Board a boat with Davy to gain a greater understanding of; Australia's migration history, the role of international organisations & aid agencies and global patterns of people movement.
SBS Learn
17 Jul 2015 - 4:07 PM  UPDATED 3 May 2016 - 12:04 PM

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Meet Davy 

Hi, I’m Davy. I was born in Vietnam, the eldest of four sons. My father served in the South Vietnamese army and was afraid our family would be targeted. In 1980, when I was seven or eight, he put me on a boat for Australia with my uncle and aunt. The rest of my family stayed in Vietnam. I had never been on a boat before and sitting by the engine I was nearly asphyxiated by the fumes. I think I was nearly thrown overboard, presumed dead. I’ve still not fully come to terms with this traumatic experience, but 30 years on I am a proud Aussie and a supporter of the governments ‘turn back the boats’ policy. In my opinion, today’s resettled refugees do not embrace the Australian way of life or opportunities provided for them. I’m taking this journey to find out if they really are genuine refugees and to try to understand why my dad put me on a boat.

Clip 1: Meet Shomsul

Davy's journey begins in Sydney where he meets Shomsul, a Rohingya man from Myanmar (Burma) who travelled to Australia by boat to claim asylum. Watch this clip to hear firsthand why he chose to leave his family behind and make this dangerous journey.

View the transcript

“My issue is that they are not genuine refugees, they pay their way to get here and they are queue jumpers. I fled with thongs and a shirt” 


Clip 2. Davy Boards a Boat

In April 1976, the first boat carrying Vietnamese asylum seekers arrived on Australia’s shores. Over the next five years, more than 50 boats with over 2000 Vietnamese asylum seekers arrived, the majority of which were resettled in Australia. Davy was one of those on board. This clip sees him revisit that traumatic experience as he boards a boat off the coast of Indonesia.
Today, asylum seekers still attempt dangerous boat journeys on vessels similar to that which Davy arrived on. However, those hoping to reach Australia by boat now face the prospect of being turned back to where they came from.

View the transcript 

 “It is very important to secure Australian borders because we don’t want everyone to take advantage of Australia and come here by boat”  


Clip 3. Internally Displaced 

Internally displaced people (IDPs) have been forced or obliged to flee their homes but, unlike refugees, have not crossed any international borders. As of January 2015 there are 38 million IDPs worldwide; they constitute some of the world’s most vulnerable people.
In this clip Davy travels to an IDP camp in Myanmar to meet members of the Rohingya minority who are victims of persecution. He hopes to see firsthand why they are seeking asylum abroad and he ends up gaining an unexpected insight into the difficult choices his own family made.

View the transcript 

Map Davy's Journey

Click on the red circles for more information. 


  • Australia has a long history of accepting refugees for resettlement with over 800,000 refugees and displaced persons settled in Australia since WWII.
  • The Australian government usually allocates around 13,750 places annually to refugees and others with humanitarian needs. 
  • There are around 21 million refugees and asylum seekers worldwide. 
  • At of the end of 2014, a record-breaking 38 million people were forcibly displaced within their own country by conflict or violence, the equivalent of the combined populations of London, New York and Beijing. 

Useful Links

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) 
UNHCR - Internally Displaced People  
UNHCR - Myanmar Overview
ICRC- Where We Work, Myanmar 

Note: The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, along with some other international humanitarian organisations, use the term Rakhine Muslims rather than Rohingya. This is tied to Red Cross’ principle of neutrality, and to enable it to continue its work with this and other vulnerable group within Myanmar. To find out more about Red Cross’ principles:

For more information about the work of Red Cross and the facts about refugees and asylum seekers, visit: