Paris Aristotle has seen how the smell of pizza can reduce a man to shivering anxiety and panic.
The refugee trauma rehabilitation advocate has spent his life helping those who have suffered unimaginable trauma get the help they need in their adoptive country.
That life work has seen him named 2017 Victorian of the Year and a finalist for Australian of the Year.
Early on Mr Aristole saw community services didn't know how to properly deal with refugee trauma.
He remembers one client who would panic just from the smell of certain foods.
"The smell of pizza would trigger flashbacks," he said.
"His torturers would torture him and leave him injured and bleeding on the ground of his cell and order in their dinner - pizza and stuff like that."
Mr Aristotle established the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture in 1987, despite having just six months funding guaranteed.
The scale of the problem became apparently quite quickly.
"Up to 30 per cent had quite a severe experience of torture or trauma in violent circumstances," Mr Aristotle told AAP.
"And the remaining 60 to 70 per cent would have encountered circumstances that would have resulted in trauma."
Despite funding shortfalls, Mr Aristotle has managed to keep the foundation going for 29 years and has watched clients from all around the world reclaim their lives and go on to make remarkable contributions.
He's advised both sides of politics on refugee and asylum seeker policy and has managed to do so with excruciating patience.
"Respectful dialogue and engagement usually gets better results," he says.
He's hoping he can bring that dialogue to a national audience if he is named Australian of the Year.