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Five years on from his arrival in Australia as an asylum seeker and refugee from Sri Lanka, Satkuruthevan Vadivel Devon – Devon – has spent a term at St Brendan’s College as part of Multicultural Development Australia’s Work and Welcome program, and while the program gives new Queenslanders a foot in the door, it has also reinforced the College’s Edmund Rice ethos of justice and service to the community.
Assistant Principal – Identity, Mr Blair McWhinney, said 2017 was the fourth year the College had participated in Work and Welcome and not only had Devon been an asset for the students in a range of areas of the College, but his contact and support also played a significant role in educating students about the plight of asylum seekers and refugees.
“Our College operates under the guidance of Edmund Rice Education Australia and we strive to ensure the Edmund Rice touchstones of Justice and Solidarity and Inclusive Community are a constant in the day-to-day education of our students,” Mr McWhinney said.
“Having Devon spend time at the College and assist our students in the classroom gives them an understanding of refugees, particularly those seeking asylum in our country, and puts a very human face to the issues we often see in the media,” he said.
“Because of Devon’s love of maths he has helped students in the classroom, as well as spent time in art demonstrating his carving skills and worked in the agricultural and science departments,” he said.
“Now that Devon has finished his time with us, we look forward to supporting him as he looks for employment in Rockhampton.”
“As a College we will continue to work for ways to be advocates for justice in our community.”
Devon has been granted Refugee Status and is now seeking paid employment in Rockhampton after completing the Work and Welcome Program at the College, and having volunteered for a range of organisations over the past few years.
For Devon, his presentation at student assembly last week summed up his time at St Brendan’s College.
“I came to Australia from Sri Lanka in 2012 as an asylum seeker, wanting to forget the trauma of the past and live in freedom and peaceful harmony in Australia,” Devon said.
“I have learnt much here and thank the staff, students and teachers for giving me a warm welcome. I have loved my time here and feel the Edmund Rice tradition is thriving.”
St Brendan’s College is a Catholic day and boarding school for boys from Years 7 to 12. It is located on a beautiful 300-acre campus at Yeppoon and has a proud history of educating young men in the Edmund Rice tradition of service to the community.