There are numerous stories about refugees that come to Australia.  Such stories seem focus on being unable to integrate into the community, being unable to contribute to society and many other negative aspects which I am sure you have read somewhere before.

Recently I came across an article regarding Liaqat Khan and his running at Victorian local politics and I could not be prouder to see another fellow refugee making a go at what Australia has to offer.

Liaqat is the current independent candidate for the Dandenong Ward, at the City of Greater Dandenong.  He is the Vice-President of AYAA based in Dandenong South, a small business owner in Noble Park North, Project Manager in Melbourne, and a key member of WeCare Victoria free food distribution organisation to the most vulnerable people in Dandenong.

He studied Bachelor of Business, majored in Leadership & Management and Governance, Policy & Political Economy at the University of Newcastle, Australia.

Liaqat survived several near-death experiences in his home country of Afghanistan.  He has been ambushed by the Taliban several times.  Despite knowing the risks involved of working as an interpreter, it is unlikely that briefing could prepare anyone for war, to witness people die and suffer or better yet, know that you could also die.

Yet a decade following his return to Australia, Liaqat is serving in politics and is now running in local Victorian election.

Being a refugee is a complex issue.  As a refugee, I do believe that most of us are grateful for the opportunities that Australia has given us.  Yet the scars from the world we leave behind can be difficult to compartmentalise.

Just like Liaqat, I came from a war-torn country.  I was very young, barely ten years old.  My vivid memory of Tajikistan is having to line up with my mum to collect food from foreign aid organisations.  I also remember being woken up in the middle of the night hearing gunshots in our apartment building.  A man was shot dead in my building and was left there to die.  Everyone was too scared to come out of their apartments fearing they would be next.  Such memories are a lot to process.

As refugees, we all have stories, many of which are untold and, in many cases, we are “grouped” together and given stereotypes or labels.  I’ve been told the word “no” so many times over the past two decades.  “No, you cannot get into university to study law because of your background; No, you cannot get a work because of your background; No, you can be successful but not too successful; You have to be realistic”.  Yet I persevered and finished my law degree and have been successfully practicing and teaching immigration law for a number of years.

It is possible to become a successful refugee.  Success is subjective and is measured in many ways.  I personally believe that success is achieving inner peace and becoming the best version of yourself.  We live in a country which offers many opportunities and we do not take these for granted. Over the years the stigma towards refugees has eased and it is a breath of fresh air to see people like Liaqat to run in politics.  With a multicultural country such as Australia, your limit is the sky and the potential for growth and development has no measure. 

To all the refugees in Australia, whether you are a new arrival or have settled here to live, I wish you well and to all my fellow Australians, I thank you for all the opportunities we are given.  Working together we can continue to have more stories about successful refugees and show our compassion towards everyone’s story of how they got to where they are.