Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Go back to where you came from

Last night SBS started screening "Go back to where you came from", a 3 part series which follows 6 Australians who have taken on the challenge to live like refugees for 25 days. The actual journey they take, takes place in reverse from home to detention centre and so forth backwards to the point of origin of the refugees flight. During this process, the participants have no access to their mobiles, wallets or passports. The rest of the series will screen tonight and tomorrow night.

I can really appreciate the setup for this experiment and the pyschology behind it. A lot of thought has gone into challenging the participants pre-conceived notions as well as racism about refugees. When I was at uni, I was lucky to study under Dr Kathy Betts, who has been studying immigration and refugees for the last thirty years. Her subjects opened my eyes in ways I didnt think possible about refugees, camps, boat people, immigration as well as multiculturalism.

As a young adult student who hadnt really stopped to notice or focus on these issues before, I became more caring and passionate about the refugee process and issues, especially those that befall women. These subjects motivated me to actually act on world issues that were important to me, like sponsoring children, donating to projects like the Hamlin Fistula & Relief Fund or Medecins Sans Frontieres, and joining places like SAIL to support the work they do for refugee families in Australia.

I guess what struck me most last night was the sheer naivety of some of the individual Aussies. Their lack of knowledge about world issues that can result in refugees fleeing their country of origin was startling and the judgement that most refugees are looking for an easy way out in a good economy, was in stark contrast to the experiences and openness of the refugee people and families they met.

Go back to where you came from is re-screening on SBS 2 this Thursday, Friday and Saturday night at 9.30pm.


  1. We watched this too... the young women just couldn't step outside of her own selfishness/ righteousness to realise the point of the 'challenge'... that the fear, discomfort, anxiety, insecurity and isolation she was feeling IS what the refugees were living with and faced on their journey. Everyone is entitled to live & believe what they want, but I wondered why she was on the show? Fame? Forced to? Money? Why was she putting herself through such 'hardship' if she wasn't even going to try to put herself in the shoes of the refugees? Hmmm...

    Will be watching the next two to see if she might 'get it'...

  2. Thanks for the heads up. A fascinating experiment indeed. I will be watching it.

  3. I missed the second show (hopefully will watch it online this weekend) but caught the 3rd show and am glad to see such a change in attitude & perspective from Raquel (I believe her name is) though it would have been good for her to go the last step to the Congo... that was the real eye opener...