ABC will finally screen a special Plumpton High Babies: 10 Years On a year after it was suddenly yanked from schedule on the day of broadcast, without explanation.
Mystery surrounded that snap decision in November 2016, but for patient filmmaker Aviva Ziegler, her film will at last see the light of day.
The good news is there are no changes to the doco, which revisits the cast who first appeared in award-winning 2006 series Plumpton High Babies, highlighting the lives of eight pregnant teenagers.
A relieved Ziegler told TV Tonight, “There was a legal issue unrelated to the content.”
While the screening now makes this 11, rather than 10, years on, an end credits card will give more up-to-date information on where the girls are at today.
ABC did not respond to enquiries.
Ten years ago in Sydney’s outer west, acclaimed filmmaker Aviva Ziegler spent a year filming at Plumpton High where an idealistic headmaster, Glenn Sargeant, battled to help a handful of pregnant 15 and 16-year-olds continue their education. The Plumpton High Young Mothers Programme was the only one of its kind in Australia, possibly even the world. Glenn believed that education could provide opportunities for even the poorest and most marginalised of students; if he could encourage their hopes and aspirations he could open doors to a world far beyond the one they knew or expected.
For all the immediate drama of their impending motherhood the year Aviva spent observing the teenagers in Glenn’s programme was the easy bit. The series left the girls and their babies on the threshold of their lives together – with the real story yet to unfold. Plumpton High Babies 10 Years On shines a powerful spotlight on the lives of three of those three young women. It is only on returning to the complex realities of the girls’ lives today that we see how much they and their children have at stake.
Simone, the girl Glenn held the most hope for, is doing it tough. Mark, the boyfriend for whom she dropped out of school, is bipolar and struggles to get work. At 27, Simone is already pinning her hopes for the future on the next generation. But can her young son live up to this? Meanwhile, Jacinta – despite teenage tragedy – has never given up her rose-coloured dreams. She is planning to get married – if only she can afford the wedding. In stark contrast, 27-year-old Baby has finally made it to university but the demanding struggles of single motherhood and full-time study are weighing her down.
As they struggle with family, relationships, work and self-esteem, we see whether they have managed to get a foothold on a new life or whether they have been overwhelmed by circumstances beyond their control. Did his programme help any of them in the challenges they currently face? Did it break the welfare cycle? What difference, if any, did it make? While searching for answers to these questions, this film digs into and confronts our mainstream values and perceptions of success. Above all, it challenges our preconceptions – constantly surprising us with realities that are far more complex than the stereotypes would have us believe.
9:30pm Tuesday December 19 on ABC.