Sunday Night has Jessica Mauboy, a grandmother running orphanages in China and a report from Ben Roberts-Smith in Vietnam.
War hero and Father of the Year Ben Roberts-Smith has a new assignment: a series of special reports for Sunday Night. Big Ben is one of only four living Australians to have earned the Victoria Cross, awarded to him for his extraordinary bravery in Afghanistan. In his first story this Sunday, Ben pays his first visit to Vietnam accompanying a group of Aussie vets on a remarkable and emotional mission. He’s with them as they return to the battleground of Long Tan, where they lost so many of their mates in one of the greatest battles in our military history. Now, 40 years after the end of the Vietnam War, these old diggers have gone back to return treasured keepsakes and photographs to the families of fallen Viet Cong soldiers. Diggers always kept notes, photos and trinkets to remember the fallen – even their enemies. Their journey to return these last remaining items is now bringing hope and closure to many of families of the 600,000 Vietnamese fighters still missing in action.
It’s been a wild ride for Jessica Mauboy – from outback tomboy teen to international pop star and awardwinning actor. Childhood singing competitions led to an audition for Australian Idol at the tender age of 16 and from there, it’s been a steady rise to the top. Through it all, though, she’s kept her feet on the ground and the love of her long-time boyfriend at home in Darwin. Sunday Night reporter Melissa Doyle travels to the Top End with Jess to see where it all began, and hear for the first time an incredible family revelation: Jessica’s starring role in The Sapphires led to the discovery of her long-lost great aunt, a member of the stolen generation. We also journey with Jess to Yiparinya School in Alice Springs – she’s the school’s ambassador, and the difference she’s making to these young Indigenous children’s lives brings tears to her eyes.
She’s the grandma from Gympie who will make your chest swell with pride to be Australian. Linda Shum and her husband Greg were both schoolteachers who rewarded themselves upon retirement with a trip to China. Once there, though, they discovered the dark side of the country’s infamous one-child policy: derelict staterun orphanages packed with unwanted young babies and toddlers. Seeing the lack of love and the wretched conditions they lived in, Linda vowed to dedicate her life to saving and transforming theirs. Husband Greg died just before Linda opened her first orphanage. Today she operates and funds eight of them, working round the clock despite battling breast cancer and a double mastectomy in the past year. Reporter Alex Cullen travels to China with Linda to witness first hand her incredible achievement. He meets Fu Yang, a young boy born with severe facial deformities who was forced to perform as a monkey in a Chinese touring circus for the first five years of his life, until his father led him into the woods one night and instructed him never to return. Now living in Dallas, Texas, 21-year-old Fu Yang is a budding sports photographer living the American dream. We take Linda to Texas for a remarkable reunion with Fu and three more of the Chinese children she found new homes for in America. It’s unforgettable television.
8:15pm Sunday, September 15 on Seven.