20 June is a day to recognise the courage and perseverance of refugees worldwide. The United Nations’ World Refugee Day brings awareness to the plight of millions of people living in crisis, displaced from their homes, often by war and terror.

It is also an opportunity to celebrate the refugees who have found their homes in Australia and achieved success, despite the odds stacked against them.

Many refugees embrace the opportunities offered by the education systems in their adopted countries, achieving academic goals that are all the more impressive given the obstacles they have overcome.

Studying in a new country comes with great challenges, but as actor, author, artist and refugee Ahn Do says:

“There’s only two times in life, there’s now and there’s too late”.

VU is proud to give all students – many of whom came to Australia as refugees – the best chance at success. We achieve this through support services, course pathways, special admission programs and a proven commitment to cultural diversity.

To celebrate the contribution of refugees to our community, we offer you some of VU’s inspirational refugee success stories.

Success despite the odds: Ashay’s story

“I arrived in Australia when I was 16 and enrolled in an English language school. I then completed years nine to 12 at high school. Given my limited English at the time, I received a low ATAR.

After school I got married and had children; five years passed before I enrolled at VU. I was scared of attending university, but the wonderful support I received gave me the confidence I needed to do very well in all my units."

Read Ashay's story.

A pathway to PhD in science: Ghofran’s story

"I was born in Iraq and I left my country during the Gulf War at the age of 10. I spent five years in a refugee camp in Saudi Arabia before settling in Iran.

In 1999, at the age of 20, I came to Australia with a young child and shortly after arriving in Australia I had my second child. In 2007 I decided to pursue my dream of having an education.”

I completed years 11 and 12, however my ATAR score was low. I was lucky because I was offered a place in Foundation Studies as a pathway course at Victoria University to continue my journey and achieve my goal.

Read Ghofran’s story.

Doctor of Philosophy alumna Ghofran Al-nasiri.

A learning journey to law: Innocent’s story

"I was born in Burundi but fled in 2010 because of political unrest and the murder of both my parents. I was also poisoned, then looked after by United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Kenya until I was given a second chance at life by the Australian Government.

I chose Victoria University because of the good facilities and services that it offers to many immigrants and students from low income families. All my achievements are because of VU.”

Read Innocent’s story.

Bachelor of Laws student Innocent Karabagega.

Working in a welding wonderland: Tahani’s story

"I was born in Jordan and lived there for 30 years before moving to Syria with my husband. When the war broke out, we applied to come to Australia and were accepted.

VU has played a major part in my career achievements. A few months after enrolling in the English program, I got the chance to learn welding. I undertook work placement as a fabricator in a workshop that specialises in the generation, production and delivery of three-dimensional artworks.”

Read Tahani’s story.

Civil war to civil law: Kot’s story

"At just four years of age my family was forced to flee our home. I lived in horrific conditions at Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya for 12 years.

I arrived in Australia in 2004 and embrace the opportunities that Australia provides to its new comers. I sought career advice and decided to pursue law. I have gone from learning the alphabet in refugee camps by drawing figures in the soil to being a lawyer at one of Australia's leading law firms and now am a community leader and mentor."

Read Kot’s story.

Bachelor of Laws alumnus Kot Monoah.

Ways to help

You can contribute to scholarships for asylum seekers to study at Victoria University.

Help provide life-saving resources for refugees and make a donation to the United Nations Refugee Agency Australia for UNHCR.

Sign the #WithRefugees petition, asking governments to turn their commitments into action – and ensure refugees have access to an education, work opportunities and a safe place to live.