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For ex-TAFE student Deng Adut, it's been a very long, challenging and sometimes dangerous journey. But now that he's been named as a finalist for the 2017 Australian of the Year Awards, that journey is possibly about to come to full, amazing fruition.
When he was just six years old, Deng was brutally conscripted into the army in South Sudan, being forcibly removed from his loved ones on the family's banana farm. Deng managed to escape from the army by hiding in a corn sack on the back of a truck. He was then successfully smuggled out of the country and into Australia.
That was eighteen years ago. Now, at 32, Deng is a TAFE-trained Accountant (and now a successful lawyer) living in Blacktown. He helped to establish the AC Law Group and also works as a refugee advocate.
"Australia is a nation where most of us, most of the time, seek to give and – receive a fair go and respect democracy," he said. "It's that fair go that you see in every new Australian success story."Now Deng is one of four NSW finalists. The winner for NSW will be announced on 7 November.