From war-torn Iraq to securing our suburbs

Photo by Margaret Rivette
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Two Iraqi refugees say traumatic childhoods have resulted in their becoming security guards in Australia. Margaret Rivette reports.

Two Iraqi refugees claim traumatic childhoods in their troubled homeland have led them to become security guards in Australia.

“Ayman”, 22, and “Hussein”, 19, work in south east suburbia as security guards. Ayman also works as a  Melbourne nightclub bouncer. Both have requested that their real names not be used in this report.

They spent their early childhood in radicalised communities where they faced violence and poverty.

“That kind of trauma stays with you for life,” Ayman said.

Both men say that their job as security guards makes them feel safer and more in control of their lives.

“[Australia is] a safe country, and I feel safe living here, but I still wanted to know how to defend myself, that’s why I took up this job,” Ayman said of his transition into Australian life.

Ayman said he was kidnapped as a young boy and held ransom by terrorists. His parents “had to pay thousands upon thousands of dollars to save his life”.

He said that these kinds of events happen regularly in developing countries and his family was forced to move to Australia in hope of a better chance of survival.

Integration issues within Australia is becoming more and more frequent as war-torn countries are forcing their people out in fear of their and their children’s lives, according to government analysis.

Ayman lives with his family and siblings and said that his parents are afraid for him to go out into the world by himself be

cause of unknown or unexpected dangers.

“That fear is instilled inside you and your family forever. It never goes away, ever. You just have to learn how to move past it,” said Ayman.

Hussein shares similar memories of a traumatic childhood and has learnt to adapt to the Australian culture since he and his family arrived in Australia eight years ago.

He said his family spent two years in Syria after fleeing his native Mosul, the city 400km north of Baghdad, where they feared persecution as Christians.

“We had to leave because of the war, there was no other choice,” Hussein said of the decision to seek a safer and more stable country.

Iraq has suffered more than decades of war and trauma resulting in the destruction of cities, displacement of communities and hundreds of thousands of deaths.

Both Ayman and Hussein said they feel “relieved” and “lucky” to have been able to live in Australia and their jobs as security guards have helped them make the transition.