Shepparton / Ali Al Battaat shares his story on World Refugee Day 2019

Thursday, June 20 is World Refugee Day, an opportunity for our community to get better-educated about the experience of people displaced by war, persecution and terror.

Did you know the UN estimates that every minute another 20 people are forced to flee their homes for fear of their life?

We are proud to welcome students from a refugee background to La Trobe and to support them throughout their education.

One of our many students from a refugee background is Ali Albattaat, who was just one when his family were forced to leave behind their home in Iraq.

One year after his father was resettled here, Ali, his mother and his siblings also made the long journey to Australia.

Now he’s a Bachelor of Human Services and Master of Social Work student La Trobe’s Shepparton campus.

He told us more about his experiences as a La Trobe student from a refugee background.

1. What were the circumstances that forced you to leave your country behind and make a new home in Australia?

My parents had to flee Iraq in the early 1990s as my father lost five of his brothers alongside his father all at once because of Sadam Hussain, and he was also about to lose his own life. Thus he left the country and lived in Iran for 10 years before coming to Australia.

Tell us about the experience of coming to Australia.

I arrived to Australia in 2000 and I was only one-year-old at the time. My mother, three sisters and brother also came along, as my father had already left to Australia in 1999. All we knew was that after we left the refugee camp, we would meet my father, who was waiting for our arrival.

Because my father arrived a year before us he told us many good things about the country, but most importantly he said it was a “safe” place for us to live in. 

4. What were the major challenges you faced when you arrived in Australia? (Meeting people, language, culture differences, looking for work?) 

I was too young to sense the challenges at the start, however my parents found it hard to communicate with people as language was a barrier. My mother and sister had some experiences of racism, which were pretty hard to face.

5. What have you enjoyed your time at La Trobe? What’s it like being a part of the La Trobe community?

La Trobe has given me a multicultural sense, as everyone from various backgrounds, cultures and nationalities gets along – we all unite as one race, which is the human race.

6. What are your goals for graduation?

My goals are to complete my Masters degree then do my PhD. After that I would like to work in child protection and make it into the United Nations. 

7. Is there anything that Australians might not know, or misunderstand, about refugees?

One thing that some people don’t understand is that we are all the same, we make look different but we are one.