The Resumé.



Janine Roberts.

Brought up as Irish although born in England - due to the influence of my grand dad on my Mother. He was born in Falls Road, Belfast, and taught her the rebel songs.

First a quick resume of my early years. 1961-63 A First in Philosophy. 1964-67 Masters Degree Theology. 1967-70 Honours Sociology - London School of Economics & Bedford Colleges, London University. Elected representative of Sociology students, runner up President 1968. 1970-71 married and overland to Australia - six months travel back-packing in Asia. 1971-72 teaching. Two daughters born. 1973-76 National Director of International Development Action - coordinating educational campaigns on third world issues funded and sponsored by Australian Aid Agencies, World Council of churches and other bodies. From this time, full time writer and researcher. Edited, co-authored and published on Aboriginal, Pacific and African issues with prominent articles in major broad sheet newspapers.. Three well received books written. Produced a number of investigative documentaries, winning a Best Documentary Nomination. The latest film was transmitted as a Dispatches on Channel 4 in the UK in December 1997.

Now for a more detailed account.

1975. Aurukun Aborigines, part of the Wik nation, invite her to report their community on mining proposals ( an 800 sq mile bauxite strip-mine planned for their tribal land.) Carried out resulting research project for community. Took part in actions that led to the cancelling of the mine.

1976 Edited and co-authored "The Mapoon Books", a three part case study of the Mapoon Aboriginal community (and of the neighbouring Weipa and Aurukun communities ) documenting their treatment by missions, governments and mining companies when the world's biggest aluminium (bauxite) mine took a 1000 square miles of virgin monsoonal forest that was their hunting and spirit grounds.

Humphrey McQueen, Australian historian, reviewed this as "the finest, best researched and through study appearing in the Whitlam era."

1976 -1979 Set up Aboriginal support organisations around Europe.

1977 directed edit of shortened campaign version of film "Ningla-a-Na" on treatment of Aborigines in Queensland with permission.

1978 Wrote "From massacres to mining"; published War on Want in UK. It was also translated and published in Netherlands and Germany. Excellent press including a full page in "The Guardian" in England.

I979 Initiated and researched World in Action programme "Strangers in their Own Land." A major legal case issued on this in Australia in which uncontradicted evidence showed that a British company, RTZ, had bulldozed Aboriginal tree platform graves, burning the corpses with the trees.

1980. Appointed mining impact consultant to the National Federation of Aboriginal Land Councils.

The first joint meeting of the N.W Australian ( Kimberly) Land Council and the North Queensland Land Council is called to hear her reports of overseas support and discuss reaction to mining industry pressure. She is asked to advise communities on the diamond rush into the Kimberleys.

Aboriginal elders invite her to Oombulgurri Reserve where they have already throw out De Beers. The Federal Government order the police in by helicopter to remove her as she did not get a permit from the State Government.

Reason for fuss: the world's biggest diamond deposit has been discovered nearby at Argyle.

1981. Wrote fully revised and much expanded edition of "Massacres to Mining: the Colonisation of Aboriginal Australia." (publ. Dove (Now Harper/Collins)) Book launch has favourable covererage on main evening news on three major television networks. Excellent reviews. One of Australia's best known authors, Xaviour Herbert, (of "Poor Fellow my country" etc) in a review in "The National Times" said this was his first review since Miles Franklin persuaded him many years ago. He wrote of "Massacres to Mining" that:

"There is no doubt about Jan Roberts' feelings in the matter. Yet she handles her history with restraint that makes it a work deserving to be a classic in our history. Every revelation... is authenticated from official records but without marring the dramatic impact on the reader that is usual objective writing."

Excellent reviews prominently featured in major papers. The book is used in John Pilger documentaries and by Robyn Davidson.She asked for permission to "plagiarise it"for her book about her camel trip across Australia "Backroads". (I was happy to have the book so used.)

1981. Commenced to write freelance for "The Age"in Melbourne. Her first article is full page , advertised on television and nationally syndicated. It is entitled "This is the largest diamond deposit in the world, it is Australian, and the South Africans are seeking control." Next day the Prime Minister commented (lead front page in "The Australian") that the South Africans would never get control.

1981 Onwards. Many of her photographs published in books on Aborigines and with her articles.

1982. Consultant, initiator, and Researcher for BBC "Everyman" documentary on Aboriginal spirituality in the diamond rush area. Title is "A Plain and Sacred Right."

As the first journalist to get inside the then secretive Argyle diamond lease, she has a three part series published in "The Age' on the international diamond industry. Many other major features and front page stories on various topics 1982-3.

1983-4. Co-Produced and co-directed television documentary "Munda Nyuringu" with Aboriginal fringe dweller and author Robert Bropho. This was the story of the last great gold rush into Kalgoorlie as seen by Aboriginal people. The film's launch was favourably covered on the main evening news of three major television channels. "The Australian" praises it for its power and authenticity.

This film was Nominated as Best Documentary in the AFI Awards, won a Jury Commendation in Lisbon and was exhibited in several major international festivals. It received film of the week front-page treatment in Television supplement of "Sydney Morning Herald" as "easily the best of the first Australians Series"

Write reviews of computers and computer software for major computer magazines.

1985-6 write book "Jack of Cape Grim" - an account from original manuscripts on how a group of 5 Tasmanian Aborigines (including the famed Truganini who was supposed to be the last Tasmanian)fought settlers and three military expeditions on the outskirts of the newly established Melbourne. ( this was Jani's contribution to Melbourne's 150th anniversary). Well received. Publishers (Sally Milner of Greenhouse Publications also funded her to develop it as a mini-series script.)

1987 ABC commits to put major resources into producing a three part series written by her on the international diamond cartel. The series is called "The Diamond Empire."

1988. Write and research treatment for the ABC on Daisy Bates - an Irish woman and writer who lived with Aborigines in Central Australia. The research involved driving alone some 3,400 kilometres across the deserts, camping on sheep stations or with Aborigines, tracing from Daisy's accounts and by using Aboriginal guides, places of Aboriginal ceremonies and traditions, learning much from Aborigines.

1988. The ABC send Jan to the National Investigative Journalists Conference in Minneapolis, USA. Commenced scripting research for the diamond series. Sign contract for series with ABC as the Producer of the Series. Research in 1989 takes her to Northern Australia, Russia, Japan, Israel, Switzerland, Belgium, the UK and to the USA where WGBH "Frontline" pre-purchase USA rights immediately on seeing the script.

1990 the BBC commits to the Series three days after reading the script. While waiting for Australian contracts to be signed, Panorama sends Jan to Moscow because she has unique access to a meeting of western intelligence operatives and the KGB.

1991 BBC Enterprises commits to international marketing of Diamond Series. Australian funders Film Finance Corporation, Film Victoria and AFC join funding consortium.

She writes some of the first major front page articles on the arming of Iraq by the White House. Helps initiate US television programme on the same subject which brings about an Congressional investigation.She assists with the unmasking of the Foreign editor of the Daily Mirror as an arms-merchant for the Evening Standard, London.

November 1991. Pre-production commences of "The Diamond Empire". Estimated delivery time January 1994. It is shoot in five continents and is transmitted in the UK and USA in 1984.

This is one of the highest profile investigative series ever committed to by the BBC. It is pre-sold to American, Swedish, Dutch and Australian Television. 1994. De Beers tries to ban her film from being shown in the diamond rush area of Arctic Canada. Their heavy handed action leads to the Federation of Trade Unions, the local environmental movement, Ecology North and the Dene Indians inviting her to speak to her film. She is flown to Yellowknife. Her film is put on in the largest hall in town and it is standing room only. Later she is the guest of Dene Indians (See the article on this web site on Frozen diamonds)

1994 and 1995. She goes to South Africa and Namibia to research her diamond book. She tours diamond mines despite De Beers banning her, staying in black and coloured townships as a guest of the Mineworker's Union. She shows her film on De Beers property to the miners. The Union told her she is the first person banned by De Beers since the Emergency of 1988!

1995 The World Council of Churches agreed to her request to help fund the first post apartheid miners' conference for Southern Africa. She was a guest key note this conference held in Namibia. While in Namibia she also helped make a two part series on Namibia's diamonds broadcast on Namibian TV. As she highlights that a key advisor to the president is a diamond merchant previously involved in African anti-democratic coups (well known as a companion of Jackie Onassis Kennedy) an American agent warns her that her every word is being reported to Washington. The World Council of Churches also gives seed money to help towards the setting up of a Centre for Economic Reform in South Africa.

More recently she has been been writing on health issues for a major UK newspaper looking particularly at suspected vaccine damage - with several front page stories. (These also caused a parliamentary debate) I have also been writing about the threats faced by the Dene Indians in Northern Canada from diamond mining, about cyanide spills in rainforest - and the threats posed by mining practices in West Papua where live a sister people to Australia's Aborigines.

My most recent project was on a contaminant that got into the polio vaccine through the ill-advised and unnecessary practice in the US and the UK of growing the polio vaccine in the extracted kidneys of wild-caught monkeys. This has led to monkey viruses being injected into hundreds of millions of people. This fact is now acknowledged by the US and UK governments. What they are being coy about is the recent work of many scientists that links one of these monkey viruses, SV40, with severe human chromosome damage and several human cancers. My work included co-producing a documentary on this for Channel 4, transmitted in the UK in December 1997.


These stories are here, in Jan's Library where a more detailed account is given of some of the events surrounding her diamond film.

Now the above is the story of my working life - as a writer, a freelance investigative journalist tilting at the big and powerful. But there's a lot I haven't told. In "Jan's Library" personal or gender rooms you will find:- Picture of Janine Farrell Roberts


A. More about the fight with the BBC and De Beers.

B. The delight of being a woman - and the struggles it has entailed.



Click to return to the Library Entrance.

To Contact Jani Roberts