In the video, Adrian, my Angel, is the man wearing the blue shirt.
In June 2012, I was an international student studying for my Bachelor of Accounting degree when I was the victim of a vicious, unprovoked, racial attack by three members of a Neo Nazi group in Melbourne.
On my way home from work one night, I was savagely kicked, punched and stabbed before being bashed with a brick with such force that the brick broke in two and I was left to die in the gutter. I was the victim of the worst that Australian society has to offer.
I was in a critical condition when I was found lying in a pool of blood and taken to hospital. Adrian heard of my attack on the news and felt he needed to do something to help. As a musician and a music teacher he has a great belief in the power of music to help in the healing process and he contacted me to offer free music lessons in an effort to bring some hope and positive healing through music.
Slowly beginning to recover, I accepted that offer but found it very difficult to trust anyone and felt that everyone was dangerous. I learned, with the help of Adrian, to find that trust again through music.
Adrian began helping to pay some of my medical bills and then we applied for our motor cycle licences together. When I passed the test Adrian bought me a motorised scooter so I no longer needed to rely on public transport.
Understandably my confidence had been shattered by the attack so far from the comfort of home and, having missed a lot of lessons, I wanted to abandon my studies and return home to the safety of my family. Adrian encouraged me to continue with my studies and helped me to organise a trip home to Vietnam to visit my mother for the first time in over five years. At the airport however they were confronted by the immigration officials who claimed my student visa had expired and I was told to leave Australia and not return. I was distraught at the thought of not being able to return to complete my studies and Adrian made me a promise that he would find a way to bring me back into the country.
Adrian then began a twelve week battle with the Department of Immigration and brought together a group of people who worked tirelessly on my behalf. He enlisted the help of Australian barrister Julian Burnside who supported my case on national television and top lawyer David Bongiorno who offered pro bono representation, worked relentlessly and liaised with the Immigration Minister’s office and officials in Ho Chi Minh.
Adrian, meanwhile, organised a petition supporting my return to Australia and, through his own personal efforts and social media, he gathered 89,740 signatures. This petition was presented to the Minister for Immigration, Scott Morrison, who responded personally to the case.
I was granted a new visa and on 1st March 2014 and returned to Australia to begin the final year of my degree.
But this wasn’t the end for Adrian. He felt so passionately about the need to raise awareness of racism in Australia that he began to organise and create a musical production showcasing my journey in Australia, through expressions of music, storytelling and dance that explored the negative and positive battles of my experience.
The production, ‘We are Australia – The Minh Duong Story,’ touched on racism, hope and community and the voluntary cast of professional performers that Adrian drew together played to sell out audiences on three successive nights. The proceeds from the shows went to help with my outstanding dental bill of $25,000 – I had never received any compensation for the attack.
Adrian De Luca saw an injustice and simply wanted to help a young man in any way he could. What he ultimately did though was to restore the shattered confidence of a young man far from family, help him gain back a trust in humanity and create a family for him here in Australia. He brought to the fore not only the negative aspects of racism and hatred in Australia but also the much more positive side of our society – empathy, compassion, community spirit, resilience, optimism and hope.
Adrian has proved that one person can make a difference and has become an inspiration to all who know him.
I was sad, depressed and had no hope in life then Adrian, my angel, came along.
Cast: Minh Tuan Duong
Tags: violence, immigration, angel, julian burnside, nazi, david bongiorno, graduation, scott morrison, music, racism and hope