Main Navigation

Join us for an evening of multicultural stories, music and conversation

Red Cross will hold a special event in Melbourne this coming Thursday to celebrate the immense contributions made to Australian life by refugee arrivals.

Monday September 21, 2015

The 2015 Matija Barisic Oration features the personal stories of some of inspirational members of our community. Left to right: Adbi Aden; Miriam Issa; Najaf Mazari

An evening of stories, music and conversation, the 2015 Matija Barisic Oration is free to attend and will be held at the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne on Thursday 24 September.

Event host Julie McCrossin will lead a lively and interactive discussion that highlights the contribution of refugees to our community, encourages thought-provoking conversation and celebrates life in a diverse and multicultural society.

Panelists include :

  • Abdi Aden, who as a teenager fled the civil war in Somalia and is now a youth worker and successful motivational speaker in Melbourne. 
  • Mariam Issa, founder of a not-for-profit organisation supporting and empowering women.
  • Najaf Mazari, founder of an organisation which raises funds to improve health services and
    educational resources for people in his native Afghanistan.

Sudanese singer Ajak Kwai will also share her own stories during the evening through her music.

"The event is an opportunity to showcase the significant contributions to Australian multicultural society that has been made by these inspiring individuals," says Penny Harrison, Australian Red Cross Executive Director, Victoria. "It illustrates the immense value that diverse cultures and stories can bring to this country, which we may reflect on now more than ever. 

"This year we have three talented writers, who have published personal stories of leaving their home countries to seek safety and asylum. They each have very different backgrounds, they journeyed here via different routes, and will generously share their personal experiences and how they were made to feel at home in their new country."

The Matija Barisic Oration is an annual event dedicated to the memory of Red Cross staff member Matija Barisic and her work with Australian Red Cross and Victoria's refugee and immigrant communities. In her twelve years of service, Matija showed outstanding commitment, dedication to the people she worked with as well as the wider community. In 2009, Matija was awarded a Multicultural Victoria Award for Excellence.

Tickets for Thursday's event are free but places must be secured by registering attendance online. Find out more at and secure your free ticket.