From refugee to community justice advocate

Amiel Nubaha was inspired to become a youth worker and refugee advocate after studying law and justice at Griffith University.

Law graduate Amiel Nubaha says his time at Griffith University inspired him to draw on his incredible life experience to give back to society.

Amiel Nubaha was raised in a refugee camp after his family was forced to flee their homeland in Rwanda following the 1994 civil war and genocide. He migrated to Australia as a teenager through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Resettlement Program.

He completed a double degree in Law and Criminology and Criminal Justice at Griffith and says one of his law lecturers, Dr Shahram Dana, inspired him to draw on his time as a refugee to advocate for displaced and marginalised people.

“I chose to do law and justice at Griffith because of its reputation,” Amiel said.

“I chose to do law and justice at Griffith because of its reputation”

“It has produced gamechangers and strong human right defenders.


“My first class at Griffith with Dr Dana gave me so much hope – he inspired me to use my past experiences as a way of bringing people together.

“It’s a powerful lesson I continue to use every day, helping disadvantaged young people overcome their own challenges and advocating for refugee communities.

“Thanks to people like Dr Dana I was able to build a career helping others.”

Amiel now uses the perspective and skills he gained at Griffith in his role as a case officer with the Queensland Department of Justice.

During his time at Griffith, Amiel accessed a range of resources and said his lecturers worked tirelessly to support him.

“I was lucky enough to come to Australia and be given an opportunity to have a new beginning – that’s something I’ll always be grateful for,” he said.

“My university experience was very positive. I am very humbled by all the support which Griffith offered me and other students who came from culturally and linguistically diverse communities.”

“My advice is to engage with people around you. Ask, ask and ask. Never let your future be overshadowed by your past. When you reach out, doors will open for you.”


Senior law lecturer Dr Shahram Dana

Dr Shahram Dana was one of Amiel’s mentors at university and helped him organise a joint commemoration ceremony of the Rwandan genocide at Parliament House last year.

Dr Dana, whose parents came to Australia after fleeing conflict in Iran, says he identified with his former student and was proud of the path he had taken after graduation.

“Growing up in a refugee camp has given Amiel an appreciation for the opportunities he received upon arriving in Australia. He continues to make the most of those opportunities,” he said.

“Griffith offered Amiel an opportunity to nurture his skills and experience into a career serving those in need.

“He could be in a big law firm in the city making tonnes of money, but for someone who has seen what he’s seen, that isn’t a priority. He wants to uplift the human spirit and that inspires me.”

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