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.
If you would like to request a speaker for your Refugee Week event, please email refugeeweek@refugeecouncil.
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.
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.
Mahir Momand is a Microfinance expert who has lived 2/3 of his life as a refugee. Mahir currently serves as the CEO of Thrive Refugee Enterprise. Thrive provides micro-finance and business support to refugees and asylum seekers in Australia to start new businesses and grow existing ones.
Mahir’s work is focused on highlighting how refugees can contribute to economic growth by creating jobs for themselves and others. Mahir’s current work shows that when refugees become economically active, it leads not only to economic integration and financial independence but also faster social integration.
Previously, Mahir served as CEO of the National Association of Credit Unions in Afghanistan, worked for the World Bank, UNHCR and was Financial Adviser to the Federal Ministry of Labour in Afghanistan. The Microfinance programs run by Mahir have helped establish a total of 165,000 small and medium business enterprises in Afghanistan that provided a livelihood for nearly 1 million people.
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.
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
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 officials in the Communist government, to obtain passports for him and his family. Renata’s family were accepted as refugees to Australia in 1949.
Renata’s family established themselves in Sydney. Both her parents worked very hard to ensure that she and her sister gained a good education. Renata feels exceptionally lucky that her father chose to come to Australia. She believes Australia is fundamentally a welcoming and generous country. Renata’s contributions to Australia were recognised with an Order of Australia in 2002 and a Centenary Medal in 2003. She was made an Honorary Fellow of the University of Sydney in 2005.
Renata has been actively involved in refugee affairs since the Tampa affair in 2001. The words 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 began with 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 to undertake rigorous research and contribute to public policy involving the most pressing displacement issues in Australia, the Asia-Pacific region and the world. Its work is underpinned by a principled, human rights-based approach.
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.
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 escaping the military as a child soldier in war-torn Burundi, to rapping on stage at Australia’s Sydney Opera House, Fablice Manirakiza’s story is one a powerful one, full of struggle, heartbreak and inspiration.
This year’s Victorian Young Achiever of the Year, Fablice (a.k.a) FLYBZ shares his unique life’s journey through music, hip-hop performance and dialogue. With school students and world leaders alike, Fablice inspires and connects with his audiences to deliver a message of resilience and hope for our future, thus changing the world one song at a time.
Since arriving in Australia in 2007, Fablice has established himself as an artist of influence in Melbourne’s cultural landscape, working as a hip hop artist, presenter, actor, festival producer and curator. Fablice often appears on national television and radio around Australia and in New Zealand, including a starring role in episode nine of the thirteen-part ABC TV series MY:24.
A rap icon amongst Australian youth, Fablice has performed at concerts and workshops across Australia, East Timor and Africa. Last year, Fablice released his latest EP ‘Light of Peace’. In 2013 Fablice released his debut single ‘Child Soldier’, a collaboration with legendary Australian songwriter Paul Kelly, and his debut album ‘Just Passing Through’ in 2012. Fablice has performed alongside Paul Kelly, Xavier Rudd, Angie Hart, Blue King Brown, Painters And Dockers, Ella & Jesse Hooper (Killing Heidi), Diafrix, Briggs, Killer Queens and Black Roots.
Fablice’s talents go beyond the artistic, however, as he strives for a better world for us all. Elected President of the Australian Burundian Community in Victoria since 2013, Fablice is an ambassador of his community and his people, particularly in his recently released TEDx talk, The Power of Education. Fablice continues to study a Bachelor of Criminology and Justice, as part of his efforts to bring peace to his home of Burundi and beyond.
In 2015 Fablice toured East Timor to spread his message of hope to communities throughout the country, performing at concerts and workshops, appearing on national television and speaking in front of former president, UN Special Representative and Nobel Peace Prize winner Jose Ramos Horta. Fablice also regularly returns to Africa to work, perform and promote peace on the continent, last year travelling to Burundi and Uganda in support of Action Aid and Save The Children, and next year visiting Burundi and Tanzania.
The Flybz — Performing as The Flybz, Fablice and G-Storm are passionate about sharing their experiences and stories of loss, hope, war and love through music. 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. 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.
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.
Gustav Nossal was born in Austria in 1931, and came to Australia in 1939. In 1965 he was appointed Director of The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, a position he held from 1965-1996. Sir Gustav is currently Professor Emeritus within the Department of Pathology, The University of Melbourne; a consultant for the World Health Organisation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; and a Principal of Foursight Associates Pty Ltd. He was formerly Chairman of The Global Foundation Advisory Committee and Deputy Chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation (1998 to 2000). He was knighted in 1977, made a Companion of the Order of Australia in 1989 and appointed Australian of the Year 2000.
Dai lives and breathes diversity and inclusion. Her mission is to help build an inclusive society where mainstreams institutions and organisations genuinely reflect the diverse community we live in. Born in Saigon, Vietnam, Dai spent many years in refugee camps in South East Asia before being accepted for resettlement in Australia. Her childhood experiences and growing up with a dual identity –being a Vietnamese in an Australian and western cultural surroundings, helped to shape her perception of life. It has also made her a passionate advocate for refugees and migrants’ communities, diversity and inclusion. Dai consults, drives brand marketing through the use of social media and speaking engagements, on the topic of inclusive leadership, in particular the lack of it, across mainstream society. A former award-winning journalist, film-maker and broadcaster with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Dai was named one of AFR-Westpac’s Top 100 Influential Women in Australia in 2014.With over 20 years of change making experience, Dai is a strong believer in the use of storytelling to inspire, educate and inform. Her organisation DAWN is a boutique agency that is leading the “cultural diversity in leadership” conversation. The diverse team at DAWN provide organisations and individuals with tools, content, and pathways to add value to their D & I journey. Dai is also a breast cancer survivor.
From growing up in a refugee camp in Kenya, Anyier Yuol now studies, works and volunteers to support migrants and refugees in Australia. Anyier is a Youth Transition Support Worker at CMRC. She supports newly arrived migrant and refugee youth with education, sporting and employment opportunities. She is also completing her Masters of International Development with a focus on Refugees and Displacement at UNSW. Anyier is a graduate of Football United, a sports for development program. She has since coached soccer to others to achieve and engage through sports, and has represented Australia at an international level. Anyier is the chair for Australian National Committee on Refugee Women (ANCORW). ANCORW advocates to improve outcomes for refugee women and their families both nationally and internationally, including with the United Nations. Anyier is also the founder of the social enterprise Miss Sahara, which is a platform for young African women in Australia. It combines opportunities for role modelling, leadership skills and increased representation in the beauty and fashion industries. Anyier is determined to encourage, inspire and support youth and fellow women to find and exceed their potential in all facets of their lives whilst supporting those around them.
Najeeba was 11 when she arrived in Australia along with four siblings and her pregnant mother. She describes the boat journey as a “death contract”, because it seemed an easier death than at the hands of the Taliban. Najeeba’s passion was always to work with people, in a place where she could integrate her own personal experiences into her work. Najeeba is the Founder and President of the Hazara Women of Australia for the past 8 years. She works with newly arrived migrants to help them unlock education opportunities that would otherwise have not been available.
“I hope to one day become an international lawyer to change the situation for people living in war-torn communities around the world while honouring my new life as an Australian citizen”
She has also been an ambassador for Amnesty International and Welcome to Australia. In 2010, she was a finalist for the Young Human Rights Medal Award.
Saba Vasefi is an Iranian- Australian academic, filmmaker, poet and PhD candidate in feminist cinema studies as well as associate Lecturer at Macquarie University.
She was a correspondent of International Campaign for Human Rights based in NewYork and was a campaigner against women and children execution in Iran. Saba’s Masters thesis in Feminist Literary Criticism received the highest grade possible and at the age of twenty-four she became a lecturer at the prestigious Shahid Beheshti University in Iran, however was later banned from teaching due to her activism against capital punishment.
She is the director of the Sydney International Women’s Poetry & Arts Festival, creative director of Bridge for Asylum Seekers Foundation and Ambassador of Asylum Seeker Centre.She is the recipient of the Premier’s Multicultural Medal for Art and Culture, an Edna Ryan Award for making a significant contribution to feminist debate. She was a finalist of Premier’s Multicultural Media Award for her article on the nature of refugee women’s silence and was a finalist in the Women’s Agenda Leadership Award. Her artist and philanthropic works have been recognized by Human Rights Commission Award, Governor NSW and NSW Parliament House.
Saba’s articles have been published in media outlets such as the BBC, The Guardian, Daily Life and the Institute for War and Peace Reporting. She is currently writing the stories of women on Nauru Detention Centre for the Guardian Australia.
She holds a postgraduate degree in Documentary at the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS). Saba made an underground documentary about child execution in Iran, titled Don’t Bury My Heart, which was screened by the BBC, the United Nations and at various film festivals. Her documentary, Symphony of Strange Water, the story of a young refugee girl, was launched at the UN and NSW Parliament House. Her story of a Muslim lesbian couple, was shortlisted at Shark Island Institute for Best Social Impact Documentary. Saba’s film Beyond the Father’s Shadow, the story of Australia’s first female parliamentarian, Edith Cowan, was launched at NSW Parliament House.
Burhan Zangana fled war torn Iraq in 1993 following the Gulf War and the brutal crushing of the Kurdish uprising. Coming from a Kurdish minority, Burhan became a freedom fighter when he was in Year 9 resisting the Iraqi armed forces under Sadam Hussein. During this time he saw many of his friends imprisoned or sentenced to death by the Iraqi authorities.
After he graduated from University of Technology Baghdad as an Electrical Engineer Burhan was forced to flee for his life with many of his friends. Escaping via Turkey and Greece resulted in Burhan spending time in jail for trying escape persecution from his own country.
While in Greece he was accepted to come to Australia as a refugee in 1995. The first sentence he heard at Sydney airport will resonate in his ears for the rest of his life: “Welcome to Australia”.
Since 1991 Burhan has never stopped helping other asylum seekers and refugees and continuously advocates for them and for human rights because he knows what it means to be in need of help in a country where you encounter language and cultural barriers.
Burhan has a Bachelor degree in Electrical Engineering from University of Technology Baghdad-Iraq, a Graduate diploma in Engineering from University of Sydney Australia 2009, and a Diploma of Community Services from TAFE, NSW.
He is currently working three jobs: Education Support Officer at TAFE NSW, Wollongong campus; Student Learning Support Officer at Wollongong West Public School; and Language Support Worker at Wollongong City Council.
Burhan is also a Wollongong Living book and tells his personal refugee story to schools and community groups as part of the Refugee Council of Australia’s ‘Face to Face: understanding refugees’ schools program. He also volunteers widely in the community, including with local organisation Strategic Community Assistance to Refugee Families (SCARF).
He is a member of many committees including Justice Multicultural Advisory Council, Illawarra People For Peace, Illawarra Muslim Aid, Wollongong Islamic Society, and is involved in advocacy work with the Refugee Council of Australia initiative Refugee Communities Advocacy Network (RCAN).
Burhan was nominated and a finalist for Wollongong Citizen of the Year in both 2017 and 2018.
Fadak is a community lawyer, advocate and refugee. Fadak is the head of Meet Fadak, a campaign for a higher annual refugee intake by Australia. Her community legal work upholds human rights and ensures access to legal services for those marginalised. Before her current work in community development, Fadak worked in the refugee rights sector. Her work in settlement services was vital to newly arrived refugees. Fadak was the Director of Advocacy at RISE and she is passionate about building and mobilising communities. Fadak is an international and local speaker and commentator, and has had her work featured in Al Jazeera, The Age, New Matilda, RightNow & Catalogue. Fadak is also a local and federal government adviser.