Tough­est boat trip re­turns

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Television - TIM MARTAIN

MULTI- award- win­ning doc­u­men­tary se­ries Go Back To Where You Came From re­turns to our screens this week in a sec­ond sea­son with six new Aus­tralians dar­ing to re­trace the jour­neys made by refugees seek­ing asy­lum.

But this time they are not just or­di­nary Aussies, it is a cast of six prom­i­nent fig­ures who have vol­un­teered to put them­selves in some­one else’s shoes.

Sym­pa­thetic to the refugees’ plight are model/ ac­tress Imo­gen Bai­ley, writer/ comedian Cather­ine Deveny and for­mer Com­mon­wealth Om­buds­man Al­lan Usher, who want to get a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of what drives peo­ple to gam­ble ev­ery­thing on a per­ilous boat trip across the ocean.

On the other side of the de­bate are rock singer and as­pir­ing Lib­eral Party politi­cian An­gry An­der­son, for­mer Howard gov­ern­ment min­is­ter Peter Reith and ra­dio shock jock Michael Smith, all of whom are of the opin­ion that the boats should be turned back and asy­lum- seek­ers re­jected.

This time, screening over three con­sec­u­tive nights, the par­tic­i­pants are bound for two of the world’s most dan­ger­ous war zones and big­gest sources of refugees: Kabul, in Afghanistan, and Mo­gadishu, in So­ma­lia.

In­stead of do­ing the jour­ney in re­verse from Aus­tralia to war zone, as in the first sea­son, this time they are do­ing it ex­actly how the refugees do it: from war zone to boat.

In the case of Bai­ley, Smith and Usher, this in­cludes the trek on foot from So­ma­lia across the bor­der to the refugee camps of Ethiopia, down a desert road be­sieged by heav­ily armed squads.

In the fi­nal episode the team vis­its the Christ­mas Is­land De­ten­tion Cen­tre, with un­prece­dented film crew ac­cess inside the walls.

The big­gest prob­lem this show has is that it is still preach­ing to the con­verted: as it is in­her­ently sym­pa­thetic to­wards the plight of refugees, it is gen­er­ally only likely to be watched by those who al­ready agree with its po­si­tion and not by those whose views might be chal­lenged or changed by it.

It is in­ter­est­ing to watch the evolv­ing per­spec­tive of Reith, who was de­fence min­is­ter at the time of the in­fa­mous Tampa ‘‘ chil­dren over­board’’ af­fair.

In Kabul, Reith is con­fronted with one of the Tampa refugees who was sent back to where he came from be­cause at the time Afghanistan was ‘‘ not con­sid­ered to be a dan­ger­ous place’’.

Reith is also con­fronted by sev­eral of the Tampa refugees’ companions on that ill- fated boat hav­ing since been killed on re­turn to Afghanistan.

When the dan­ger of Kabul starts to ter­rify Reith, he con­fronts the pro­duc­ers, say­ing he wants to be ‘‘ on the next plane’’, prov­ing the show’s point.

Deveny draws great plea­sure from needling Reith, which, to a leftie like my­self, is ac­tu­ally rather en­joy­able.

Go Back To Where You Came From pulls no punches when it comes to show­ing how hor­ri­fy­ing the con­di­tions are and while it makes no pre­sump­tion to sug­gest a so­lu­tion, it will help view­ers un­der­stand what makes peo­ple des­per­ate enough to make the jour­ney.

The show’s most im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tion is the de­bate it will spark, which is why it will be fol­lowed on Fri­day night by a spe­cial episode of In­sight, fea­tur­ing all the par­tic­i­pants in a dis­cus­sion about what they learnt.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.