SUPPORT CREW; Devon (middle) with St Brendan's College staff who have supported him during his time at the College including (from left to right) Terrina Bailey, Lee-Ann Handley, Blair McWhinney and Jackie Russell.
SUPPORT CREW; Devon (middle) with St Brendan's College staff who have supported him during his time at the College including (from left to right) Terrina Bailey, Lee-Ann Handley, Blair McWhinney and Jackie Russell. Contributed

St Brendan's gives asylum seeker back his freedom

FIVE years after arriving on Australian shores and volunteering for a range of organisations, Sri Lankan asylum seeker and refugee, Satkuruthevan Vadivel Devon, has spent a term at St Brendan's College educating students about the plights he has experienced throughout his life.

His placement at the College is part of the school's Multicultural Development Australia's Work and Welcome Program which is designed not just to open doors for new Queensland residents but to reinforce the College's Edmund Rice ethos of justice and service to the community.

The ethos of justice are implemented into the daily lives of the students, so as to ensure they adhere to the values of justice, solidarity and an inclusive community.

Mr Devon addressed his new peers and the community that embraced him at student assembly last week, and gave a heart-warming speech thanking them for welcoming him into the Australian way of life.

"I came to Australia from Sri Lanka in 2012 as an asylum seeker, wanting to forget the trauma of the past and live in freedom and peaceful harmony in Australia,” Devon said.

"I have learnt much here and thank the staff, students and teachers for giving me a warm welcome. I have loved my time here and feel the Edmund Rice tradition is thriving.”

This is the fourth year that the college has participated in the Work and Welcome program, and Assistant Principal Blair McWhinney says that the integration of Mr Devon has made a huge impact on the students.

"Having Devon spend time at the College and assist our students in the classroom gives them an understanding of refugees, particularly those seeking asylum in our country, and puts a very human face to the issues we often see in the media,” Mr McWhinney said.

"Because of Devon's love of maths he has helped students in the classroom, as well as spent time in art demonstrating his carving skills and worked in the agricultural and science departments.”

Although Mr Devon's journey at St Brendan's has come to an end, the College will continue supporting him throughout his journey.

The Work and Welcome program has given him a new lease on life, and granted him refugee status so he is now free to seek employment within Rockhampton.



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