Auburn – Putting Life in Perspective

On 18th May I arrived at the Auburn train station, eager to participate in what the day had to offer. As we were led through the bustling streets of Auburn, I had to remind myself that I was in Australia, and not in one of the many countries represented on our walk, such as Turkey, China, or Afghanistan. Once at the library, Julie Sloggett of Auburn City Council presented a brief overview of the demographics of Auburn. Then, we had the opportunity to hear from two Auburn locals about their journeys to Australia.

The first speaker was Ghassan Alissadi, a refugee from Iraq. Forced to leave his country in 1991, Ghassan spent six and a half years in a refugee camp located between Saudi Arabia and Iraq. He described how there were constant fights over water and how medical care was almost non-existent. There was no greenery, and there was nothing to do but wait for government approval to go to other countries to be refugees. In the middle of the camp there was a whiteboard, and it was everyone’s wish to see his or her name on the board because this meant they were leaving the camp and going somewhere. Ghassan was readily granted an interview with government officials (because he had a degree in Economics), but two years passed before he saw his name on the board. He began his journey to Australia the very next day.

Refugee Week Celebration 2014 – Restoring Hope Organised by Auburn Diversity Services Inc. (ADSi)  as part of national refugee week Courtesy of

Refugee Week Celebration 2014 – Restoring Hope. Organised by Auburn Diversity Services Inc. (ADSi)
                              as part of national refugee week. Courtesy of

The second speaker was Zaki Haidari, an asylum seeker from Afghanistan. He made it a point to explain the differences between a refugee and an asylum seeker, the main difference being that a refugee has already been granted protection from the government. His mother paid smugglers to get him out of Afghanistan, and he explained that in leaving he “left everything behind – family, friends, and his homeland.” He was detained on Christmas Island, and when he was finally able to get on a boat to Australia, the boat broke down in the middle of the ocean. A journey that he was told would take 24 hours became one of 5 days and nights, but he eventually made it to Australia.

Listening to the stories of these two men, I realised how much is taken for granted here– safety, clean water, a right to education – which is not available to countless others throughout the world.

I believe a lot can be learned from being able to see things from a refugee/asylum seeker perspective, including a greater appreciation of country and social responsibility. Both Ghassan and Zaki emphasised that they “see Australia as a safe and beautiful country” and want to give back in any way that they can. As an example, Ghassan said he has participated in Clean Up Australia Day every year since 1996, as a way to give back to Australia.

Their stories also highlight the impact that the government can have on people’s lives. For example, almost all of the time Ghassan spent in the refugee camp was spent waiting on the government to process his case to become a refugee of Australia. Zaki is still waiting for the government to recognise him as a refugee, and until this happens he could be deported at any time.

Auburn Gallipoli Mosque

Auburn Gallipoli Mosque

Coming to a new country and making a whole new life for yourself takes perseverance and patience, and these two characteristics stood out in both Ghassan’s and Zaki’s story. It is important to recognise how far these men have come since they first arrived in Australia. As an asylum seeker, Zaki cannot work and he has no education rights; however, he has sought education anyway, and has been able to complete one College course and is on his way to finishing a second. Ghassan now works as a tax agent, and his working on his Masters of Taxation.

After hearing Ghassan’s and Zaki’s stories, all of the GLP delegates appeared to be deep in thought, reflecting and processing what we had just heard. For me, I found that hearing their stories made me see my own life story from a different lens, and it really put things in perspective. It was a privilege to hear their stories, and I thank the GLP for providing these wonderful opportunities to students.

By Ivy Keen

*Ivy is a study abroad student from Hope College in Michigan, USA. She is completing a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Management.

*Ivy attended the GLP Cultural Series which generally takes place twice a semester. Students will be notified about applications for this opportunities via Facebook and email.


Junkee Presents: How To Survive Without A Real Job

How secure are we in our careers? How can we plan for an unexpected future? I’m sure everyone has asked themselves these questions at one time or another and its true, the future is an unpredictable notion. As Sharni Chan stated “around 40% of Australia’s population are in insecure jobs”.

Image located on twitter @junkeedotcom. Found at: From left to right: Benjamin Law, Sharni Chan, Kate Hennessy, Andrew Levins and Tim Fung.

Image located on twitter @junkeedotcom. Found at: From left to right: Benjamin Law, Sharni Chan, Kate Hennessy, Andrew Levins and Tim Fung.

This event, ‘Junkee Presents: how to survive without a real job’ was hosted at the vivid ideas exchange in the museum of contemporary art. It was designed to give advice on how to make a freelance career work for you. The panel consisted of five very talented people who have achieved outstanding success in their fields. They have all been through that difficult starting out period and shared their tactics on how they survived and are still surviving in an unpredictable industry.

Benjamin Law is a freelance journalist, columnist, television screen writer, and is the author of two books. Something I found impressive was that he has never had a proper job with a dependable salary. He expressed that as a writer you must have incredible self-discipline to ensure that deadlines are met. Developing a professional network is also beneficial as most companies and employment agencies find people to fill their vacant positions through networks such as LinkedIn. For people aspiring to be a part of the creative sector in areas such as photography and writing, other social media avenues such as Instagram are important so you can gather followers. Followers are able to enhance your status in the creative industry where the more people know you the more work you will receive. Ben has a quirky personality and seemed comfortable speaking in front of an audience. I can see why he is so successful in his field.

Sharni Chan is a sociologist who is currently completing her PhD research into work among highly skilled workers. Although Sharni works for the University of New South Wales, she brings to light the struggles of keeping a position in academia and refers to the term ‘ten year teaching position’ as a myth in today’s society. Sharni stressed the importance of socialising and solidarity, stating that getting out each day and conversing with people is a healthy part of life. Sharni made a point that most jobs won’t pay well when you are starting out. On occasion she has had to clean bed and breakfast accommodation and water gardens to make some extra cash – sometimes just what you have to do to survive. Sharni had a great quote to share which I found inspiring and worth sharing. It was ‘find what you love and make it bigger but you don’t have to harness what you love for money’.

By “Find what you love and make it bigger” she meant that the small enjoyments that you may love can be made into a career that you love. Whatever it may be (whether sewing, books, design etc) you can turn it into a career and something which could give you happiness and success in life.

But, by “You don’t have to harness what you love for money” she means that occasionally when you turn what you love into your work, it can transform your relationship with that passion and you can begin to resent it, so it’s important to know that it is not a necessity to centre your work around your passions.

Kate Hennessy is a freelance writer and editor who mixes lower paid work in music reviewing, book editing and arts journalism with higher paid work in corporate communications. She expressed the importance of building a personal brand and getting good reviews. Asking for a positive reference for any work you do and creating a portfolio will assist you well in any career goal. If you are aiming for a career where you will be self-employed then finding a good accountant, establishing a healthy workspace and giving yourself a holiday during down periods is essential. Kate is a talented woman and should be commended for her work.

Andrew Levins was one of my favourites thanks to his down to earth personality. Levins, as he likes to be called, is a DJ, chef, writer and dad. I guess you could say he is the ‘Wonder Woman’ of men. His advice was to make sure you back up everything, don’t put all your creative aspirations into one basket and learn to say no when it’s appropriate.

Lastly we have Tim Fung who is the co-founder and CEO of which if you haven’t heard of it, is a marketplace for people and businesses in the community to post something they need help with such as moving and locate services of staff close by. Tim’s advice was from a business point of view, explaining that just because you have money doesn’t mean you should spend it. There will always be unexpected expenses and it’s better to be prepared. He also suggested being stingy on costs where you can.

Overall, this was a great experience with some great advice. I am hoping that other GLP readers will be able to take something from one or more of these successful people and use it to help their own careers.

By Jazmin Skerton (2nd year psychology student)

*Jazmin attended the Junkee session as part of the Experiential Credit component of her GLP Undergraduate program (GL X30- Attend 2 On/Off Campus Careers Events).

Croatia & the GLP Consular Series

Croatia’s Ambassador to Australia, Dr Damir Kušen, visited Macquarie University to talk Croatia, the European Union, and of course, Australia. He connected the dots between the three and brought a new perspective on their relationships I had not yet considered. He explained how Croatia joining the EU is not just relevant to the Croatian diaspora in Australia, but to the whole of the country itself on many various levels, illustrating there was something relevant to everyone who attended the event.

Having Ambassador Kušen visit was not only beneficial to me in regards to my GLP, but on a personal level too. It connected me a little more with my Croatian heritage, and it was exciting to see Croatia being represented in the Consular Series.

The Ambassador of Croatia, Dr Damir Kusen speaking at the GLP Consular Series event.

The Ambassador of Croatia, Dr Damir Kusen speaking at the GLP Consular Series event.

With Croatia having just joined the EU last year, Ambassador Kušen was able to give us relevant, current examples of the implications of accession as they are unfolding. Significant benefits have been, and will continue to be seen in Croatia. One way is through increased trade as the market opens to more of Europe, as well as the outside world. Another way will be exponential growth to their already substantial tourism industry as access to the country becomes easier, especially from within Europe, and currency will cease to be an inconvenience with the eventual change from the Croatian Kuna to the Euro.

The benefits are not just for Croatia, with the EU making valuable gains too. The Ambassador touched on economic growth, with a wider market for the EU gained through Croatia, as well as a wider spread of EU policies. Croatia also has an extremely diverse and interesting culture – giving the EU greater diversity. In also being a member of both NATO and the UN, and having vast experience gained through the many conflicts and obstacles it has had to face before becoming an independent state, Croatia can benefit the EU by assisting other EU accession countries in the same region to enter the EU with its advice based on significant knowledge of crisis and conflict management, resolution, and rebuilding.

But where does Australia come into all of this? Australia has a huge population of Croatians and Croatian descendants, many of whom feel a strong connection with their homeland. This connection is important in my own life and so I feel that anything that benefits Croatia itself, somehow benefits me, whether that be entirely rational or not. But how can Croatia’s move to the EU be relevant to the wider Australian population with no ties to the country? Ambassador Kušen spoke of it in a way that did make it relevant to Australia as a whole. Again tourism and economic reasons were touched on, he pointed out that joining the EU can help make Croatia more appealing to foreigners as it appears more secure, as well as being easier to access if traveling around other areas of Europe. Trade becomes more international, and this may benefit Australia by making imports and exports to Croatia more appealing as the market becomes more competitive.

The GLP attendees at the Consular Series event.

The GLP attendees at the Consular Series event.

One of the main things I took away from this event is how much influence the EU can have on the countries in it, those looking to join it, and on countries, such as Australia, which can seem far removed from it. I learned that international partnerships and connections across the globe are important for so many reasons, and can really benefit countries in many big and small ways. This Consular Series event made me realise that Australia, despite being so far from so many other countries, is connected in ways I had never considered, and that its connection to Croatia goes far beyond the large Croatian diaspora living here.

By Louise Watsford

*Louise is a 3rd year Bachelor of Arts in Croatian Studies with a Bachelor of Science in Development. Louise would like to study a master in International Relations in Europe after graduating

* The GLP Foreign Affairs Series (formerly the GLP Consular Series) runs twice a session and will be advertised to students via email and Facebook.