Dr Gregory Smith.
Dr Gregory Smith. MAYETA CLARK

Turn on TV tonight to hear SCU academic's remarkable story

IT'S one of those inspiring tales where the truth is more remarkable than fiction.

From abused child to homeless alcoholic who retreated into the wild for a decade, Gregory Smith has since achieved two university degrees with Southern Cross University and a book deal.

Tonight, he will share his journey with ABC's Australian Story.

Out of the Woods goes to air on Australian Story, Monday September 3 at 8pm on ABC TV and ABC iView.

For most of his life, Gregory Smith struggled to fit in let alone articulate the trauma of what had happened to him as a result of a violent upbringing and being sent to institutional care after the break-up of his family.

Exhausted and unwell by years of living off the land and sleeping rough, Gregory was in his late 40s when he finally emerged from the forest near Mullumbimby, ready to change his life.

He went to Southern Cross University and gained an undergraduate degree in social science followed by a PhD which investigated how the experience for Forgotten Australians of institutional life (his own lived experience) has impacted on their lives as adults.

He now works at Southern Cross as an academic.

Kerry Pritchard, one of his students who features on Australian Story, said: "Gregory represents the capacity for transformation against all odds and a real triumph over adversity. How to take the crap in life and grow beautiful things out of it."