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Background Briefing - ABC RN

Background Briefing is Australia’s leading audio investigations program. Our award-winning team of reporters spend weeks doing forensic research to uncover the hidden stories at the heart of the country’s biggest issues.

Copyright: Copyright 2017, Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

Prescription killer: Australia's imminent fentanyl epidemic

Sun, 26 Nov 2017 08:05:00 +1100

New exclusive figures show alarming numbers of Australians are dying from fentanyl overdoses at increasing rate.Fentanyl misuse is on the rise and addicts are cooking it into solutions that can be deadly. (Lucy Barbour)

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Burning obsession

Sun, 19 Nov 2017 08:05:00 +1100

Why do bushfire arsonists commit their crimes? Alex Mann investigates.(Getty Images: chrispecoraro)

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Katherine Hospital

Sun, 12 Nov 2017 08:05:00 +1100

Repeat: How Katherine Hospital turned its fortunes around and the lessons to be learned.Gaye was diagnosed with tongue cancer and sent to Darwin Hospital for chemotherapy, when she returned to Katherine Hospital medical staff there realised she was deaf. Now she has a hearing aid and can communicate with the doctors and nurses. She couldn't do this at Darwin hospital. (Dr Simon Quilty)

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The toughest schools: Walgett's education experiment

Sun, 29 Oct 2017 08:05:00 +1100

Can a failing school be turned around with money and community engagement? Brendan King investigates.Walgett school student Isaac plays basketball before school. (ABC RN: Brendan King)

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Betting on bitcoin: The risky world of cryptocurrency

Sun, 22 Oct 2017 08:05:00 +1100

The technology behind cryptocurrency could revolutionise our financial system—but is this unregulated innovation worth the risk?(Getty Images: Siegfried Layda)

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Fiji silenced part 2: Controlling the message

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 08:05:00 +1100

First-hand accounts and leaked documents reveal the extent of the Fijian government’s control over the media and public service, and why freedom of the press is at an all-time low. Hagar Cohen reports.A press pack in Fiji cover a visit to the United Nations headquarters by the Attorney General. (ABC RN: Hagar Cohen)

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Fiji silenced part 1: China's secret mission exposed

Sun, 08 Oct 2017 08:05:00 +1100

Why did Chinese police enter Fiji and deport 77 of their own citizens? Hagar Cohen investigates.A house in Nadi, Fiji, where dozens of Chinese people were rounded up by both Chinese and Fijian police and deported. (ABC RN: Hagar Cohen)

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Mafia on the move: How the 'ndrangheta came to Australia

Sun, 01 Oct 2017 08:05:00 +1100

A mafia member who turned informant warns that the ‘ndrangheta, or Calabrian mafia, have an organised presence in Australia. Connie Agius reports.The Italian magistrate Bruno Caccia was killed in 1983 by the 'ndrangheta. Whistleblower Domenico Agresta testified at the trial for his murder. (Getty Images/Pacific Press/LightRocket: Elena Aquila)

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Drug justice: The Duterte solution

Sun, 24 Sep 2017 08:05:00 +1000

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs has seen hundreds of thousands imprisoned and many killed. Ginny Stein reports.Prisoners lean against a metal door, their faces and hands poking through barred windows at Quezon City Jail. (ABC RN/Lateline: Ginny Stein)

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No place for paedophiles

Sun, 17 Sep 2017 08:05:00 +1000

Prisons and aged care providers are sounding the alarm over the growing number of elderly convicted sex offenders and other serious criminals, and the lack of appropriate aged care facilities to take care of them their twilight years. Alex Mann reports.Prison populations are getting older (Science Photo Library)

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A whisky business

Sun, 10 Sep 2017 08:05:00 +1000

It was a whisky investment scheme marketed by a famous cricketer and a fast yacht, but it turned into an almighty hangover, with hundreds left wondering where their barrels went. David Lewis investigates.Hundreds of investors found out that the barrels of whisky they invested in were never filled (Felicity Ogilvie / ABC)

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South Sudan: a failure to act

Sun, 03 Sep 2017 08:05:00 +1000

When local and international aid workers came under attack in South Sudan's capital, why did UN peacekeepers just over a kilometre away fail to respond?A police officer examines remains of a logistic base of the UN World Food Program, Jebel District, Juba (Albert Gonzalez/AFP/Getty Images)

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Critical failure: the preventable deaths that keep happening in hospitals

Sun, 27 Aug 2017 08:05:00 +1000

How a series of blunders and the death of an 18-year-old girl have fed a wave of anger over the treatment of suicidal patients in hospitals. Tim Roxburgh investigates.Ahlia Raftery's parents, Kirstie and Mike. (ABC Newcastle: Robert Virtue)

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The Base: Pine Gap's role in US Warfighting

Sun, 20 Aug 2017 08:05:00 +1000

Top-secret documents exclusively obtained by Background Briefing reveal the extent to which Australia is assisting the United States military in conflicts worldwide. Peter Cronau reports.A rare photograph of Pine Gap. (Supplied: Kristian Laemmle-Ruff @kristianlaemmleruff)

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Shot to pieces: How the Adler fight threatens our national gun laws

Sun, 13 Aug 2017 08:05:00 +1000

Could the political fight over the Adler unravel Australia’s national gun laws? Paddy Manning reports.Queensland MP Robbie Katter tries an Adler shotgun near Cloncurry. (ABC RN: Paddy Manning)

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Rape shaming: Why some women are naming their alleged attackers online

Sun, 06 Aug 2017 08:05:00 +1000

Women who say the police have failed to properly investigate their rape cases are taking matters into their own hands, and they have police worried. Hagar Cohen reports.Lauren Ingram outside of Kings Cross police station. (ABC RN: Tiger Webb)

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Nowhere to go

Sun, 30 Jul 2017 08:05:00 +1000

A radical move to privatise government group homes for people with disability is underway in NSW ahead of the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. David Lewis investigates.Harry Guinan has Down Syndrome, and lives in a government-run group home. Here he is at art class. (ABC RN: David Lewis)

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Europe's drug wars

Sun, 09 Jul 2017 08:05:00 +1000

Twenty years after the assassination of Irish crime reporter Veronica Guerin, gangland killings continue in Dublin. The gangs have links across Europe, where authorities are struggling to keep up with an ever-changing drug trade.Law enforcement agencies are struggling to keep up with an ever-changing trade in drugs (BBC)

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Drill and fill: dentists up in arms over the risks of corporate dentistry

Sun, 02 Jul 2017 08:05:00 +1000

As health insurance companies and corporate chains buy up surgeries, some dentists say benchmarks and bonuses are influencing the type of treatment you get when you’re in the chair. Paddy Manning reports.Bonuses for the amount of work done may be encouraging unnecessary treatments (Getty Images)

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Shadows of the Sheikh: how an Adelaide Imam with a mysterious past became a media star

Sun, 25 Jun 2017 08:05:00 +1000

He warns we're facing an infestation of radical clerics, and he's called for Islamic schools to be shut down. But Mohammed Tawhidi has a mysterious history that sits awkwardly alongside his new image as reformer-in-chief of Islam in Australia.Imam Tawhidi's media appearances have caused controversy among Australian muslims (Islamic Association of SA)

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Under the radar: how the global gambling industry is encroaching on amateur sport

Sun, 18 Jun 2017 08:05:00 +1000

The global gambling industry is moving in on Australian amateur sport, offering live odds and exotic bets for offshore gamblers on small-time matches that barely draw a crowd.Small matches like this one in Hobart's Southern Basketball League have been offered up for live online betting (Carol Rääbus / ABC)

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Cyber insecurity: the skills shortage exposing Australia to attack

Sun, 11 Jun 2017 08:05:00 +1000

Australian governments and businesses have finally woken up to the scale of the cyber threats we face. But in the race to snap up computer security experts, we may have started too late.The WannaCry virus affected hundreds of thousands of computers across the globe including at hospitals, banks and universities (ABC)

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On deadline: countdown to crunchtime for newspapers

Sun, 04 Jun 2017 08:05:00 +1000

Newspapers are slashing jobs, and the Senate has launched an inquiry into the future of journalism. But amidst the gloom, some ex-Fairfax journalists are putting everything on the line to launch new media outlets.Established newspapers are slashing staff, while Crinkling News is just getting started. (Tiger Webb / ABC)

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The cost of a kidney

Sun, 28 May 2017 08:05:00 +1000

It's a long wait to receive a kidney transplant if you're part of an ethnic minority in the UK. Some patients are so desperate, they're travelling to countries like Pakistan for risky operations, and there's evidence that Australians may be doing the same thing.Getty / Owen Franken

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A failure to care: the Oakden nursing home

Sun, 21 May 2017 08:05:00 +1000

How did Oakden, a state and commonwealth funded home for the elderly, fail its vulnerable patients and their families? Christine El-Khoury investigates.The Oakden Older Persons Mental Health facility is being closed after allegations of abuse. (ABC News: Matt Coleman)

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WestConnex: good debt or bad debt?

Sun, 14 May 2017 08:05:00 +1000

As the government talks up its commitment to infrastructure, some experts are querying whether the nation’s biggest transport project will solve the problem it was designed to fix. Paddy Manning investigates.(Hugh Peterswald/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

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Machetes, migrants, and misinformation: why Africans are copping the blame for Melbourne crime wave

Sun, 07 May 2017 08:05:00 +1000

Should young migrants be deported if they commit a criminal offence? A new federal inquiry is considering just this, and in the frame are Sudanese youth accused of home invasions and car jackings in Melbourne. David Lewis investigates .Melbourne's Sudanese youth have been blamed for a variety of crimes, but are they really to blame? (David Lewis/ABC)

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The RSL at War

Sun, 23 Apr 2017 08:05:00 +1000

On the eve of Anzac day the RSL is facing its biggest test yet, as diggers question whether their leaders have their true interests at heart.Australia's oldest veterans organisation is dogged by scandal. (ABC News: Michael Vincent)

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Doctors and suicide: Why does it keep happening?

Sun, 09 Apr 2017 08:05:00 +1000

In the last few months there has been another cluster of young doctors taking their own lives. Critics say the culture of medicine and doctors' own fear of being vulnerable is stopping them asking for help. This story was originally broadcast on Feb 15, 2015A doctor takes a break in a hospital. (Chris Whitehead/Getty images)

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Nightmare build

Sun, 02 Apr 2017 08:05:00 +1000

Buying a new apartment? Defects are driving many owners to court to get their leaks and defects fixed after they discover changes to insurance law means they are no longer covered. It's you versus the builder, so bring your lawyer. Tim Roxburgh investigates.

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Katherine Hospital: Back from the brink

Sun, 26 Mar 2017 08:05:00 +1100

Just five years ago this Northern Territory hospital was facing closure. Its doctors were out of their depth and indigenous patients were leaving the wards in droves. This is the remarkable story of how Katherine Hospital turned its fortunes around and the lessons to be learned.Gaye was diagnosed with tongue cancer and sent to Darwin Hospital for chemotherapy, when she returned to Katherine Hospital medical staff there realised she was deaf. Now she has a hearing aid and can communicate with the doctors and nurses. She couldn't do this at Darwin hospital. (Dr Simon Quilty)

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The schools squeeze: how the apartment boom is overcrowding classrooms

Sun, 19 Mar 2017 08:05:00 +1100

Too many students and not enough classrooms. How did government's get it so wrong? David Lewis investigates.Students sit in a classroom, generic (ABC TV)

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How did Westpac's e-waste end up on the worst dump in the world?

Sun, 12 Mar 2017 08:05:00 +1100

There's a roaring international racket in hazardous e-waste. This is the story of how one of our biggest banks discovered its e-waste dumped on West Africa's notorious Agbogbloshie dump in Ghana. Rebecca Le Tourneau investigates.Young men burning e-waste to extract metals at the Agbobbloshi dump in the Ghanaian capital Accra. (ABC RN: Mike Anane)

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How Centrelink's 'robodebt' ran off the rails

Sun, 05 Mar 2017 08:05:00 +1100

The government's troubled debt recovery system has caused an uproar. Thousands of welfare recipients have been hit with debts which they have no idea how they were calculated. Colin Cosier investigates.Australia's Human Services Minister Alan Tudge speaks during House of Representatives Question Time at Parliament House in Canberra, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017. (AAP: Lukas Coch)

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No shelter at the showground

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 08:05:00 +1100

An Australian town rises up against homeless people who set up a tent shantytown at the local showground. Bronwyn Adcock reports on a big city problem that's come to Nowra on the NSW south coast.(Bronwyn Adcock/ABC Radio National)

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Up the creek: Less water for the Murray-Darling Basin

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 08:05:00 +1100

The strategy to fix the Murray-Darling hangs in the balance as states and irrigators squabble over returning more water back to the river.Should the river recovery plan be dialled back? (James Hancock: ABC News)

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Surrogacy secrets

Sun, 12 Feb 2017 08:05:00 +1100

As Asian countries crack down on surrogacy, it's booming here in Australia. The rules say a surrogate can't be paid, but desperation is driving some people to flout the law.

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Bullied to death: the short life of Tyrone Unsworth

Sun, 05 Feb 2017 08:05:00 +1100

The 13-year-old Brisbane schoolboy committed suicide after years of being bullied at schools for being different. David Lewis investigates did his school let him down?Tyrone Unsworth loved to dress up. (Supplied: Gypsie-Lee Edwards Kennard)

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Why did my baby die?

Sun, 29 Jan 2017 08:05:00 +1100

Summer series: Six babies are born still every day in Australia. Up to a third of those deaths might be preventable, but experts say fatalistic and outdated attitudes are holding back progress. Hager Cohen investigates.Experts say up to a third of stillbirths are preventable. (ABC RN: Alex McClintock)

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Death in Kalgoorlie

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 08:05:00 +1100

Summer series: The death of a young indigenous boy sparked a town riot at the court house, and the search for answers as to why he died. Sarah Dingle reports.Memorial to teenager Elijah Doughty in Kalgoorlie (ABC: Sarah Dingle)

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Sis, we've got your back

Sun, 11 Dec 2016 08:05:00 +1100

Summer series: The women who spoke out against a protected paedophile in their midst were trolled and threatened by their own community. Their story is extraordinary.Agnes Donovan : "Dootch saw us sitting there with the victim, and then he looked at his family and said 'Did you see all the ass wipes sitting on this side of the courtroom?" Seated with her best friend Veronica Bird (ABC RN/Bronywn Adcock)

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The death of VET FEE HELP

Sun, 04 Dec 2016 08:05:00 +1100

Summer series: It was the student subsidy that was too good to be true. Students were the losers when billions were rorted by cowboys who spotted a government scheme that was just too easy to rip-off.TAFE Victoria faces $100m in cuts (Lateline)

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Insurance industry stuck in 'dark ages', say mental health advocates

Sun, 27 Nov 2016 08:05:00 +1100

Doctor shopping. Delaying vital medical care. Digging into your private records. When it comes to your mental health, are insurers playing fair? Natasha Mitchell investigates.One in five Australians will experience mental illness, and insurers say extending coverage for mental health as they do for broken bones would send them broke. (ABC News: Patrick Williams)

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Why is CSIRO losing its brightest stars?

Sun, 20 Nov 2016 08:05:00 +1100

Some of CSIRO's top women astronomers are quitting due to a dysfunctional workplace that they say protects harassers and punishes them instead. It's not just a loss for Australia's leading science organisation, but an appalling loss to the nation. Hagar Cohen investigates.

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The Joint Strike Fighter

Sun, 13 Nov 2016 08:05:00 +1100

US president-elect Donald Trump is on record saying the JSF is 'not a very good plane'. Reporter Sarah Dingle investigates one of our most expensive and troubled defence acquisitions ever.A Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in February 2013. (Lockheed Martin)

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System black

Sun, 06 Nov 2016 08:05:00 +1100

When a massive storm ripped through South Australia the state went into 'system black'. With the blackout barely hours old it became a political football. David Lewis investigates.(7pm TV News SA)

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Death in Kalgoorlie

Sun, 30 Oct 2016 08:05:00 +1100

When a 14-year-old Indigenous boy was allegedly run over and killed by a 55-year-old white man driving a ute, a WA mining town erupted. Sarah Dingle investigates death and desperation in Kalgoorlie. (Warning: This audio download contains strong language.)Memorial to teenager Elijah Doughty in Kalgoorlie (ABC: Sarah Dingle)

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Murder on the Derwent

Sun, 23 Oct 2016 08:05:00 +1100

It's the murder trial that split Tasmania. But is Sue Neill-Fraser innocent or is she - as the jury found - a calculating, manipulative liar who murdered her husband?The boat at the centre of the murder case, the Four Winds, on the Derwent River. (Supplied)

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The China Syndrome

Sun, 16 Oct 2016 08:05:00 +1100

Is Chinese soft power curtailing academic freedom in our universities? And why are Chinese students afraid of speaking out against the Chinese communist party? Hagar Cohen investigates.China experts are raising concerns about the influence of China's government on Australian university campuses. (Getty: Kokkai Ng)

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The battle over Sydney's heart

Sun, 09 Oct 2016 08:05:00 +1100

The eviction of social housing tenants from Sydney's CBD is nearly complete. Heritage, history and the wellbeing of an ageing population has been traded off to build more social housing elsewhere.Some social housing residents are attempting to stay in Millers Point. (ABC RN: Tiger Webb)

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