“Six ordinary Australians agree to challenge their preconceived notions about refugees and asylum seekers by embarking on a confronting 25-day journey. Tracing in reverse the journeys that refugees have taken to reach Australia, they travel to some of the most dangerous and desperate corners of the world, with no idea what is in store for them along the way.” – SBS ‘Go Back To Where You Came From’
Introducing Adam Hartup, one of the six Australian’s who raised his hand to get involved with the new TV series ‘Go Back To Where You Came From’ airing on SBS this week. Adam experienced what it’s like first-hand to be thrown out of his comfort zone into something not many ordinary Australian’s have ever experienced before. For a bit of background info, Adam is currently working for the RNLI lifeguards in Jersey Island and will be back on our shores mid September for his season with the SSC lifeguards. As a Local Cronulla Lifeguard in SBS Refugee Reality TV Show, Adam sheds some light on his journey….
K: After answering a call for volunteers for the new TV series “Go Back To Where You Came From”, why did you decide to become involved?
A: I suppose I wanted to be more educated on the subject and not just have the one stubborn point of view. Also an opportunity like this doesn’t come around too many times in a lifetime!
K: Before your involvement in the SBS TV series, how much of an impact did the pressing nationwide issue of the increasing number of asylum seekers arriving by boat have on you?
A: I saw boat people as illegal immigrants/criminals and had no time for them. I couldn’t understand why we were spending millions and millions of taxpayer’s dollars to help these people out. I mean, I could see the hardships that people in Australia were facing with fires, floods and Cyclones destroying families and lives at that time. So I guess I was just confused and didn’t really understand this complex subject!
K: As a local who has lived in Cronulla most of your life, what impact did the 2005 Cronulla riots have on you as a person?
A: The 2005 riots for me at the start was just a chance to say we don’t want people ruining this awesome place we have, but as the day went on people got too drunk, fights started out and innocent people started getting bashed, and that’s what we were here to stop in the first place. It made me ashamed to be an Australian. I think it was a minority group of people on the day that was causing most of the problems and it really did scar the shire in a whole for a long time. I do think we have come a long way since the riots and can all learn from it.
K: From firstly having “zero tolerance” towards asylum seekers arriving by boat, what was the main reason you did a “complete somersault” on your preconceived idea? Was there a particular event/moment that instantly changed your mindset or was it a gradual process over the 3 weeks?
A: The somersault on my opinion basically happened over the entire 25 days, every day was like an emotional rollercoaster. When you hand your entire belongings phone, wallet and passport to complete strangers you are giving your lives and independence away. To see the desperation and heartbreak through out, it really brings you back to reality and makes you realise how well we have it in Australia and even better, in the Shire. To house 52 Chin Burmese refugees for a month was 1 weeks wage for me and to think how hard they work for that is amazing. At anytime they can be arrested and thrown in jail because they are illegal, so to see the living conditions and the constant fear of persecution, it makes your think id do exactly the same thing if I could (get on a boat).
K: After leaving the security of your own home and environment to live life through the eyes of a refugee, what would you say was the most rewarding part of this journey for you? Did it change your view on any aspects of your life?
A: I guess the main thing that I have taken out of this journey is my attitude towards life and simple problems we face in day to day life are very insignificant, I mean reality is we have it so good and we are so lucky to have what we have. If I come out of this journey and have changed nobody’s opinion, I can honestly say I’m a better person for it.
K: Currently living overseas, what do you miss most about the Shire?
A: Good coffee and warm weather, but probably the people. I guess you can take the guy out of the shire but you can’t take the shire out of the guy!
K: Finish this sentence … “I Love Cronulla” because?
A: Shhhh I can’t let everyone know the secret, people who live in the shire will already know why it’s an awesome place and people who don’t live here, it will remain a secret.