Four Corners - Season : 52

Season 52 Episode 1 - Revolution in the Classroom

"Revolution in the Classroom", reported by Matthew Carney and hosted by Kerry O'Brien. For some time now there's been a bruising debate about the balance of funding handed out to public and private schools. No one doubts it's an important debate, but many educators believe it has helped obscure an even more fundamental question about where the money is spent. Over the past decade, the Federal Government has spent billions of dollars trying to lower class sizes, increase the use of computers and boost investment in school buildings. At the same time, Australia's educational performance relative to key neighbouring countries has been falling. The question is why? For some the answer is simple. Money is being spent in the wrong places. Experts point to a growing body of research that says good teachers are the major determining factor in how a child performs at school. They claim that too little money is being spent on improving teacher performance. To make matters worse, state school principals are not empowered to make decisions about how their schools are staffed and run. As a result, some good teachers go unrewarded and bad teachers cannot be sacked. As one educational researcher puts it: "Outside of the home environment and the family situation, the biggest impact on a kid's education is teacher effectiveness. The quality of the instruction the teacher provides that student... If you have a teacher, one of the top performing teachers in Australia compared to one of the least effective teachers in Australia, that can be as much as a year's difference." Four Corners looks at the impediments to better teaching. Imagine running a business where you can't choose your own staff. Where you don't have control of your own budget to invest in innovative programs to improve the product you create. That's the situation many state school principals must deal with. "If you want the school to have the best staff, you have to choose them and they have to be able to match the needs of the school." - School Principal This week Four Corners visits three very different schools and talks to the people who are trying to change the system from within. As they tell the us, it's hard work but it is possible to dramatically turn a school around and change children's lives. Air Date : 6th-Feb-2012  Read More

Season 52 Episode 2 - The Comeback Kid?

"The Comeback Kid?", reported by Andrew Fowler and presented by Kerry O'Brien. The inside story of the Federal Government in crisis; how the Labor Party went from the heights of popularity to the depths of political despair. Kevin Rudd lost his job when Party bosses saw his popularity waning. Now Julia Gillard is in even worse shape. What does Labor do next? Could it roll the dice again and return to its former leader? A Four Corners team has been unearthing the truth about Labor in power. It's an extraordinary exposé containing revelations about one of the great political dramas of our times. Air Date : 10th-Feb-2012  Read More

Season 52 Episode 3 - Syria Exposed

"Syria Exposed", reported by Jonathan Miller for Channel 4 in the UK and presented by Kerry O'Brien. It's a program that raises many questions, not least how can any country support the regime of President Bashar al-Assad? How can the United Nations resist calls for al-Assad to be charged and prosecuted for war crimes? But if this happens, and the President leaves office, what will it mean for Syria and the balance of power in the Middle East? As unrest grows in Syria, President Bashar al-Assad continues to insist the violence is being driven by criminals and gangs of bandits, encouraged by forces outside Syria. Now reporter Jonathan Miller travels to Syria to investigate what's really going on inside the country. There, he finds a government that employs what can only be described as a "torture machine" to stop dissent. His report features devastating video evidence of men, women and children being subjected to brutal beatings, whippings and more elaborate torture. They tell how, after being detained by the police, they are passed through various levels of interrogation overseen by the secret police, or Mukhabarat. Much of this brutality has been captured on mobile phones by Syrian civilians and activists, and uploaded to the internet every week, because they are desperate to show the world what's happening. But the most confronting images come from videos that have been filmed by the torturers themselves. The report takes us to Syria and Lebanon where we hear from victims and activists who have experienced or witnessed torture at the hands of President al-Assad's forces. Their stories, and the video evidence of torture and killing, build a dossier of systematic abuse conducted by the Syrian government. Responding to the issues raised in the story, Four Corners presenter Kerry O'Brien speaks with a leading expert in the region about Syria's future and the consequences if Bashar al-Assad were to leave office either through force or his own choice. Air Date : 16th-Feb-2012  Read More

Season 52 Episode 4 - Given or Taken?

"Given or Taken?" Reported by Geoff Thompson and presented by Kerry O'Brien. Over five decades thousands of women gave up their newborn children for adoption. While they were supposed to make their decision freely, many claim they were coerced, bullied and their children were effectively stolen. It's now a cornerstone of social welfare policy that children should, if at all possible, stay with their birth parents, in particular their mother. Not so in years gone by. Right up to the 1970s, having a child out of wedlock was frowned upon and young women who fell pregnant were actively encouraged to give up their babies for adoption. Authorities argued this was done with good intentions, but now a powerful Senate Committee has heard evidence that tells a very different story. It now seems many young, single mothers were never given the option of keeping their child. Unmarried mothers automatically had their hospital records marked ready for adoption - even before giving birth. There is evidence that some were sedated. Others were denied access to their babies as they were making crucial decisions about their future. As a result, these women have suffered terrible emotional distress throughout their lives. This week reporter Geoff Thompson talks to some of the women who lost their children. Crucially, they reveal the truth about the way they were treated in the hours after they gave birth: "(A nurse) started strapping up my right wrist. I was puzzled, I didn't know what she was doing, and then she secured me to the side of the bed... I became unconscious. And I don't know how long I was unconscious for, but when I eventually came to, my son was gone." The program hears allegations that sedatives were used to help control young mothers and push them towards relinquishing their babies. As one person who's examined a variety of evidence says: "I have no doubt that some illegal activity occurred, I have no doubt that women were subject to what nowadays... we would call abuse; that forged consents occurred." The program also hears from the nurses and social workers of the time who claim that, while there might be evidence of wrong doing, most hospital staff acted in good faith: "Most of them would say, 'I don't have to see my baby do I?' And you'd say 'No, you don't have to'... a young woman could not be forced to sign those (adoption) papers, could not be." Over the past decade individual hospitals and the West Australian Government have offered an official apology to the women who lost their children. Now the Federal Government must decide if its policies contributed to the suffering. It also has to decide what can be done to help those involved and if a national apology is needed. Air Date : 23rd-Feb-2012  Read More

Season 52 Episode 5 - Closing Ranks

"Closing Ranks", reported by Quentin McDermott and presented by Kerry O'Brien. Police forces across the country claim they've been hard at work training their officers to deal with people who are mentally ill, armed and posing a threat to themselves and the public. But have lessons really been learnt, and is it possible to change a police culture that doesn't admit responsibility when things go wrong? Adam Salter was a young man with much to live for, with a good job and a loving family. But Adam also had a mental illness. Late in 2009, in the middle of a psychotic episode, Adam tried to kill himself. Showing little regard for his own safety, his father Adrian managed to disarm him, dial emergency assistance and get help. Then the police arrived. In the moments that followed, police claimed Adam Salter rose from the floor, shrugged off one of the officers present and grabbed a knife they had failed to remove from the scene. Then, according to police, another officer at the house heard the disturbance and rushed through the kitchen door shouting "taser, taser, taser" before shooting Adam Salter dead. In her evidence, Sgt Bissett claimed she believed the seriously wounded man was threatening her fellow police officer. But others on the scene tell a very different story, saying Adam posed no immediate threat. Who's right? Now reporter Quentin McDermott puts together a forensic account of the events leading to the young man's death and the shooting itself. Using the testimony of family, ambulance officers and interviews with the police themselves, the program examines the mistakes made by the officers and the inconsistencies in their explanations for shooting Adam Salter. The story of Adam Salter raises many questions, including the issue of how lethal force is used by police. But perhaps the most profound question it raises is: can the police be trusted to investigate themselves? Air Date : 1st-Mar-2012  Read More

Season 52 Episode 6 - Dicing with Debt

Rreported by Marian Wilkinson and presented by Kerry O'Brien. Leading up to the global financial crisis, the entrepreneurs of Ireland were having a field day. Money was being borrowed, investment projects approved and the economy was booming. Now Marian Wilkinson tells the story of the crash, the Government bailout of the Irish banks and the brutal austerity regime the Government agreed to that's taken a harsh toll on the Irish people. With Europe heading towards recession, some in Ireland say it should demand a renegotiation of its bailout terms, a move with the potential to create another financial panic. "Basically this is extortion and that's what it is. It's extortion. It's the bullyboys of Europe, you know, the European Central Bank, the financial bullyboys of Europe forcing us to pay a debt that was never ours..." The program hears from the failed entrepreneurs about the gamble they took that shattered Ireland's economy. We see evidence of the investments that failed, visiting massive "ghost estates" where row upon row of houses stand empty, awaiting their fate beneath the blade of a bulldozer. Crucially, Four Corners details the nature of the deal that was agreed by the Irish Government to take on private sector bank debt, and the furious negotiations that resulted in the Government being liable for the 30 billion euros the failed banks owed their private bondholders. It is that deal that is now coming under scrutiny. Was it fair that Ireland agreed to pay all failed bank bondholders, while holders of Greek Government debt are being asked to take losses to protect the rest of Europe? Many experts now agree Ireland will struggle to repay its debts, and the terms must be renegotiated. If that happens it's possible the reaction will set markets staggering again, in a shockwave that will be felt beyond Europe. Air Date : 8th-Mar-2012  Read More

Season 52 Episode 7 - Egypt: Children of the Revolution

In February 2011, millions of Egyptians came together to bring down their leader, Hosni Mubarak, in what many saw as a defining moment in the Arab Spring. For the past year the BBC has shadowed three young people from very different walks of life who were part of the uprising. We see them protesting, we see them rejoice as Mubarak stands down and we see their paths collide as their different visions for Egypt begin to conflict. Ahmed Hassan was unemployed and poor, but hoped the new Egypt would deliver him the chance of work and a future. Activist Gigi Ibrahim, the daughter of wealthy industrialist, hoped the changes would create an Egypt that would respect all points of view. Tahir Yassi was tortured in Mubarak's jails. He joined a new ultra-conservative party hoping that, in the wake of the old regime, he could realise his vision of a fundamentalist Islamic state in Egypt. Reported by the BBC and presented by Kerry O'Brien "Egypt: Children of the Revolution" follows these three people as they take to the streets, confront the military and campaign in the first national parliamentary elections. The film strives to understand the vision they each have for their country. Along the way, we visit the homes, the markets and the mosques, and observe the atmosphere of celebration as change begins. We also witness families at war with each other as their personal dreams for revolution begin to unravel. Air Date : 15th-Mar-2012  Read More

Season 52 Episode 8 - The Fastest Changing Place on Earth

Reported by Carrie Gracie and presented by Kerry O'Brien The story of modern China told through the eyes of the villagers forced to sell their homes and give up their land to make way for massive urban development. Naturally they are outraged and fearful. Some say they will not bow to the will of the Government, while others ultimately embrace the opportunity to make a fortune. This is China as you've never seen it before: the China that's behind Australia's resources boom. White Horse Village is a tiny farming community deep in rural China. A decade ago, it became part of the biggest urbanisation project in human history that will take half a billion farmers across the country and turn them into city-dwelling consumers. The plan decreed that White Horse Village would grow from several hundred people to a city of 200,000 in under a decade. There's little doubt China's urbanisation is a massive social and economic gamble but, according to the Government, there's a clear logic. At present, 150 million Chinese living in regional areas must leave their families, travel to the cities to work and send money home to help their children survive and prosper. The social tension this creates is significant. To combat this problem, and to try to spread wealth across the country, the Government's plan is to dot the landscape with thousands of new cities. These centres will have new schools, universities and industrial areas all intended to deliver China a thriving, consuming middle class. Australia is watching this urbanisation closely. If the gamble pays off, the newly created middle class will continue to drive demand for Australian raw materials and food. Filmed over the past six years, BBC reporter Carrie Gracie follows the lives of three local villagers during this upheaval. She meets Xiao Zhang, a mother and rice farmer desperate to see her children have a better life; Xie Tingming, an entrepreneur determined to make money and push the development forward; and the local Communist Party Secretary, who is caught between the Party's demands and a way of life that has endured for centuries. Air Date : 22nd-Mar-2012  Read More

Season 52 Episode 9 - Without Consent

"Without Consent", reported by Sarah Ferguson and presented by Kerry O'Brien. What happens when young, educated, Australian-born girls are forced into unwanted marriages - often with relatives overseas? Samia was just seventeen when her father announced he was taking her on a holiday overseas. But this was a holiday with a difference. Back in the family's village in rural Pakistan, Samia watched in horror as the local Imam walked in ready to conduct her marriage to her first cousin - without her consent. With pressure from her extended family, she was given papers to sign and threatened. Returning to Australia, Samia sought help from local religious authorities in Sydney - but they ignored her and told her to accept the marriage. For the first time young women, the victims of forced marriages, are speaking out - without disguise and despite the risks of backlash from their communities. Are these women entitled to the same protection as other Australian girls? The Government thinks so; in fact they are so concerned they are introducing criminal legislation to ban forced marriage. However, outspoken members of Australian migrant communities say it is their responsibility to stop the practice and the men who enforce it. It's not only women who experience force or coercion to push them into marriage. It happens to men too, often with disastrous consequences. Reporter Sarah Ferguson tells the story of one young woman who agrees to marry a man chosen by her family. What she doesn't know until after the marriage is that he married her under duress. The relationship then descends into a spiral of alcohol and violence. Air Date : 29th-Mar-2012  Read More

Season 52 Episode 10 - Happy Banking

A story that reveals how key Australian banks dealt with the Global Financial Crisis and the shocking impact it had on their customers: loans terminated, businesses liquidated and lives in turmoil. Air Date : 5th-Apr-2012  Read More

Season 52 Episode 11 - Blood and Honour

Can the war in Afghanistan be won and is Australia's involvement worth the price that's being paid? Air Date : 12th-Apr-2012  Read More

Season 52 Episode 12 - The Killer Within

The story of Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik. Air Date : 20th-Apr-2012  Read More

Season 52 Episode 13 - The Mormon Candidate

A startling investigation into America's fastest growing religion and the former Mormon bishop who says he now wants to be President of the United States. Air Date : 27th-Apr-2012  Read More

Season 52 Episode 14 - Judgement Day

Twenty years after the High Court's Mabo judgement, the inside story of the court decision that threatened to divide a nation. Air Date : 3rd-May-2012  Read More

Season 52 Episode 15 - Hard Knocks

A confronting story that looks at the implications of cutting-edge research relating to the prevention and management of head injuries in football players. Air Date : 10th-May-2012  Read More

Season 52 Episode 16 - Madeleine McCann The Last Hope

It was a disappearance that made international headlines and raised tensions between Britain and Portugal. Now comes the story of the new police investigation that some hope might finally explain what really happened to three year old Madeleine. Air Date : 17th-May-2012  Read More

Season 52 Episode 17 - Casualties of the Boom

Next on Four Corners, how massive mining developments are killing communities in regional Australia. Air Date : 25th-May-2012  Read More

Season 52 Episode 18 - Smugglers Paradise

Next on Four Corners: How the biggest people smuggling networks in Indonesia have moved their operations to Australia. Air Date : 31st-May-2012  Read More

Season 52 Episode 19 - The Great Euro Crash

Can the dream of an economically united Europe with a single currency survive the extravagance of the past decade and the mountains of debt strangling key countries in the union? Air Date : 7th-Jun-2012  Read More

Season 52 Episode 20 - WikiLeaks - The Forgotten Man

Next on Four Corners - a return to the remarkable story of 'WikiLeaks -The Forgotten Man', Bradley Manning. Air Date : 14th-Jun-2012  Read More

Season 52 Episode 21 - Gina Rinehart - The Power Of One

She's rich, she's powerful and no one stands in her way. Not even her family... Air Date : 20th-Jun-2012  Read More

Season 52 Episode 22 - Unholy Silence

Four Corners investigates claims that the Catholic Church has covered up allegations of sexual abuse made against priests and brothers in Australia. Air Date : 28th-Jun-2012  Read More

Season 52 Episode 23 - The Price Of Pearls

Pearls - they're beautiful, luxurious and the height of fashion, but what price is being paid by the young divers who fetch pearl shells from the deep? Air Date : 5th-Jul-2012  Read More

Season 52 Episode 24 - Opium Brides

Reporter Najibullah Quraishi journeys deep into the Afghan countryside to reveal the personal and social devastation the Government's counter-narcotics program is causing. Air Date : 12th-Jul-2012  Read More

Season 52 Episode 25 - Sex, Lies And Julian Assange

Reporter Andrew Fowler goes to Sweden for a revealing look at the allegations of sexual crimes hanging over Julian Assange's head, and at the claims of American involvement. Air Date : 19th-Jul-2012  Read More

Season 52 Episode 26 - A Matter Of Life And Death

How authorities are failing to protect women and children in mortal danger, and failing to prevent their partners' homicidal rage. Air Date : 26th-Jul-2012  Read More

Season 52 Episode 27 - Inside Mail

Last year the nation spent billion punting on horses. Most people put their money down believing the races are a true contest, but are they? Air Date : 5th-Aug-2012  Read More

Season 52 Episode 28 - The Body Snatchers

Exposing the international trade in human body parts and tissue. Air Date : 9th-Aug-2012  Read More

Season 52 Episode 29 - Koala Crunch Time

In key parts of Australia, koalas are dying in big numbers. Are we prepared to compromise development to protect their natural habitat? Air Date : 16th-Aug-2012  Read More

Season 52 Episode 30 - The Autism Enigma

Autism spectrum disorder is the fastest rising developmental disorder in the Western world. But what is causing this dramatic rise, and why do some communities have higher rates of ASD? Air Date : 23rd-Aug-2012  Read More

Season 52 Episode 31 - Crash Landing

In 2009, a rescue jet ditched into the stormy seas off Norfolk Island and miraculously all onboard survived. Three years on Four Corners asks, what really happened. Air Date : 30th-Aug-2012  Read More

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