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‘You Have Been Told a Lie - Blood, Borders and Biloela’ wins Australian Podcast Award

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The podcast miniseries ‘You Have Been Told a Lie - Blood, Borders and Biloela’ has won best podcast in the News and Current Affairs category at the Australian Podcast Awards. Centring around the Nadesalingam family, who hit the headlines and became referred to as the ‘Biloela family,’ the miniseries deconstructs the narrative over six episodes. Co-hosted by Australian born Malaysian-Chinese podcaster Jay Ooi and Tamil Canadian lawyer and writer Thinesh Thillainadarajah, they uncover the truth about how a family living in the Queensland town of Biloela became the face of the asylum seeker crisis in Australia.

When asked on the experience of creating the podcast, Thinesh responded:

“The Eelam Tamil community around the world has been dealing with the reverberations of our history since 2009 and has been seeking justice and accountability for what happened and what is continuing to occur. However, for many outside the Tamil community, our struggle is often unknown. 

So when the story of the Nadesalingams was discussed in the media, what really frustrated me was their story being discussed in a vacuum, without regard to the broader geopolitical context and Australia’s complicity in the violence enacted upon Eelam Tamils and those trying to flee.

Trying to provide that broader geopolitical and historical context in a way that is accessible to people who are not usually politically engaged or have familiarity with the history of Sri Lanka required a lot of careful consideration and difficult conversations. We wanted to ensure that people can get a holistic understanding of the issues without overwhelming them with information. What we wanted people to understand was that the story of the Nadesalingams is a global story – one that is not unique and one that implicates all of us here in Australia and around the world.

What has been surprising and rewarding is hearing from some listeners who have previously had limited exposure and understanding in politics, recognising the parallels between Eelam Tamils and Palestinians, and showing up for Palestinians in a way that they may not have previously.”

Jay responded:

“Working on the series has been incredibly challenging yet rewarding. From thinking we would finish 9 months earlier than we did to seeing how much people have learnt, myself included, it has been a bit of a roller coaster. For me, the more I learnt about what our various governments have done and is doing to asylum seekers has definitely made me more jaded and cautious of our country’s leaders. What has been most surprising has actually been the reception. I expected much more antagonism or hate to come our way, even with a threat of a lawsuit, but thankfully we didn’t get any of that (just a couple of comments that the hosts were a bit cringe, which, let’s face it, we are). And of course winning the Best News & Current Affairs Podcast was a huge surprise.”

Thinesh, on winning the Australian Podcast Award:

“Honestly, being nominated amongst incredible news outlets such as The Guardian, ABC News, and The Daily Aus was such an honour. We had no expectation that we would win - I didn’t even end up going to the awards ceremony! Thankfully Jay was there to accept the award!”

Jay’s response on the win:

“It was super unexpected, so much so that I had no acceptance speech prepared which is very unlike me. But I’m so chuffed that this little indie series produced in my study room won against some really great productions. It’s unreal and I’m not sure I fully understand how it happened, but we’ll take it!”

The podcast is available on all major podcast platforms (Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Overcast).

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