In My Own Words

Have a story to tell, but unsure how to take the first step?

In My Own Words is a storytelling and capacity-building program designed to give young creatives of refugee backgrounds the skills they need to shape their story and have it heard on their terms.

The program is run over one weekend and includes a series of workshops, collaborative sessions, and speaking panels with some of Australia’s leading writers, activists, and artists.

What sparked In My Own Words?

In My Own Words is the brainchild of our program director, Jeanine Hourani. Jeanine was born stateless and inherited refugee status from her Palestinian father. Growing up in the post-9/11 era, she kept her background a secret.

“I was 20 years old when I first started talking about how I came to Australia and how I came to be an Australian. By talking about my background and sharing my experiences, I could see an immediate shift in people’s perceptions of refugees. This made me feel powerful!

“It made me wish I had told my story earlier… if only I had had the skills, confidence and support I needed to do so. I started the In My Own Words program to inspire the next generation of refugee storytellers to realise the power of their stories.”

Watch a wrap-up of Year One by our program partner Bank Australia: 

Who is the program for?

At Road to Refuge, we understand that no refugee journey or story is the same. As a result, we adopt a broad definition of the term ‘lived experience’. For us, the term includes anyone who has been forced to migrate due to war or other forms of persecution, regardless of their ‘official’ status as a refugee. Our definition of ‘lived experience’ also includes those who are stateless or have ever experienced Statelessness. If you have any questions about program eligibility, please feel free to send us an email on

The program is designed for new storytellers and those who want to build on existing skills and ideas. Whatever your craft, medium or story, the In My Own Words program is designed to equip with you the tools to strategically shape and amplify your story.

If you have thought about your story and its form, but haven’t yet taken the next step to realise it, In My Own Words can help. We work with participants to prepare for the positives and negatives that come with publicising your story. We find the right role for it within the political and cultural context and connect you with others who have had similar experiences.

“There are so many stereotypes we get put under every single day. In my own words frees you from those stereotypes and helps you to shape your own story to share it with the world!” — 2019 participant, Taj Aldeeb

What’s it like?

In My Own words is designed to be less like a lecture, school or a conference with a one-way transfer of knowledge. The sessions and discussions are hands-on and collaborative, led by a wonderful and diverse community of creators. It is an opportunity to peer behind the curtain of large scale political movements, hearing from those on the frontline of social change and creativity.

We don’t expect you to be bringing finished products and ideas to present. We want you to bring your passion, questions and creativity to be sharpened! Road to Refuge and the community of previous In My Own Word participants and campaigners are there to collaborate and work with you as you bring your story to life.

Ready to apply?

Fill out our quick questionnaire:

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Important details

In My Own Words is a free program with all meals covered during the intensive workshop weekend.

While we expect most applicants are from Victoria, please contact us if you would like to apply and live in another state/territory as we may be able to provide accommodation/transport (contact: 

The program will be hosted at Brunswick Mechanics Institute.

Brunswick Mechanics Institute 

Cnr. Glenlyon and Sydney Road

Brunswick,  VIC

Key dates:

13/1/2020 – Applications Open

17/2/2020 – Applications Close.

End of Week: 17/2/2020 – Successful Applicants Contacted.

4 & 5/4/2020 – Workshops held at Brunswick Mechanics Institute. 

What to help promote In My Own Words?

The best way you can help us run In My Own Words is by downloading the participant pack (here!) and sending it to someone you know who might be interested in the program!

We are keen to speak to:

  • Organisations who can provide financial or skills support
  • Journalists or publications interested in amplifying the voices of young people with refugee backgrounds

Please contact us directly at if that sounds like you!

In My Own Words is made possible by generous grant supplied by Bank Australia as part of the Impact Fund. You can read more about Bank Australia and Road to Refuge’s collaboration here:


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