Blacktown Hospital maternity liaison officer wins 2022 NSW Humanitarian Award

Known for her dedication and compassion in helping people from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds, Nawal Nadar has provided support to these women during their pregnancy and birth for more than 14 years.

In recognition of her ongoing contributions to promoting culturally sensitive care, education, information and support to women and their families who attend Blacktown Hospital Women’s Health Clinic, Nawal has won the 2022 NSW Humanitarian Award ‘Government’ category.

“I’m honoured to be recognised and receive this award and on behalf of my team and support from my managers at Blacktown Hospital,” Nawal said.

The NSW Humanitarian Awards are held in June each year as part of National Refugee Week and is an opportunity to acknowledge and thank those who have made an exceptional positive contribution towards refugee issues in the state of NSW.

Nawal understands what these women are going through because she has experienced it herself first-hand.

War led Nawal to flee her home country of Lebanon and move to Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and finally to Australia.

I speak with women about my journey while encouraging them and giving them hope when they are lacking confidence,” Nawal said.

Nawal’s own experience and struggles inspires her to talk about her journey with refugee women including when she started her Western Sydney University bachelor’s degree in Interpreting and Translation as a mature 40-year-old mother of four, who then commenced her career working at Blacktown Hospital.

“Pregnancy is a special time for all women, however women from refugee backgrounds are often psychologically impacted by conflict-related trauma and may experience social and economic challenges,” she explained.

“Many women have a lack of understanding of navigating the health system, a lack of trust in hospital staff, don’t speak English, feel socially isolated, fearful and have higher risk for mental health problems.

“I’m delighted to be part of a team that provides support and care for these women.”

Nawal is part of a midwifery team that provides a culturally specific pregnancy care service to help women from refugee backgrounds to confidentially engage with the health system.

She was also instrumental in the establishment of the fortnightly Sudanese Arabic Pregnancy Care Clinic at Blacktown Hospital which started in 2010 and ceased in 2020 (due to COVID-19), helping hundreds of refugee background women throughout their pregnancies.

Nawal is currently a research assistant in the Women Aware Together with their Children (WATCH) study led by UNSW Psychiatry Professor Susan Rees which looks at the key factors which impact the mental health of women from refugee backgrounds in Australia.

“Congratulations Nawal for this well-deserved acknowledgement and recognition for all the hard work you do in helping our diverse communities,” said acting Blacktown Mt Druitt Hospital general manager Brad Ceely.

Nawa will attend a formal ceremony early July to receive her award.