The controversially-rebranded Western Sydney University (formerly University of Western Sydney) has bent the genre of ads typically made for universities—clinical time lapse videos of sleek campuses and attractive students putting their hands up in classrooms—with an extremely powerful, beautifully produced insight into a UWS alumnus – retelling the harrowing story of Deng Adut.
Adut, now a defence lawyer in Bankstown, was taken from his family in South Sudan at the age of six, conscripted into the People’s Liberation Army, and eventually arrived as a refugee in Australia in 1998.
Importantly, this is least of all an ad for one of Sydney’s largest tertiary institutions; it’s a timely, moving and humanising reminder of the trials faced by refugees globally, and how much Australia can offer – if only our doors were opened wider.
Western Sydney University has told Adut’s story in more detail:
“In 1985, the Sudanese government began destroying villages eventually leading to the rise of the People’s Liberation Army. Two years later, six-year old Deng Thiak Adut was taken away from his family’s banana farm in South Sudan and conscripted into the Army.
After undergoing military training, several years of army service and witnessing numerous atrocities, Deng was still a boy when he was shot in the back while running through a village.
A further two years later, a chance meeting led to Deng reuniting with his brother who helped smuggle him out of the country by hiding him in a corn sack on the back of a truck. The two brothers befriended an Australian family and eventually arrived as refugees in 1998.
After working at a local service station to learn English, Deng enrolled at TAFE and completed his Advanced Diploma in Accounting before deciding to study law. In 2005 he enrolled in a Bachelor of Laws at Western Sydney University and became the first person in his family to graduate with a law degree.
Deng now works as a lawyer in Bankstown, where he is determined to ensure that other Sudanese refugees have the legal advice and support they need before entering the court system.”