Imogen Bailey pictured at a school in Mogadishu, Somalia in a scene from the TV series Go Back To Where You Came From.
Imogen Bailey pictured at a school in Mogadishu, Somalia in a scene from the TV series Go Back To Where You Came From. Contributed - SBS TV publicity website

Walking in their shoes

ONE LOOK can speak volumes.

The reactions by six prominent Aussies when they are told they'll be travelling to the war zones of Kabul, Afghanistan and Mogadishu, Somalia in SBS's documentary series Go Back To Where You Came From are priceless.

Go Back to Where You Came From final - SBS ONE - Thursday at 8.30pm

The genuine expressions of shock, terror and disbelief are what this Logie-winning series is all about.

While six everyday Aussies took part in the first series of Go Back, the second series features rock singer and aspiring politician Angry Anderson, comedy writer Catherine Deveny, former deputy leader of the Liberal Party Peter Reith, radio personality Michael Smith, former Commonwealth ombudsman Allan Asher and former bikini model and actor Imogen Bailey.

"In the first series nobody had a profile or had to worry about what they'd said in the media before," Bailey said.

"I really felt for some of the others, it does come into it.

"When it gets to the end they have to make the decision, do I go back on my word that has been in print before or do I now say what my heart wants to say?

"Every person on that trip, I adore all of them.

"We've all shed tears, we've all been horrified and I think deep down they all changed their mind."

Bailey agreed to be on the show while she was living in the US, and hopes it brings balance and a greater understanding of refugees to Australia's current asylum seeker policy debate.

"When we talk about people who are trying to come to Australia we get so caught up in these tag lines we see in the media and the political soap opera of it," she said.

"We don't get to see enough of the images of what the real story is, and that is people who are fleeing for their lives."

In tonight's final episode, the six Aussies, who were divided into two groups, reunite in Indonesia to meet people smugglers and families waiting for their chance to migrate to Australia.

"We met a family there who had fled war not once but twice," Bailey said.

"They're stuck in Jakarta. They lost their father.

"He went back to Somalia and they never heard from him again. We're talking about a woman who has grown boys and a daughter and has lost a baby along the journey.

"Their life is miserable. We spent the night with them and it was one of the longest nights of my life."

The six participants will then attempt the 500km-boat trip to Christmas Island where they will visit detainees at the island's detention centre.

It's the first time television cameras have been allowed inside the complex.

Bailey has been so deeply affected by her experience on the show that she has decided to move back to Australia.

"My plan's completely changed," she said.

"I was booked to go back to LA three weeks later. I came home and said to my mum 'I'm going to stay for a while'.

"I need to be near my family and in my country and figure out what's next.

"Emotionally, I went through a whole lot of different things.

"You speak to a psychologist before you go (on the show) and I thought 'I'll be fine.

"It'll be hard but physically and mentally I can take on these things'.

"I remember her saying to me 'it's possible you'll feel survivor's guilt' and I did go through a lot of that stuff.

"Now the predominant thought in my mind every day is about the refugees, what am I going to do and how am I going to help."


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