According to the Refugee Council of Australia, there were 51.2 million forcibly displaced persons in 2013. As a signatory of the UN Refugee Convention, Australia has obligations to assist. Yet in an age of increasingly hardline policies, border control rhetoric overshadows human rights considerations. This is compounded by the largely negative portrayal of this vulnerable demographic in the mainstream media.
MAPgroup’s "Beyond Borders" documents the unique experiences of asylum seekers and refugees seeking a safer life under exceptionally challenging circumstances, through a multimedia production of short videos. Each of the photographers involved explore varied themes including the universality of being a parent; the longing for loved ones separated by displacement or death; the difficulty of being torn between two cultures; and the importance of sports in building confidence amongst young people. But it is the words of the participants, which are most powerful. Coming from a range of countries including Burma, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Jordan, Columbia, Iran and Somalia, "Beyond Borders" highlights their multifaceted experiences, stories and voices. And yet, these voices hauntingly suggest the countless others that will never be heard.
"Beyond Borders" reminds us that these are people, not problems. People who have much to contribute; people who have the same desires for their children; people who are resilient; and people who have so many stories to tell. Because it is through sharing personal stories that we can transcend the divisions between us- that we can go beyond borders.