Lecture Series for Asylum Seekers

December 15 / 172

Zia Andeshwar speaks at the Lecture Series for Asylum Seekers' celebratory event. Photo: Shaan Ali
Zia Andeshwar speaks at the Lecture Series for Asylum Seekers' celebratory event. Photo: Shaan Ali

The University's Lecture Series for Asylum Seekers celebrated its second year with a moving acknowledgement of the participants' and volunteers' efforts.

Asylum seekers and refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq, Russia and several African nations brought friends and family to the Sidney Myer Asia Centre to celebrate the end of the six-week lecture series, joined by university staff and academics.

The afternoon of conversation and music, provided by the VCA & MCM, was capped with the presentation of certificates of attendance by Vice-Principal (Engagement) Adrian Collette, an expression of the University's appreciation for the involvement of series participants and volunteers.

Mr Collette recalled the joy of the warm welcome he and his family received when they arrived in Australia when he was a child, and stressed the importance and humanity of the act of welcoming others.

Asylum Seeker Zia Andeshwar gave a stirring speech about his experiences and acknowledged the generosity of community groups, churches and individuals who have supported asylum seekers. He thanked the University for the lecture series and encouraged universities generally to consider access to education for asylum seekers, who face often insurmountable barriers. 

The lecture series was developed to provide an opportunity for engagement between the University and asylum seekers and refugees living in the community. Lectures were delivered by University of Melbourne academics who volunteered their time, and covered topics such as human rights, Indigenous culture, community development and education. Each lecture was followed by interactive small group discussions with post-graduate student volunteers from across the University.

For the attendees, in addition to learning about different aspects of Australian society, the series provided an opportunity to make new friends and connections, and to get together to discuss important issues. For many, it was an opportunity to feel connected to a university community again, as they had been in their home countries. Attendees included a biochemist, accountants, managers and academics, none of whom have been able to reestablish their professions here.

The series was hosted by the Melbourne Social Equity Institute (MSEI) and Researchers for Asylum Seekers (RAS). More information can be obtained from Dr Karen Block (RAS), Charlene Edwards (MSEI) or Michelle Moo (External Relations).

A full list of the lectures and the presenters this year is online here.

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