“Provide an opportunity for everyone”
Sabeeha Nihad arrived as a migrant to Australia in 1998 and her experience has shaped her commitment and approach to her work, embracing her responsibility to support migrants and others facing vulnerability due to their circumstances. She tries to provide an opportunity for everyone. As a result, Migration Support programs in Australia’s Northern Territory has extensive community support, working with over 200 active volunteers from local communities.
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Sabeeha is a dynamic and determined individual with over 15 years of managerial level experience in large organisations across several industries including community services. She joined the Migrant Support Team in Australian Red Cross in March 2019.  Working out of Darwin, Northern Territory (NT) she quickly made her mark both in the NT migrant community and within the Red Cross Movement. Sabeeha approached her role with energy and focus. She made it her mission to connect with and understand the different migrant and First Nation communities in the NT and worked with her team to successfully identify gaps in the service provided and to access funding for these groups. 

“Sabeeha is one of the most motivated, inspirational people that I have met. If you want anything done ask Sabeeha”

– Bill Daw, Acting Director Northern Territory, Australia

With a background in corporate marketing, communications and sales, she has been unafraid to set high standards and challenging targets for herself and her team. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic Sabeeha quickly realised that her team did not have the capacity to meet the emerging demands of a migrant community shattered by business closures, lack of paid work opportunities and limited or no access to Australia’s social security system.  She therefore started to collaborate with external stakeholders to advocate for funding. Sabeeha successfully secured 1 million dollars and brought together a group of diverse migrants with different skillsets as volunteers. Her commitment and determination shaped the group into a functional administration team that assessed and made grants to individuals in need of financial assistance for food, accommodation, and other necessities. At the height of the pandemic Sabeeha’s team of eighteen members, together with other Red Cross staff, worked in shifts across 16 hour days, 7 days per week, to ensure that payments were made to stranded and isolated migrants and international students who were in desperate need of assistance.

Sabeeha has also made a real difference in the NT community with her women empowerment project ‘Connected Women’. ‘Connected Women’ is a flagship program within the Australian Red Cross Movement designed to increase the capacity, abilities, and confidence of women in the region, particularly women from migrant and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Under her leadership, the Connected Women Group has grown to 400 members from over 45 nationalities - each of them a champion of resilience, seeking to build a purposeful life for herself and her family. The goal of the program is to build and strengthen social connections through developing skills, knowledge, language ability and confidence to contribute and lead in their own communities. Since coming together, these women have been engaged in various community initiatives. They have organized fashion shows showcasing recycled and up-cycled clothing which have become the stuff of legend in the Northern Territory. They have also facilitated food exhibitions, social enterprises, and other activities. All this is a testament to Sabeeha’s commitment to community development in the NT and nationwide.

Sabeeha has been a tireless advocate for the place-based approach. Acknowledging the interconnectedness of different issues holding poverty and powerlessness in place, she has worked with her colleagues in the Red Cross and partner organisations to integrate migration issues into a holistic and localised approach. As a result, migrant business has become everybody’s business.

“What they need is one chance and bit of encouragement. Wonders will follow.”

– Sabeeha Nihad, Australia

Sabeeha demonstrates integrity and a strong commitment to building meaningful relationships. She listens to the community needs with patience and empathy. Together with her colleagues and the broader not-for-profit sector she facilitates solutions and influences internal and external stakeholders to mobilise resources and support. Most importantly, she brings energy, dedication, strategic thinking, attention of detail, business acumen and passion to the mix, ensuring the best outcomes for the communities and people she works with.

As a testament to her work Sabeeha received the Australian Red Cross Distinguished Staff Award and Distinguished Team Award in 2020 as well as Best Volunteer Manager in 2019.

Sabeeha Nihad

Australia, 2019

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7 young women for every 10 young men complete upper secondary school in low-income countries. If we want more future female leaders, we need to close the gender gap in education.

– UN Women

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