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Wednesday, 21 October 2015
Page: 11981

Ms BURKE (Chisholm) (13:33): Right now in my electorate a 19-year-old boy who I will call Ali, though that is not his real name, is preparing for his VCE exams at Salesian College in Chadstone. Just a few minutes ago, he delivered the valedictory speech in front of his entire school. These things alone would rack any teenage boy with anxiety, particularly one who, four years ago, did not speak a word of English, but this is not Ali's biggest fear. His biggest fear is being sent back to Afghanistan, having fled that country after suffering a persecution that still leaves him racked with nightmares. He travelled to Australia on his own as a 15-year-old and, since that time, has had no contact with any of his family. The Australian government has already told Ali once that it plans to return him to Afghanistan and he is currently appealing that decision. I do not intend to go over those details as I do not want to jeopardise those appeals.

I have met Ali and the school community, and I thank Salesian College and the broader community for the support they have given to him. I have written to the minister to plead Ali's case and demonstrate why this amazing young man should be able to remain in Australia. Ali is a young man who, despite having gone through horrors most of us cannot imagine, escaped a great peril and has now developed into a teenager most of us would be proud to call our own. He is a credit to his community, both at school and more broadly. Even the Victorian police have credited him for the wonderful work he has done in his community. Ali, as I said, has not had any contact with his parents and could not possibly be reunited with them if he goes back to Afghanistan. Indeed, he is at serious risk if he is returned. Ali wants to go to university to study psychology and continue to give back to the community he calls home. (Time expired)