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Freedom Stories is a collaborative documentary project from Flying Carpet Films. It explores the achievements and stories of former ‘boat people’ who arrived in Australian waters seeking asylum from the Middle East around 2001, a defining year in Australian politics. Locked in remote detention centres and then placed on temporary protection visas, their limbo lasted for years. Now Australian citizens, they are finally building secure lives and contributing to their new country.

Freedom Stories comprises a feature plus short documentary films and this website.

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About the Project


Freedom Stories is a documentary based project that brings together a collection of personal stories from former asylum seekers who sought asylum in Australia at a time of great political turmoil circa 2001, but who have long since dropped out of the media spotlight. The people who have participated in our project are all now Australian citizens. Given the ongoing controversies over ‘boat people’ it is timely that their stories be heard.

It is 22 years since the introduction by Australia of mandatory detention for asylum seekers arriving by boat and this country remains the only United Nations Refugee Convention signatory with a policy of indefinite mandatory detention. Freedom Stories explores what is was like for people to experience mandatory detention and the uncertainty of temporary protection visas. How have they coped and what have they managed to achieve since?

“Not only timely in its depiction of how a previous generation of refugees have productively fitted into Australia society, but also fascinating for how it draws out – or even inspires – undercurrents of unease, this deceptively complex documentary by Steve Thomas deliberately sets out to introduce people previously dehumanized by both rhetoric and forced detention.” – Craig Mathieson, SUNDAY AGE (reviewing the Freedom Stories feature).


Only Sunday Off (Amin’s Story)

Only Sunday Off (Amin’s Story) is the first of our series of 6 stand alone shorts, available as extras on the Freedom Stories DVD. Periodically we will update this page with another of the shorts, so watch out for that.

SYNOPSIS – Amin fled Afghanistan as a young man and was saved from drowning on the way to Australia by a container ship called the Tampa. Following  a stand-off with the Australian Government, Amin then spent more than two years in detention on Nauru with the other 400 survivors. Today Amin lives in Melbourne and supports his family here and overseas by working six days a week as a tow-truck driver, part of a new industry salvaging car parts for export to the Middle East .

Extras coming soon


Prof Louise Newman AM – Director, Monash University Centre for Developmental Psychiatry.
Julian Burnside AO QC – Barrister.
Robert Sessions – Publisher, Penguin Books; Board, Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts.
Arnold Zable – Author & Vice Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Melbourne.
Kate Durham – Artist.
Assoc Prof Suresh Sundram – Psychiatrist, Mental Health Research Institute.
Sister Brigid Arthur – Brigidine Asylum Seeker Project.
Mustafa Najib – Interpreter, Cultural Adviser and former asylum seeker.
Shahin Shafaei – Theatre Director, Drama Educator and former asylum seeker.
Mike Zafiropoulos AM JP – Chair, Channel 31; former General Manager, SBS TV.
Fionn Skiotis – Executive Director, International Social Service Australia.
Matthew Albert – Barrister.
The late Rt Hon Malcolm Fraser AC CH, former Prime Minister, was also a member of the Advisory Panel.


Hosting Information Pack
A resource for event screening hosts


Media Kit
Includes director statement, synopsis, participant descriptions and more


Images for publicity
A folder of 8 publicity images to use to promote screenings


Study Guide
A comprehensive teaching resource which provides a framework for positive discussion about the experiences of people who have sought asylum in Australia and the issues raised by their stories



There are many ways to contribute to the Freedom Stories Project:

We are very grateful for all donations we have received so far, and they have come in all sizes from a few dollars, to larger grants. Every donation received from now on will contribute to our ongoing outreach and educational work around Australia. Our aim is to screen the film to as many Australians as possible, but this takes resources and expertise. All tax deductible donations can be made via our page on the Documentary Australia Foundation website

One of the best ways to help and participate in this project is to put your hand up to host a screening. Not only will you help to get the word out that refugees and former asylum seekers are contributing to our community, you will enjoy watching the film with your friends, family and community.
Go to the host a screening section of the website to see how easy it is to host a screening, and to find out about the flexible range of screening options we have developed.

Anyone can register to be on our mailing list and it is a great way to stay in touch with future screenings and events. We always need interested supporters who are willing to spread the word about future screenings among their own networks.


Please get in touch if you would like to host a screening, or if you have a question about Freedom Stories.

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