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Refugee Lives, Memories and Communities

24 November, 2022 at 5:00 PM - 6:30 PM


Assoc Prof Ruth Balint, Ms Chi Vu and Assoc Prof Shameran Slewa-Younan share personal stories as well as their research and work in different refugee contexts and cultures.


Ruth Balint- ‘Borders and the Family’

When my grandparents arrived in Australia in 1938, they immediately started to try and bring out other Jewish family members trapped in Eastern Europe as World War Two began. In researching this family story, I began to see a wider history of resistance by Jewish families separated by war and borders. This talk will consider these experiences of the refugee family in Australia’s recent past.

Ruth Balint is Associate Professor of history at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. Her books include Destination Elsewhere: Displaced Persons and their Quest to Leave Europe after 1945 (Cornell University Press, 2021) and, with Julie Kalman, Smuggled: An Illegal History of Journeys to Australia (NewSouth Publishing, 2021).


Chi Vu- ‘“This language is beginning to invent another me”’

Chi Vu takes in her background as a child refugee from Vietnam to discuss how her creative writing seeks to address themes of diaspora, fragmented memories and narratives which are dispersed across languages. Drawing on the fields of sociolinguistics and translingual literary studies, Vu proposes that her theatre and prose works are necessarily scattered across art forms, genres, as well as her two languages – English and Vietnamese.

Chi Vu is a Vietnamese-born Australian writer and theatre-maker. She collaborates with diverse artists to create performances that span genres such as the postcolonial gothic, magic-realism and comedy. Chi’s theatre works include, ‘Coloured Aliens’, ‘The Dead Twin’, ‘A Story of Soil’, ‘Banh Chung’ and ‘Vietnam: a Psychic Guide’. Her novella ‘Anguli Ma: a Gothic Tale’ is published by Giramondo. www.chi-vu.com.


Shameran Slewa-Younan- ‘Mental health promotion for refugee and other culturally and/or linguistically diverse migrant populations: Lessons from the field’

Working within a community as diverse as south western Sydney requires undertaking a community driven and engaged clinical and research agenda. Shameran will begin by introducing herself and her own cultural background. She will then move onto discussing the synergy between her clinical and research activities and how it has helped inform mental health service policy and stigma campaigns for culturally and linguistically diverse communities at a state and national level.

Shameran Slewa-Younan is Associate Professor in Mental Health at the School of Medicine, Western Sydney University, and holds an Honorary appointment at the Centre for Mental Health, University of Melbourne. Shameran has been practicing as a cross-cultural bilingual psychologist since 2001 and currently practices in Fairfield, Sydney, an area of high need. Her focus has always been on providing optimal psychological care for resettling refugees from an Assyrian background, offering psychological assessment and treatment utilising a Cognitive Behavioural approach that is informed from a bilingual and bicultural perspective.


HCV Board Member Professor Nathalie Nguyen will host the evening and HCV Executive Officer Alicia Cerreto will facilitate the Q&A.


The seminar is part of an ongoing series, Making Public Histories, that is offered jointly by the Monash University History Program, the History Council of Victoria and the Old Treasury Building. Each seminar aims to explore issues and approaches in making public histories. The seminars are open, free of charge, to anyone interested in the creation and impact of history in contemporary society. Click HERE to learn about other events in the series.

We thank the series sponsors, Monash University Publishing, the Monash University History Program and the Old Treasury Building.


24 November, 2022
5:00 PM - 6:30 PM
Event Category:




History Council Victoria
0418 814 957
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