The story of Hava – an advocate with lived experience.

As a refugee in Australia, Hava Rezaie is a powerful voice. Throughout her life Hava has striven to improve the social standing of marginalised people and of women.

Born in Afghanistan, Hava is part of the Hazara community, a minority group that has, and continues, to be persecuted. To escape prejudice, Hava relocated to Iran for 25 years. “During that time I finished my school and completed my teaching degree.”

Hava also remained passionate about elevating the rights of disenfranchised groups. “In Iran, I established schools for all refugees; as they did not have access to education. Right now, one of the schools that I had created is still open, but it has some problems and is in need of support.”

Following this time, Hava returned to Afghanistan. For ten years, she was the Director of the Department of Women’s Affairs in the Dikoni province. During this period, Hava also completed a law degree.

After that, “I was put into gaol by the Taliban — and tortured — I received a humanitarian visa to come to Australia.”

JRS Australia has been fortunate to witness Hava’s leadership and bravery. Throughout Sydney, Hava speaks at a number of Table Talks where a person with lived experience as a refugee, or seeking asylum, speaks to a community and tells their story.  Table Talks are powerful in changing hearts and minds on these central issues.

Currently, Hava also continues to strive for education. “In 2018, my daughter and I achieved our High School Certificates, and today, both my daughter and I are studying. My daughter studies at Western Sydney University and I am with the Australian Catholic University. My son is also studying at Newcastle University.” 

Always an advocate for social justice, Hava notes,“I also volunteer with Sydney Alliance as a part of the federal campaign team to help change policies and meet with politicians and talk about the plight of asylum seekers in my community.”  


Interested in refugee stories?

JRS is hosting a number of Table Talks in Sydney and NSW, where Hava, and other speakers, tell their story. More information on Table Talks can be found in the flyer below. If interested, please email: For schools interested in hosting a Table Talk, please email:



We wish to thank Hava Rezaie for sharing her incredible story.

Read more. Hava’s story, as appears here, was originally featured in the 2018 JRS Australia Annual Report. Read here

The issues. The policies impacting upon the lives of people seeking asylum in Australia are discussed in our highly relevant JRS “Strangers No More” Election Statement here. 

Support us. To support JRS Australia’s work with people seeking asylum, please click here.



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