As the Government refuses to budge on its decision to deport 267 asylum seekers — including 37 babies born in Australia — to the detention facility on Nauru, a new film threatens to expose the inhumane conditions they will be subjected to.
Australia’s shameful offshore detention facilities are notoriously difficult to gain access to and whistleblowers working within the centres face severe penalties for speaking out.
The public receives only snippets of information; horrific letters penned by desperate asylum seekers, photos, videos and stories of abuse and self-harm leaked by advocates. They are fed to us by a secretive immigration department and a series of implacable ministers.
For the first time a new film, from Academy-award winning Australian film-maker Eve Orner, will give access behind the wires. This includes never before seen footage from inside the detention camps on Nauru and Manus Island.
It will also feature stories shared by Australian whistleblowers who have worked there.
Chasing Asylum, which will be released with an accompanying memoir in May, explores the mental, physical and financial cost of locking up the men, women and children who come to us for help.
A trailer for the film premiered on The Project last night, which you can watch here:
Orner spent a year and a half making the film, over which time she risked her life travelling through Iran, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Cambodia and more.
She interviewed asylum seekers, whistleblowers, politicians, activists and media commentators, all in the hopes of exposing our inhumane detention regime.
Following the premiere of the trailer last night, Waleed Aly asked Orner if she was worried the Government might try to censor the film.
She replied that there are more important questions to answer:
“What is going on here? What kind of indictment to Australian democracy is the fact that people can go to jail for two years for speaking out about a policy that allows children to be sexually abused?
“What we are doing is not okay and the fact that the government is so scared and so paranoid that they are legislating against it is what we should really, I think, be focusing on.”