All six paricipants arrive in Indonesia, the start of the final leg for many when coming to Australia to seek asylum. Reith, Anderson & Deveny meet Ali Khan & his family who are Afghanistani refugees in Indonesia who would like to go home but it’s too dangerous to live there, and they can’t stay in Indonesia for much longer. They’ve been waiting for 5 years to get resettlement via UNHCR.
Ali’s made 2 attempts to come to Australia already, both have failed. First time the ship was swamped, the second time he was arrested. Now he and his whole family are going to try to come to Australia by boat. The Khans speak about the constant fear of being arrested and extorted.
“I don’t want to go by boat – boat is dangerous – but I don’t have any option” – Ali’s wife.
Angry’s starting to get it. He sees that the people that come by boat are, on the whole, desperate. They have no choice.
Asher, Smith & Bailey go to meet another refugee family from Somalia, waiting to be resettled as refugees. Dad went back to Somalia to see if it was safe for them to return – they’ve not heard from him since. The family have been waiting for 2 years for a place as asylum seekers while living on handouts supplied by aid agencies as they can’t work in Indonesia.
Reith, Anderson & Deveny are taken to Roti, an island in the archipelago and a regular launching spot for boats bringing refugees. They’re meeting people smugglers – in this case young men who worked as fishermen who became people smugglers by accident. They didn’t know their cargo until they were leaving, and the amount they were being paid by the organiser was a year’s salary. They were arrested when they eventually arrived in Australia and spent time in prison. A lot of Indonesians are so desperate they take a job that, comparatively, offers riches for what seems to be straight forward.
The participants gather again with Corlett. It’s an interesting meeting, as it seems as if Angry’s view is changing. Reith still somewhat pragmatic and continues to only view it from a ‘bigger picture’ perspective.
Then it’s announced that all six will be heading to Australia by fishing boat, going to Christmas Island. It’s only 500km, but it’s dangerous. There’s a storm brewing to boot. It’s exactly the same journey as the Khan’s will attempt shortly, though this time the captain is a professional pilot and the boat is in better condition (generally speaking).The conditions are less than ideal – an actual ‘poop deck’, anyone? – and there’s only the six of them, not hundreds as usual. Anxieties are high. 100 km into the open ocean, opinions are still strong despite their predicament. 12 hours out from Christmas Island and the participants are told significant storms lay ahead – do they want to turn back? It’s abandoned for safety reasons, so after returning to Indonesia all six fly to Christmas Island.
There they meet a man who lives on Christmas Island who saw the fishing boat packed with asylum seekers crash into rocks 50 metres from his front door in December 2010. He and others helped save some of the refugees on board, but they couldn’t save them all.
Conversation turns to the Tampa & the children overboard scandal. Bailey & Deveny launch at Reith.
“At least no one died” — Reith.
For the first time ever, cameras (and the participants) are allowed inside the Christmas Island Detention Centre, where refugees are first taken when they arrive. Anderson, Reith & Smith inspect the men’s wing to see the conditions for those detained. They’re not bad, but it’s certainly no holiday camp. Some ‘clients’ approach the group and discuss their situation and their plight.
“We are refugee, only wait” — unnamed asylum seeker.
Deveny & Bailey get to enter the detention centre are reserved for families. They both agree (the persecution of asylum seekers) needs to stop.
In the final meeting/debrief with David Corlett, the response from the group is mixed.
“I need to learn a lot more so I can make a difference” — Bailey
“Language like queue jumpers affects people’s lives” — Deveny
Both Smith & Anderson have been affected by the journey, though their political views seem to not have been altered. Asher just wants a more open dialogue with more people educated about the plight of refugees – not necessarily so that they change their views, but so they more educated on the topic, willing to discuss the situation and how it is to be responded to.
Again, an amazing series from Cordell Jigsaw and SBS. Such incredible situations and some actual real responses from the participants that show that you cannot not be affected by those in these situations where all hope seems lost. The real test is where to from here for the participants, and what effect it has on the public debate.
Go Back To Where You Came From: Insight Panel special – Fri 8:30pm, SBS one.