A former child soldier and refugee has delivered a moving speech during the official Australia Day address.
Deng Thiak Adut arrived in Australia in 1998 after being smuggled out of Sudan, where he had been forcefully conscripted into the Sudan People’s Liberation Army since the age of six.
Now Deng has a law degree and works as a refugee lawyer defending the rights of others.
His remarkable story rose to prominence following an advert released by Western Sydney University, who somehow managed to condense the tale into just 90 seconds of video.
During his speech at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Deng recalled how many freedoms he had lost as a result of being forced into war.
According to The Guardian he said:
I lost the freedom to read and write. I lost the freedom to sing children’s songs. I lost the right to be innocent. I lost the right to be a child.
Instead I was taught to sing war songs. I was taught to love the death of others.
Deng implored his fellow citizens to continue sharing as a community for the good of the nation.
We acquire our community wisdom from our collective, shared experiences. It’s that wisdom, which underlies our entitlement to sing in joyful strains how proud we are today to be Australians.
His words seemed to go down very well other Australians…
— Elizabeth Broderick (@LizBroderick) January 21, 2016
— Paul Murray (@PMOnAir) January 21, 2016
The speech has since been made available in its entirety online.
What a story.