Australian Story is a national documentary television series that airs weekly on ABC Television. Since 1996 it has been presented by Caroline Jones, a radio and television journalist.
The show begins with either Caroline or a high profile celebrity introducing the story of the evening, usually it features people of diverse backgrounds and cultures. Unlike other programs, the presenter doesn’t narrate, but rather, the subjects tell their own story. Often friends, family, colleagues etc are interviewed in such a way that the story relies completely on them to tell it. With the departure of Caroline Jones from the program in 2016, the channel announced there will no longer be a presenter to introduce the show. Her presence and the unique style of show is what lead to this decision, with the program winning multiple awards and accolades.
Although Australian Story is a very popular broadcasting television show, it also has many attributes similar to documentary. The lack of time and overall content per episode is the main reason that it isn’t considered documentary. It also only provides a quick and succinct story to captivate viewers for the short amount of time it is on the TV. The program is designed a written to provide a small insight into the world of others and share the stories from a wide range of people. The show features smaller profiled individuals/groups, but it also has those who are higher profile. The purpose of the show is just to share everyone’s story. The channel itself says, ‘Some of its subjects may already have public profiles and some are unknown to the broader public. What matters most is that the content matter is both fresh and engaging and that the themes hold universal appeal, ideally providing insight into life’s big dilemmas, challenges, current issues and the human condition.’
As this show features a wide range of people and topics, there would be no one set method for gaining access to talent and the questions that follow in the interview. However, the show has quite a high and proud reputation which would possibly make it easier to get permissions and stories from people. In order to have the background on the topics and to find the relevant ones to broadcast however, a journalist, such as Caroline Jones, would have to have years of experience and a deep knowledge into the world of documentary.
The particular episode that i found really compelling was, ‘The Shape Shifters’. This episode was aired on the 14th of August and told the story of a young model and her agent. Together, this duo discussed the fashion industry, its representation of women, and how it needs to change. As a young woman, i found this episode particularly interesting to watch as i felt it was a great expose into the fashion industry, but without the slimey and often disturbing things we hear. For someone (a younger child perhaps) who wasn’t emotionally developed enough to hear the full depth of the industry, this episode was a great soft introduction into making a difference.
I find Australian Story to be incredibly effective in the episodes they create. The stories are all relevant and informative and bring to light issues that most wouldn’t even know existed.