Go Back To Where You Came From – Australian documentary SBS (2012)

Go Back To Where You Came From – Australian documentary SBS (2012)

Discuss how the issue of refugees in Australia has been constructed in different media work


– Voice-over: “Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Boat people. It’s the issue that dominates our headlines.” Establishes and dives straight into the topic of asylum seekers, making it discernible for viewers as to what is going to be discussed throughout the full length of the documentary. It also makes use of engrossing language, through saying “our” it captures the attention of viewers and makes them feel included with their opinion regarding the issue ongoing in Australia.
– Archival footage: Presents a wide range of footage unveiling the despondency of asylum seekers as they are transported by boat through raging waves, as well as the rejecting nature of Australian people with one woman saying directly into the camera, “Go to hell!” This is followed by a shot revealing the destruction of a boat full of refugees.
– (Non-diegetic sound) Background music: The music is heightened for a dramatic effect, upon introducing the 6 Australian people getting involved in the issue classified as a “social experiment”. Its highest and most theatrical point is upon the introducing of the Australian overseeing the experiment (as leader) called “Dr David Corlett” who is supposedly a refugee expert. This encourages viewers to respect his position and feel as though he is strongly opinionated in regards to the treatment of asylum seekers.
– Mise en scene: Specific footage has been selected to establish the SBS’ desired truth, which puts forward the ideology that oblivious nature of Australians who live without being fully aware of the drastic conditions faced daily by locals of Somalia, Indonesia and Afghanistan (two war-torn countries). This is further exemplified as in closing shot of the intro, Imogen Bailey states directly to the interviewer “Australians don’t know about it, and it’s disgusting!” before the title of the documentary is presented.

After Intro

– (Non-diegetic sound) Background music: Use of a piano playing slow, sorrowful music as the woman Sahra, a local living in Indonesia, starts to get emotional on camera as her husband talks about the traumatic loss of his brother in Afghanistan. This encourages viewers to empathise with the woman, and feel enticed further into the narrative of the documentary and its story.
– Captioning/Subtitles: Use of a caption which reads what Ali Khan discusses, stating “This ship only for 10 person not for 110 person”. This creates an emphasis on the significance of what is being said, and exemplifies the fear of the asylum seekers and their desperation to escape from their countries.
– Close-up shots: A close-up shot which focuses in on the facial expression of Sahra as she clearly states that she agrees with her husband Ali, that they are going to try to go by boat together and knowingly take the risk. This creates an emphasis on her sincerity in what has been said, and that they are truly this distraught to escape Indonesia.
– Diegetic sound + Montage: Presents the laughter of the child (of Ali and Sahra) who enjoys the company of the Australians, as one of the men plays badminton with him and loses to him. Projects an emotional bond between the boy and the Australian, and as a ramification of this it also creates a bond between the boy and the viewers, positioning them to feel sympathetic towards the boy in the conditions he must face growing up in Indonesia.
– Close-up shot/Depth of field: The camera crew focus in on the facial expression of the mother being discussed, as her daughter explains how the family came to be living in Jakarta. This is done in an aesthetic style, accenting on the emotional state of the mother whilst her daughter describes of her being pregnant and beaten in Somalia until the infant was lost. This again, positions the audience to feel solicitous towards the asylum seekers and to be on the side of importing refugees into Australia to save them from such circumstances comprised of rape and violence. It reflects the humanness of the refugees as the mother finds it uncomfortable to look into the lens of the camera whilst in her emotional state, which is something many Australian people would be able to relate to from their own context and experiences.
– Interview: In a reflective interview with Angry Anderson, as a representative of Australia, he broods over how appreciative he is now of the life he has back at home after having only spent a single night with an Indonesian family. As a ramification of this, Australian viewers are influenced to feel the same way.
– Voice-over: “Fishing crews normally earn a dollar a day.” – statistics reflecting the severe conditions of people living in foreign countries such as Indonesia.
– Interview: In an interview with Peter Reith, he professes his belief that he finds it difficult to understand why innocent people are labelled as “people smugglers” when they have no motive and no understanding of what they’re actually doing and are merely just being taken advantage of and bribed by other obscure people.
– Animation: An animation presenting the distance to be travelled by boat from Indonesia to Christmas Island, allowing Australian viewers to recognise the little distance between the two islands.
– (Non-diegetic sound) Background music: Suspenseful music creates a tense atmosphere, positioning Australian viewers to prepare themselves for the horrific conditions endured through regularly by asylum seekers when travelling by boat. And they are then able to refer back to the animation and how much further away Australia is from Christmas Island.
– Voice-over: Tense atmosphere reinforced through the narrator stating that “lifejackets are rarely provided” and that there are usually at least a 100 passengers rather than in this scenario, 6.
– Voice-over: “In 2001, the ‘Seavex’ went down in this same stretch of ocean. 353 lives were lost, 146 were children.” This creates an emphasis on the harsh conditions of travelling by sea, as innocent families were merely trying to escape and live peacefully and safely in Australia.
– Actuality: A long shot of the boat voyaging through the darkness of the night creates an emphasis on the uncertainty of placing people’s lives in the hands of this cheap, insecure boat.
– Actuality: Actual footage of a typical prison cell for two people, which is ironically presented as being more habitable for human beings than the homes the Australians had visited in Somalia and Indonesia. This will be confronting for Australian viewers, as they are positioned to fathom that for many refugees sent to the Christmas Island Detention Centre, they would feel as though this is a more fitting environment to live in than their actual home.


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