ARARAT - Ararat Regional Library recently enjoyed a visit from former local Robin de Crespigny, the author of 'The People Smuggler'.
The book is the true story of Ali Al Jenabi who has been dubbed the Oskar Schindler of Asia.
Ms de Crespigny discussed her reasons for writing the book, the years of research both in Australia and Indonesia and the mountains of legal materials she researched to do with Ali's fight to stay in Australia.
"It is the true story of Ali Al Jenabi, an Iraqi refugee who survived Abu Ghraib, joined the resistance and became a people smuggler to save his family, and become the 'Oskar Schindler' of Asia," she said.
Ms de Crespigny spent many hundreds of hours in conversation with Ali himself.
Ms de Crespigny answered and discussed many aspects of people smuggling and the asylum seeker issue.
Following her talk and discussion at the Library Ms de Crespigny sold and signed copies of her book.
Ms de Crespigny also paid a visit to the Lake Bolac Eel Festival.
"There was an amazing turn out at the festival where people who were interested in all sorts of issues came along," she said.
Ms de Crespigny, who originally comes from this area, said the response to her visit and book had been fantastic.
"It has been terrific, really exciting to be around the old stamping grounds of the western district," she said.
"There has been so much interest in the story which is about a guy becoming a people smuggler to save his family."
Ms de Crespigny attended boarding school in Geelong before going to University in Melbourne
She said she wasn't sure about the response she would receive to the book while in the region.
"There has been a lot of interest and compassion shown by the people at both the library and festival sessions," she said.
Ms de Crespigny said she spent three years with Ali to piece together his journey and life story.
"It is an extraordinary life journey encompassing six countries and two continents," she said.
"The experiences he faces are the same issues that are confronted by asylum seekers."
She said the book details facts about the current issues and adds a human face to the debate.
"A lot of what people see and hear from both side of politics and the media appears to blanketly demonise people smugglers," Ms de Crespigny said.
"It is great to be able to show an alternate point of view and have people who are open to listening to or reading about that view."
Ms de Crespigny said she believed the book had opened peoples minds on the issue.
"I think it has actually started to affect the attitudes of people who were previously very conservative on the issue," she said.
"Through the book they come to feel like they've met and known an asylum seeker and are able to enjoy what they might bring to the country.
"The fear they have really diminishes."
Anyone looking for more information on the book can go to www.thepeoplesmuggler.com.