Dr Keyvan Abak

Reading is Important

Keyvan believes that: “Reading is so important in life – it really opens up the world. Education has given me the power to be a voice for the voiceless. Reading is the key to knowledge and knowledge is power.”

Fact File

The best thing about my job
The opportunity to have a positive influence on the community’s social and emotional wellbeing.

My favourite food
Persian food

My dream car
1969 Dodge Judge GTO

My worst injury
In boxing, fractured ribs

My favourite colours
White (the white colour is significant in my culture; symbolising simplicity and peace).

My favourite movie
‘The Hurricane’ – a message of surviving adversity.

The funniest thing that’s ever happened to me
A Nun being my mentor.

My hero and why
My father who worked extra hard to provide everything and gave me a strong sense of belief, loyalty and commitment.

My favourite possessions
All material possessions were taken from me which led to me to become a refugee. I then decided Education is high value, something that can not be taken away and now is my favourite possession.

If I wasn’t doing my current job I would be
A professional boxer. If I didn’t succeed in education, I would box! I did not lose a fight – I was a bantamweight champion.

The most important thing in life
Family, spirituality and Education

My Ambassador reading tip:
Read to familiarise yourself with the world and environment. Read to think outside the box and think with an open mind without prejudice. Knowledge assists you to understand your world. I was once told real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.


More information about Dr Keyvan Abak

In 2000 Keyvan arrived in Australia from Ahvaz in Southern Iran. He is a Mandaean, a small and ancient cultural group who are severely persecuted in the Middle East. Keyvan’s heritage is very important to him.

He was an asylum seeker and was held at Woomera Detention Centre, where he had very little command of English and felt powerless.  He could write some English and understand it, but realised that reading was very important to help him to respond to people.

There wasn’t much to do in the compound, and because Keyvan realised how important it is to read, he taught himself for 5 – 6 hours a day.

Keyvan became more determined to learn to read, when his teacher at the language centre told him that he wouldn’t be able to do it!  He challenged himself and completed Years 11 & 12 in 18 months at Mt Carmel College.

Since then he has completed a Bachelor degree, his masters in Mediation & Conflict Management and Doctor of Philosophy at Flinders University!

Keyvan has been awarded:

  • White Ribbon Ambassador
  • The Governor’s Multicultural Awards for Outstanding Individual Awards
  • Proteus Leadership Excellence Award 2012
  • SA Power Networks Community Leadership & Innovation Award
  • Maxima  – Western Futures School & Businesses Partnership Awards – for outstanding contribution to Education
  • The Minister for Education’s Award for Excellence in Languages and Culture
  • Port Adelaide Enfield Council Award – most inspirational young person

He is a former SA Bantamweight boxing champion.

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