Major Transport Infrastructure Authority
How do you go from being a teenage refugee from halfway across the world, to a professional champion of social justice for diversity and inclusion?
Lizzy’s Kuoth’s story is an inspiring example of finding strength in adversity and stepping into your power.
At the end of 2002, 11-year-old Lizzy escaped from war-torn South Sudan in Africa, with her grandmother, younger siblings and cousin, seeking safety as a refugee in Egypt. Like many South Sudanese people, the civil war forced them to leave their home country. Her grandmother Nyaluak had risked everything for a better life.
On her arrival in Australia in 2005, she faced many of the same challenges as most non-English speaking arrivals with a refugee background – from not speaking the language to feeling isolated and struggling to fit in.
Things slowly started to change as she went into volunteering and began to immerse herself into giving back. She surrounded herself with different people from different communities advocating for social justice. And she realised that community service was giving her an outlet that she didn’t know was possible.
We asked how she got to where she is and what inspires her..
Hi Lizzy, what do you do for work?
Well in my LinkedIn profile I describe myself a leader in the multicultural sector and I advise on refugee experience and community engagement. I’m passionate about helping to bring about change, so that we can build better, more inclusive communities.
My current job title is Inclusion Capability Officer for the Major Transport Infrastructure Authority. I also work as Multicultural Officer at St Francis Xavier College, delivering and implementing programs and events to build awareness and drive change with families and the school. Basically I wear many different hats and I try to be a strong representative for all the members of our community that don’t have a voice.
What are you passionate about?
My biggest passion is helping other refugees to overcome enormous challenges so they can build a great life in Australia and contribute to communities. I have been given a huge opportunity and I want to pay it forward.”
How did you get to where you are?
I always admired the work of journalism and specially those who risk their lives to report on human rights issues and sharing stories that would otherwise go unheard. I wanted to be one!
My first job was as a publicity officer for a Neighbourhood House in my local area. I ended up choosing a different career path, but still focusing on advocating for social justice and making a positive difference in the world.
What do you love most about what you do?
Working towards a more inclusive and safe work environment for everyone gives me a feeling of hopefulness and a sense of pride. It’s rewarding to know that I’m contributing and adding value in what am doing.
Who helped you get to where you are today?
My late grandmother! She raised me up to be someone open and a keen learner. Growing up, I watched her work so hard and I never saw her take from others. She was always the one who gave to others. She was always resourceful and a community leader. Although she passed away when I was 17 years old, I feel her impact on my life continues to shape who I am today.
Do you have any advice for young girls thinking about a career in your field?
Values are important. I go where my values take me, and I found that this journey requires courage. The courage to fail, the courage to step into the unknown and the courage to put in the work. I’d encourage you to focus not on the result, but the process itself. Be okay with exploring and drawing your own road map along the way. That’s what I am doing and so far so good!