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Byron Shire
February 3, 2023

Mullumbimby reaches out to refugees

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The Australian documentary Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, about the asylum seekers often so crudely referred to in our country as ‘boat people’, has won more 10 film festival awards – not one of them in its home country.

The film will be screened in Mullumbimby on October 10 by the group Mullumbimby Loves Refugees, in an effort to encourage people to ‘consider taking practical, positive steps to support asylum seekers,’ according to the group’s co-founder Nicolette Jackson.

Since its inception the group has held vigils at Byron Shire Council Chambers to commemorate the deaths in custody of Hamid Kahazaei and Reza Barati.

With this month’s film event the founders are hoping to reach out to more people in the community who have the desire to help.

The film screening, at St John’s Primary School hall, will be followed by a panel discussion and Q&A with a former refugee from Afghanistan, a migrant community worker, and the founder of Northern Rivers Sanctuary – a group that has been supporting the local settlement of refugees in our region.

‘There’s a general feeling of discomfort amongst many ordinary Australians about the treatment offered to desperate people who are seeking a safe place to live,” says Nicolette.

‘Mullumbimby Loves Refugees wants to shine a light on the great interventions and small acts of kindness that everyday Australians are showing towards refugees and asylum seekers.

‘Every connection, when Australians meet asylum seekers face-to-face is an opportunity to go beyond the political rhetoric and the labeling, to listen to each others’ stories, and realize how much we all share in common,” she says.

Co-founder Rita Youssef-Price, adds, ‘We know people living in our region are highly skilled and have a strong social conscience.’

‘We want to tap into this and encourage wider community awareness and involvement on the asylum seeker issue, ‘she explains.

In February this year, scores of Mullumbimby locals attended a cadlelight vigil for Iranian asylum seeker Reza Berati organised by the group Mullumbimby Loves Refugees. Photo supplied.
In February this year, scores of Mullumbimby locals attended a cadlelight vigil for Iranian asylum seeker Reza Berati organised by the group Mullumbimby Loves Refugees. Photo supplied.

She adds that there are about 30,000 people living in Australia at the moment who arrived by boat and are ‘living in limbo: not in detention but on bridging visas. Many of them aren’t allowed to work or learn English; they live in extreme poverty and are often dependent on local community groups and charities to survive.’

Mullumbimby Loves Refugees is looking for ways to help these vulnerable asylum seekers, including offering them a place to live for a while, organizing friendship visits, teaching them English or raising funds to help with their basic living costs.

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea shows the real people behind this issue, which has become so politicised. The filmmakers travelled across Indonesia and met with 250 asylum seekers in jails, detention centres and hostels. Through interviews, hidden camera footage and in the words of asylum seekers themselves, the story of the ‘refugee’ is told.


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2 COMMENTS

  1. The event will be held at the St John’s Catholic School Hall in Mullumbimby from 6pm.
    Tickets are $15 or $12 concession. This price includes a yummy middle eastern meal.
    Film Screening starts at 6.30
    For more information find us on Facebook: Mullumbimby Loves Refugees

  2. I love to hear this, am out of the country and fascinated with Hill Tribes in Northern Thailand. I am grateful for these filmamkers as am sick of the attitude towards refugees and other cultures, especially that it furthers political agendas, and encourages hatred. For refugee week and Harmony Day, I interviewed many refugees from the Northern Rivers, to enlighten others of their real story, and to develop compassion. Well done to the filmmakers. This heartens me.

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