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From Little Things Big Things Grow

With special guest:

  • John Stapleton
    … in conversation with Bill Kable

John Stapleton is a legend at Dads on the Air. In the year 2000 while working as a journalist he became involved with a number of fathers who struggled to see their own children because of the machinations of the Family Court. Worse still, because of the legislation no-one in the broader community knew what was going on. So John resolved to shed some light on the problem through a community radio program run on a shoestring from 2GLF in Liverpool New South Wales after giving the program its name. Here we are 18 years later still going strong.

In this program John Stapleton tells us some of the history of the early days and then lets us know about his most recent venture a niche book publishing company called A Sense of Place Publishing. John has published his own books notably Chaos at the Crossroads and most recently a book by former Dads on the Air presenter Peter Van de Voorde called Children of the State. It is clear that the fire still burns in John about the many injustices fathers suffer silently.

It is a great pleasure for us to go back to the source and speak with John Stapleton who for many years was not just the voice but he also provided the media expertise and was the source for many of the stories brought to air.

John Stapleton

John Stapleton graduated from Macquarie University in 1975 with a double major in philosophy and did post-graduate work with the Sociology Department at Flinders University.

As a freelance journalist in the 1970s and 1980s, while alternating between living in Sydney and London, his articles and fiction appeared in a wide range of magazines, newspapers and anthologies, including the now defunct Bulletin and The Australian Financial Review. John worked on the esteemed newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald as a staff news reporter between 1986 and 1994. He worked for the national newspaper The Australian from 1994 to 2009.

His books include: Thailand: Deadly Destination, Terror in Australia: Workers’ Paradise Lost, Chaos at the Crossroads: Family Law Reform in Australia, Hunting the Famous, The Final Days of Alastair Nicholson: Chief Justice Family Court of Australia and Hideout in the Apocalypse.

As a news reporter John encountered and wrote stories about everyone from street alcoholics to Australian Prime Ministers, including Bob Hawke and Paul Keating. He covered many hundreds of stories, from the staple flood, drought, fire and natural disasters of the Australian bush to scenes of urban dysfunction in inner Sydney. Hunting the Famous covers a period of profound change within newspapers as the Information Revolution transformed the nature of the profession.

Thailand: Deadly Destination, an expose of the tourist safety in the so-called Land of Smiles, received widespread coverage. It was particularly controversial within Thailand, where it was banned.

The pamphlet Agent Orange: The Cleanup Begins, documents the efforts to rid Vietnam of the legacy of the accidental by-product of Agent Orange, dioxin, a key factor in the high levels of disability the country suffered after the Vietnam War.

In 2000 John Stapleton became co-founder of the world’s longest running radio program on father’s issues Dads on the Air. He worked as a volunteer on the program between 2000 and 2010. His interviews with leading figures in the fatherhood and gender equality movement, including Stephen Baskerville, Warren Farrell, Erin Pizzey and the organisers of Fathers4Justice, can be found in the archives section of the program Dads on the Air.

After leaving The Australian John Stapleton established the niche publishing company A Sense of Place Publishing.

He is the editor of A Sense of Place magazine.

A collection of John Stapleton’s journalism can be found at his blog

John Stapleton is the proud father of medical practitioner Sam Stapleton (pictured with John in 1991) and law graduate Henrietta Stapleton.

Song selection by our guest: Wild Man by Kate Bush




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