Refugee Lives, Memories and Communities

Thursday, November 24, 2022 at 05:00 PM



Event contact

Alicia Cerreto


Refugee Lives, Memories and Communities

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.


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 Publishingthe Monash University History Program and the Old Treasury Building.


When you register, you will be sent the link for the event, if this doesn't arrive, please email [email protected]

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The HCV was formed as an advisory body in 2001 and incorporated in 2003. It comprises representatives from cultural and educational institutions and heritage bodies; history teachers and curriculum advisors; academic and professional historians; and local, Indigenous, community and specialist history organisations.

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The History Council of Victoria acknowledges the State Library of Victoria and the Public Record Office Victoria for supply of the archival images that appear on this website.

We acknowledge the National Film and Sound Archive for the right to use of the video footage on the home page, titled "Melbourne: Life in Australia (1966)".

Image credits

  • Italian sailors on ship at Port Melbourne 1938, Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria
  • Chinese procession in Collins near Elizabeth Street 1901, Harvie & Sutcliffe, photographers, State Library of Victoria
  • People’s homes, Aboriginal station Coranderrk 1878, Fred Kruger Photographer, State Library of Victoria
  • Chinese nurses at Children’s Hospital under scholarship 1947, Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria
  • Ladies physical culture class VRI Melbourne c1931, Public Record Office Victoria VPRS 12903/P0001, 011/02
  • Melbourne Cup, Derby and Oaks Day, Flemington Racecourse 1936, Public Record Office Victoria VPRS 12903/P0001/4802, 372/30
  • Flinders Street viaduct at foot of Market Street with advertisement for McRobertson’s Chocolate on bridge, Public Record Office Victoria VPRS 12800/P0003, ADV 1342