The Making of Modern Australia

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Sociopolitical Documentary hosted by William McInnes, published by ABC in 2009 - English narration

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Image: The-Making-of-Modern-Australia-Cover.jpg

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The Making of Modern Australia

Launched in March 2009, The Making of Modern Australia is a cross-platform people's history of postwar Australia. What began as an interactive website is now also a major four-part TV documentary series on ABC TV and a book of the same name, written by series narrator William McInnes.

Under the slogan Your Story; Our History, the Making of Modern Australia website allows Australians to upload text, images and home movies. Users have already laid the foundations of a rich scrapbook of the nation's history within living memory.

The TV series and book draw on stories gathered online. As more and more Australians add their stories, the Making of Modern Australia becomes a richer and more entertaining resource. Stories are catalogued by geography, time and subject.

An education portal presented by ABC and Education Services Australia has also been incorporated into the website. This interactive resource engages students and teachers to learn online and contribute themselves to our living history.

[edit] The Australian Child

Episode 1 - The Australian Child
Broadcast: Thursday 22 July, 2010

Australia celebrated the end of the Second World War with an enthusiastic urge to procreate. Between 1946 and 1966, the population exploded from 7.5 million to 11.5 million.

This was the era of the "baby boomers", a generation of children whose rock 'n' roll rebellion would sweep aside pre-war conservatism and change things forever.

Evocative film & home movie archive footage recalls a much simpler time when kids roamed free in the great outdoors and swore an oath at school to "cheerfully obey their parents, teachers and the laws".

But there are also cruel memories: a Scottish orphan recalls years of neglect in the care of the Catholic Sisters of Mercy – "with no mercy"; a Brisbane couple remembers classrooms with harsh discipline and antiquated gender roles; an Aboriginal girl is taken from her family and culture and 'assimilated' into white society.

But when the 'baby-boomers' started having children of their own, childhood was transformed. Girls stayed at school longer, mothers went to work and alternative methods of child-rearing were explored.

The physical, outdoor childhoods of 1940’s and 50’s are fading memories. Today’s kids are 'digital natives' plugged into a world awash with instant information and entertainment.

But amongst the rapid change and a more sophisticated urban lifestyle, has something been lost?

This episode of The Making of Modern Australia explores what has happened to our childhood.

[edit] The Australian Dream

Episode 2 - The Australian Dream
Broadcast: Thursday 29 July, 2010

The Australian obsession to own your own home is so entrenched in our culture, there's even a phrase for it … The Australian Dream.

It began immediately after the Second World War and continues to this day. At first 'the Dream' was modest – a 2 bedroom dwelling in the suburbs just like everyone else’s, with enough land for a vegie patch and a spot for the kids to play.

But then the population exploded, the suburbs sprawled, the fashions changed, and 'the Dream' did too. Today a 'modest' Australian home is at least twice the size of the post-war model. It used to be possible to buy a house for three times your annual salary, now it's nine times. And where once "home" was about shelter and security, now it's also a means of accumulating wealth and status for which many are finding it impossible to pay.

In this episode a cross-section of Australians tell stories of the Australian Dream; Olive and Roger still live in the tiny home Roger built with hand tools when the war ended 65 years ago; Carol has lived in a succession of renovated houses before finding her 'dream home', but a life-long contact with asbestos building materials has resulted in a life-threatening illness; Kevin in outback New South Wales tells us he was the first aborigine to receive funding to build a house, a tiny weatherboard cottage which has been 'home' for he and his wife, their eight kids and a plethora of relatives and friends; Sophia and Joe reflect on how their dream to profit from owning multiple properties turned into a nightmare in which they lost everything; and 90 year old Dolly, who’s rented all her life, reminds us that you don’t have to own it, to live in your 'dream home'.

Remarkably, no matter how high the prices go, the Australian Dream endures. Successive Australian Governments have kept it alive by providing special grants to first home buyers and generous tax incentives to new investors.

But there are 22 million people in Australian today and we’re struggling to accommodate them. Predictions are that in 2050 there will be close to 40 million, and no doubt most of them will have ambitions to own their own home.

[edit] The Australian Heart

Episode 3 - The Australian Heart
Broadcast: Thursday 5 August, 2010

Falling in love is a dance we all know the steps to. But what happens when the first flush of romance is over?

In the 1940s and 50s, the rules of the game were strict, but clear to everyone... you got married and stayed married. Then came the swinging sixties and the sexual revolution. Today, you can live with who you want, when you want and how you want.

But is finding love any easier? Australians today are marrying less and marrying later. And it's easier than ever to jump ship - 43% of all marriages end in divorce.

Have we lost the mystery and allure of romance in our pre-packaged world?

Through intimate stories, personal photos and historical archive couples - old and new, straight and gay, singles and divorcees openly share their secrets of the tumultuous changes in Australian love life. Stories include lovers who met after the war and are still together, immigrant ship-board romance, 'single, unmarried and pregnant' in the 60s, the impact of the Pill and the Sexual Revolution, divorce and 'open' relationships in the 70s, 'coming out' in the 80s, the modern woman of the 90s and internet dating.

Humorous and revealing interviews combine with romantic images from the past to tell this amazing history of the Australian heart since World War Two.

[edit] The Australian Soul

Episode 4 - The Australian Soul
Broadcast: Thursday 19 Aug, 2010

The Church once dominated the Australian landscape.

Of all the great shifts in Australian life since World War II, perhaps religion has travelled farthest. Back in the 1940s and 50s Australians dutifully attended church and Sunday school. Christianity had a firm grip on the Australian soul. But from the late sixties, bad boys and girls were finding spiritual fulfilment elsewhere and the Churches struggled to keep up.

Nowadays only about 8% of Australians go to church every Sunday and over 18% say they have no religion. So are we a nation of lost souls?

Combining astonishing historical archive film and the revealing personal stories and photographs from people, both inside and outside the church, this episode explores the struggle for the Australian soul since the end of World War Two.

Encapsulating the era: an Irish catholic family experiences sectarianism first hand in the 1950s; a nun is touched by romance during the flower power of the 1960s; a priest is radicalised by the Vietnam war in the 1970s; a good catholic girl closes the door on organised religion when she is scorned for an extra marital affair; an Aboriginal woman tries to maintain the ties to traditional beliefs and two protestant boys both at the Billy Graham Crusades in the 1950s embark on entirely different future paths.

Each story illuminates the dramatic moments in the changing nature of the Australian spiritual landscape.

This Episode has captions.

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[edit] Technical Specs

  • Video Codec: x264 core 93
  • Video Bitrate: 1800 kbps
  • Video Resolution: 1016x572
  • Video Aspect Ratio: 16:9
  • Frames Per Second: 25
  • Audio Codec: AAC
  • Audio Bitrate: 128 kb/s CBR 48000 Hz
  • Audio Streams: 2ch
  • Audio Languages: English
  • RunTime Avg.: 55min
  • Part Avg. Size: 760Mb.
  • Writing application: Avidemux 2.5.3
  • Format: Matroska
  • Source: DVB-T

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