THE nation got an insight into how a son of a former deputy prime minister lives with autism on the ABC’s Australian Story last night.
A crew from the television show spent two weeks filming Harrison Fischer and his parents Tim Fischer and Judy Brewer across Wodonga and the North East.
Producer Ben Cheshire, who has worked with the Fischers on previous profiles including a 1999 Australian Story when Harrison was five, said the latest show evolved earlier this year.
“I’d been in discussions with the Fischers a year ago, wondering if there was some new angle and there didn’t seem to be anything terribly pressing,” Cheshire said.
“About six months ago I saw an article, in The Australian I think, that Judy had written about the NDIS and problems with people with autism and I contacted Judy and thought that might be a way into it.
“She put it to Tim and Harrison and to everyone’s amazement it was Harrison who was most keen and that’s how it happened.”
The program shows Harrison living independently in Wodonga’s Elmwood estate, working part-time at St Monica’s Primary School and shopping at the butcher’s store at White Box Rise.
“His brain is wired differently, so he has skills I could never imagine,” Ms Brewer says on the show.
“But there’s lots of everyday things that he struggles with, things like just his normal dressing, washing.”
The documentary also touches on Mr Fischer’s fight with leukaemia.
“He was keen for this to be primarily about Harrison, but he did answer some questions about what it is and the prognosis,” Cheshire said.
“He thinks it has been caused by his service in Vietnam and exposure to Agent Orange.”
Former federal MP John Anderson, who succeeded Mr Fischer as National Party leader, speaks to Australian Story about his friend’s situation, saying it created “a whole new set of challenges” for the family.
Cheshire said there was an “unusual degree of affection” for Mr Fischer.
“The current crop of politicians, many of the public are disillusioned with them and wouldn’t feel warmly towards them,” he said.
“There’s not that with Tim, everyone regards Tim as a good bloke.”
Australian Story airs at 8pm Monday on the ABC.
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