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Bhutan to Blacktown – and Beyond: A Conversation About Refugee Leadership in Australia

18 May 2023
4.14pm – 4.14pm AEST
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This special panel event was held on 18 May 2023, with Om Dhungel and CEO of Settlement Services International (SSI) Violet Roumeliotis AM, in conversation exploring what we all can learn – about refugee leadership, wellbeing, and belonging – from this story of grit and hope. Moderated by Kaldor Centre Director Jane McAdam AO, the event celebrated the publication of Bhutan to Blacktown: Losing everything and finding Australia (NewSouth, 2023) by Om Dhungel with James Button. 


‘I lost my possessions, my salary, my status, my career, my country. And in that fall, I gained everything.’ – Om Dhungel


Om Dhungel

OM DHUNGEL arrived in Australia as a student in 1998 before being granted a refugee visa in light of the Bhutanese Government’s persecution of the ethnic Nepalese of southern Bhutan. As inaugural president of the Association of Bhutanese in Australia, Om played a critical role in the settlement of 5000 Bhutanese refugees in Australia. Before coming to Australia he was a senior civil servant in Bhutan’s Department of Telecommunications, then, while a refugee in Nepal, general secretary of the Human Rights Organisation of Bhutan and co-editor of The Bhutan Review. In Australia he worked for ten years as a business analyst at Telstra, and today sits on the NSW Ministry of Health Advisory Panel, NSW Police Multicultural Advisory Council and the Blacktown Multicultural Advisory Committee. He runs Om Dhungel Consulting. 

Violet Roumeliotis

VIOLET ROUMELIOTIS AM, CEO of Settlement Services International (SSI), is a social entrepreneur who champions the strengths of our diverse communities and is committed to take a leadership and pioneering role to elevate reconciliation. She is a member of the Order of Australia and a former Telstra Australia Business Woman of the Year, AFR Top 100 Women of Influence, In Style Magazine Community Champion, and was awarded the title of Community Fellow from Western Sydney University for outstanding service to the community. Violet sits on the board of the Australian Council of Social Service, the NSW Domestic and Family Violence and Sexual Assault Council, and the NSW Ageing and Disability Commission Advisory Board, and the NSW Government’s join partnership working group overseeing refugee resettlement, among other appointments.