The Making of Modern Australia Series

The Making of Modern Australia Series

The Making of Modern Australia Series

Under the themes of Child, Home, Heart and Soul, this series contains rich personal and family stories, photographs and home movie footage that examine the social and cultural shifts of Australia over the past 60 years.

It explores key themes that are part of our day to day social life - parenting, relationships, the family home and faith and religion.

The series will investigate some of the historical triggers for change in Australian society. Archival footage and narration is used to illustrate the big picture changes while rich personal and family stories, photographs and home movie footage provides a fresh perspective and imbue familiar history with a new emotional power.

The Making of Modern Australia will provide a place for communities to develop, share information and resources whilst at the same time allowing the synthesis of fresh material to become an archival record for the national scrapbook.

Episode 1: The Australian Child
July 22, 8.30pm

Australia celebrated the end of World War II 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 and 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 1940s and 50s are fading memories. Today's kids are "digital natives'', plugged into a world awash with instant information and entertainment.

But in 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.

Episode 2: The Australian Home
July 29, 8.30pm

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

It began immediately after World War II and continues to this day. At first "the dream'' was modest - a two-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 find it impossible to pay.

In this episode, a cross-section of Australians tell stories of the Great 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 him 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 Great 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.
Or is that just a dream?

Executive producer: Chris Hilton
Series producer: Ian Collie
Writer/director: Susan Lambert & Steve Westh
Editor: Denise Haslem
Editor: Tim Woodhouse
DOP: Kathryn Milliss

The Making of Modern Australia Series is available on
The Making of Modern Australia SeriesABC1
New Series starts Thursday July 22