September 26, 2012
Imogen Bailey has started a website to help asylum seekers after seeing their plight on SBS series Go Back To where You Came From. Picture: Tim Hunter The Daily Telegraph
TRACING the journey taken by asylum seekers on the acclaimed SBS series, Go Back To Where You Came From has led actress Imogen Bailey in a new direction.
Confronted by the real plight of refugees in Somalia, Indonesia and Christmas Island has shocked the former Neighbours star into action, launching a new website to share the “facts” Bailey was confronted with and provide a platform for asylum seekers to tell their stories.
Lessons Overboard has so far garnered the support of six refugee support agencies, including Amnesty International, taking its name from the infamous Children Overboard scandal which engulfed her Go Back co-star and Howard Government defence minister, Peter Reith.
Bailey and the ex-politician clashed over the incident during the documentary, with Reith fobbing off her questions by saying he was “not in the education business.”
It was a red rag to a bull, the one-time bikini model says, who set about building the “world’s biggest classroom” online to educate herself and others on the asylum seeker debate.
The website, which went live this week, seeks to challenge the “potent language” currently used by politicians and some media, in a bid to “strip away the fear tactics, start getting the facts out there and encourage both parties to make some daring choices,” Bailey said.
“The sloganeering holds a very ugly mirror to where Australian politics is at right now,” the 35-year-old activist said.
“I will never pretend to be a politician, or say I have the solutions but my answer is to educate.”
The one-time calendar girl makes no apologies for her campaigning, after years of feeling she needed to for her career choices.
“I’ve always felt really empowered by the (modelling) work I’ve done, but I also felt the need to apologise. Now, for the first time, I feel I don’t have to explain myself.”
She hopes to attract 10,000 followers to the site by October 7, the anniversary of the Children Overboard allegations, ahead of a November 10 “webinar” featuring refugees, experts and politicians