A Christchurch woman’s work with deportees from Australia will feature in a documentary being filmed by a BBC crew from Sydney.
Prisoners Aid and Rehabilitation Society of Canterbury manager Helen Murphy worked with deportees even before an Australian law change in 2014 increased the volume of arrivals.
The contentious immigration law change made it easier for authorities across the ditch to deport people that the Australian authorities deemed a risk to society.
The documentary is likely to be released in Australia next month and will include Ms Murphy as a leading source of information, as well as Justice Minister Andrew Little.
The BBC crew shadowed Ms Murphy at work over the last fortnight, which included filming her picking up a deportee at Christchurch Airport and giving a talk at the Sumner/Ferrymead Probus Club.
She said the situation was not widely publicised in Australia.
“I think they’ve been surprised by the extent of it and by all the different people it covers.”
Ms Murphy said many of the more than 1300 people deported to New Zealand have never known life here, and some have been separated from their children in Australia.
She has been told by some that they were deported for crimes committed years ago which they believed they had atoned for.
“They’re devastated, they’re powerless, they’re afraid. They have no idea what’s going to happen,” she said.
Some arrived without any support network and only five days accommodation paid for by the Australian Government, she said.
Ms Murphy said the society has helped more than 200 deportees who have arrived in Christchurch to get an IRD number, bank account, appointments with Work and Income, a phone to call home and longer-term accommodation.
Her work with the deportees contributed to her being named a Member the Order of New Zealand Merit at the Queen’s Birthday honours in June.
Ms Murphy hoped the documentary would shine a light on what was happening and share the deportees’ side of the story with Australians.