’s incredible to see the community that R U OK? built around us.”

“I think Dad would think that R U OK? Day now is just incredible.”

The ninth R U OK? Day will be held on September 14.