Deng Thiak Adut is a notable community leader and internationally renowned lawyer. He came to Australia as a refugee, after escaping Sudan where he was abducted as a child and forced to act as a soldier. Once he was safe, he put himself through law school, becoming a formidable advocate.
“My experiences have helped me understand the meaning of humanity,” Mr Adut said. “What it means to be given opportunity in life.”
Mr Adut practices in the areas of criminal, family, employment and international law. He has not only worked at three reputable Sydney law firms but has also demonstrated a remarkable commitment to social justice.
He has worked at Blacktown Local Court as a liaison officer to the local Sudanese community and at Parramatta Community Justice Clinic, which operates to provide disadvantaged members of the community access to the legal justice system.
“I can empathise with people who are vulnerable and underprivileged,” he said. “I’m one of them; my life is not separate from theirs because we have been through the same experiences.”
Mr Adut is committed to making a positive difference and in doing so, devotes many hours of his personal time every week to activities such as mentoring, advising and supporting members of the community.
According to Mr Adut, the main issues affecting refugees at the moment are integration, discrimination and economic deprivation. Additionally, he believes they are likely to get caught up in the justice system.
“They are entering a society where everything has already been established,” Mr Adut said. “My advice is to them is that they need to be patient, it is the most necessary skill if you are a refugee. It’s not a quick fix, it’s a marathon.”
As a result of his own experience, Mr Adut defends Australian and believes it is a welcoming nation and this is a concept that should be protected by all of us.
“I think that being Australian is a beautiful thing,” Mr Adut said. “Being Australian means continuing the history of helping and accepting people who need a hand up.”
“I always tell them, accept help from those who are willing and are able to help. “Don't worry about those who aren't”.
Mr Adut has been nationally recognised for his achievements and NSW Premier Mike Baird invited him to give the 2016 Australia Day Address, which drew critical acclaim home and abroad. The 2016 Australia Day Address can be read here.
See Mr Adut tell his story in person at SSI Speakers’ Series:
Speakers’ Series: Inspiring stories of former refugees
When: Tuesday, March 29
Where: SSI Head office, Level 2, 158 Liverpool Road Ashfield, NSW 2131 Australia
Tickets: $15 donation available through Eventbrite