Barnardos Mother of the Year 2018, proudly supported by ALDI

Just in time for Mother’s Day this Sunday, Barnardos Australia and ALDI are pleased to announce Noelene Lever from Forster, New South Wales has been named the national Barnardos Mother of the Year 2018, proudly supported by ALDI.

Noelene Lever is a strong, 78-year-old Aboriginal woman, who has dedicated her life to caring for children from all walks of life. As a young widow, Noelene raised five children while working two jobs. She was heavily involved with the Aboriginal Community in Redfern and worked with the Aboriginal Legal Service, Aboriginal Children’s Services and Gulamar.

She has also fostered more than 50 children, some until adulthood, in a home where “her door never closes”. 

“My mother is my role model and I am the woman I am today because of her,” says her nominator and foster daughter, Sarina Kapeli, 39.

Noelene began caring for Sarina “on loan” when she was just two weeks old, ensuring Sarina knew about her birth mother and family through stories and a journey to North Queensland to meet them.

“She always made sure that I knew where I came from,” says Sarina. “This was very important because she didn't want me to lose my connection with my family. By doing this, she gave me knowledge of my identity – of who I am and where I belong.”

Noelene says becoming the Barnardos Mother of the Year is a real honour, “To be named the Barnardos Mother of the Year for NSW was just beautiful. I never thought I would go on to be named the national Barnardos Mother of the Year 2018. After spending the week with the other mums from all over Australia, I believe we are all deserving of the national award. We all do what we can to ensure the children are safe, loved and happy.”

David Levy from Barnardos Australia says, “This year, thousands of nominations were submitted across the country, celebrating the incredible role mothers play in guiding, nurturing and protecting children. Noelene’s dedication, commitment and genuine love for all children, especially those in need is incredibly moving, and showcases the same philosophy we pride ourselves on here at Barnardos.

Tom Daunt, CEO of ALDI Australia presented Noelene with the award at the national ceremony today, and says “It has been a privilege to meet all the inspirational mums nominated for the Barnardos Mother of the Year 2018 awards. Sincere congratulations to this year’s winner, Noelene Lever, and from all of us at ALDI, thank you to Barnardos for celebrating the incredible work of mums and the positive difference they make in the lives of their children.” 

In April, Barnardos toured around the country announcing and celebrating the most inspiring mothers in each state, who all travelled to Sydney this week for the national ceremony. A special mention to the other state winners of the Barnardos Mother of the Year Awards.

The final word must go to Sarina Kapeli, who says about her mum Noelene “I love her so much and I am thankful for how she has raised me.”