What a journalism student learnt by meeting Team Oyeniyi – Guest Article
I am very pleased to publish our first guest article. I will let Nat’s words speak for themselves. A larger version of her “ugly” photo can be found on Guest Article coming up. There were no constraints placed on our guest authors and although I reserved the right to edit, I have not changed a thing. To all the media types reading, anywhere in the world, Nat and Freya will be seeking suitable positions after that final exam!
This is the opportunity for all our readers to see Team Oyeniyi through the eyes of completely unrelated people – objective observers. Please enjoy Nat’s perspective and don’t be quiet – I’m sure she would like some feedback!
Nat, thank you for taking the time to write this article and we look forward to receiving Freya’s article in the coming days.
My name is Nat Yoannidis and my partner is Freya Cole. We are no doubt pictured somewhere on this page (I’m the ugly one)! We’re currently studying journalism at RMIT. As a part of our Advanced Television class we were required to film a current affairs story. After racking our brains for days to come up with an idea, our lecturer Jill told us about the Team Oyeniyi story. We were directed to this blog and decided it would make an amazing television story. When we decided to focus on Robyn and John’s story I guess we weren’t really sure what to expect. At first we thought we would be focusing on blended families and racism. However what we discovered was there was a much more dramatic and emotional story to tell.
John told us his story and did not hold back on details. He revealed his experiences in detention in this country and the subsequent depression he suffered. Of course, that was only the beginning. I won’t repeat the details of John’s background as they are already mentioned in this blog. His story shocked us both and when we got in the car to drive home we couldn’t stop talking about his emotional past. Robyn spoke about the health issues she suffered during the entire process.
Perhaps what surprised me the most was the general closeness of the entire family unit and the confidence of the children. Considering they have only been together for such a short period of time, they all get along so well and their interactions with Robyn are like they have been together for years. All of the kids have beautiful personalities and smiles. Occasionally they are a little cheeky (I have footage of Philip swinging on the swing and then launching himself to the ground!) As a family, the Oyeniyi’s are gorgeous and so accommodating. We only went out to their house twice but by the second time, I felt like I was a part of the family. It’s not easy to find a time when eight people can get together for filming but it was arranged. Robyn also helped provide us with photos and information for the story. She was also on hand for all of my last-minute questions, and there were a few!
I think from my perspective it really opened my eyes to not only the process asylum seekers have to go through to get through detention and residency but also the desperate situations that force people to flee their countries of origin. We are lucky to be born in a country like Australia but some people are not so fortunate. Robyn explained to us that she understood the reasons people get on the boats and risked their lives and so do I. Before this assignment I did not feel strongly about the topic one way or the other. I suppose I was really on the fence and could see arguments for both sides. Now I know exactly where I sit on the topic. People leave their homes for a reason – their living conditions are dangerous or undesirable. It’s not just for a holiday, they want to make a better life for themselves and their families. I think a lot of people in Australia are scared of the unknown and the media plays on this anxiety. This is unfair and will take a long time to change, if it ever does.
Once we gathered all of our footage (and there was a lot of it) we were faced with the near impossible task of fitting all the information into two minutes. My first attempt saw me go three minutes over the limit. One of the most important journalistic skills is to be able to condense and simplify a story. We both managed this by taking two completely different angles. I guess this shows just how much information we had to work with. My story was a brief (and I stress the term brief) profile piece and Freya took a more hard news angle in relation to the treatment of asylum seekers in detention. I’m not sure if either of us did the story complete justice due to it’s complexity. We are hoping that our stories will be broadcast on the Channel 31 program Newsline in the next few weeks. We would like to make the Team Oyeniyi story into a longer documentary though unfortunately we do not have the manpower or the resources. Otherwise it would make an incredible episode of Australian Story!