Ask about Helene Chung
Key Points
  • Helene Chung was the first non-white reporter on Australian television: This Day Tonight/Nationwide on ABC TV Hobart, Sydney and Melbourne 1974-83
  • First female posted overseas by ABC: Beijing Correspondent 1983-86 and the first Chinese-Australian journalist appointed to China
  • Shouting from China: in blue Mao-suited China the non-Chinese speaker of Chinese heritage finds herself an alien in the motherland
  • Gentle John My Love My Loss: a vehicle that may transport others in their own painful journeys through grief
  • Lazy Man in China: China's transition from old Communism to new Capitalism interwoven with the love story of Helene and John Martin
  • Ching Chong China Girl: From Fruit shop to Foreign Correspondent: Helene’s life story reflects the transition from white to multicultural Australia
Topics
  • China's Transition from Old Communism to New Capitalism
    When I first landed in China the people dreamt of the four things that go round: a bicycle, a watch, a fan and a sewing machine. By the end of my posting as ABC Beijing correspondent they aspired to the four big things: a cassette-recorder, a television set, a refrigerator and a washing machine. Now, when I return, they lust for – or already have – the four luxuries: their own apartment, a car, private education and travel. And maybe a pet pooch and a concubine too.
  • Ching Chong China Girl: From White to Multicultural Australia
    As a child growing up in White Australia I was jeered at as a ‘Ching Chong Chinaman’ – a term of abuse now so outdated it has to be explained to young Australians. In today’s Multicultural Australia I can even satirise myself – laugh at myself – as a Ching Chong China Girl.
  • ABC to Z of Racism Down Under
    When another little 5-year-old told me, ‘My mummy says I can’t play with you because you’re Chinese,’ I came to realize that being Chinese wasn’t the best thing to be. Later, as a television reporter, I was ordered off the screen by a new ABC boss, ironically named Mr White. Yet despite such examples of racism I believe that Australia is among the world’s most tolerant countries.
  • Love and Loss: A Journey through Grief
    When my husband, John Martin, died I felt I had lost part of myself. Surrounded by family and friends I felt utterly alone. I wanted nothing but to die too. Yet, imperceptibly, I was drawn up out of the abyss of darkness into the light. When I awoke to a radio news report that lightning had killed a young boy and realized I had thought, I hope that doesn’t happen to me, I knew that the law of life was reasserting itself.
  • A Tasmanian Cheese Heritage: Women Past, Present and Future
    My maternal grandmother, like other Chinese women of her era, valued only her sons. Her daughters were worthless. As Grandmother reminded my mother as a child in Hobart, ‘You should have been put in a bucket and drowned at birth.’ Although this attitude persists in parts of China, today’s Chinese Australian females face no such discrimination.
  • Shouting from China: An Alien in the Motherland
    I arrived in China conscious of my heritage but not feeling Chinese. However, obliged to live in a foreign diplomatic compound, kept away from ordinary Chinese who could face police harassment for mixing with me, and charged top foreigners’ prices (in a three-tier system with locals paying least, overseas Chinese paying more, and foreigners paying most), I felt more Australian than ever before. Meanwhile, I had to shout over a dilapidated telephone system to file my reports, so much so that the doctor warned I could lose my voice permanently.
  • A Reporter's Tale: From Tasmanian Tiger to Panda Bear
    As a postgraduate student I wasn’t sure what to do in life until I met an ABC producer. He gave me a tape recorder to interview a Hobart butcher who claimed to have sighted the ‘extinct’ Tasmanian tiger. When I heard the interview broadcast on national radio next morning, a new world opened up. Like a stray pup, I’d been tossed a ball by a stranger. Now I wanted to run with it. Tiger luck addicted me to the adrenalin of broadcast journalism that would take me across the world, including into China’s mountain reserve of the panda bear.
  • Master of Ceremonies
Testimonials

Helene Chung is a confident, precise and captivating public communicator. All the years in radio and television have invested her with real charm and persuasiveness... She confirmed this during a panel discussion I chaired on the experience of ABC correspondents in Beijing.
The Honourable Bob Carr
Former Foreign Minister
Professor

Helene speaks as she writes – with crystal clarity, sensitivity to her audience, a firm grasp of her subject, and always a touch of humour.
Director, Asia-Pacific Centre for Social Impact & Philanthropy, Swinburne Business School
Former Head of Ford Foundation, Beijing
Former Founding Professor of Asian Studies, La Trobe University

A cracker-jack presentation - a perfect blend of history and autobiography.
Professor Emeritus Michael Roe
University of Tasmania historian on Helene’s International Women’s Day Address 2015

A thoughtful, candid and inspiring talk. A magnificent and articulate woman willing to share the personal.
Hazel Edwards Author
Helene’s International Women’s Day Address 2015

With China emerging as a world power, Ms Chung's detailed knowledge of the country, its politics and its people comes across in her articulate and amusing presentation, during which she engages with her audience in a relaxed and informal way. I have not heard better in the 25 years that I was based in Asia.
Former Group Chairman
Maunsell International Consulting Engineers

Your presentation was so interesting, very topical, very entertaining and well presented. You were very relaxed and responded well to our audience and their questions. We had fabulous feedback from our clients who thoroughly enjoyed your presentation.
Director
Hayes Knight Melbourne

A provocative, stirring and pertinent story. Interesting and engaging, especially for students who may not be so aware of the level of prejudice that migrants encounter.
Head of Senior School, Welfare
Geelong College

A thoroughly professional presentation … I wish the lessons I sat through at school on modern Chinese history had been half as interesting and engaging.
Former China Head
Radio Australia

Lazy Man in China is a China book you read through in one go... a very intimate China reportage that is personal and conversational...  a wistful love story...  value for those who study China, or who just want to know.
Dr Stephen FitzGerald, AO
Australia's first Ambassador to the People's Republic of China

Ching Chong China Girl: From fruitshop to foreign correspondent is the story of how this Australian-born Chinese Catholic school girl became, in many ways, emblematic of the changing nature of Australia ... the spirit, energy and clear-sighted intelligence that eventually took her to journalism ... and on to such iconic programs as This Day Tonight, then to become the ABCs correspondent in Beijing, shine through in this engaging memoir ... conversational, often wry and humorous.
Steven Carroll
Author and Critic, The Age