‘In 1987 … I was among many young children forcibly removed from their homes and families and marched to Ethiopia,’ Deng Adut told the crowd at this year’s Australia Day Address in Sydney. ‘I walked thousands of kilometres without shoes or underwear.’
Adut’s trajectory from a small village in Malek, South Sudan, to the Australia Day stage has been an extraordinary one. At seven years old, he was conscripted to the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and forced to undertake brutal military training. He suffered years of famine, disease and deadly fighting. Eventually Adut escaped to a refugee camp in Kenya and settled as a refugee in Australia.
Today, Adut has his own legal practice in Sydney, where he helps marginalised people – especially those in the Sudanese community – to navigate the justice system.
Adut was the subject of a stirring YouTube clip – an advertisement for Western Sydney University, where he studied law – that went viral last year. But there’s much more to this brilliant young man than can be squeezed into a 90-second video. He’s coming to the Wheeler Centre in November for two hour-long conversations with co-writer Ben Mckelvey – in Melbourne and Ballarat. Join this extraordinary Australian as he discusses his own experiences and shares his insights on the challenges facing refugees in Australia today.
Deng Adut is a lawyer working in Western Sydney. He uses his spare time to help other Sudanese refugees.
Ben Mckelvey is a freelance writer and editor who has filed for Good Weekend, GQ, Voyeur, Rolling Stone, The Bulletin, Cosmo, Cleo, SMH, The Age and West Australian newspapers. Ben's previous gigs have included editing Sport&Style and Juice magazines, and working at the Sydney Morning Herald as a Senior Feature Writer. He has been embedded with the ADF in East Timor and Iraq, and has worked independently in Iran and Afghanistan.