Book launch highlighting refugee network

May 27, 2022 BY

Life story: New Zealand-based author Abbas Nazari spoke with Ballarat author Maureen Riches about his experiences seeking refuge from Afghanistan. Photo: TIM BOTTAMS

BEST-SELLING writer Abbas Nazari visited Ballarat to launch his biographical novel, After the Tampa, which released in August last year.

Over 80 people attended the event at Barkly Square during which Nazari discussed the book and his experiences migrating from Afghanistan to New Zealand as part of the over-400 refugees refused admission on the MV Tampa in 2001.

Ballarat author Maureen Riches held an interview with Nazari for the launch, and said the evening proved a display of solidarity with the local refugee community.

“People were obviously very interested that were asked about Australia’s handling of the refugee system,” she said.

“I think it’s wonderful for the Afghan refugees here in Ballarat to see someone like Abbas who obviously has made it on the world stage after coming from a similar refugee background.

“It’s a great shot in the arm for both the community and for us refugee supporters to have someone with this sort of success story coming here.”

The panel included guest speakers like Yaqoob Kazan, intercultural ambassador for the City of Ballarat and Abdul Rasuli of the Ballarat Afghan Action Group, and was followed with a Q&A with audience members and a book signing by Nazari.

The launch was a joint endeavour between Ballarat Regional Multicultural Council, Ballarat Refugee and Asylum Seeker Support Network, Grandmothers for Refugees and Ballarat Rural Australians for Refugees.

David MacPhail, a member of Ballarat Rural Australians for Refugees and Ballarat Afghan Action Group, was one of the organisers of the event and said it highlighted the strength of the city’s refugee engagement network.

“On the stage were six people. Two of them were women. Five were Muslims. Three Hazaras. One Iranian. That’s a pretty interesting gathering of people,” he said.

“We say Ballarat’s a pretty Anglo-centric place but look at that group and everyone that was here who were also instrumental in setting this up.

“That network was the difference between 30 people coming to a launch for a book that was released last year and us being at capacity.”