Agent of change

As an undercover journalist in Zimbabwe at the height of Mugabe’s regime, Felix Machiridza was forced to live and work covertly to survive.

Felix Machiridza sought refuge in Australia in 2010, and was granted a protection visa after it was deemed too dangerous for him to return to Zimbabwe. As a journalist and vocal opponent of the Mugabe regime he had survived abduction, torture, and several attempts on his life.

Felix spent years reporting on the rampant corruption, escalation of political violence, and human rights abuses committed by those in power.

“I saw whole communities being turned against each other,” Felix said. “Many people were killed in cold blood. Members of my own family were not spared. I witnessed a lot of callous brutality being visited upon innocent civilians.

“It was never going to be a walk in the park, but I was contributing to the struggle for democracy and freedom in Zimbabwe through my work, and I have no regrets. I did the right thing.”

“I wrote stories which were critical of the oppressive regime that presided over us. I publicly denounced the sheer lack of concern for the majority of the people. I did undercover journalism with a small team of colleagues and we would send stories to the international media about what was going on in Zimbabwe.

“This did not go down well with the authorities. My colleagues and I were harassed and beaten up. There came a time when I knew I would be killed if I stayed longer so I took the opportunity to get as far away as possible.

A new start

“When I came to Australia I decided that the best way to forget my past would be to make a career change and to equip myself with knowledge and skills that would help me to assist others in need.”

Felix completed a social work degree at ACU’s Canberra Campus and began working for the Australian Red Cross in the Migration Support Program. He then worked with families and children at Barnardos, and is currently with the ACT Government in Early Intervention.

In 2014 he was reunited with his three children after more than four years apart.

“I missed watching them grow and all the music that we played together. Hearing their voices on the phone and not being able to see them would tear my heart apart.

“I’m not holding onto the past, letting it bog me down or cloud my vision. This is a new start. I chose to study social work because not all people are able to speak for themselves — and I feel I can advocate for these people.”

Find out more about studying social work at ACU.