find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Refugee lawyer speaks of ‘freedom from fear’ in Australia Day address

Refugee lawyer speaks of ‘freedom from fear’ in Australia Day address

Deng Adut

Sydney lawyer and former Sudanese child soldier Deng Thiak Adut shared his story in a powerful Australia Day lecture last week.

Speaking at the 20th annual Australia Day address at Sydney Conservatorium of Music on Thursday, Mr Adut urged all Australians not to take for granted the freedoms this country affords them.

“Freedom from fear is something that must be fought for. It can never be taken for granted,” he said.

Mr Adut arrived in Sydney as a refugee in 1998 after making his way from Sudan to a UN compound in Kenya when he was 15.

He graduated from the Western Sydney University (WSU) and is now a practising defence lawyer. His incredible journey was recently the subject of a viral video by WSU.

In telling his story, Mr Adut stressed the importance of being conscious of how “very lucky” Australians are to live in an inclusive and peaceful society.

“To appreciate the value of freedom, one must first be denied it,” he said.

At six years of age Mr Adut was removed from his home, a fishing village in Sudan called Malek, and conscripted into the army.

“As they took me away from my home and family […] I lost the right to be innocent. I lost the right to be a child,” he said.

He witnessed horrific deaths of young boys as he was forced to march thousands of kilometres into Ethiopia in 1987.

Life as a child solider was psychological and physical torture, and many children committed suicide rather than face the trauma of war, Mr Adut said.

“Around 1993, I watched some boys, only 10 or 11 years old, as they picked up their AK-47s, put the gun to their heads, squeezed the trigger with their own fingers and blew out their brains,” he said.

“For my fellow child soldiers, pulling the trigger was the quickest way to die, and for them the thought of dying was better than the reality of living.

“For them the freedom from fear was death. I was lucky. You are too.”

Mr Adut said as a Sudanese boy he was considered “legally disabled by virtue of being black or having a dark skin complexion”. It was “unthinkable” that he could grow up to be a lawyer.

“Australia opened the doors of its schools and universities,” he continued.

“I would particularly like to thank WSU, where I received my law degree, and the University of Wollongong, where I obtained my master’s degree in law – an experience which enabled me to realise my dream of becoming a courtroom advocate.”

He added: “Australia educated me. How lucky I became. How lucky is any person who receives an education in a free land and goes on to use it in daily life.”

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Refugee lawyer speaks of ‘freedom from fear’ in Australia Day address
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Oct 20 2017
Podcast: One of law’s most infamous alumni – in conversation with Julian Morrow
In this episode of The Lawyers Weekly Show, Melissa Coade is joined by The Chaser’s Julian Morrow....
Oct 20 2017
High Court overturns ‘excessive’ anti-protest legislation
Bob Brown’s recent victory in the High Court over the Tasmanian government was a win for fundament...
Oct 20 2017
Changes to Australian citizenship laws blocked
Attempts to beef up the requirements to obtain Australian citizenship were thwarted this week, after...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...