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Direct Line: Manus Island and The Messenger


Event Status

Manus Island’s offshore immigration detention centre has consistently featured in the headlines – yet it remains largely unknown and unknowable to the public. Few journalists have been granted access; visitors can’t make recordings; and, historically, detainees have been banned from using their own phones.

But when it comes to Australian immigration policy, the goalposts are constantly moving, and we rarely hear from the people whose destinies are at stake.

Abdul Aziz Muhamat – originally from Sudan, now a refugee detained on Manus – has been using a smuggled phone to give Australians a first-hand account of life in detention. Since March 2016, Aziz has been corresponding with Melbourne journalist Michael Green, using WhatsApp to relay voice messages. The Messenger is a ten-part podcast series from the Wheeler Centre and Behind the Wire – and the winning pitch in last year’s So You Think You Can Pod competition – and it’s based on their correspondence.

Hear directly from Aziz himself (appearing via Skype) at this panel discussion of life on Manus and the making of the podcast. He’ll be joined by Behind the Wire’s Michael Green, psychologist and former Manus Island health worker John Zammit and Guardian correspondent Ben Doherty.

Hosted by ABC 7.30 reporter (and Wheeler Centre Question Time anchor) Madeleine Morris.


Abdul Aziz Muhamat

Abdul Aziz Muhamat is a 24-year-old man from Darfur, Sudan. He is from the Zaghawa ethnicity, and with his family, he fled his village to a refugee camp. He arrived in Australia by boat in 2013 and was taken to Manus Island, where he remains. In his time on Manus Island, he has been a community... Read more

John Zammit
John Zammit

John Zammit is a psychologist and former Manus Island health worker. After completing a Science degree and working a couple of years at Monash University, John entered a Catholic religious order intending to become a priest. During the next six years he was able to offer pastoral care, welcome and s... Read more

Michael Green

Michael Green is a journalist in Melbourne. He has written about environmental and social issues for the Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Nature, Nautilus, Smith Journal, Right Now and Overland, among others. He is the coordinator of Behind the Wire, and has been working on a book of people’s stories f... Read more

Ben Doherty

Ben Doherty is a reporter for Guardian Australia. He is a former foreign correspondent for the Guardian, covering South-East Asia, and for the Sydney Morning Herald, reporting across South Asia. He’s won two Walkley awards for his foreign reporting. ... Read more

Madeleine Morris

Madeleine Morris is a Melbourne-based reporter for ABC television’s 7.30. She was formerly a presenter for the BBC in London and reported from dozens of countries before returning to her native Australia. She is the author of Guilt-Free Bottle-Feeding: Why Your Formula-Fed Baby Can Grow ... Read more


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