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Searching for Sanctuary

Plan your visit

Saturday, 1 June 2024 - 10:00amSunday, 6 October 2024 - 6:00pm
Free (مفت)
Keith Murdoch Gallery

About the exhibition

Double Walkley Award-winning documentary photographer Barat Ali Batoor takes us beyond the headlines to reveal his personal journey as a Hazara asylum seeker.

After publishing a piece in The Washington Post exposing child exploitation in his homeland of Afghanistan, Batoor became the target of death threats. Forced to flee his country, he began a perilous life in exile – but he never stopped taking photos.

From Pakistan and Thailand to Indonesia and Australia, Batoor spent one year enduring the impossible while capturing the untold stories of what it means to be an asylum seeker.

Witness Batoor’s poignant, life-affirming documentation of searching for sanctuary.

About the exhibition translated to Hazaragi

Content warning

This exhibition explores topics of exile. It includes child exploitation, human trafficking, people smuggling, genocide and people speaking about their experiences of exile and discrimination.

Searching For Sanctuary content warning translated to Hazaragi

About Barat Ali Batoor

'I want to document the untold stories of my people to give voice to the voiceless. To express my feelings, I choose photography as the medium of expression.'
– Barat Ali Batoor

Learn more about Barat Ali Batoor.

Introducing Searching for Sanctuary

Barat Ali Batoor shares a well known Persian poem from a notebook he found at a safehouse in Kuala Lumpur.


Spectators spray foam snow into the air while Shukur dances at a wedding party in Kabul, Afghanistan.


Shaheed Mohammad Hakim, 48 years old, was killed when travelling to Iran on 20 September 2011. Terrorists stopped his bus in Mastung, Pakistan, lined up passengers and opened fire on them.


A speedboat arrives to transport asylum seekers across the river from Thailand to Malaysia.


A refugee tries on his newly purchased life jacket, which cost US$120 in Bogor, Indonesia. Life jackets are often not on the boats.

Sea voyage

Hidden below deck, asylum seekers take turns to come up for fresh air during their first day at sea.

This image won 'Photo of the Year' in the 2013 Nikon-Walkley Awards for Excellence in Photojournalism.


Haider and Aziz were on the same boat as Batoor, which failed. After several attempts, they made it to Australia. They spent time in detention before being released into the community on bridging visas, with no work rights. After 12 years in Australia, they are still separated from their families.

Presenting partners

More photography by Barat Ali Batoor

Explore the Library's catalogue of images from Restoring Hope: Photographs of the Hazara Community in Victoria 2013 to 2014 by Barat Ali Batoor.