Introducing Islamic Relief Australia’s first female Chairperson: Dr Nora Amath

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Islamic Relief Australia has appointed Dr Nora Amath as its new Chairperson. Dr Amath is an academic and a humanitarian who has dedicated her career and much of her personal time to human rights advocacy and community work. She will be Islamic Relief Australia’s first female Chairperson and is a member of numerous other charity and government advisory boards.

Over the years, Dr Amath has served as a consultant and cross-cultural trainer for various Australian government agencies and organisations on issues related to Islam, Muslims, multiculturalism, diversity and community development. In 2006, she received the prestigious award of Australian Muslim Woman of the Year; and in 2013, received an Australia Day Community Award. In 2017, she was a finalist in the Australian of the Year Awards. Dr Amath is seen as a role model to many young Muslim women in the community.

Dr Amath knows all too well the plight of refugees; she was born in Vietnam and is part of the persecuted Cham Muslim minority group native to the country. After being forced to flee their home after the Vietnam War, at the age of three, Dr Amath and her parents trekked through the jungles of Cambodia and arrived in Thailand where they were processed as refugees. By the time she was five years old, she had already lived in five different countries. It wasn’t until Dr Amath’s family was granted political asylum in the US that they would be able to settle down and find stability. After completing her secondary education in the US, Dr Amath decided to move to Malaysia to pursue Islamic studies at the Islamic University of Malaysia. It was there that she would meet her husband, a fourth generation Australian, and move to Australia shortly after. They have three children, aged 21, 20 and 17.

Experiencing life as a refugee early on in life, Islamic Relief’s mission is something very close to Dr Amath’s heart.

“I know all too well the feelings of displacement, vulnerability and poverty, the sense of loss experienced by so many refugees around the world. I distinctly know what it is like when the support you are given is not a hand out but a hand up. This is why I am so passionate about my work with Islamic Relief. Guided by the values of sincerity, excellence, compassion, social justice and custodianship, at Islamic Relief we envisage a world where communities are empowered, social obligations are fulfilled and people respond as one to the suffering of others, regardless of one’s race, political affiliation, gender or religious belief.”

“It is an incredible honour to hold the highest ranking position within Islamic Relief Australia, particularly as a female in what has been traditionally a male dominated industry. However, it is important to note that the Chair of Islamic Relief Worldwide is also female so there is precedent within the Islamic Relief family. What this indicates is that there is full support and strong encouragement for women in the organisation to step into these senior roles. As a female, my leadership style is different – in how I may tackle problems and make decisions. That diversity should be embraced and celebrated as it allows for the organisation to reach its full innovative potential.”

As the new Chair of Islamic Relief Australia, Dr Amath will see in Islamic Relief Australia’s pivotal 10th year anniversary, celebrating a decade of transformational change for the world’s most vulnerable people.

“The appointment of Dr Amath as the first female Chair of Islamic Relief Australia is a significant milestone for the organisation. We’re very fortunate to have someone of Dr Amath’s calibre on our Board and leading the charity’s strategic direction over the coming years.  I’m looking forward to working closely with Dr Amath and I have no doubt that she will provide all the support and leadership needed to grow Islamic Relief Australia into one of Australia’s leading charities,” said Walid Ali, Islamic Relief Australia CEO.