Like its previous season, this show encourages latte sipping lefties to feel good about themselves by watching predominantly white aussies on a leaky boat with paramedics trying to ‘recreate’ the ‘refugee experience’ – without the reality of being locked away indefinitely in offshore, in Australian run detention centres.

“Go Back to Where You Came From” is a cynical exploitation of my story, and thousands of others, under the guise of being progressive.  Role-playing survival scenarios on a reality television show makes entertainment out of the tragedy of the refugee experience.   Seeking asylum is not an episode of The Amazing Race.

The details of how we managed to survive across borders on the way to Australia is incredibly traumatic.  We have had to live and relive these experiences over and over to sceptical bureaucrats and law enforcement; now we must re-live them for the sake of SBS ratings.

Having gone through the horrific  journey of leaving family and surviving on a boat only to be locked up in detention for three years and tortured in Australian run detention centres by the people who are supposedly there to ‘help’ and ‘protect’ you, watching a reality television show about someone imitating my refugee journey adds more trauma to my experience.

I’m not sure that the producers and participants on this show understand the harm they are doing or the complexities of being a refugee.  The entire refugee struggle is simply an exciting, exotic foreign backdrop against which we are invited to witness the emotional journeys of the participants; it is really their stories that are centred here, not the actual refugees who simply feature as realistic extras.

I’m not interested in watching people volunteer for an experience that imitates our struggles in seeking asylum for entertainment. This show will not highlight the deep-rooted & multifaceted problems faced by my peers – all it does is give SBS a hook for a new season of ‘poverty porn.’

This show will make people at home feel good about themselves while sitting on their couches, proclaiming “not in my name” and not realising that seeking entertainment out of our lived journeys is a privileged position. It also raises questions about what type of necessary actions you are taking to end mandatory detention and the turn back policy, rather than being a keyboard warrior.

Go back to where you came from TV show is not an exercise in compassion it is a crude form of racist theatre that shows total disregard for us as human beings. We are not here for your entertainment.

Ramesh Fernandez – eX-detainee


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