Dodeng came to Australia as a 25 year old in September 1985. He was the first Sudanese refugee in Australia which meant that he faced many barriers to integration here. At the beginning, he stayed in the Migrant and Refugee Settlement Centre for six months but was left to find his own way around. Having no relatives, family or friends that he knew other than the refugees he met at the centre, he faced many challenges on his own.
During this time he made his way through studies and completed a Bachelor of Science majoring in Mathematics and Computing at the Footscray Institute of Technology (now Victoria University). He eventually completed it in 1991 having had to defer for several years to work and take care of his family back home. In 1992, he started teaching mathematics at Maribynong high school but only stayed for 6 months due to negative attitudes from the school children. Not giving up, he took up a role with Australian Post as a postal services officer until 1995. During this time, he completed a Diploma in Youth and Child and transitioned to a youth worker role with Open Family. Here, Dodeng worked on the street from 6 pm to 1 am on a bus which provided hot food, drinks, clean syringes for drug users and other items for free to support homeless youth. He was subsequently promoted to a Youth Refugee Supervisor until 2000. He then worked in various roles including Youth Coordinator at the Migrant Resource Centre, a Console Operator and then a Customer Liaison employee at Shell. Since 2005 until the present, he has represented the Nuer Community in collocating at SMRC to voluntarily assist those newly arrived in Australia to adjust to life here.
Outside of work, his work as a leader for the Sudanese community began in 1990-91 where he work with other community leaders lobbing the government for a Special Assistance Category visa and writes support letters on behalf of his countrymen and women to be assisted to migrate to Australia. Dodeng founded the Sudanese Community Association in 1998 and took part in various roles including Treasurer and Secretary over the years in light of a large migration group newly arrived in Australia in 1995. Dodeng met his current wife in Egypt in 2006 and were married soon after. He is the father to four beautiful children, two boys and two girls, with the oldest being 13.
SMRC is now part of Dodeng’s life and he considers the people here to be his family. Since being engaged with SMRC from the early 1990’s, it has become a permanent staple in his life. He wants to continue here as long as he can and wants to aim further still with his ambition being to be elected onto the board of directors.