11 great documentaries on Netflix Australia

11 great documentaries on Netflix Australia

There are some fantastic documentaries to watch on Netflix Australia. Regular readers of this blog will know that I usually don’t watch very much TV or streaming services like Netflix. This did however change during the second wave of COVID-19 and Melbourne went into its second lockdown for 2020 and the most extreme – stage 4 lockdown.

In Melbourne, we were limited to one hour of exercise outside the home for six weeks. As an endurance runner, this was a very sad state of affairs, but through the kindness of my sister, I was able to borrow a treadmill. I would do my hour of outside running, then would run on the treadmill a number of days a week to be able to run the distance I would normally run.

My treadmill running peaked on the last weekend of the one hour time limit, when to make my long run 32km, I ran a half marathon (21.1km) on the treadmill. Running on the treadmill is not my favourite way to run, but having something to watch made it much more bearable.

Most of the Netflix Australia documentaries listed below were watched during the stage 4 lockdown. I have added another few that I have watched prior to COVD-19 that I think are worth watching too.

Not all of these are suitable for children and even if I share that my kids watched it with me, you will need to make your own judgement as to whether you think it will be right for your kids.

The Social Dilemma

the social dilemma great documentaries on Netflix Australia

I watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix with the 10 and 14 year olds. While I thought I had a pretty good understanding of how the social network algorithm works and what they do with all the information they gather on us, I learnt a lot.

It was great to watch this with the kids, not to demonise social media, but to talk about the importance of critical thinking, checking sources, diversifying the type of online content you consume and understanding what motivates these massive profit making companies.

  • Netflix description: This documentary-drama hybrid explores the dangerous human impact of social networking, with tech experts sounding the alarm on their own creations.
  • Classification – PG
  • Length – 1h 34m

Broken

broken 11 great documentaries on Netflix Australia

This is actually a series of 1 hour episodes putting a spotlight on a commercial industry that is broken. I have watched the entire series and found it eye-opening and also pretty depressing. The tactics that many multinational companies use are not only unethical but so dangerous or detrimental to society and communities. For parents of teenagers I would highly recommend watching the episode the Big Vape.

  • Netflix description: This investigative docuseries shows how negligence and deceit in the production and marketing of popular consumer items can result in dire outcomes.
  • Classification – PG
  • Length – 1h per episode

Minimalism

minimalism  documentaries on Netflix Australia

The younger three kids and I watched this one last year and at the end of it, the youngest said “this is definitely one of your better choices mum”. This made me super happy because the documentary Minimalism touches on many values that I hold dear. It is about valuing people and quality of life over things, about how you can change the direction of your life and you can take a different path to those around you.

  • Netflix description: People dedicated to rejecting the American ideal that things bring happiness are interviewed in this documentary showing the virtues of less is more.
  • Classification – PG
  • Length – 1h 18m

13th

13th netfilx documentary

The documentary 13th really had a significant impact on how I see the prison system in America. I watched this one on my own on the treadmill but I do want the kids to watch this one. I was blown away by the incarceration rate in America and the extraordinary increase in people being held in prison since the 1970s.

  • Netflix description: In this thought-provoking documentary, scholars, activists and politicians analyze the criminalization of African Americans and the U.S. prison boom.
  • Classification – M
  • Length – 1h 40m

Athlete A

athlete a 11 netflix  documentary

As the documentary Athlete A investigates sexual abuse and the cover up by the USA’s governing gymnastic body, it is not appropriate for young children. It is so concerning to see what extent people in power go to win.

  • Netflix description: This documentary focuses on the gymnasts who survived USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar’s abuse and the reporters who exposed USAG’s toxic culture.
  • Classification – M
  • Length – 1h 44m

Rotten

rotten netflix documentary series

Rotten is another documentary series on Netflix that is definitely worth watching. It is rated M because there is some violence in it – who would have thought there would be cartels fighting over avocados! It gives you an insight into the food we eat and how it gets to us and the broader costs that are not factored in to the price we pay.

  • Netflix description: This docuseries travels deep into the heart of the food supply chain to reveal unsavory truths and expose hidden forces that shape what we eat.
  • Classification – M
  • Length – 1h per episode

The Great Hack

the great hack netflix documentary

The Great Hack is quite different to The Social Dilemma as it focuses on one particular instance of data breach. What I found interesting was how the people involved in this situation reacted as more information came out about the impact the use of the data had.

  • Netflix description: Explore how a data company named Cambridge Analytica came to symbolize the dark side of social media in the wake of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
  • Classification – M
  • Length – 1h 54m

American Factory

netflix australia documentary american factory

American Factory provided a stark contrast between the working conditions in America and China and the work cultures that exist in each nation. The younger kids watched this one with me last year and it brought up lots of discussions on why some products are so much cheaper than others and what the price means for the workers who make these products.

  • Netflix description: In this documentary, hopes soar when a Chinese company reopens a shuttered factory in Ohio. But a culture clash threatens to shatter an American dream.
  • Classification – M
  • Length – 1h 50m

Icarus

icarus netflix documentary australia

Everyone loved the Netflix original documentary Icarus. I did let the younger kids watch this and we still talk about this film. The extent that Russia went to win medals is shocking.

  • Netflix description: In his Oscar-winning film, an American cyclist plunges into a vast doping scandal involving a Russian scientist — Putin’s most-wanted whistleblower.
  • Classification – M
  • Length – 2h 1m

The Speed Cubers

the speed cubers netflix documentary australia

A 2020 addition to the documentary category on Netflix Australia, The Speed Cubers is a great one to watch with the whole family. Only the youngest and I watched it but we both loved it, both had a bit of cry when watching it and were both touched by the beautiful friendship between Max and Feliks. You don’t have to be a Rubik’s cube fan to be able to enjoy this short doco.

  • Netflix description: This documentary captures the extraordinary twists and turns in the journeys of Rubik’s Cube-solving champions Max Park and Feliks Zemdegs.
  • Classification – PG
  • Length – 40m

FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened

fyre festival nextflix documentary australia

The older two boys suggested we watched this Netflix documentary last year. FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened follows the team behind FYRE as they set about to put on a luxury music festival on an island. They sell out the event before having really sorted out any key logistical issues for the festival. It doesn’t take long for everything to start to unravel but the audacity of the entrepreneur behind the idea to keep pushing on is extraordinary! This doco is definitely not suitable for kids outside of the M classifiction.

  • Netflix description: The Fyre Festival was billed as a luxury music experience on a posh private island, but it failed spectacularly in the hands of a cocky entrepreneur.
  • Classification – M
  • Length – 1h 37m

Have you watched a good documentary on Netflix Australia?

Comments 5

  1. Thanks for these great recommendations! I watched My Octopus Teacher last night on Netflix and it was so beautiful. It’s about a man who becomes friends with an octopus through his daily diving near his home in South Africa. Highly recommend. It would be suitable for kids.

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