Often, it feels as if the complexity of refugee policy, international law and complicated classifications and jargon serve as a distraction from what is really important – the human beings who have been displaced from their homes and are looking for a solution.
We can get lost in conversations about details and semantics and forget that decisions made in Australia and globally aren’t abstract, they have huge impacts on the lives of literally millions of people.
That’s why your action for February is to hear from people who’ve had a refugee experience, about their thoughts and reflections on the way we think, talk about and treat people who have traveled here seeking protection.
At the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA), we believe that our work needs to not only support people of refugee background, but be led by those who know what it means to be displaced. That’s why I’m excited to invite you to be part of a very special discussion that happened at our recent Refugee Alternatives Conference in Brisbane.
The panellists discussed the meaning of “lived experience” within different contexts, in relation to themes of representation, accountability, leadership, and solidarity. It was a bold and honest conversation which many delegates said was an absolute highlight of the two days.
One of the speakers was Dominic Hong Duc Golding who came to Australia as part of ‘Operation Babylift’ – a mass evacuation of some 300 plus children and babies from orphanages in South Vietnam. Dominic spoke passionately about the importance of centring the voices of people with lived experience in any advocacy and service delivery work. In particular, he spoke of the need to recognise that a person cannot be defined in one category alone, citing his own experience of living with a disability and as a former refugee.
Dominic reflects on the way people have treated him in this life as a result of his experiences, and why he is staunch about the need for stronger representation and leadership of people with first-hand experience of a given issue:
“I grew up fresh out of a war zone in 1975 and lived with an undiagnosed disability for most of my life. Racism and ableism have constantly meant that people had undervalued my capacity in all areas of life, from school, sports participation and education.”
Be sure to hear more about what Dominic said at the session and the other amazing speakers, many of whom are from a refugee background – Mia-lia Boua Kiernan, Shukufa Tahiri, Zaki Haidari, Cyprien Ntezimana, Nishadh Rego and Rhanna Collins.
Don’t have time to watch the full panel discussion from Refugee Alternatives?
Here are a few of our favourite videos you can watch and share that centre around the direct experiences of people of refugee background:
Najeeba Wazefadost – Founder and President of Hazara Women of Australia – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmHQYV127QA
Munjed Al Muderis – Orthopaedic Surgeon and Clinical Lecturer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uw3YLEYz6R8
Hieu Van Le – Governor of South Australia – https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=10153162058453441