Deng Adut, who was just named New South Wales Australian of the Year, is living proof that with enough courage and determination, anything is possible. At the delicate age of six, Adut was kidnapped from his family and tribe and forced to battle as a child soldier in South Sudan. With the help of his brother, John, he was able to escape the bloody affair and find refuge in Kenya. The two brothers eventually made their way to Australia with the help of the United Nations and an Australian couple.
Tortured, abused, and mentally worn down from the war, the refugee set out on a journey to better himself. Unfamiliar with the English language, he collected books such as dictionaries and bibles so that he could study this new and peculiar language. By the age of 15, he was able to read, speak and write in English. In 2005, he was granted a scholarship and attended Western Sydney University. His trials didn’t stop there, however, as he was forced to live in his car during the course of his studies. He eventually graduated with a bachelor’s degree in law and became the first person in his family to graduate from college.
The now 33-year-old is a renowned criminal lawyer and runs the AC Law Group in Blacktown, NSW, Australia. He primarily focuses on representing members of the Sudanese community in the area. He hopes that with the title of NSW Australian of the Year, he will be able to assertively tackle issues such as juvenile justice, discrimination, and domestic violence. The trials and tribulations that Adut has overcome bring hope to those who lead a less fortunate life. He cannot erase his childhood memories of battling in Sudan, but he can use them as fuel and motivation to fight for the betterment of others in his community.