UPDATE, WEDNESDAY: Part Two airs tonight at 8.30pm. Don’t forget to tune in and check back here to continue the conversation, ask more questions.
UPDATE: So you’ve just watched the first episode of ‘Go Back to Where you Came From’ on SBS and, it was stunning right? It doesn’t matter which side of the debate you’re on. Fascinating stuff. The show’s Twitter hashtag #gobacksbs was trending worldwide which is an amazing achievement. So, what did you think? Tell us below. We’ll keep this post on the main page for the final two episodes tomorrow and Thursday night. Let’s try, like the show does, and keep the judgment to a minimum…what are your hopes for the characters? Do you agree with them, recognise them in any people you know?
Also, if you have any more questions for series director Ivan, I will be chatting to him again so pop them in the comments and I’ll do my best to ask them.
“I need to touch your heart … if we do not touch your heart, you do not see us. We are not animals. It is a problem for the world. It is a problem..”
These are the words spoken by an African man living in a squalid refugee camp in one of the pivotal scenes of ‘Go Back to Where you Came From’, a triumph of documentary film making that airs on SBS tonight at 8.30pm. It’s compelling. It’s a must watch.
It’s compulsive viewing for the same reasons the national debate on refugees is: there are no easy answers. And the search for what scraps of truth and meaning in the debate is never predictable.
Here is a television show that mixes documentary insights into the life of refugees with the character drama of the best shows going around. The only difference is, it’s not scripted. Certainly not forced. Go Back to Where You Came From takes six ordinary Australians – a life guard, a horsewoman, a country music singer, an unemployed woman and so on – and asks them to go on a confronting journey in reverse. From meeting refugee families that have settled here in Australia, by boat and otherwise, and then tracing the steps back to Africa, Jordan and Iraq, through Malaysia.
Most of all, it’s a program that does not judge. We shouldn’t either, though may be tempted with episode one tonight as one volunteer proclaims: “I don’t like Africans. You go to Blacktown … and now it really is Blacktown.”
Another says she cheered when the boat crashed on Christmas Island earlier this year, killing more than 50 asylum seekers. She says: ‘serves you bastards right’. This volunteer lives next door to a detention centre.
“I could go over there right now with a gun and shoot the lot of them. I don’t care how hard it is where they came from, I don’t think they have the right to come here and demand – demand – all this freedom,” she says.
But these are people who deserve credit for being curious enough to search for answers in tough conditions, and on national television no less. The three part series (which continues tomorrow night and finishes on Thursday) will develop character arcs that will astonish you. Importantly for the credibility of the show, not everybody will change their minds.