Minh Duong, A Vietnamese student studying in Australia, was walking home after working a shift at a 7-Eleven store in 2012 when he was brutally attacked. Three members of a Neo-Nazi group bashed Mr Duong with a brick using such force that the brick broke in half, and left him to die in the gutter. Minh Duong was taken to hospital in a critical condition and, remarkably, survived the unprovoked attack.
Six months before Adrian De Luca joined Wesley Institute, he watched Mr Duong’s story on the news. Adrian was touched by what Minh had been through and felt compelled to help in whatever way he could. As a musician, Adrian understood the healing power of music. He contacted Minh and offered him free music lessons, telling him that “music will make you feel better”. Minh Duong accepted his gift, reflecting later that this act of kindness changed his life forever. After the attack Minh had lost all confidence. “I felt sad and depressed, with no hope”, he said.... until Adrian came along. Adrian says that the reason he teaches music is to change lives and bring hope. Music is leading Minh to find peace, and trust in humanity again. He is learning to “keep hope, keep trust, and say no to racism”.
Adrian encouraged Minh to continue his studies when he wanted to give up and return to Vietnam. However, Minh’s studies came to an abrupt halt when the Department of Immigration unexpectedly cancelled his student visa and banned him from re-entering Australia for three years. Adrian recalls walking through the airport with Minh quietly sobbing and saying "I can't finish my studies". Adrian made Minh a promise that he would get him back into the country.
Adrian began a twelve-week battle with the Department of Immigration, working with lawyers who offered pro-bono representation. Australian Barrister, Julian Burnside, known for his staunch opposition to the mandatory detention of asylum seekers, supported Minh’s case on national television. Then Adrian began a petition for the reinstatement of Minh's visa, collecting 89,740 signatures.
The Australian Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Scott Morrison, then responded personally to Minh Duong’s case. Minh was granted a new visa and, on March 1 2014, returned to Australia to begin his final year of the Bachelor of Accounting.
The 2014 recipients of Australia’s most prestigious postgraduate scholarship awards, the John Monash Scholarships, were announced in Sydney on 26 November.
The John Monash Scholarship seeks to recognise excellence and leadership, providing Australian students with the opportunity to study at overseas institutions. This year 312 applications were received and reviewed by 89 expert panellists across Australia over a ten- week period. 15 scholarships were awarded.
Kathryn Roberts, completing the Wesley Institute Graduate Diploma of Education (Secondary) this year, was one of the 15 scholarship recipients!
Kathryn will be heading to England in 2014 to undertake a Masters in Shakespeare Studies at Kings College, London. Kathryn completed a Bachelor of Arts at Sydney University and a Bachelor of Music at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Since then she has worked as a professional musician, event coordinator for ABC Radio National, as well as founding the Kathryn is excited about the opportunity that the John Monash Scholarship has provided for her. .