‘Temporary’ reveals the lives of refugees trapped in uncertainty

The stories of people seeking asylum are supposed to end. But in Australia, people who arrive by boat are seldom able to finish their story. Explore Temporary, a new project from UNSW’s Kaldor Centre, and meet men and women who became Australia’s legacy caseload’.

Temporary is powerful personal stories, each vividly illustrated by photographers and artists who themselves are refugees and people seeking asylum. Temporary is also an eight-episode podcast, co-produced with Guardian Australia and UNSW’s Centre for Ideas. 

Their journeys come to life in a storytelling hub produced by the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, vividly illustrated by refugee artists and photographers, and their voices rise from an eight-episode narrative podcast series by UNSW Centre for Ideas, co-produced with Guardian Australia, which will syndicate select episodes in its ‘Full Story’ podcast. 

The podcasts are hosted by Sisonke Msimang, a writer whose own family was granted asylum in Canada. Now living in Australia, Msimang says, “The stories of refugees and people seeking a better life, just like my family, really matter to me – and the stories in ‘Temporary’ reveal the inhumanity of a system that goes to extraordinary lengths to thwart the ambitions of regular people fleeing harm.”  

Temporary’ lays bare a system designed to deter people fleeing danger and seeking protection in Australia. It offers rare access, enabled by the Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS) based at UNSW, to people with lived experience of the system. They let us in on what it’s like to suddenly have to leave home without saying goodbye, to face an interview that seals your fate, to be separated from family indefinitely or stuck in judicial purgatory. To try to stay hopeful. 

The first story, ‘A legacy of endless limbo’, traces Australia’s stop-the-boats politics to today’s punitive policies keeping people in uncertainty.

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