ABC ‘deeply concerned’ by Rosie Waterland’s claims of manipulation and mistreatment during Australian Story filming

CONTENT WARNING: This post mentions mental ill-health and suicide and may be triggering for some readers.
If you need urgent help, please contact:
Lifeline 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
MensLine Australia 1300 789 978
Beyond Blue 1300 224 636

Australian comedian, podcaster and author Rosie Waterland has taken to Twitter to accuse the ABC of treating her badly and harming her mental health during the filming of an Australian Story episode about her tumultuous upbringing.

Waterland told her version of events on Twitter, claiming the ABC asked her to re-enact her suicide attempt, and labelling the entire experience “an absolute fuck up” by the national broadcaster.

Waterland said she speaks about the horrific experience in her upcoming show, Kid Chameleon

In a series of 18 tweets, Waterland said no media platform is perfect, but – despite all the good things the ABC does – the national broadcaster should not be above reproach. “You’re never allowed to admit that ABC fucked you over”, she said.

“My experience with Australian Story was traumatic, upsetting, and ended up with me watching my episode from a psychiatric hospital, because I was so traumatised by what they forced me to do, to film my episode,” she explained.

Waterland also claimed she was asked not to reveal details about her current family situation because it didn’t fit the narrative the ABC wanted to project onto the story.

“What I went through with you was tabloid journalism,” she said in a separate tweet. “And when I tried to tell you that, you ignored me. Like you’re above that, and I was ridiculous for even suggesting that my episode of Aus Story was problematic.”

She continued: “They keep telling me that I’m ‘misunderstanding’. That it was all a ‘mistake’. That I just don’t really understand what producing a story takes. Nah. You guys are shitty. And you’re protected by the shield of being our left journalism elite.”

Waterland’s Australian Story episode went to air in March last year. It drew 593,000 overnight metro viewers, with a national figure of 849,000. The episode remains on iView, so actual viewing figures would be much higher.

Australian Story admits ‘mistakes were made’

The ABC’s version of events differs somewhat from Waterland’s, with the broadcaster issuing a statement saying it repeatedly checked whether she wanted to continue, and she did. The ABC also said Waterland was offered a read-through of the final script, and that it has subsequently offered to remove the episode from its catch-up streaming service iView – which it says she has declined.

The broadcaster is taking the allegations and concerns extremely seriously though, it said in a statement to Mumbrella.

“We’re deeply concerned about Ms Waterland and her experience. We have taken her concerns extremely seriously from the beginning and extensively discussed with her the issues she has raised – dating back to when filming of this episode was still underway and continuing to this day. We know that special care is needed with people who have experienced severe trauma. We have acknowledged to Ms Waterland that mistakes were made, and we have apologised for where we weren’t sensitive enough,” a spokesperson said.

“Because of our experience with this, last year we established a program for our producers and story subjects, including Ms Waterland, to have access to a trauma counsellor, and we’re also doing more work with the team about dealing with traumatised people.”

Waterland’s decision to tell her version of events now was prompted by former Triple J host Gen Fricker who spoke out this week, claiming the ABC failed to support her after an on-air assault, as well as the ABC airing a Four Corners episode last night, which exposed how a school supported a coach who was a child sex offender.

Fricker said her experience made her realise the ABC was just like “any other workplace”, and that despite the “cool glasses and jumpers”, the media company was still run by “straight, white, old males” who are “oblivious to women and the issues that they face”. Fricker told her story on Marie Claire’s Finding Fearless podcast.

If you need urgent help, please contact:
Lifeline 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
MensLine Australia 1300 789 978
Beyond Blue 1300 224 636


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