Pick of the week

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

Aus­tralian Story Mon­day, 8pm, ABC It’s not of­ten a politi­cian cries in pub­lic, but the Vic­to­rian Min­is­ter for the Preven­tion of Fam­ily Vi­o­lence, Fiona Richard­son (pic­tured right), had good rea­son to shed a tear or two, even though it could be seen as a sign of weak­ness. It was ironic that the state’s Premier, Daniel An­drews, chose her for the port­fo­lio in 2014. “I had no knowl­edge, no sense that she had been a sur­vivor of the very thing that I was ask­ing her to be the min­is­ter for,” he says in The Min­is­ter’s Se­cret, episode nine in this cur­rent sea­son of the ter­rific se­ries Aus­tralian Story, which launched in 1996. Richard­son, 49, the La­bor mem­ber for North­cote, was born in Dar es Salaam. This pro­gram takes her, her mother Veron­ica (pic­tured left) and two brothers, Hamish and Alis­tair, back there to ex­plore what led to the vi­o­lence that blighted their child­hood all those years ago. “My father loved to tell sto­ries. He was a bit of a char­ac­ter, oo­dles of charm,” Richard­son says. Old videos show a nor­mal, happy fam­ily, but when he was drunk he beat and raped his wife and punched the boys. Veron­ica put up with it be­cause “I thought be­ing beaten was nor­mal. My mother beat me.” Un­til Richard­son was given the new port­fo­lio, the fam­ily had rel­e­gated their ex­pe­ri­ences to his­tory. Now they want an­swers. Richard­son’s em­pa­thy with other vic­tims makes her an ideal min­is­ter for this sen­si­tive port­fo­lio. A touch­ing story.

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