Netflix’s ‘Stateless’ Is A Chilling Look Into Australia’s Broken Immigration System

The series stars Cate Blanchett, Asher Keddie and Yvonne Strahovski, to name a few

When it comes to Australia’s immigration system, it comes as no surprise that there are huge improvements that need to be made. And Netflix’s latest series Stateless highlights those harsh conditions that currently take place at Australian immigration detention centres. 

Based on a true story, the series follows Sofie Werner, a flight attendant who escapes a cult. However, Werner’s real-life counterpart is Cornelia Rau, a German-born Australian resident who made headlines after she was unjustly detained at an immigration detention centre. Due to her ill-treatment, her experience shone a light on Australia’s poor behaviour towards those who are in fact, stateless. 

In the series, Rau’s seemingly perfect life took a turn when she decided to join the controversial sect ‘Kenja’, in 1998. According to Stephen Mutch, new additions to the sect were forced to share their darkest secrets to the group, sever all ties with their family and friends, and to hand over sizable parts of their income.

Cate Blanchett
(Credit: Cate Blanchett as cult-leader, Pat)

After five months, Rau left Kenja but struggled with her mental health, being diagnosed with schizophrenia. After escaping Manly Hospital, Rau was found by police but presented a stolen Norweigan passport for identification, due to fear of the cult finding her. Suspecting that she was unlawfully living in Australia, Rau was sent to Baxter Immigration Detention Centre, where she resided with many asylum seekers from Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq. 

Mental health experts claimed that she wasn’t mentally ill, withholding her medication and putting her in Red One, a compound where she was only allowed four hours outside of her cell each day. After her story hit international headlines, Rau’s family recognised her, and she was released, receiving $2.6 million in compensation for wrongful detainment. Upon her release, Rau’s horrific story made headlines, presumably, because she was white.


At the moment, there are approximately 1,450 people detained in immigration detention centres across Australia. With those who are ‘stateless’, and not belonging to any nation, enduring indefinite stays. Over the years, conditions at these centres have worsened, becoming more like prisons, according to the Australian Human Rights Commission.

The cast is full of homegrown, Australian stars like Cate Blanchett, playing cult leader, Pat. Yvonne Strahovski has taken on the role of Sofie Werner, Asher Keddie is playing ambitious bureaucrat Clare Kowitz and Jai Courteney is starring as Cam Sandford, a father of two who takes a job working for the security contractor operating the centre.

Stateless is set to air on Netflix on July 8 2020.

Interested? Watch the gripping trailer below. 

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