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Post-production   /  John Swatland

Scattered People

Where words fail, music speaks.


Impact areas




  • DIRECTOR John Swatland

  • PRODUCER John Swatland



Two young Iranian musicians fleeing their homelands and seeking asylum in Australia end up in an immigration detention centre where they encounter the Scattered People band – a small group of kindred spirits who play music and create songs with refugees and people seeking asylum. Following their journeys, we observe how music breaks down barriers and gives Saha and Mas purpose, helping to shape their identities and offering hope for the future.

With acclaimed musicians including Missy Higgins, John Butler, Michael Franti, Archie Roach, Katie Noonan, Dan Sultan, Harry James Angus and Robbie James (GANGgajang), Scattered People also explores how music can help unite, heal and restore our compassion for some of the most vulnerable people on our planet.

Scattered People is an Australian documentary about the transformational and healing power of music – bringing together people, cultures and countries.

Support this project

60.25% funded
  • $275,000.00

  • $165,680.00

  • 15

Minimum amount is $ Maximum amount is $





Sharyn Tidswell $50.00
Julia Wallis $30.00
Ken Doust $100.00
Triple M Holdings Pty Ltd $80,000.00
Triple M Holdings $20,000.00
Kelly Platell $5,000.00
Kelly Platell $5,000.00
Kelly Platell $5,000.00
Redlands 4 Refugees $100.00
Gene Thompson $10,000.00
Gene Thompson $5,000.00
Gene Thompson $5,000.00
Gene Thompson $10,000.00
Gene Thompson $20,000.00
Philip Kelsey $400.00

Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

Forced mass migration is one of the most pressing issues on the planet today.

'Australia’s current policies are causing enormous harm, both physical and mental, to tens of thousands of people. Australia’s current policies are also causing harm to the Australian public: they undermine our liberal principles; they encourage racism and hostility; they undermine social cohesion and trust; they create an underclass of vulnerable people, and possibly a generation of people who are locked out of Australian society.' Source:

'This is a generation that could bring so much to Australia but we are at real risk of losing them. In so doing, we risk losing our own understanding of what it is to be an Australian, to be part of a country that celebrates multiculturalism and is strengthened by its diversity.' Source:


What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

To create a world of harmony where our differences are accepted, through music and compassion.

The film will:
Change Minds by building awareness and understanding of the refugee experience (rather than identity).
Change Behaviours by encouraging audiences to take actions promoting a more welcoming and supporting environment for people seeking asylum.
Build Communities: the film will be used as a platform to build grassroots community action to support people seeking asylum and refugees.


What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?

Short Term Outcomes include:
Greater understanding and awareness of the experiences of
people seeking asylum (particularly boat arrivals) and
refugees –
• the environments they have fled;
• their immigration journeys;
• their experiences in detention facilities awaiting
immigration processes;
• the trauma they have experienced;
• the uncertainty of their visa status and
• the cultural, social and economic contributions refugees can make if given the opportunity.

Longer Term Outcomes include:
Greater community understanding and welcome of people seeking asylum (particularly boat arrivals) and refugees.
Greater empathy and compassion for people seeking asylum (particularly boat arrivals) and refugees.
Reduced discrimination and racism.
Positive longer term impacts on settlement and social cohesion.
Greater opportunities (e.g. employment) for people seeking asylum (particularly boat arrivals) and refugees.


How will this documentary achieve its outcomes?

Our Impact Strategy includes organisational partnerships, targeted stakeholder/community screenings (e.g. Rural Australians for Refugees), social media campaigns and educational guides.
Through resources we will encourage audiences to support, volunteer and donate.

We have created a digital Screening Kit and Discussion Guide for screening hosts.

We will:
Provide information on the project website to provide audiences with
accurate information on people seeking asylum and refugees in the
Australian community.
Engage with audiences through regular e-newsletters and social
Provide a detailed Action Toolkit for the website.
Support organisations to host fundraising screenings, with proceeds
toward their work.
Provide an Education Kit, featuring the Scattered People songbook, clips from the film and targeted activities – and mapped against the Australian curriculum – to raise awareness and encourage understanding around the refugee experience amongst school students.


How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?

Having worked on the film for nearly five years we have good relationships with the ASRC and other asylum seeker and refugee organisations as well as a number of highly experienced individuals in both the refugee (RAILS, Romero Centre, BRASS) and arts organisations (such as APRA and The Queensland Music Festival.)

Our Impact Advisor Allison Henry, is highly skilled in policy development and advocacy from the non-government perspective. She has also worked at the Australian Human Rights Commission, the Refugee Review Tribunal and created Impact strategies for other films including refugee film Constance on the Edge.

These relationships have already helped shaped our project and will continue to shape how it will be shared with our audiences.

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?

An Action Postcard, for screenings and a detailed Action Toolkit for the website, for how community members can take action individually, in their family, at their workplace and in their community.

Knowledge – tell others about film, get familiar with the facts (on our website.)

Action – donate money of goods, meet a refugee, reach out in friendship, get involved through community events and organisations.

Commitment - volunteer for helping new arrivals, provide learning language, skills or work experience opportunities etc.

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

We will measure our impact through an evaluation framework established at the outset of our project by our partner organisations and our Impact Producer.

The project’s reach will be measured by screening metrics:

Network broadcast viewer numbers, box office ticket sales; the number and variety of community and festival screenings; VOD (Netflix, Stan etc.) viewings and DVD sales.

Audience responses to film will be gauged by post-screening surveys.

Changes in attitudes and action over time will be assessed through follow up surveys administered through our website, social media and regular e-newsletters; as well as feedback sought from organisations supporting people seeking asylum and refugees.

School and internet education pack download numbers will be tracked, and feedback from teachers sought.

Media generated articles will be analysed.