In 2017 we released the feature documentary The Staging Post.
It followed Muzafar, Khadim and Tahira, three Afghan Hazara refugees stuck in Indonesia after Australia 'stopped the boats'. Trailer - https://vimeo.com/239756181
The film screened at full cinemas across Australia and received an overwhelmingly positive and emotional response. Many Australians are now personally connected with the journey of the refugees in Indonesia.
In 2018 we will film the second episode. It will follow Khadim, Muzafar and Tahira across America, Canada and Australia, as they visit the resettled 'graduates' from the Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre (CRLC).
We will also film these stuck in Indonesia where eight year olds have become twelve and the education continues. They already changed UNHCR policy, what will they do next?
How does the project meet the aims of a philanthropic foundation?
The refugee crisis is the biggest crisis the world is facing right now and the Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre proves that refugees can and should be a part of the solution.
By focussing on their own capacity rather than their deficits, they have been able to build a functioning school for nearly 200 students. As they built the school they discovered that a community naturally formed, and that this community alleviated loneliness, boredom and anxiety. The school provided a space to reclaim their sense of identity and agency.
This approach has had remarkable and unexpected results.
The school and The Staging Post have directly inspired eight other schools. There are now up to 1500 refugees receiving some form of education in Indonesia.
We have also discovered that refugees resettled from the CRLC are integrating and succeeding at far greater levels than regular refugees.
Of the 12 children resettled from the school, 11 have directly entered their age-appropriate classes. Only two have required English-Second-Language support.
Families are being met at the airport (like Muzafar's family in the first episode), and are guided through the integration process with fantastic results
In two weeks Tahira moved herself from Saskatoon to Toronto, enrolled her kids in school, found a job and rented a flat. She transferred herself from one government program to another and will begin her degree at York University shortly.
In just over two years Muzafar's wife, Nagina, has finished the first year of an education degree, with a credit average.
Khadim, Muzafar, Natiqa, Amir, Matin, Fatima and more all have similar stories of success.
An 'institutional knowledge' is developed.
The teachers and students at the CRLC have watched their friends succeed and now know what is possible. At the same time, the resettled refugees are transferring their knowledge back to Indonesia. They are training their friends for when they get their chance!
Through screenings, advocacy, outreach and this second episode we continue to follow and explore this truely remarkable, real-life, real-time story.
There's a long way to go yet!
What outcomes do you hope to achieve by making this film and how will you measure its impact?
Aims & Objectives
It’s not a stretch to say there is an education revolution happening within the refugee population in Indonesia. The Staging Post and the Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre have been the inspiration for this revolution.
There are now six other refugee schools in Indonesia and we regularly receive requests for advice from transient communities in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and even Syria and Iraq. Education in Indonesia is the need, but it is documentary and the agency and voice it gave the refugee population that created the environment in which that education could take place. 4000+ people follow our journey online already, and we have hundreds of visitors every year.
The school is having incredible results. For example, recently the UNHCR completely reversed their guidelines for refugees in Indonesia and now encourage them to engage in education initiatives. When our students are relocated to the US, Canada or Australia they are going directly into their age-appropriate classes.
We aim to spread the message that refugees should be the first and most important actors in their own situation.
'The community has a strong social media presence and manages its own public representation, focusing on a narrative of refugee capacity rather than need.'
'The real value lies in the process behind the outcomes—refugees building trust in one another, confidence, participation in problem-solving and decision-making, and a general sense of starting each day with a purpose. After more than two decades working with refugees, this is certainly the most effective pre-departure preparation program I have encountered.’
Lucy Fiske. Chancellor's Postdoctoral Research Fellow, UTS, Sydney.
What is your education and outreach strategy?
Utilising our institutional and individual supporters (who represent an audience of well over one million Australians), we will build a cohesive social and mainstream media outreach campaign that builds on our current platforms and previous mainstream media coverage. Some of those key supporters include the Refugee Council of Australia, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, NSW Teachers Federation and the Australian Education Union.
The Staging Post will be the headline film for the 2017 Inaugural Refugee Film Festival, part of Refugee Week Australia. Refugee Week has an direct expected audience of 41,000, and a combined media audience of 4.3 million.
COMMUNITY SCREENINGS AND EVENTS.
During our launch we will encourage organisations and individuals to commit to community screenings. A percentage of the entry fee will go to support the Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre.
We have established connections at major universities and believe that we’ll be able to organise screenings at every major university in Australia. We already have presentations arranged, completed or discussed at UTS, UNSW, Sydney Uni, SA Uni, ANU, Notre Dame, UQ, Swinburne, Monash and Adelaide Universities.
The film and the school is the subject of a number of academic studies by Lucy Fiske, Linda Briskman, Stephanie Helmeryk-Donald and others. These studies will support further university screenings.
At the primary and secondary level the biggest Australian Teachers Union's have supported the film and the school and have agreed to help promote the film.
FESTIVALS AND OTHER FESTIVALS
The film will be entered in festivals worldwide with the hopes of finding a distributor and/or a broadcaster internationally.
Short versions of the film have screened in Bangkok at the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network and in Geneva at the United Nations.
We will explore further opportunities within international agencies, as the film’s key message of refugee capacity is absorbed into their policies.