For those who didn’t get the opportunity to see it – Go Back to Where You Came From was an extraordinary television series produced by SBS in 2011. The series followed six Australians from different walks of life, with very different view and opinion on refugees and asylum seekers. These individuals then experienced the reverse refugee journey to Australia. Deprived of money, phones and passports, they were sent to live with newly settled refugees in Australia. They heard these individuals stories before boarding a real refugee boat. They spend time in Malaysia, live in a Kenyan refugee camp and visit Jordan before ultimately visiting Congo and Iraq.
This experience aimed to challenge uninformed opinions about refugees and asylum seekers, and gave six Australians the opportunity to walk a mile in the shoes of those they criticise.
Personally, I originally found the program very hard to watch, with many of the participants having extremely racist and uneducated opinions about those who risk their lives to seek asylum in Australia. As the program continued, however, most of the participants began to feel empathy and understanding for refugees, and their attitudes began to align more with my own morals and beliefs.
On it’s premiere night, the program became the number one trending topic on twitter – worldwide. This is a clear example of how what is portrayed in the media has a huge ability to influence conversation and interest on a very large scale. It was the highest rated and most watched program on SBS for all of 2011.
For those who missed it (or even for those who didn’t), I’d definitely recommend watching the series on YouTube. It is a true eye-opener.