Behind the Wire is an award-winning oral history project documenting the stories of the men, women and children who have been detained by the Australian government after seeking asylum in Australia. The project was founded in 2014 with the aim of bringing a new perspective on mandatory detention: the reality of the people who have lived it.
As well as this website, the project comprises a book, an exhibition, a podcast, audio stories, videos and a series of portrait photographs. Behind the Wire won the 2017 Australian Human Rights Commission Media Award and the 2016 Oral History Victoria Community Innovation Award. The Messenger podcast won the Grand Award at the 2017 New York Festivals International Radio Awards, the 2017 Walkley Award for Radio/Audio Feature, and Best Radio – Documentary at the UNAA Media Awards. Our exhibition at the Immigration Museum, They Cannot Take the Sky: Stories from Detention, was chosen for the Contribution to Multiculturalism by a Community Organisation award at the 2017 Melbourne Awards. It also won a 2018 Museums and Galleries National Award for best Temporary or Travelling Exhibition.
Behind the Wire Incorporated is a not-for-profit organisation, is coordinated by a volunteer committee. The committee is supported by a large network of volunteers, including our narrators. Any donations or fees from republication go towards meeting our ongoing costs.
If you are interested in volunteering, please get in touch – we are particularly looking for volunteers to help us transcribe our interviews, adapt the Behind the Wire stories into multimedia formats, and coordinate events.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
About the project coordinators
André Dao is a writer of fiction and non-fiction and the Editor-at-Large of Right Now. You can find his writing here.
Michael Green is a journalist in Melbourne. You can find his articles here.
Sherry Huang is a PhD student and has a masters in sociology. She’s one of the founders of United WHY, an online multi-language community group for working holiday makers.
Camilla Chapman is a Sydney-based teacher with a background in Psychology. She is Behind the Wire’s education coordinator, and is passionate about education as a tool to facilitate productive discussion of human rights issues.
Immigration Museum Exhibition Committee
Behind the Wire’s exhibition was guided and developed by our exhibition reference committee. All members of the committee have lived experience of immigration detention.
Baqir Khan is a humanitarian innovator, university lecturer and public speaker. He also manages the volunteering program at the ASRC Innovation Hub.
Aran Mylvaganam is the spokesperson for Tamil Refugee Council. He fled Sri Lanka and came to Australia as an unaccompanied minor at the age of 13.
Hal-Hal arrived in Australia in 2013. She likes writing, singing and dancing and plans to be a community-social worker.
Lina is an artist who came to Australia in 2013. She wants her drawings and paintings to evoke not only pain and sadness but also joy and humanity.
Behind the Wire’s Committee
Sienna Merope is a human rights advocate, lawyer and writer. She was a Bertha Foundation Fellow with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, and is based between New York and Port-au-Prince.
Angelica Neville is a freelance writer. For her postgraduate studies she specialised in forced migration policy at the University of Oxford.
Dana Affleck is the founding director of Road to Refuge. She studies law and, until recently, was the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre’s Youth Organiser.
Thank you to the following volunteers who have made Behind the Wire possible.
Interpreting and translation support by Sohaila Angury, Aran Mylvaganam, Rahila Haidary, Ali Ghasemi, Jawid Sadiq, Abdul Karim Hekmat, Ahmad Rahyab and Moones Mansoubi.
Social media support by Lily King. Exhibition touring has been managed by Gemma Leigh-Dodds. Accounting and financial support has been provided by Frankie Brown.
Interviews have been conducted and transcribed by Zoe Barron, Benjamin Brooker, Behrouz Boochani, Camilla Chapman, Melissa Cranenburgh, Victoria Grey, Abdul Karim Hekmat, Tom Hilton, Rose Press, Rajith Savanadasa, Hilary Smale, Laura Stacey and Leila Stennett. Additional transcription by Tiarne Cook, Damien Dao, Georgina Davey, Julia Earley, Isobel Egan, Rebecca Fary, Sadie Grant Butler, Sam Goerling, Victoria Grey, Sam Henderson, Alyssa Huminski, Sinead Kennedy, Lena Lettau, Nic Margan, Claire McGregor, Laura Mitchell, Lyn Nguyen, Rachel O’Brien, Joseph Percy, Jill Rudge, Anna Scharf, Sophie Schmidt, Laura Stacey, Rosie Stevens, Scott Thomas, Mia Tinkler, Carolyn Turner, Aquila Van Keuk, Julia Wallace, Ruby Wawn, Celine Yap and Eugenia Zoubtchenko.
Multimedia assistance, including photography, video, audio, graphic design and web design and programming by Melanie Adams, Emily Bartlett, Dylan Baskind, Tim Bauer, Tom Campbell, Giordano Caputo, Mario Carabotta, Ram Chandrasegaram, Sam Chiplin, Brigitte Dagg, Rodney Dekker, Aaron Dobos, Niall Edwards-FitzSimons, Madeleine Egan, Rebecca Fary, Sarah Fraser, Leona Hameed, Skye Hollingsworth, Anne Koch, Dominic Lorrimer, Elle Marsh, Bonnie Moir, Maria Papoutsis, Hannah Reich, Danny Sullivan, Gemma Teese, Noah Thompson, Haiku Van Keuk, Chris Wait, and Sarah Walker.
Thanks also to Sadie Grant Butler, Nina Blackmore, Tim Denshire-Key, Grace Heifetz, Lisa Haywood, Kate O’Brien and Stephen Whately.
Partner sites and organisations
Behind the Wire has received financial support from Amnesty International Australia (through its Human Rights Innovation Fund), Bertha Foundation, Vasudhara Foundation and NR Peace and Justice Fund, and in-kind support from Right Now, Voice of Witness, Asylum Insight and Good For Nothing.
If you are interested in more insights about detention, please visit our sister site, Detention Remembered. Detention Remembered is a Spare Lawyers for Refugees oral history project, compiled in 2005 and 2006. Its purpose was to record the testimonies of those who were directly involved in detention centers across Australia; the former detainees; and the detention centre staff, counselors, legal personnel and regular visitors who assisted and supported them.