Geoffrey Rush, 60, took the opportunity to urge Australian film makers to make films about asylum seekers.
25 January 2012
Australian Oscar winner urges film industry to tell asylum seekers' stories
Geoffrey Rush, known for his roles in The King's Speech and his Oscar winning role in Shine, has been named as the 2012 Australian of the Year. He took the opportunity during his acceptance speech to encourage Australian film makers and screenwriters to tell the stories of asylum seekers arriving on Australian shores.
The multi-award winning actor was presented the award on the steps of Parliament House in Canberra by Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. He said he wanted to see films which highlighted asylum seekers' struggle to gain an Australian visa.
"I want to see the stories of why these people are coming here at great peril to their lives with such extraordinary bravery" said Mr Rush.
Australian immigration has come to the forefront of Australian politics in recent weeks with news of protests at overcrowded detention centres and a deadlock between clashing political parties; Mr Rush says this is only half the story.
"We hear the how and the what, and sense the political football around the issue, but I don't find anything that tells me about the why".
Mr Rush said the film industry had a history of highlighting social issues such as climate change and gay marriage and called out to Australian writers to now do the same with asylum seekers.
"I put a call out to the writers of Australia, we've had a bumper year in television drama, people are starting to watch it in great numbers. I would love a writer to write a fabulous great miniseries".
The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people lodge their Australian visa application with the Australian High Commission.