Griffith Law School alumnus Blaise Itabelo has been awarded the 2014 Migration Institute of Australia Student of the Year Award.
Blaise, a CAMS (Community Action for a Multicultural Society) Community Development Officer with ACCESS Community Services, was recognised for his work in assisting new migrants’ transition to Australia, at the MIA national conference on October 30.
After spending more than 15 years in a refugee camp in Tanzania where he completed primary and secondary school, Blaise won a highly competitive UNHCR scholarship to study a Bachelor Degree in Industrial Relations in Dar es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania. He came to Australia in 2011.
Blaise completed the Graduate Certificate in Migration Law and Practice while working full time and supporting his wife and three children, one a newborn.
Since graduating in 2013, he has been in negotiations to establish a pro bono immigration and refugee practice in collaboration with his employers at ACCESS.
“Winning this award means a lot to me,” he said.
“Being part of a huge community of people from refugees and migrant backgrounds, this is proof that our efforts are being recognised not only locally, but nationally.”
Blaise has dedicated his award to all the young refugees around the world.
“There are a lot of young people out there with the same background as me. Awards like this are lifting up our hopes in our new country.”
His motivation to become a migration agent was to help those in need.
“We paid an agent for our application, but I know there are a lot of people in the community who cannot afford the fee and are in need of migration advice and/or service.
“Working with a settlement agency, I constantly come across people going through depression and stress because they do not know what to do to bring their family members to Australia. This motivated me to study at Griffith.”
Griffith University Migration Law convenor Kate Van Doore said the Law School nominated Blaise for exceptional life story and work since arriving in Australia.
“We believe that Blaise exhibits extraordinary personal qualities which make an exceptional asset to the migration industry.”
Blaise’s work with community organisations include:
- Community Development Officer for ACCESS Community Services Ltd as CAMS (Community Action for Multicultural Society)
- Member of Consumer Engagement Advisory Group of Logan and Beaudesert Hospitals Member. (Volunteer)
- Public Relations Officer, Congolese Community Association of Queensland (Volunteer)
- Secretary, Emo ‘ya Mmbondo (Volunteer)
- Coordinator at Access Men’s shed (Volunteer)