A unique story on the power of animal therapy for people with disability in Victoria has taken out the best documentary feature award by the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia.
Produced by Melanie Robinson who herself has low vision and hearing loss, the Rideabliity 2021 documentary was born out of a budding interest in storytelling after she was made redundant just before the pandemic hit.
With extra time on her hands, she enrolled in Vision Australia’s audio journalism and creative writing course.
It was a no brainer to feature the work of the Riding for the Disabled Association, after being struck by her own experiences at the horse therapy program.
“Having a passion for horses I’ve always been around horses and it just seemed like a natural thing and fit the criteria for what the national features and documentary series were looking for,” she told Sam Colley on Vision Australia’s Talking Vision.
Recorded during the Covid-19 pandemic, Melanie said she managed to some “nuggets of gold” in between lockdowns.
She had seen first-hand how horses are able to connect with vulnerable people.
“When I saw a horse called Hamish drop his head on an unresponsive 5-year-old boy in a wheelchair, and watch that child come to life, laughing, caressing and eventually riding that horse, well, I just had to know more,” she said, opening her documentary.
The documentary is filled with neighing horses, clip clopping on the muddy ground, which makes the documentary feel very immersive.
“This award validates my work, and it makes me really happy to think I got my story across and that my stories have hit the mark,” she said.
To listen to the documentary in full, and to hear the full interview in the player below: