AC Law Group solicitor Deng Adut speaks out on Syrian refugee crisis

The Baird government will offer refugees a priority pathway to public service jobs in a new commitment that puts it at odds with recent comments by federal Immigration Minister Peter Dutton.

They will be the oppressors of the future’: Why former tortured Sudanese child soldier turned lawyer says Australia must do more to help young Syrian refugees

Deng Adut was a child soldier in Sudan and escaped as a refugee
He was taken from his family at just six-years-old
He lived in his car while studying law at Western Sydney University
Mr Adut believes that the most in the refugee crisis are the children
Adut is now a lawyer helping Sudanese refugees entering the court system
He believes Australia should help Syrian refugees – especially children

By Alisha Buaya For Daily Mail Australia

Published: 16:00 EST, 8 September 2015 | Updated: 10:31 EST, 9 September 2015

A former Sudanese child soldier, who has become an accomplished Australian lawyer after being rescued by the UN and granted asylum in 1998, believes the Abbott government must do more to help the current Syrian refugee crisis.

Deng Adut, 32, was taken from his family when he was just six-years-old and conscripted into Sudan’s People Liberation Army where he was taught to use firearms and tortured while serving as a child soldier.

His remarkable tale of success since arriving in Australia includes teaching himself English at 15, living out of a car while studying at Western Sydney University and going on to practice law.

Deng Adut is now a refugee lawyer and helps Sudanese refugees with legal advice and support

Deng Adut is now a refugee lawyer and helps Sudanese refugees with legal advice and support

Even now, Mr Deng takes his dictionary into court – refusing to let language barriers get in his way.

As pressure mounts on Australia to respond with compassion to the heartbreaking Syrian refugee crisis and Prime Minister Tony Abbott vows: ‘When the world is in trouble, Australia responds’ – Mr Deng says he believes the most vulnerable people in the refugee crisis gripping Europe are the children.

‘They’re innocent children, they have no reason to be in that situation,’ Mr Adut told Daily Mail Australia.

‘These future generations…whatever trauma they’re being put through they will be the next oppressors of the future.’

After being taken away from his family’s banana farm in South Sudan, by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, Adut underwent several years of training and service, witnessing horrific atrocities and at the age of twelve was shot in the back while running through a village.

Mr Adut became a refugee when he was smuggled out of the army by his brother to Kenya.

Together with his brother, sister-in-law and nephew they were able to escape and start a new life in Australia in 1998 with the help of an Australian family and the United Nations.

Now a successful lawyer, he hopes Australia can find an immediate solution to the refugee crisis in Europe.

‘As a person who was also in the same position and because I believe that Australia has an obligation to handle the United Nation declaration of rights,’ Mr Adut said.

‘These refugees have rights too.’

‘Life there can just be squashed like an ant by those people who have weapons,’ he said.

Mr Adut was a refugee and believes that Australia has an obligation to help the current crisis in Europe

Deng Adut’s incredible story was featured as part of a Western Sydney University advertisement

Although he was able to make it safely into Australia, he struggled to adjust to the new culture. However, he persevered and taught himself to read and write in English.

Mr Adut made a living by working at a service station, and taught himself how to read and speak English.

‘It’s a drive to succeed and be able to communicate with the other person,’ he said

‘I studied almost every day. Even now I read daily and I write daily, I check words daily. I even I go to court with a dictionary, I go everywhere with anything in my hand just to make sure I understand how the person communication.’

‘It was basically hard work learning and so far I’ve realised English is a hard language.’

He enrolled at TAFE and completed an Advanced Accounting Diploma.

In 2005, he enrolled in a Bachelor of Laws at the Western Sydney University and became the first in his family to graduate from university.

It was his brother who pushed him to pursue a law degree, saying that his brother saw a sense of fairness in him.

Deng was smuggled out of Sudan by his brother in the back of a truck under corn sacks

Arriving in Australia in 1998, Deng Adut taught himself how to read and write English

His strong willed attitude landed him in hot water with the army as a child, with superiors torturing him several time for not following orders

‘Yes I was scarred in the army, I got a lot of injuries, physical and mental but it doesn’t mean that I have to give up my life,’ he said.

Mr Adut deals with his traumatic experience by using it in a positive sense.

‘I look at it as positive image rather than to use it to brag about it or complain about it. Or to make it anything that diminishes my ability to do things,’ he says.

‘I just don’t think about trauma in general.’

His incredible story has been seen nearly 300,000 times on Western Sydney University’s Youtube channel

As a lawyer he is now ensuring that other Sudanese refugees have legal advice and support they need before entering the court system.

Mr Adut’s incredible story has now been told in an advertisement for Western Sydney University, where he graduated with a law degree.

The video has had over 300,000 views since its release on Saturday.

After years of studying, Deng Adut is now a practicing criminal lawyer with AC Law Group in Blacktown, Sydney

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At least 100 public sector jobs will be created for refugees over the next 12 months. Although the scheme has been designed to assist the additional intake of refugees fleeing conflict in Syria and Iraq, all refugees who arrived after December 2015 are eligible.

“No refugee comes here wanting to live off welfare. They all want to build new lives for their family,” said the NSW Co-ordinator General for Refugee Resettlement, Peter Shergold.

Extra intake triggers government decision: A dinghy arrives in Greece with more than 60 Syrian refugees, most of them children. Photo: Pedro Armestre/Save the Children

The move stands in contrast to comments made a fortnight ago by Mr Dutton, who said “illiterate and innumerate” refugees “would be taking Australian jobs” or “languish” on the dole.

The refugee lawyer and University of Western Sydney graduate Deng Thiak Adut, chosen by Mr Baird to deliver the Australia Day address, reportedly said he would no longer vote for the Liberal Party because of Mr Dutton’s remarks.

Professor Shergold said the NSW government was the single largest employer in the state, and wanted to lead the way in offering jobs to newly arrived refugees.

“For the Premier it is important, if he is saying to the private sector, ‘Businesses can you help?’, he is now able to say, ‘I am making sure that the NSW government, as an employer, is working with you to do this’.”

Professor Shergold has met with each of the department secretaries and the Public Service Commissioner, Graeme Head, to look at ways to open up jobs.

The NSW public sector’s workforce diversity rules have been changed to categorise humanitarian visa holders in the same way as disabled or Indigenous job candidates.

“It will be open to anyone who arrives as a refugee, from December last year, and they can apply during their first five years here,” Professor Shergold said.

NSW settles 4000-5000 refugees a year, and will additionally resettle half of the 12,000 Syrian intake pledged by former prime minister Tony Abbott. Mr Baird had urged Mr Abbott to lift Australia’s refugee quota in response to the Syrian crisis and “do more”.
Professor Shergold said most of the 6000 Syrians and Iraqis to be settled in NSW will be children, with only 1500 adults expected, of which 800 were likely to be looking for work.

“Although there will be refugees who arrive that do not have English language skills or do not have trade skills, there will be significant numbers who do,” he said.

“Refugees in Australia are given good support in their first few months, but what they really want most of all for their children is education and what they want for themselves and their older children is to find a way to get jobs. The more they pay their taxes, the more they contribute to Australian society.”

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