Hayes, who single-handedly wrote, directed and produced her debut feature film AKONI across Australia, West Africa and the UK over three years, said she was inspired to create the film after she fell in love with a Nigerian.

“I fell in love with someone really special, and through spending time with his family, learning about Nigerian culture and researching human rights issues existing in the country, AKONI poured out of me.”

Hayes also stars in the film alongside British Nigerian West End star Kit Esuruoso, who is also in Australia promoting the film.

Esuruoso said he was so proud to be part of the film, especially as Nigerians become one of the highest populations of displaced people globally.

“I love Australia, and I am very happy to be back sharing a film that highlights the plight of so many in Nigeria.  My family is Nigerian, so it was a dream to be able to tell such an incredible story and feel so connected to it.”

The talented duo opened their AKONI Premiere tour on Wednesday night in Gladstone with the Nadesalingam family and Biloela Community, who were celebrating their release and return home after 4 years trapped inside Australian detention centers.

They are joined on their release tour by Human Rights Lawyer and Australian hero Alison Battisson, founder of Human Rights For All.

Randwick City Council are official partner of the AKONI gala premiere event, which will occur at the Ritz Randwick at 6:00pm on World Refugee Day (Monday June 30.)

Tickets are on sale from the box office: https://www.ritzcinemas.com.au/events/akoni-world-refugee-day-premiere