Precisely 11 years after his arrival in Australia on 9 September 2009, Migrant Program Coordinator at Swinburne Bwe Thay has been appointed by the Victorian Government as the Deputy Chairperson of the Victorian Multicultural Commission (VMC).
As Deputy Chairperson, Mr Thay will support Chairperson Vivienne Nguyen in steering the Commission and working to identify and address issues faced by Victoria’s multicultural and multifaith communities.
Mr Thay has been serving as a VMC Commissioner since September last year. He has a long history of advocating for diversity, having held many leadership roles in the multicultural sector, with a focus on creating jobs and improving education for new and emerging communities.
“As a passionate advocate for multiculturalism and diversity, being in this position means that I can serve our community and bring a voice to the voiceless,” said Mr Thay, “so I feel humbled and honoured to be a voice of our community.”
Proud Swinburne employee and Burmese refugee migrant Bwe Thay talks about his move to Australia.
Mr Thay is also proud to play a crucial role in Swinburne’s Migrant Aspiration Project, a project unique of its kind that empowers individuals from migrant backgrounds through education, mentorship and support. The project is funded by the Australian Government’s Higher Education Participation and Partnership Programme.
“As someone with lived experience of how education has transformed my life, this project is very personal to me,” said Mr Thay, “but I also know the impact it can have for our communities, and through this project, we have been able to touch the lives of thousands of migrant community members.”
The Victorian Multicultural Commission has previously recognised Bwe Thay for his emerging leadership and refugee advocacy work.
A top choice for students and workers from a migrant background
Swinburne is proud to be a leading university in giving students and workers from migrant backgrounds the opportunities they need to fulfill their potential, and Mr Thay is one of the many inspiring individuals making this vision a reality.
“We are the university that gives the largest number of welcome scholarships for asylum seekers who cannot access higher education,” explained Mr Thay.
Through Mr Thay’s projects, Swinburne also planted their ‘Welcome Tree’ in 2016 as a symbol of the diversity, inclusivity and empowerment that is so central to the university’s values. The tree is proudly located at Wakefield Gardens on our Hawthorn campus and stands as a beautiful reminder that Swinburne warmly welcomes individuals from migrant communities, including refugees and asylum seekers.
“It brings us great joy to see that one of the first things our migrant students do when they come on campus for the first time is to take a picture with the tree,” says Mr Thay.
Mr Thay at the 2019 Welcome Treet event for EPIC Cadets studying at Swinburne.