Refugee Champion Award
Sabihe McDonald did not leave Iran as a refugee, but her family and she are Baha’i Iranians. Sabihe became an accredited Persian/Farsi speaking interpreter in Australia in 1973. Since then she has worked tirelessly to support Iranian, Afghani and Kurdish refugees and migrants to settle and begin their new lives in Melbourne. She went above and beyond her call of duty as an interpreter and was seen as a mother, chaperone, social worker and an ongoing support and friend by hundreds of Persian-speaking refugees settling in Australia.
Sabihe helped set up the Iranian Australian Committee with the aim of welcoming and supporting newly arrived refugees from Persian-speaking backgrounds. Help consisted of material aid, food, childcare and general support. Today at the age of 73, Sabihe is beginning to struggle with her own mobility. She still works at the RCH and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. At the end of the day she is exhausted. But satisfied because she would rather be out helping people she knows are in desperate need than sitting at home. Sabihe does all of this with little fanfare and no accolades. Nor does she want any. Forty-three years of service to the community is a large milestone and she is the epitome of selflessness.