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Home > Screenings > IFA 2022 - Best Factual Entertainment Format > What Does Australia Really Think About

Entered into: Best Factual Entertainment Format 2022

Produced by: Joined Up Films
For: SBS Australia
Distributed by: Magnify Media

In this new documentary series, we investigate what Australia really thinks about disability, obesity and old age, revealing how stigma and prejudice surrounding them can have a devastating impact on the lives of millions of Australians.

Each episode is presented by a well-known Australian personality with a deeply personal interest in the subject of their film. Five-time Paralympian Kurt Fearnley believes that people with disability are not disabled by their bodies, but by society. Noni Hazlehurst, who first graced our screens over 45 years ago, is disturbed by the stereotypical portrayal of old people in the media. And Casey Donovan, who shot to fame at the tender age of 16 when she won Australian Idol, has had to put up with comments about her weight ever since. These three presenters bring a personal insight into the subject and a passion that drives the investigation. Relatable, accessible and highly watchable, they add their life experience and their profile to the subject.

To get to the heart of the issues, we teamed up with some of the country’s top academic institutions to run three comprehensive nationwide surveys, asking a series of challenging and thought-provoking questions. We then reveal the cold, hard data. Each damning stat provides a springboard for further investigation through confronting social experiments, emotional personal stories, and covert filming where we capture shocking examples of prejudice, discrimination and abuse.

It’s when we hear the personal stories of ordinary people that the devastating consequences of prejudice are really brought home. We discover the shocking truth surrounding homelessness among older women as we hear from those who are just a step away from being out on the streets through no fault of their own. We meet a woman with obesity who became so scared of leaving the house that she didn’t take her young children to a park for six months. And we follow a young man with autism as he tries to secure a permanent job in the face of ignorance and prejudice. After over 150 interviews, our cameras are there to capture the moment that his determination finally pays off.

While personal testimony highlights many of the issues at stake, it’s through a series of provocative social experiments that the viewer themselves is transported into a world of deeply held prejudice, with hidden cameras putting the viewer at the heart of the story. We witness someone with obesity being fat shamed by our actors to discover whether anyone will intervene, watch on while an older jobseeker is told in front of members of the public that she’s too old to work in a café, and observe how someone with cerebral palsy is repeatedly ignored while doing the simplest everyday thing: asking for directions. However, this is not simple voyeurism – the experiments highlight serious issues in Australian society and make the viewer question how they themselves would respond. Above all, we tap into the pulse of a nation and discover whether Australia really is the land of the fair go.