Introducing New South Wales’ Most Inspirational Mum
Barnardos Mother of the Year NSW 2018 Announced
Barnardos Australia is pleased to announce Noelene Lever from Forster, New South Wales, has been named Barnardos Mother of the Year NSW 2018.
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 the nomination came as a complete surprise, “I don’t think anyone really thinks about their own achievements or what we do to help others. We just do it, because we see others in need. There is no way I could let a child go without. Our children are our future, and I’m just doing my bit to make sure our future has a strong foundation to succeed.”
David Levy from Barnardos Australia says, “Barnardos believes all children and young people deserve caring families in which they can grow safely and fulfil their potential. For 23 years, the Barnardos Mother of the Year awards have recognised amazing mothers in our community who have shown incredible dedication to their children against all the odds. We have been blown away by the inspiring stories we received this year and we would like to thank everyone who nominated a special mum.
For us, it is incredibly moving to see how Noelene shares the same philosophy as we do, her soul focus being on the safety and wellbeing of her children. We look forward to celebrating her commitment to nurturing our future generation at our national event in May.”
The final word must go to Sarina Kapeli, who says “I love her so much and I am thankful for how she has raised me.”
Noelene now progresses to the National Ceremony held in Sydney in May where she will join the other state and territory winners for the announcement of the Barnardos Mother of the Year 2018. It has been four years since a mother from New South Wales has taken home the national award.