This week is Migrant and Refugee Week, which is an opportunity for each of us to consider the role and contribution of refugees and migrants to Australia but also collectively considering the universal human rights that we all share. In recent years the hostility previously seen towards refugees has begun to subside with a burgeoning collection of people bringing the issue of refugees and asylum seekers to the attention of all. The fact that these people, like us are humans too and deserve dignity and the rights outlined in the UN declaration of human rights and the convention on the rights of a child afforded to them, just as we expect them to be afforded to us.
Recently UWS have restarted their ad campaign focusing on the students who have been to UWS and what difference they have made. This is not unlike most unis, as year 12 students have started to receive promotional material from a number of unis discussing what each uni offers. What I found most potent about the UWS ad campaign though is their privileging of Deng Thiak Adut’s story—the story of a Sudanese Refugee, smuggled out of Sudan and arriving in Australia in 1998. It focuses on not only Deng’s story in coming to Australia, but his focus on helping others as a defence lawyer and the contribution of refugees to the Australian community- a strong reminder that we should perhaps consider amidst the buzz about migration and Brexit, the closing of offshore processing centres but lack of resettlement programs in developed countries etc.
DENG THIAK ADUT – DEFENCE LAWYER
In 1985, the Sudanese government began destroying villages eventually leading to the rise of the People’s Liberation Army. Two years later, six-year old Deng Thiak Adut was taken away from his family’s banana farm in South Sudan and conscripted into the Army. After undergoing military training, several years of army service and witnessing numerous atrocities, Deng was still a boy when he was shot in the back while running through a village.
A further two years later, a chance meeting led to Deng reuniting with his brother who helped smuggle him out of the country by hiding him in a corn sack on the back of a truck. The two brothers befriended an Australian family and eventually arrived as refugees in 1998. After working at a local service station to learn English, Deng enrolled at TAFE and completed his Advanced Diploma in Accounting before deciding to study law. In 2005 he enrolled in a Bachelor of Laws at Western Sydney University and became the first person in his family to graduate with a law degree.
Deng now works as a lawyer in Blacktown, where he is determined to ensure that other Sudanese refugees have the legal advice and support they need before entering the court system.
(source: Western Sydney University)
If you would like any further reading about refugees and Asylum seekers please see:
- Sydney Morning Herald (an article suggested by Sr Libby Rogerson at the screening of Chasing Asylum a few weeks ago)
- The Guardian
- ABC News
Human Rights Commission- If unsure of the rights afforded to Refugees and Asylum seekers, Click Here for a good resource and guide (Last Updated Aug 2015).
Rachel Parsons, Year 12
Social Justice Captain