My name is Rosemary Sayer and I am a writer, researcher, and advocate.
Writing is my passion, and I began my early career as a journalist working in regional Western Australia and Perth. It was where my desire to research stories to uncover every detail started.
After years in journalism my career led me to corporate communications and management. And then, while living in Hong Kong, I wrote my first book, a biography about one of Asia’s leading entrepreneurs, Sir Gordon Wu.
I found that I loved the process of researching and writing a biography and watching someone come alive on a page. I went on to write a second biography about Trevor Eastwood, the former CEO and Chairman of Wesfarmers.
After I returned to live in Australia, I became increasingly disheartened and then appalled at Australia’s treatment of refugees and asylum seekers. I felt compelled to speak up and write truthful stories about people who were being dehumanised in the political debate.
My life as an advocate
My life as an advocate began while I was writing my third book More to the story – conversations with refugees.
When I started I was reasonably well informed. However I quickly learned more and over the next four years when I spoke to more and more refugees I realised that through the power of my pen I could make a difference.
I wanted to change people’s minds and persuade them to look more deeply at issues that had been reduced to slogans by the media and successive Governments.
I interviewed former refugees and asylum seekers from Burma, Afghanistan and South Sudan and uncovered powerful, moving and incredibly personal stories. All were forced to flee their home due to persecution and in fear for their lives. They explained what happened during their life in a way I still struggle to understand. All were accepted as refugees in Australia, but some faced brutal detention because they came by boat seeking refuge.
I wanted to do more than write and joined the board of the Edmund Rice Centre WA. Their work constantly inspires me and gives me the opportunity to be involved in advocacy programs.
More recently I have joined the board of CARAD, recognised as a respected voice for the rights of asylum seekers and refugees. I am proud to serve on its board helping oversee programs that make a difference for some of the most vulnerable in our community.
I wanted to understand more about how the life stories refugees and asylum seekers can be narrated and recently completed a PhD in writing and human rights at Curtin University.
During this time, I also became part of a collective advocating for better educational opportunities at universities for asylum seekers. I worked as a researcher and teacher at the Centre for Human Rights Education for several years.
So, I continue to write, research and advocate, not just for refugees and asylum seekers, but for all those seeking equity and human rights including women and those with mental health issues.
How do we encourage awareness, understanding and inclusion in our community? … We share stories.