Jeff McMullen


Jeff McMullen

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Few living writers anywhere in the world have travelled as extensively or gone to as many extremes for a story as Jeff McMullen.

After more than 40 years as one of Australia's best known and respected journalists and film-makers, Jeff McMullen's best selling book, A LIFE OF EXTREMES, (published by HarperCollins Australia) captures not only a life of adventure but how this storyteller literally has gone to the ends of the earth in pursuit of the truth. The great Australian novelist, Thea Astley, described the book as a "work of perception and reason, beautifully written, compulsive reading"

In 2008 McMullen shared the experience gained in so many parts of the world when he was invited by Australia's Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd to be one of that nation's 1000 men and women of ideas contributing to the unique brainstorming event billed as "The 2020 Summit".

Jeff McMullen's contribution was to try to focus his country on improving the health, education and well-being of Australia's deeply disadvantaged Indigenous people who face a seventeen year gap in life expectancy.


As CEO (gratis) of Ian Thorpe's Fountain for Youth, Jeff McMullen has spent the last eight years working with Australia's greatest Olympian to build an alliance of people determined to achieve improvements in the health and education of aboriginal children.

Working with Aboriginal doctors and teachers McMullen and Thorpe have been helping develop strategies to improve maternal and infant health, with life-empowering education as the key.

In the Jawoyn remote communities, east of Katherine in Australia's Northern Territory, the Fountain for Youth Literacy Empowerment Project includes health education in Aboriginal schools, literacy backpacks with reading for all members of the family and support for early learning in Aboriginal pre-schools and women's centres. The Literacy Backpack project has spread to remote Aboriginal communities in other Australian states including Queensland and Western Australia.

In urban Australia, Ian Thorpe's Fountain for Youth supports the mentoring of Aboriginal highschool students, using undergraduates at universities as mentors. Jeff McMullen is a Director of the project known as AIME, for AUSTRALIAN INDIGENOUS MENTORING EXPERIENCE.

In 2007 at Sydney's Olympic Stadium Ian Thorpe, fellow Olympian Cathy Freeman and Jeff McMullen helped launch a campaign known as 'Close the Gaps', highlighting education as one of the first steps to close the gap in Indigenous life expectancy.

For many years McMullen has conducted what he calls a 'rolling thunder tour' of Australia to enlist others to lend a hand to improve opportunities for Australia's neediest children, Aboriginal children.

McMullen has organised major Indigenous health forums at universities around the country and addressed national literacy conferences to draw leading professionals into this struggle to improve Indigenous lives.

As a Trustee of the Jimmy Little Foundation, headed by one of Australia's most famous Aboriginal musicians, Jeff McMullen is also contributing to projects for improved access to dialysis for Aboriginal people now falling to an epidemic of renal disease, particularly in the remote communities.

Jeff McMullen is a Patron of the Healthpact Research Centre for Health Promotion and Wellbeing at the University of Canberra in the Australian Capital. He has contributed articles to leading medical journals and international magazines to draw a greater contribution to the front lines of Australia's health emergency in Indigenous communities.

In 2006 McMullen was honoured with an Order of Australia award (AM), for service
to journalism and efforts to raise awareness of economic, social and human rights issues in Australia and overseas, as well as service to charity.

VARIETY THE CHILDREN'S CHARITY declared McMullen Humanitarian of the Year for 2006. He directed the $10,000 award into the Literacy Backpacks in the Jawoyn communities to enhance this early learning project.

For details of these Aboriginal health and education projects please go to


Born in Sydney (16.12.47) McMullen was still a small boy when his family went to live on the edge of a warzone. His father, serving in the RAAF, was based at Butterworth Air Base at the height of the Malay Emergency.

Years later, as a foreign correspondent, McMullen experienced over thirty conflicts, from what he describes as 'dirty little civil wars in Central America to the grinding trench warfare in Eritrea and the genocide in Rwanda.'

From the extremes of horror he always went looking for the beauty of the natural world, filming with remote tribes in the Amazon basin, drinking mare's milk with nomads in Mongolia, climbing an active volcano, swimming with sea-lions and iguanas in the Galapagos Islands, diving with whale sharks and filming the 1990 Antarctic expedition which made the longest trek ever across that great white wilderness. It was this world wandering and encounters with some of the greatest earth scientists that drew McMullen to film making about the connections between human conflict and the dwindling of essential resources. The impact of man's war on the planet has been a major theme of his work.

Educated at Sydney's Macquarie University (BA in literature, history and political philosophy) McMullen has a Doctorate of Journalism from Central Queensland University and continues to speak out on the need for ethical reform in journalism.

At 18 he was the youngest foreign correspondent of his day for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), reporting from Papua New Guinea, then at 20 from Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and India. At 24, McMullen began twelve years in the United States, first as the Australian ABC's New York correspondent, then Washington correspondent. He covered the military coup against Salvador Allende in Chile and the major political story of his era, the Watergate scandal and the impeachment proceedings against President Richard Nixon.

Later, as a roving reporter for 'Four Corners' based in New York, he travelled through the old Soviet Empire as it crumbled and produced a triology of documentaries from the war zones of Central America, winning a United Nations Media Peace Prize.

After his first two decades of journalism with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation McMullen spent the next sixteen years wandering more of the world as a reporter on Australia's top rating Sixty Minutes television program. He brought the story from Kazakhstan on the irradiation of villagers in the aftermath of Soviet nuclear testing, the expose on abuse in Christian Brothers and two films on the genocide in Rwanda.

His film making about the impact of colonization and displacement of Indigenous people began in the Amazon and North America. On Australia's Sixty Minutes McMullen turned his cameras on the inequity and lack of health and education afforded to Aboriginal Australians.

In 2007 McMullen made a return to Australian Television as the creator and host of the discussion series, 'DIFFERENCE OF OPINION', which brought first rate minds to the challenges of global warming, water shortages, peak oil, alternative energy sources, changes in food production and development of new infrastructure. This 33 part series also examines the greatest social challenges facing Australians including the crisis in Aboriginal health and education.

Jeff McMullen has never drawn a line between advocacy and journalism. 'Telling the truth and focussing on better ways forward are my main concerns,' he says.


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