This Sunday night Les Murray will go back to where he came from in a Dateline special that sees him searching for the people smugglers who helped his family escape from Hungary in 1956.
For Murray, the people responsible for smuggling his family out of communist Hungary in 1956 are heroes.
“There’s all this talk in Australia about people smugglers and they are being demonised. I’ve had personal experience with people smugglers, a number of them. And the ones I’ve experienced were pretty nice people. They took enormous risks to do what they did and I believe it is my duty, not just my wish, to thank them,” says Murray.
“There is a lack of understanding in Australia about the whole refugee process. Very few people realise unless you’ve been a refugee yourself, is that in most cases people smugglers are an essential part of that process. You cannot find your destination unless someone helps you on the way.”
Les Murray is recognised by many as the face of football in Australia, and his love of the world game began as a young boy growing up in a village near Budapest. In 1956, at just 11 years old, his family fled the country after the Soviet government quashed a short-lived revolt by the people. Murray’s father was known to oppose the communist regime and to ensure the safety of his family, made plans for them to escape. They were smuggled across the border into Austria, before eventually being settled in Australia.
55 years later Murray embarks on an incredible and emotional journey through the back roads of Hungarian towns and villages, to track down people and families from all those years before. He had only a few clues, including the first name of one of the people smugglers involved, and the village where he lived.
8:30 Sunday on SBS ONE.