“I Chose To Take A Stand Regardless Of What It Cost Me”: Deng Thiak Adut

“I Chose To Take A Stand Regardless Of What It Cost Me”: Deng Thiak Adut

Did you know we’re holding an event in a few weeks to celebrate diversity and inclusion within the advertising, marketing and communications industry? It’s called Changing The Ratio, and we’ve got some pretty exciting things lined up.

Totally Aussie born and bred, this event will supply attendees with practical tools and case studies, not to mention game-changing ideas.

You can still grab tickets here, BTW.

One of those aforementioned ‘exciting things’ is our speaker line-up. Think Lisa Wilkinson, race discrimination commissioner Dr Tim SoutphommasaneCátia Malaquias and MC George McEncroe.

Oh, and Deng Thiak Adut.

Adut is a Sudanese child soldier turned Western Sydney lawyer and refugee advocate whose harrowing tale of his personal journey as a refugee has evoked strong emotions among Aussies.

He was born in South Sudan in 1984 – and is one of eight children. At six years old, he was taken from home and conscripted as a child soldier. At 12, he was shot in the back.

Arriving in Australia as a 14-year-old refugee in 1998, Adut taught himself to read, write and speak English – before winning a scholarship to study law at the University of Western Sydney in 2005.

Then, Adut shot to the forefront of Aussie media in 2015 after starring in an ad for Western Sydney University, which Adut told B&T was “a simple request from a friend.”

“I didn’t think about it the way it turned out,” he said.

But the way it turned out impacted greatly upon many Aussies. Especially New South Wales Premier Mike Baird, who asked Adut to give the 2016 Australia Day address at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music – without ever having met him.

Adut is now a partner at AC Law Group, which he co-founded in 2014, and has also started a foundation for his older brother, John Mac – who lost his life doing humanitarian work the same year.

John Mac smuggled Adut out of Sudan, risking his own life whilst doing so – and told Adut to study law.

“The John Mac Foundation aims to address some of the problems that held John back during his life,” Adut said.

“[It was] established in 2016 – and in 2017, three refugees from Afghanistan and Iran received scholarships to attend university.”

John Mac was the first Sudanese refugee to graduate from an Australian University, but was unfortunately only able to get a job in a factory – leading him to return to South Sudan as an aid worker, where he was killed.

“I still have strong connection to South Sudan. Mum still lives there with a brother and a sister and with their families,” Adut said.

And whilst he may visit from time to time, Adut’s wife, newborn baby, charity and career are in Australia. And he has big plans.

“Those standing with me have [the] conviction to make Australia a better place,” he said.

“It is about how we each play our parts. It’s not always about racial and gender bias or religion.”

Which is exactly why Adut is speaking at Changing the Ratio.

“I have decided to speak at Changing the Ratio because it benefits business in the long run,” he said.

Read more about that right here.

And as for Adut’s opening keynote at Changing the Ratio? You can expect it to just as inspirational and driven as he is.

“I chose to take a stand regardless of what it cost me. I’m certainly not going to dedicate time out of my life to complain about someone else, or our government, instead of taking a lead,” he said.

Changing the Ratio will take place on Monday 28 May at Belvoir St Theatre in Sydney’s Surry Hills. For everything you need to know about the event, click hereAnd get last-minute tickets here!

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