Re­ver­sal of for­tune

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Television - TIM MARTAIN Go Back To Where You Came From, SBS1, Tue, Wed, Thurs, 8.30pm

GO Back To Where You Came From is a so­cial ex­per­i­ment that takes six or­di­nary Aus­tralians and sends them to where some­one else came from.

The re­sult­ing three-part doc­u­men­tary is a TV event that ev­ery Aus­tralian should watch.

The vol­un­teers fol­low the jour­ney of two refugee fam­i­lies in re­verse.

They start out in Aus­tralia staying with an African fam­ily and a group of Iraqi men who have re­set­tled here af­ter flee­ing their war-torn home­lands.

From there, the vol­un­teers board a leaky boat in Dar­win and steam off in the gen­eral direc­tion of Malaysia – spend­ing most of their time bail­ing wa­ter out of the bilge and suf­fer­ing sea­sick­ness.

They fol­low the trail to the squalid refugee camps and, even­tu­ally, into the heart of the conflicts that have caused the ex­o­dus.

Their phones, money and all forms of iden­ti­fi­ca­tion are con­fis­cated on day one and they are never told where they are go­ing next.

The six vol­un­teers in­clude a con­fessed racist from Syd­ney’s west­ern sub­urbs, a ru­ral South Aus­tralian woman an­gry about the de­ten­tion cen­tre built over her back fence, an ex-sol­dier with a Tai­wanese wife who dis­likes ‘‘ queue jumpers’’, and a coun­try singer who is so sym­pa­thetic to the plight of the refugees that she wants to ex­pe­ri­ence the same things they have.

Through this broad spec­trum of viewpoints we ex­pe­ri­ence the re­al­ity of this jour­ney.

The cry of ‘‘ go back where you came from’’ is one we hear of­ten but this se­ries ac­tu­ally shows us where some of these asy­lum seek­ers came from and forces us to ask: what would they re­ally have to go back to?

Some of the par­tic­i­pants do change their views, but per­haps more sur­pris­ing some of them do not.

If you’ve ever won­dered why those in the Villa­wood De­ten­tion Cen­tre riot, what would pos­sess peo­ple to risk ev­ery­thing on a leaky boat headed to a mys­tery lo­ca­tion, or ex­actly what these peo­ple are so des­per­ate to run from, this se­ries will give you some an­swers. Yes, it’s unashamedly sym­pa­thetic to the asy­lum seek­ers’ plight. But with both sides of Aus­tralian pol­i­tics bat­tling each other over the in­flam­ma­tory is­sue of boat peo­ple, Go Back To Where You Came From is a wel­come at­tempt to re­store the bal­ance.

And if the sto­ries told by the refugee fam­i­lies fail to have an emo­tional im­pact, you must ques­tion your own hu­man­ity.

Maybe it won’t change your mind, but you owe it to your­self and a lot of other peo­ple to at least hear the other side of the story.

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