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Refugee Week: Humans of GOTAFE

This Refugee Week we're sharing stories that highlight the courage and resilience of staff and students at GOTAFE.

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Over the past 20 years Refugee Week has been centred around World Refugee Day on 20th June. This year, the theme celebrates “The Year of Welcome”, inviting people to think about how they could be more open, receptive and considerate to refugees and asylum seekers by welcoming them into our communities.

Refugee week was started up in 1998 as a reaction to the hostility portrayed in the media and in society towards refugees and asylum seekers. The week uses various initiatives to work towards countering negative attitudes, encouraging greater understanding and reinforcing the benefits that providing sanctuary brings to both refugees and the community. The ultimate aim of Refugee week is to create positive awareness surrounding refugee issues, encourage integration between different communities of people and showcase the talent and expertise that refugees bring with them to Australia.

Year of Welcome people

Reflecting on Refugee Week provides us with an opportunity to recognise and appreciate the courage, contribution and resilience of the people who have sought safety in Australia. Giving our refugees a platform to tell their story reminds us that a refugee or asylum seeker is defined by so much more than their past. Liaqat Ahmadi came to Australia as a refugee from Pakistan, studied a Certificate III in Business at GOTAFE in Shepparton and now works as a Client Engagement Officer at GOTAFE. He has offered to share his moving and incredible story with us.

Humans of GOTAFE: Liaqat Ahmadi

I grew up in Pakistan in a place called Quetta. There are more than one million people that live in this city. Things were very harsh and difficult, especially for the children. My family decided to move because of the ongoing bad situation, first from Afghanistan and then Pakistan. My father left Pakistan in 2009 as a refugee and reached to Christmas Island where he was given refugee status and after several years, he was able to sponsor our family to come and join him in Australia.

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"Coming to Australia had forced me to find and create myself in a new home. My parents struggled to assist me with what I needed to excel in my education as they are uneducated themselves, but they are always supportive. I have availed every single opportunity that has come to my way, I had the privilege to represent Shepparton High School as a school captain where it enhanced my leadership skills, besides that I have attend many regional, state and international events during my short time here. One of my biggest achievements is that I had the honour to represent Australian a Model United Nations Conference in Dubai last year."

As a refugee, I faced lots of challenges at the first few months after my arrival, especially with the language and finding a job, and as I grew confidence, I was appreciative of being able to learn. I have since made the decision to lead and guide others because I want to make a difference. Shepparton has given many opportunities that I didn’t have before and the best part is that people here are very supportive. I have a job at GOTAFE and now, I want to give back to the community

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