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Do refugees contribute to Australian society?

Refugees bring a lot to Australian society. People who have come as refugees have been successful in the arts, sports, media, science and business.

Former refugees who have contributed

Some examples of people who have come as refugees and found success include:

  • scientists Sir Gustav Nossal and Dr Karl Kruszelnicki
  • 2009 Victorian of the Year Dr Berhan Ahmed
  • painter Judy Cassab, comedian Anh Do, author Nam Le, poet Juan Garrido-Salgado, painter and restaurateur Mirka Mora, architect Harry Seidler
  • academic Associate Professor My-Van Tran, Dr Anita Donaldson
  • filmmaker Khoa Do, actor Henri Szeps, broadcasters Les Murray and Caroline Tran
  • Australian Rules footballer Alex Jesaulenko, footballer Atti Abonyi, swimmers John and Ilsa Konrads
  • newspaper editor Michael Gawenda
  • business people Sir Peter Abeles, Larry Adler, Ouma Sananikone and Judit Korner, and
  • public servant Tuong Quang Luu and politicians Jennie George and Nick Greiner.

Read more about other refugees who have contributed.

Other benefits

Research has also shown that people who have come as refugees are more likely to set up businesses than other groups. They play an important role in facilitating the development of trade and other links with their countries of origin.

They value the education of their children very highly. More young refugees study than other migrants and people born in Australia. They contribute greatly to civic and community life. They volunteer, promote community development and engage in neighbourhood activities and events.

By definition, refugees are survivors. They have survived because of their courage, ingenuity and creativity. These are qualities which we value in Australia. If we support them to recover from their persecution and rebuild their lives in Australia, Australia will reap the benefits.

Sources: Department of Immigration and Citizenship, ‘A Significant Contribution: The Economic, Social and Civic Contributions of First and Second Generation Humanitarian Entrants’

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