A sit-down with Syria's Assad to the gay-hate murders investigation: the best SBS stories of 2016

South Sudanese Dinka man Manon Athian tends to his okra crop in Brisbane Source: SBS

From speaking to world leaders dealing with debilitating conflict, to explaining the gender roles of Dinka okra farmers, 2016 has been a busy year for the SBS World News team.

Here are some of the year's best yarns from SBS. 

Exclusive interview with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad speaks with Luke Waters (SBS)
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad speaks with Luke Waters (SBS)
Supplied

SBS reporter Luke Waters was given unprecedented access to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a one-on-one interview in July.

During the tense interview, Assad said he believed without outside interference dialogue could end the country's bloody civil war.

The conflict deepened in the following months, with the ongoing civilian and refugee crisis adding to the tireless work of international aid organisations.

In recent weeks, Assad's government forces captured the besieged city of Aleppo, which was the scene of heavy aerial bombardment and significant civilian loses.

Wyatt Roy witnesses firefight between Peshmerga forces and IS in Iraq

Roy
Wyatt Roy with a member of the Peshmerga in Sinjar area, west of Mosul, Iraq.
Supplied

In September, journalists Jana Wendt and Andrea Booth were the first to report on former federal assistant minister Wyatt Roy's account of being caught in an IS battle near the Iraq-Syria border.

Roy, who said he “wanted to visit and see [Iraqi Kurdistan] for myself", witnessed a deadly battle involving around 15 Islamic State militants and Peshmerga forces.

He said: “Very quickly after we were attacked - it was obviously quite a serious situation - the Peshmerga called in an airstrike and probably within a half an hour, forty minutes, the jets were overhead."

The Gay-Hate Decades: 30 unsolved deaths

John Russell, whose body was found at the base of a cliff at Marks Park at Tamarama in Sydney in 1989. Police said it was a 'probable' gay-hate murder
John Russell, whose body was found at the base of a cliff at Marks Park at Tamarama in Sydney in 1989. Police said it was a 'probable' gay-hate murder (AAP)
AAP

Reporter Rick Feneley's exclusive investigation into the spate of unsolved, potential 'gay-hate' murders in NSW during the late 1980s and early 1990s was published in October.  

The series revealed some of the flaws in the police re-examination of the murders. There was also an online interactive detailing the circumstances of the unsolved deaths.

It coincided with SBS documentary and drama series Deep Water, and came ahead of a new coronial inquest into the death of one of the men, Scott Johnson.

Bob Day's building company woes

File image of Former Senator Bob Day (AAP)
File image of Former Senator Bob Day (AAP)
AAP

Rick Feneley also had his finger on the pulse in reporting the financial troubles faced by former Family First Senator Bob Day's five-state home-building group, Home Australia.

In October, SBS reported on the demise of Home Australia's NSW arm Huxley Homes, which had a detrimental financial effect on creditors.

Mr Day was pressured to resign after the revelation, which he did on November 1.

In a statement to the President of the Senate Stephen Parry, Mr Day said: "It has been an honour and a privilege to serve as a Senator for South Australia and I am sorry it has ended this way." 

The role of okra farming within Dinka communities

South Sudanese Dinka man Mana Athian chops okra grown in his back yard in Brisbane.
South Sudanese Dinka man Mana Athian chops okra grown in his back yard in Brisbane (SBS)
SBS

Gender roles within South Sudan's Dinka community in Australia came under the spotlight in this interesting story from June 17.

Stefan Armbruster's story followed Dinka refugee Manon Athian, who described the significance of his backyard okra patch.

He expressed his love for cooking the vegetable, which is traditionally a job for the female members of his community. 

Syrian refugee becomes dux of high school 

Dux of Catholic Regional College Sydenham, Syrian refugee, Saad Al-Kassab, hopes to study medicine
Dux of Catholic Regional College Sydenham, Syrian refugee, Saad Al-Kassab, hopes to study medicine
SBS

Here's the inspiring story of Syrian refugee Saad Al-Kassab, who overcame several personal hurdles to achieve an ATAR score of 96.65. 

The December 12 story by reporter Sarah Abo described his journey to achieving the score, which included his account of learning English by watching Australia's parliamentary question time on television.

He is hoping to pursue medicine at university and become a doctor. 

Choice campaign urging consumers to boycott 19 egg brands

File photo of a shopper inspecting eggs inside a supermarket (AAP)
File photo of a shopper inspecting eggs inside a supermarket (AAP)
AAP

In March, Peter Theodosiou reported on a campaign by consumer advocacy group Choice, calling on shoppers to boycott 19 brands deemed to have failed free-range production standards.

The boycott came on the back of a decision by the consumer affairs ministers to introduce a national information standard, which restricted which egg producers could use the 'free-range' label.

In December, Choice told SBS the campaign was "the biggest" in the group's 57-year history.

From a small town in NSW to the set of Inside Out: A Pixar career

Original Pixar employee, Australia's Deirdre Warin, who worked on the Oscar nominated film Inside Out.
Original Pixar employee, Australia's Deirdre Warin, who worked on the Oscar nominated film Inside Out. (Supplied)
SUPPLIED

A temporary job in the computer graphics department of Lucas Film launched Australian Deirdre Warin on a career path she could never had predicted. 

SBS spoke to Ms Warin about her role in the growth of the animation giant, which started out with humble beginnings.

“[Pixar investor and Apple founder] Steve Jobs wrote personal cheques every week for our salaries,” she told SBS reporter Kerrie Armstrong. 

Whadjuk man's trek across Australia to meet PM to discuss Aboriginal Affairs

Clinton Pryor and the road that lies ahead .
Clinton Pryor stands on a red-dust road as he prepares to enter the deep desert of central Australia.
NITV

SBS temporarily joined Whadjuk man Clinton Pryor who is walking from Perth to Canberra to meet with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, with the aim of bringing Aboriginal Affairs to the top of the PM's agenda.

“What I see these days is I see a lot of my people are in pain and they are hurt and they are frustrated,” he told reporter Ryan Emery in September.

“We’ve been asking for a very long time to start listening to us and the government keeps ignoring and ignoring and this is the time now that the government must sit down and listen to us."

Pryor had reached Alice Springs in December is expecting to finish the walk in mid 2017.

Source SBS News

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