Everyone deserves a chance

In World Refugee Week, former refugee Nay Lin Aung reflects on his journey from Myanmar to the Department of Transport.

Nay Lin grew up in a refugee camp on the border of Thailand and Myanmar with his family. As Karen Buddhists, the Myanmar civil war made it unsafe for them to live in their country.

Now a senior customer service officer at the Department of Transport, Nay Lin came to Australia as a UN-sponsored refugee after nine years at the camp. 

His family initially settled in Fairfield, Sydney, before moving to Bendigo, making strong connections with the small Buddhist community in Victoria’s Goldfields region. 

Reflecting on his experience as a refugee, Nay Lin has thought a lot about why people seek asylum or apply to go to other countries as refugees. 

“I can’t speak for others, but for me what I remember is that I don’t have a country because there’s a civil war and conflict going on and it was not safe for us,” Nay Lin says. 

“I think everyone would want the best for their family, a better life. Being a parent, you would do anything that you can think of so that your kid would have a brighter future.”

Bendigo customer service centre manager Tim Gretgrix said Nay Lin has made a positive impact on the community since he started in the role in 2018.

“Once we had Nay Lin employed here, people from the Karen community could communicate in their own language. It has been so powerful and rewarding for everyone involved.” 

Nay Lin has a positive outlook for the future and has a focus on personal development after completing his diploma in interpreting. 

“I still work on myself and my people skills. I think in the future there’s a lot for me to learn.” 

World Refugee Week is a global celebration recognising the strength and resilience of refugees and people seeking asylum, and acknowledging their incredible contribution to our communities and culture. 

The week seeks to raise awareness about the experiences of refugees and why they have come to Australia to understand the many challenges they face in doing so and to foster empathy, understanding and inclusion.