Welcome to the Autumn 2019 edition of SydWest Multicultural Services' Community Connections newsletter....we hope you enjoy the reading.
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Autumn 2019 Edition

Welcome to the Autumn 2019 edition of SydWest's Community Connections, our quarterly newsletter that brings you our news and events and more.

CEO Message

In May, Blacktown City Council graciously welcomed the Australian Local Government Women’s Association (ALGWA) as it convened for the 2019 National Conference at West HQ.
I was honoured to speak and exchange ideas and ways to deal with gender challenges with such inspirational women as Jessica Rowe AM, celebrated journalist and mental health champion, and Deborah Thomas, director of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency in ‘Celebrating 100 Years of Women’. The conference theme focused on highlighting just how much women in local government have achieved over the past century.
Kate Jenkins, Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner, gave a particularly inspirational presentation on the history of sex discrimination, highlighting just how far we have come as a society and our very own Glennys James the first woman to become a member of Blacktown City’s executive in the 90s, highlighted just that, with her very personal success story.
Yet despite this progress, one in six Australian women have experienced violence by an intimate partner, while only seven per cent of Australian CEOs are women.
Gender inequality is still a major issue in the workplace and in broader Australian society. Despite our progress, we still have a ways to go until genuine equality is achieved.
The effects of inequality are compounded for women from refugee and migrant background.
Language barriers are particularly stifling, limiting not only employment opportunities but also access to essential services like police, medical care and childcare.  For many women, this lack of access forces them to remain in unhappy or abusive relationships, further perpetuating inequality between the sexes.
In instances where language is not a problem, skilled women settling in Australia still encounter difficulty because their qualifications are not recognised. This leads to underemployment and under-representation in senior positions, again, perpetuating inequality.
As a modern country built on the contributions of migrants, Australia must do a better job understanding the gaps in service delivery and the needs of women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, to ensure social harmony.  Culturally appropriate support must be reflected in policy, not just lip service.
While we lobby on issues ranging from domestic violence to representation on boards and in different levels of government, let us not forget the plight of women from diverse backgrounds. Whether by creating more opportunities to work or access vital services, or simply through discussion with our circles of influence, we can each take a proactive approach in ensuring women of all backgrounds are considered equals.


Upcoming Events

Refugee Week 2019 - 20 June, Mt Druitt
Each year, SydWest and partners celebrate the achievements & contributions that refugees make to our local communities. For further information, contact

University Taster Day - 16 July, Parramatta
A youth excursion to WSU to explore pathways to university & courses on offer. For further information, contact
Don’t forget to check our Activities Calendar for details of all the various Groups and special events that SydWest is holding in 2019 at

Volunteering makes a difference - celebrating volunteers contributions

As part of National Volunteer Week 2019, SydWest Multicultural Services hosted a special event celebrating the critical contributions of our dedicated volunteers.
Our CEO and Board, were thrilled to have been joined by the Hon. John Sidoti, our new NSW Minister for Multiculturalism, Sports, Seniors and Veterans in honouring our volunteers with an intimate awards ceremony.
For non-profits and community organisations, volunteers bring much more to the table than just an extra pair of hands.
In an organisation like ours, volunteers play a vital role in helping migrants and people from diverse backgrounds integrate by teaching them English and other skills. But perhaps more importantly, the real human relationships built during these interactions help migrants feel welcomed as part of a community.
Thank you to all our wonderful volunteers and to everyone who made our Volunteers Recognition event a success. 

SydWest meets new Governor of NSW
at State Lunch

SydWest Multicultural Services CEO, Elfa Moraitakis, and Chair, Bob Fitzgerald were invited at the Swearing-In Ceremony of the 39th Governor of New South Wales, Her Excellency the Hon. Margaret Beazley AO QC, at the request of the Hon. Gladys Berejiklian MP Premier of New South Wales.
Our Chair, R. Fitzgerald had Her Excellency’s attention at the State Lunch following the ceremony, held at the Sydney Opera House, as he detailed SydWest’s mission and highlighted the contributions of staff and volunteers. The Governor was encouraged to hear of our positive impact on integrating multicultural communities, taking particular interest in refugee support and our youth activities.
We look forward to hosting Her Excellency in the near future. 

Harmony Day 2019 Blacktown success!

SydWest Multicultural Services, together with partners including Blacktown City Council and MECA, celebrated Harmony Day 2019 early this year, with a special event at Bowman Hall, Blacktown.

The diverse community came together to celebrate Everyone Belongs with cultural performances, information stalls, children's activities and entertainment and a community BBQ.

To find out more, contact SydWest Multicultural Services on Tel: (02) 9621 6633 or

International Women’s Day 2019 Blacktown Celebrates Every Woman

SydWest Multicultural Services  held a very special event to celebrate International Women’s Day 2019 at the Max Webber Library in Blacktown. More than 80 women joined in the event, which included inspirational guest speakers, cultural performances, self-reflective activities and a buffet lunch. 

SydWest’s Glenwood Women’s Group, who have recently started their own dance troupe, performed on the day (see pic above). SydWest Youth clients also joined in (see pic below), volunteering for the day and helping out the Women & Families team to successfully deliver the event. 

For more information on our Women & Families programs, contact SydWest on Tel: (02) 9621 6633 or email:


Sarah's Cupcaake Creations - a Women Taking Care of Business success story

Sarah Osei has a passion for creating and baking. After finishing a baking course in late 2016, she turned her passion into a small business – Sarah’s Cupcaake Creations.

Sarah joined one of the SydWest Women Taking Care of Business programs, which aims to develop the small business skills required of an entrepreneur such as Sarah. The training covered business planning, marketing, financials/budgeting, market-testing and much more. All of our participants learned vital skills to help them succeed in business.... read more...

Information, Linkages & Capacity Building (ILC)

The Community Connection Coordination team (CCC) has started delivering community information sessions under the ILC program.

ILC  is part of the NDIS and provides information, linkages and referrals to connect people with disabilities, their families and carers, with broader systems of support. At SydWest, we organise and coordinate activities in the community for people with disabilities to increase their quality of lives.

On 2nd April 2019, more than fifty (50) people participated in the Healthy Eating session. Guest speaker Joshua Preston from Hit100 provided valuable information to the participants about how to prepare and consume healthy food.

The 10th April session focused on Interview Skills and featured the SydWest DES coordinator, James Lukere.
Feedback on these ILC Information Sessions has been very positive and our clients have indicated that they would like more capacity building sessions like those already held.

To speak with one of our ILC Community Connection Coordinators, please contact us on Tel: (02) 9621 6633 or (02) 9625 0455 or email

Healthy Eating ILC Session 

Blacktown, Australia Sharing a New Story 

In early May 2019, SydWest Multicultural Services in partnership with Initiatives of Change held Australians Sharing a New Story - an inaugural 3-day community storytelling festival program for Blacktown and its residents.

From its traditional owners and custodians, the Dharug, to the most recently arrived refugees, everyone had a chance to listen, learn and share. Held in venues across Blacktown, the event featured a host of high-profile locals, stimulating learning and educational sessions and culminated in a storytelling sharing experience on the Sunday in Bowman Hall.

Australians Sharing a New Story was an innovative project for Blacktown, bringing stakeholders and locals together to listen, learn and share - together writing a new story for Blacktown.

SydWest Multicultural Services would like to thank all the hard-working volunteers, the guest speakers and all the participants for the success of the event. We hope this will be the first of many community conversations opportunities into the future. 

Seniors Week celebrated with Multicultural Bowling & Dance

Social participation is recognised as a key factor for successful ageing. There is a global consensus among the scientific community that social participation is vital not only in helping older adults maintain social relations, but that it also positively impacts their physical and mental health.
The NSW Seniors Festival, held in February, is a government initiative aimed at increasing social participation amongst seniors and encouraging older adults to get out in the community and meet new people while sharing new experiences.
SydWest did not receive any government funding for the festival, but did host our own ‘Seniors’ Week’ event to celebrate the importance of seniors in our community. Our annual ‘Bowl N Dance’ event was attended by 200 seniors, clients and community members for a fun night out at Blacktown’s Zone Bowling Centre.
While the bowlers with the highest scores received trophies, we think everybody who came was a winner.
For further information on our program, contact the Aged Care team on or Tel 9621 6633 and speak to Vithya.

Bowling Winners

Aged Care Clients Share their Story: Raj & Satya Singh 

While ‘Bowl N Dance’ was a roaring success, social engagement for seniors must be encouraged throughout the year. SydWest operates culture and language-specific social support groups for seniors that help break social isolation through regular social outings, information sessions and group sharing.
Raj and Satya Singh are regular members of the Blacktown Indian-Fijian Seniors’ Social Group, as well as recipients of our Home Care Package, which supports seniors to live independently in their own homes for as long as possible.
“My husband and I joined the Seniors’ Social Support group 2 years ago because we wanted to socialise with people outside our immediate family. The Indian-Fijian Senior’s Social Group gives us the opportunity to meet a wider group of people, who we could still communicate with easily.
“We have an excursion or event nearly every month to look forward to, but with nearly 25 people in our social group we have made lots of friends who we like to spend time with outside the group as well.
“Another thing that has helped us are the information sessions. These have helped us understand what kind of support we have access to, in our own language.
“Through the social group, we learned we were eligible for the Home Care Package, which provides some assistance to us in our own homes, so we can stay independent and avoid a nursing home.
“Vithya, our group coordinator, has done an excellent job making sure we always have information when we need it or a fun event to look forward to. It’s really helpful to have someone be able to communicate with you in your language.”
Raj & Satya Singh

Multilingual Disability Hub - new service to access information in language

Settlement Services International’s (SSI) FutureAbility Project has launched the National Multilingual Disability Hub, a multilingual hotline and website that provide easily accessible information on disability and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in 14 languages.

Access to in-language information enables people from CALD backgrounds living with disabilities to become active players in the disability space and empowers them to live the life they choose. The phone line and website are available in Arabic, Assyrian, Bangla, Cantonese, Farsi, Greek, Italian, Macedonian, Mandarin, Nepali, Spanish Tamil, Urdu and Vietnamese.

SydWest Multicultural Services is pleased to support SSI's Multilingual Disability Hub - for all your NDIS needs, please contact SydWest Multicultural Services NDIS Team on Tel: (02) 9621 6633 or email:

Disability Employment Services

Building skills for employees

James Lukere, our senior Disability Employment Services (DES) Coordinator, has been working with our NDIS team to deliver bi-monthly job-readiness training.
During these sessions, our clients get practical information, support and hands-on practice in areas such as interview preparation, writing resumes, interview practice including how to approach interviews and the top 10 interview questions – this allows our clients to prepare for jobs (job readiness program). Each session covers a specific topic. In addition, our clients can access other supports such as one-on-one sessions, as well as group job-seeking sessions.

James is working hard with our 42+ DES clients, always accompanies them to job interviews (if required) and provides ongoing support for those who are working.

Client successes to date include:
  • sustained employment in retail security
  • successful appointment as home care worker
  • accounting level workplace trial
The DES program at SydWest started on 2nd July 2018 and is delivered in a consortium with the Settlement Services International. For further information or to register with us, please call SydWest's Disability Employment Services Coordinators on (02) 9621 6633.

 DES Client Success Story: 

Job Seeker wants to make a difference with his new job.


Bayan Shahed is originally from Iran and settled in Australia in 1988 with his wife and son. He had a Bachelor of Dental Surgery from Dhaka University Bangladesh, however, was not able to use this qualification here.

On his arrival to Australia, he completed English for Further Studies and Academic Purposes at the University of New South Wales and TAFE NSW. Bayan then undertook the Bachelor of Public Health and Nursing degrees which he did not complete due to family commitments. However, he was able to secure nursing-related work for four years, then later worked in a service station for 15 years.

Bayan then started his own business, completing a Certificate III in Business through the NEIS program for 12 months. Since then he has work in casual roles as a support worker with several reputable organisations in the care industry. He is connected with his local Baha’i community and local Church and likes to keep active.

Bayan Shahed registered with the SydWest Multicultural Services DES program in early 2019. During that time, he attended appointments daily to look for jobs with our help. Bayan was a persistent job seeker, securing four job interviews within weeks of starting the job hunt with support from SydWest Multicultural Services. 

Bayan's dedicated job-seeking efforts have now paid off for him when he got a job that he wanted: a community care worker. He said ‘I  like to help others which gives purpose to my life and my new employment will be able to just give me that’.

For further information or to register with us, please call SydWest's Disability Employment Services Coordinators on (02) 9621 6633.
Make a Difference - Donate to SydWest

In Brief

SydWest celebrates National Youth Week 2019
SydWest Multicultural Services Youth Team celebrated with lots of activities during Youth Week, including participating in the Burbs Festivals in Blacktown and Mt Druitt. Eleven Youth clients volunteered with SydWest, providing complimentary services to the public, including hair braiding, henna and hair spraying.
Youth Week 2019 Futsal Champions - again! 
SydWest entered two teams into this year's tournament and SydWest FC 2 were the champions. This makes it the third year in a row that SydWest Youth have taken out the Youth Week Futsal Tournament Cup, which is on show at our offices. Congratulations to everyone involved!
Blacktown Mums complete TripleP Training
Seventeen Blacktown mothers successfully completed the TripleP training with SydWest, learning & sharing positive parenting techniques, including where and on how to encourage good behaviour, manage misbehaviour and family survival tips. 
SydWest Youth wins 2nd prize in Blacktown Draw It Competition
Raneen Shamon, a Year 12 student, was encouraged by SydWest to enter the competition. 
Raneen drew  Anh Do and explains: I put the flag of Vietnam and Australia in one hand because Anh came from there, and the on the other hand the boat he immigrated to Australia in. Congratulations Raneen, your artwork was on display throughout April in the Blacktown Library.
Family Picnic in the Park
SydWest Women & Families team coordinated a fun picnic day at Blacktown Showgrounds Park for more than 120 mothers & children as part of their school holiday program.
Riverstone Mothers Group enjoy Police Visit

Riverstone Police visited our Mother's Group to talk about personal safety, home security, the role of the NSW police and who to contact for support in the case of an emergency or crisis. It was a great morning and many of the mothers found the information very helpful. 

Refer a Client Online Form Now Available

From June 2019, you can now refer a client to one of SydWest Multicultural Services by using our online form. 

Our Refer a Client online form is a simple tool that allows you to quickly refer to one of our key service areas including Aged Care services, Disability support services, Disability Employment Services, Women and Families and Youth services, as well as settlement services. 

For all information on our services and online referral form, please visit our website at

Room Bookings Now Available Online

As early April 2019, SydWest Multicultural Services has automated the process to receive external requests for room bookings at the Blacktown and Mt Druitt offices.

For all information regarding the Room Booking process, terms and conditions of booking a meeting room with SydWest, please visit our website at and the Corporate Services team will manage your request.

SydWest Now at The Community Hub, Castle Hill

As from early June 2019, SydWest Multicultural Services is now part of The Community Hub at Castle Hill. SydWest staff will be onsite on Wednesdays and Thursdays and will offer Aged Care, Disability Services and Disability Employment Services.

To find us:
The Community Hub
Castle Hill Towers Shopping Centre
6-14 Castle Street Castle Hill
(on Old Northern Rd, near Gold Class cinemas)

 EWON at SydWest - Bring Your Bills Days
face-to-face support for customers with energy issues


For four years, SydWest Multicultural Service in partnership with the Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW (EWON) has held monthly Bring Your Bills Days in Blacktown. These events provide face-to-face assistance to customers who are having difficulties with their energy or water provider, including high bills, payment difficulties and related issues.
At the Bring Your Bills Days EWON’s Investigations Officers, often aided by interpreters, listen to customers’ concerns, review their energy and water bills, and talk to providers over the phone to resolve issues – there and then if possible.
Customers can get assistance understanding their bills, setting up payment plans, having rebates they are eligible for applied to their account, accessing emergency payment assistance and talking to their provider to resolve billing or other issues. EWON can also refer customers to government agencies and community organisations on the day for support with health, housing, legal or financial problems.
Receiving EWON’s help dealing with their provider, often gives customers the confidence to contact their provider directly, which allows complaints to be resolved collaboratively and quickly. Both providers and customers benefit from the constructive engagement and the quick resolution of issues that these events offer.
Anyone is welcome to attend a Bring Your Bills Day. Customers are asked to bring along current and past electricity, gas and water bills, any letters from retailers, Centrelink Health Cards, and any other concession cards. Customers can access this service only once every six months.
Venue: SydWest Multicultural Services, Level 2, 125 Main Street, Blacktown
When: First Friday of each month
Time: 9.30am - 2.30pm
RSVP: To make an appointment with EWON, call SydWest Multicultural Services on 02 9621 6333
For more information, see the EWON’s events page

EWON Community Consultation
SydWest Multicultural Services has been working closely with EWON for many years. Recently, Clement Meru, Community Services & Engagement Manager at SydWest Multicultural Services participated in the EWON panel session Spotlight on the Issues: the community and consumer group perspectives, as part of EWON’s Consultative Council Meeting in April 2019. Clement’s insightful presentation was centred on access and understanding of information by disadvantaged groups due to their language limitations. This will further enhance EWON's ability to meet the needs of our diverse clients.

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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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