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Past program

Stories of Leaving & Arriving

Sat 10 Feb, 7pm–8pm
NGV International
Level 3

True stories of leaving home, family or friends behind, and arriving after a long journey feature in this line-up of storytellers, hosted by comedian, actor and writer Dilruk Jayasinha.


Dilruk Jayasinha hails from Sri Lanka, relocating to Melbourne to attend university. Having completed a degree in accounting, he started working for one of the “Big Four.” However, after performing at an open mic night in 2010, that all changed. Dil is now a regular on the comedy scene around Melbourne, and has been invited to perform all over the country as well as internationally. In 2017 he completely sold out his run at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival with his brand new show The Art of the Dil.


Ben Quilty is a Sydney based artist widely known for his thick, gestural oil paintings. Ben Quilty has explored a range of themes throughout his career, from the dangerous coming of age rituals of young Australian men, to the complex social history of our country. In his practice, he continually critiques notions of identity, patriotism and belonging. Ben Quilty’s High tide mark, 2016, on display in NGV Triennial, renders a single life jacket discarded by a Syrian asylum seeker in an impasto, glowing painting style. This one painting is pulling you into a much bigger world and an international crisis involving not one but millions of people.

Del Irani is a multi-platform journalist, who’s presented shows on ABC television and radio. She was born in Mumbai and immigrated to Australia with her family when she was eight years old. She grew up on the lower north shore of Sydney but couldn’t wait to travel and completed the final year of her degree on a scholarship at the University of California, Berkeley. Del started her career in journalism as field producer, working on programs for Fox News, CBS and Channel News Asia, which involved travelling and living in many different countries including Bermuda, Panama, Belgium and Dubai. Del Irani is currently Finance Presenter on ABC News Breakfast.

Barat Ali Batoor was a photojournalist living in Afghanistan until his work forced him to leave the country. But for Batoor, a member of a displaced ethnic group called the Hazara, moving home to Pakistan proved dangerous too. He was forced to pay a human smuggler, and join the deadly tidal wave of migrants seeking asylum by boat.

Abdi Aden was a teenager when he arrived in Melbourne as a refugee after a missile attack on his home in Mogadishu separated him from his family. He spent his first year in Melbourne homeless, unable to speak English and with no money. His biography, Shining: The story of a lucky man, written with Robert Hillman, was released in June 2015. Abdi Aden is a respected human rights advocate and former youth worker for Hume and Whittlesea councils.

Mariam Issa arrived in Melbourne from her Somali homeland in 1998 with her husband, four children and a fifth on the way, and little knowledge of Australian life. Today she has established herself in Melbourne as an, author, storyteller, intercultural facilitator, dedicated community builder, social cohesion champion and social entrepreneur. In 2012 Mariam launched her autobiography – A Resilient Life – which shares her refugee experience. In that same year she co-founded the not-for-profit organisation and community garden RAW (Resilient Aspiring Women) in the backyard of her own home in Brighton, where the Australian government settled her and her family.

Luz Restrepo studied Medicine in her native Colombia, graduated as a GP and worked in casualty, while at the same time was a mother to two young daughters. Before fleeing Colombia in 2010 Luz had established her own communications company and was a university lecturer in marketing. As a political refugee Luz arrived in Australia in 2010, with her life in tatters. Luz has since founded Sisterworks, a non-profit social enterprise that supports women of migrant, asylum seeker or refugee backgrounds to develop handmade food or craft products in order to become financially independent and happily settled in Australia.

Supported by program patrons Maureen Wheeler AO and Tony Wheeler AO.