As part of Refugee Week 2018 celebrations, Settlement Services International (SSI) hosted public screenings of The Staging Post in regional Armidale and at the Australian National Maritime Museum (ANMM) in Sydney. The screenings fostered a positive narrative about refugees and resettlement in local and regional communities.
Q&A panel facilitator Malini Raj with panellists Muzafar Ali, Khadim Dai, Jolyon Hoff and Kim Tao at the ANMM.
The inspirational film follows the lives of two Afghan Hazara refugees, Muzafar Ali and Khadim Dai. Stuck in Indonesia after Australia “stopped the boats” and facing many years in limbo, they built a community and started a school that sparked a refugee-led education revolution.
Armidale Regional Council Mayor Simon Murray opened the screening in Armidale and said the film screening was a timely reminder about the “fantastic skills, initiative and creativity many refugees bring to their areas in which they settle.”
“They typically bring a wonderful mix of resilience and fertile optimism about the opportunities presented to them by their new homes,” he said.
“The success story told in The Staging Post is a great example of what often comes from that mix.”
SSI Community Engagement Coordinator for Armidale, Samantha Airs, said that the screening is an opportunity to foster a positive narrative about refugees and resettlement in local and regional communities.
“The Staging Post conveys powerful messages about friendship and connection. The film’s key message is the resilience and agency of refugees to generate change and create solutions,” Ms Airs said.
Ms Airs said that there was an overwhelmingly positive response from the local community in welcoming newly arrived families from Iraq and Syria in Armidale.
“Welcome events hosted by the community have included picnics, barbeques and morning teas to share food and company. Community initiatives range from music classes, woodwork and craft sessions, English and creative writing classes, bird watching, and community gardening.”
The Sydney film screening hosted at the ANMM fostered curiosity with audiences who were interested to hear from former refugees and film leads Muzafar Ali and Khadim Dai.
Mr Dai said that the SSI screenings of The Staging Post gave a voice to and connected refugees to regional Australian communities in places such as Armidale.
“It was a wonderful experience for me to meet all those people in Armidale and Sydney,” Mr Dai said.
“Having a voice for refugees are very important, and I was very lucky to raise my voice through SSI screening of The Staging Post.”
Commonwealth Bank Cultural Diversity & Inclusion Champion and partner of SSI, Malini Raj facilitated the Q&A panel discussion after the screening and said that the discussion had a strong message around courageous people never giving up.
“Thanks SSI and ANMM curator Kim Tao for giving me the privilege to facilitate the panel discussion following tonight’s screening,” Ms Raj said.
“The engaging discussion showed that courageous people never give up and with sincerity and commitment, big things can happen.”
ANMM Curator Kim Tao participated in the panel discussion and said that the questions that followed from the audience highlighted the real impacts of immigration policy on people’s lives.
“It showed that documentary filmmaking and museum programs have much in common, by inviting audiences to focus on personal, individual stories in order to humanise the facts of history,” Ms Tao said.
“The event was a truly inspiring night, showcasing the capacity of film, filmmakers and storytellers to harness the communicative power of personal biography and remind us of our common humanity.”
The Staging Post is a real-life, real-time, multiplatform documentary about friendship, connection and the power of community. Click here to learn more.