“That’s not my Dad. And that’s definitely not me.”
These were the words uttered by Amelia Oberhardt at her own mother’s funeral. One of the photos shared showed her Mum as a teenager. She was wearing a silver wedding band, holding a baby and standing beside a man Amelia had never met. How could this be?
From this moment Amelia, a journalist with B105, set about finding out more to try and understand what this photo meant to herself and her family. In doing so, Amelia had embarked on a journey which led to the hidden secrets of 1950’s – 1970’s Australia. Amelia’s story may have started with her Mum, who was herself a journalist for the Courier Mail, but along the way she discovered many stories from women all over Australia. The new audio docu – series Secrets We Keep: Shame , Lies and Family was born.
This series delves into a subject both extraordinary and surprisingly common – the hidden histories of secret pregnancies, shotgun marriages, forced adoptions and the challenges faced by women in impossible situations. It is the story of what happens when young women, from just a generation ago, are put in impossible situations, and where this messy knot of secrets leaves families decades later.
To create this series Oberhardt and LiSTNR’s team of award – winning producers, have navigated their way through a dark era of 1970’s Australia. The Australian Bureau of Statistics has shared that in 1971- 1972, 1 in every 28 babies born in Australia was adopted. For context, in 2020 – 21 this figure was 1 in 1145 babies.
Podcast host, Amelia Oberhardt said, “ I have been on this journey to find answers to my own family secrets for more than a decade. In that process, I found out so much more about the time that my Mum was coming of age. It wasn’t easy to be a young woman in Australia through the 1960’s and 1970’s.”
She continued, “ What surprised me during the making of this series, is just how common this story is for so many families and how many are still impacted by it today. I really hope the series can help to heal these families, because it certainly helped change the way I feel about my Mum.”
LiSTNR Head of News and Information, Melanie Withnall, said, “ The first season of Secrets We Keep is a deeply personal journey for Amelia, as well as a companion podcast for anyone seeking to untangle their own family secrets. Knowing the extreme sensitivity of the subject matter, the LiSTNR team has taken exceptional care and best applied practice trauma informed approach to making content.”
Melanie continued, “ We are very proud of this first series. In future seasons, the LiSTNR news team behind the Secrets We Keep will continue to explore extraordinary news stories that have been woven into the fabric of Australia.”
Episode one and two of Secrets We Keep : Shame, Lies & Family is available now on LiSTNR and new episodes of this nine part series will drop every Tuesday. I found it compelling listening and at times it gave me goosebumps. As a child of the 60’s and 70’s I found myself nodding along. Can’t wait to hear more about Amelia’s research into this fascinating story which affected both her own family and many more Australian women and their families.
Freelance writer, wife and mother of three sons, occasional supply teacher and aspiring romance author, Michelle Beesley can be most often found in a coffee shop chatting with friends or beside a rugby field cheering on her favourite teams.
Michelle is a prolific—albeit reluctant—traveller, keen walker, bookworm and yoga enthusiast who loves anything pink or sparkly (including champagne!).