SBS reveals emotional stories of Who Gets To Stay In Australia?

Source: SBS

Four-part documentary series premieres 8.30pm, Wednesday 1 July on SBS

Every three minutes someone gains permanent residency in Australia[i] but every year more than 40,000 are rejected[ii]. For the first time, a documentary series captures the life changing moments when men, women and families are told whether they can call Australia home, or whether they will be asked to leave.


Premiering at 8.30pm on Wednesday 1 July, Who Gets to Stay in Australia? follows the lives of 13 migrants and their families who want to settle in Australia. They’ve come here for love, family, work or for safety. The road to permanent residency is long, complex and challenging. This series follows people whose applications have previously been rejected and are in their final appeal to stay in the country.


In an Australian television first, SBS cameras were granted privileged access inside the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, where applicants and their lawyers make their case directly to a single judge. The series captures the key moments as applicants prepare their cases, subject themselves to the scrutiny of the system and ultimately receive the news that will change their lives forever. For some of the applicants, these are life or death decisions.


We meet Australian woman Stephanie who is fighting to keep her French husband Fares in Australia after he overstayed his original visa by 10 years. Australian man Harry and his Indonesian wife Viona face being split up and their children forced to leave due to a paperwork error. Peruvian man Luciano may be made to move back to Peru, without his partner Drew or the HIV medication he depends on, and the Irish Hyde family may all have to leave as their son has cystic fibrosis. Applicants who may cost the health system more than $49,000 over 10 years are rejected[iii].


SBS Director of TV and Online Content, Marshall Heald, said: “Away from the noisy headlines and politics lie the deeply moving stories of people who want to call Australia home and make a life in this country. Who Gets To Stay in Australia? puts a human face to the Australian immigration process. The stories are raw, heartbreaking, triumphant and full of hope, in equal measure. We hope it will encourage a deeper understanding of the thousands of people who go through this journey.”


To provide explanation and further discussion on the immigration process based on their experiences in the sector, the series features interviews with Amanda Vanstone (former Minister for Immigration & Multicultural Affairs, 2003–2007), Abul Rizvi, (who worked for the Department of Immigration for 17 years and left as the Deputy Secretary, 1990–2007), Jan Redfern (Deputy President of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal) and Dr Shanthi Robertson (Migration Sociologist from Western Sydney University).


The series is narrated by actress Brooke Satchwell (SeaChange).


Who Gets To Stay in Australia? will be subtitled in Simplified Chinese and Arabic and will be added to the subtitled collection on SBS On Demand, available immediately after its premiere.

Who Gets To Stay in Australia? is an ITV Studios Australia production for SBS. Principal production investment from SBS in association with Screen Australia.


Who Gets To Stay in Australia? airs over four weeks from 8.30pm Wednesday 1 July on SBS.


Preview screeners are available via the SBS Screening Room

[i] Total number of 160k denoted on page 9 - Executive Summary;

Calculation is therefore; 525,000 minutes per year, divided by 160,000 permanent residency places allowed each year = 3.2 minutes per place

[ii] 2017/18

Permanent Residency Visas refused: 25,000* / Cancellation on Character Grounds: 1,000** / AAT Hearings Dismissed: 2,500*** / Protection Visa Refusals: 13,000**** = 41,500

*Department Of Home Affairs spokesman, confirmed by email 28.10.19


***Administrative Appeals Tribunal Annual Report 2017/18  (@50,000 hearings per year, @5% dismissed).  Pg.3 (attached)

**** Pg.79

****Pg.60 Highlights Of Home Affairs Annual Report 2017/18 (attached)