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Australian Story -

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15th Anniversary Special Part Two - Transcript

PROGRAM TRANSCRIPT: Monday, 16 May , 2011

CAROLINE JONES, PRESENTER: Hello I'm Caroline Jones, and tonight, the conclusion of our two part
series celebrating 15 years of Australian Story. We've been counting down the years and finding out
what's happened to some of the people. We pick up now in 2003 with the story of Gayle Shann, an
episode that forged a special place in the program's history.

2003 - With This Ring

SCREEN TEXT: Gayle Shann nearly died in a farm accident which cost her the use of her arms. Our
program about Gayle and her husband Mac is consistently voted 'most popular ever' by Australian
Story viewers.

GAYLE SHANN: I think it's difficult to go from being a person that some people might find
attractive to being a person that you think no one could find attractive.

MAC SHANN: Learning to do all the girly things for Gayle, like all the things that us boys sit
there and sort of wait for and that, yeah I mean, they're not as hard as they look, I don't think.
The machine that Gayle got caught in was a post-hole digger driven by a PDA shaft off the back of a
tractor. One minute she was there and the next minute she was getting thrown around, making a
dreadful noise.

(Excerpt of recording of Triple 0 phone-call)

I'm on a property at Moranbah - it's Cantaur Park - and we're in desperate need of an ambulance.
Her arm's just absolutely smashed and I don't even know if she's alive.

(End of excerpt)

MAC SHANN: When the doctors told us that the left arm was paralysed and to their knowledge
irreparable we were terrified of telling Gayle because we thought she might not want to go on, may
not want to live not being able to do anything for herself.

GAYLE SHANN: I didn't know whether Mac would want to be burdened with someone with my disabilities
for the rest of his life because his life was really only just beginning.

MAC SHANN: When you get married you take them in sickness and in health. So I mean this is the hand
that I've been dealt and that's how I'm going to play it.

GAYLE SHANN: That's the first time I've been back on a horse since my accident. I guess I'll be
able to do more and more of that hopefully. Maybe get some people to help me train them more that I
can ride them with my legs and that sort of thing.

MAC SHANN: We love each other so much and we know that we've still got each other and we're still
going to live more or less the dream life that we always knew we would.

GAYLE SHANN: Everybody has their ups and downs, but Mac and I, we get through that and we just want
to be with each other.

SCREEN TEXT: Gayle Shann has regained a small amount of muscle function in her left arm - but she
says she is not able to use it. The couple are often asked if there might be a family in the future
but say the answer is still no. They are 'very happy to have each other' and are busier than ever
with their cattle and horse breeding businesses.

2004 - Good Morning Mr Sarra

SCREEN TEXT: Chris Sarra became the first indigenous principal of the troubled Cherbourg State
School in Queensland. His unconventional methods delivered outstanding results and brought hope to
a struggling community.

CHRIS SARRA: The first year that I was here I went into the grade seven room. I said to this guy I
want to hear you read. He kicked up a big stink about it, swore at me, kicked at the door and said,
I'm not effing reading this, and he barged out the door and we never saw him for the rest of the
week. What disturbed me the most was that here's the biggest, toughest kid in the whole school,
would rather create a scene and run the risk of getting kicked out of the school than admit to me
that he just couldn't read. And what bothered me was that all of this was being tolerated and I sat
in this room here a long time ago and said look, what I believe, what the elders in our community
believe is that our children can leave here with academic outcomes that are just as good as any
other school in Queensland and that they can leave here with a very strong and very positive sense
of what it means to be Aboriginal. And if you don't believe it, then it's time for you to go. And
half the teaching staff got up and left.

GRACE SARRA, WIFE AND SCHOOL TEACHER: Chris decided to implement a rewards system for children who
attended school regularly. The class with the lowest number of absenteeism would win an iceblock
and then at the end of the term if they had missed five days or less they would go to McDonalds.
The number of unexplained absences in term three, 2000 was 1,185. In term four, 2001 the number of
unexplained absences was 68.5. It was just this huge turnaround. The learning was happening, the
children were here and they wanted to be here and it was functioning like a normal school.

(Excerpt from Queenslander of the Year award ceremony)

ANNOUNCER: Queenslander of the Year is Chris Sarra.

CHRIS SARRA: Jingle bells, jingle bells Cherbourg School is here. We're young and black and deadly,
come and hear us cheer. Bring on every challenge, put us to the test. We're from Cherbourg State
School and you know we're the best.

SCREEN TEXT: Chris Sarra is now executive director of the Stronger Smarter Institute which trains
principals, teachers and community leaders. He's travelled the world outlining his teaching

2005 - The Gathering Storm

SCREEN TEXT: A sexually abusive relationship between a school girl and her Anglican priest remained
out of the public eye. But 40 years later it took centre stage when it enmeshed the priest's
Archbishop Peter Hollingworth who had become Governor-General. Beth Heinrich was the victim of
those long ago events and she came forward on Australian Story.

BETH HEINRICH: I never believed that Donald Shearman, or Bishop Shearmen as he became, was ever
lying to me. I didn't believe that a priest or a man of God, a preacher of the gospels could lie.
And that's why I waited for him for 40 years.

(Excerpt of a letter from Donald Shearman to Beth Heinrich)

VOICEOVER: My body has come alive to your touch and your tenderness and your love is a resurrection

(End of excerpt)

BISHOP RICHARD HURFORD, SHEARMAN'S FMR DEAN: The letters are a potent symbol of betrayal, and what
I find mind blowing is that a person in his position, as a leader in the Christian church, could go
down such a path with someone who was also investing herself in not just believing him but the God
spin on the stuff he was writing. That is extraordinary.

BETH HEINRICH: He got me to read a book called Love In Marriage which was about sexual techniques
and he said this is the way it should be. This is what God wants it to be and my marriage isn't
like that and you're going to be the one that makes it all different for me. In early 1984 he left
Grafton and his wife and the church and came to live with me. He'd damaged my hopes and my parents'
hopes for me and the only way he could make it better was to show people that he loved me and cared
about me and was going to be my partner for the rest of our lives.

BISHOP RICHARD HURFORD, SHEARMAN'S FMR DEAN: It was all surreal. I mean he's got a wife and six
children so my mission was clear, it was to find him, bring him home.

BETH HEINRICH: I just got this stab in my, in my body and I just more or less collapsed in the
hall. It was awful.

(Excerpt from interview, February 18, 2002)

PETER HOLLINGWORTH, GOVERNOR GENERAL: My belief is this was not sex abuse, quite the contrary. My
information is that it was rather the other way around.

(End of excerpt)

(Excerpt from interview, February 21, 2002)

PETER HOLLINGWORTH, GOVERNOR GENERAL It was really talking about a girl - I thought I was talking
about an adult relationship.

(End of excerpt)

JENNI WOODHOUSE, CHAPLAIN AND COUNSELLOR: Peter Hollingworth resigned as Governor General in May
2003 after the report was released from the inquiry.

PHILLIP ASPINAL, ARCHBISHOP OF BRISBANE: The complainant had sought resolution of the complaint for
many years without a resolution which reasonable people would consider satisfactory.

JENNI WOODHOUSE, CHAPLAIN AND COUNSELLOR: The unanimous vote of the tribunal was to defrock Donald
Shearman. He's no longer a priest, he's no longer a bishop. He's the first bishop to have been

BETH HEINRICH: I felt rather sad for him. I never really wanted to get back at him, I just wanted
him to explain why. He's never told me why.

SCREEN TEXT: Beth Heinrich left her home town of Wagga Wagga because of 'a lack of acceptance'. She
now lives interstate and is writing her life story. The episode that told her story won a Walkley
Award and a Logie.

2006 - Man of Steel

SCREEN TEXT: Greg Combet was the public face of the union movement as Secretary of the ACTU.
Australian Story documented his life as he campaigned against the Howard Government's overhaul of
workplace relations laws.

GREG COMBET: I get very angry when I see injustice and unfair treatment of people and that had
always been, I suppose a theme in my thinking and my feeling about the world.

JULIAN BURNSIDE QC, FMR MARITIME UNION COUNSEL: I'm kind of hoping that he might make a run for
politics some time if there's anything in the Labor Party worth salvaging.

BOB HAWKE, FMR PRIME MINISTER: I hope that some time in the not too distant future he will go into
the Federal Parliament, and I see the elements of leadership in him.

GREG COMBET: I've never been you know, active at a party political level in the ALP. I rarely am a
delegate if ever to Labor Party conferences. I can't frankly be bothered with the factional crap
that people spend a lot of their time on.

BOB HAWKE, FMR PRIME MINISTER: The women love him. My wife thinks he's an absolute dream boat and
so do many women that I talk to. So that wouldn't do him any harm in the leadership business.

PETRA HILSEN, WIFE: Greg and I met in early '96. I'm very, very fortunate. He's home a lot in
comparison to probably lots of other guys who might just got out for drinks after work or
something. He takes pleasure in coming home. He likes to have dinner at home. He likes to have the
family around him at home. I remember when we first moved into the house, and he'd built the
aviary, and he said, look, I'm home now, because I've got the aviary, I've got my birds.

GREG COMBET: It's a connection with my childhood and my past and something that my father and I
shared and they understand me. They don't answer back. They don't have an opinion about politics,
you know (laughs).

PETRA HILSEN, WIFE: Politics is very nasty. It's very dirty, and I don't... it's not dirty, that's
not the right word to say, but it's... I think you have to give a lot up of your family life, so I
mean politics probably wouldn't get the tick from me if that's what you're asking me.

GREG COMBET: Ultimately I'm not too sure I could turn up in a suit every day in Canberra but I
don't rule out going into politics, I don't rule it out long term, because maybe one day. Why...
there's no necessity to rule things in or out from my point of view. Maybe one day that might be
something I want to do but maybe it's not. I'm not sure I'd even make a good politician, actually.

SCREEN TEXT: The following year Greg Combet resigned as ACTU Secretary to stand for the ALP. He is
now the Minister for Climate Change with the job of getting the Emissions Trading Scheme through
Parliament. He separated from his wife Petra Hilsen and in 2009 began a new relationship.

2007 - Some Meaning In This Life

SCREEN TEXT: Popular actor and singer Belinda Emmett was first diagnosed with cancer in 1998 at the
age of 24. Later in her illness, she started a personal video diary and excerpts were shown for the
first time on Australian Story.

(Excerpt from video diary, October 2001)

BELINDA EMMETT: Initial diagnosis four weeks ago. You know, told that I had... um... 12 months
perhaps, to live. Ten years if I was lucky, we averaged it out about seven, which - 34, that's just
far too young as far as I'm concerned, I'm sorry.

(End of excerpt)

ROVE MCMANUS, HUSBAND: When we found out it was officially back was... was yeah, it really, it
just, again, it was that feeling of having our entire world just yanked out from under our feet.

(Excerpt from video diary, October 2001)

BELINDA EMMETT: This is my mother.


BELINDA EMMETT: This is my doco. What do you reckon I should call it? In bed with the big C?

(End of excerpt)

LESLEY ARTHUR, SISTER: Belle had this absolutely positive attitude. Even with the cancer, she
really would joke about it all the time.

(Excerpt from video diary, October 2001)

BELINDA EMMETT: This is what it's come to. Trying desperately to hang on to the strands of my hair
while I sleep. I'm almost a comb-over point.

(End of excerpt)

ROVE MCMANUS, HUSBAND: One of the hardest things Belinda had to go through was being in the public
eye and knowing that people knew she was dealing with her illness but she still had to get out
there and unfortunately sometimes it, there was scrutiny from people that you're going to get
anyway, regardless of how well you are or aren't.

(Excerpt from video diary, November 2001)

BELINDA EMMETT: Red Rover's been an absolute gem. It's our two year anniversary tomorrow and we're
all going out for dinner and all that sort of stuff. And I'm hoping that we get to do that, I
really want to. But, yeah, he's been beautiful. I know it breaks his heart. I know... I know it
breaks his heart to watch me and I know he doesn't know what to say (crying).

(End of excerpt)

SCREEN TEXT: Belinda Emmett died in November 2006. She was 32 years old.

MICHAEL EMMETT, FATHER: Belinda was in a position too where she was fading in and out of
consciousness. She woke up, and Lesley was holding her hands and having a bit of a quiet weep, and
Belinda looked up at her and said, are you alright? (Crying) And that was the last thing she ever
said. I think those final words were indicative of what Belinda felt - she loved people. She was
always more concerned for them than she was for herself.

(Excerpt from video diary)

BELINDA EMMETT: Any words of wisdom dad, any... this is your, do you want me to come back?

MICHAEL EMMETT: Yeah okay, Carpe Diem I think is probably the word for the day, which is seize the


(End of excerpt)

SCREEN TEXT: The episode on Belinda Emmett won a Logie which the program subsequently gave to her
family. Since their daughter's death, both Michael and Larraine Emmett have undertaken volunteer
work for charities. The family say they're still in touch with Rove McManus, who married actress
Tasma Walton in 2009.

2008 - Father Of The Man

SCREEN TEXT: The death of 'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin created headlines around the world in
2006. Two years later, there were reports of a rift in the family when his father Bob Irwin, who
founded Australia Zoo, suddenly left the famous tourist attraction.

BOB IRWIN: I guess it seems so unfair that a father should lose his son. It's not how the system
works, it's not what should happen.

(Excerpt of Australian Story, 2003)

STEVE IRWIN: You know I'm the luckiest bloke on the face of the earth because of my parents, my
family. That makes me lucky, so very, very lucky. I come from a very loving family.

(End of excerpt)

BOB IRWIN: People would say to me, or may say to me that it's time I got over Steve's loss and got
on with my life and got it out of my system but I feel that... I feel that I need him there to keep
me going. I gain strength from him, I get inspiration from him. I don't feel all that sad about
walking away from Australia Zoo. I've come to an agreement with Australia Zoo at the moment,
because of my 36 years experience with running the zoo and starting it up and all the rest of it,
we've agreed on a... I suppose you'd call it some sort of a redundancy package or a pension or
whatever you want to call it. One of the things that has worried me throughout this whole
difficulty about my absence from Australia Zoo is how Steve would react, and it's probably
difficult to put into words. I've had no negative thoughts from Steve over the whole thing. I've
only had positive thoughts, I've only had positive impulses. It's when things get difficult and
things seem impossible, that's when I feel Steve the most, that's when I feel his energy, that's
when I feel his drive and his passion. That's what keeps me going.

SCREEN TEXT: Bob Irwin, now 72, has become an environmental activist and was recently arrested at a
protest. He says he 'feels Steve's presence and guidance more than ever' and is driven to fill his
son's shoes. He says his only regret is that he has left his run so late and was not more of an
activist earlier.

2009 - Africa Calling

SCREEN TEXT: Gemma Sisia went to Africa with the idea of becoming a nun or missionary. But she fell
in love with a local man and wound up building a school in Arusha, Tanzania. It opened in 2002 with
just three students.

GEMMA SISIA: People have asked me why do you call the school, the School of St Jude? Well St Jude
is the saint of the hopeless cases. Well a girl from Gyra trying to build a school in Africa,
that's a serious helpless case. People would say to me, oh how much do you need to build the school
Gem? And me from all my experience from building schools said, oh I don't know maybe $200,0000 or
$300,000, I don't know. How much you got Gem? Ah, ten bucks (laughs).

MAREE KING, NEW ENGLAND GIRLS' SCHOOL: She showed me a little photo, and she said, Maree, that's
where I'm going to build my school. And she said, I can see it. I can see it standing there. To me
it was just a photo.

GEMMA SISIA: I really feel what I'm doing is what God wanted me to do. So I really think he gave me
Richard. And I'm sure that's why I'm just so infatuated with Richard and that's why we get along so
well and that's why we're such good mates in this project, because it was meant to be in the big
book of life. I can't even imagine being anywhere else. I could never leave the children. I mean I
think I really have the best job anywhere, anyone could ever have. I get to make kids' dreams come
true every day.

KIM SAVILLE, SCHOOL BOARD DIRECTOR: I mean she was a bully. I mean she didn't sort of charm people
into doing things for her, she was a bully and it worked.

GEMMA SISIA: But then we had a problem which was a lovely problem to have. We had too many kids and
not enough land. We got together and thought, well why don't we open a second school? And after
looking at over 200 we found a great little 30 acre farm about half an hour from the current
campus. It opened last year 2008 and this year we have 650 students getting an education in our new
primary school behind. Towards the end of 2008 the global recession suddenly hit us quite hard. We
started getting emails from long term sponsors saying that their financial situation had changed,
and they were no longer able to sponsor their child. I had to send an SOS out to every person who I
know and ask them to get in contact with me if they would be willing to help run an event for St
Jude's. I have 1,200 children relying on me to make sure this school survives and I am determined
to do so.

SCREEN TEXT: More than 800 Australian Story viewers signed up to be sponsors of the School of St
Jude and a new hall has been dedicated to the program. There are now 1,500 students, making it
Africa's largest charity-funded school. Gemma Sisia and her husband Richard have three children.

2010 - Prisoner Of War

SCREEN TEXT: Michael Ware's fearless reporting from the world's deadliest war zones made him a star
on US television. But the personal cost was high and after almost a decade on the front line he
returned home to Brisbane to finally confront his demons.

(Excerpt from video diary)

MICHAEL WARE: Hey Jack, it's your dad here mate. I'm just about to go into the battle of Fallujah.
I just want to say I love you, son and I love your mother. I'll see you soon Jack. Bye mate.

(End of excerpt)

DAVID BELLAVIA, FMR STAFF SERGEANT, US ARMY: At one point Michael Ware is facing me with a camera
as I shoot at people that are shooting back at me. He actually was protecting me from a bullet with
his head and his camera. It made no sense but that was the photo, that was the moment. Michael Ware
has been in the combat zone far too long. He has completed the equivalent of eight to nine combat
tours. There's no soldier in our military that's done that. Michael Ware has done that.

MICHAEL WARE: I'm here facing the demons from the war and the demons that are plaguing me out of
war. The Michael that shot this film is long dead. I've turned all sorts of things to try to
survive or to get by, many of which don't actually help, actually make things worse. But anything
to keep the demons at bay.

KIMBERLEY HAMMOND, SISTER: Recently when he has started feeling so bad he will be open and say the
only thing that has kept him going is Jack.

MICHAEL WARE: This is the longest I've ever spent with my son since he was born.

KIMBERLEY HAMMOND, SISTER: It's amazing. Jack obviously adores him and loves spending time with

MICHAEL WARE: I'm assiduously, you know, making an attempt, coming home. I want to reconnect. I
just haven't got a clue how. But yeah, in time, Inshallah (Arabic word for "god willing"), in time.

SCREEN TEXT: Last month the episode on Michael Ware won a Gold World Medal at the New York
Festivals International Television and Film Awards. He has founded a film and television production
company and is currently making a feature film on the Iraq war. He continues to use his profile to
raise awareness of veterans' issues including PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).