CSU graduate bridges the cultural divide in regional Australia

Monday 9 Jan 2017

A former refugee, hailed as a man of courage and a wise leader, has received his postgraduate degree from Charles Sturt University (CSU) after postponing his own education for his family.

Mr John Moi received a Master of Social Work (Professional Qualifying) during a ceremony at CSU in Wagga Wagga last month.

Adjunct Associate Professor Dr Bill Anscombe from the CSU School of Humanities and Social Sciences said that John's story is one of great courage.

"The completion of his postgraduate degree at Charles Sturt University in 2016 despite suffering a stroke during one of his work placements is just part of that courage."

A refugee from Sudan and an ordained pastor, Mr Moi arrived in Wagga Wagga in 2006.

By 2015, his contribution to the Wagga Wagga community was so comprehensive that he was awarded the NSW Premier's 2015 Multi-Cultural Community Medal.

"John was the leader and co-founder of an organisation for Wagga Wagga citizens of African origin, WAFRICA Inc. He's is also a long-serving board member of the Wagga Wagga Multi-Cultural Council."

Mr Moi delayed his own study until his family members had settled in Australia and completed their tertiary studies.

His wife and two of his four children are all graduates of CSU in business, social work, and social welfare. His family was present at the ceremony to celebrate his graduation.

Able to communicate in Swahili, Ma'di, Acholi and Arabic, Mr Moi was employed as a bi-lingual aide to assist refugee young people particularly from Africa for several years from 2007. This assistance included helping young non-English speaking refugee students adjust to high school in Australia. 

Dr Anscombe said, "He takes on the role of a translator of language but more importantly as a translator and interpreter of cultures.

"In many ways John has been the cultural guide to those in the school community who would have had little knowledge of the issues and traumas that these students bring with them.

"John embodies an understanding of trauma and disruption and serves as a role model that these events do not need to define you for the rest of your life.

"He is positive and carries the respect of a community elder that needs to be listened to and valued.

"He is quiet, thoughtful and discerning and has a significant calming influence on students and events.

He has made a very significant contribution to the Anglican Church in Wagga Wagga and has engaged in preaching and teaching in the city and surrounding areas.

Dr Anscombe said, "John and his family are really quite exceptional and are great assets to Australia, to regional NSW and Wagga Wagga."

The social work program at CSU is currently the largest in Australia and it celebrated 25 years in 2016.


Media contact: Fiona Halloran and Emily Malone , (02) 69332207

Media Note:

Mr John Moi was awarded a Master of Social Work (Professional Qualifying) during a ceremony at CSU in Wagga Wagga on Thursday 15 December.

Dr Bill Anscombe is an adjunct Associate Professor in the University's School of Humanities and Social Sciences in Wagga Wagga. He was Course Director for Social Work during Mr Moi's degree.

Photo: CSU graduate Mr John Moi with his wife Susan at the graduation ceremony in Wagga Wagga in December 2016.