Welcome to the latest edition of SydWest Multicultural Services' Community Connections newsletter ....we hope you enjoy the reading.
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No 1, 2020 Edition

Welcome to the latest edition of SydWest's Community Connections for 2020, our regular newsletter that brings you our news and events and more.

CEO Message

A system failing its citizens
Most of us wished for a healthy and prosperous year for humankind when the clocks struck twelve and 2020 stepped into our lives. But very quickly the news cycle became swept up in crisis after crisis – from bushfires around Australia and earthquakes in Indonesia, to geopolitical conflicts and now the global outbreak of a deadly pathogen.

Many lives have been lost or otherwise shattered as a result of each of these crises, each as catastrophic as the other to those impacted. And while each of these issues requires the urgent attention of governments and NGOs, there are issues much closer to home that when left unattended can be equally catastrophic to individuals and communities. The government is making decisions on these which are going unnoticed. 

More than one in five Australians are suffering from mental or behavioural conditions, a number that has increased by almost 15% since 2014-15. Meanwhile suicides have increased by more than 30% since 2009. People with disabilities are dying before being able to access an NDIS package and seniors are passing away having struggled to find tricks to prioritise themselves in the national waiting list, in order to receive a service at home. 

We have now gone well past the NDIS transition stage and have become observers of a system that is failing its citizens; a system that had already proven it cannot meet needs. It appears we are now heading in a similar direction with regards to aged care – who would have thought that this could be a choice for this government?

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has exposed so many horrible stories, one would think we would learn from past mistakes and plan better for the future, but once again we are failing to do so. In the name of politics, commercial decisions and future pre-election promises we are planning a system that will again fail its most vulnerable.  

Yet, most of us are unaware. The government is looking at aged care through the single lens of a commercial transaction and will likely result in the privatisation of the assessment process; it will then move into aged care investment streams and a system that will expect us to fund our own retirement. These decisions are being made almost unilaterally, without bipartisan support and with limited input from practitioners after the government circulated the consultation paper in December, just before the Christmas break. 

The community sector welcomes the initial recommendations regarding the use of restraints in residential facilities, stopping the flow of young people with disabilities into inappropriate facilities, and the reduction of waiting times when accessing a home care package. It also welcomes a more streamlined assessment process that will see the integration of the ACAT and RAS teams, but not a privatised one. 

We welcome a system in which the government still holds responsibility and is itself accountable to its citizens. Any proposals for changes to the aged care system must allow ample time for providers to have input and collectively design a fair and humane model for all. A model that takes into consideration groups in need who are without superannuation and investment funds. 

Let’s not repeat past mistakes and let’s not have reform merely for the sake of it. It’s about time we stop experimenting with people’s lives.

Elfa Moraitakis


Donation from Commonwealth Bank Blacktown

SydWest would like to thank our patrons at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Blacktown branch for their generous donation just in time for Christmas. 

Donations mean the world to non-profit organisations like ours, as they help us deliver critical services to clients in need. The holidays can be a stressful period for our most vulnerable people, so this timely support ensures we have the resources available when they are most needed.

Thank you to Amira Mujkanovic, Branch Manager at CBA Blacktown, who organised this donation – as well as a special ceremonial cheque. We look forward to growing our partnership, and continuing to drive our local community forward.

If you are interested in supporting SydWest, please visit

Blacktown Employment Accelerator Success!

The 2019 Blacktown Employment Accelerator brought together 18 employers and close to 90 job-seekers, aiming to improve economic outcomes for job seekers from refugee and migrant backgrounds as well as people with a disability in our local area.

Held at Blacktown TAFE and resulting in 60 registrations for job interviews and training opportunities, the event brings to a close the Employment Pathways Project that commenced in July 2019.

Now in its fourth year, the Employment Pathways Project has helped SydWest clients secure employment or pathways to employment, and has helped our 50 corporate partners better understand the unique challenges facing job seekers from refugee and migrant backgrounds and those with a disability.

For more information on the 2020 Employment Pathways Project, please contact Saurav Shrestha on 02 9621 6633 or

International Day of People With Disability

On Tuesday 3 December, Blacktown City Council hosted a Talent Showcase & Disability Awards Event at the Blacktown RSL, in celebration of the International Day of People With Disability (IDPwD).

IDPwD is a UN-sanctioned that is celebrated internationally, and aims to foster greater inclusion of people with disability in every respect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

Agha Talha Salman, a SydWest client since arriving to Australia on a Refugee Humanitarian Visa from Pakistan in April last year, stole the show with his moving Urdu poetry. While this was the first time he had performed in front of such a large crowd, he was quite the natural on stage. We wouldn’t have known he was nervous if he didn’t tell us!

A passionate writer, Agha planned to study a Bachelor of Arts at university in Pakistan, however his dream was never fulfilled as he and his family had to flee the country due to insecurity.

Since arriving in Australia just over nine months ago, Agha has been enrolled in an Adult Migrant English Program, which he aims to complete in October 2022. Upon completion, Agha aims to further his studies in writing and interpretation with the aim of one day owning a media business.

Still a passionate writer, Agha said that having the opportunity to perform and share his work with others has helped him feel welcome, socialised and confident. 

He is currently registered to receive the Disability Employment Support at SydWest Multicultural Services. 

Settlement Client Success Story - Maher Gurgees

When Maher arrived from Iraq in 2016 on a Global Special Humanitarian Visa, he quickly got to work on developing his skills and improving his outlook.

With the assistance of the SydWest Settlement Services team, Maher enrolled in TAFE – first to study English, then to study Logistics & Warehousing. We were able to help Maher secure a placement at IKEA, who noticed his hard work and decided to retain him in a paid role in August last year.

Initially on a 20hr per week contract, Maher impressed management at IKEA so much that they’ve now put him on a full-time contract and broadened his remit to continue developing his professional skills. 

Maher currently also volunteers with SydWest, supporting with the Men’s Social Group and Senior Support Group, both in Mt Druitt.

Australia accepted 16,250 refugees in 2017, representing 0.02% of displaced persons around the world. A 2019 study by Deloitte Access Economics found that if Australia were to increase its intake to 44,000 refugees over a five-year period, it would lay the groundwork to add 35,000 full-time jobs to the economy for the next 50 years – representing a $37.7b increase in economic output.

Upcoming Events

Seniors Week 2020 Bowling
Tuesday 3rd March, Rooty Hill 
For further information, contact

International Women’s Day in Blacktown 2020
Friday 6th March
Contact for more information

Harmony Day 2020 Penrith
Thursday 26 March 2020 
contact for more information
Don’t forget to check our Activities Calendar for details of all the various Groups and special events that SydWest is holding in 2020 at

Iranian Seniors Group enjoys Art Therapy

As part of their weekly social support group meeting, the Iranian Seniors enjoyed a special session of Art Therapy with a focus on using crayon to create beautiful artworks.

These sessions have a therapeutic benefit for our clients and help to improve the quality of life of our seniors. Each senior was able to create their own work of art, while sharing the stories and memories that were special to them.

The Iranian Seniors meet weekly at SydWest in Blacktown on Thursdays weekly, from 1.30-4.30pm. 

For more information on SydWest's Aged Care services, including our Social Support Groups, please contact us on Tel: (02) 9621 6633 or

Aged Care Story: Mrs Elizabeth Khoury 

As Mrs Khoury’s story is just one of many that shows how hard our staff work to ensure our clients get the quality care they need to continue to live at home and age with dignity. 

Now 79 years old, Mrs Khoury has been battling with multiple sclerosis (MS) for many years. While her family do their best to help her in every way they can, caring for a senior with MS requires round-the-clock assistance – from assistance with breakfast and personal care in the mornings, through to dinner and helping her into bed in the evenings.

Our dedicated case managers and care workers have helped Mrs Khoury hire the necessary equipment for her home – including wheelchair, lifter and railings for toilet transfer – because the support she receives from Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHCP) personal care was not sufficient enough to purchase the equipment.

While Mrs Khoury’s family members are incredibly appreciative of the assistance our care workers have given her, they have had to look for ways to have family members at home more frequently in order to save more of the CHCP funds to go towards equipment.'

The family is now incredibly stretched, but are working very closely with SydWest and making every effort to ensure Mrs Khoury can continue to live and receive care in the family home, surrounded by loved ones. 

Congratulations to our SydWest Youth who are the 2019 SydWest Youth Futsal winners for yet another year!

Congratulations to M-Series Sponsored team SydWest FC who won the Mountain Majik Futsal Club Men’s Senior Futsal Tournament at the Whitlam Centre, Liverpool.

Well done to Bronwyn and the team. By winning the Grand Final SydWest automatically qualify for the Indoor5s-M-Series Futsal Champions League to commence on Sun 19 Jan 2020 at Perry Park, Alexandria.

Youth Transition Support Program to start School-to-Work program February

We are now offering job ready workshops as a part of the Youth Transition Support Program. This program targets newly settled youth, with migrant or refugee backgrounds, who are aged 14 – 25 years old.

The 10-week program starting 4th February at our Mt Druitt office will help boost confidence, skills and knowledge also provide the tools to sustain employment and establish a career plan. 

The program will cover a range of topics to help our youth become job ready:
  • Goal Setting – Career goal
  • Australian Work Culture
  • Resume writing
  • Cover letter
  • Job Application
  • Interviews - role plays
  • Job Referrals
  • Vocational Course Taster
  • Job Referrals
  • Vocational Course Taster
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT: Youth Transition Support Team on: Phone: 9621 6633 (Blacktown) OR 9625 0455 (Mt Druitt)

SydWest Youth Recognised @ Community MRC's YTSP Gala Awards Event in Granville

Three young stars from the SydWest Youth Program were nominated for Awards at this year’s event and we are pleased to congratulate Raneen Shamon, winner of the Creative Arts Award.

Raneen won this category against 11 other young people. Raneen also won the Blacktown DrawIT competition earlier in 2019 and her work was on show at Blacktown Library during April.

Credit to Heritier Penekatamba for his Sports nomination and Shahida Haydari for her Community Service & Leadership nomination.

L-R: Shahida, Heritier and Raneen

Australia’s Bushfire Crisis

The ongoing bushfire emergency has had a catastrophic impact on the lives of many of our fellow Australians, not to mention the immense pressure it has placed on millions of unique plant and animal species.

One silver lining in this time of crisis is the remarkable strength and courage we have seen from both those whose lives have been shattered and our brave emergency services crews. Communities and volunteers have come together to offer anything they can to those most in need.

The SydWest Blacktown Chinese Seniors Group and Women’s Senior Social Support Group have come together and donated $1,200 to the Salvation Army to help those in need during this natural disaster.

SydWest is also supporting our staff with their efforts to volunteer, assisting in community initiatives, donating non-perishable items and assisting in with the preparation of support vehicles from drop off points.

SydWest is also supporting our staff with their efforts to volunteer, assisting in community initiatives, donating non-perishable items and assisting in with the preparation of support vehicles from drop off points. Staff were encouraged to take a half-day of paid volunteering leave should they wish to directly support any volunteering initiatives.

SydWest’s Annual Report 2019 Now Available

SydWest's 2019 Annual Report is now available online at

The Annual Report provides a great overview of the work that SydWest has been doing over the last 12 months, highlighting the diversity of our work and our clients.

 Join SydWest

SydWest Multicultural Services is an innovative Employer of Choice with a commitment to wellness and offering great staff benefits and work flexibilities.

For more information and to read about all employee benefits, visit
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Business Hours

Monday to Friday 9:00am to 4:30pm
Please feel free to send mail to

Blacktown Office

PO Box 869, Blacktown NSW 2148
Level 2,125 Main Street, Blacktown NSW 2148
Phone (02) 9621 6633
Fax (02) 9831 5625

Castle Hill Hub

The Community Hub, Castle Hill Towers Shopping Centre, 6-14 Castle Street Castle Hill
(on Old Northern Rd, near Gold Class cinemas)
Phone (02) 9621 6633

Mt Druitt Hub

Shop 3, 6-10 Mount Street, Mt Druitt NSW 2770
Phone (02) 9625 0455
Fax (02) 9625 0322

Penrith Hub

Suite 113, Community Connection Building, 114-116 Henry Street, Penrith NSW 2750
Phone (02) 9621 6633

Rouse Hill Hub

Vinegar Hill Memorial Library, 29 Main Street, Rouse Hill Town Centre, NSW 2155
Phone (02) 9621 6633
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