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Are We There Yet

CBAA News, 8th January 2014

Following on in the style of 3ZZZ’s multi award winning Student Xpress series on international students comes Are We There Yet, a series of 8 radio programs talking with asylum seekers and refugees.

The series moves past a 'bleeding hearts' approach to Australia's detention policy, to reach the humans affected.  We do hear stories of how and why people came to Australia. We also hear about the clash of cultures in our school system and of culture shock for third world arrivals as well as their adaptability.

A Vietnamese asylum seeker arrived in Australia in 1982, as a young mother with two children and limited opportunities. She learnt English from her next door neighbor a retired school teacher.  Years later she “repay her kindness”, by looking after her neighbour in “..the last years of her life”.

A detainee tells us after his release, when standing at traffic lights, it dawned on him that Australians obey traffic laws, unlike the third world countries he had passed through where he saw “…all the cars going anywhere and everywhere.”  Of Australia he said “…..this country is beautiful…everyone following the rules.” 

An Aboriginal activist says “…..I support refugees…escaping wars that Australia has a big hand in creating….”.  Aid money and foreign investment, used unwisely can also cause displacement. A former African child solder turned lawyer talks about the building of a canal in the Nile in the 1980’s. The diverted water from his region led to once peaceful tribes warring with each other over scarce water resources. On the future, an asylum seeker tells us “No-one can go backward and make a new beginning but I believe everyone can start from now and make a happy ending.”

The radio series has a rich smorgasbord of young accents. Not only does the variety of the English accents lend to a unique fresh sound, making mainstream productions sound flat in comparison. These young voices are a reminder that there are very very few young people reporting in the main stream media today.

The following people were involved in this series: reporters: Minh Dinh, Miya Min, Bea Trinidad, Edwina Bourrilhon, Aguer Athian, Santiago Santos, Valentine Schiavoni and Ashan Siriwardene. The team were led by Executive Producer Jan Smith, Technical Team Leader Stuart Traill and Assistant Producer Tess Lawrence.

Are We There Yet was made with funding assistance from the Community Broadcasting Foundation. Its purpose was  to give broadcasting skills to young people from non-English speaking backgrounds and at the same time to provide a voice to a minority group in Australia. (All queries about these two series to Jan Smith 0412 058172).


Are We There Yet will play on the Community Radio Network satellite service Fridays from 13:32 to 14:00 EDT, from 7 February to 28 March, and be available to Australian community stations to use on rebroadcast. For futher information contact CRN staff at the CBAA on 02 9310 2999 or email crn@cbaa.org.au.

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Eastside FM's Mick Paddon and Humayun Reza discuss finding voice in a place of refuge.


Student Xpress is a new eight-part current affairs series produced at Melbourne’s 3ZZZ, on the experiences of students living in Australia, particularly international students. To find out more the CBAA put a few questions to 3ZZZ Assistant Manager Jan Smith.


This article provides a critical examination of community media practices by young recently arrived African refugees and Cambodian young migrants in Western Sydney, Australia. Against the backdrop of contemporary cultural politics of migration in Australia the article is grounded on a recent participatory community media research project conducted in 2008-2009, which aimed to conceptualise the emerging spaces for claiming new forms of citizen agency and contest the general representations of newly arrived migrants in the mainstream media. The paper argues that community media is better positioned to recognise changing attitudes towards migrants and refugees, and that these changes must also take place from the bottom up. Extending existing notions of citizens’ media the paper articulates a view that young media practitioners become active citizens in the exercise of their civil and communication rights and their self-representation, by owning the process of content creation and communication, thus redefining the content (rather than the form) of what citizenship means in different social contexts.