Deng is a Sudanese child soldier turned western Sydney lawyer and refugee advocate, whose harrowing tale of his personal journey as a refugee has evoked strong emotions among Australians.

It is our honour to have Deng as one of our keynote speakers at the 8 Percent Festival.



Born in South Sudan in 1984, one of eight children, Deng Thiak Adut was conscripted as boy soldier at just six years old before going to war when he was only 10.

He eventually escaped the army and arrived in Australia as a 14-year-old refugee in 1998. After teaching himself to read, write and speak English, he won a scholarship to study law at the University of Western Sydney and graduated with a Bachelor of Law in 2010.

He originally told his story in a TV ad for his alma mater in 2015. The aim of the ad was to promote the potential of education to change lives. What it achieved was so much more.

NSW Premier Mike Baird was among those who saw a clip of the ad – it’s drawn more than 2 million views to date – and, without having met Deng, nominated him to give the 2016 Australia Day address.

Deng is a partner and co-founder of AC Law Group, a criminal lawyer, community award recipient, refugee advocate and a ‘remarkable man’.

Watch the incredible UNSW video about Deng’s journey: