Go Back to Where You Came From Live airs on Tues., Oct. 2 at 8.30pm; SBS. Listen to Meshel speak about her experiences on Who's Binge List podcast.
Imagine leaving the comfort and protection of your home to find yourself on a perilous journey across the seas, or facing authorities in a detention centre. In the upcoming season of Go Back to Where You Came From, that’s exactly what a group of famous Australians and everyday people will face.
Hosted by Ray Martin and Janice Petersen, the three-part special will see the participants sent to conflict hot spots as they experience the refugee crisis first-hand.
Speaking to WHO magazine’s Binge List podcast, radio presenter and comedian Meshel Laurie, one of the show’s participants, says she felt compelled to take part in the groundbreaking TV experiment, in part because of the experiences of her own refugee friends. Listen on iTunes http://po.st/1vN2h7 or Google Podcasts: http://po.st/yUocbZ or Spotify http://po.st/7Zn8WQ.
“I genuinely do have friends who have come to Australia as refugees,” she says. “I have some Iranian friends who came to Australia on boats, and came through Christmas Island - and that just amazes me. That you could come to Australia and restart your life with nothing, and come through that process because you want to be Christian, and that’s illegal in Iran.”
Laurie, who takes part in the show along with ex-AFL player Spida Everitt, TV presenter Gretel Killeen, politician Jackie Lambie and three everyday Australians, says she admires her friends’ commitment to their religious beliefs and their “desire to fight that hard because that's how you want to raise your children.”
So how does she, herself, feel she’ll be changed by the experience of taking part in this reverse refugee journey?
“I expect I will come home feeling even more pathetic about how little I do with the lucky life I have been gifted,’ she says.
Meshel admits she’s feeling a little daunted about the journey she has ahead of her, which, for the first time ever, will be filmed live. “That’s the least nerve-racking thing for me,” she tells Binge List. “Twenty years ago live television was the scariest thing, but now I am really looking forward to it.”
However, the 42-year-old admits she won’t be letting her two children watch the show live as she doesn’t want them to worry. “I want them to watch it when I’m home with them,” she says. “My daughter is worried about me, which is making it really hard to go.”
Of course, Laurie also has some reservations about the potential dangers she faces. “I wasn’t scared until about three days ago,” she reveals. “All of a sudden I am quite panicked and really frightened.”
But there is one thing that really has the media personality shaking in her boots: the toilet. “I’m always scared about the toilet wherever I go,” she laughs. “I have 15 rolls of toilet paper in my bag and I can’t fit anything else in there.”
All joking aside, Laurie, who has always been an advocate for refugees, says the show is already challenging her views. “It has made me think more seriously about what exactly it is I’m advocating for,” she says.
While Laurie has a daunting experience ahead of her, she feels it is important to share the stories and experiences of refugees. “It’s two weeks of my life,” she says. “But these people live in refugee camps for years and they don’t know when it’s ever going to end.”