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Stranger On The Shore- Transcript

PROGRAM TRANSCRIPT: Monday, 16 July , 2012

SHANE WARNE, PRESENTER: Hi, I'm Shane Warne. Tonight's program is about a young man who turns out
to be a bit of a fan of mine, so I am very pleased to introduce his story. He's Jaffar Ali. He
arrived here as a refugee after a life-changing encounter with a young Melbourne woman called
Jessie Taylor. The two are from very different worlds in every sense but they have formed an
inseparable bond. This is Jessie and Jaffar's story.

STEPHANIE TAYLOR, SISTER: When Jessie believes very strongly about something she's willing to do
whatever it takes. By going undercover into Indonesian detention centres Jessie was taking a huge
risk. Mum would never have allowed her to go if she'd known what was going on; she would have
absolutely killed her.

JESSIE TAYLOR: I remember the first time I saw this child looking at me from behind the bars in
this concrete box, it was like a kick to the stomach. He was pale, he was shell-shocked, he was
distressed and he was just so, so young.

JAFFAR ALI: When I saw this girl, Jessie, I thought she's the one that she could help us.

JESSIE TAYLOR: I was in tears. I just felt so powerless, there was just nothing I could do. I just
gave him my phone number and said, "If you make it to Australia call me and I'll look after you."

JILLIAN SYMONS, MOTHER: Jessie and I have always butted heads. I always thought family was the most
important thing. Jessie used to look outwards at other people and be concerned about them and I
used to try and bring her back, so we often had a clash of values in terms of where your loyalties

JESSIE TAYLOR: I was raised in a fairly conservative home in a lot of ways. I think there was
something of a presumption that everyone in our family votes Liberal.

JILLIAN SYMONS, MOTHER: I was always very right-wing, concerned about the country being overrun by
Muslim people. I thought that the refugees coming into Australia were queue-jumpers; we were quite
entitled to almost violently keep them off our shores.

JESSIE TAYLOR: It was really hard sometimes having those conversations with mum, but it has to be
said that I cut my teeth debating these issues at the family dinner table; where I sort of learned
my battle strategies when it came to asylum seeker debate, it was in the family home.

JILLIAN SYMONS, MOTHER: Quite honestly I think she was sent to this planet to challenge me, and she
has done that, and she's taught me many very valuable lessons. I think she probably ended up
winning, quite frankly.

STEPHANIE TAYLOR, SISTER: It was during her uni days that Jessie first started to visit detention
centres and, I remember she'd come home and tell us the stories of the conditions.

JILLIAN SYMONS, MOTHER: I always said to Jessie, "There's no point in rattling a cage, there's no
point protesting with banners; if you want to change anything you get in on the inside. Change the
laws if you feel they're unjust". I think anyone would tell you it was a good progression for her
then to go to law.

STEPHANIE TAYLOR, SISTER: By the time Jessie was 29 she'd been appointed to the bar. But she still
always maintained a real connection to the refugee community, and I remember the first time she
really went out on a limb was about three-and-a-half years ago.

JESSIE TAYLOR: In December 2008 there was a soccer tournament at Federation Square, the Homeless
World Cup. It was a great fantastic festive environment at Fed Square where people would come along
and watch street soccer matches between teams from all over the world.

JULIAN BURNSIDE QC: There was an Afghan team - mostly Hazaras from Afghanistan - and they became
quite a hot item.

MASIH YAGHOUBI, AFGHAN SOCCER PLAYER: At the end at the semifinal, I think around four thousand
people just from Afghanistan, they come to watch us.

JULIAN BURNSIDE QC: If there's one thing the Taliban pick on more than Hazaras, it's Hazaras who
have been to the West; and here they were having been broadcast around the world in the West, and
that would be close enough to a death warrant if they went back.

STEPHANIE TAYLOR, SISTER: Jessie heard along the grapevine that these players were being told
incorrect information about their rights to obtain protection in Australia, so she weasled her way
into a team dinner.

JESSIE TAYLOR: And, you know, had a chat with them about soccer and Australia and how are you
finding it - it's nice here, different from home; and then managed to slip in to the conversation
with a couple of them that in actual fact they did have the right to seek asylum in Australia. That
they did have reasonable prospects of being accepted as refugees based on some of their backgrounds
and their histories.

MASIH YAGHOUBI, AFGHAN SOCCER PLAYER: She talked to me but I said, "I can't speak English". After
that one of my friends he said to me, "You know the girl that she had a dinner with us", I said,
"Yeah the Aussie girl, the beautiful Aussie girl?" And he said, "Yeah", and then he said, "She try
to... she want to help us if you want to stay."

JESSIE TAYLOR: The football team manager was quite a powerful figure. He had guarantees over their
homes, he had their passports with him and I knew that if I was going to help them escape from this
guy then it was going to have to be something a bit dramatic.

STEPHANIE TAYLOR, SISTER: The team ended up winning the entire tournament, and as you can imagine
the celebrations were huge. But in the midst of all this, unbeknownst to us, Jessie was putting
into action the most elaborate plan, which was all about to take place in our family business.

JESSIE TAYLOR: At two A.M. that night I'd arranged for some friends to be waiting in cars outside
the accommodation where the team were staying, and it was really just up to them whether they were
going to come or not.

MASIH YAGHOUBI, AFGHAN SOCCER PLAYER: It was really scary, I was shaking my whole body because it
was really a risk. I just passed my coach's room, and I thought he will wake up now and grab me.
Lucky he didn't wake up and I just open the door and I just walked, and I feel really good because
I'm just out of the building.

JESSIE TAYLOR: Meanwhile I was on the other side of town in an empty flat above my mum's bookshop
which was just a place that I knew no one would come looking for them, and I kept myself busy by
making eight beds. And it was the most nervous I think I've ever felt because I didn't know if
eight people would come, I didn't know if no people would come; I just sort of had to wait and see
who would turn up.

JULIAN BURNSIDE QC: It was one of those great rescue missions. Six shadows emerged from the dark,
got into the cars and were then taken to an apartment above a shop.

MASIH YAGHOUBI, AFGHAN SOCCER PLAYER: When I saw Jessie she said, "Relax don't worry about
anything." I was really in like half of my heart this way and half of my heart this way and
thought, I hope she's not wrong.

JESSIE TAYLOR: I said, "Sleep and we'll talk in the morning", and I just thought to myself, are you
mad? You are! There are six complete strangers out on the other side of this door; you're in a book
shop, you've just assisted these guys to make one of the biggest decisions that they could possibly
make: the decision not to go back, the decision not to be reunited with their family.

JULIAN BURNSIDE QC: Those of us who do refugee work are accustomed to thinking, oh well, if we win
that will make a difference for the person and that's fine. But this was right from behind square
one right through to the finish line in a couple of steps.

JESSIE TAYLOR: The next morning my mobile rang and it was my mother, and as soon as I picked up she
said - "The alarm's not on at the shop; please tell me you haven't smuggled an Afghan soccer team
in there," and I just thought, my God woman! How did you know? But she's my mother and she knew.

JILLIAN SYMONS, MOTHER: I was really really angry because I was worried, I was concerned for her
safety, considering that there are a lot of people in our community who would not have agreed with
this - including the people who were running the tournament, the man who was holding their
passports. I was seeing bombs being thrown through the bookshop. It was something very serious that
she'd become involved in.

REPORTER: We tracked down some of the Homeless World Cup soccer players at the centre of the asylum

AFGHAN SOCCER PLAYER, CHANNEL 10 NEWS (Dec 2008): We love Australia and I love Melbourne. We love
Melbourne, and we want to stay here.

STEPHANIE TAYLOR, SISTER: They'd all come out to Australia on short-term visas which were about to
expire, so Jessie helped them to apply to be assessed as asylum seekers. Eventually they were
granted permanent protection.

JESSIE TAYLOR: Once the initial madness died down, we sort of broached the subject rather nervously
of, "Do you want to, I don't know, find a big house and we can all live in it?"

MASIH YAGHOUBI, AFGHAN SOCCER PLAYER: I said that one girl with six boys and in one house, and I
didn't know that we can do this because in our culture you can't live like... if we don't know a
girl we can't live with her, and I thought, if she really happy with us it's okay.

JESSIE TAYLOR: So it was about that time that there was growing concern in the Afghan community and
in the community of advocates and lawyers and people I'd been working with about the conditions
that people were living in in jails and detention centres across Indonesia. I'd been getting phone
calls from people, I'd been hearing rumours. The crescendo of the things that I was hearing about
was enough to motivate me to get on a plane and go and try and have a look at it for myself. I took
an interpreter and a filmmaker with me, because I thought vision is so much harder for people to
dismiss. The thing that was just shocking was the number of children who were there and this was
something that no one was talking about back home; it was something that maybe no one was aware of
back home. But there was one face in particular that struck me because it was looking at me behind
the bars of a concrete cell. Here he was, fourteen years old - no family, no parents and that was
the first time I set eyes on Jaffar.

JILLIAN SYMONS, MOTHER: His parents, he explained, were in Quetta, so on the Pakistani side of the
Afghani border. The family had had an enormous trauma with the death of Jaffar's older brother and
sister by the Taliban in front of the family - a most horrendous massacre of these two children -
and I think when they started to see Jaffar turning into a younger man they knew that they had to
do something to move him away and get him out of danger.

JAFFAR ALI: The Taliban was specially targeting the younger people. My dad was like, "You have to
go, my son". I just packed just one backpack - just a few clothes, few pants, few tops. It's pretty
tough to leaving your parents, like you don't know where you're going, so that's very hard.

JESSIE TAYLOR: With the smuggler he left Pakistan and travelled to Malaysia, and then from Malaysia
he got on a boat to Indonesia.

JAFFAR ALI: It was pretty scary. We came to this small creek, there was a small boat and we were on
the boat like for half an hour in this creek, and after that suddenly it was just like open ocean.

JULIAN BURNSIDE QC: In Indonesia, if you're an asylum seeker and they pick you up, you'll be put in
a detention facility, and if the detention facility's full they can put you in a prison, they can
put you anywhere they can hold you. Now here's Jaffar: he's in a barred cell in the immigration
centre, he's the only kid amongst a whole bunch of adults and he faces the prospect of being there
for years on end.

JAFFAR ALI: You don't know what's going to happen; you just don't have any hope that's the thing.

JESSIE TAYLOR: When we got back to Australia the footage we'd shot and the film we'd made, made

TONY JONES, LATELINE (October 2009): New evidence of condition's many refugees endure in Indonesia
has emerged.

LEIGH SALES, LATELINE (October 2009): Ms Taylor speculated there could be hundreds of unaccompanied
minors in immigration detention in Indonesia: children as young as 14 who have no parents or
siblings to watch over them.

STEPHANIE TAYLOR, SISTER: Three months after Jessie returned home to Australia Jaffar was out on a
day pass.

JESSIE TAYLOR: He'd been in detention for six or eight months. He felt his UNHCR claim was going
nowhere. He was desperate, he was terrified and he decided, like many others it might be better for
him to risk it and put in his life in the hands of a people smuggler.

JAFFAR ALI: The boat trip took about seven or eight days. I hadn't had sleep for like three days.
and it just felt like. I'm getting wet; it was because the boat was... the water was coming into
the boat and I just woke up there was like hole... and yeah, at the time I thought, that's it.

JESSIE TAYLOR: When customs intercepted their boat they took everyone on board into detention and
searched them, and when they searched Jaffar they found that he had basically nothing, except the
clothes on his back and my phone number in his pocket. AFP interviewed him, questioned him about
how he came to have my number and at the end of that interview he was allowed to make a phone call.
So he rang me and said, "I hope I haven't got you into trouble". And I just said to him, "No that's
fine, I've got nothing to hide."

KIRSTIN MURRAY, PRODUCER AUSTRALIAN STORY: Do you think your actions in anyway enticed him to try
and make the journey to Australia?

JESSIE TAYLOR: I don't think anything I said or did could entice him to come or prevent him from
coming. He was headed to Australia I think one way or the other, inevitably. Maybe the only thing I
provided was, you know, a link, someone familiar who he would see at the other end - but other than
that I don't think there's anything I could have done to influence his choices. I was very careful
not to encourage anyone to get on a boat, not to advise anyone how to get on a boat, not to talk
about the mechanics of getting on a boat. When I told the Department of Human Services that I was
interested in looking after him they sent someone over to look at the house, to look at the house,
to look at where he'd be sleeping. And they were also looking into his background; they did
security checks and investigated his claims for protection, and at the end of that process based on
everything that had happened to his family, he was granted refugee status and given a permanent
protection visa. Because he was under 18 the Minister for Immigration would be his legal guardian,
but I was delegated as his carer, or his foster mum.

JILLIAN SYMONS, MOTHER: It's not normally what you dream for your child. You normally have a dream
of a very stereotypical, happy family home and all the trimmings. But a foster child, a boy,
teenager... may I say Muslim, when she was quite a strong Christian herself. But Jessie made the
decision that she would look after him. When she needed to put up her hand, there was no question.

JAFFAR ALI: I arrived in Melbourne airport. I heard someone call my name. When I turned around I
saw it was Jessie. It was a good day for me. We were just driving home, and I saw huge buildings
with the lights. Felt very, very good from inside that I'm free now. I can live like a human being.
I rang my parents, I said, "I'm here in Australia!" They were just like... " We were very happy for
you to be there."

STEPHANIE TAYLOR, SISTER: As soon as mum met Jaffar she fell instantly in love with him and he was
immediately part of the family, and it was all really good for us to be able to put a face to the
name; he wasn't merely a boat person, an asylum seeker, he was Jaffar.

JILLIAN SYMONS, MOTHER: Important to me was he already knew about cricket. When people were saying
to him in the first few days, "Well Jaffar what do you hope to do, what are your hopes and dreams
in Australia?" He said, "I want to play cricket for Australia."

JAFFAR ALI: When I was growing up I didn't heard much about Australia, but I knew there about the
cricket team because Shane Warne was my favourite.

STEPHANIE TAYLOR, SISTER: When Jaffar arrived to Australia he had a pretty limited knowledge of the
English language, most of which he had picked up from watching American cartoons as a kid so Jessie
enrolled him into English language school, and a few terms later he was ready for high school.

JESSIE TAYLOR: Going to school was a pretty big learning curve. Getting the uniform, time-tabling,
dairies, schedules, bells ringing, exams and assessments and homework.

JAFFAR ALI: I was a bit nervous, but there was a few kids that came up to me, yeah, slowly, slowly.
It was good.

ANTHONY GIULIANO, JAFFAR'S FRIEND: I'd never met anyone from Afghanistan or anything. I had no idea
about what refugees were or the lives that they were living until I met Jaffar. But I could tell
like you know he was a really funny kid and he was really really nice and genuine.

JAFFAR ALI: That's how Anthony become my best mate. Like, he understand what I was going through,
where I'm coming from.

ANTHONY GIULIANO, JAFFAR'S FRIEND: He likes to just put it off and say, "Oh no I'm fine, I'm fine"
but I don't let him put it off. I think he appreciates it as well, me asking and talking to him as
well; but sometimes he just tells me to go away.

STEPHANIE TAYLOR, SISTER: The contrast between Anthony's life and Jaffar's past life is huge.
Jaffar's been fortunate enough to travel with Anthony to their holiday house down on the coast and
involve himself in water sports, whereas literally twelve months before his water sport was jumping
on a leaky boat to Australia.

JESSIE TAYLOR: One thing that definitely helps is the fact that the goal keeper from the Afghan
soccer team still lives with us. Orfan's presence in the house means that Jaffar sort of has
contact still with his own culture in his own home. So it's quite nice; it's a modern little family
we've got going on.

STEPHANIE TAYLOR, SISTER: Jaffar speaks to his family regularly on a weekly basis, and the news out
of Quetta isn't ever good.

JAFFAR ALI: I'm here having good life and they are still in that situation. They're still in

JULIAN BURNSIDE QC: Family reunion applications are really quite hard. To know that your parents
are still alive but you may never see them again in your lifetime is almost unimaginable to me;
most Australian's never have to go through that.

JILLIAN SYMONS, MOTHER: He's a young teenage boy, played his cards pretty close to his chest. It
doesn't take a lot though, to expose very raw nerves... Sorry, I'll get emotional speaking about
this, because you see how it affects him. How does a child go through all of this and come out
smiling and happy and seemingly well-adjusted? I'm not officially a grandmother, but very proud to
have this young fellow call me grandmother. I carry his photo around in my wallet just like he were
my own, but of course we all long for the day when his own family is here and he can be back united
with them as a young person should be.

JESSIE TAYLOR: Jaffar's just turned 17 and I'm turning thirty in a few weeks, but there's a lot of
uncertainty still about what his future looks like and then of course what my future with or
without him looks like. For the time being though he is very well-loved by his Australian family;
mum is very proud of her Afghan foster grandson and tells all her friends about it, and he knows
that he has a family that loves him here and will love him for, you know, for as long as he needs

JILLIAN SYMONS, MOTHER: I think even Jessie must stand back sometimes and look at what she's doing
and say, "Wow am I really doing this?" She has had to become a mother, a very responsible person
for another young life. A lot of her peers... well a lot of them are now married with families. But
then I stand back and think about the way Jaffar has enriched Jessie's life and that outweighs any
burden. She's only young, she's got a lovely boyfriend, and if and when she chooses to have
children she can. She'll certainly know a lot about being a parent.

JESSIE TAYLOR: I think I'll do better the next time, I think everyone should get to have a trial
run at parenthood, because it's not easy and I'm glad I've had a rehearsal so that if I ever do get
to be a mum in the usual way I'll at least know what to do between the ages of 14 and 17. The rest
of it will still, I imagine, be a complete mystery.

JAFFAR ALI: I love Australia and, yeah, it's like my home now, and I want to live here for my whole


Jaffar Ali is due to finish school next year. Shane Warne has pledged to play cricket with him
during summer.

The six members of the touring Afghan soccer team have resettled in Australia and found employment.