Refugees bring amazing strengths, knowledge, wisdom, resilience, and lived histories to their newly settled lives. They are survivors
Most people who seek refuge in Australia resettle into communities and go on to lead successful and happy lives. People who have escaped conflict situations are often resilient and hard working despite the challenges they may have faced during initial settlement.
People from refugee backgrounds bring with them their own skills and capabilities and an eagerness to contribute and give back to the communities who have welcomed them.
Refugees who have come to Australia are a very diverse group. Some have been professionals in their own countries and had a range of vocations and careers. For example, some are teachers, lawyers, nurses, doctors, actors, comedians, artists, hairdressers, social workers, community workers and public servants. People from refugee backgrounds follow a wide variety of education and employment pathways in Australia.
Moving between countries is challenging for many people. It is particularly challenging when arriving without the necessary paperwork to demonstrate evidence of professional or career experience. People who have worked as skilled professionals in their home countries often have to work hard to regain their qualifications and develop experience in Australia in order to continue their careers.
Some well-known people in Australia who have come from a refugee background are:
Anh Do (Comedian/ Author)
Les Murray (Sport- football)
Frank Lowy (Property owner)
Tan Le (Technology)
The Honourable James Spigelman (Law)
Majak Daw (AFL)
Judy Cassab (Artist)
Dr Karl Kruszelnicki (Radio DJ/ Scientist)
Huy Truong (Dot.com )
Stories of support for Refugees
Yuol was keen to continue supporting newly-arrived refugees. He considered starting his own youth organisation but was too apprehensive to take on the challenge until a youth worker at the Migrant Resource Centre encouraged Yuol to believe in himself.
“I always think that I can’t do anything but then I met a youth worker at Blacktown Migrant Resource Centre and she kept saying you can do it. Then I began to think, maybe I can do it.”
Refer to the Refugee Council of Australia for Yuol’s full story.
Roderick settled in Wagga Wagga and secured a job in an abattoir. He now works full-time as a surveyor assistant and auxiliary fire-fighter. Roderick particularly enjoys working with the fire crew whom have helped to make him feel at home in his new country.
“Every time we meet it’s a good moment in my life. They are very encouraging, very kind and accepted me. At first I was a little bit reserved but as time progressed, I fit around and jump around, and we’re all equally important. It’s a proactive job so everyone is participating equally.”
Refer to the Refugee Council of Australia for Roderick’s full story.
At the end of 2002, after countless interviews and meetings with lawyers, Anisa’s family arrived in Sydney, just in time to celebrate the New Year and the beginning of their new life. While her family was now safe from persecution, Anisa still had many challenges ahead of her. The task of learning a new language was particularly difficult for Anisa. She decided to undertake a short course at an Intensive English Centre and repeat her final two years of high school.
“High school in Australia felt more natural because people were more accepting of me and I wasn’t left out because of my religion. I finished high school in Australia first in my grade again and was able to receive my dux award.”
Making up for lost time, Anisa undertook a combined degree in Advanced Science and Law at the University of Sydney, with a focus on medical science and a major in neuroanatomy and human physiology. She initially planned to continue her studies in medicine and was accepted into several Australian universities, but ultimately decided to take a different path. Her first-hand experiences of persecution and witnessing UN lawyers deal with harrowing asylum cases have inspired Anisa to seek out a profession which will allow her to make a difference.
“Ultimately I would love to end up working for the UN”
Refer to the Refugee Council of Australia for Anisa’s full story.
- REFUGEES IN AUSTRALIA: Getting involved: Myths and facts
- REFUGEES IN AUSTRALIA: Getting involved: Individuals
- REFUGEES IN AUSTRALIA: Supporting refugees: Community