From Lennox to Manus: Artist's eye-opening journey
FOUR-time Archibald finalist and local resident Angus McDonald has unveiled the latest in a series of short YouTube documentaries examining the refugee crisis sweeping the world.
The 13-minute film, MANUS, deals specifically with the situation faced by the hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers remaining on Manus Island.
Speaking from his Lennox Head home, Mr McDonald said the footage was shot on location by award-winning journalist Olivia Rousset when she visited the men onsite during the stand-off after the processing centre at Lombrum was closed.
"I wanted to shed light on the brutality of the current refugee policy and advocate for a more sustainable and humanitarian approach to managing those who arrive here seeking our protection," he said.
Mr McDonald and his cameraman Nolan Verheij have travelled in the past 18 months to Jordan, across Greece and Lebanon visiting refugee camps, settlements, and local communities who've experienced massive arrivals as well as filming interviews with refugees, NGOs, lawyers and journalists.
The films were released on Howling Eagle's YouTube channel mid-last year.
Mr McDonald became increasingly aware of the humanitarian crisis after he started receiving messages from friends telling him about this influx of people to an island in Eastern Greece, a place he had called home for a time, now seeing thousands of people looking for safety every day.
"They basically just looked after them," he said.
"They don't have much but they helped them on the beach, clothed them, fed them and did whatever they could."
"I started to become aware of the policy here towards refugee or boat arrivals.
"I encourage everyone to view the film about Manus.
"It shows the human face of those held for over five years and we hope everyone will share it with friends, family and colleagues.
He said he was more determined than ever to show people how unsustainable the present policy is.
He said there would be 12 episodes and 12 interviews in the series continuing to track the issue both here and overseas.
"This week two milestones occurred around this issue," Mr McDonald said.
"The last child was removed from Nauru and Kurdish asylum seeker Behrouz Boochani won the Victorian Premier's Literary Prize for his book about the time he has been held captive on Manus.
"I encourage all Australians to read it.
"Although the public has begun to voice it's disapproval for the current policy, things have not improved.
"The footage we used from Manus was a year ago, things are much worse now than they were even then," he said.