Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Shepparton student brimming with enthusiasm

Shepparton student Mohammad Raza Gohari pays no attention to a website ranking his school, McGuire College, in the bottom 13 per cent of schools in Victoria.

SOPHIE MALCOLM February 15, 2013 4:57am

Mohammad Raza Gohari, who came from Pakistan to Australia by boat during 2010-11, studies at McGuire College, Shepparton.

For Mohammad Raza Gohari, school isn’t all ATAR scores and test results.

Just being there and doing his best is enough.

The 18-year-old, who prefers to be called Raza, began at McGuire College last year after he arrived in Australia in 2011.

His pathway to school was a long and dangerous one.

Afghani-born Raza fled Pakistan in 2010, at the age of 16, leaving his family behind in search of a better life.

‘‘I am my father’s oldest son, so my father used to say that you can’t go there (to Australia), because it’s not safe, then I said Pakistan’s not safe to live,’’ Raza said.

‘‘So someone needs to go from our family ... then I was thinking ‘if my father goes, who is going to take care of us?’

‘‘I left home in 2010, then it took me nearly two months to get to Australia, maybe even more.

‘‘I was on a small boat, no-one can imagine it, 32 people (were on the) small boat on the ocean for seven days. We lost the way and we had to face many, many storms and stuff, and then I was just thinking about my family. It was scary.

‘‘I was little. I had no-one.’’


Raza said he would go to sleep not knowing if he would survive the night.

‘‘I was young and I couldn’t feel the danger, but I was feeling ... the reason that I came here is to bring my family to Australia, so I wasn’t thinking about my life, am I going to survive or not.’’

He finally made it to Australia in February 2011 and spent six months in detention centres at Christmas Island and Darwin.

‘‘I was so happy,’’ he said.

‘‘I was in Australia, I was on the land, I was alive. I wanted to call my family and tell them.’’

After he left the detention centres, Raza found himself in Brisbane with $100 to his name.


He phoned a relative in Shepparton, who sent him enough money to relocate to the region.

Initially, he wanted to get a job, but realised he could better his career options if he went to school.

‘‘If I work I couldn’t get a proper job, so I wanted a better job and I wanted to learn English as well,’’ he said.

Raza attended Shepparton English Language Centre and studied so hard he cut down his course from a year to six months. He began at McGuire College midway through last year.

‘‘It was sort of different, I was a bit nervous because of my language and I was going to the school and attending the classes, but I couldn’t talk,’’ he said.

‘‘Everything was so difficult for me and I couldn’t ask the teacher as well.

‘‘After a while I got used to it, then I had friends, so that was good.’’


Raza now studies VCAL, VCE and Certificate III in Health and Business.

He hopes to become a stockbroker and has sought out local mentors to teach him about the financial and stock markets.

He also works a part-time job to support himself and is continually trying to improve his language skills.


‘‘The thing that I’m not going to do, I’m not going to waste my time ... I just want to use it and as soon as possible I just want to get to my career,’’ he said.

Raza phones his family whenever he gets the chance .

He has applied for visas for them and is waiting to hear the outcome of the application.

‘‘I’m telling them everything,’’ Raza said.

‘‘After this long time, I still can’t believe I’m in Australia ... but what about my family?

‘‘I’m studying so I’ve got my goal and I’m going to my goal so my other thing is my family. I can’t really do anything about it so I just need to wait.’’

For a complete wrap on the controversy over a website that ranks Victorian schools, grab a copy of today’s News.

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