Born in Melbourne to Jewish-Iraqi parents, Nita took many years to find her place in Australian culture 

'When I was at home, I was a little Iraqi. When I walked out the door, I was an Aussie.’

How did she eventually fit into her own shoes?

‘It was the goodness of others that taught me to value people for who they are, regardless of race, religion or birthplace. When you open yourself to the goodness of others, the world is a wonderful place.’

Nita is creative. She likes to make up stories, to write, paint, sew, cook, garden, and to sing with her ukelele. She wrote a cook book, The Perpetual Table, as a tribute to the women in her family.

‘My mother, maternal aunt and grandmother were amazing cooks and all – round makers of things, from clothes to jewellery to tapestries and paintings. And my paternal aunt and grandmother were strong, intelligent, and insightful women who gave tirelessly to their community. I wanted to give them a voice.’

Nita has worked variously as a high school teacher, journalist, artist and university lecturer. For a year she worked on community radio, instituting The Dickensian Challenge, where she took it upon herself to write a story a week for her listeners.

But her main priority, she says, has always been her children. One child needed extra care, and at 40, still does. Nita’s creativity continues to sustain her. ‘It is always beauty that sustains me, the beauty of the natural world and the beauty I find in the goodness of others.’

Nita volunteers as a guide at the National Gallery of Victoria and as a reader for Vision Australia radio. Whether it be through her art, her writing or her community work, Nita is all about making the world a better place.

‘I need to create and I need to give. Both are acts of gratitude, praise and love.’