Australian government spends $6m of taxpayers' money on anti-refugee film

In the closing scenes, a man drowning in deep water clutches his dead child as a boat pulls away

Matt Broomfield
Monday 28 March 2016 18:02 BST

The Australian government has spent $6 million of taxpayers' money on a straight-to-TV movie intended to discourage refugees from claiming asylum in Australia.

Journey depicts a group of people from Afghanistan who pay people-smugglers to help them across the Indian Ocean. However, following a series of misadventures the boat is caught in a storm.

In the closing scenes, a man can be seen struggling in deep water with the corpse of his dead, toddler-aged daughter as a boat abandons them in the distance.

A man clutches his dead child during the closing moments of the film (Journey, The Movie)

Other relatives have already drowned on-camera in preceding scenes, with one man committing suicide by removing his life jacket. The struggling man is seen surrounded by the bodies of drowned and drowning people, and the action cuts to grieving relatives in Afghanistan.

The movie has been recorded in Dari, Pashto, Urdu, Arabic and Farsi, but will not be released in English, giving some idea as to the film's target audience.

A Sydney-based film company called Put It Out There Pictures was paid $4.34 million of Australian taxpayers' money to make the film. The company's director, Trudi-Ann Tierney, has previously been involved in the production of pro-war soap operas for Afghan television.

The smugglers attempt to throw refugees overboard as the boat fills up with water (Journey, The Movie)

The film was shot on location in three countries. Lapis Communications were then paid $1.63 million to market the picture, suggesting a total budget just shy of $6m. It has already been screened in Pakistan, Iran and Iraq, and will soon be shown in Afghanistan.

In a statement, Put It Out There says: "The film aims to educate and inform audiences in source countries about the futility of investing in people smugglers, the perils of the trip, and the hardline policies that await them if they do reach Australian waters.

"Independent research in these countries has revealed misunderstandings and false rumours about Australia's policy, and a perception that Australia remains a preferred destination country for those seeking to travel illegally by boat. Initial feedback from viewers has been positive."

An asylum-seeker commits suicide by removing his life jacket (Journey, The Movie)

The production company has made the full, feature-length movie available on YouTube.

Over the last 7 years, between 96% and 100% of Afghan refugees arriving via boat on Australian shores have been found to be bona-fide asylum seekers under national and international law.

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