From Refugee Camp To Parliament - How Ayor Makur Chot Became First African MP in Australia

Ayor Makur Chuot's life now is world's apart from where it all began — in a refugee camp in Kenya.

Once an international model, Ayor Makur Chot a 31-year-old accountant is Western Australia's first member of parliament of African descent, as well as Australia's first South Sudanese parliamentarian.

Born in Ethiopia, Ms Chuot and her family moved to South Sudan, only to flee to Kenya after her father was killed during a civil war in 1992. Those early experiences deterred her from politics initially. "I grew up in a political family," she recalls.
Ayor Makur Chot, the first African Woman MP in West Australia
Ayor Chot as a Fashion Model
"My father was involved in politics back home but being a South Sudanese woman, even if I was back home, I wouldn't think of being a politician because my father was killed in the war, so I had a really traumatizing experience."

Almost three decades on, Ms Chuot's perspective has shifted and as a result, she hopes to pave a way for other migrants and refugees and break negative stereotypes the South Sudanese community faces.

"We came with nothing [to] this country and we grabbed this opportunity," she said.

"Me and my siblings, in particular, we really appreciate what we have been given.
Hon. Chot delivering an address at a Campus function
"To actually be in this position, I think this is good for the rest of the Western [world] that is negative [towards refugees], to see migrants that get up every morning, they work hard and they appreciate the system and can give back to the community as well."

It was her single mother — raising eight children — who has been her driving force, pushing her to achieve what she has, including her modelling career.

"I was kind of not into [being] a model, but my mother is always that person that motivates and supports us," she said. When Ms Chuot was initially approached to run for the Upper House seat, she was not interested.

"After sharing the nomination with my family and mum, they were very supportive like, 'Ayor, you've done so much for the community, you have to look at it as representation, you can't say no to leadership.
In a personal statement on her website, it read:

"Ayor is passionate about multiculturalism, women’s interests, and families, and hopes to inspire young people of color to get involved in the community.

She is committed to improving opportunities for refugees and migrants in the workforce having overcome numerous barriers herself.."

In 2016, Ms Chuot launched Africa Fashion Week, to support and showcase local African designers and boutiques.
Hon. Chot