Child Soldier. Refugee. Lawyer: Deng Thiak Adut announced as NSW State Finalist in 2017 Australian of the Year Awards.

by |October 21, 2016


Not many people have led the life Deng Adut has, and it’s for this reason he’s been announced as this year’s NSW State Finalist in the Australian of the Year Awards.

It was in September last year when Deng’s life story began to go viral. Presented in a YouTube video promoting Western Sydney University, we learn that at age six he was taken from his mother in South Sudan, marched 33 days to Ethiopia, and conscripted into the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army, whereby he was trained to use an AK-47 and sent into battle.

It wasn’t until he was 12 that Deng was rescued by his brother, John. Hidden in the back of a truck, he was smuggled out of Sudan, into Kenya, and was eventually brought to Australia as a refugee by the United Nations. Whilst working in a local service station, Deng taught himself to read and started studying at TAFE. In 2005 he enrolled in a Bachelor of Law degree at Western Sydney University and became the first person in his family to graduate from university.

Deng gave this year’s Australia Day address and was painted for the 2016 Archibald Prize by Nick Stathopoulos; this portrait recently won the People’s Choice Award.

Watch the YouTube video that went viral:

Deng’s brutal yet inspiring story of a man who has overcome deadly adversity to become a lawyer and own his own law practice, the AC Law Group, is outlined beautifully in his book, Songs of a War Boy. (Written with Ben McKelvey)



To celebrate Booktoberfest at Booktopia, order Songs of a War Boy by October 31st and you’ll go into the draw to win a non-fiction prize pack worth $1000! And if you order any book from the Booktoberfest showcase, you’ll go into the draw to win a year’s supply of books. That’s a $50 gift voucher every week – for an entire year!

Songs of a War Boyby Deng Thiak Adut, Ben McKelvey

Songs of a War Boy

Pre-Order Your Signed Copy!

by Deng Thiak Adut, Ben McKelvey

Deng Adut's family were farmers in South Sudan when a brutal civil war altered his life forever. At six years old, his mother was told she had to give him up to fight. At the age most Australian children are starting school , Deng was conscripted into the Sudan People's Liberation Army. He began a harsh, relentless military training that saw this young boy trained to use an AK-47 and sent into battle. He lost the right to be a child. He lost the right to learn...

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About the Contributor

Anastasia Hadjidemetri is the former editor of The Booktopian and star of Booktopia's weekly YouTube show, Booked with Anastasia. A big reader and lover of books, Anastasia relishes the opportunity to bring you all the latest news from the world of books.


  • January 9, 2017 at 11:00 am

    DENG ADUT… amazing man of worth. His story is compelling and surreal. Happy he has found his footing in life, an so proud to call him an Australian, but first a Man of Hope for all people….

  • May 26, 2017 at 4:27 am

    Hi there

    This site is really helpful because i always learn new
    from this site. I would like to recommend this site
    forbetter information.

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