Dialog Box

Community | Human Rights | Refugees | Social Justice
No Turning Back
NO TURNING BACK is an empowerment story about Australian women enriching their own lives and the lives of refugees and asylum seekers through connection, support, and leadership. This is a perspective that is under represented – until now. 

This feature length documentary takes us on an inspirational journey across Australia to portray the everyday reality of Jennie, Leonie & Abiola. We see the complex challenges they face in caring for displaced people in their communities. Coping with extraordinary obstacles with creativity and emotional aptitude, we see a unified determination and a demonstration of the true power of humanity. 

Jennie from Brisbane is in her sixties and childless. She cares for Asad, a young Hazara asylum seeker as if he is her own son. Jennie struggles to protect Asad from ongoing fear of deportation while he attempts to rebuild his life away from his mother and siblings stranded in Iran. After nearly drowning at sea, Asad’s new life purpose is to be an international human rights lawyer.

Leonie from Western Sydney is a wife, mother of two, and a volunteer for the support group Mums4Refugees. While she spends her days helping people deal with unspeakable traumas, chronic health and mental problems, in her downtime she battles with the feelings of guilt and pressure from her husband - who would prefer she have a paid job and contribute to the mortgage. 

Ten years ago, Abiola was forced to leave Nigeria as a refugee and start her life from scratch in Melbourne. From just surviving to becoming a thriving member of the community, Abiola is now giving back by helping hundreds of refugees find gainful employment. Today she is supporting newly arrived Syrians resettle in the outer suburb of Eltham. But with the rise of anti-refugee and Islamophobic sentiment, Abiola and the Welcome To Eltham community group are faced with fending off protestors in what is dubbed the ‘battle for Eltham’.

As their stories unfold, the film poses critical questions to leading practitioners in the humanitarian, legal, and media fields to probe deeper into the Australian psyche and the values our nation is so desperately defending in light of the global refugee crisis. 

Told through the voice of many, this film is a tribute to the power of women’s persistence and creativity in the face of seemingly impossible barriers. What we see is an incipient revolution in the definition of womanhood and a recognition of women’s strengths in making their communities healthier, inclusive and more vibrant through simple acts of kindness and leadership. 

These women prove that even though borders may put certain limits on our identity, they cannot define the limits of our humanity.


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

No Turning Back is a social impact film that aims to encourage an alternative response to the current refugee crisis - one that focuses on the empowerment of women. The film acts as a catalyst for social change from one that is currently  dominated by so-called male ‘leaders’ who choose to abuse the rights of refugees for political gain. 

No Turning Back shows a different paradigm of leadership - women believe in changing the world by reaching out to others. Through them we see the fruits of women’s strength as leaders. People live better lives because women see what is needed, work together to bring about change, and inspire others to do the same. The very best predictor of a nation’s health is not the level of wealth, its level of democracy, nor its cultural identity – is how well women are valued and how their value is recognized, rewarded and utilized.

We believe that an examination of female-led movements in the refugee space provides new and diverse role models for millions of women and girls, and drive a new narrative about leadership and show the role of women in the creation of Australia’s cultural identity. 

To achieve these goal, we are focusing on three key elements:

1. Impactful Storytelling

2. Targeted Audience Reach & Analysis

3. Extended Campaign Engagement

The Basis of No Turning Back’s Impact Campaign Vision is that the film will also serve as a launchpad for a more expansive conversation and education about the role of women in our society, and how we can support the work they do in refugee communities across Australia.

With ongoing reduction of State and Federal support for film production in Australia, philanthropic contribution is pivotal to boost women’s voice and diversity in documentary films, positively encourage social responsibility and build community.

Aims & Objectives

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

With no sign of the global refugee crisis abating No Turning Back is a timely film whose aim is to replace endemic panic and fear with compassion and humanity.

The outreach for this film centers on promoting awareness and appreciation of Australian women making a difference in refugee & asylum seeker communities from the local to the global setting. Interviews with prominent thinkers offer a greater understanding of the importance of women’s contribution to society, national security, and the complexity of refugee policy informing our own cultural history.

All the women featured in the film understand that no act of kindness, however small, is wasted. Their optimism, and those they protect, is a source of constant inspiration. It shows us the powerful impact on people’s lives – through even the most frustrating and seemingly hopeless times. Their intentions, their methods and the obvious successes in their communities make a powerful argument for abandoning gender constraints and turning dominant male-centric leadership theory on its head.

Outreach Objectives:

> Examine the role of women in the creation of Australian identity and culture through the refugee context.

> Build support for and appreciation of the contribution of women to the social, cultural, economic and political life in Australia.

> Engage new audiences and encourages a different way to discuss Australia’s controversial responses to refugees and asylum seekers amongst the broader ‘persuadable’ community.

> Fundraising campaigns to support women’s grassroots organizations and non-for profit organisations working with refugees and asylum seekers in urban and rural locations across Australia.

> Promote respect for the work and social contribution of women and the challenges they face and overcome - financially and emotionally.

We can measure this outreach impact by:

1.    Curriculum study guide and engagement with educators in secondary schools, universities and relevant institutions.

2.    Collaborate with refugee organisations, women’s community groups, and social institutions to support their existing programs and social media engagement, and gather their data on engagement.

3. Audience attendance figures at festivals and screenings.

4. Direct feedback for schools, institutions, organisations.

5. Attendance / participation of influential policymakers, advisors, campaigners, critical thinkers.


What is your education and outreach strategy?

The team is now entering a period of consolidation of the education and outreach strategy, with discussion and development of best ways to achieve this. There is much work to be done with the assistance of Nick Torrens, Media Stockade and other organizations that inform these areas.

We value the importance of partnering with individuals, grassroots organisations, non-for-profit agencies, and education departments for outreach and capacity building. We can use the film in strategic and creative ways towards achieving the impact goals such as:

> Screenings in capital cities and regional Australia including education institutions and community groups and organisations across Australia who can use the film to build support for women’s network in refugee communities.

> Inclusion in cultural events, special event screenings, and film festivals.

> Creation and inclusion of an online community.

> Creation of educational material for tertiary and high-school students. The film will be marketed via established networks of academics and educators in relevant fields.

The film will be of particular interest to humanities subjects including but not limited to: sociology, anthropology, women’s studies, forced migration, and human rights.

We will consult with educational professionals to ensure that the film and ancillary material is utilised in schools and universities to maximise reach and longevity of the campaign.

> The website http://noturningback.com.au is under development and will provide various content, behind-the scenes clips, and educational material including a trailer, short treatment, downloadable media kit, and resource links.

Ann Megalla
Barbara Carseldine, Ann Megalla, Helen Morrison
Total budget
85 Minutes