According to the UNHCR, at the beginning of 2011 there were 10.4 million refugees and 983,000 asylum seekers of concern around the world. Matt Campbell, Director of Television and Online Content at SBS, says that Go Back to Where You Came From will challenge perceptions of what it means to be a refugee, and bring Australia’s hottest debate from the pages of newspapers into living rooms around the country.
Go Back to Where You Came From is a powerful documentary, the scale of which has never been seen or attempted in Australia. It will tackle controversial questions about refugees and asylum seekers – whether there is a right or wrong way of coming to Australia, if any refugees and asylum seekers should be sent back to where they came from, and who deserves protection in Australia. Go Back to Where You Came From is a multi-platform initiative for SBS: it is featuring extensively across a number of SBS Radio language programs, inviting listeners from all backgrounds to take part in the debate, and online content including previews, catch-ups, school resources relating specifically to the series, as well as an interactive application called ‘Asylum: Exit Australia’ that puts users in the shoes of asylum seekers. Go Back to Where You Came From is a Cordell Jigsaw production for SBS.
Go Back to Where You Came From follows six ordinary Australians – Raye, Darren, Gleny, Adam, Roderick and Raquel – who come to the table with different perspectives:
People who come here without any documentation by boat should be immediately expatriated. Darren, 42, Adelaide
We’re very well off in Australia. I think that we have the capacity to take perhaps more refugees. Definitely the number that we’re taking at the moment is not outrageous. We could take more. Gleny, 39, Newcastle
They need to go straight back. We’ve had floods, cyclones, fires, and we’re spending millions of dollars on housing these criminals. Adam, 26, Sydney
I like to think of myself as right wing, centre right. It angers me when minorities do get to control the direction of the majority. Roderick, 29, Brisbane
Australia should be Australian, just like Africa is African and Asia is Asia and America is America or whatever. Australia should be Australia and it shouldn’t be so multicultural. Raquel, 21, Sydney
The participants agree to challenge their preconceived notions about refugees and asylum seekers by embarking on a confronting 25-day journey. Tracing in reverse the journeys that refugees have taken to reach Australia, they will travel to some of the most dangerous and desperate corners of the world.2
Their journey begins in Sydney, where the participants are deprived of their wallets, phones and passports, and have no idea about what is in store for them during the weeks ahead. Along the way they learn about the reality of life
for refugees who now call Australia home, travel to Darwin and board a refugee boat and are rescued mid-ocean, experience immigration raids in Malaysia, witness sheer desperation in Kenyan refugee camps and visit slums in Jordan, before ultimately making it to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Iraq, protected by UN Peacekeepers and the US military.
Dr David Corlett has worked with refugees and asylum seekers for about two decades as a case worker, researcher and advisor. He currently works as a researcher with the International Detention Coalition. He has been an advisor on projects regarding asylum seekers for the Asylum Seeker Project of Hotham Mission and long-term immigration detention for the Victorian Foundation for the Survivors of Torture. In 2003, he completed a doctoral thesis on Australia’s response to asylum seekers. He has authored two books, Following Them Home: TheFate of the Returned Asylum Seekers, which was highly commended by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, and Stormy Weather: The Challenge ofClimate Change and Displacement. His writing has also appeared in the University of New South Wales Law Journal, The Monthly, The Age and the Canberra Times.