A Victoria University researcher has been awarded for engaging African Australian communities through her volunteer work and research.
Community Health lecturer, Dr Mimmie Claudine Ngum Chi Watts, from the College of Health and Biomedicine received a Living Legend Award in the Celebration of African Australian National Awards 2013, July 27at Parliament House, Canberra.
"I'm so happy to receive this award and hope my research can have an impact in the communities that have been so generous in sharing their stories with me," Dr Ngum Chi Watts said.
Dr Ngum Chi Watts lives in Caroline Springs and teaches in St Albans. Her research includes a PhD thesis highlighting the many cultural, social and structural barriers that young African Australian women face in dealing with teenage pregnancy.
"The findings revealed that sexual health education and information was lacking, or when present was full of myths and misconceptions," Dr Ngum Chi Watts said.
"Other issues behind teenage pregnancy included gender inequalities, family challenges following migration, intercultural misunderstandings, financial hardship and intergenerational challenges."
But her community engagement work goes well beyond academic research and includes various roles as a mentor and support worker for women from refugee backgrounds.
"One of my most satisfying volunteer roles in the community has been working with a group of refugee women who, with the right support and advice, learnt to read and write English, got their drivers licenses and accessed study and employment," she said. "It's seeing the difference in these people's lives that makes it all worthwhile."
Celebration of African Australians Chairperson John Nze-Bertram said the event shone a light on the many African Australians like Dr Ngum Chi Watts making significant positive contributions.
"In showcasing the awards, we aim to identify role models who will serve as mentors to young African Australians, inspire and motivate African community members to utilise the vast opportunities available to them and promote Australia as a multicultural society where all ethnic groups have a 'fair go' for opportunities and positions," he said.
Dr Ngum Chi Watts' PhD research which was completed at La Trobe University supervised by Professor Pranee Liamputtong and Dr Celia McMichael (La Trobe University) and by Victoria University's Dr Charles Mphande.
Michael Quin, Research writer
Public Affairs Department, Victoria University
(03) 9919 9491; 0431 815 409; [email protected]