Refugee Week Ambassadors are individuals who are either from a refugee background or who have an interest in and understanding of refugee and migrant issues in Australia. Their role is to promote Refugee Week, its aims and objectives.
Lizzy Kuoth fled South Sudan with her grandmother, arriving in Australia with hope for a better life.
Lizzy is a proactive and dedicated youth leader determined to become a political social scientist to ensure Australia’s communities are safe for all. Lizzy is passionate about social justice and has worked as a consultant for the state government as well as a community organiser for the Australian Multicultural Foundation- advocating for women, children and families marginalised by poverty, mental illness, disability and social isolation.
Lizzy currently serves as a member of the Multicultural Advisory Committee Monash and the Regional Advisory Councils. In the past, she has served as a member for the City of Greater Dandenong and City of Monash Youth Advisory Committee. In 2012, Lizzy was awarded the Empowering Monash Women Aware for her outstanding participation and contribution to multicultural organisations. Lizzy currently works at St.Francis Xavier College as a Multicultural Officer.
Asfar Habeb is a refugee from north Iraq, near Mosul. Her family escaped to Lebanon, when the bombing of Christians was clearly becoming more and more frequent. Asfar came to Australia as a 13 year old, and heard about her school in Iraq being bombed and 8 of her friends dying while she was on a Sunday picnic in a park in Sydney. And from Sydney, she watched the rise of ISIS and the fall of her village.
Asfar was in the program “Tree of Life: Young Refugees Tell Their Stories 2013” and in her performances, her luminous honesty and courage shone from the stage.
As the “face” of the documentary Cast From the Storm, Asfar has spoken to audiences when the film has had public screenings. Now a 16 year old student, her wisdom and insight has inspired those who her have heard her speak. Her advocacy for refugees is passionate.
Arash is a 24 year-old refugee from Iran living in Australia. He travelled to Malaysia at the age of 17 and registered with UNHCR in Kuala Lumpur.
He spent five years in Malaysia before being resettled to Australia in May 2015. Arash is studying for a Bachelor of Engineering at the University of Western Sydney.
He has experience volunteering and working for organizations supporting young refugees, in Malaysia (HELP College of Arts and Technology https ://help.edu.my/help-college-of-arts -and-technology-help/, UNHCR, Sahabat Support Centre http://msri.org.my/v5/sahabat- programmes/sahabat-support-centre/) and more recently in Australia (Auburn Diversity Services Young Leaders Group http://www.adsi.org.au/, Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network Youth Ambassador http://www.myan.org.au/, Settlement Services International volunteer http://www.ssi.org.au/support-ssi/volunteer). Arash is an advocate for gender equality, sexual rights, and access to education and employment opportunities.
He participated in the Global Refugee Youth Consultations in Australia and the Global Consultation in Geneva. He participated in the Global Refugee Youth Consultation in Australia and Geneva in June 2016 and since then have traveled to Malaysia where he planned and ran a youth consultation and meetings with the various NGOs he used to work with. He has also traveled to Bangkok, Thailand for the APRRN6 (Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network) where he was elected as the deputy chair in the youth working group. He has been invited to various youth consultations in Australia where he shared his experience from Geneva and his various participation across the country and he was just recently awarded the Young People Human Rights Medal for the Year 2016 by Australia Human Rights.
Dalal entered Australia as a refugee in February1992. She Completed her Bachelors of Arts Degree in community Development. In May 2013 she completed her Graduate Certificate in Australian Immigration Law and Practice from Victorian University. Since she graduated in 1998 she has been working in community sector. She worked as a volunteer and as a paid settlement worker trying to help newly arrived Migrant and refugees to resettle in Australia. She has worked as Settlement support worker at former Inner Western Region Migrant Resource Centre and for 13 years Settlement Case Worker at Whittlesea community Connections now Parent Resource Co-ordinator at Anglicare Victoria. In her pervious role as Settlement Case Worker and Migration Advisor she has been assisting newly arrived migrant and refugee people to resettle in Australia and she has been advocating on their behalf when she attended the network meetings with mainstream service providers. Also when assisting them with their resettlement issues including migration advise and assistant to help them to get reunited with their families, helping them with finding accommodation, financial difficulties advocating on their behalf while dealing with legal, education employment and health agencies.
Dalal made huge differences to many refugee people and helped them to resettle and start life from scratch. Also Dalal established the Chaldean Women Association in Victoria in 2007 and she was elected as a president for this association by its members. She also Established the Australian Chaldean Family Welfare and again has been elected to be the President.
Dalal Currently is Volunteering with both Refugee Legal and Whittlesea Community Connections providing Immigration advise and assistant to newly arrived migrant, refugees and asylum seekers.
Current committees Dalal is involved in are:
• President of Australian Chaldean Family Welfare.
• Committee member of Whittlesea Multicultural Issues Network Meeting
• Cultural Advisory Committee at Broadmeadows Family Relationship centre.
• Chair of Northern Parent Educators Network
• Northern Health Patient Experience Community Advisory Committee
• Face to Face Advisory Committee / Refugee Council of Australia and
• Victorian Refugee Health Network committee member.Her past experience includes:
• Committee member of the Northern Metropolitan Migrant Resource Centre that managed the Resource Centre staff.
• Whittlesea Domestic Violence Network Meeting, Northern Health Advisory Committee, and Whittlesea Arabic Speaking Women’s Association which enabled her to link these agencies to the programs and groups that she manage and I run on a weekly basis.
Furthermore Dalal is very committed hardworking person and very assertive to make changes to peoples lives. She also encourages them to participate in community events and activities. Dalal is able to understand women’s issues and also she looks for opportunities to encourage women’s leadership in helping them to find solutions to their own issues. The skills Dalal has she uses them to help people who are disadvantaged in the community e.g. women migrant and refugees.
Dalal also was able to produce a few publications throughout her work experience which are Perspective on New Arrival African Humanitarian Entrants in the City of Whittlesea in 2005. In 2002 Iraqi Community Profile and in 1997 What are the pending issues faced by the Iraqi Chaldean women’s in Australia.
Dalal received Refugee Recognition Awards from Victorian Multicultural Commission in 2006, an Excellence award from Victorian Multicultural Commission in 2010, an overall achievement for the Whittlesea Refugee Recognition Award in 2013 and was nominated for Australia Day Award City of Whittlesea.
Although she is officially known by her Christian name, Priscilla prefers to be called by her traditional Dinka name, Kuer- meaning ‘the way’. It was given to her as a reflection of the events surrounding her birth as she was born on the journey between Sudan and Kenya. Her family made the trek to Kenya for safety, fleeing the second Sudanese Civil War. Kuer spent her early years in Kakuma Refugee Camp before arriving in Australia in 2003 through the ‘Women at Risk’ program.
Growing up, Kuer never really questioned her surroundings, thinking it was the same reality for everyone else. Through growth and maturity, Kuer came to understand the abnormalities of her childhood and the consequences that brought her to Australia. Through it all, Kuer has developed a basic philosophy to make sense of the way she sees the world we live in. That philosophy is that as human beings we each have the responsibility to help others that are in situations of which they cannot help themselves or don’t have the ability to do so. It was through the mercy of God and the kindness of others that Kuer believes helped her and her family find safety.
Today, Kuer is studying at the Australian National University in Canberra hoping to use her knowledge and abilities to do what she can to help those facing the struggles of being a refugee.
Om fled his home country Bhutan in 1992 for fear of arrest and torture leaving behind his wife Saroja and their two and half year old daughter Smriti. A telecommunications engineer by profession, he was then working as the head of Planning and Development Division in Bhutan Telecom in the government of Bhutan.He spent the next six years volunteering in the Bhutanese refugee camps in Nepal, mainly involved in advocacy work and education of refugee children. Among others, he co-edited and published The Bhutan Review on behalf of the Human Rights Organisation of Bhutan (HUROB).He came to Australia in 1998 and later sought asylum. After he was accepted as a refugee, he was then able to bring his wife and daughter.
Since arriving in the country he has completed a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and worked at Telstra Corporation as an Senior Analyst and Competitive Intelligence Manager for over ten years. He resigned from Telstra in 2013 to pursue his passion in the social sector and worked as the Chief Executive of SEVA International. He has moved from this role and has now set up his own practice as a consultant and a practitioner of Strength-based approach to refugee settlement and community development offering his services as a speaker, trainer and a mentor.
Om believes that those of us who had the opportunity to be resettled are the lucky ones. He sees a huge responsibility and also considers it a privilege to be able to assist others once we are able to stand on our own. As a proud Australian citizen now, he works tirelessly in lending a ‘hand up’ and assists those in need. Having experienced the life of a refugee and seen stars rising from those refugee camps, he strongly believes that no matter where you grew up or what your past circumstances was, you can chose and work towards where you want to be in future.
As the Founding President and currently a senior Advisor of the Association of Bhutanese in Australia (ABA) Sydney, Om has been able to follow the journey of fellow Bhutanese refugees since the resettlement began in 2008 by assisting them to settle down smoothly in the country. By adopting a ‘strength-based approach’ utilising the strengths and assets from within the community and collaborating with service providers to fill any gaps, the Bhutanese community in Sydney has achieved significantly with high level of education, employment and house ownership.
A Fellow and a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD), Om has served on the Boards of prominent organisations such as Settlement Services International (SSI), SydWest Multicultural Services and MTC Australia and had the opportunity to observe and influence the settlement process from a service providers’ point of view.
Om was slected by Westpac Bicentinnenial Foundation as one of the inaugural Social Change Fellows http://bicentennial.westpacgroup.com.au/news/social-change-fellowship/ and had the opportunity to visit and deepen his knowledge about refugee settlement in different countries and is working further on strength based approach to refugee settlement and community development. As a Working Group member of the newly formed Refuge Community Advocacy Network (RCAN), he works actively with diverse communities in the broader community. Om is a recipient of 2016 Community Service Lifetime Achievement Award and 2012 National Volunteer Award amongst many other accomplishments. Further info: www.omdhungel.com.
Samer Aljanabi has been living in Perth, Western Australia for 14 years. Samer fled her home country of Iraq as a refugee and sought asylum in Australia. She now calls Perth home.
As a lawyer practising in resources and commercial law, Samer has been lucky to utilize her skills and languages for various human rights causes, from assisting people seeking refugee status in Australia and the settlement of refugees in Perth, to helping an Australian journalist to be released from an Egyptian prison to Australia.
Samer joins us as a Refugee Week Ambassador in 2016 and we are delighted to have her on board.
Mehdi Nawa is a University student, currently studying Political Science and International Relations. He is also part of the Fairway and Future Students programs at UWA.
He is also part of Amnesty International UWA and Perth Global Shapers. It’s part of the Global Shapers Community, an initiative of the World Economic Forum where young leaders make a contribution to their communities.
Mehdi and his family left Afghanistan as refugees after the Taliban rose to power. Mehdi, his mother and his brother arrived in Australia in 2002, where they united with Mehdi’s father after years of separation.
Mehdi was a WA Youth Ambassador in 2011 after he won a state-essay competition. He, along with nine other winners, travelled to Greece to commemorate the fallen ANZAC soldiers during the Second World War.
Mehdi is very passionate in advocating refugee rights, in particular when he remembers the struggles that his family and other refugees endured, and his experiences living in Nauru’s detention centre. He hopes to achieve a law degree specialising in human rights so that he can assist refugees from war-torn nations, as well as promoting rights for discriminated and marginalised groups.
Mariam fled the Somali civil war in 1991 with her two children on a packed boat that was one of few to make it across the seas to Kenya.
Arriving in Australia in 1998 with her husband, four children and pregnant with her fifth child, she knew nothing of western culture. She did not also know the socio-economic demographic of the Melbourne suburb (Brighton) that the Australian government had her and her family settled in. It was no walk in the park, however Mariam was determined to integrate into this new community where it seemed nobody wanted her and her family.
In 2012, Mariam launched her autobiography – A Resilient Life. And in the same year she confounded an incorporated non for profit organisation – RAW (Resilient Aspiring Women),to create better social environments for all women. RAW is a platform, a community garden and a meeting place for all women in the backyard of her Brighton home.
Today, she is a voice for women everywhere, and is a strong believer that all women, regardless of culture, creed, or background, need someone to believe in and support them. Mariam believes that the true potential of women is immense and when nurtured, has the ability to shine and prosper.
The Butler Falcons are a multicultural AFL team based at the Butler Community Centre in Butler, Western Australia. They seek to inspire young women from all backgrounds to play sport, become strong and independent, help foster multicultural understanding in the wider community and become leaders and mentors based on their experiences facing new challenges.
With their team motto of “We came to Australia. We love AFL. Come join us!”, the women help break down barriers between mainstream Australians and African Australians.
Their chant is an inspiring reflection of their own individual strength and independence:
“We move in its cycles
We dance in its passion
We learn its wonder
We awaken in its spirit
David Manne is a lawyer and migration agent and Executive Director of the Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre (RILC). He has worked in various capacities assisting refugees and asylum seekers for over 20 years. In January 2001, he joined RILC, which is the largest provider of free legal assistance to disadvantaged migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in Australia. David sat on the Board of the Refugee Council of Australia for seven years, and currently sits on a number of other non-government Boards, including the Human Rights Law Centre and the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture Ethics Committee, and peak Government consultative bodies. He has also been appointed to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Advisory Board of Eminent Persons.
David has been the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including the Law Institute of Victoria Paul Baker Prize for Administrative and Human Rights Law, and President’s Awards (2006 and 2011), and was shortlisted for the Australian Human Rights Commission Human Rights Medal in 2011. Since 2008, he has been voted by his peers as one of Australia’s leading Immigration Lawyers in the annual Australian edition of the international Best Lawyers publication.
David headed RILC’s legal teams in the recent successful High Court challenges in the cases of Plaintiff M61 v The Commonwealth & Ors (regarding the Government’s ‘offshore processing’ regime in Australia); Plaintiffs M70/M106 v The Commonwealth & Ors(regarding the Government’s ‘Malaysian Solution’); Plaintiff M47 v The Director-General of ASIO & Ors (challenging the adverse security assessment and indefinite detention of a refugee); and Plaintiff M76 v Minister for Immigration and Citizenship & Ors (regarding indefinite detention).
Carina Hoang demonstrated amazing courage by escaping war-torn Vietnam on a wooden boat with her two younger siblings and 370 other people when she was just 16. After 10 months in a Refugee camp in Indonesia, Hoang was finally able to begin the next phase of her life in the United States. Over the next 20 years, Hoang continued her education, and had a successful career. Five years ago, Hoang resettled in Perth with her family. Hoang’s on-going work as a publisher and refugee advocate saw her publish the book, Boat People in 2011, which provides a moving account of the Vietnamese boat people experience of the late 1970s and 1980s.
Boat People won 2012 Independent Publisher Book Award for Australia and New Zealand region best non-fiction, was nominated for the Human Rights Book Award, and was finalist for the WA Premier’s Book Award. Hoang has become an influential advocate for refugees and helps Australians to understand the issues surrounding the modern-day boat people arrivals and shares the experiences of Vietnamese boat people with students and adults.
Since 2009, Hoang has committed to return annually to the sites of former refugee camps on now-uninhabited islands in Indonesia, to help Vietnamese families from France, Canada, Vietnam, Australia and the US search for graves of loved ones who died during the exodus. Hoang was an Inductee to the Western Australia Women’s Hall of Fame in 2011, recipient of the City of Belmont’s 2011 Volunteer of the Year Award, nominated for the 2012 Western Australian of the Year Award, recipient of the 2012 Karl Farrell Inspiration Award, and was a finalist for the Murdoch University 2012 Distinguished Alumni Award. Hoang is currently pursuing a PhD at Murdoch University.
Fr Rod Bower is an Anglican priest and Rector of Gosford on the New South Wales Central Coast. The Gosford Anglican Community has become known as a progressive voice speaking into the social issues of the day. One of the main concerns of the community is Australia’s treatment of Asylum Seekers and Refugees. Fr Rod grew up in the New South Wales Hunter Valley on his parents’ grazing property. He worked in the meat industry until training for the priesthood in his late twenties. He believes that he has had an incredibly privileged life and that those like him have a special responsibility to enhance the lives of others through promoting a society that is characterized by justice and equity.
Fr Rod’s voice and that of the Gosford Anglican Community is directed towards “middle Australia” with the specific intention of promoting a culture of compassion that will influence legislative decisions, ultimately resulting in a more just society.
Jane Alia was born in Uganda, where her parents were living in exile, having fled their war-ravaged homeland in South Sudan.
As a young woman of refugee background, Jane is passionate in her advocacy and empathy on issues impacting on the welfare of recently-arrived refugees and asylum seekers in the Northern Territory. Jane volunteers at the Melaleuca Refugee Centre and the Multicultural Council of the Northern Territory and acts as Formal Chair and Executive Member of the Multicultural Youth Northern Territory.
Her achievements include: 2012 Northern Territory School-based Apprentice of the Year, finalist in the Australian Training Awards, keynote speaker at 2012 International Women’s Day celebrations at Parliament House, 2013 winner of the Minister for Young Territorians Excellence in Youth Leadership Award (in the NT Young Achiever Awards). Jane was an Australian ambassador at the World Conference on Youth and Community Services in South Africa in July 2013, and was a speaker and presenter at the international Women of the World Festival in Katherine in September 2013. Jane is also an Australian Apprenticeships Ambassador for the Australian Government.
In 2012 Jane visited South Sudan for the first time, with her family. This was an exciting and deeply moving experience. She saw where her father was born, met relatives and saw first-hand the challenges of a country trying to rebuild after 50 years of civil war.
Jane believes that for young people, education is empowerment and fundamental to achieving their goals in life. She leads by example, combining her work as a qualified Dental Assistant with further study at Charles Darwin University.
Barat Ali Batoor is a multi award-winning photographer based in Melbourne. He was born in 1983, in a family that was driven out of Afghanistan during the civil war when most of his people were massacred. He returned to his ancestral country for the first time after September 11, 2001, when the Taliban regime was still in Kandahar, despite the United States-led campaign to oust them. After visiting the devastation and destruction of 23 years of war, Batoor decided to work for his country and to draw the world’s attention to the plight of the Afghani people and the problems facing the country. He chose photography as his medium of expression.
Batoor started photography in 2002 and launched his first solo exhibition in 2007. His photographs were exhibited in the United States, Denmark, Austria, Sweden, Dubai, Australia, Pakistan, Italy, Japan, Switzerland and Afghanistan. His works have been published in magazines, newspapers and catalogues such as TED Gallery, The Washington Post, Newsweek, Wall Street Journal, Stern, India Today, Afghan Scene, Risk Magazine, The Global Mail, The West Australian, Strategic Review and others. He participated in the “Lahore Artist Residency” in Pakistan and was the 2009 recipient of a photography grant from New York’s Open Society Institute for the documentary project “Child Trafficking in Afghanistan/The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan”. At the Nikon-Walkley Awards in Australia in 2013, Batoor won Photo of the Year Award and was a winner in the Photo Essay category. He was also awarded the 2014 Communication for Social Change Award by the University of Queensland.
Batoor also gives lectures on various social issues and was a speaker at TEDxSydney in 2014.
Growing up in the Eastern region of Sri Lanka during the early stages of the civil war, Rev Dr John Jegasothy has experienced first-hand the horrors of forced colonisation, state violence, persecution and terror inflicted upon members of the Tamil ethnic group. Amidst the violence of his last six years in Sri Lanka, Rev Jegasothy served as minister at the Methodist Church in Trincomalee and Chenkalady, was Chairperson of the Human Rights Organisation in the Trincomalee district, and called for peace as a member of the Central Committee. He was also heavily involved in the resettlement of internally displaced people and became a spokesperson for the Tamils in open forums, making him a target for the armed forces and Sinhalese.
In 1986 Rev Jegasothy and his family were granted Special Humanitarian Visas and relocated to Australia, spending their first eight years living in Parkes and Shellharbour before moving to Sydney. Rev Jegasothy works tirelessly towards the harmonious integration of different cultures into the local community, helping individuals and families on Temporary Protection Visas settle into their new environments, and assisting asylum seekers on Bridging Visas who don’t have work permits. With the support of the Uniting Church, Rev Jegasothy has launched a mission that offers love, support and pastoral care to asylum seekers in detention centres, especially those in Villawood, and has become well-known ‘Father’ within the community.
Rev. Jegasothy is a member of the Asylum Seekers Interagency network, a board member of Combined Churches Refugee Taskforce, engaged with the Sydney Alliance in “changing the conversation” and President of the Australian Council for Tamil Refugees. He is also a member of the Community Consultative Group of Villawood Detention Centre and has chaired both the Consortium of Tamil Organisation NSW and Friends of STARTTS.
In 2003 Rev Jegasothy was nominated for Human Rights Award by Amnesty International. In 2009 he received the award of “Outstanding Australian” from STARTTS and in 2010 the Tamil Uniting Church and refugee community awarded him with the “Service with Compassion”. He serves in the Rose Bay-Vaucluse Tamil Uniting Church in partnership with Northmead Uniting Church.
Renata was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia after the end of World War 2. Her Jewish father,who had survived Theresienstadt and Auschwitz concentration camps, decided when theCommunists took over that he could not tolerate life under yet another totalitarian regime.He bribed his former fellow inmates of the prison camps, who were by then senior officialsin the Communist government, to obtain passports for him and his family. Renata’s familywere accepted as refugees to Australia in 1949.
Renata’s family established themselves in Sydney. Both her parents worked very hard toensure that she and her sister gained a good education. Renata feels exceptionally luckythat her father chose to come to Australia. She believes Australia is fundamentally awelcoming and generous country. Renata’s contributions to Australia were recognised withan Order of Australia in 2002 and a Centenary Medal in 2003. She was made an HonoraryFellow of the University of Sydney in 2005.
Renata has been actively involved in refugee affairs since the Tampa affair in 2001. Thewords of her father – “People knew about the concentration camps and did nothing” –resonated in her mind as the long-term incarceration of asylum seekers to Australia beganwith that stand-off at sea.In 2013, she and her husband – who is also a refugee, from Hungary – helped to establish the Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at UNSW Sydney 2013 toundertake rigorous research and contribute to public policy involving the most pressingdisplacement issues in Australia, the Asia-Pacific region and the world. Its work isunderpinned by a principled, human rights-based approach.
Nga Chu, known to everyone as Nahji, misschu and the Queen of the Rice Paper Rolls, is a restaurateur and caterer who has created a business that truly fuses a deeply personal life story and inter-generational commitment to Vietnamese food with a fun and highly professional service approach. Born in Luang Prahbang, Laos, in 1970, Nahji and her family escaped the Pathet Laos Regime in 1975. They sustained themselves on the meagre living conditions afforded by the various Thai refugee camps they inhabited over a four-year period before the Chu family’s number came up and the Australian government made them one of the first Vietnamese-Laotian refugees to settle in Australia.
The Chu family own and operate several Vietnamese restaurants in Melbourne, and in 2005, Nahji established the misschu catering business, supplying venues and events with her sublime Vietnamese-inspired canapés. By 2008 misschu had become the largest caterer of Asian cuisine in Sydney. In 2009, the misschu tuckshop opened in Bourke Street, Darlinghurst, and in 2010, Nahji established the Opera Kitchen at the Sydney Opera House. The misschu brand has continued to grow, with seven further misschu tuckshops opening across Sydney and Melbourne, as well as an outlet in London where Nahji was recently nominated for a QANTAS Australian Business in the UK award. Further misschu branches are planned for London, as well as Hong Kong and New York.
Nahji’s rich Vietnamese heritage is the basis for the misschu menu and branding, which features the Refugee Visa that the family entered Australian on in 1978, a topic Nahji recently spoke about during a TEDx talk in the U.K. A talented filmmaker, Nahji has produced a charcoal animation telling her story and that of many other Vietnamese refugees. Nahji has recently been made a member of the NSW Multicultural Business Advisory Board.
Hayatullah Rahimi is a passionate advocate for asylum seekers and refugees in Australia and overseas. Hayatullah arrived in Australia in 2007 having been a refugee for eight years in Pakistan after he escaped war and persecution in Afghanistan.
In 2010, as soon as Hayatullah was granted permanent residency, despite being a bookseller back home, his experience of being a refugee and facing difficult challenges inspired him to become a social worker in Australia. Now, Hayatullah is a case manager supporting new arrivals and refugees and is currently finishing his Honours in Social Work at RMIT. Hayatullah appreciates that he is able to contribute to Australia’s economy and give back to the country, which has given so much to him.
As a Social Worker, Hayatullah feels he has a responsibility to speak up about the rights of others who are seeking protection. So far, he has had the opportunity to advocate on behalf of asylum seekers and refugees in the media and in government and non-government forums for education and work rights. He also has been featured as a guest speaker by Centre for Multicultural Youth. He is the President of the Omid Cultural Association, which, last year, organised their first Refugee Week celebration with the Afghan-Hazara community. He recently received the Leader of the Year 2016 Award from the City of Greater Dandenong and received the Finalist Recognition Award from Friends of Refugees.
Sam Almaliki is the Senior Manager for Community Engagement at Cricket Australia, overseeing the sport’s engagement strategies for female, multicultural, Indigenous and disability communities. Sam saw his first cricket ball bowled during eight months spent as a boy inside Villawood Detention Centre after his parents and two brothers fled their home in Basra in southern Iraq in 1997. In addition to being passionate about Sports Administration, Sam is committed to community advocacy and serves on numerous Boards and Committees including being a member of the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) Community Advisory Committee and the Board of the Victorian Chapter of the Australia India Business Council (AIBC).
Sam previously served as a Commissioner on the New South Wales (NSW) Community Relations Commission (CRC) providing policy advice to the NSW Government on multicultural affairs. He has a background in Law and is in the final stages of completing a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Wollongong.
Associate Professor Munjed Al Muderis is an orthopaedic surgeon and a clinical lecturer at Macquarie University and The Australian School Of Advanced Medicine. He specialises in hip, knee, trauma and osseointegration surgery. He is a fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and Chairman of the Osseointegration Group of Australia.
A/Prof Al Muderis graduated from Baghdad College High School (The American Jesuit) in 1991. He studied medicine at Baghdad University from 1991 to 1997. As a first year resident A/Prof Al Muderis was forced to flee Iraq as he refused Saddam’s regime brutal orders to surgically remove the ears of soldiers who had escaped from the army. He ended up on a flimsy wooden boat heading to his new home, Australia.
A/Prof Al Muderis’ first job in Australia was at Mildura Base Hospital as an Emergency Unit and Orthopaedic Resident. Four months later he moved to Melbourne as a Surgical Registrar at the Austin Repatriation Hospital. His career next took him to Wollongong Hospital where he spent a year as an unaccredited Orthopaedic Registrar and then a year at Canberra Hospital.
A/Prof Al Muderis joined the Australian Orthopaedic Training Program in 2004 as part of the Sydney NSW Orthopaedic Training Scheme and obtained his surgical fellowship, FRACS (Orth), in 2008. A/Prof Al Muderis went on to complete three post specialisation fellowships. (in Sydney with Dr Ali Gursel in Lower Limb Arthroplasty at the Sydney Adventist and Baulkham Hills Hospitals; Berlin, Germany on Hip and Knee Arthroplasty with Prof. Dr. Med. Jorg Scholz at the Emil von Behring Hospital, a Teaching Hospital of the Charite Medical School; and a Trauma Fellowship with Prof. Dr. Med. Axel Ekkernkamp at the Unfallkrankenhaus Berlin (UKB,).
A/Prof Al Muderis commenced his private practice in 2010 and is currently appointed as a Clinical Lecturer at Macquarie University Hospital and The Australian School of Advanced Medicine. He also have appointments at The Sydney Adventist Hospital and Norwest Private Hospital. A/Prof Al Muderis sees patients at his Macquarie University, Bella Vista, Drummoyne and Sydney Adventist Hospital clinics. He specialises in hip, knee and trauma surgery with particular interest in hip arthroscopy, resurfacing, arthroplasty, knee arthroplasty and reconstruction of recurrent patellar dislocations. He is also a world leading surgeon in the field of osseointegration surgery.
In 2014 his memoir Walking Free, was published by Allen and Unwin. He lives in Sydney with his wife Irina, a GP, and their daughter Sophia and poodle Mozart. He also has two sons, Adam and Dean.
From a dusty Tanzanian refugee camp to the prestigious stage of the Sydney Opera House, it has been an inspirational journey for Australia’s number one African-Australian hip-hop act The Flybz. As a former child soldier, Fablice escaped his guerrilla army life in Burundi, aged 11 years. On the run from military forces, he fled to a refugee camp in neighbouring Tanzania where he was reunited with his sister, his only surviving direct family member. In Tanzania, Fablice connected with his nephew G-Storm and the boys began experimenting with music as a means to express themselves in a war-torn environment. Facing deteriorating living conditions in the camp and unable to return to Burundi, Fablice, his sister and G-Storm were accepted as refugees and moved to Australia to start a new life.
Performing as The Flybz, Fablice and G-Storm are passionate about sharing their experiences and stories of loss, hope, war and love through music. Since establishing a home in Australia in 2007, The Flybz have performed at youth prisons, African homework clubs, Xavier College in Melbourne, Indigenous cultural celebrations, Melbourne’s Fringe Festival, Moomba, the RRR Community Football Day, run workshops during the National Youth Awards, been guest speakers at schools such as Williamstown College and Daylesford High, and shared stages and recording studios with Paul Kelly, Xavier Rudd, Angie Hart, Blue King Brown, Painters and Dockers, Ella and Jesse Hooper, Diafrix, Killer Queens and Black Roots.The Flybz released their debut album “Just Passing Through” in 2011 with the backing of Multicultural Arts Victoria and visited their homeland in December 2012 during a fact-finding mission with Action Aid.
In 2013 the Flybz released their new single “Child Soldier”, created in collaboration with Paul Kelly and produced by Jessie Hooper and Pataphysics. More recently, Fablice became the first recipient of the Multicultural Arts Victoria’s (MAV) Development Scholarship for Refugee Youth.
Saba Vasefi is an Iranian-Australian feminist filmmaker, poet, human rights activist. She has been published her first emotive poem at the age of 16 as a protest against the dire circumstances of orphans where her mother worked as a volunteer. she became the first person to organise art therapy to an underprivileged orphan in Tehran.
Her master’s thesis in Feminist Literary Criticism received the highest possible grade. At 24 Saba became a lecturer at the prestigious Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran. She was a reporter for the International Campaign for Human Rights, committee member for Committee of Human Rights Reporters and was twice a judge for best literature on women’s issues. Saba was expelled from the University after 4 years of teaching due to her activism. However that did not diminish her determination.
Saba has published poems, reports and produced multimedia about executions, censorship, freedom of speech, women and children’s rights. One of her multimedia pieces, Shirin, A Soloist In The Silence Room (2011), was screened at the UN. Her underground documentary film about child execution in Iran, Don’t Bury My Heart (2010), was screened by the BBC, VOA, the UN, UCLA, Copenhagen Film Festival,NSW Parliament House and at various other film festivals. The Documentary Australian Foundation Board has approved her film about an asylum seeker child for their list. Her documentary, Symphony of Strange Water (2014) vividly painting the experiences of a refugee girl was launched at the UNSW Parliament House, and NSW State Library. Saba’s story of a Muslim Lesbian couple, Behind the Burqa (2014), was shortlisted at Shark Island Institute for their Student Documentary Prize for Best Social Impact Documentary project. She graduated in Documentary at AFTRS and her recent film, Beyond The Father’s Shadow (2014), depicts the story of Australia’s first female parliamentarian, Edith Cowan will be launched at the NSW Parliament House. Saba’s article on Intersectional discrimination has been published in Lumina journal in Women in Film issue.
She is the director of Sydney’s International Women’s Poetry & Art Festival (Woman Scream) that is held over 40 countries every year. She is also the Director of Poetry & Art for Justice Project. She is a committee member for the Bridge For Asylum Seekers Foundation.
Saba has been invited as a speaker on Women and Children’s issues at the United Nations,UCLA,Maryland,Oslo,London, Monah and Sydney Universities,Amnesty International UK, Brookings (US), NSW Art Gallery,NSW State Library,NSW Parliament House… Currently she is going to start her second master research on feminist cinema study at the Macquarie University.
Corinne is an accomplished stand-up comedian, MC, presenter, writer and broadcaster and has performed both nationally and internationally. In addition to her years on Rove Live and The Glasshouse, she has appeared on everything from Spicks and Specks to Good News Week. She has co-hosted successful national radio shows, performed countless solo live shows and appeared everywhere from the Sydney Opera House to the Kalgoorlie Arts Centre. Her natural, down-to-earth charm and her quick wit have made her one of Australia’s best known, and most warmly regarded performers.
Corinne’s first book, “Lessons In Letting Go: Confessions of a Hoarder” (Allen and Unwin) was released in September 2010 and went into reprint just months after its release.
Corinne has been an active advocate for asylum seekers and refugees, first with her involvement with Actors for Refugees in the early 2000s and since then, as an MC and host for various rallies, fundraisers and information sessions relating to asylum seeker rights. She has written numerous articles on the issue and has lobbied both federal and state politicians. Corinne’s passion for the cause was the driving force behind her decision to become a lawyer. She hopes to practise in refugee and asylum seeker rights in the near future. Corinne has recently graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Juris Doctor, and is currently engaged as a trainee lawyer at Maurice Blackburn.
Bwe Thay arrived in Australia in 2009 as a refugee, having fled the Burmese civil war. He decided to pursue higher education in order to get his life back on track. Over the course of his studies, he joined a number of advocacy committees, including the Refugee Tertiary Education Committee (RTEC), which encourages universities to open their doors, offer online scholarships and give access to higher education for refugee migrants and asylum seekers in transition or refugee camps across the world.
Bwe now works as a Program Officer and Community Liaison Officer at Swinburne University of Technology and works passionately towards the empowerment of different communities through education. Bwe’s achievements have been recognised through a number of awards, including:
- 2014 Swinburne University Vice-Chancellor’s Culture & Values Award
- 2015 Australian Catholic University Alumni Awards – Young Alumnus of the Year – Highly Commended
- 2015 Swinburne University Pathway and vocational Education Achievement Award for Community Engagement – Highly commended
- 2015 Swinburne University Vice-Chancellor’s Inclusion and Diversity Award- Highly Commended.