Home and Away by John Marsden and Matt Ottley

Home and Away DVD Launch in Murwillumbah, NSW

On Thursday 13th November 2014, the Uki Refugee Group, which is a refugee friendship group based in my local community, launched the Home and Away DVD and reprint of the book at the Regent Cinema in Murwillumbah. The book Home and Away, written by John Marsden and illustrated by me is a book that has always been dear to me. It is a hard hitting story that aims to help people imagine what it is like to be a refugee, hopefully engendering a sense of empathy and feelings of compassion. The story is in the form of a young person’s diary, and tells of an Australian family fleeing from a terrifying war and the trials of their lives as asylum seekers. The Home and Away DVD is a musical setting of the book, containing images and music for a small symphony orchestra. The DVD features narration by Kyle Green, a young man from my local community who was, at the time of recording, the same age as the diarist in the book, and Nina Baumer, a stunning young soprano, who sings selected lines from the text. I spoke to the attendees about the book’s images and how they explore the refugee issue, and spoke of my own personal experiences visiting Christmas Island Detention Centre.

The DVD was launched by Jo Spiller, teacher-librarian at the Uki School with a well-crafted and thought provoking speech.

The launch of the DVD was followed by a showing of the short film “New Land, New Life” with inspiring accounts of how some African refugees have built successful lives in Australia. The whole event was a benefit event and raised significant funds for the Uki Refugee Project and was seen as “stimulating and challenging” by those who attended. A huge thank you to my publisher, Hachette, for providing copies of Home and Away to help raise funds and to the Regent Cinema for hosting us. My personal thanks also to Jo for such an inspirational speech.

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