Sophie Weldon
UNHCR Special Youth Representative for Australia, 2008.
© UNHCR/ S.Hopper



Some individuals make a significant contribution to raising awareness and assisting people from refugee backgrounds:

Dorothy Hoddinott - Educator and human rights advocate

Dorothy Hoddinott AO is a former principal of Holroyd High School in Sydney. Dorothy founded the Friends of Zainab scholarship fund after learning that one of her refugee students would not be eligible for government funding to complete school once she turned 18. Dorothy established the trust fund to contribute towards Zainab's uniform and textbooks. The Scholarship Fund has since been extended to other students through the Sydney Community Foundation and the Public Education Foundation. Dorothy was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2008 and was awarded the Australian Human Rights Medal in 2014 for her work protecting the human rights of refugee and disadvantaged students.

Bassam Maaliki – High school student, refugee advocate and fundraiser

After experiencing racism himself, second generation Lebanese Australian Muslim, Bassam Maaliki, decided to take action. At age 14, he set up the #uBelong project to help refugees to feel at home in Australia. The project started as a Harmony Day initiative and later evolved into a far reaching community campaign that aims to foster a culture of inclusiveness and harmony in the community. Mr Maaliki uses social media to spread his message, devoting his after school hours to cultivating a Facebook community of over 700 followers. Mr Maaliki was a finalist for the Young People’s Human Rights Medal in November 2017.

Deng Adut - Criminal lawyer, 2017 NSW Australian of the Year

At the age of six, Deng Adut was snatched from his mother and forced to fight in the war that eventually split his homeland of Sudan. Trained to use an AK-47 and expected to either kill or be killed, Deng was eventually smuggled out of Sudan into Kenya before making it to Australia in 1998. Deng’s life journey took him from an illiterate child soldier to a criminal lawyer in Western Sydney. Deng co-founded AC Law Group and fights for members of the Sudanese community from his home in Blacktown. Deng inspires others with his story of triumph over tragedy, and of the contributions that refugees can make to Australia’s rich community. In 2017, Deng received the NSW Australian of the Year award. Watch this video to learn more about Deng Adut.

Anne Bunde-Birouste - Founding Director and CEO, Football United ©

Anne Bunde-Birouste founded the Football United program through the University of NSW, using the world game (football or soccer) to help refugee children and young people develop skills and a sense of belonging and empowerment in Australia.

Other inspirational individuals