The incredible 4676 km, Wonthaggi to the Sunshine Coast, Staging Post Refugee Week ’19 tour.

We loved every minute, but just like the refugee-led education revolution in Indonesia and the thousands of volunteer refugees who get up each day to make it happen, it didn’t happen without the support of a community. So a huge thanks to everyone who helped us over the past weeks.

The first stop was Wonthaggi and Felicia Di Stefano and the South Gippsland Rural Australians for Refugees arranged a beautiful evening. Thanks also goes to Leah Bellairs and Jacqui Francis from the Bass Coast Council for lending us the beautiful Wonthaggi Union Community Cinema, to Jordan Crugnale MP who spoke before the screening, and to Richard and Helen who hosted us around their pot belly stove and indoor ping pong table.

After meeting some old friends at the Abbotsford Convent, we headed to Maryborough Paramount Theatre, where we spent the afternoon with the deeply committed Rural Australians for Refugees, Maryborough, and shared stories in the local cafe afterwards. Thanks to Jeanne Hart for all her hard work setting up the event. We then took over Jeanne’s house and enjoyed a lovely lasagna.

It was an eight hour drive to met Marie and Sarah in Bowral, where we enjoyed another full house and fierce audience at our favourite cinema, The New Empire Cinema. Thanks to Sarah for putting us up in her ‘Shed’ and, after too much road food, providing a much appreciated fresh veggie soup. The next day we stayed in Bowral for one of the best days ever. 450 school students filled every seat at every one of the four cinemas at The New Empire Cinemas. The owner had never seen anything like it and said we were doing ‘Avenger’s numbers at the box office’! Muzafar, Nagina and myself bounced in and out of each cinema for the introductions and Q&As. We loved the direct, honest and straightforward questions from the kids. They left energised and enthusiastic and I’m sure we’ll be back in Bowral before too long.

The next morning Muzafar spoke to the Penrith High School assembly, before a full house that evening at Mt Vics Flicks in the Blue Mountains. The Blue Mountains Rural Australians for Refugees are a powerful, organised and committed group and our thanks goes to Kathie, Susan and Peter for some warm beds for the night and for helping to arrange the events. The next day we spoke to 300 students at Blaxland High School. Nagina, our quiet hero, held the kids silent for over 45 minutes. She is going to be a great teacher when she finishes her degree, a school should pick her up early! The kids again asked question after question, they know there’s more to the story than what they are told.

There was a quiet meet-up at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School and a quick tourist stop at the Opera House, before we headed north to Coffs Harbour and another lovely audience. Thanks to Kellie Lee and the Coffs Harbour Council for hosting us on the night.

We didn’t stay in Coffs long, as there were three screenings in and around Brisbane to get to. We had an afternoon screening and some tasty snacks at the Caboolture Library, Thanks to Nooreen Harris, Multicultural Association of Caboolture and Surrounds Inc., and The Caboolture Library for arranging. That night we were with old friends at the Sunshine Coast University. There was music, snacks, and even raffle prizes. Thanks to Gillian Duffy for all her work, and to all the groups that make up the Sunshine Coast Refugee Action Network. There’s a strong refugee supporting community on the Sunshine Coast. The next morning we screened at the Brisbane City Library and our thanks go to long time supporters Fernanda Torresi and QPAAST.

Muzafar recently received the John Gibson Refugee Community Leadership Grant and left us in Brisbane to fly to Geneva to represent refugees and Cisarua Learning at the 25th Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement (ATCR), and at the Annual UNHCR-NGO Consultations in Geneva. We are very proud of him and know that he will be a powerful voice for refugees in that forum.

The rest of us turned south for a huge 13.5 hour drive to Griffith. We took it in two bites and weren’t  disappointed when we arrived. Firstly, 523 students packed into the Griffith Community Theatre for our biggest screening, and then a large Rural Australians for Refugee, Griffith crowd turned up that evening. Thanks to the unstoppable Will Mead for putting so much work into making it happen. Will also hosted us in her home, and then sent us away with some delicious passionfruit slice to top it off.

Finally we headed back to Melbourne, all needing a good rest. Thanks to all our old and new friends, and a special thanks to the Rural Australians for Refugee groups around Australia. Your committed and generous communities around the country bring us warm-hearts, hope and energy. Can’t wait to see you again soon!

Halfway through Refugee Week '19

Muzafar, Nagina, Natiqa, Sughra, Quinn and Jolyon are halfway through our Refugee Week Tour and it has been another whirlwind of great people and communities.

We had a beautiful time in Wonthaggi, hung with old friends in Melbourne, met new ones in Maryborough, and today we had most remarkable day of school screenings in Bowral with over 500 students packed into four cinemas at the Empire Cinema.

Tomorrow we are off to Penrith High in the morning and Mt Vics Flicks in the evening. On Thursday we’re at AFTRS for a meet-up between 5 & 9pm. They’ll be a short presentation at around 6:30pm. Hope you can make it.

Then it’s Coffs Harbour, Brisbane, Sunshine Coast and Caboolture, before a long trip back down to Griffith and another 500 school students!

The Staging Post is rated PG.

Attached is the official classification report from the Classification Board. We received a PG rating with ‘Mild Themes’.

I attached the report so that anyone who is interested can see the full decision. We are considering appealing for a G rating, as the themes are very very mild. We remain confident that the film is suitable for all audiences and it has been watched and loved by kids from 8 years upwards.

Five years of hard work to make one 'non-story'.

So it’s on. Another election ‘coming soon’ to Australia, and once again refugees are on the front pages. In the last week, nearly every Australian TV, radio and television network has visited Indonesia looking for a story. To their surprise, they found something that didn’t fit their pre-conceived narrative. Instead of depressed and isolated refugees, they found a strong, connected and educated community. Instead of refugees pooling at the borders, they found a community determined to wait for an official chance to resettle. To get to this point it took five years of hard work by the refugee community in Indonesia, but when I read the media’s stories, it was my turn to be surprised. In an effort to find something, anything, that suited their Australian-centric narrative, the Australian media had looked straight past the many remarkable and unprecedented refugee-led initiatives in Indonesia.

In 2013, when Australia reinstated its offshore detention policy, around 15,000 refugees were stuck in Indonesia. I was living in Jakarta and decided to find out more. I wanted to know who they were, where they came from, and what they were going to do now? What I found was desperate people. With no way forward or back, their mental, financial and social stress was acute. They were isolated and didn't even know each other. One refugee would not look at another when they crossed the street and smugglers had spread many rumours and untruths. The refugees thought that Indonesians carried knives under their clothes and would slit their throats at night. 

It was a dark time, but when a small group of refugees started a learning centre, it represented a glimmer of hope and they flocked to the school. That school is called the Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre (CRLC) and it has inspired a refugee-led education revolution in Indonesia. CRLC has 20 volunteer refugee teachers and nearly 300 students. The older women and men, many illiterate even in their own language, come in the afternoon to learn English. The school provides much more than education. It is the space around which a community has formed. For children whose parents lost their childhoods to war, it is a safe place for them to enjoy their own childhoods. For parents, it represents everything they hoped for their children when they left their home countries. For the teachers, it a place to contribute, away from the nightmares and worries that they carry inside them. It has also become a space for the refugees to educate and connect with Australians. There are over 100 visitors to the Centre every year. Some stay for months and the CRLC community has built thousands of friendships around the world.

Other refugees heard about CRLC and started their own schools. There are now over 10 refugee-led schools and around 1,500 refugees receiving education in Indonesia. Other initiatives include: karate classes, handicrafts groups, scrabble and chess competitions, football tournaments and more. If the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) wants to share information with refugees, then the schools provide a space for them. The managers of the various schools get together each month to discuss issues. Over five years this has created a strong community, which our media looked straight past when they visited Indonesia.

The difficulties still remain. There is no possibility for resettlement in Indonesia, creating the constant mental pressure of never knowing if, or when, you will be resettled. They cannot work in Indonesia and their financial situation is dire. They survive with support from family and friends overseas. In the past five years the Australian Government has reduced the number of refugees it takes from Indonesia from 900 to under 50. In a particularly nasty twist, the UNHCR has been told that any refugee whose family arrived in Australia by boat, will never be resettled in Australia. The UNHCR recently visited the CRLC to tell the community that they should expect to be stuck for up to 25 years.

The Australian media has already moved on. Dodgy government contracts in Papua New Guinea are the story this week. The refugee community in Indonesia has helped us to remove a stain from our history and we owe them a debt of gratitude for making this a ‘non-story’. It won’t take much to thank them, we just need to accompanying them, be their friend and let them know that they are not forgotten. One day, Australia might introduce a refugee sponsorship policy, like Canada, and we can invite them in that way. Perhaps the Government will decide to increase resettlement spaces from Indonesia again. In the meantime, they are in the middle of a very long journey and there is plenty we can do.

Jolyon Hoff is the director of feature documentary The Staging Post. It follows the story of a small group of refugees who started a school and inspired a refugee-led education revolution in Indonesia. He is also the Project Director at Cisarua Learning, an Australian charity which supports refugee initiatives in Indonesia.

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TWO INTERNATIONAL SCREENINGS THIS WEEK.

TORONTO

Tue, Oct 23, 2018 10:30AM at the Aga Khan Museum. As part of Hotdocs, Docs For Schools Program. More info here. The remarkable ex-manager of the CRLC, Tahira Razai will be there in person for a Q&A. Find out how the CRLC helped her resettle successfully in Canada.

BANGKOK

As part of the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network conference. 6:30PM Wed, Oct 24th at SEA Junction, Bangkok. Jolyon will be there in person for the Q&A.

We were also pleased to hear that The Staging Post screened at the FILM///gespräch@grätzgaleriein Austria recently. Photos below.

We love to hear from you anytime, info@thestagingpost.com.au. We are always willing to hold school, community and fundraising screenings.

DOCUMENTARY AUSTRALIA FOUNDATION ‘DOCSOCIAL’ SCREENINGS.

The Staging Post is screening as part of Documentary Australia Foundation’s, DOCSOCIAL initiative. At EVENT and Village cinemas in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide this November. This is just about the last chance to see the film on the big screen in Australia. DON’T MISS OUT. Tickets available below - special discounted price -

7 November

Sydney EVENT Cinemas, Bondi Junction, 6.30pm | BrisbaneVEVENT Cinemas, 6.30pm | Adelaide EVENT Cinemas, 6.30pm

14 November

Village Cinemas, Jam Factory South Yarra, 6.30pm

‘The wound is the place where the light enters you.’ Rumi

The refugee-led education revolution in Indonesia.

There are many wounds in the refugee community: lost parents, brothers, sisters, dreams and childhood’s abound. There is also a wound, strongly felt in the Australian community, around Australia’s refugee offshore detention policy. Grandmother’s for Refugees, Mums for Refugees, Rural Australian’s for Refugees are all refugee advocacy groups tens of thousands strong who, in an attempt to change Australia’s refugee policy, have spent years placarding, protesting and letter writing. It is a policy which has caused terrible suffering to some of the most vulnerable people on this Earth.

Most Australians have accepted ‘the policy’ as a necessary evil, but almost none are pleased about it and refugee policy is still an everyday major issue in newspapers, on TV and radio, and in politics. I believe this is because we feel the pain deeply. It is a wound against our Australian ideals of a fair go, a stain on our lucky country, and it challenges our belief that we value human rights more than most others. Our immigration ministers say that no-one wants to lock people up in offshore detention – but they are. So refugee policy remains on the Australian political agenda, and the advocates continue to placard and write letters.

There are wounds on both sides. Those felt by the refugees escaping war and instability and those felt by the quietly, and not-so quietly, horrified Australian public. But there is a light entering those wounds, and it is led by the refugees. A borderless community is being created, and it is helping to heal those wounds.

After Australia ‘stopped the boats’, about 15,000 refugees were stuck in Indonesia. Some were planning to take a boat to Christmas Island, while others planned to wait it out in the years-long UNHCR queue. However, with the new Australian policy, they found themselves stuck. UNHCR resettlement spots dwindled and, if the end result was detention on a remote island, the 50/50 risk presented by the boats wasn’t worth it.

A small group of refugees decided to take matters into their own hands and started their own school for refugees. One refugee, Muzafar Ali, had worked for the UN in Afghanistan helping to provide education for prisoners. He knew that if prisoners could have an education, so could the refugees. It was a human right and nobody could stop them. The first school was humble: two small rooms, a few books, and a few under-qualified volunteer refugee teachers. They started anyway and the school was an instant hit. There were 50 students on the waiting list within a week. Australian’s living in Jakarta (I was one of them) quickly became aware of the school and rallied to help rent a bigger space, the Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre (CRLC) was born.

The CRLC became a magnet for Australians bypassing their government’s policies. Every year between 200 to 300 Australians make the trip to Cisarua, about two hours outside of Jakarta, to meet the refugees. They reach out to connect with, and support, the refugees’ initiative. At the same time they are healing the wound they feel on Australia’s soul. They play football together, become interns and teachers, and have meals together. Some stay up to six months and live with the refugees. All the while they learn from, and about, refugees. They meet people dedicated to education, people who just want a safe place to contribute, and they make life-long friends. When they return, they carry this knowledge back to Australia.

In August 2018, the school celebrated its fourth anniversary. Many refugee kids went to school for the first time at the CRLC. The volunteer teachers received training from the New South Wales Teacher’s Federation, University of Technology in Sydney, Australian Education Union, Australian Intercultural School in Jakarta, and many others. The education levels are now comparable to any average Australian primary school. The wound is still there, but connection, community and education is bringing some light, and helping to sustain hope. Other refugees in Indonesia have watched the success of the CRLC and have started similar schools. As of August 2018, there are 14 refugee-led education centres, teaching over 1,500 refugees and managed by around 100 volunteer refugee teachers.

The refugee-led schools in Indonesia offer us, as Australians, an opportunity for learning, connection and friendship. While we continue to advocate for those stuck on Manus and Nauru, the refugees in Indonesia have presented us with an opportunity to show our government how we, the Australian People, believe we should act towards others in need.

CRLC's 4th year anniversary

I recently spent two weeks at the CRLC and was lucky enough to catch their 4th year anniversary performance.

It was an exciting day and, even though the performance was not until 3pm, the kids started arriving early in the morning to help prepare. The performance included traditional Afghan and Hazara dances and costumes, and Hazarghi songs about women in Afghanistan. In an reflection of their ‘in-between’ status they also performed ‘robot dances’, girls danced and sang along to American pop songs and there were ‘beatbox-ing’ demonstrations! One impressive mother, who could barely speak English 18 months ago, stood up and made a speech about human rights which she had written herself.

As I was filming I spent a lot of time thinking about the two small rooms where the refugee women started teaching 4 years ago. How little they knew, and the small pile of writing books and pens they had that first week. And the joy when Lucy Hamilton came with 50 kgs of books.

It’s hard to describe how far they have come in words. The images and video below capture it best. Make sure you click through to see all the photos.

Unfortunately the situation in Afghanistan is continuing to deteriorate with the Taliban nearly taking over Ghazni City two weeks ago (where many of our students and teachers come from) and also 48 Hazara students being killed while taking exams in Kabul. The symbolism of Hazara children being killed trying to get an education was a stark reminder for me, and the community, on why they have taken such a difficult journey with its unknown future.

Before the celebrations there was a one minute silence, and that evening a candlelight vigil was held on the school grounds.

Thank you, as always, for all your support for this special, special initiative.

Love Jolyon

CRLC 4th Anniversary.In memory of those who lost their lives in Ghazni and Kabul

Ripples of goodness spreading ever wider.

On all sides of the world the stars of The Staging Post are raising the voices of refugees. In Santa Fe, Khadim Dai presented The Staging Post to a small but sold out screening at the (sorry to those turned away). In Adelaide this evening, Muzafar Ali opens an exhibition of his photos in Ginger's Coffee Studio on Goodwood Road. And I know Tahira Razai is working on a number of fronts in Toronto too....so stay tuned for some upcoming news from there. Congratulations to them all!

Our epic Refugee Week/Fortnight Staging Post Screening Tour is finished

We have had the most incredible time screening The Staging Post around Australia. What a journey and what beautiful people and communities we met. We're now back with our families and taking a rest. Khadim is with his sister and brother, and his cousins who he hasn't seen since he was leading them astray in Quetta 12 years ago! And what bright girls they are, one is studying at university and the other is doing her VCE this year.

There's five days left for our fundraiser. Please share our fundraising video widely and if you can make a regular monthly donation you can find out more about our charity and do that here. All donations are tax-deductible.

Below are a selection of Muzafar's photos from the trip.

 

 

 

 

Chuffed Campaign Video. Please share!

Muzafar, Khadim and I are nearing the end of our epic Refugee Week 2018 Staging Post Screening Tour. We have had the most incredible time traveling to Bega, Bairnsdale, Ballarat, Bedigo, Armidale, Warrawong and more. We have been energised and enthused by the warmth and love we have received. As an Australian, I am especially encouraged. We are sure that the #CRLCFamily has grown in the past two weeks.

Now it is the time to ask you to support our charity, Cisarua Learning. Please help us become a viable and long-term charity through our Chuffed fundraising campaign. We are a fully registered Public Benevolent Institution and all donations are tax deductible.

Please be generous as we have a lot of work to do in Indonesia. The UNHCR has told the refugees they will be there up to 25 years and we are determined to accompany the refugees for as long as they need, and to continue the support the incredible successes they have had so far.

Beow are some photos from the tour so far and also a fundraising video made by a trio of tired, dusty and croaky filmmakers.

Thanks to all our supporters, big and small, near and far. We love you and thanks for being a part of our journey so far. Please share this video as widely as you can!

This is just the beginning.

Love

Jolyon, Muzafar and Khadim

Beautiful cinemas for Refugee Week 2018.

Below are some of the beautiful cinemas we will be screening in, this Refugee Week 2018. Get your tickets early, some sessions selling out already.

Not by boat by plane

Not by boat by plane. Mr California AKA Khadim Dai is on his way to Australia for The Staging Post's Refugee week 2018 screening tour! See you all at the screenings.

Make sure you get your tickets early. Some screenings are filling up already. You have been warned. :) thestagingpost.com.au for more

The Staging Post screenings, Refugee Week 2018. 17th - 30th June.

We are very excited to announce the latest list of screening dates for The Staging Post. More to be added soon.

Muzafar and I will be traveling around the country and attending many of these screenings and we're looking forward to meeting old friends and making new ones. If we can't get there, the screenings will be presented by friends of Cisarua Learning, and we'll try to arrange Skype connections with the refugees in Indonesia. 

There are many school screenings happening too. If you would like to hold a screening at your school please let us know. We'd love to make it happen and, time permitting, will try to arrange a Skype hookup with the students at the Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre in Indonesia.

A huge thanks to all the sponsoring and supporting groups, especially Rural Australians for Refugees and Settlement Services International who are supporting multiple screenings around the country.

If you know anyone in these towns and cities, please let them know.

Refugee Week 2018 Screenings June 16th - 30th

  • Sat 16th, Maleny RSL 5pm (more info)
  • Sun 17th, Adelaide Box Factory, Adelaide City Council. 6pm (Tickets)
  • Mon 18th, Pivotonian Cinema, Geelong, Avail soon.
  • Mon 18th, New Empire Cinema, Bowral. 7pm (Tickets)
  • Tues 19th, Brunswick Picture House, Brunswick Heads (Tickets)
  • Tues 19th, Gala Cinema, Warrawong (Tickets)
  • Wed 20th, Belgrave Cinema, Armidale. Avail soon.
  • Wed 20th, Shirley Bourke Theatre, Parkdale. (Tickets)
  • Thurs 21st, Maritime Museum, Sydney. Avail soon.
  • Fri 22nd, Lumen Christi, Pambula. 11.30am.
  •     Senior citizens welcome.  RSVP @ school by 19th June 64958888
  • Fri 22nd, Bega funhouse, Bega Valley. 6pm. Tickets at door.
  • Sat 23rd, Cairns Esplanade, Cairns. 6:30pm. Free screening.
  • Sat 23rd, Regent Cinema, Ballarat 4:30pm. Avail soon.
  • Sat 23rd, Kerang, Nthn District Community Health, Kerang. 7:30pm. (more info)
  • Sun 24th, Sun Cinema, Bairnsdale. 7pm. (Tickets)
  • Mon 25th, Tambo Upper Primary. School
  • Tues 26th, Nagle College, School.
  • Wed 27th, State Theatre, Hobart 6:15pm. Tickets
  • Thurs 28th, Armchair Cinema, Mansfield. 5pm. Avail soon
  • Fri 29th, Catholic College, Ararat. (more info)
  • Sat 30th, Star Cinema, Bendigo. 3:30pm (Tickets)

Over 20 screenings booked during Refugee Week 2018. But we want more!

Join Adelaide, Bowral, Cairns, Parkdale, Warrawong, Townsville, Brunswick Heads, Armidale, Warwick, Sydney, Bega, Ballarat, Bairnsdale, Mansfield, Bendigo and many others!

If you think your community group, cinema or school might like to screen the film during Refugee Week please contact us at jolyonhoff@gmail.com.

All screening fees are negotiable during Refugee Week 2018 and we provide posters and press releases. We want everyone to see the film and connect with the refugees in Indonesia.

Find out what happened when 17 y.o. refugee, Khadim Dai, started filming on his mobile phone and started a refugee-led education revolution in Indonesia.

TRAILER | WEBSITE 

A truly moving piece of cinema. Nick Valentine

Uplifting and truly unforgettable. Philippa Byers

Full of wisdom and humour. Eileen O'Brien

Inspiring and moving. A must see for every Australian. Kathy King


About Refugee Week

Refugee Week is the flagship events of the Refugee Council of Australia and will be supported by a national public relations campaign that reaches an audience of 4.3 million Australians through TV, press, radio and online editorial. 

Khadim 17 years old when he started filming on his mobile telephone. His footage attracted many supporters to the school

Raise money for your community group by screening The Staging Post.

Want to be a part of our community supported national cinema release during Refugee Week 2018? You can raise money for your community group and help bring the Australian and Refugee communities together by screening The Staging Post at your local cinema.

We do the arrangements and you bring the crowd. Contact Jolyon on jolyonhoff@gmail.com or read the brochure below for more information.

Sponsor a scene in Episode 2 of The Staging Post

Four years ago the refugees in Indonesia had an idea to start their own school, and the positive effects of this decision are still rippling out around the world.

We are continuing to film their story in Episode 2. If you could help with a tax-deductible donation please go to Documentary Australia Foundation - http://bit.ly/2FJcRjX

Maybe you want to get a group together and sponsor a scene in the film? We need to send Khadim to meet Tahira and family. That is going to be special. We also have to find out how stand-out CRLC students, Amir and Matin, are doing in Novia Scotia, and I am heading to Indonesia to catch up with the refugees there. Each scene costs about 2-3 thousand dollars to film, and every donation helps us to keep moving forward. Little by little.

Attached are still images from Khadim's last trip to Austin, Texas, to find out how Fery and Fatima are doing. Can't wait to share that story with you.

Thanks to all our supporters in the great big warm CRLC family.

The Staging Post is heading overseas.

The film, and our community, continues to grow and there’s screenings coming up on all four corners of the globe and many bookings are coming in for this Refugee Week.

Last week the Australian International School raised over $600 for the CRLC at a Jakarta screening at the Queenshead in Kemang. Some photos below. Thanks so much to Jackie, the AIS teachers and everyone at the AIS. They have been such great friends over the past four years.

Are you in Toronto, Canada? Tahira is presenting at a bunch of university and school screenings, but if you would like to meet her and see the film there is a public screening happening at the terrific Kate and Patrick’s house on Saturday, 17th March, 6pm. Register your interest here.

Are you in London? You lucky devil you. Unity, The Art Of Togetherness, are holding an exhibition at The Square Gallery on June 2nd and The Staging Post will be screened in the evening. Tickets available here.

Don’t worry Australia, we haven’t forgotten you. Kate and Indi are putting on a cinema screening at The Sun Theatre in Yarraville, Melbourne, on April 19th. Tickets are already selling quickly and this is sure to be a full cinema. For a full dose of inspiration and community spirit, there will be no other place to be that night. Muzafar will be there for the Q&A too.

More screenings are being posted on the website all the time. Want to hold a screening of The Staging Post for Refugee Week? Please contact Jolyon at jolyonhoff@gmail.com.

DVD and Digital download are available from the website. The DVD comes with a 16 page booklet with the story behind the film and the school. Makes a inspiring present for that someone special and every sale helps us keep filming the second episode.

Thanks so much for all your support. Lots of love and inspiration to you all.

Jolyon