Dialog Box

Arts | Community | Human Rights | Refugees | Social Justice
Scattered People
Two musicians seeking asylum in Australia encounter the Scattered People, a small band of kindred spirits who play music and create songs with asylum seekers and refugees as they discover their new identities. But will they find refuge in a country of sharply divided attitudes?
Our film is in late production stage and we are seeking completion funds. We need assistance now for final filming, editing, finalising and distribution of the film.
Scattered People is a documentary about the transformational and healing power of music, bringing together people, cultures and countries while exploring the multiple levels at which music has a positive therapeutic impact. With the help of musicians including Missy Higgins, John Butler, Michael Franti, Archie Roach and more, we also explore how music can help unite, heal and restore our compassion for some of the most vulnerable people on our planet.
A little girl in Iran listens with her father secretly playing illegal western music. Pink Floyd is a favourite but if they are discovered, it would be dangerous and potentially life threatening. Now a young woman in Australia, Saha’s voice is heard singing Pink Floyd’s On The Turning Away as part of the Scattered People’s third album, Sugarmill Road, produced by GANGgajang’s Robbie James. A fusion of eastern and western influences, each of the songs has been brought to life with passion and dedication, evident when Robbie shares his creative process on camera.
Following a chance observation of Chileans playing guitar with Iranians, Sri Lankans, Afghans and others gently swaying in the background, Brian Procopis a Community Development Practitioner is allowed to bring music into immigration detention facility BITA (Brisbane Immigration Transit Accommodation) and the seeds of the Scattered People’s third album are born.
Saha and Mas are young, they have dreams, they love music and all they want is the freedom to live a safe life. We recall the separate historical journeys of two asylum seekers from Iran, in detention and community centres, meeting the Scattered People band and through to professional recording studios where high quality music gives voice to the voiceless.
We discover how music breaks down barriers, gives them purpose, shapes their identities and builds an inclusive community culture. Saha and Mas are welcomed into a new life in a new country through the healing power of music yet at the same time still live in a suffocating limbo on temporary protection visas.
Featuring personal insights and research from a host of prominent Australian musicians (Katie Noonan, Dan Sultan, Vince Jones, Harry James Angus, Mark Callaghan, Ash Grunwald, Eric Bogle, Gyan), artists (Tom Keneally), specialist lawyers, academics, social commentators (Hugh Mackay) and veterans of the immigration and advocacy field, this documentary also explores Australia’s polarised attitudes toward people seeking asylum and refugees.

How does the project meet the aims of a philanthropic foundation?

In our documentary we show how music and a strong desire to help others can reduce this disadvantage and improve quality of life for people seeking asylum.
30,000 asylum seekers are currently living in the Australian community on Temporary Protection Visas which restrict any sense of belonging for them as well as any chance of reuniting with their families. They are marginalised and disadvantaged in many ways and exist in the limbo of continuing uncertainty.
The issue of people seeking asylum is not a popular one for the people of Australia or some philanthropic foundations. However, we are aware that many high profile individuals are advocates. It is vitally important for Australia and other countries to meet this difficult challenge with a positive and constructive approach
The central message of our documentary is that music brings people and cultures together creating a world that is richer because of its diversity. Music in this case represents open-heartedness, acceptance, generosity and embracing the ‘other’.
Our project meets the aims of many philanthropic foundations by:
• Adding humanity and compassion to the asylum seeker national conversation.
• Planting seeds of solidarity between cultures by showing ways in which we can live together more harmoniously.
• Communicating the value and effectiveness of the arts in bringing about individual benefits and social change.
• Demonstrating an effective approach in music and openness that brings people of difference together.
• Placing music as a highly accessible way of breaking down barriers to communication and interaction in community and therapeutic groups.
• Showing nationally respected and successful musicians modelling generosity of spirit and encouraging values of tolerance and trust.
• Showing the Scattered People band embodying and enacting values that build community such as simple kindness, compassion and neighbourliness.
• Taking the film into schools, community health and music programs (through a well designed and well funded outreach program) will empower teachers, facilitators and students.
The following points show our documentary serves to re-humanise and re-personalise people seeking asylum for the public.
• Giving rare and clear voice to two asylum seekers and going deeply into their experience as opposed to short sound bites often presented in the media.
• Raising audience and community awareness through the close encounter with asylum seekers in our documentary.
Scattered People at its heart is a story about the power of giving and opening up to people of difference and from national broadcast media through to local community group screenings, we believe that it will help build strong communities and lead to a more caring Australia.
Aims & Objectives

What outcomes do you hope to achieve by making this film and how will you measure its impact?

By telling a story with music and popular Australian musicians and asylum seekers we will create a heartfelt, topical and inspiring documentary that will serve to help reframe the asylum seeker issue. Scattered People will add to cultural diversity conversation which will benefit all Australians.
We aim to engage and educate the ‘persuadables’ on this complex problem and motivate them towards a more compassionate approach across all levels of society.
For Australians and international viewers
• To shift and reframe the national conversation to a more compassionate and accepting attitude and counter negative rhetoric.
• To increase public tolerance towards a more embracing and welcoming of those from other cultures and a restoring of the ‘traditional’ value of fairness (fair go) and simply being the ‘good neighbour’.
• International viewers gain a greater awareness of the detail and nuance of the Australian situation.
For the participants – the asylum seekers themselves
• To give a voice to the disenfranchised.
• To publically share their story, they may in some way help the plight of all people who are seeking a new home in a new country, strengthening hope for everyone involved.
• The musicians seeking asylum may receive offers of musical projects, collaborations or even recording offers.
For the asylum seeker support communities
• The asylum seeker networks and other related helper communities such as the Red Cross, Brothers of St Laurence etc. will benefit from the increased awareness and, we hope, generosity inspired by this film.
• Scattered People will become a resource that can be screened throughout Australia in a low cost affordable format to reach as many of these communities as possible.
• To increase awareness through downloadable education packages for awareness and outreach programs.
For schools
• To bring the faces, voices and stories of people seeking asylum into the classroom as they stand alongside popular Australian music figures.
• To produce specially targeted education packages (see Strategy section.)
• To add to resources for humanities, arts, sociology and music students wishing to explore the option of music therapy or using music in group work, community building or personal counselling therapy.
• Give school principals and teachers the language and tools to educate their students in a current, ‘today’ format for quick take up, application and acceptance.
Our impact will be measured by:
• Broadcast viewer numbers and box office ticket sales
• Media generated articles
• Feedback collected from asylum seeker and refugee organisations (funding dependent)
• School and internet education pack download numbers
• Public Hosted Screening Events (private space or cinema) numbers
• VOD (Netflix, Stan etc.) viewings and DVD sales
• Audience surveys collected post screenings and broadcast to measure change in attitudes.

What is your education and outreach strategy?

The Scattered People film has recently become part of a five country, four year research project on the impact and role of music and the arts in peace building. Out of Queens University Belfast in conjunction with Musicians Without Borders (https://www.musicianswithoutborders.org ), this international study will culminate in various materials and sound and art installations in Belfast and Brazil.
We are building our online community now. We have a website with extra material consisting of interviews and concert footage and other links to resources and organisations, refugee and asylum seeker FAQs and Action Steps.
The high profile musicians and music managers we worked with support for our project and being part of social change assisting in amplifying our work. We will promote our outreach program tapping into their large network of pre-existing social media and email list channels. This will be part of a broader ‘No More Turning Away’ movement across social media platforms.
We understand the importance of partnering with organisations who are experts in the space and capacity building and putting the film to work with their support and collaboration in scoping, writing and delivering our strategy.
A concert event launch with appropriate awareness campaign involving available high profile artists and the Scattered People band performing with our asylum seekers.
Submission to relevant film festivals.
Online downloadable Discussion Guide for viewers.
Primary, Secondary & Tertiary Resources:
• Screening of the full Documentary in Schools
• 6 x 8 minute short summary videos/vignettes, accompanied by worksheets for primary, secondary or tertiary students; available in both hard copy and as a downloadable file (curriculum areas below).
• Scattered People may be combined with an International Food Fair (small scale within the school premises) where parents and students would bring in a variety of foods to celebrate diversity. Music being a big feature of the event, we would encourage it to become an annual event.
• Although Scattered people is relevant to the curriculum areas of Music and Music Therapy, Society and Culture and Sociology Studies, we believe it has the potential to become part of all faculties nationally including Health Education, Values Education, Civics and Citizenship, Cross-cultural Studies and English.
• Scattered People screening throughout Australian universities and relevant faculties. Alumni of these universities who have come to Australia as asylum seekers could be encouraged to be showcased within these screenings, enriching the value of integration between Australian born and international students.
Planned topics to include:
• Music, the Arts and Wellbeing
• Asylum Seeking, exile and displacement
• Community-based participatory initiatives
• Promoting social integration and cohesion
• Productive diversity and celebrating multiculturalism
• Cross-cultural epistemic communities
John Swatland
John and Lizzi Swatland
Total budget
58 Minutes