Barnardos Mother of the Year 2018

Congratulations to Noelene Lever our Barnardos Mother of the Year 2018
Nominated by her foster child, Sarina Kapeli, 39


Noelene Lever is a 78-year-old strong 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 the knowledge of my identity – of who I am and where I belong.

“I love her so much and I am thankful for how she has raised me,” Sarina says.

Event photos

“She always made sure that I knew where I came from... This was very important because she didn't want me to lose my connection with my family. By doing this, she gave me the knowledge of my identity – of who I am and where I belong. I love her so much and I am thankful for how she has raised me.”

Sarina, Noelene's foster daughter