A man who survived a bullet to the head and served time with some of Australia's most notorious criminals will tell his life story at an event in Wollongong.
Vu Pham was born in Australia to Vietnamese refugee parents, and grew up around Cabramatta.
Mr Pham said after falling in with Asian crime gangs and getting into trouble as a teen, he spent "19 consecutive birthdays in prison".
"I was 15 the first time I went, and I was locked up in adult prison for about two years... Because I lied about my age," he said.
His rap sheet includes being charged with attempted murder, and he even survived a bullet to the head at age 19.
"I was heavily involved in the gangs when I was younger… It was all about gang wars," he said.
"I was coming home from the club one night, and someone tried to take my life."
He found himself serving time in Silverwater, Parklea, Long Bay, Windsor, Cessnock and Goulburn correctional centres.
Mr Pham, now 37 and based in south-west Sydney, left jail about three years ago.
Mr Pham said he now shared his story to try and divert young people off the path he once lived.
Growing up as a Buddhist, he now credits his Christian faith with turning his life around.
He regularly visits schools and community venues to share his experiences detailing "a story of hope and transformation".
"I try to give them the message that there's hope for them," he said.
"I've sat inside a prison where I've seen three generations of families sitting there.
"It's heartbreaking to see that.
"Growing up without a father - my father left me when I was 12-13 years old - having no role models, I strayed into the wrong path.
"I was looking for role models for years, and the only place I could find them was in gangs and drug dealers."
The event is being hosted by Potter's House Christian Church Wollongong.
It will take place on Saturday, March 16 at 7pm at the church, which is located at 3 Gladstone Avenue.
Mr Pham said this would be his first time presenting his story in Wollongong.
"I would love people to come along and hear a story - it doesn't matter who they are, or what walk of life they're from," he said.
"Hear a story of hope and transformation.
"Everyone needs to hear this story; it's not just about young people, drug dealers or gang members. It's for everyone - everyone needs to hear this story of hope."
The event is free entry, but there is limited seating.