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I Came By Boat campaign strives to change perceptions

11 December 20151 comment

A celebrity makeup artist who is a former Yugoslavian refugee has launched a poster campaign to show refugees’ important contributions to Australian society.

The posters aim to shed a positive light on asylum seekers who come by boat and to highlight the social, economic and cultural diversity they bring to Australia.

The ‘I Came By Boat’ campaign was created by Blanka Dudas after experiencing isolation and hostility after fleeing her home.

The 'I Came By Boat' campaign highlights the immense contributions that refugees have made to Australian society

The ‘I Came By Boat’ campaign highlights the immense contributions that refugees have made to Australian society

At 19 Blanka was forced to escape to London at the beginning of the Yugoslav Wars, bringing with her only the clothes on her back.

Six years later she moved to Australia and has now worked as a make-up artist for celebrities like Delta Goodrem and Dannii Minogue.

During her time in London and Australia, Blanka experienced firsthand the negative image that people associate with refugees, and hopes to change that perception by showing productive former refugees.

“As a society we can be hostile and it can be difficult for people to integrate,” said Blanka.

“I was able to create a successful career as a makeup artist, in Australia and overseas. I would like to see that sort of opportunity given to all asylum seekers, no matter how they get here,” Blanka said.

Several former refugees, including a dentist, charity worker and world-renowned orthopaedic surgeon, have been photographed for the campaign.

A quote is included next to each image from the person pictured that tells of their experience here and who they are.

“They, and many others, are capable, resourceful, and talented Australians, who can all say the same thing ‘I Came By Boat’,” said Blanka.

“…we are trying to convey that these are people with courage and humanity, and if allowed into Australia, can contribute greatly to society.”

The team behind the campaign are a range of creatives from the advertising industry that donated their skills and time to create the posters.

Now they are set with the task of raising funds to have the posters printed and placed in bus shelters and train stations all over the country so that they can be seen by as many people as possible.

“The more money we can raise, the more impact we can have.”

They need $150,000 and are aiming to raise $50,000 of that through crowd funding, with the rest hopefully coming from grants and corporate funding.

“We need to reinforce the tolerance and compassion that Australians are capable of,” said Blanka.

“We need to welcome people seeking our protection, regardless of how they get here.”


Ruby Brown
AMES Australia Staff Writer