House debates

Wednesday, 30 March 2022

Constituency Statements

Riak, Mr Alier Chol

10:06 am

Photo of Anne AlyAnne Aly (Cowan, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Alier Chol Riak was just 23 years old when he was stabbed to death on 13 March in the Melbourne Docklands. He was out celebrating his 23rd birthday with his older brother when they were set upon, and, in an unprovoked attack, he was stabbed by a group of men who ambushed them. On Saturday, I attended Alier's memorial service and funeral at St Paul's Anglican Church in Mirrabooka. It's always sad when we say goodbye to somebody who is taken from us so young. But I believe that Alier Riak deserves to be mentioned in this place because he was a remarkable young man who, in his short life, achieved some very remarkable things.

Alier was born in a Kenyan refugee camp. His family was South Sudanese. They came to Australia in 2005. Alier attended John Septimus Roe Anglican Community School in my electorate of Cowan and excelled in basketball. He joined the Warwick Senators and played for them. But he also coached for them, and through that role inspired many other young people through sport but also through the kindness and generosity that he extended to them by showing them that there was a positive pathway and a place of belonging for them here in Australia.

He was so good at basketball, the game that he loved, that he earned a basketball scholarship to the United States. I don't know how many people here know that, but it's very, very difficult to earn a sports scholarship to the United States, particularly in basketball. He got that scholarship to Wyoming state university, where he became a much-loved member of their student class and their basketball team. He got a bachelor's degree from the US, from Wyoming state.

He returned to Australia and he was recruited to the Darwin Salties, but, sadly, he never got to wear the jersey and he never got to play a game for the Darwin Salties. His life was taken in such tragic circumstances. I'd like to send my condolences to the JSR community, to the Riak family and to all of those who have been touched so deeply by Alier Riak's life. May he rest in peace.