AIDC 2020: “Power is from the bottom up”
War on Waste presenter Craig Reucassel discovered real change came from the suburbs, not Canberra.
Documentaries can achieve great impact and ABC’s War on Waste has seen extraordinary outcomes, not the least of which is influencing the end of plastic bags.
But as presenter Craig Reucassel told the Australian International Documentary Conference last week, real change didn’t come from Canberra but the suburbs.
“I came to War on Waste with the wrong perspective on how things work,” he explained.
“I thought we’d put pressure on politicians and the change would come through them.
“But a couple of politicians have said to me, ‘We don’t lead, we follow.’
“What happened was ….after it became a groundswell within the community, that’s when you started to see political change.”
Reucassel said the business community also reacted following the broadcast.
“Before the show went to air, I had meetings with people from the supermarkets. They said ‘There is no way we’ll change the plastic bag rule without it becoming legislation.’
“A month after the show went to air they did it themselves, because pressure started coming from their consumers. Power is from the bottom up, not just the top.”
Reucassel is next set to front two climate change specials, beginning with Fight for Planet A and it’s been a learning curve to strike a balance that communicates the science without alienating an audience.
“This is the logic we have in Australia. We get angry that the government says ‘We’re only 1.3% of emissions, we’re so small we can’t do anything,'” he continued.
“But so often the people that are angered with that opinion are themselves saying ‘I’m so small, it doesn’t really matter what I do.’
“Climate change requires action from everyone. That’s the only way we’re going to deal with this problem.”