Federation Chamber PRIVATE MEMBERS’ BUSINESS – Sudan

In our part of Western Sydney, the member for Greenway and I have been able to see for ourselves the growth of a vibrant Sudanese community. I certainly saw it firsthand as the chairperson of the Blacktown Migrant Resource Centre, where we did quite a lot and were able to tap into assistance from the Australian government to aid in the settlement process. What I saw was that Sudanese who were settling into Blacktown were overcoming major obstacles. They fought to get education for their children, they worked hard to get housing and they also worked hard to get jobs and ensure their families had adequate opportunities. It cannot be stressed enough that these challenges are still present today, but there is a determination in the Sudanese community to overcome them.

I want to highlight in particular some of the achievements of this new community in this country. In the AFL, Majak Daw is playing for North Melbourne, the first Sudanese player in the AFL and a great one, as the member for Riverina points out. Another person born in Sudan who came to Australia and went on to play for the University of Connecticut as well as for the Perth Wildcats and the Gold Coast Blaze in the game I love, basketball, is Ater Majok. He played in the NBL and trained with and was elected with the Lakers. He is someone who started in Sudan, came to Australia and is now doing us all proud. Again, you can see the migrant experience shining through. So many Sudanese, as many migrants do, welcomed the chance to rebuild their lives. They also have high aspirations for friends and family back in South Sudan.

This highlights the point in the motion by the member for Greenway that we should look to see whatever we can do to help ensure those people who breached human rights and treated life so cheaply are pursued and held to account. That is critical for the process of reconciliation. But, importantly, we need to do whatever we can through development assistance to ensure when we celebrate a new nation that it is not just a concept but will continue and will not wither. If I have seen anything with my own eyes about the Sudanese people I have had the pleasure and honour of knowing, it is that if you give them a chance they will seize that chance, they will work on it and they will prosper. That is how it should be for South Sudan.