The Australia Day Council of NSW is proud to announce Mr Deng Thiak Adut as the 2016 Australia Day Address Speaker. Now in its 20th year, the Address will be delivered by Mr Adut at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music today, with approximately 350 people in attendance including NSW Premier Mike Baird.
Mr Adut is a defence lawyer and a renowned community leader in the Blacktown area. Originally from Sudan, Mr Adut was taken from his family at the age of six and was forcibly conscripted to the army as a child soldier. During his time as a child soldier he survived being shot in the back while running through a village.
Two years after being shot, Mr Adut was reunited with his brother who helped smuggle him out of Sudan in the back of a truck. After befriending an Australian family, Mr Adut and his brother sought refuge in Australia in 1998, settling in Blacktown, NSW.
He taught himself English, finished his HSC and completed a Bachelor of Laws at Western Sydney University, becoming the first person in his family to graduate with a law degree. Mr Adut went on to complete a Masters of Law (Criminal Prosecutions) at the University of Wollongong in 2014 and is currently studying a Masters of Criminal Law at the University of New South Wales.
Now an established defence lawyer, Mr Adut has helped hundreds of members of the Sudanese community navigate their way through the Australian legal system.
Mr Adut will speak about his experiences with the Australian culture, the challenges refugees face each day and how Australia can provide people with a safer and happier life. He will highlight the theme this year - Australia Day - Everyone, Everywhere. This theme aims to provide an opportunity for communities across Australia to come together, regardless of background, in a spirit of friendship and harmony to celebrate and showcase the unique and diverse culture that makes us Australian.
Mr Adut said he is proud to deliver the 2016 Australia Day Address, particularly given the NSW Syrian refugee intake in December 2015.
“Australia has provided me with opportunities to not only live a safe and peaceful life but also to help people understand the many hardships refugees face when they settle into a new society,” Mr Adut said.
“I hope to provide a new perspective on what integration into Australian society can be like for an outsider and how we, as a society, can help support these new Australians as they make Australia their new home.”
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