Dream big

A exciting event for IEC staff and students during term three was the visit of Ayor Mukur Chuot MLC. She was elected to State Parliament in 2021 and is the first person of African descent elected into State Government in WA. 

Born in Ethiopia to South Sudanese parents Ayor came to Australia in 2005 after spending time in refugee camps. She told her North Lake audience she definitely experienced culture shock in her new environment. “When we moved into our house in Alexander Heights we thought people didn’t trust us because we weren’t greeted the way African people greet new arrivals,” she said, “but we began to realise that Aussies are different and don’t like to intrude upon the privacy of others.”

As she settled in to school and life in Australia, Ayor began to feel more comfortable. She worked as a cleaner, as a kitchen hand and studied accountancy at TAFE and later at university. 

A big change in Ayor’s life came in 2009 when she was asked to consider modelling  – in 2010 she was the Face of Perth and also named Miss South Sudan Australia. A career as an international model followed.

“I wanted a healthy and successful life,” she said, “and I wanted to settle in and make a difference and give back to this wonderful country.”

While she became very involved with new African arrivals, also working as an interpreter, Ayor was always keen to be involved in the wider community. “You can be involved in different communities at the same time,” was her message to the IEC students and she encouraged them to always look for opportunities and possibilities.

Ayor now has a very busy life a Member of Legislative Council in the WA Parliament and mother of two but wouldn’t have it any other way. Her final message to the North Lake students was clear: “Dream big and always give back.” 

In a Facebook post following her visit Ayor wrote…

It was such a pleasure visiting students at North Lake Senior Campus Intensive Language Centre. 

Thanks to teacher Ms Elisabeth Beerli for her dedication to refugee and migrant children, and for inviting me to share my story – having arrived in Perth as a refugee in 2005.

There were many great questions; we discussed my role as a parliamentarian, the importance of representation, and how we can be part of different communities at the same time!