Burke’s Backyard Accusations

Burke’s Backyard Accusations

By Erin Archer

 

It seems big names in Australian media are not immune from accusations of sexual assault.

Don Burke, the star of Channel Nine’s Burke’s Backyard, has been investigated in a joint effort by the ABC and Fairfax, and a number of women have come forward accusing him of indecent assault, sexual harassment and bullying during the late 1980s and 1990s.

The claims follow the scandal in America, where various women, including high profile actresses have accused film producer Harvey Weinstein of various workplace sexual harassment, including rape.

Two former TV researchers claim Burke groped their breasts, while a young actress claimed he told her she would have to do an audition topless for his G-rated show.

Fairfax Media: Wolter Peeters

In a statement on Sunday, the TV star strongly denied the allegations, and said they were baseless and from “ex-employees of CTC Productions who bear grudges.”

“The bitter irony is that I have had a life-long opposition to sexism and misogyny,” The statement read. “Burke’s Backyard was a lone bastion of anti-misogyny from its inception in 1987.”

However there has been some support behind the claims, with former Channel Nine CEO Sam Chisholm describing Burke as a “grub” and a “disgrace”.

Mr Chisholm’s successor, David Leckie has also spoken out about him, and called his general behavior unpleasant.

“He’s a horrible, horrible, horrible man. He’s a dreadful, dreadful piece of work … he was a really dirty old man.” Mr Chisholm said.

As well as his statement, denying any allegations made against him, Don Burke also provided the ABC with statements of support from three former colleagues.

One was Jackie French, a regular on Burke’s Backyard, and the other two, were former CEO’s of the program, Michael Freedman and James O’Sullivan.

In the decade Ms French worked with Burke, she said she never saw “any hint of sexual harassment nor heard gossip about any”.

ABC journalist Tracey Spicer is part of the investigative team into misconduct in the media, and asked people on Twitter to contact her about offenders in the industry, and what followed surprised her.

“I’d expected to get perhaps a handful, a couple of dozen women responding. To this day 470 people have come forward.”

She said a number of people complained about Burke’s sexual harassment and bullying, and Channel Nine’s failure to pull him into line.

It’s likely this story won’t be swept under the rug any time soon, due to the sheer amount of media traction the Weinstein scandal gained, and the investigation has shown Australia does has the same problems with sexual harassment in the media industry – regardless of the outcomes of the accusations.

About author

earche04
earche04 72 posts

Erin joined the NRN team straight after graduating from a Bachelor of Communications (Journalism) at Charles Sturt University in 2016.

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