"Waking up the Nation" was shot in early 2002 and shown publicly in Australia later that year. Originally released for Australian anti-racism campaigners and human rights groups, the film was eventually re-edited in 2005 and theatrically released in Germany in 2006, with additional international festival screenings that same year.
Parts of the documentary were also used by Amnesty International for it's "Make Some Noise" video compilation in 2006. Snippets of the film were also shown as part of the BBC documentary "Australia's Pacific Solution".
A drawing of South Park's Kenny on the door of the Freedom Bus can be seen numerous times during the film. Next to it the graffiti "they detained Kenny, bastards". For the protagonists of the film travelling on the Freedom Bus Kenny became a sort of fellow traveller, and thus his his name was added to the movie's end credits.