The staunchly anti-refugee former politician was clearly moved by stories of survival in Syria.
By
Samuel Leighton-Dore

3 Oct 2018 - 10:53 PM  UPDATED 3 Oct 2018 - 11:05 PM

The second episode of Go Back Live has seen emotions come to the fore, as the very human stories behind the global refugee crisis hit home with some of the show's most hardened participants, including former politician Jacqui Lambie, controversial footballer Spida Everitt and former Adelaide prison guard Steve.

Jacqui and the human cost of conflict

As a former Tasmanian Senator, Lambie has long been vocally critical of Islam, actively campaigning to ban the burqa in Australia throughout her political career. Her insistence in the first episode of Go Back To Where You Came From Live that she would "stay and fight" in Syria, and that "running isn't the answer", is likely informed by her history serving in the Australian Army and the Royal Australian Corps of Military Police.

However, the second instalment of the ambitious live program saw Lambie get openly emotional for the first time after meeting 10-year-old Omar who was relearning to walk after losing his legs to an ISIS landmine.

"You know, if it was one of my sons, I'd be bloody angry," Lambie said to camera, tearing up.

"I'd be so bloody angry. It is really, really awful."

Emotional, she added: "You know, to know that one of my sons was helping his brother, and to either lose his life or lose his limb..."

For Lambie's partner Marina, an immigration lawyer who fled to Australia during the Bosnia War, it was clear that Lambie outlook was softening.

"She's now seeing the human cost of conflict," Marina said. "And it's the human cost that forces migration and forces people to become refugees."

"Becoming a refugee isn't a choice, so I do hope that it will soften her approach."

A touching family reunion

Another powerful moment of the episode came in the form of an emotional family reunion between Jeffah, a South Sudanese refugee based in Melbourne, and his sister, who he last saw more than twenty years earlier.

Comedian Meshel Laurie and Spida Everitt were on the ground in South Sudan, having located Jeffah's sister and connected the pair via audio.

An ex-AFL star who believes refugees should only come in “the right way”,  Spida showed signs of softening to the plights of those in South Sudan - a far cry from his well-documented fear that Sudanese gangs are a problem in Melbourne.

Back in the studio, Jeffah's tears and disbelieving expression summed up the enormity of the moment for all involved, with viewers describing their hopes that the pair are able to establish a method of ongoing contact.

"Australia is probably the best option."

In Turkey, former prison guard Steve, who has previously made his anti-refugee views known, meets Feras - a young widowed father raising two small children. On the brink of homelessness, a desperate Feras explains that he's considering fleeing across the Mediterranean to Europe.

"I would prefer you to apply again than to take the dangerous path of getting on a boat and risking your children's lives to go to Greece," Steve said. 

Upon learning that Feras was forced to give up his third child, however, Steve's viewpoint appeared to shift slightly.

"Is it the best option to leave Feras in Turkey? Probably not," he said. "Being reasonable, you'd have to say that Australia probably is the best option."

Feras has a brother in Australia who was accepted as a refugee in 2016.

While Everitt and Lambie each maintain their firm anti-refugee stances - with Lambie for instance still insisting she would not flee - some believe, or perhaps hope,  they're showing some early signs of empathy.

"[It] would be great to see Jacqui Lambie change her world view," one viewer tweeted.

"She would be a wonderful reformed advocate for refugees."

'Go Back To Where You Came From Live' airs over three consecutive nights, October 2 – 4, 8.30pm, LIVE on SBS Australia and streaming live at SBS On Demand. 

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