Hadeel Abdelhameed

In her own words

Throughout my life I have witnessed immense trauma from the Iraq-Iran War, Gulf War, economic sanction, the US and coalition invasion and ethnic violence. My father was imprisoned in Iran for 20 years during the Iraq-Iran war, during which time my mother dedicated her existence to raising my older sister, Aseel, and me. My mother promised to wait for my father, and it was her strength that not only kept me safe, but further inspired me.

My mother’s death in 2006 saw me spiral into a deep despair for almost 18 months. However, memories of her resilience allowed me to realise that she would wish for me to continue with my life rather than my misery.

In 2010, I finished my Masters in Contemporary American Drama on the topic of theatrical representations of American women under difficult times of social instability. I was the first postgraduate student to obtain a high distinction in the public discussion of my thesis. During this time, I worked in multiple Iraqi universities as a casual academic staff member. My application for migration to Australia was then approved for August 2011.

After arriving in Australia my three children struggled with English. Whilst my excitement was undeniable, I was unsure of how to help them transition into Australian society and its educational system. So, I applied for a postgraduate diploma of education at RMIT, which helped me to support them and answer their questions as they struggled with the transition into a new life.

I worked at RMIT in education for three years, as well as at the School of Creative Arts for one year. While these positions added to my experience, I believe that refugees and migrants from war-torn countries have a considerable amount of experience, qualifications and skills that can be utilised in Australia.

I yearned to undertake further studies but Australia’s post-graduate system differs greatly from that in Iraq. For two years I applied to multiple universities across Victoria, to no avail. In 2014, I registered for La Trobe University’s open day activities and was connected with the Head of the Theatre and Drama program, Professor Peta Tait.

Professor Tait’s trust in and support for my topic allowed me to be granted a full scholarship, as well as a place for PhD candidature in Theatre and Drama. I began research on the concept of war in Australia, and how Australian women are related to conflict practices and concepts. I tried to decode the gender-war connection and investigate the theatrical representation of this relation. The topic of my thesis examines the theatrical representations of women in Iraqi and Australian drama of war.