Australia wins its first ever Best of Rose d’Or

An Australian program, Go Back To Where You Came From, has won the Best of Rose d’Or at the prestigious television festival held each year in Lucerne, Switzerland, for the first time ever.

The three-part documentary series apparently had the unanimous support of the 10-member judging panel; it was eligible because it won the award for factual entertainment, one of the 12 categories included in the awards.

Produced by Cordell Jigsaw, Go Back to Where you Came From offered six Australians the chance to walk in the shoes of refugees as they undertook a 25-day journey typical of the arduous path some refugees take to get to Australia to claim refugee status.

It was a smash hit for SBS, taking the mantle of top-ranked show for 2011.

In a statement, SBS managing director Michael Ebeid said he believed Go Back to Where you Came From has set a new standard for SBS Television.

Controversially received at the time, “the series sparked national debate about a topic so often hijacked by political campaigning and media headlines, by providing a unique and compelling perspective on the realities of refugee life," he said.

The series received recognition at home when it won a Logie for the most outstanding factual show and collected two awards at the 2011 United Nations Association of Australia Media Peace Awards for best television documentary.

Michael Cordell, a principal of and executive producer atCordell Jigsaw, said that putting the series together was "an extraordinary effort by the production team”. He also thanked the refugees involved for telling the stories, the participants for their bravery in undertaking the journey and SBS for their bold choice in programming.

"We believe this series has relevance to so many countries around the world grappling with refugee issues and that played a part in the success of the series at the Rose d'Or,” Cordell said.

The format has been sold throughout Europe (Denmark, Israel, Netherlands, Germany, Sweden), South Africa and to BBC America.

A second series is in production, featuring former Defence Minister Peter Reith, model Imogen Bailey, former Rose Tattoo front-man Angry Anderson and former 2UE Sydney shock-jock Mike Smith.