60 seconds with Dr Nadia Chaves

Refugee Adult Health Fellow and classical music lover

What are you enjoying doing at the moment?
I am enjoying looking at all the Spring blossoms

Best part of my job?
Getting to meet all the passionate people who work in the refugee and asylum seeker health sector, and getting to meet the wonderful clients too.

Biggest challenge as a woman from an immigrant background
I am lucky that I don’t believe I have been discriminated against because of my background in my profession. However, as a working mother I always feel pressure (be it from my colleagues at work or at home)– to do more work or to spend more time with the kids – and balancing that is my biggest challenge!

What’s the best thing about being a woman from an immigrant/refugee background?
I actually love the fact that my name is Nadia – it is a name in so many languages around the world from Spain through to Eastern Europe, the middle east, North Africa, Russia and India – I feel that when people meet me sometimes they simply feel they can connect with me because of my name! And then I tell them I have been in Australia for 35 years they feel reassured because I love my work and family and I’m so settled in – I am Australian– and they know that they have a chance at doing that too.

An amazing woman I know is my mother. She (with my father) travelled the world with young children to four continents. She taught me about the wonder which is to be found everywhere. When I arrived in Australia in 1980 and went to school the kids called me an Abo. I asked her what that was. She replied that is an Aboriginal person, and although you are Indian if they think you are Aboriginal it is a great honour, because the Aboriginal people were the first people in Australia, they are the owners of this land and they have one of the oldest living cultures on earth.

Songs that inspire me:
I love Beethoven’s Appassionata Sonata no 23 in F Minor – one of the most beautiful pieces of music I’ve ever heard. I listened to this when I was in labour with my son and I will never forget that moment. I have another song with a similar memory for my daughter, Gurrumul’s Wiyathul.

If I could convince the world of one thing
It would be from the Depeche Mode song!
“People are people!”