Nyadol Nyuon uses National Press Club speech to denounce racism, launches inquiry into refugee women

Nyadol Nyuon shared powerful first-hand accounts of racism and called for a “bold” and “revolutionary” multicultural vision for Australia in a speech today at the National Press Club.

The president of Harmony Alliance, a women’s advocacy group, made the remarks when launching a new survey of migrant and refugee women, which found that a third had experienced violence at the hands of their partners.

Ms Nyuon said Australia first felt at home when, after living in a refugee camp in Kenya and praying with her mother every night to escape, she landed at the airport Tullamarine from Melbourne in 2005 with his Australian passport.

“I handed this passport to the immigration officer. She inspected it and returned it to me and said ‘Welcome home’,” Ms. Nyuon said.

She said as her new home had embraced her, “she also rejected me.”

My Nyuon said that she and her family had been victims of racist abuse and attacks, and she remembered her mother sitting on their living room floor and casually saying that she had been called a “black dog. “.

“Her tone was that of someone who has given up on any hope of being treated with dignity. And as if to keep herself up, she must have seen the word ‘black dog’ as something as normal and as simple as’ hello ‘, “she said.

Ms Nyuon said she herself was called the “n-word” as she walked down a Melbourne street on a summer day.

“A police officer on duty wrote to me on Facebook and called me an ‘ignorant c ***,’ who should ‘go back to the war-torn shit country I come from.’ I know that it sounds like a number rap, so I’ll let the rest of you decode it, ”she said.

“After reading violent abuse directed at me online, I could no longer take my safety for granted. Since then, I have never felt completely safe in the innocent way I felt when I landed for the first time to Australia since Kakuma refugee camp.

African woman with short hair looking at the calendar
Ms Nyuon says “belonging” to Australia is “messy, joyful, confusing and frustrating”. (

Provided: Nyadol Nyuon


She said being the object of hatred and prejudice “is not just being offended”, but described it as a visceral experience that can “brutally extinguish lives” – as in the case of a terrorist Australian who killed 51 Muslims while worshiping in Christchurch. .

She said Australia should aspire to be a country where racism is not tolerated, where women feel safe on the streets, at home and in Parliament, and where visa status is not used. as a form of coercive control.

“I want us to reimagine this country,” she said.

“I know I sound a little ambitious, and maybe… there is little appetite or tradition in Australia for big statements.

“But I stand here as a young refugee who once had big, impossible dreams, and who came here with no money, and who, with the generosity of this nation – when it wanted – and a vision of multiculturalism created before. that she was born, made many of her impossible dreams seem real today. “

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