A new scholarship is being established at Trinity College for a student from a refugee background in honour of Trinity alumnus John Gibson (TC’69)
John, who died last September after a long battle with cancer, practised at the Bar for 31 years, specializing in refugee and migration law; he defended the rights of thousands of refugees., working tirelessly for justice for those less fortunate.
On October 24 friends and colleagues of this remarkable man came together at Trinity to learn more about the scholarship. It was a moving occasion with John’s widow Liga and son Alexander attending.
John’s friend and colleague, human rights lawyer and advocate David Manne, spoke warmly of John’s work for and commitment to those in need. David is the executive director of the Refugee and Immigrations Legal Centre and worked closely with John for many years.
Trinity’s first refugee student, Ali Alamein (TC’ 05) sent a video message in support of the scholarship. Ali related how he and his family fled Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, before eventually making it to Australia via Iran and Nauru. With little English, Ali started studying at Wanganui Secondary School in Shepparton where hard work and determination secured him a place in the Engineering Faculty at the University of Melbourne. Like may students from refugee backgrounds, particularly those who have settled in country areas, Ali did not think he could accept the place for the simple reason that his family, like others in his situation, could not afford the cost of city living. For those who do make it to the University, the attrition rate can be high because of the lack of family support networks and a caring community, such as can be found at Trinity.
Fortunately for Ali, Trinity alumnus Roger Riordan (TC’51) provided a Newcomer’s Scholarship to Trinity to cover Ali’s residential costs.
The following year, 2006, Ali received the Goldman Sachs Young Global Leaders Award (one of six awarded in Australia) and in 2007 he was elected to the TCAC Committee. He is currently a civil engineer at Sinclair Knight Merz.
The John Gibson Scholarship will help other young refugees like Ali to succeed and contribute to society.