When Barat Ali strode across the stage to receive his Bachelor of Animation this month, it marked the end of a long and difficult journey.

That journey has taken him from his home in war-torn Afghanistan, where he left behind everyone and every thing he knew in search of a better life.

At the age of 16,Barat braved a perilous boat trip to claim asylum in Australia, and has spent the past six years carving out a new life in his adopted homeland.

“The situation in Afghanistan is still very bad – there is so much violence, so much poverty,” he said.

“My mother put me on a boat to give me a chance to get an education and a new life.

“Every part of it was hard, but it has been worth it.

“My family still can’t believe I have graduated – I am the first person in my family to have ever gone to university.”

As a kid, Barat dreamed of making cartoons – something that would not have been possible in Afghanistan.

“Animation is prohibited in Afghanistan for religious reasons, so I did not even know that this kind of job existed.”

After being granted asylum in Australia, Barat enrolled in TAFE to learn English, and eventually completed a Diploma of Visual Arts, which won him entry into Griffith Film School to study animation.

“I am so grateful for my time at Griffith,” he said.

“I learnt how to making a living from what I enjoy.

“I got the chance to work on professional commercials for clients, and every day at uni everything was new and fresh.

“I used to stay behind after everyone else had gone home to keep practicing and learn from my mistakes.”


Several months before graduation, Barat secured a job at Pixel Zoo, a local animation studio.

“I received a job offer several months ago, and it was crazy trying to juggle full-time study and full-time work the past couple of months, but I managed it.

“It is great to be employed in the industry, working on amazing things.

“I’ve already learnt so much on the job, and everyone here is keen to share their knowledge with me.”